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First We Take The Streets @ Berlin Music Week 2014 (2): O2 Arena Main Stage

Berlin Music Week is way back ... so it's high time to publish Alexander's report about the First We Take The Streets' spot at Eastside Gallery ... photo by Gonen Shemer. Published October 15 2014.

  by Alexander

Go back to the roots they said. Go back to tiny stages, the happy-go-lucky atmosphere of open air festivals, go back to authentic singers who didn’t sell their souls. And so I did. My steps through the Berlin Music Festival led me to the main stage of the O2 Arena, actually I was kind of stumbling into it, but anyway. Headed in front of the Spree - nice little boats and big tourist cruiser bobbing up and down in-between - and with the beautiful Oberbaumbrücke in the back I was sitting on dry greenish grass like the rest of the crowd, waiting for the first singer to pop up.

It was Alice Boman, a kind of fairy woman with a gentle voice when it came to singing. For the rest of the time it seemed she was coughing badly. When she started playing I felt intrigued though. Such a nice airy voice, of course without any base range but still, a radio kind of voice. Something you can play in the back of your head without feeling annoyed by it. It’s a bit girlish, a bit dreamy. Songs for drinking your coffee at a lazy sunday morning maybe in your most favorite café. Or in bed.

I’m not sure if I mostly liked it because of the whole atmosphere there. People around me were drinking red wine out of plastic cups, others were sleeping, some were just smiling into pure sunlight. Boman perfectly fitted into all of that. It was cupcake music: sweet, almost sugary. Her fragile voice reminded me of Emiliana Torrini, also the whole arrangement.

Unfortunately the bass was sometimes stronger than it should have been and droned her songs. Sometimes it even sounded recorded - though she really put a lot of effort into it. Some of the tunes were like weird electrical keyboard beats - you just need to press a button for that -, and Boman was losing her spirit when she was doing the vowels, a lot of oooooooh’s and aaaaaaaah’s for no particular reason except for expanding time. That was a downer.

Conclusion? Unexcitedly, but pettily nice.

The next band who entered the stage was Still Parade. These German guys started when the sun bathed the crowd in golden light, so everyone was showered in endorphins anyway.

Still Parade were offering dreamy folk at its finest. That meant especially bright guitar elements and a lot of drifty, but steady drums and additional soft electro beats. With his ethereous voice the lead singer was putting your heart on a string and made it teeter its feet like a puppet. Beach music that was with a lot of vowels, too, but in compare to Boman it didn’t seem to matter. The moonily arrangement combined with the lyrics and the casual, nearly relaxed beach boys atmosphere of the band made a very mellow impression.

This was some kind of music you want to have during a road trip through Europe, the typical university radio mixtape sound, something you can hum instinctively without knowing any word of it. Still Parade sounded quite longing and they made you long for nothing particular but the distance, some nice island maybe, some far away beauty to meet.

Conclusion? Music that makes you happy.

After the last song my feet went to sleep so I decided to walk around a bit, mostly along the East Side Gallery with its colorful murals. There I was tripping over Roy Dahan, the Israel folk singer and songwriter. Dahan was playing at one of the so called hot spots along the wall featured by the Zitty magazine, and even if it looked like a typical street artist scene at first, Dahan managed to enchant the crowd standing around him in close circles quite quickly.

His gentle, melodious voice caught people’s attention when they were walking by, so at some point people were squeezing in between parking cars. Him playing the guitar and accompanied by the wonderful cello playing Anat Raban, Dahan created a very intimate atmosphere - in the middle of the street.

His songs were going deep, so deep actually that they touched the ground where sadness waits, but at the same time he seemed to be as light as a feather. Smiling a lot and giving the crowd this special kind of feeling that he was just playing for them, for each and everyone, and for nobody else, all of this songs became intentional meaningful.

Especially the intense mixture of the unplugged guitar, his strong voice and the doleful but drifting cello made a huge impact. It seemed over way too fast, so that when Dahan played a little encore people still wanted to have more. A good sign.

Conclusion? Great, authentic tunes from a very charismatic singer. Definitely memorable.