Friendly Fires & Duke Spirit Help The Reeperbahn Festival Rebrand Hamburg
Ask the casual music fan what they know of Hamburg, the port town of 1.8 million in the north of Germany, and they'll undoubtedly mention two things: the infamous Red Light district and the Beatles -- whose baptism by fire in the city led them to pop superstardom and, eventually, world domination. But, as was made evident over three and a half days at the end of September, the Hamburg that the Beatles came to embrace is hardly the one that survives today.
Courtesy of Reeperbahn Festival
The Reeperbahn (with its infamous ladies of the night) still exists and, indeed, there are monuments, squares and museums erected in memory of the Fab Four, but today's Hamburg is one of both creative and economical boom. Interestingly, outside the city's gated walls, little regard is given to the dramatic rebranding of Germany's second largest city. Those, more or less, were the circumstance that six years ago led several key players in the city's vibrant music scene to join together to create the Reeperbahn Festival -- and, in essence, to position the city they love back on the creative map.
This year, the annual festival -- which aspirationally moulds itself after Austin's South by Southwest festival but is more kin in scope to Brighton's Great Escape Festival -- hoped to reach beyond Germany's self-sufficient borders by aiming to attract media, audience and industry from the UK, Scandinavia and, to a lesser extent, North America. The fact that it managed to succeed -- this year's edition was a near sell-out with more international visitors than ever before -- with a relatively unstacked line-up should prove that the organizers are onto something.
In that sense, the Reeperbahn Festival has proven itself worthy of the company of other destination festivals such as Iceland Airwaves. For one, both