The world may be going a little crazy right now, what with the BoJo Brexit no-show and all. But here in Berlin there a few truths we can cling to. One, our fair city will always have an open bar. Two, you will never be the only one in there. And three, Ariana Grande is coming to town. If it’s pleasure dome pop, not dance floor drops that tickle your pickle, then for one night only prepare yourself for the soul-nourishing extravaganza that is her Sweetener World Tour. However, with tickets long since sold out and the touts pushing those precious spares for €200 a pop, you would have had to have been saving up your Pfand since Yeezy breezed into the Benz last year. Don’t fret, however, because whatever else happens this month, we have got the low-down on a fistful of golden tickets.
UK rapper Little Simz is hot off the back of her third album Grey Area and she has rarely sounded so good. Her flow is evocative of a melancholic ferocity that only ever sounds authentic delivered with a London twang. Playing her first gig in Berlin this year, the vaulted halls of Berghain’s sister venue are a fitting place for an artist, whose bread and butter being grime, knows the value of a proper beat. Her work has drawn plaudits from the likes of Kendrick and there is no doubt that this one will take off.
If you like your music a little more tender, then it is worth taking a trip into Neukölln. The edgy Kiez is developing a reputation for a certain brand of DIY soft rock, and scene stalwart Glassberg & The Disasters are a must-see. Witty lyrics, pretty tunes, and a delightfully embroidered dynamic perfectly embody the living room feeling common to the neighbourhood. Hosted by the tastemakers at Internt Xplorer, you can be certain that this local act is a top under the radar pick, while a rare support slot from party punkcrew Razor Kunts confirms serious underground credentials.
For the jazzily inclined, October might just be the time to get acquainted with the UK sound. Bursting out of South East London with expressive percussion and loud, dynamic instrumentation, tenor saxophonist Nubya Garcia is at the forefront of a bristling scene. Guyanan horns wink at distinctly danceable calypso rhythms in a fresh sound that builds confidently on her break out hit “Lost Kingdoms”. It might be that the parquet floors and smouldering ashtrays of Berlin’s many jazz salons are not built to handle this kind of energy, but Gretchen should just about hold it.
Next up, Vagabon and her eponymous sophomore record, a playful, textured affair, will debut at Kantine Am Berghain this month and features the artist increasingly confident in owning her identity. Difficult feelings are expressed with serenity and the self-produced album confirms that Laetitia Tamko has grown into her sound. And that sound is magnetic. Tightly produced, softly sung, and rightly ambitious Indie.
If it is all getting a bit too much, Automatic understand. There’s a universality to their autopilot monotony deep enough to draw the SoCal post-punkers to the dingy shores of the Spree. It is fuzzy music for tarmac covered streets. Alarm clock synth stabs and thudding four-to-the-floor rhythms dominate tunes that are guaranteed to send swathes of the most amorphous introverts into frenzied swaying.
Little Simz | Oct 8, 20:00 Kantine Am Berghain, Friedrichshain
Glassberg & The Disasters + Razor Kunts | Oct 19, 20:00 Internt Xplorer, Neukölln
Nubya Garcia | Oct 21, 21:00 Gretchen, Kreuzberg
Vagabon | Oct 23, 20:00 Kantine Am Berghain, Friedrichshain
Automatic | Oct 28, 20:00 Urban Spree, Friedrichshain