In case you haven’t heard the story behind the Maximum Black Festival: the Vienna Public Utility Company plagiarized Final Fantasy’s “This is the Dream of Win & Regine” for their advertisement. Instead of an ugly lawsuit, both parties came to an agreement that the Vienna company was to financially and logistically support a festival curated by Final Fantasy in return for the company’s right to use the “cover” version of Owen Pallett’s original in their ad. This is probably just a one time thing, and Berlin – besides London and Vienna – was one of the lucky threes to host the Maximum Black Festival. So last Sunday at the Postbahnhof, six awesome bands – Frog Eyes, Dirty Projectors, Six Organs of Admittance, Deerhoof, Final Fantasy and Max Tundra – were lined up to play one after the other on two alternating stages and each band’s got 40 minutes to rock. Can a Sunday evening get any better than this?
Frog Eyes had the challenging task of getting the evening started, and succeed they did. This was actually my first time hearing Frog Eyes’ music. Too bad I couldn’t really make out what Mercer was singing (was it me or the mic was just not turned up loud enough? This was an issue that plagued most of the bands that evening when the music got loud…fantastic acoustic but barely audible vocals). Still Mercer’s intensity made up for it and you could tell that he’s a really good vocal performer. I’d love to see him play with just an acoustic guitar sometime.
After Frog Eyes played, the audience rushed to the other stage for the Dirty Projectors. Again my first time to hear the band and my first impression: Debussy on acid with ferocious, wicked drums! The two bass/guitar playing chanteuses were pretty surreal and the drummer was fantastic to watch. As the front man Longstreth chatted with the audience, talking about Berlin being unlike anywhere else in the world, etc, someone shouted something which I didn’t catch. Then Longstreth said they were having a great time until someone ruined it for them just now. Later two Brits told me that some American guy had shouted to one of the bassists that he wanted to shag her, which really upsetted her. What a moron.
Six Organs of Admittance was next. Chasny alone with his guitar took charge for the first half of the show, then was joined by another vocal/bassist for the second half. It took a while to get into Chasny’s world, especially when the guitar and bass got so extremely loud that my ears literally hurt. However, once you got used to the volume, buried underneath that jarring cacophony was actually a most hypnotizing and mesmerizing theme. It almost, believe it or not, reminded me of loveless, except Six Organs of Admittance was rawer, and sparingly minimalistic.
Deerhoof was just a riot and a stark contrast to the more somber and atmospheric Six Organs of Admittance. Possibly being the better known band of the evening, the enthused audience went wild and Deerhoof came back for an encore. Not that the audience loved the three previous bands any less, but we just didn’t expect encores since it was supposed to be a strict schedule. I sure would love to hear more of Frog Eyes! But back to Deerhof: Matsazaki sounded amazing live and she was just so much fun to watch on stage! People keep saying you’ve gotta see Deerhof live and I couldn’t agree more.
The first time I saw Final Fantasy was also in Postbahnhof a couple of years ago, when he opened for and played with Arcade Fire. I became a big fan of both that night. Then I saw Owen Pallett again playing with a drummer when he was touring with Xiu Xiu. This time he added a keyboard to his violin and looping pedal and did quite a few new songs. They were fantastic and made me really look forward to his new album. Sorry about the sloppy camera work; it’s hard to do any filming when you just want to concentrate and enjoy a good show! My only complaint was that the music was so disproportionally loud that I could hardly hear his words, which was a shame because Pallett’s always got interesting things to say.
Maybe I lingered just a bit too long after Final Fantasy played, because when I went over to the other stage, Max Tundra had already started and man, do I love this guy! He was jamming and dancing like nobody else (actually I was thinking of the early Prince), and before long we were all partying like it was 1999. I have to apologize for the awful camera angle, which does not do Tundra justice at all. The camera was left on the stage unattended because I just wanted to dance all night. My favorite was when he did “So Long, Farewell” from The Sound of Music, the funky, danceable way of course. That was supposed to be his closing number, so was the next one, and the next one…but the crowd wouldn’t let him go. It was the funnest part of the evening. Even Pallett joined the crowd on the dance floor.
Six brilliant bands in one night, I doubt anything will top this in 2008. Thank you Owen Pallett; let’s try and catch more of these plagiarizing corporations so we can have more Maximum Black Festivals!