Strictly net – Berlin’s Netaudio Festival 2009

Producers, products, charts and consumers, this is a world the Netaudio movement doesn’t want to subject themselves to. Trust and attention are the keywords on their banner. Also they want to bring dignity back into the music business by eliminating the financial aspect as the roots of engagement. Driven by that philosophy and from a 150 candidates an cutting-edge festival of worldwide attention emerged. And no other underground club could have been a better venue than Berlin’s Maria am Ufer.

Immediately after the final festival line-up was aired, or better to say “wired”, an excited murmur went through the Berlin scene. How else could it be, in particular the artists and acts announced to play electronic music were watering Berlin’s mouths, since Netaudio festival was quite pampering the deep and tech house loving fraction by committing top-class artists like Dirk Diggler, Marko Fürstenberg, good old Tanith and last but not least the Russian heavy weights Anton Kubikov and Maxim Milyutenko, better known as SCSI-9 to play gigs on the prime time days.

Netaudio, that is a network online operating people driven by a special dedication to music. By running forums, blogs and labels the internet turns into an international platform for communication and exchange. And when events like homonymous festival get into the affair, then it is the move away from smileys, twitter and iPhone towards the daylight of a club night. Such a step is everything but irrelevant, since suddenly HTML characters turn into tangible and understandable people and actions. Sounds a bit like Goethe’s “let mankind be noble and helpful, just” – well, it is like that as everything’s a matter of the humanitarian values mentioned in the beginning. The effects of suchlike efforts are apparent: creativity can breathe a sigh of relief as it is not under financial pressure again, while music lovers get an inexpensive cultural playground where all participants can meet and let off their steam. A further, not unimportant result is that direct communication is happening again giving both sides get a certain feeling of success.

Having arrived the Maria am Ufer club, the only club selling “extremely tasty” Astra-Pils beer, first eye catching thing of the Saturday night was the massive plastic surgery that the usually charismatic, but still concrete pervaded face of the club underwent. The rough inner structures of the chill-out area got covered with soft cloths hanging down from the ceiling; no need to say that these got involved in the festival’s audiovisual master plan as well. The main floor was given the same honour of becoming a playground for projections, as additional screens were separating the actual floor from the bar area; hence Maria am Ufer club appeared a bit more intimate than usual. Biggest eye catcher was the wide projection screen almost embracing the whole dance floor. The boys of Berlin-based VJ group E-Gruppe could let off their audiovisual steam there. Being supported by three beamers and special software they turned the whole screen into one big projection.

First big surprise of the night was Falko Brocksieper’s DJ set, who often by mistake gets located in the lace-making-like minimal genre. Playing case-hardened driving and hypnotic deep tech house, he created the perfect basis for a long festival night. Following DJ Apoll kicked it up a notch and set the dance floor on fire with rich techno beats. However in terms of mixed genres his festival DJ set was a bit in need of consistency he it could have played much more catching. Throwing in one or two goa records was brilliant, but at some time the sound he played become too complex which had a negative influence on all things called mixing skills.

Kubikov and Milyutenko must have been travelled to Maria club by Berlin’s S-Bahn. Their live act started about half an hour later than scheduled. However it was worth all the waiting as from the very first grooves spread by the sound system SCSI-9’s music made the crowd go wild. Seeing Anton looking fully concentrated on his tech gear and watching Maxim knob-twiddling again immediately recalled the memories of their SCSI-9 gig at the Fortdance Festival 2007. Being escorted with ingenious visuals their performance was truly a delicacy that even a techno-affine city like Berlin doesn’t see every day.

Happenings on the other two floors weren’t less vivid. Above all the performances of Metastaz and Comfort Fit were massively rocking. The festival’s sound potpourri drew quite an interesting crowd ranging from original Berliners to visitors coming from all over the world. Of course all things happened were streamed live into the internet, amongst others for example by Berlin net radio bln.fm. Also conventional radio station like Deutschlandradio Kultur and Radio Fritz aired excerpts of the festival. It is going to be interesting to see how Netaudio movement’s next steps will look like.