After 2010’s Ten Year Anniversary Festivals, the stakes were set pretty high for the first Electronic Beats Festival in 2011. But with an amazing selection of artists from a wide variety of musical backgrounds, a very curious and enthusiastic crowd and a sold-out E-Werk, the Electronic Beats Festival 2011 in Cologne was sure to be something amazing.
NYC’s favourite electro-pop duo Holy Ghost! kicked off the evening with their synth-infused disco sound. Nick told us before the show: “It’s a daunting task for us to play live. We only started touring a year ago, and it’s still a learning process.” Boy, do those guys learn fast! With a full five-member band format, Nick and Alex had the crowd dancing right away.
On the decks was Cologne’s very own Ada, who, during all changeovers, kept the crowd going with a sophisticated DJ set, always subtly leading up to the next artist.
‘Art’ being the keyword here, for next on stage was one of the most exciting performance artists in the world of electronic pop music. Berlin-via-England’s Planningtorock a.k.a. Janine Rostron is known for her meticulous studio work: she does literally everything herself and enjoys full artistic control over her mysterious and haunting music – a very independent, but also very lonely approach.
With two more band members on synth and saxophone, a low-pitched voice and her strange, alien-like stage mask, Janine Rostron hypnotized the crowd. Fragile, sensual, dark and beautiful are the words that come to mind in order to describe her calm yet enthralling performance.
What a stark contrast to Nouvelle Vague’s cheeky and sexy pop approach! Compared to Planningtorock, their performance almost came across like a burlesque show. Despite the French focus on their latest album, Marc Collin, Olivier Libaux and their band concentrated on their English material, which basically meant a set list full of hits.
Interesting enough that, when asked about his relationship to Cologne, Marc told us before the gig: “It’s the city where Stockhausen had his studios. You don’t hear it in our music, but he’s a big influence.“
The next band on stage and headlining the festival was the one most of the audience had obviously been waiting for: Animal Collective. The NYC indie/avantgarde group delivered a holistic sound-and-vision experience somewhere between Kraut, indie, electro and world music. Sporting headlamps and standing in front of congenial psychedelic visuals made by their friends Black Dice, the crowd watched in wonder as Avey Tare, Panda Bear, Geologist and Deakin went wild on their instruments, switching within an instant from Afro-Caribbean rhythms to classic rock and on to a hard industrial beat. Some stood in awe before this wall of sound, others bathed in it with their eyes closed, while the majority just went crazy with the band.
After a night like this, with most of the audience gone after the headliners, and the festival on a weekday, who in the world would be able to keep the rest of the crowd alive and even make it go wilder? Why, Modeselektor from Berlin of course. When, at the beginning of the duo’s set, Sebastian Szary just raised his bottle with a wink, and the audience followed him with their glasses, it was clear that another party was about to begin. And with their eclectic sound, the two partied on with the audience till 3.30 in the morning.