Chugga chugga! Win tickets to Meshuggah!

by James Glazebrook

Meshuggah FACE

[EDIT: this competition is now closed. Click here to see if we're running any open competitions] 

If you’re wondering what’s up with this guy’s face, you’ve obviously never heard his music before. Meshuggah are the Swedish lords of the progressive metal sub-sub-sub-(sub-sub)-genre called djent – according to Wikipedia, “an onomatopoeia for the distinctive high-gain, distorted palm-muted guitar sound.” This lofty description is long-hand for one YouTuber‘s own analysis – “TARRATA TARRATA TARRATA TARRATA TARRATA TARRATA TARRATA TARRATA [ETC.] ” – and, besides, we think vocalist Jens Kidman’s face says more than a thousand words (even a thousand repetitions of the word “TARRATA”). So far, so blah. To win 1 of 2 pairs of free tickets to the band’s C-Club gig on Saturday 8th December, scroll down past the hectic video for “Bleed”. See you in the pit!


Leave a comment below, with your full (real) name and the word that you think best describes Meshuggah’s sound.

You have until 6pm on Thursday 6th December to enter. Good luck!

The Boring Bit (yawn, RULES):

1. You must be 18 years or older to enter.
2. We will keep a record of each comment in a database and then a random number generator picks the winner.
3. We will announced the winners via our Facebook page on Friday 7th December.

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Music Montag: Redshape

by James Glazebrook


Redshape by Passetti, under Creative Commons licence Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Here’s what I wrote on Bang Bang Berlin when I first encountered this masked man behind the decks in Berghain:

We’re fans of theatrics, and masks are a surefire way to get yourself seen and your music heard. Leaving our closeted love of Slipknot to one side, we’d like to shine a spotlight on Redshape. The Berlin-based techno head’s blood-coloured Michael Myers mask paradoxically marks him out against the city’s faceless producers and DJs, while maintaining an unsettling air of mystery.

Redshape (AKA Sebastian Kramer) recently revealed a little of the man behind his mask, with an XLR8R podcast that largely eschews his trademark tough techno in favour of some less-obvious influences. Alongside Carl Craig classic “Sandstorms” and tracks from the artist himself and fellow Berliner Plastikman, are Brian Eno and DJ Shadow - whose cinematic works bookend the mix – and leftfield inclusions like a cheesy lounge take on Jean Michel Jarre from Señor Coconut and the RZA‘s “Samurai Showdown”, from the Ghost Dog soundtrack. In fact, one of the few things Kramer gives away is that he’s a film nut: both Eno tracks come from Music for Films and the Shadow numbers include samples from Heat and Network. We’re glad he could tear himself away from his Beamer long enough to lay down such an unexpected and delightful mix.

Check out XLR8R Podcast 273: Redshape after the jump.

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Win tickets to see TOY in Magnet

by James Glazebrook

TOY black and white

[EDIT: this competition is now closed. Click here to see if we're running any open competitions] 

Another week, another great gig giveaway! I’m starting to get bored with just how shitting generous we are… This time, we have 2 pairs of free tickets for the Krautrockingest non-Krauts in the world, TOY - and we’ve made it even easier to win (no more tweeting!). Skip down the page to find out how to win two tickets to the London band’s show, next Tuesday, 27th November, or lose yourself in this trippy mix of the early electronica that inspires them. Kraftwerk klaxon!


Leave a comment below. That’s it.

You have until 6pm on Sunday 25th November to enter. Good luck!

The Boring Bit (yawn, RULES):

1. You must be 18 years or older to enter.
2. We will keep a record of each comment in a database and then a random number generator picks the winner.
3. We will announced the winners via our Facebook page on Monday 26th November.

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Two Years in Berlin: A Message from Olive

by James Glazebrook

Two Years in Berlin

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Music Montag: Red Hot Chili Peppers (Ekkehard Ehlers remix)

by James Glazebrook

This may be the least Berlin-sounding thing ever produced, but apparently remixer Ekkehard Ehlers is based here… so NYUH! According to Wikipedia:

He remixed the Red Hot Chili Peppers‘ single Californication and collaborated with the band on a couple of their live sets. Two live recordings have been made called, Tuesday Night in Berlin and Thursday Night in Berlin. The remixed Californication and the 14 minute improvisation jam Tuesday Night in Berlin can be found on the second version of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Fortune Faded single. The nearly 30 minute Thursday Night In Berlin has not been released officially although a bootleg has recently leaked onto the Internet.

If anyone can find a copy of either Tuesday Night… or Thursday Night… let me know – I’m pretty intrigued!

Red Hot Chilli Peppers Berlin

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Berlin Portrait: Phia

by James and Zoe

We think that the best way to discover Berlin is through the eyes of the people who live here. For our Berlin Portrait series, we’re asking artists, musicians and other interesting expats to introduce us their corner of the city. Join us as Phia, a solo artist who creates beautiful music with a thumb-piano and loop pedals, shows us around Neukölln and Kreuzberg.

Introduce yourself!

My name is Phia and I’m an Australian musician living in Neukölln, Berlin.

How long have you been here?

My boyfriend Josh (also a musician) and I moved here 15 months ago.

What brought you here?

Well in part it was for the reasons so many people move to Berlin – it’s cheap, in the centre of Europe and is a hub for other artists and musicians…

I also have a family connection – my grandfather was from Berlin. He moved to Australia in 1938 where he met my grandma, who was originally from Vienna. I didn’t think too much about the family connection until I got here, but once I arrived, knowing my ancestors lived in the same city as I now reside in was very poignant. In fact it is something I think about nearly every day. My grandfather may have walked the same streets that I do now, strolled along the same canals.

Of course, Berlin is a very different city from the one he left behind: the street he lived on isn’t there anymore, due the bombings in World War Two. Germany was his home, and he made it a part of my childhood, but he was also forced to leave. The emotions are complicated! But every now and then I see or read things that remind me of my grandparents – hearing a nursery rhyme they used to sing to me, seeing the particular way apartments are furnished here. I now realise how European their suburban Melbourne apartment was! Even the fact the chose to live in an apartment in a city of standalone houses.

They both died years ago, so it’s lovely to feel close to them.

Tell us about your Kiez, and what you like about it.

I live on the corner of Neukölln, Treptow and Kreuzberg, which is sometimes described as Dreiländereck (“three border triangle”). My apartment looks over the intersection of two canals and very often the sound of ducks quacking will drift through our fifth floor apartment. There is a bridge over one of the canals and this is a real hub – people riding to work, walking to school… very often you see two people meeting and sitting on the bridge having a beer. And I love that in my Kiez everything I need is only a bicycle ride away.

What are your five favourite things in your neighbourhood?

The canal. I like that Berliners like to just get outside – go for a walk, ride their bikes or just sit in a park somewhere… and all of that happens along the canal outside our apartment. The idea that you can buy a cheap beer and go and sit somewhere, it’s really nice.

Ä bar in Weserstrasse is just around the corner from my place. They have a regular Wednesday concert series, and I’ve done two shows there this year. The bar is always crowded, hectic and full of atmosphere, as are the gigs! I’ve loved playing my music there, hanging out, and then slowly riding my bicycle back to my place, across the wooden footbridge over the canal.

The Croissanterie on Pannierstrasse makes the most amazing croissants – particularly the nuss-nougat one. And if you get there early enough (well early for a musician, maybe 10am) the croissants are still warm.

Nowkoelln Flohmarkt. Being on a Berlin salary, I only really shop for clothes at markets now! The Flowmarkt runs every two weeks on Maybachufer. They have nice food stalls too and I always run into at least two or three people I know there. I’ve performed a few times at the market at Prinzessinnengarten, which is run by the same guy and is also really lovely.

Five Elephant has great coffee and simply amazing cheesecake. I don’t even like cheesecake, but I love theirs. I was introduced to this cafe by a good friend of mine, who is also Australian but we only became friends since we both moved to Berlin. We’ve collaborated on some creative projects since then, so I guess the cafe reminds me of the wonderful connections that can be made in this city.

Phia is performing at Supamolly on Saturday, and a handful of other Berlin shows before going back to Melbourne for Christmas: check out her website or Facebook page for more details.

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Preview: Nada Surf at C-Club

by Guest Blogger

Nada Surf sepia

By Mike T West.

American alternative rock will land at Templehof this Wednesday as indie veterans Nada Surf drop into town in support of their SEVENTH long player The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy.

You may recognise “The Surf” from their mid-90s sarcanthem “Popular”. Fifteen years later the three piece are still quietly reinventing themselves from album to album; changing their sound just enough to maintain forward momentum while still penning cosy, melodic tributes to hopeless romantics like us. These three gents make contemplative music which is okay to fall in love AND rock out to.

They’re also really big in France.

Nada Surf play C-Club this Wednesday 14th November at 8pm with support from Ezra Sherman + Tall Ships. Get tickets here.

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Music Montag: James A Shaw

by James Glazebrook

James A Shaw

James A Shaw is many things: an English expat living in Berlin, a DJ/producer, record label owner and the man behind a great radio show on BLN.FM, Quantum Bleep. He’s also hilarious on Twitter (no pressure), an absolute caner of Yorkshire Tea, and does a nice line in Alan Partridge quotes. While you’re clicking on all those links, I’ll let you listen to his “Super Special Chrimbo Disco Mix”. A depature from his usual deep vibes (think deep house and techno, dubstep, soul, psyche and dub), this glorious ball of cheese features Chic (twice!), the Stones and Bowie. Let’s Dance.

Bonus beats! QB28, featuring classics from Yazoo, A Tribe Called Quest and Kate Bush:

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Ask überlin: How can I find an apartment in Berlin?

by Guest Blogger

The latest installment in our ask überlin series was written by Stephan Brenner of Expath - a company that helps expats get established in Berlin – and illustrated by Josh Bauman of Caffeinated Toothpaste fame.

Can anyone recommend a shipping company that caused you medium-to-low trauma (from London to Berlin)?

I’d be interested to find out what anybody knows about the rough prices or best services for shipping things here from abroad? (London to Berlin, especially!)

If you’re anything like me, you have a mom in California who is just itching to sell or (gasp!) donate your boxes of assorted trinkets and angsty teenage poetry, so she can use her garage for car-related matters again. But what can pack rats like us do? Shipping is, by all accounts, very expensive (especially since the US Postal Service got rid of international surface mail in 2007). Here are several realistic suggestions  – and an obnoxious one.

The first option, for those arriving from very faraway places, is to simply bring it along on the plane. Two suitcases, a stuffed carry-on bag, multiple seasonally inappropriate layers of clothing on your person and voilà! In addition, depending on the airline, paying for extra baggage may not be a comparatively bad option, and should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis (see Fare Compare’s Worldwide Baggage Fee Chart).

Similarly, when coming from European destinations, using a car filled with one’s precious belongings is a popular option. If you can’t drive, negotiating with rideshares to transport your luggage along with yourself for the price of one or two additional passengers is also a possibility (see Mitfahr Gelegenheit and, specifically for rideshares from London to Germany, the Deutsche in London forum).

For smaller parcels containing important  items (i.e. things you may want to track or insure), and for very quick international shipping, the standard UPS, DHL, FedEX and local post office would be secure options and they usually help take care of customs, but they’re not cheap. With the not-so-standard delivery companies, one would be well-advised to first check online for other people’s experiences. For a comparison tailored to your unique situation, try Shiply.

Handle with Care by Josh Bauman

Also consider local moving companies and international freight forwarders (with shared containers) like UPakWeShip and EuroUSA. This is the slowest option and you absolutely must pay attention to customs regulations (especially for new items) and where your shipment can be picked up. For more information, have a look at the forums on ToyTown Germany dealing with this topic.

Taking a load with you whenever you return to Berlin from a visit home, and having friends and family bring along items when they visit is a great way to increase your cheap-suitcase collection.

The last, and most obnoxious, advice is for you to simply come to terms with the realization that you don’t actually need all those things. Two suitcases are more than enough for the transition, and almost anything else can be found quite cheaply here in Berlin.

What are your thoughts on renting houses as opposed to apartments? Is it easy to get garden flats? Do you know of any areas where it might be easier to find them or a house? Or as soon as you hit areas which have houses does it suddenly turn boring?!

In which area should I stay when I visit? Where should I live when I move here?

I am really curious to how much an apartment costs. And like any city there is certainly a range, but if you could shed some experiential advice about monthly rent, good areas for english speakers, bad neighborhoods for english speakers, and anything you think might be useful on the topic of a room.

Berlin real estate is currently a contentious topic, as it is becoming more challenging to find and obtain the perfect set-up – at first glance. Price, size and location are factors that, when varied even slightly, can lead to very different and potentially interesting results. Getting what you want takes time, a strong spirit and the willingness to compromise (at least in the beginning).

Cozy by Josh Bauman

The all-important questions here are whether to rent temporarily or long-term, and whether to live in a shared apartment (“Wohngemeinschaft”, or simply “WG”) or alone. Temporary arrangements are sometimes significantly more expensive, but not a bad place to start – especially since there’s less hassle and bureaucracy involved (try Craigslist). This gives you an address to register and some breathing room to get a lay of the land. Shared flats are also not very bureaucratic, but there are interviews! Your potential flatmates will only accept the candidate with their idea of the perfect personality. Listings can be found at WG-Gesucht and Studenten-WG. For those craving independence, privacy and a longer commitment, who can spare some time for the process and are willing to diligently prepare and deal with setbacks, renting one’s own apartment is the way to go.

When looking for an apartment, as Patrick Wilken points out in his excellent response to the original query, a good price in Berlin is roughly €10 per square meter “warm” (i.e. including costs like heating). In other words, a monthly rent of €500 for a 50sqm apartment is generally not a rip-off and would be considered a bargain in the more desirable areas.

Very roughly speaking, the two Eastern quadrants within the S-Bahn ring are the most sought-after areas by expats. Apartments here are among the most challenging to find and obtain because demand exceeds supply. However, looking just outside of these areas, a difference of mere minutes with Berlin’s magnificent public transport, may yield excellent value for money, especially in terms of space – and much less of a fight to actually end up signing a contract. The downside here is that the buildings and neighborhoods may not be as pretty or lively. As Patrick mentions, Wedding is very up-and-coming and Moabit is still underrated. Our advice is: to go and explore the different areas yourself. You may just be pleasantly surprised, and if you happen to get a bad vibe, then skip it. To find rental apartments or houses (usually in quieter neighborhoods and on the outskirts of the city) check out Immobilienscout24 , Immowelt and Immonet for listings. As with much else, having a network of friends in the city will expose you more directly to available rooms and flats before they’re on the market.

Garden Flat by Josh Bauman

The best advice to actually GET the flat of your dreams is to have all the standard documents prepared before the viewing (!) – which may take more than a week. Have the following in both paper and digital format: a copy of your photo ID (for non-EU: also your residence permit), income statements from the last three months (“Einkommensnachweis”), a letter from your previous landlord confirming that you don’t owe rent (“Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung”), your “Schufa” credit report , a neatly filled-out application form (which you receive at the viewing) and a nicely written (ideally in German) text for the body of your email. For EU citizens, a letter guaranteeing that someone, e.g. a parent, can cover the costs in case you can’t (“Bürgschaft”) may also be possible in lieu of the income statements. Decisions on whose application actually gets processed are based on the completeness and timeliness of the application, which of the applicants is most likely (able) to pay the rent and, all other things being equal, a good impression in person and in writing. An excellent way to ensure that your application makes it to the top of the pile is offering to pay six months’ or even a year’s rent in advance, especially when lacking the income statements.

Sincere thanks to Berlin real estate agents Aljona Brysch and Michael Rost for their insight and help researching this information.

Help a Berliner out. Do you have any top tips for finding rental properties in Berlin, or making moving here easier?

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Win tickets to see Poliça at Postbahnhof

by James Glazebrook


[EDIT: this competition is now closed. Click here to see if we're running any open competitions] 

Oo ‘ello. Now we’ve 2 pairs of tickets to give away for the Poliça gig at Postbahnhof next Wednesday! You need to catch the Minnesota indielectro troupe before they become known as more than those-two-guys-from-Gayngs-and-their-mates and singer Channy Leaneagh’s pretty little face is plastered all over magazine covers worldwide. Here’s your chance to win 2 tickets to their Berlin gig on Wednesday 14th November, and find out why Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon calls them ”the best band I’ve ever heard.” Good luck!


- Follow @uberlinblog on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/uberlinblog)
(If you are already following no need to unfollow and refollow)

- Tweet the message you see highlighted below once!
(There is no advantage to tweeting more than once)

Note: Twitter has changed its policy to no longer allow disabling of link shortening – so if you need to use a different link to get to this page that’s fine. As long as people end up on this page – that’s all that matters. The rest of the tweet must be identical to the one below.

Here is the tweet:

Want to win 2 tickets to see @thisispolica in #Berlin? Find out how to enter here: http://bitly.com/Z6Bw6M Please RT #uberwin

You have until 6pm on Sunday 11th November to enter. Get tweeting!

The Boring Bit (yawn, RULES):

1. You must be 18 years or older to enter.
2. You must be following @uberlinblog (http://www.twitter.com/uberlinblog) on Twitter.
3. You must send out the above tweet EXACTLY as it appears. A failure to do so will disqualify you.
4. We will announced the winners via Twitter on Monday 12th November.
5. If users make lots of Twitter accounts in order to enter a contest more than once, they’re liable to get all of their accounts suspended. Anyone found using multiple Twitter accounts to enter will be ineligible.

We will keep a record of each tweet in a database and then a random number generator picks the winner. Good luck!

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