Monday, 2 April 2012
The Vaginal Blockade
There are sometimes when a record or cassette is just not good enough, there are sometimes when viewing a posting on YouTube is just not good enough, sometimes you see a line up for an event and think ... "I have to be there.....that's got I have to be there written all over it". Vagina Dentata Organ & The New Blockaders live at the NK Gallery in Berlin was such an event. I was there.
On the Saturday we battled through snow showers, gale force winds, hail storms and lightening strikes to get to the NK Gallery and believe me the venue is not an easy place to find. Elsenstr.52 is a kebab house, it is down the passage at the side of the building into a courtyard of broken down vehicles and detritus that the venue is found.
The gallery is small and because the evening was so special the place was heaving.
In the main performance area there hung seven mirrors, a backdrop film of four Vagina Dentata Organ picture discs was greeted with applause. Taped applause, looped and mixed with whistling and cheering. Anticipation of what was about to happen was high, I looked around and everybody was smiling. A couple of dozen toilet rolls were systematically placed in front of the mirrors by two hooded figures. Down a lengthy corridor at the gallery entrance 10 drummers started drumming, lead by Jordi Valls - as they got nearer the drums got more intense and mixed with the looped tapes (which were also getting louder) the room became one of aural hypnotic chaos. As the drummers moved onto the small stage in front of the revolving turntables Jordi began to smash the mirrors with a small hammer. For the next 10 minutes or so glass was smashed, shards flew around the venue, kicked and crushed, Jordi flung the hammer about, cutting himself in the process. The performance ended with Jordi leading the drummers back down the venue corridor as the looped applause faded to leave the film of spinning discs. Silence...and everyone was still smiling.
A performance that left me stunned...it may sound simple, but like I said..this was a time when playing a record or watching a clip on YouTube just isn't good enough - experience was all.
The New Blockaders are (at the moment) like London buses, they don't perform for ages then two live appearances in a month!
At first two Blockaders took to the stage to present their irritable noise, insectual, scratching, irritable noise. Mechanical screeching. A third Blockader began a journey down the gallery's corridor creating the most amazing sound with a metallic dustbin lid. Aural senses in overload - this was an attack! The suited balaclava'd figure danced with the lid up and down the corridor scraping it against the walls, floors and gallery benches before fighting his way through the audience onto the stage to saw the lid and assorted metals. Jordi Valls joined in by smashing a metal bar stool at the back of the venue. There was a moment when one Blockader was left sawing the metal whilst the other two read a newspaper. This was a nice touch in an intense atmosphere. A louder, longer performance to the one at the beginning of the month in Nottingham - more precise, hence more intense but certainly the most offensive TNB performance I have seen to date. Again, silence as the members walked off stage down the corridor to their dressing room. And everyone was still smiling.
Joke Lanz ended the evening - by now the early hours of the morning - by playing some classic (post) punk records. It was just what the evening required.
"Words Cannot Express" as the great man said. The experience was everything.
It was also a great night for meeting some old friends. Paul Watson (The Baron), Andrew Seal, Stefan Schwanke, Stefan Hanser, Bill Kouligas, Phillipe, John Murphy...a regular who's who of the Berlin underground (apart from Paul....I know). A disappointment was the special release for the event being delayed, the vinyl/art release by TNB and Vagina Dentata Organ, but it did mean more cash for beer!
I was hoping to hunt out some (secondhand) vinyl stores to report back from Berlin with...but unfortunately there just wasn't time. The weekend was also Tamsin's birthday and her first visit to the City, so we stuck to the tourist trail...and it did snow!
1: Event Poster.
2: I met Jordi at Schonfeld Airport the following day, he signed my flyer.
3: Vagina Dentata Organ in performance.
4: The VDO drummers (John Murphy with cap on).
5: Post performance detritus.
6: Blood on the wall.
7: Jordi leaves his mark.
8 & 9: TNB in performance.
10: Joke Lanz.
11: Daniel Lowenbruck (on the right) and friend.
12: Rudolf & that Harbinger Sound guy.
13: Tamsin on the Berlin tourist trail - a very important Clothing Bank ... so I'm told.