Von Spar at Week-End Festival

Since the October  release of ‘StreetLife’ (Italic Recordings), their long-anticipated fourth album, Von Spar  have been at the centre of much critical acclaim.

The Cologne-based band,  first came on the scene in 2003 and swiftly gained recognition for their heterogeneous style. Sebastian Blume, Jan Philipp Janzen, Christopher Marquez and Phillip Tielsch have been praised for their ability to create catchy tunes from a myriad of musical genres. ‘StreetLife’ skilfully combines elements of Krautrock, synth pop, techno and more. It is a testament to Von Spar’s musical versatility and has already been dubbed one of the ‘albums of the year.’ 

Von-Spar_Streetlife

So it was to an excited home crowd that the band performed at Stadthalle Mulheim’s Week-End festival last Saturday. For the first half of the set they were joined on stage by Canadian singer and co-collaborator Marker Starling (aka Chris Cummings) whose poignant vocals feature on four out of eight tracks on the new album. With the audience fired-up following a punchy delivery of ‘Chain of Command’, two saxophonists joined the stage for a spine-tingling rendition of ‘Breaking Formation.’  A highlight of the evening was the band’s performance of ‘One human minute’ whose moreish beats and epic vocals make it impossible not to dance to.

The night’s set epitomised the musical scope that we have come to expect from Von Spar. With several star album reviews and a host of gigs booked for the new year, Von Spar’s dedication to genre-bending music is clearly paying off.

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Egyptian Lover at Roxy Club

Egyptian Lover at Roxy Club

On Friday night hip-hop legend and dance music pioneer Egyptian Lover played at Roxy Club in celebration of the venue’s 31st birthday.

Having first come to fame in the 80’s with tracks like ‘Egypt Egypt’ making their mark on the Miami and New York electro scenes, Egyptian Lover’s sound remains fresh to this day.

Whilst Roxy Club normally attracts a similar breed of techno/house fans, on Friday the  place was packed with a mix of hip-hop heads, break-dancers and what can only be described as middle-aged IT-geeks. The diversity of the crowd can be taken as a testament to the wide and surviving appeal of Egyptian Lover’s sound.

In true old-school style, he had the whole mixed-bunch of us fist-pumping and chanting along to him within seconds. The allure of Egyptian Lover has as much to do with his unbridled enthusiasm as a performer as it does his infectious beats. He lacks the uptight attitude that we have nowadays come to expect from hip-hop artists. From dancing ‘like an Egyptian’ behind the decks to mingling with the crowd, his down-to-earth demeanour makes him impossible not to like. Eat your heart out Kanye because Egyptian Lover is here to stay.

Marika Hackman: Gebäude 9

Marika Hackman: Gebäude 9

Fresh from supporting Alt-J on their latest UK tour and with her debut album due out in February there has never been a more exciting time to see Marika Hackman.

Hailed as one the most arresting acts to emerge from the UK in recent years singer-songwriter Hackman is currently touring Europe with Brooklyn Indie band The Antlers. On Saturday she played in Cologne at legendary venue Gebäude 9. Situated on the ‘wrong’ side of the river in the city’s old industrial area, Gebäude 9 has long been recognised for its strong line-up of emerging musicians. However it also has a reputation for hard-to-please crowds, to the likes of which many a warm-up act has fallen victim in the past.

Hackman’s ability to bring the room to a standstill clearly reflects the magnitude of her talent. Whilst her haunting vocals held everyone’s attention, her offbeat demeanour, captured by eerie backlighting, made for a tangibly unique atmosphere. You could cut the crowd’s silence with a knife.

Although most there had come to see The Antlers, a band whose music differs considerably from Hackman’s, the minute she stepped off stage she was met by a flood of new fans. Hackman’s capacity to collect new admirers wherever she performs is proof that true talent transcends musical genres. I am certainly not alone in awaiting February with baited breath.