Monday, 1 August 2022

Gig Review: Hamburg Booze Cruise 2022 Day 1 24/6/22

In 2019, Emma and I attended Hamburg Booze Cruise and agreed it was one of the best festival experiences of our lives. We got tickets for the 2020 edition as soon as possible and got excited as the line-up was announced. Unfortunately, for reasons we’re all painfully aware of, we had to wait patiently until 2022 before we could go back again. But the time finally arrived and no pandemics, train strikes or awful airports were going to stop us!

Hamburg Booze Cruise takes place in five different venues, as well as on a boat, around the St Pauli area and hosts a selection of top quality international bands as well as a whole host of amazing bands from Germany. For me, I was especially excited to see the European bands as there is a whole host of brilliant bands in mainland Europe and now, because of Brexit, it’s going to be extremely difficult for them to come to the UK to tour which is really disappointing. When the schedule was announced we made our plans and, as with all festivals that have seriously stacked line-ups, we had to make some decisions over clashes but when the plan was finished we knew we were in for a fun-filled weekend.

After getting our festival wristbands from the lovely Cruise Records, our first band of the day was at Molotow Club. Originally we were hoping to see Bikini Beach open the festival for us but unfortunately they had to pull out and were replaced by Abramowicz. The five piece are from Hamburg, which I guess explains how they were able to jump on to the bill at the last minute. I was quite pleased about this as I’d been aware of the band for a while and this was my first opportunity to check them out. If you haven’t heard before Ambramowicz before, they play a soulful style of melodic punk rock, with the band’s lead singer having a deep a husky vocal. I really enjoyed Ambramowicz and they were a great start to the festival for us.

Next we made the fifteen minute trek to Hafenklang and Goldener Salon for the next group of bands. Due to the distance between venues, you do kind of have to make a bit of a commitment to venues for a sustained amount of time so you don’t tire yourself out jumping from venue to venue throughout the weekend. We arrived at Hafenklang not long after Saarbrücken’s Sidewalk Surfers had begun their set. The four piece play what I think is best described as street punk music. I had listened to Sidewalk Surfers a little bit in preparation for the festival and enjoyed it but seeing them live really took my enjoyment to the next level. I think a big part of this was due to the fact they were clearly enjoying themselves on the stage and I love when I see that. The band’s bass player in particular looked so stoked to be playing Booze Cruise. With plenty of songs about friendship, growing up and partying, Sidewalk Surfers were a perfect choice for the festival. I enjoyed the set so much I made sure to grab a record before leaving the venue.

Upstairs in Hafenklang there is a venue named Goldener Salon. I actually only ended up seeing one band there the entire festival and that was Friends With Boats. Friends With Boats are a new band in the German punk scene who have thus far only released one song. This was enough to make me want to see them live however as it’s a superb song. After seeing them live I can confirm that they have a few more superb songs. On the CPRW Podcast, I spoke about how Friends With Boats are a collection of older gentleman who all looked as if they were having the time of their lives on stage. I guess playing in the band acts as a bit of escapism for them. They played a hugely enjoyable set and I look forward to them releasing more music soon.

Back in Hafenklang it was time for Italy’s Second Youth. The band had been on a tour of Germany on the lead up to the festival and had had all kinds of van trouble on their adventures. They were probably quite relieved to have made it to Hamburg to play the festival. I wasn’t overly familiar with the band before the festival, aside from the small amount of research I did, and I was really keen to check them out. Playing music that’s a bit oi!, a bit melodic punk, a bit gruff and a lot of energy, Second Youth capture a sound that I don’t hear a lot of and I loved it. Down the front they seemed to have a bit of a fan club who knew every word, which is always great to see. I recognised Friday Night, On And On and 1992 from my brief listening before the festival and had a great time hearing them live. There was a funny moment where the band’s guitarist introduced Friday night when in fact they were supposed to be playing a song named Morons. This was a brilliant first time seeing Second Youth and I was now looking forward to seeing them again the next day aboard the MS Tonne.

After Second Youth we made the walk back up to Molotow Club for The Carolyn. The trio had travelled all the way from Atlanta, Georgia, to play the festival and I was pleased to see that a very nice sized crowd had gathered to see them. The thing that struck me hard when we went back in to the venue was just how hot it was. We were not expecting this and had no recollection of the venues being so warm back in 2019. It had been a very warm day in Hamburg and it definitely affected the venues. (Why don’t they have air con?) Trying to ignore the stream of sweat that had begun falling down my back, I settled in to watch The Carolyn. Something I really enjoyed and didn’t notice when I had listened to them previously is how the band had two lead singers. This always adds such a cool dimension to bands and does a great job in keeping them sounding fresh. I assume that the setlist was majorly made up of songs from their recent Gunner Records release, Rhythm Of My Own Decay, and they got a great reception. I hope I get the opportunity to see The Carolyn again soon, at a time where I’m not so distracted by being so overly warm and uncomfortable.

Next we made our way into the Molotow Club’s backyard where a stage had been constructed since the last time we were in here. The first band we saw play the stage were Australia’s Press Club who were on a huge European tour. I know a lot of people talk extremely highly of Press Club’s live show and I was very keen to experience it for the first time. What an incredible band Press Club are! Natalie is one of the best front people I’ve seen in some time, doing an incredible job in controlling the crowd. They played to one of the most rambunctious crowds I saw at the whole festival with Natalie at times jumping into the crowd to join in the fun. The energy that the whole band displayed during the set was something else, I guess being from Australia they are better equipped to cope with the heat than we were as we had to take a little break during their set to grab something to eat before going back to enjoy the rest of the set. Songs such as Headwreck and Suburbia were the big stand outs for me but what a set it was. The band are back in the UK in November and I think we’ll do our best to get tickets to one of their shows. Press Club are a band that everyone should be talking about.

After Press Club’s stunning set we ventured back into the Molotow sweat box for Between Bodies. The four piece were only playing their eighth show ever which made their set even more impressive. The Internet tells me they released their debut EP just before the pandemic hit which sadly put a stop to any shows that they had planned to promote it. With no shows to play, the band focussed their energy into writing and recording their upcoming debut full length. But now they can play shows and it seemed that it wasn’t just us who were super excited to catch them. Playing a punchy emo style with elements of early Alkaline Trio and Spanish Love Songs, listening to the songs and getting the opportunity to see them live has me convinced that Between Bodies are on the track to some very big and exciting things. With three lead singers it means that they have so many options with the way that they approach their music and this works so well for their live dynamic. I was well and truly captivated by their set. Following a band as good as Press Club must have surely been quite daunting for a new band but Between Bodies absolutely delivered during their set. There was a tightness which given that they had to borrow Snareset’s drummer as a stand in was all the more impressive. I’m so excited about Between Bodies and I can’t wait to be that guy that says ‘I saw them play their eighth show’ when they’re taking over the music world. Get on board the Between Bodies train now!

Following the Between Bodies set, we hurried to a new venue for us – Nochtwache. After only one wrong turn we eventually found our way to the venue. I have to admit that I was a little disappointed by Nochtwache as a venue. It looked a cool spot from the pictures I saw online before the festival but upon arriving I realised that the stage was quite a long, thin one. This meant that the drummer, rather than being behind the band, was in a long line with them. This took a little getting used to and I think this did affect my enjoyment of Custody. I also messed up with my timings as the band were well into their set by the time we arrived. They started earlier than I thought they did and we sadly ended up missing quite a chunk of their set. I was really impressed by how tight they were however, as well as how good lead singer Sami’s vocals were live. I just struggled with the layout of the stage, it was weird to see a band play in that formation and took some getting used to. I look forward to seeing Custody again at some point.

The final band of our night was Shellycoat performing a No Use For A Name cover set at Überquell. In 2019 we’d seen Shellycoat do a Get Up Kids cover set but didn’t managed to see their own live set. This ended up being the case again as we managed to see the NUFAN cover set but sadly one of the members of the band got sick which meant Shellycoat had to drop out of their own set. I’m not the most hardcore of NUFAN fans but always enjoyed them whenever I listened and I was looking forward to seeing what Shellycoat would do with their songs. I expected an emotional set full of big sing-alongs and that’s exactly what I got. Karen Eumes’ vocals suited the songs so well and really gave the songs this extra emotion that I’m sure most of the room got caught up in. Running through timeless NUFAN classics such as Dumb Reminders, Soul Mate, Justified Black Eye, Not Your Saviour and, of course, International You Day. This was a special Booze Cruise moment and one I’m so pleased I got to experience.

That concluded the first day of Hamburg Booze Cruise 2022 and what a way to start the festival it was! We still had two busy days of music ahead of us and were so pumped for what was to come.

This review was written by Colin Clark. Photos by Emma Prew.

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