What a strange year it’s been. Live music increasingly feels like a distant memory. Other than seeing a friend perform, this has been my first concert in almost a year, when I saw Bernadette La Hengst and the Chor der Statistik during the brief lull between lockdowns. I’ve made some of my own music and written some record reviews, but lately I’ve been busy with a new job and other life changes.
I’m still pretty skeptical about attending large indoor shows (and they aren’t really happening here anyway), but when I heard about a release party for a feminist songbook from Ich brauche eine Genie in the garden of ://about blank, that got my attention. The legendary sisters behind the Ich brauche eine Genie series, Kerstin and Sandra Grether, are charming and unbelievably enthusiastic. You couldn’t ask for better hosts or moderators for an event like this. They’re full of praise and humor, and they have an amusing ability to finish each other’s sentences and pick up right where the other left off.
The night opened with their own band, The Doctorella, which is indie rock with lyrics in the same delightful vein as their personalities. They were followed by Matching Outfits, whose intricate instrumental interplay and amusing lyrics were only outshine by their truly impressive three-part harmonies. Then came Babsi Tollwut, who rapped solid texts against the patriarchy, and Katrin Achinger, formerly of Kastrierte Philosophen, who claimed she hadn’t performed live in 20 years. I wouldn’t have noticed if she hadn’t said it; her voice and guitarwork were as dexterous as ever.
At that point, the pace of the evening sped up and the rest of the artists only performed one or two brief songs. It all went by in a bit of a blur, and I’ve probably left a name or two out or mixed up the ordering. Bernadette La Hengst, formerly of Die Braut haut ins Auge, played a keyboard and sang a song with her daughter. Drunk at Your Wedding told stories of travel on the cheap and sang about the kindness of strangers. FaulenzA played an accordion and spoke out against hyperconsumerism. Malonda rapped about embracing the fire inside and brought a friend to dance with her and through the audience.
Around that point, the clock struck 10 and no more music was allowed to be played (although the neighboring club somehow didn’t seem to obey that rule). The show carried on nonetheless with spoken word and a capella renditions. Annette Benjamin, formerly of Hans-A-Plast, read aloud the sarcastic classic “Für ’ne Frau”. Safi turned her songs in poetic mystery. Parole Trixi, Sandra Grether’s “other” band, turned their winding lyrics into scenic slam poetry. Die Supererbin told us tales of sexism and stress under lockdown. Hannsjana gave us another dose of humor against regressive reactionaries. And finally, The Toten Crackhuren im Kofferraum sang and acted out their frustrations with the job center and social judgment.
After a few closing remarks from the Grether sisters and their publisher, that was that! I naturally made a stop at the merch booth and picked up a copy of the book. The Grethers had explained that part of their inspiration was frustration with the lack of representation of women in major music media and festivals, and so they wanted to create something that would celebrate the many women artists that risked being left out once again. It’s a hefty book full of pictures, lyrics, art, and ephemera from 70+ performers. Most of the musicians are fairly new and young, but there are a few old favorites in there, too, like Malaria!, Gudrun Gut, Die Lassie Singers, Britta, and the aforementioned Die Braut haut ins Auge and Hans-A-Plast. Barbara Morgenstern, who I saw a couple years ago playing with Britta, is also present, along with all of the acts who performed at the release party and many more. It’s a really nicely put together collection!