Saturday 28 September 2013

Planet Hugill in Hamburg for the Reeperbahn Festival

N-Joy Reeper Bus in Spielbude Platz, Hamburg as part of the Reeperbahn Festival
N-Joy Reeper Bus in Spielbude Platz, Hamburg 
I am currently in Hamburg for a few days covering the Reeperbahn Festival and other events (see my review of La Traviata from Staatsoper Hamburg). The Reeperbahn Festival is a remarkable musical manifestation, a three day jamboree full of the most amazing bands from across the popular music spectrum with a highly catholic taste in genre and style. As well as indie-pop, electro-folk, techno and a variety of others, there is a classical/jazz stream. I have been attending a wide variety of concerts and will be covering the classical/jazz ones, including Svein Helbig and the Faure Quartett in further postings.

The Reeperbahn is a street in Hamburg which historically led from the city towards the Danish border and was thus outside the city limits, and by the docks. The name in fact means rope walk, and the area became notorious as a red light district. But it has also been a home to music venues including the clubs which hosted the Beatles when they played here in the 1960's before they became famous. For three days in September the area is taken over, as over 60 venues present a diverse range of bands. The venues themselves are very varied ranging from small clubs and bars to huge clubs, and even taking in a church and open air venues. The programmers have no preconception about style, genre or nationality. Instead they focus on quality, so part of the charm of the festival is serendipity, wandering into a small bar and seeing a band playing to a packed room knowing that next year you may see them playing to far bigger venues.

The event acts as a showcase and many attending are industry professionals and journalists. But for 35 euros you can by a tageskarte (a day card, actually a wrist band) and 70 euros gets you a 3-day pass. Spielbude Platz is the hub of the festival with venues like the famous bar, Molotow (currently under threat of redevelopment) as well as the open stage. There are art events associated with the festival, ranging from photography exhibitions to Flatstock the European Poster Convention.

By day the area is a bit grim looking, full of seedy sex shops, but by night it comes alive. Prostitution is legal here and restricted to a single street, so you can walk about freely. And people do, the whole area is throbbing with a remarkable mix of people, all ages and styles, come to see the bands or simply enjoy the atmosphere. Spielbude Platz is the home of the festival's open stage, so even if you don't want to pay there is chance to sample the wares. Elsewhere on this blog:

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