Friendly Fires & Duke Spirit Help The Reeperbahn Festival Rebrand Hamburg
events rely heavily on the local arts scene to showcase a bustling community; both managed to lure exciting if not flashy acts to their shores to showcase their zeitgeist-baiting sounds in the heart of repurposed industrial complexes.
Take, for example, the heart-pounding syncopated rhythms of Friendly Fires, whose show in a former World War II bunker generated a sweaty mess of exuberant youth, gasping for air amidst lead singer Ed Macfarlane's jarring if hyperbolic dance extravaganza. Or California's EMA, who turned heads with their fuzzed-out noise-pop gems, including a surprise Violent Femmes cover. Others on the bill included Canadian electo-fuzz duo Handsome Furs and British blues-rock dandies the Duke Spirit, whose Saturday night set started a bit slow but moved into overdrive once singer Liela Moss shed both her shiny sportcoat, and let loose on a nearly packed house.
However, like the cranes that threaten the tranquility of the its church-dotted skyline or the unyielding march of gentrification that surges forth into the heart of the famed St. Pauli district, the city's new face is in harsh contradiction to its relatively free-thinking, left-leaning reputation. Events such as the festival are necessary in making sure that, for every gargantuan tower that is built, a hidden gem of culture accompanies it.
Such is the case for the dancing towers, an unmistakable duel-peaked landmark built at the mouth of the Reeperbahn which will also house the reformation of the Mojo Club -- the birthplace of German 'dancefloor-jazz' and tip-hop. Whether Mojo's owners can retain its independent spirit in the face of commercial exploration is yet to be seen -- the club reopens in September 2012 -- however, according to many in the industry, they have not lost faith.
It's this spirit that still permeates modern Hamburg and gives hope for the ideals