Basement Bash: Berlin's hub for new, emerging music

Since arriving in Berlin, I have been completely immersed in the music culture here. Not only have I befriended the students of BIMM (British and Irish Modern Music Institute) Berlin, but with the multitude of cheap gigs in kooky bars, techno DJs in the more extravagant clubs and, like every art form in the city, in the streets of Warshauer Straße and the U-Bahn - improvised and free.

I was first invited to Basement Bash by BIMM student, friend and guitarist, Tristan Banks, to see his band Ritzy Park at a Halloween Basement Bash event back in October and have been to every Bash since. With three to four up-and-coming bands of varying genres each time, it's definitely worth a visit.

Ritzy Park  with Tristan Banks performing at Marie Antoinette's Basement Bash, October 2017

Ritzy Park with Tristan Banks performing at Marie Antoinette's Basement Bash, October 2017

In a very concealed alley behind the BVG central offices in Jannowitzbrücke, the hidden bar Marie Antoinette has a discreet buzz to it, with a large outdoor area covered with smoking hipsters and emerging musicians. The entry is only €5, the staff and the Basement Bash organisers are all very welcoming, all of them speak English and have very unique ties to the BIMM university - most of the organisers and bands are or were part of the school.

The most striking thing about the place is the decor, lighting and atmosphere. Covered in old, antique-looking chandeliers that change colour and light effects - some bulbs are missing but that adds to its authentic appearance. This 'antique' look is starkly contrasted with a modern graffiti mural of Marie Antoinette herself, a DJ mixing tracks for the interludes between bands at the back, a lit-up bar and the centre stage. In the calmer moments of the evening, the windows look out directly upon the Spree flowing past.

Last Friday, on the 19th January, I was able to catch The Bowdashes; a female, underground-western-style-punk band from Copenhagen. Their lead singer introduced their set with an autoharp, an instrument I don't believe I've ever seen used on a live set before and it added such a surreal and echoed feel that followed through the whole performance. Both ladies were vibrant and passionate guitarists with clear, and sometimes haunting, vocals that crowd really rocked out to. The drummer was impeccable - the energy and consistency of the drums really added to each song and upheld the 90's punk feel the band created.

The Bowdashes  at Basement Bash VIII, 19th January

The Bowdashes at Basement Bash VIII, 19th January

The other band I saw, Substereo, also had an alternative rock style, including an incredible drum and guitar build up that created a momentum of head-banging in the Marie Antoinette. Some songs, including My Mesopotamia (which I now have in my Spotify playlist!), have an almost Oriental feel and background in contrast to the exciting, pumped-up guitar riffs. However, the stories and beat to their songs had an almost pirate, high seas beat and theme that really worked together well with the lead singer's voice. We also got an incredible visual performance; the guitarist once got on the lead singer's shoulders as they both played guitar and performed incredible music.

The whole band  Substereo , Basement Bash VIII, 19th January

The whole band Substereo, Basement Bash VIII, 19th January

Small stunt done by  Substereo,  Basement Bash VIII, 19th January

Small stunt done by Substereo, Basement Bash VIII, 19th January

Altogether, the Marie Antoinette's atmosphere, the great staff and organizers, the decor and, of course, the musical and aesthetic performance of the bands makes for a wonderful and unique night out in Berlin.

You can find the Basement Bash events on their Facebook page:

- https://www.facebook.com/BasementBashBerlin/

Their next arranged event is their one year anniversary! Find the event here:

- https://www.facebook.com/events/407846272961731/

And both The Bowdashes and Substereo's tunes are available on Soundcloud and Spotify!

The Bowdashes: https://open.spotify.com/artist/3yggQzdnSmDNl7xydK3WF4?si=ucz_bEF1T6Otj9WCtmsDgw

Substereo: https://open.spotify.com/artist/0y6u3DMeXrchAJcTlv9LSL?si=pHYBuKpFSuSd1Pg0zaaI6A