Music & clubs

Riding the summer music festi-coaster

From Friedrichshain to rural Poland, from techno to violins: whatever you’re after, this festival season has you covered. The season kicks off with the last Freqs of Nature (Jul 4-9) Niedergörsdorf ever.

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Photo by Christian Hedel

From Friedrichshain to rural Poland, from techno to violins: whatever you’re after, this festival season has you covered.

Summer is here, and myriad festivals around Germany attempt to lure you with promises of lake views, hyper-industrial backdrops, military airport hangars and quaint forest clearings. To find the perfect festival in Berlin, the greater Brandenburg area and beyond – and tailor-made for your dancing needs – here’s our annual summer festival round-up (or find our simple list view here).

If you prefer your festival to be on the brainy side of things – and indoors you might want to remain within city limits where it’s a little more avant-garde than in the countryside. Taking over ex-crematorium Silent Green, Urban Spree and Griessmühle, Krake Festival (Jul 24-31) is known for its dark and heady fare of experimental electronics mixed with playful tech geekery from Eomac & Sal Stapleton to Paula Temple to Mary Ocher.

At Radialsystem V, musician and performance artist Laurie Anderson spearheads the fourth edition of A L’Arme Festival (Aug 1-4), taking the stage with avant-bassist Bill Laswell for a violin and vocal-centric electro-acoustic performance. Also billed: bass player Joëlle Léandre, Carl Michael von Hausswolff, Mark Fell and more.

Take a little break from all the intensity and indulge in Pop-Kultur (Aug 15-17) shenanigans. At Kulturbrauerei, the three-day event features commissioned works by Berlin faves Kat Frankie and Pan Daijing as well as a wide range of performances from Drangsal to Noga Erez to Neneh Cherry.

A little further east at Funkhaus, it’s all about staging the brand-new. Born out of the Michelberger Music Festival in 2016, over 150 musicians and producers will gather for a week-long collaborative residency at the majestic GDR compound. During the course of People (Aug 18-19), they will present their musical efforts ranging from electronic music to folk to Berlin audiences for two days.

Since its inception in 1982, Berlin Atonal (Aug 22-26) has always had a knack for unheard-of auditory extremes providing a platform for acts such as Psychic TV or Einstürzende Neubauten. This year, Astrid Sonne, Beatrice Dillon, Helena Hauff and Hiro Kone are among the chosen to follow in their footsteps at Kraftwerk.

2018 marks the last edition of Freqs of Nature (Jul 4-9, Niedergörsdorf) ever – your best bet in case you were gutted to miss Fusion this year. With a genre mix ranging from atmospheric techno to more IDM/experimental sounds, the festival’s got electro lovers from all persuasions covered.

Taking inspiration from Iceland Airwaves in Reykjavik, Alinæ Lumr (Aug 17-19) has become a serious festival contender just 50km outside of Berlin, turning the small town of Storkow into a somewhat idyllic festival site. This year’s headliners include Slowdive, Blonde Redhead and Baths.

We’re now approaching the festivals for which you definitely need to stock up on supplies as German countryside also means no Späti for miles. In case you missed Fever Ray’s Berlin show in February, you better head to Ferropolis this summer, the industrial backdrop of Melt (Jul 13-15). The xx, Florence & The Machine, Tyler, the Creator are also signed. If you like the electronic side of Melt but prefer your festivals a little smaller, the Ry X and Frank Wiedemann-curated Sacred Ground (Jul 13-15) might be more up your alley. Travelling up north to Brüssow: Roman Flügel, Ätna and Gerd Janson.

To round things off, Berlin club institutions Bachstelzen, Kater Blau and Holzmarkt join forces and venture all the way to Torzym, Poland for a suitable location for Garbicz Festival (Aug 2-5). Don’t worry, though, catering and bus fare are included in the €300 ticket price. But with an undisclosed line-up, you might just have to trust their taste in music.