Lost in Berlin’s BerMuDa triangle

When hearing a Berliner speaking of BerMuDa then against all things called geography knowledge the speech is still about the Spree River-based techno Eldorado and not about the archipelago close to North America. In wet and cold November palms are not swaying in the wind, hence climatically seen perfect conditions to have a big indoor bash in Tempelhof’s old airplane hangars. On the occasion of the Berlin Music Days the former airport and one of Europe’s largest buildings was chosen to be the stage of Fly BerMuDa, a big room techno festival featuring a multiplicity of internationally known electronic music acts.

The Tempelhof airport building is about 1.2 kilometers long. Since ever and even in times when Tempelhof was still a real airport, two of the main hangars were used to host concerts and fashion events like MTV’s Designerama. The political fight about keeping the Tempelhof area as conventional airport is still unforgotten, but now, some years later, the entire plot is used for events and relaxation only. Where else in the world could you barbecue right next to an old runway? Same applies to parties; where else in the world could you listen to great music in an avionic setting? Hence there was no better venue to host the BerMuDa closing event “Fly BerMuDa”. Onomastically seen a dodgy name though, as an association with Indonesian breakdown airline Garuda isn’t all too far fetched. The festival had no problems at all and luckily people couldn’t know the true promise of a plane crashing in Papua New Guinea.

Fastening seat belts was an obligation though as a glance at the line-up dominated by techno legends instantly revealed the explosive potential the indoor festival had. Being entirely organized by the masterminds of Berlin’s Watergate Club, the music program showcased quite some delicacies, in particular at the second hangar with acts like Thomas Fehlmann, Âme and Henrik Schwarz, who were delivering pure deep house madness, ranging from hypnotic and mental to techy and driving tracks.

For sophisticated clubbers Thomas Fehlmann’s live act was surely the best piece of the whole festival. From my point of view Thomas’ live act was scheduled too early, though it was definitely the corner stone for all things that happened later at hangar 2. On the main stage Watergate resident DJ Sebastian Wilck set the rock rolling and led over to the first live act of the night: The Koletzkis. On the second floor another Watergate resident DJ Henrik Bertsch started the night.

Booka Shade were the surprise of the night. They didn’t miss to take everyone on a ride through their percussive and terrifically rocking world of techno. Shows being aseptically exempted from crowd interaction – speaking of later appearing Paul Kalkbrenner – can take leaf(s) out of Walter Merziger’s and Arno Kammermeier’s book. The Booka Shade boys were enjoying their gig that much that Arno was about to do a stage dive, if there wouldn’t have been the massive stage pit.

At about midnight Tiefschwarz were starting their engines on the stage of hangar two. Having set up their technical gear and mixing instruments behind a semipermeable curtain, their show appeared pretty dark and mystic; an atmosphere that only changed when Ali Schwarz’ high volume chants vocalisations were cutting its path through the air.

At almost the same time Cocoon label honcho, marathon man and blond angel Sven Väth was starting this graveshift on the main stage that meanwhile got transformed into an XXL DJ booth. Instantly he was launching his beat salvoes and let no leg stand still. Though, against the background of how he is usually djing and DJ sets brimming over with emotions and agility, the Fly BerMuDa show of Obertshausen born superstar DJ appeared a bit shortspoken; a football player would speak of a compulsory game.

Paul Kalkbrenner’s live act at the Fly BerMuDa showed a likewise mentality of working to rule only. If sharp tongues would be gloomy then they could mean that actually it would have been sufficient to put some virtually knob-twiddling random bald head on the stage performing to Kalkbrenner’s CD being played in the background. Hard core Kalki fans surely didn’t care about that as finally they had the chance to meet their idol music-wise in a big room again and not signing Berlin Calling DVDs in one of the furniture or garden stores around Berlin. The missing motivation some artists were showing at the controls is surely not something people can attribute to the festival itself, this has to be addressed to the particular performer. Things happening at hangar 2 were just outstanding though. Perfectly introduced by preceding Sebo K in particular Dixon, Âme and Henrik Schwarz set the place on fire and gave a lesson in terms of crowd interaction and how to celebrate electronic music together.

Hangars are made to shelter airplanes and were not built to host concerts and festivals. Against this background the sound system did a great job and people complaining about Fly BerMuDa having had a mushy acoustic don’t know what they are talking about. Two years in a row the Berlin Festival (also held at Tempelhof’s hangars) was showcasing how bad a soundsystem can be. The official catering by Cookies was the only pathetic thing around. If ruining its reputation is their business objective then they are on a good way and should expect over-compliance. Strong beefy expectations raised when reading ‘American Beef Burger’ on the menue got instantly badly disappointed when a crown cork sized overpriced piece of meat in tiny bread roll went over the counter. Hopefully this will change next year when it’s time for the Berlin Music Days again, although the rest can stay the way it is, of course with some slight changes and optimisations every festivals needs that just got kicked off.