Last night Electronic Beats Festival took to Cologne for its latest, and arguably biggest, date this season. We sent Daniel Jones to report from the front row. All photos taken by Peyman Azhari.
Cologne. A metropolis on the edge of oblivion, where the sewer grates ooze steam and on whose night-shrouded streets criminals perform their troublesome tasks… Actually wait, that’s Gotham. Cologne is the rich, very clean German city where each year one of the Electronic Beats Festivals takes place, and I’ve just entered her. No time for sightseeing, however, as I find myself rushing to meet up with two friends who run the essential CLUB KID store in nearby Dusseldorf. I find it far more satisfying to roll up to an unfamiliar location with a crew; it takes the edge off, and nothing says “professional music journalist” like a trio of black-clad, platform-shoed weirdos. In a flurry of hugs, kisses and a gifted LONG beanie it’s time to head to E-Werk, the location for tonight’s festivities.
Stepping into the venue, I first take stock of the bar’s location, where legal tender is replaced by the internal glow of alcohol’s kiss. The Telekom photo booth nearby grants me a nice visual souvenir. Headshot, drink. Satisfied in both mind and liver, I’m now ready to be music’d at. It’s a good night for it, too: the vibe is definitely weirder than your usual EB fest, with plenty of prettily depressed young things slouching about in fashion-black. After a warm-up set from locals Popnoname that alternated between rather vanilla indielectro and banging techno with an almost industrial vibe, Copenhagen-based Reptile Youth took the stage. While their bassist did his best Rowland S. Howard impression, grinding his instrument with gusto, vocalist Ian (essential name for any aspiring post-punk band, I reckon) alternated between a coo and a scream, shaking the crowd into tribal panic. Can’t you just see them on the next NME cover? Better yet, can we have a S.C.U.M. reunion tour already?
The last time I saw Dan Deacon he was opening for Devo in Brooklyn, shuffling the crowd through a routine that was like a human version of aerobic musical chairs. It was sweaty, hectic nonsense and I loved every second of it. Tonight Deacon was in even finer form, blasting the room with shattered electronics and leading the crowd through love-themed nonsense calisthenics at 777 BPM. At one point he split the crowd right down the middle, picking two “captains” to lead them in synchronized dance. While it swiftly transformed into chaos, it was of the extremely fun variety. By the time James Blake took the stage, most people seemed to be whipped into frenzy. Blake took them further; with a deft sweep of his fingers he made boys and girls gasp, clasp hands and brace themselves for the delicately booming power of it all—or a sudden crushing bass. The emotion in Blake’s voice balanced the manic chipmunk energy of Deacon nicely, slow dances and slow chants.
Trust was the perfect ending to a night, Robert Alfons bouncing onto the fog-shrouded stage like a beautiful angel. If you’ve never experienced Trust live then you’d never know that almost all the vocals on his debut TRST, be they high and feminine or low and gothic, are performed by him. Seeing Alfons hit that chorus perfectly on “The Last Dregs” is strangely thrilling, but that might also be because I was (to the dismay of the tweens to my left) singing along in a rather falsetto-ish shriek myself. Kids’ World no more, this big-boy journalist wants to bellow and wail with his favorite tunes and you’d better pray there’s no encore (there wasn’t, sadly.) Pretty sure that at one point I caught a wink from Alfons but that might have been the sweat blinding my eyes. ~
UPDATE: We’ve switched around the running order to bring you even more live streaming! Revised information below.
As if it weren’t enough that we are bringing James Blake, Trust, Reptile Youth, Dan Deacon, and Popnoname to Cologne and gave away tickets for it, we can now announce that for everyone who can’t make it in person, we are streaming almost all of this event for you live right here and fan4fan.com. Streaming starts at 9:15pm when Reptile Youth take the stage, continues for Dan Deacon and James Blake, and ends after Trust finishes. DJ Anja Base will be handling all of the changeovers in-between, bringing you a continuous video stream of the action as it happens live. Find the set times on the poster below, and return to this page on May 16th to watch Reptile Youth, Dan Deacon, James Blake, and Trust from the comfort of your own home.
Get ready, all the action starts right here starting at 9:15pm CET on Thursday, May 16th.
UPDATE: This competition is now closed. Thank you for participating!
It feels like April just began, yet May is already here! With the Cologne edition of our Electronic Beats Festival series fast approaching, we know you’re getting anxious—who wouldn’t be, with beat-boys like James Blake, Dan Deacon, and Trust headlining, with support from Reptile Youth and Popnoname?
With a new album out (read our review of it here) and collaborations with RZA and Bon Iver already under his belt, it’s already been a big year for Blake, and his return to the EB family circle is one we’ve been looking forward to with high hopes. Dan Deacon also has a new album out, the appropriately expansive America, and the energy and level of participation he brings to a crowd is unmissable. We already know you’re familiar with Canada’s darkest synthpopper Trust; after all, you did vote him your most exciting artist of 2012. Now’s the chance to see him hit those highs and lows live… and you could see it for free (well, minus your travel and accommodation expenses, of course!)
We’re giving away 15 pairs of tickets for the festival. All you have to do is send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Cologne 2013” before 6pm, Sunday the 12th. Winners will be notified the following day, Monday, May 13th. For those of you who want to go regardless, tickets can still be purchased here, here, and here. See you in the front row!
We’re on a roll when it comes to announcing line-ups it seems, and with momentum building for the EB Festival Season with the news that Hurts, James Pants, Agoria and Youth Kills have signed up for the Bratislava event, what of Germany’s installment? Well, we’re hyped to announce that come the 16th May, 2013 British post-dubstep poster boy James Blake will be topping the bill at Cologne’s E-Werk, with exemplary support coming from Baltimore-based electronic mage Dan Deacon, stylishly dour Canadians (and EB Poll 2012 victors) Trust, Kompakt’s very own Popnoname and Danish post-punk revivalists Reptile Youth.
Those with memories at least partially intact will recall that James Blake is EB family, having played EB Festival Vienna and Gdansk in 2012. You can watch recordings of those performances at the bottom of this page.