It was surprising to hear Pop Kultur kick off with what sounded like a funeral march, but then Jungstötter seemed to be full of surprises.
Surprise number two was hearing a crooning baritone with a Scott Walker vibrato emanating from a man who looked less like an old soul and more like a European Alex Turner in a glam cowboy shirt. This only served to make the dark and somber show even more interesting.
Musically, it fell somewhere between Nick Cave and AHNONI, with a backing band that always knew when to double down and when to hang back. “In Too Deep” was a beautiful, hypnotic ballad built on a well-disguised funky drum shuffle and reverb-heavy guitar. Another highlight was the song “Silence”, in which the singer’s awkward urgency seemed to pave the way for something more sincere and dreamlike. There was a beautiful irony when he sang “‘There’s a silence in this room and it’s making everyone uncomfortable”. The audience was silent for sure, but hung on every word.
This was a curveball of a show for sure, but one engaging enough to stick around and soak up until the very end
The final song, “To Be Someone Else”, showed the singer nervously pacing back and forth to a simple but emotional chord progression, singing “Sometimes I don’t feel like myself. Sometimes I feel the need to be somebody else.” While this may have be true, any on-stage discomfort felt by Jungstötter only made for a more compelling show. As he exited the stage, the musicians delicately faded to nothing and eventually disappeared into the smoke themselves.
This was a curveball of a show for sure, but one engaging enough to stick around and soak up until the very end. After all, what better way to open a diverse and progressive music festival than with the unexpected?
Noel Maurice is one of the founders of indieberlin. Originally from the UK via a childhood in Johannesburg, he has been resident in Berlin since 1991. Describing himself as a ‘recovering musician’, he is the author of The Berlin Diaires, a trilogy detailing the East Berlin art and squat scene of the early 90s, available on Amazon and through this site.