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First We Take The Streets @ Berlin Music Week 2014: After All It's Paradise

We've been to Berlin Music Week 2014. Sabine has checked out this year's premiere of First We Take The Streets. Published September 09 2014. Photos by Sabine Wirsching.

  by Sabine

Being a music enthusiast in Berlin is like heaven and hell. On every single day of the week, at each time, everywhere, you can find musicians you would love to listen to. That is perfect, of course, but: There will always be more than only one possibility. At least you will find two or more options on the same day, two or three bands you would die to see.

But there’s salvation: Once a year, at First We Take The Streets, you can do concert-hopping. Next to the fancy Warschauer Straße, you can walk around the East Side Gallery for two days and absorb as many bands and sounds at one place as your ears ever wanted to.

First of all: Usually, the East Side Gallery is just a place for tourists. Normally, Berliners and especially the ‘natives’ totally avoid this place and leave the leftovers of the Berlin Wall to the thousands and thousands of Japanese photo addicts and Spanish hipsters strolling around. During First We Take The Streets it is different. The place may be crowded as hell, too, but there’s music in the air. Everywhere.

And as a passionate, you are delivered from checking out line-ups and schedules. You may, of course. There are websites to check out the wheres and whens, but at East Side Gallery you will get lost anyway. So leave the schedules, the program, the pressure of who-I-want-to-see-next behind you – and just enjoy.

By strolling around yourself, you will stumble from the levitating voice of a female singer in a fluffy white dress and a guitar over to a couple which is totally covered in glitter, celebrating some kind of electronic improvisation – he kneeing down and bending over his synthesizers and her contorting herself like a snake and singing in a strange language no one ever heard before. Every step is a surprise – sometimes good, sometimes even brilliant and sometimes… well, just keep moving. There will be some bigger stages with a large audience like 300 people or so, but there are small places like hidden gems where you can listen to ecstatic rock musicians, angry punk shouts or one-man-bands who play guitar, harmonica and bass drum at the same time. And framing all of this, there is the beautiful scenery of river Spree with its boats and fairies, the red bricks of the Oberbaumbrücke glowing in the yellow light of the evening sun and the famous silhouette of the Fernsehturm on the other side.

At the end of the evening, when the sun sets, you may end up listening to the soft voice of an Israeli singer. A girl plays cello beside him and he sings about love and how hellish it can be sometimes. You’re leaning against the wall, the last sunbeams still warm the concrete, you look at the blue sky and right now, in that moment, Berlin is paradise.