Live Music in Berlin, by Barnaby Pole

By Barnaby Pole, the guitarist and singer of the’dialekt. Their new EP, “Get along with . . . the’dialekt” can be downloaded from iTunes and Amazon.


I first moved to Berlin over nine years ago, already under the impression that it was the best place ever. A young, hopeful musician bored of scraping a living in the homogeneous offices of London, looking for time and inspiration. I thought I’d stay for six months. I’m still here.

Berlin accidentally reinvents itself every decade. The poor, dusty town I first fell in love with has been replaced by a more self-conscious, aspiring capital. In the 1920s and 1990s the city attracted artists for the same reason: it was cheap. The post-reunification techno scene exploded because Berlin had huge amounts of empty space for The Kids to have fun in. It attracted a crowd. Since then prices have escalated yet the musicians and artist still flock here. Why? Well, because for musicians and artists, it’s still the best place ever.

DJ in Berlin - Berlin's Live Music

The music scene traditionally fell two ways. The technophiles danced around the abandoned warehouses and the punks moshed in the sweaty bars of Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg. But look a little more closely and you’ll see a major European city expressing its new diversity on most street corners. An excited, younger crowd squeeze into the basement of Zosch for the legendary Wednesday-night Jazz, where old-timers play dixie and creole, all night, for free, until they get so drunk they fall off the stage (not a metaphor). The indie-loving hipsters seek meaning in the beautiful confines of Lido, where the next-big-things can be found shaking their bits. Hit the river beach-bars for a healthy slice of hip-hop. It’s all here.

Some Insider Tips

For live music, get your hands on a listings mag and be informed. Berlin doesn’t have a ‘live-venue-quarter’ so it pays to know where you’re going. For clubbers, take a risk on a place you haven’t heard of. Every minute of every day, there’s a dance floor going somewhere, yet the ‘major’ clubs are only open a few times a week. Explore the chaos of Wilden Renate for an authentic Berlin experience.

Most of all, though, follow your nose. Or, rather, your ears. I’ve been recording and performing in Berlin for nearly a decade and I still regularly find myself in previously unknown bars watching something cool. Start in Neukölln and head north, and don’t be afraid to talk to some Berliners. They’ll probably just tell you that it’s the best place ever, and invite you to join in.

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