[Abby’s Road] It’s not your Oma’s Bavaria


Well. My journey in the south will soon be over. It’s officially official: in a couple short months my better half, our cat and I will be packing up and heading north. Berlin, we’re coming at you. I must admit that while I adore Munich, I am looking forward to a change of scenery and a more, well, ‘multi-culti’ atmosphere. As this decision was being made I realized that aside from going on about the gigs I’ve hit, I never really talked all that much about the local music scene here as I see it. Maybe I should while I’m still a citizen of this great city. So. Munich.

On the surface, as with many big-ticket tourist destinations, Bavaria, specifically Munich, is a region/city steeped in tradition. Pre-war, post-war, lederhosen and beer, the preconceived notions of an international community based on history’s timeline are about as real as the glossy travel brochures have them appear to be. There is a revered beauty and charm connected to the region that cannot be denied. That said, while many young people visit Oktoberfest annually in full-blown tracht and regalia, Munich is about as rich with progressive musicians and art as a city comes.

There really is no physical nucleus to the “scene” in Munich…one I’ve encountered, anyway. It is really just one giant amalgam of local venues + musicians/fans sprinkled about the city. It’s all pleasantly accessible. And, if you can believe it, it’s pretty radio-centric as well. With online access and specialized streaming tools it had (shamefully) been years since I dialed into an actual station; since my college radio days in the early-90s I guess. It was on holiday visiting my Bavarian in-laws some 5 years ago when I heard a song on the car stereo I assumed was some long-lost Sarah Records gem I missed somehow. Confused, I settled and checked the tracklist from the show and was floored to find that it was Wild Nothing hailing from the VA/Washington, DC area WHERE I WAS LIVING AT THE TIME. Appreciate the irony: I had to come to Munich to hear someone from my backyard. On the radio. Right.

It’s mothership being the Bayerischer Rundfunk (BR), PULS Radio successfully caters to younger listeners and those who wish to hear a mindful mix of music running against the mainstream and a good dose of homegrown artists as well. Via their website one can become connected to a veritable cornucopia of music, pop-culture interviews, videos and events with a fingertip. The end of November brings the annual PULS Festival, the biggest indoor radio festival in Europe. Hosted in the classical music soundstages of the BR, it is an international evening of progressive and new live music. This year’s line-up included but was not limited to NYC’s Haerts, Copenhagen’s Reptile Youth and Munich’s own Aloa Input. The best of show this year happened to be a rap artist (!) from Augsburg. I give you Blindspot.

I suppose there is no better introductory example to what Munich artists have to offer than The Sound of Munich Now, a weekend of short, three-song performances highlighting Munich-area bands and artists. The “1 Abend, 20 Bands, 60 Songs” evening included Becquerels and Angela Aux. When all was said and done, however, Munich-duo joasihno was/is the standout.

I first saw them open for Youth Lagoon here in Munich. It was one of those fantastic nights when the unknown (as far as I was concerned) supporting artist completely stole the show. Based in Munich and raised in neighboring, smaller Bavarian towns, Christoph “Cico” Beck (Aloa Input) and Nico Sierig’s successful blending of analog pop-sensibilities and elektro-loops is terribly easy on the ears. If The Beta Band and, say, G!YBE had a gentle baby boy who became a music enthusiast and was raised by Jonsi? That’s Joasihno. Yes. That’ll do. Having supported the likes of The Notwist, these fellows are no strangers to live performances. The bonus? Their live gigs are an absolute dream. Listen to their latest LP and past endeavors here. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it: don’t be a cheapskate. If you like it, buy the physical record, damnit. Everyone has to eat.

So. There you have it. Merely scratching the surface, yes, but a small homage to the place that has welcomed me with open arms and has been my comfortable home for the last 3 years. I will miss you, Munich. You taught me a language, kept me safe and hosted many of my favorite artists, but it’s time to move on and see what the world has in store elsewhere. More soon…

Happy weekend.

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