Kiez Oper: Insanity

by James Glazebrook

Kiez Oper by Irene Moray

by Irene Moray

We’re prone to hyperbole, especially when it comes to Berlin, but Kiez Oper is definitely one of the best things we’ve ever experienced. Aiming to “bring opera into the 21st Century”, the far-from-traditional company performs up-close, in unexpected venues, most recently in Stadtbad Wedding.

As we sat down on the sloped floor of the disused swimming pool, we had no idea what to expect – until a cast member embedded among us suggested we pick up our coats, lest they get trampled on. Sure enough, singers walked through the crowd to get to the makeshift stage formed by the pool’s deep end, to perform a disturbing narrative with the theme “Insanity”, woven together from the compositions of Handel, Vivaldi, Bach, Britten and more. Compelling performances combined with state-of-the-art sound design and projected visuals created an immersive experience that we’ll never see repeated.

Kiez Oper by Irene Moray

by Irene Moray

Kiez Oper by Irene Moray

by Irene Moray

Kiez Oper by Irene Moray

by Irene Moray

Kiez Oper by Irene Moray

by Irene Moray

Kiez Oper by Irene Moray

by Irene Moray

For your chance to catch the company in action, stay tuned to the Kiez Oper Facebook Page for updates.

Metal Montag: Deftones

by James Glazebrook

Deftones at The Paramount Theatre - Seattle on 2011-04-14 by Dave Lichterman under licence CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Deftones at The Paramount Theatre – Seattle on 2011-04-14 by Dave Lichterman under licence CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Chino Moreno is my spirit animal. He was there when I was a teenage metalhead with a closet full of “unacceptable” music tastes, outing himself as a fan of everything from Depeche Mode to Björk. And he was over a decade later when I was scared shitless of moving to Berlin – when I changed our one-way flight to see his band play the Brixton Academy, they gave me the strength to commit to my new life. He even proved that it’s possible to come back after your “fat years”, a valuable lesson for anyone who finds themselves sliding towards a fate similar to Elvis Presley’s.

In short, the Deftones have always been there, and I hope they always will. They’re back in Berlin tomorrow night, in support of their sophisticated new album “KOI NO YOKAN”, and lucky ticket-holders will find me curled up, sucking my thumb, in the middle of the pit. Whether you can make it or not, here’s a blast from the past for all the old school Def’heads – the band’s complete performance at Bizarre Festival in Cologne, 1998.

Deftones play Huxley’s Neue Welt tomorrow, February 26th. It’s SOLD OUT, sorry!

“Wie, bitte?” Ranting back at Exberliner

by Guest Blogger

Lauren Oyler responds to an Exberliner rant about the lack of German fluency among Berlin’s expat community.

I moved to Berlin for myriad reasons, all of which are, seven months later, still difficult to articulate. I had spent two weeks here in May 2011, and while I was certainly technically aware that the city is the capital of Germany, the things I associated it with were tangentially German at best. Instead of sausage and Spätzle, I remembered picnics at an abandoned airport; the first bicycle that didn’t give me flashbacks to the traumatic handlebar accident at age eight; a laid back, noncompetitive atmosphere in which you can live happily on little income and people are generally accepting of whatever weird artsy soul-searching you’re there to do. Obviously not everyone in Berlin does these things, but not everyone in New York wants to be an actor, either. Both are massive cities with many different realities.

I came back in August of last year, and before I did, countless sources — and the existence of several English-language newspapers, blogs and other publications — told me my lack of German skills would be no big deal. This is true and, apparently, infuriating, particularly so for the people who landed here before me.

Julie Colthorpe, who wrote “Sorry, no German!” in this month’s Exberliner, came to Berlin 12 years ago and longs for the days when expats would get kicked out of supermarkets for confusing their datives and accusatives. Calling out an unnamed but obvious brunch-serving Australian restaurant in Neukölln, she argues that all-English businesses and expats with no German skills have no place in the city. Although her complaints weren’t directed towards me — I dutifully brave the umlaut to save myself from accidentally ordering anything pickled — I feel attacked nevertheless. I’m American, I live in Neukölln, and German fluency is almost as fathomable to me as paying more than 1.30€ for a beer. I’ve been to Melbourne Canteen and breathed a sigh of relief when I realized I didn’t have to furrow my eyebrows in despair at the thought of trying to convey a dropped fork.

By contrast, Colthorpe’s clearly proud of her German, so it’s likely she’s unaware that getting a blunt “WIE, BITTE?” in response to a valiant attempt at communication is a cultural tradition alive and well here in the capital city. Add to this the sense that your best accent only comes out when you’re drunk or transforming into your parodic German alter ego, Frau Schadenfreude, and you understand why expats everywhere struggle to learn the languages of the countries they live in. It’s scary and hard. Here, you can avoid that if you want to, but people — usually non-native German speakers — will scold you for it.

Should English speakers take the bait, be ashamed? As Colthorpe says, a German-only restaurant would fail in Melbourne (or New York, or Vancouver)… but not because English speakers are too stupid to grapple with café-level German — or even because they would be unwilling to do so in a reasonable circumstance. But knowing German in Australia will do you about as much good as a first-edition copy of Jane Eyre — nice if you’re into that kind of thing, but otherwise kind of useless. It’s a paradox, sure, that being constantly abused for speaking little to no German can make a potential Berliner less willing to stick around and learn it, but the harsh economic reality is this: it’s just not necessary.

by Josh Bauman

by Josh Bauman

English, on the other hand, kind of is. A series of historical events — uncontrolled by the well-meaning people at Melbourne Canteen, überlin and any given Sameheads party — has made English the lingua franca among the people in Berlin who are here because it’s Berlin, not because it’s Germany. Colthorpe says she spent her New Year’s Eve with a group of people from Italy, France, Spain, Russia, America, and Germany, and instead of appreciating the cosmopolitanism, cooperation and progress that has allowed them to share any common language, she cries “HIPSTER BULLSHIT!” in the face of more than a half-century of diplomacy. If only we could have shown her piece to someone living in 1941. The irony that it’s published in an English-language magazine that caters to the exact audience she risks alienating is apparently completely lost on her; even funnier is that Exberliner suggested going to the Melbourne Canteen in its January 2013 issue (“Where to go in Neukölln,” pg. 50).

The exclusively-English-speaking expat population may indeed be “missing out” on one kind of Berlin experience, but anyone who can read a Wikipedia entry and memorize some definite articles is not some kind of Culture Crusader making the world a better place, one well-pronounced “CH”-sound at a time. The idea that culture consists of an immutable combination of foods, sayings, and historical anecdotes is a perfect definition for those who want to assimilate for the chance to say they have. Expat culture is a part of Berlin’s culture. You can’t praise the city’s international draw in one breath and condemn expatriates as tourist scum the next. If you’re disturbed by the Melbourne Canteen, you’ll have to get over it.

I don’t think learning German is pointless, and as I improve, however slowly, I feel better about whatever it is I’m doing here. More than once I’ve been embarrassed when an American or British friend forgoes even the barest minimum of effort, skipping the regretful-but-polite, “Sprechen Sie Englisch, bitte?” in favor of an unfathomably lazy, “Can I get a Berliner?” That sucks. It’s rude to go into a German restaurant, bar, café or terrifying governmental bureau and speak English to the people there because, despite the way Colthorpe writes about it, the vast majority of cafes, bars, restaurants, and performance/coworking/women’s-only gym spaces in Berlin function fully in Deutsch.

No one’s forcing anyone to go to The Bird, and we all know too well how interchangeable the bars in Neukölln are; if you find one unpleasantly Anglophonic, go to the one next door. Enclaves of English — and French, and German and etc. — exist in any semi-significant city; that’s called globalisation. It’s not going away, and a misguided rant about one of its fairly harmless symptoms accomplishes nothing but animosity. Explicitly English businesses hurt no one, and Colthorpe’s piece is as unthinking, boring, and selfish as an American who lives in Germany for six months without bothering to learn how to order a multi-grain roll. You’d think the constipation would eventually drive her to Google Translate, but that’s her Kreuz to Berg.

For more from Lauren, check out her website laurenoyler.com or follow her on Twitter: @laurenoyler. For tips on learning German, read “Ask überlin – Do I need to learn German?”

Win tickets to see soul sensation Trixie Whitley live in Berlin

by James Glazebrook

[EDIT: this competition is now closed. Click here to see if we’re running any open competitions] 

Trixie Whitley wants to be known as more than just the daughter of Chris Whitley. The good news for her is that I hadn’t even heard of her singer-songwriter dad, until I happened across her music on Spotify. The former child prodigy obviously inherited her father’s passion and talent for music, teaching herself guitar, piano and drums at a young age, and also dabbling in DJing and ballet. Like her father before her, she’s settled into a bluesy place, playing beautifully orchestrated blue-eyed soul with raw, emotional intensity. We’re looking forward to hearing *that voice* live, and some lucky readers will be able to join us. We have 2 x 2 tickets to giveaway – scroll down to find out how to win a pair.


Leave a comment below, with your full (real) name and tell us – if you could chose a famous person as your dad, who would you pick?

You have until 6pm on Saturday 23rd February to enter. Good luck!

The Boring Bit (yawn, RULES):

1. You must be 18 years or older to enter.
2. We will keep a record of each comment in a database and then a random number generator picks the winner.
3. We will announced the winners via our Facebook page on Sunday 24th February.

Music Montag: Paris Suit Yourself

by James Glazebrook

"Paris Suit Yourself" by justpearly under Creative Commons license Attribution 2.0 Generic

“Paris Suit Yourself” by justpearly under Creative Commons license Attribution 2.0 Generic

Some people have the best holidays! Back in August 2011, the people from Wilcox Sessions spent part of their Berlin vacation recording a live set from one half of Paris Suit Yourself at the Michelberger Hotel. This neat little split-screen shows a performance from the local contingent of the French-US collective next to footage of the U-Bahn journey to the venue. The track itself is awesome, although it barely hints at the unhinged bastardisation of jazz and rock of their debut album, “My Main Shitstain”. The only rock band ever to sign to Ninja Tune’s Big Dada imprint (home of Roots Manuva and Spank Rock), Paris Suit Yourself are well worth a listen – stay tuned to their Facebook Page for updates.

Sexpat and the City: First date red flags

by Guest Blogger

Sexpat and the City logo

Special Valentine’s Day dating advice, written by our resident sexpat, Lucy, and illustrated by Josh Bauman.

The thing about living in a city that is not your own is that you are forced to meet all sorts of people, and get thrown into so many fucking weird situations, that it becomes easier to separate the bad from the worse from the just plain ugly. I wouldn’t say that I’m an expert on such things, but I have become quite a good “people reader” after all this time spent in cultures slightly foreign to my own.

In Australia, we don’t date. I mean – we do, but in our own way. Australians date like the Germans but in x24 fast forward:

  1. We meet people through friends.
  2. We kiss that very night.
  3. We (almost always) go home together shortly there after, on the same day.
  4. We introduce ourselves again the following weekend.
  5. Repeat steps 2 and 3
  6. And the following week? We go out on our first date, when we have things to talk about – and feel ready to commit to two hours of sober(ish) chatting.

With my lack of exposure to “real” dating, I find the whole process of first dates entirely tiresome and stressful. As a direct result of this, I’ve become hypersensitive to people’s quirks. So I’ve compiled a list of red flags – signals that you should slowly back away from that date.

“You’re Australian/ {insert Nationality here}? Oh – I’m sorry.”

OK, so this can be a bit touch-and-go. BUT if you go out with someone and they make fun of your heritage in a snide, not-fun way, don’t give them a second look-in. I had a New Zealander do this to me one time, and two things came to mind:

  1. “Mate, you are from New Zealand. Please.” – kidding, sort of.
  2. “Homeboy has an inferiority complex.”

He may not have been a horrible person but, to be honest, there is actually no good reason to ridicule someone because of where they are from…. on the first date. On the fifth? Yeah, OK – maybe that’s the vibe; but on the first date – keep it nice.

You find yourself talking about how expensive things are, in a negative way.

You don’t want someone who is hung up on money and pushes it onto you. Obviously you want someone who can money manage, is aware of real life and whatever – but if someone is overly focussed on the cost of living, your time together (dinner, drinks, holidays) will be a struggle. You’re going feel like a Catholic who has indulged in premarital sex – guilty, like 24/7.

“So – are you rich then?”

One word: jaded. The question of income should not come into play on the first date, even in the first few months. Until you are in fact sharing a bank account, and popping a ring on it, there’s no merit in talking about your cashflow, or lack of one. Dude/femme must have serious money complexes (or be an total gold digger), and there is nothing more vile than having this at the forefront of any budding romance.

“Don’t you think you have had enough to drink?”

OK, I probably have had too much to drink at this point, arsehole. But fuck off, Dad. For a start, it’s patronising to ask questions that start with “don’t you think…” that are obviously not questions at all. The only people that have the right to get rhetorical with me are my parents, and my ACTUAL friends. If a date starts to baby you like this – get out.

The ex is brought into the conversation.

The problem here isn’t so much the talking about an ex boy- or girlfriend, but they fact that they are referred to as “My Ex”. People who have moved on use euphemisms like “an old friend”, “this guy I once knew”, “a mate of mine”… Anyone who holds onto titles is on an emotional roller coaster, and that’s not sexy – it’s just scary.

Your date isn’t keen on assimilating by way of language.

If your friend turns around and says they aren’t interested in learning {insert language here} because:

  1. They don’t need it.
  2. It’s an ugly language.
  3. It’s too hard.

…you can tell straight away that they don’t like a challenge – actually no, not even! This person can’t HANDLE a challenge. At this point you must ask yourself – do you want to date this? Probably not. Unless you’re also a miserable human who doesn’t like a challenge. Well, are you?

They talk about your future together.

This is a really big warning sign – this person is delusional. They don’t want a first date, they want a life straight out of the movies. They want it to all happen, and they want it to happen NOW. Newsflash? Life is not like the movies, life is entirely messy. Let’s not spend the first date talking about things we’re going to do over the next six months… This is not real life.

God knows, you are good for one drink at this stage, but who’s to say we’re going to make a real connection… It’s weird. I had someone express a wish to spend Thanksgiving together five months before actual Thanksgiving, on our first date. 3 words: I legged it.

“Oh, I don’t seem to have any money…”

Not a good start.

  1. You’ve gone on a date, out in the real world – where there is usually some form of currency involved.
  2. Chivalry is not dead, nor is being just plain fair. How do you not have any money, when you should be buying at least one drink for the person you are on a date with?

If your prospective part time boyfriend/girlfriend doesn’t come out with ANY money, on the first date – then this is going to be a pattern. I need to stress, you shouldn’t care if your mate is poor – but if they are, and can’t manage one drink – then they are obviously stupid for participating in that activity. I find the whole “I’m totally broke, but sexy” vibe in Berlin totally un-sexy. If you are going to go out with people with no funds, they should at least either be creative or thrifty enough that you don’t have to bank roll their efforts for an evening.

What do you think? Is Lucy being harsh or fair? And do you have any first date red flags to add? Let us know in the comments below.

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Music Montag: Antoni Maiovvi, “Darkroom”

by James Glazebrook

Antoni Maiovvi Darkroom

Slicked back and dripping glossy black, Antoni Maiovvi returns. In his new (NSFW) video, produced by the team behind the twisted horror short Yellowthe former Music Montag pick and master of dark disco is given the Giallo treatment. Torture has never looked – and sounded – sexier.

 Antoni Maiovvi’s Stockholm Synthdrome EP is out now on Giallo Disco records.