It’s early evening, and the “White Trash, Fast Food” night club in eastern Berlin is just starting to wake up.
Outside about 30 people are gathered. Some are smoking, others are standing in line to get in – while on stage inside a young woman and man are tuning up their instruments.
About an hour later, the place is packed, and the first sounds emerge from the music-duo Carusella on stage. The girl is singing in English, and some of the crowd sings along.
If you wouldn’t have known it before, you could have never guessed that the girl is Israeli.
This night is just one of three that the club has devoted to shows of Israeli bands during the last month alone. All the groups, though different from each other, share a similar music line that is appropriate to the one of the club as well – from hard-rock to cabaret-style folk, all in English.
And they draw big crowds.
“I have experienced that lately there have been more band offers from Israel,” says Sabrina Boller, the club’s booking agent.
“Right now there are a lot of interesting bands coming from Israel, and you can sense that people come especially to see Israeli bands, because it is the ‘next big thing’”, she adds.
“We have people who came to all of our shows here, all throughout Germany,” says Guy Shechter, the drummer of the duo, during the mid- show break.
“They just jump into their car and follow our van, and sometimes these are serious rides of three or four hours,” Schechter said.
“They would come up to us and say ‘Hey, why didn’t you do this song this time?’, or ‘Why did you do this part differently?’… It always surprises me.”
Carusella consists simply of one electric guitar and one drum. They are considered to be one of the more successful bands touring Europe, playing experimental-Rock that borders at points on Metal.
While not all that well known in Israel, Carusella enjoys recognition that goes beyond Berlin’s boundaries and extends to Germany as a whole.
“Some of the places we get to perform at are really strange sometimes, like the show we did in Offenbach am Main,” says Shechter, referring to a city near Frankfurt.
“Since these are less-known places that usually don’t have that much going on, they are usually very welcoming and also would pay you more to come,” he points out. “So it’s always worth it.”
About a week later, a performance of the Israeli band “The Buffalos” starts on the same night club stage in Berlin.
Now the atmosphere is very different – unlike Carusella, The Buffalos music is a much softer, indie-style rock, drawing its influences from artists like PJ Harvey, Low and Mark Lanegan.
The crowd is now seated, watching the stage while drinking and talking. At the bar sits Marvio, a tourist from Rio de Janerio, who came to Berlin a few days earlier.
“I was just looking for a nice show for tonight, and I’ve heard about these guys,” he says.
“I listened to a couple of songs on Myspace, and I knew I would like it. It’s everything I thought it would be…I liked the Greek twist at the end,” he smiles.
The show is the seventh of about 20 performances scheduled during the band’s Fall tour of Europe. Amost half of the shows are located in Germany.
“We just book our own shows, rent a van and drive around from club to club for a month or two,” says Ran Jacobovitz, The Buffalos drummer.
“We’ve been doing this for the second year now, and the crowd here really makes it all worthwhile,” he said.
The increased presence of Israeli bands performing in Berlin comes to the backdrop of the German capital having lately become a popular destination for Israeli tourists.
Last year nearly 80,000 Israelis visited Berlin, second to the US among travellers from outside of Europe. Israeli students and artists cite Berlin’s historical importance, diverse cultural scene and acceptance of gays and lesbians as major reasons for visiting the city. And with the tourists, have also come the Israeli musicians.
Club booking agent Boller says, “I always personally liked Israeli music, be it electronic or rock.” At the end of October, she is to host the Israeli band TV Buddhas new record release party at the club.
“There is a certain sort of energy and power that comes in its performance. I guess that’s what you call in Hebrew ‘Atraf’?” Boller says.