Fête de la Musique is a French invention, bien sûr, but its musical free-for-all spirit seems tailor-made for Berlin. No less than 100 outdoor stages around town showcase some 500 artists – and that’s not even counting the after-parties, the adjunct open-air solstice celebrations and the post-nightfall anarchy on Kreuzberg’s Wienerstraße.
When navigating the sonic mayhem, beware of obstacles. Corporate-sponsored parties like the one in Mauerpark (Red Bull alert!) seek to co-opt the fest’s joie de vivre. Furthermore: the French have convinced Berlin to relax its famously fusty busking regulations, which means that for every legit talent out there, you have to dodge 50 dudes in fedoras covering “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”.
Escape the inanity with EXBERLINER’s hour-by-hour guide to the June 21 ruckus.
16:00 Start off by paying tribute to the fest’s roots at the Centre Francais de Berlin (Mullerstr. 74, Mitte), where batuka group Sons dessus! Dessous! kicks off an evening-long survey of the current state of French music, from chansons to electro.
17:00 Wander around Mitte’s well-preserved old town Nikolaiviertel, where folk and a capella troubadours will be filling every cobblestoned nook and cranny for the mini-fest “Nikolaiviertel musiziert”.
18:00 Soju Bar’s open-air contribution Fete de la Kimchique (Skalitzer Strasse 36, Kreuzberg) features a disappointing lack of fermented cabbage, but makes up for it with incendiary remixer Radioslave.
19:00 Heroes Café extends its Bowie obsession to its lineup, as dandy boy-wonder Alexander Geist joins a host of high-cheekboned electro-pop artists at Friedel Block Party – Heroes vs. F12 (Friedelstraße, Neukölln).
20:00 German-English trio Futch (featuring violin, trombone, analogue synth and miscellaneous bleepy noises) makes tweaked-out free jazz that’s worth going indoors for at Institut Francais (Kurfürstendamm 211, Charlottenburg).
21:00 Get an estrogen injection with riot grrl quartet The Brunettez at spacious anything-goes cafe/venue Wendel (Schlesisches Str. 42, Kreuzberg).
22:00 Fete de la Musique is over; Fete de la Nuit begins. Start it off by the beach at Fiesere Miese (Köpenicker Str. 18-20, Kreuzberg, where Sage presents DJs Andre Gardeja and Nils Ohrmann.
23:00 Betahaus (Prinzessinnenstr. 19-20, Kreuzberg) co-works hard, but it also co-plays hard, as proven by a suite of DJs headlined by the extravagantly costumed duo Geschwister Schumann.
00:00 It’s not a real party until there’s an accordion. Dance to The Fat Bastard Gang Band’s frenetic Balkan tunes at Kesselhaus (Knaackstr. 97, Prenzlauer Berg)
01:00 Well, the days will only get shorter from here. Stay in denial at Tresor (Köpenicker Str. 70, Mitte) where DJs from the Tresor Next and Bpitch Control labels spin techno and electro until who-knows-when, drawing la nuit out as long as possible.
Fête de la Musique, Thu, June 21 | www.fetedelamusique.de