Bis Auf’s Messer: Hardcore Record Store

by James Glazebrook

Serendipity. Today is Record Store Day in Berlin, and a little over a week ago some visiting friends from the UK helped us uncover the city’s best record store: Bis Auf’s Messer. Kevin Cousins waxes (sorry!) lyrical about Friedrichshain’s home of hardcore.

“Bis Auf’s Messer” stands for, roughly translated, “fight to the bloody end”, a reference to the owners’ tenacity in the face of opposition to their starting yet another record shop in the city. This alone places the store at top of my list for “Most Metal Shop Names”, however, a brief visit to Bis Auf’s Messer pushes this excellent centre for all things “alternative” towards the top of my list of favourite record stores: period.

Bis Auf’s Messer primarily stocks vinyl, lovely, meaty great stacks of it, divided into suitably obscure categories including “noise”, “garage rock”, “grind”, and, most abundantly, “hardcore”. Indeed, this is a business very much true to the tenets and values of punk rock: placing releases by established acts alongside records by miniscule bands on no-name labels with photocopied artwork. My girlfriend Liz loves music of this elusive genre, and she was impressed to find so many hardcore releases in one place, with many discs that are absent from our normal London haunts.

Liz and Kev's buys courtesy of Liz Wood

Liz and Kev's buys courtesy of Liz Wood

Great finds during my visit included a !!! record at half price, a huge selection of Dischord releases (I bought the Faraquet album, which I’ve never seen outside the label’s website before), a Minutemen t-shirt, a Husker Du outtakes collection, and a small but great selection of jazz reissues. As if that wasn’t enough to induce a nerd meltdown, two versions of Mastodon’s Blood Mountain – on single “custom-coloured” and double deluxe, because I know you care – had my glasses steaming up. Liz bought a copy of snotty, legendary, and increasingly scarce hardcore magazine, Maximum Rock n’Roll, worth reading for its hilarious letters pages where disgruntled punkers vent their rage against “The Man”, Simon Cowell and pretty much every other aspect of their maligned existence, including each other.

What also pleases is that a clear sense of community and warmth is apparent: the shop supports local musicians and stocks a wide range of fanzines, while the owner we met was friendly, enthusiastic and approachable. He was happy to chat to Liz and answer questions, make recommendations, and so on. You don’t get this in HMV. Overall, a great treat for the vinyl aficionado and casual browser alike. Check out the excellent webstore, too.

Bis Auf’s Messer
Marchlewski Strasse 107
10243 Berlin
bisaufsmesser.com

Liz and Kev's buys courtesy of Liz Wood

Liz and Kev's buys courtesy of Liz Wood