Music & clubs

Pop-Kultur 2018: Cherry popped

Cameron Cook surveys Day 2 of Pop-Kultur, where he went to see two punk legends discuss politics in music. But to hell with the chats... it was Nenah Cherry who was the real highlight of the day.

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Photo by Roland Owsnitzki

After yesterday’s emotionally loaded talk on the BDS boycotts of Pop-Kultur’s own festival, I was ready to dial down the angst a bit, both from myself and from talk participants. Therefore, skipping the panel “The Kids Are Alt-Right? Der Rechtsruck und die Popkultur: Ein Deutsch-landfunk-Kultur-Talk”, I headed to the Kulturbrauerei Kino to sit in on “Private Armies and Bad Behaviour”, a discussion with the musicians Vivien Goldman and Kat Frankie, on punk music as protest. Both artists will be performing a work commissioned by Pop-Kultur exploring the politics of their respective music tomorrow, and the talk served as a sort of taster for the event. On the fact of it, Goldman and Frankie have a lot in common: both consider their work feminist, both come from decidedly underground communities (Goldman from the punk/post-punk/dub scene of 1970/1980s London, and Frankie from the antifolk scene of the oughties). Hearing them speak together, however, they debated several topics quite energetically – with the exception of a mini-rant against cultural appropriation on the part of Goldman that went pretty much unchallenged. Still, I left the talk with a much better understanding and appreciation of both artists, and how one can balance commercial appeal (Frankie competed in Eurovision with her project KEØMA, after all) and anti-capitalist pop. 

Speaking of, Pop-Kultur’s music programming continued to bring the tunes into Day 2 – beginning with DIVES, a three-piece post-punk group from Vienna, who sound like the Raincoats wading through the urban wastelands of Eastern Europe. I was extremely excited to check out Ace Tee and Kwam.e, the Hamburg-based rappers who mix hip-hop and neo-soul into spectacularly catchy songs unlike anything deutschrap has ever seen (at least, to my knowledge – several confused-looking Germans in fitted baseball caps who watched the show from the back of the room would probably agree). But it was Neneh Cherry, who headlined the Kesselhaus, who really stole the show. Promoting her upcoming record, the concert was low on Cherry’s past hits (although rousing versions of “Woman” and “Manchild” were performed to rapturous applause), but it didn’t matter in the slightest – her new tracks are on par with anything she’s released in her 30-plus-year-career. At the end of the show, a random woman handed me a beer, proclaiming that I had “earned it” by dancing for the entirety of the set! Thanks, new friend! Perhaps I’ll see you again down the front on Day 3…