It’s been a while.
My locale has changed. Much like when I made the move from DC to Munich 4 years ago, my head has been about as far from writing as it could possibly be. Attempts to weave a cozy expat nest for myself while simultaneously trying to blend into (a new) German society has proven a challenging preoccupation, seeming to wipe my brain free of all levels of creativity and thoughtful anecdotes. I am, however, cautiously happy to report that after nearly ½ a year, I’m finally feeling like a Berliner. So much so that I was able to dip my tour guide toes into the pool for the loveliest bloke from Bristol last weekend, successfully (more on that in later installments). As I’ve ambled my way around this city, this Berlin, as with all of the other places I have lived, the same control is beating in my head and heart as different variables insist upon crashing before my feet. As I stumble, alone or in the company of others, my records lift me up. While it means much more to me (and my sanity) than yours, it looks like I’m back. Take me or leave me.
The beauty of Berlin, as compared to, say, Munich (or even DC) is that I feel more comfortable in my own skin here than in any other city I have ever called home. There is an unkempt sexiness and invincibility lining the streets and silhouettes of everyone. Berlin is perfectly imperfect. Moreover, and most importantly in this the Knox Road arena, I have interminable options as far as live music is concerned. When I say everyone plays here…I mean everyone. And if they aren’t, they’re striving to. I have no desire to land myself completely in the poorhouse, so feverish list-making and gentle gig selecting is necessary, as I am, for the most part, jobless. That said, I manage. Thanks for asking.
Rambling on with specifics of gigs attended seems futile. East India Youth, Lymbyc Systym, This Will Destroy You and a laundry list of jangly greatness at Pop Fest Berlin, to name a few. Per my years gone by, there hasn’t been a lack of live music in my life. Thankfully. Most recently, however, I was able to catch the quintet who provided a delightful chapter to the soundtrack of my first Berlin summer: Alvvays.
The young and lovesick-but-in-it-for-the-long-haul “Archie, Marry Me” hasn’t gotten old despite a six-month heavy rotation on my own turntable and on radio senders far and wide, and is probably the best introduction to this troupe of Canadians, if you need one. Iced with platinum blonde hair and armed with a deliciously vacant voice deceptively wrapped around sardonic lyrics, frontwoman Molly Rankin conjures up thoughts of the girlier side of the C86 aesthetic. Their s/t debut could charm the pants off of most every card carrying, aging, indie pop romantic. You know, people like me. Ahem.
There is a sunny disposition and restlessness behind their quick witted lyrics and guitar riffs, all of which come through in both the live and recorded settings. That’s not to say they can’t carry off hazy melancholia also, because, well, “Red Planet”:
‘Met at a seminar/Shared the same table/Brushed by you at the bar/You didn’t match your description/And soon became my prescription’
Sigh. It was a glorious set I wish could have continued for at least another 20 minutes.
Unfortunately, last week they were only the support for Foxygen and I high-tailed it out of the venue shortly after the California Ambassadors of Peace and Magic (snore) began as to preserve the lilt in my step and my whiskey-warmed belly for the quick walk home. The good news: you can catch Alvvays in North America now through the new year and they’ll return to Europe in early 2015 to headline. They’ll be back.
[Abby’s Road is a Knox Road feature published on Fridays throughout the year.]