indie travel guide                                                                                                      home
a city by city guide to the best indie clubs, bars, record shops and local bands

Berlin, Germany

After 1945 Berlin developed into two completely different directions. The Eastern part became the cultural centre of the GDR, with most of the music being controlled by the government, while West Berlin regarded itself as a city on the frontline. Unbelievable amounts of money were transferred to West Berlin by the West German government, as it wanted the city to appear as a "beacon" of democracy and wealth whilst being surrounded by the East German state that belonged to the “other side” during the Cold War. At the same time, West Berlin became a place to go for people who rejected the system of capitalism or the West German state as a whole. Lots of young West German boys fled to West Berlin after school, because having an address in Berlin meant you did not have to join the army. The late 70s and early 80s saw the development of a huge punk scene. After the reunion of both states and therefore both parts of the town in 1990, the West German state was not able to immediately establish the public order in the Eastern parts of the city. So within this bubble a huge new scene came up, established by all kinds of artists and musicians who arrived there, regarding the old eastern districts as a huge playing field. Old and empty buildings were squatted and instantly transferred to galleries, art spaces, and venues for gigs and parties. These wild days have more or less disappeared now, but anyway they have been a starting point for a huge scene which tends to grow continuously, this time within legal paths. The current government of the city identifies the importance of culture and art, so these location factors have currently become the most important marketing tools. Today you can find an international music scene in Berlin: lots of indie, punk, gothic, techno, and all kinds of related electro stuff as well as a growing jazz scene.


Clubs


Karrera Klub

The biggest promoter of the Berlin based indie music scene is Karrera Klub, who put on club nights and live gigs in a variety of different clubs. The Karrera Klub consists of three guys called Tim, Spencer and Christian. Whilst Tim and Spencer obviously prefer the pop side of life, keep in mind that you might get confronted with some dirty rock sounds when DJ Christian is announced. To follow them will certainly keep you up to date with all the new hot stuff from the British, American, Scandinavian and German indie scene. Here you can find all their stuff:
(www.karreraklub.de)

Ship Shape Club
The Ship Shape Club is a DJ collective which also runs the Firestation Record label. Being obviously more busy with releasing records, they are not DJing on a regular basis. But when they do it is really worth going to their nights, as they love all the beautiful pop and twee sounds. So while at a Karrera Klub night it is more likely to hear the new Arctic Monkeys record, the Ship Shape Club might bring some fine northern soul rarities or their Field Mice record collection back to daylight. On their website you can find a list of their releases plus all the new Ship Shape Club dates.
(www.firestation-records.de)

Klikerklub
Yet another bunch of nice boys setting up parties to present their personal favourite tunes. About once a month you can listen to them spinning a mix of indiepop, folk, rocksteady and soul.
(www.klikerklub.de)

Sonic Pop Allnighter
A DJ collective operating in different clubs, presenting indiepop, 60s, fuzzy guitars, new wave and northern soul galore, depending on the size of the venue or what the crowd wants to hear. So while you will hear contemporary Britpop on one night, there's well a chance they might stick to their Sarah Records 7” collection at some other time.
(www.sonic-pop-allnighter.de)

The Northern Soul Allnighter
As the name says, these guys and girls specialize on everything connected with Northern Soul, Motown or rare 60s. You have to check local listings because they don’t seem to have a website. They occasionally perform together with the Karrera Klub team when there is a venue with more than one floor. So you can switch between indie and soul the whole night.

Indie Aner
The two DJs called To and Five serve you all the new and hot British indie pop / rock sounds as well as classic indie hits. You can find them in various locations around town, just check their website, where you can also find a list of their favourite bands they like to play.
(www.indieaner.de/)

Death By Pop
Every Friday the Death By Pop parties take place at the Bang Bang Club. Their nights are dedicated to indie, new rave, britpop, postpunk and rock'n'roll for a more stylish audience.
(www.myspace.com/deathbypop)


Venues

 

King Kong Klub
Brunnenstrasse 173, 10119 Berlin. Station: Rosenthaler Platz
Famous location, varying DJs serve the full range of indie, new wave, northern soul, post punk, funk etc. Usually the entrance is free. The place gets busy after midnight and it can get really wild in there. Top-notch place to get drunk, to accost some stupid tourists from Munich or to have fun with a filled-up bullyboy from Liverpool. The website is a bit confusing, so check local listings to learn what's actually going on.
(www.king-kong-klub.de)

Lido
Cuvrystrasse 7, 10997 Berlin. Station: Schlesisches Tor.
This historic building was a cinema during the 1950s, before being turned into a theatre rehearsal room. Now the place has become a club run by Spencer from the Karrera Klub team, hosting various indie and mod nights, live gigs and popular northern soul / boogaloo / funk parties like the "Shotgun Club“ and "The Soul Inn“. Go here when you want to see some of the bands again you have already seen in London before or for a happy mod/indie/soul night out. Nice atmosphere, friendly staff and a little tent in the backyard where you're allowed to smoke.
(www.lido-berlin.de)

Magnet
Greifswalder Strasse 212, 10405 Berlin. Station: take Tram from Alexanderplatz going up Greifswalder Strasse
Another venue for all the contemporary indie bands, although in the recent past this place has become more rock than it used to be a few years ago. In case there is a band playing that you really love, go there early and catch them having dinner inside that tasty Asian takeaway restaurant right next door.
(www.magnet-club.de)

Schokoladen
Ackerstrasse 169, 10115 Berlin. Station: Rosenthaler Platz
One of Berlin’s most beautiful venues for live music, very small though with an even smaller stage where you can almost feel like being in a private living-room. Cheap drinks and friendly atmosphere, sited in an old defunct chocolate factory. Go here to discover some nice indiepop/lo-fi bands, upcoming singer/songwriters or instrumental postrock.
(www.schokoladen-mitte.de)

Mudd Club
Grosse Hamburger Strasse 17, 10115 Berlin. Station: Hackescher Markt
The Mudd Club used to be a famous punk venue in New York, but in 1990 or so the owner packed it all in and moved to Berlin to re-open it there. Located down in the vaults of an old building right in the center of the historic Jewish district, you find lots of indie, rock, gothic and Balkan music parties as well as indie live gigs. Although I find it not necessarily useful with the girls at the bar making a noise carrying beer crates around while there is a quiet acoustic band on stage, it is still an important venue in Berlin. Check local listing for what is happening there as most of the times their website is under constant construction, filled with some temporary preprare-for-relaunch-soon content or completely offline.
(www.muddclub.de)

Zapata
Oranienburger Strasse 54, 10117 Berlin. Station: Oranienburger Tor
The Zapata venue is part of the famous Tacheles art complex. In the early days of the 20th century this place has accomodated one of Europe’s biggest warehouses. Destroyed in the war and left to rot till 1989, it has been squatted by some artists who turned this place into a free art zone. Inside, the Zapata looks a bit odd, reminding me of knights and castles and a heavy metal souvenir shop. But once in a while some interesting indie bands are showing up there. The place gets crowded very fast, so be sure to order your beer early, otherwise you might get stuck in the queue right next to that funny fire-spitting something at the bar which turns the already hot and sweaty atmosphere into a limbo.
(www.cafe-zapata.de)

Privat Club
Pücklerstrasse 34, 10997 Berlin. Station: Schlesisches Tor
Nice club in the basement of a restaurant called “Markthalle” where you get served one of the best Schnitzels in Berlin. Follow the directions to Men’s toilet, then go down the stairs and there you are in the Privat Club, a home to all kinds of indiepop, alternative, emo, and 80s tunes, as well as to lots of rare funk and soul parties. Usually the night starts with live gigs of some indie bands. Avoid this place in summer unless you are used to live in a tropical country or you just don’t care about massive heat attacks.
(www.privatclub-berlin.de)

Maria
Stralauer Platz 34/35, 10243 Berlin. Station: Ostbahnhof
Located in an old industrial building, this place mostly hosts electronic nights, ranging from dubstep to drum’n'bass, techno to breakcore. Nevertheless it's also a place to see famous indie bands on stage.
(www.clubmaria.de)

L.U.X
Schlesische Strasse 41, 10997 Berlin. Station: Schlesisches Tor
Nice, very friendly and not very well-known place for live music and party nights, ranging from indie to northern soul, kitsch pop and music of the early 20th century. Their weekly newsletters let you take part in what is going on in the private life of the owner. Some interesting interiors, too. Closed Sundays and Mondays.
(www.lux-berlin.net)

NBI
Schönhauser Allee 36, 10435 Berlin. Station: Eberswalder Strasse
Unfortunately this place has lost some of its charming atmosphere since it has moved to a bigger place a few years ago. Nowadays the NBI belongs to a building complex called “Kulturbrauerei”. This word means culture brewery, and this place has been a real brewery in the past. Now the whole complex consists of listed buildings that have been carefully restorated. So still nice anyway. Go here for the indie and electronica sounds overdose, and when you arrive before 10 pm you might have a chance to find a place on one of the sofas.
(www.neueberlinerinitiative.de)

Kaffee Burger
Torstrasse 58, 10119 Berlin. Station: Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz
Really beautiful interiours, but you won’t have a chance to notice that as the place is always overcrowded with tourists. The venue has become famous for their “Russendisko” (Russian disco), packed with Eastern European Rock sounds. Kaffee Burger hosts lots of indie and soul nights as well as film screenings or literature nights.
(www.kaffeeburger.de)

Roter Salon
Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz (inside Volksbühne, use side entrance), 10178 Berlin. Station: Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz
Not so beautiful as Kaffee Burger (but you can’t complain), yet also overcrowded with tourists. This place is part of the famous Volksbühne theatre, so this might be a reason to go there and have a look. Lots of indie, Motown, northern soul and drum ‘n bass nights and a good party crowd guaranteed. Live gigs of indie bands from the UK, US and Germany.
(www.roter-salon.de)

Antje Oeklesund
Rigaer Strasse 71/73, 10247 Berlin. Station: Samariter Strasse
This secret place rejects to promote their events, you have to subscribe to their newsletter or know their website to find out what is going on. There's live music each Tuesday and Friday, admission is free. Go to that old run down industrial site to discover new singer/songwriters with acoustic guitars, local indiepop outfits, experimental electronic weirdos from Toronto or Dutch comedians with a harp.
(www.antjeoeklesund.de)

Rosi's
Revaler Strasse 29, 10245 Berlin. Station: Warschauer Strasse
Old shack in the middle of nowhere in Friedrichshain, but since they have installed a properly working air-conditioner you can dare going there. Mainly indie and electronic nights, very busy. Try this place in summer when they open their front yard for BBQ and open air parties or little markets on Sunday afternoons.
(www.rosis-berlin.de)

Festsaal Kreuzberg/West Germany
Festsaal Kreuzberg: Skalitzer Strasse 130, 10999 Berlin, Station: Kottbusser Tor
West Germany: Skalitzer Strasse 133, 10999 Berlin, Station: Kottbusser Tor
Two venues for live gigs ranging from experimental music, post punk and lo-fi to noise and really weird stuff. Both places are regularly rented by an agency called Twisted Robot which sets up the live shows and parties. While the Festsaal Kreuzberg carries a beautiful ballroom atmosphere inside and is usually used for family parties and Turkish weddings, the nearby West Germany is located inside a now defunct doctor’s surgery place. Surely the perfect location to mess around in and be noisy.
(www.twistedrobot.com/index.htm)
(www.myspace.com/festsaal_kreuzberg)

ausland
Lychener Strasse 60, 10437 Berlin, Station: Eberswalder Strasse or Prenzlauer Allee
ausland is a space for experimental music and arts. Listen to avantgarde jazz, drone and noise sounds or bands and musicians trying out all kinds of electronic experiments. Move with the local sound geeks audience or visit the occasional film screenings and lectures.
(www.ausland-berlin.de)

Bang Bang Club
Neue Promenade 10, Hackescher Markt, 10178 Berlin, Train Station: Hackescher Markt
This small club is hidden in a dark corner of the otherwise busy tourist hotspot called “Hackescher Markt”. The place is run by a group of musicians who take care of a good sound system. Regular live gigs of local and international bands as well as club nights are happening here, all with a focus on Indie, 60s, Garage, Mod, Northern Soul and Psychedelic Rock. Their website has a list of what is going on. Inside, the venue is really small, there is just enough space for a small stage, a bar, a sofa and a little dancefloor. The club nights are hosted by various guest DJs like the Death By Pop crew as well as their own BBC DJs who had put on a really refreshing mix of The Chameleons, The Organ and Field Mice the last time I was in there.
Friendly staff and an interesting musical concept, but when you go there be prepared to drink beer only, as the other drinks they offer are probably sold out when you ask for them.
(www.bangbang-club.de)


Bars


Kaufbar

Gärtnerstrasse 4, 10245 Berlin. Station: Warschauer Strasse, Open every day from 10 am till 1 am (I believe). Free entry.
This is really one of my favourite places. Nice, warm, calm and cosy atmosphere. This is a café where you can buy the furniture you’re sitting on. (This is why this place is called “Kaufbar” which means purchasable, but you have as well the word “bar” in it). The good thing is that this way the place keeps changing all the time, because each time somebody buys something the owners bring new stuff to replace it. But it always remains beautiful in there. Perfect for a coffee or tea, self-made cake, soup, a small breakfast, or to sit on the sofa in a corner to read a book or to find a mate to play chess with. The background music is mainly for Belle & Sebastian lovers, and each time I go there at least half of the guests look like they have just arrived from planet Twee. Sometimes they have exhibitions going on there. Or a poetry reading. And in the summertime there is a little beer garden in the back of the house.
(www.kaufbar-berlin.de)

Habermeyer
Gärtnerstraße 6, 10245 Berlin. Station: Warschauer Strasse, Open every day from 7 pm till late. Free entry.
Looks a bit dark from the outside, but inside it’s quite comfortable. The bar is equipped in a unique retro plastic style, and they have a little machine there which you can feed with a 1 EUR coin, and then it lets you pull one of its drawers. Inside the drawer you will find a surprise, maybe even an old vinyl 7”. DJs are there on most of the nights, the music is mainly focused on 60s Beat and soul, rock’n roll and surf, but also regular indiepop nights (electronic music can happen there, too, but not very often). Go there after 10 pm, earlier you will hardly find anybody in there except staff members.

8mm Bar
Schönhauser Allee 177, 10437 Berlin. Station: Senefelder Platz, Open every day from 8 or 9 pm till late
One of the indie hotspots of Berlin. It gets crowded shortly before midnight, but going there early might prevent you from paying 1 EUR entrance fee. Students, artists from New York and a bunch of rock-n-roll-go-to-hell people all in one place. There are different DJs on most of the nights, so the music can vary between indie rock, northern soul, synth pop, new wave, 70s punk rock, 60s beat or avant garde. Sometimes the DJs are people from bands playing the other night in some other place, and once in a while when you’re lucky you have Tim Gane of Stereolab standing behind the desk.
(www.8mmbar.com)

Konrad Tönz
Falckensteinstrasse 30, 10997 Berlin. Station: Schlesisches Tor, Open from Tue – Sun from around 9.00 pm till everybody’s gone home. Free entry.
Named after the legendary Swiss correspondent of a popular German TV show called “Aktenzeichen XY” (the original format of “Crimewatch UK”), this place is certainly the one with the biggest kitsch appeal around. Looking at the psychedelic wallpapers might make you feel dizzy, so try to compensate this feeling by trying their extra sweet and fruity cocktails. The front room of the bar is packed with plush as well as framed photos of Charles and Diana. At the weekend there are DJs around, putting on old Adriano Celentano hits, Twist, Garage or the German 60s sing-a-long version of Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” and other real psychedelic stuff. All records are played on a portable mono record player. Nice people there, but this is more a place to go to during the cold season.
(www.konradtoenzbar.de)

Mysliwska
Schlesische Strasse 35, 10997 Berlin. Station: Schlesisches Tor, Open every day from 7 pm (I think) till late. Free entry.
One of the numerous bars on the Schlesische Strasse, but this has become my favourite since the DJ there played Edith Piaf. Basically this is just a small bar with slightly worn out interiors. And very crowded, too. The music can be whatever (indie, jazz or Edith Piaf), but it is worth checking it out. Nice and interesting people there. Sometimes there is a DJ and sometimes there is none. But as I said, there are many nice bars on this particular street, and obviously it has not yet been discovered by too many tourists (Please consider that in all the places you hear lots of English or Spanish speaking people, but that doesn’t mean they are tourists). Also on this street you can find other good bars like Cake, Barbie Deinhoffs etc. presenting mainly indie music. They are in the neighbourhood of Mysliwska, so just keep on walking around and follow the people that look like they love some good music.

Bar 25
Holzmarktstrasse 25, 10243 Berlin. Station: between Ostbahnhof and Jannowitzbrücke, Open every day from 4 pm till late (restaurant is open from 6 pm till 1 am only)
One of the bars in Berlin that are located directly at the river. But I think this is one of the best. The entrance is a bit hard to find, but once you stepped on the area, you will find a beautiful waterfront, a wooden wild-west-style market with BBQ, a restaurant area, a lounge area with sofas, and a little open-air cinema showing independent productions. There are regular DJs, the music differs from time to time, but don’t go there for the music only but to see the place itself. Nobody knows how long this will continue to exist – the bar is located in a zone that is highly in danger because some investors with convertible BMWs have heard from that site, and they are interested in the real deal and not in some nice people with an eclectic taste in music. (Personally, I have not yet tried the restaurant, but I heard the food is really good there.)
(www.bar25.de/)

San Remo Upflamör
Falckensteinstrasse 46, 10997 Berlin. Station: Schlesisches Tor, Open every day from 10 am to 2 am
Really cute café/bar in 70s retro style. They offer small food plates, but mainly go and enjoy the friendly people around you. Occasionally DJs put on some indiepop or French chansons. Absolutely lovely.
(www.sanremo-upflamoer.de)

Madame Claude
Lübbener Strasse 19, 10997 Berlin. Open daily from 8 pm till late
A bar run by some very nice multilingual French guys with a love for indie, post punk, garage and experimental music. There are DJs nearly every night and occasional live gigs in a separate room. Very cosy place with an upside down decorated room.
(www.myspace.com/madame_claude)


Record Shops

Generally I have to say two things about my list of record stores. First, I concentrate on the ones that sell mainly vinyl. If you prefer to purchase cheap CDs, go to the basement of the Saturn Electro Supermarket at Alexanderplatz and look for their special sale offers. But beware this place is one without a soul. The other thing I must point out is that I list the stores that mainly sell indie. There are many other good record stores around, but these tend to offer electro, house, techno, hip hop, reggae, classical music, blues, or whatever genre. So I leave them out.

Mr Dead And Mrs Free
Bülowstrasse 5, 10783 Berlin. Station: Nollendorfplatz, Open Mon- Fri from 11 am to 7 pm, Sat 11 pm to 3 or 4 pm
Named after a theatre play by the New York based “Squat Theatre” Group, this record shop is the most well-known indie record store in Berlin. Established in the early 80s, they started selling all new wave and punk stuff, now you can find mainly everything that is somehow labelled “indie” there. Some 60s stuff, new folk etc is also offered. Still they sell mainly vinyl. The shop is not very large at all, but somehow they manage to squeeze in everything that is important. The staff has a good knowledge of indie music and is really friendly and helpful. They try to order everything you ask them to do.
(www.deadandfree.com)

Recordstore Berlin
Brunnenstrasse 186, 10119 Berlin. Station: Rosenthaler Platz, Open Mon-Sat, 12pm-8pm.
This shop that used to be called “Downtown Records” now just calls itself “Recordstore” and is a first-class address for the serious vinyl collector. Basically you will find three things inside: A salesperson who really knows his stuff and who is always happy to assist and to talk with you about … well … collecting vinyl, a large selection of all new indie and folk releases, and an even bigger selection of true original UK and US releases of 60s beat, northern soul and funk, spiced up with French chansons, film soundtracks and jazz. Browse through the stock and listen to as many records as you like on one of the turntables. But be not surprised to find autographed Beatles albums or the true original first Velvet Underground & Nico release with the banana sticker that you can peel off the cover. And when you take your new treasure to the counter you will finally notice all these little wooden boxes on the wall behind you, filled with hundreds of northern soul and mod 7” records that you oversaw before. This shop is a must, but go to a cash drawer first!

Rocksteady Records
Motzstrasse 9, 10777 Berlin. Station: Nollendorfplatz, Open: Mon – Fri 11 am till 7 pm, Sat 10 am to 4 pm
Another shop for collectors, and you will find mainly vinyl here. This is a long-term established store, serving many different musical tastes. Though there is much rock on sale, you will also find a lot of indiepop and new wave, as well as jazz, soundtracks, 60s soul and French chansons in there. Really remarkable is their stock of some original pieces from African countries and the Middle East, altough it seems to me that this part of the stock has unfortunately been cut down a bit since they have moved to their new premises. But here you might still find some original Israeli 60s settlers-folk music or the original Algerian pressing of Chaba Fadela’s “N Sel Fik”, which was re-released on Factory Records a few years later. Oh, and please don’t get scared by their awful website, it really just contains the basic information. This is a real old-fashioned but good record store and not a webdesign office.
(www.rocksteadyrecords.de)

Freakout
Prenzlauer Allee 49, 10405 Berlin. Station: Tram M10 to Prenzlauer Allee / Corner Danziger Strasse. Open: Mon-Fri 11am-7.30pm Sat 11am-4pm.
Well this shop is really odd. There is no doubt they have a great stock of mainly indie vinyl inside, added with electronica and everything that is new or interesting or off the beaten track. But also there is no doubt that this is maybe the most unfriendly shop I have ever been to.

Leila M
Rosa-Luxemburg-Strasse 30, (inside the Babylon cinema), 10437 Berlin. Station: Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Open: Mon – Fri 12 am till 8 pm, Sat 1 pm to 8 pm
I occasionally visit this nice shop inside the Babylon art film cinema. They offer a nice selection of electronica and indiepop there, you can browse their stock on the website, too. Not really the impossible-to-find rarities are waiting for you here, but this store attracts mainly the customers who want to keep up with new, interesting music that is hot and talked about. Lots of releases from local bands on sale. Helpful staff.
(www.leila-m.de)

Staalplaat
Torstrasse 68, 10119 Berlin. Station: Rosa-Luxemburg Platz, Open: Tue-Sat 2pm-7pm
This is the shop that belongs to the famous Dutch label and distribution service with the same name. Inside you might find really some records you don’t find anywhere else in Berlin. Jazz, avant garde and indie is on sale there, as well as music and compilations coming from outside Western European countries. In case the new release of the Honest Jon’s label is already sold out on Portobello Road, you might still find a copy here. Try their website for catalogue research.
(www.staalplaat.com)

Vopo Records
Danziger Strasse 31, 10435 Berlin. Station: Eberswalder Strasse, Open: Mon – Fri 12 am to 8 pm, Sat 12 am to 4 pm
The shop is named after the abbreviation for “VOlksPOlizist” which has been the official name of the GDR’s police officer. If you’re feeling uncomfortable to shop in front of a sign that clearly states "Those who try to steal will die immediately“ give this shop a miss, but otherwise go and check what they have inside. The shop’s main focus is punk, rock’n roll, hardcore and everything with a good kicking guitar sound, but they also offer some second hand indie stuff. Just check the website. Go there to meet people with a punk attitude and a good heart inside. Vinyl and CDs on offer.
(www.vopo-records.de)

Station B
Kastanienallee 94
Schones Horen
Marienburger Strasse 39
Both shops are situated in the borough of Prenzlauer Berg. I can’t say much about them, but as far as I know they offer a lot of Indie music there. I should go and have a look around, then I can post some additional information.

Ghosttown Records
Gabriel-Max-Strasse 10, 10245 Berlin
Small but packed second hand shop in the borough of Friedrichshain which is, as the name might suggest, specialises in ska, reggae, dub and rocksteady. It also stocks a fair amount of 80s Indie / New Wave / Goth music as well as Punk and Hardcore. Mainly vinyl is on sale. Always a good place to find some odd rare record or white label promo in there.

Soul Trade
Sanderstrasse 29, 12047 Berlin. Open: Mon-Wed 11-7, Tue-Thu / Fri 11-8, Sat 12-6
Actually I wanted to list only shops which are somehow indie-focussed. But here I have to make an exception for a good reason. Soultrade is hidden in a side-street of a not-so-fashionable neighbourhood and sure you'll find some indie stuff in there. But mainly this place is an excellent address for finding rare grooves, downtempo sounds, or 60s music from Brazil. Actually a world-class address to give your indie record collection a twist. Or if you are a DJ or producer, go here to find that unique groove or bassline that you always wanted. Soultrade is also a mailorder shop, so check their website for searching the catalogue and order online.
(www.soultrade.de)

Gelbe Musik
Schaperstrasse 11, 10719 Berlin. Open: Tue-Fri 1-6, Sat 11-2
If you were always to hold that Einstürzende Neubauten, Laurie Anderson and The Residents is boring music for the mainstream crowd, then this is the right place for you to find some more odd stuff. Initially the shop has been a gallery for artists of the dada movement, but it was turned into a record shop in the early 80s. Take a look inside and complete your record and CD collection with field recordings, piano sonatas of Joseph Beuys, musical cut-ups or rhythm experiments with miaowing cats in a labyrinth.

Bis Auf's Messer
Marchlewski Strasse 107, 10243 Berlin. Open: Mon-Fri 11-8, Sat 11-6, Station: Warschauer Strasse
Small punk and hardcore shop, offering records, CDs, DVDs, merchandise and fanzines. Might be a good place to find some punk collectibles, but don't rely on their official opening times.


Local Bands

 


Sternbuschweg
German language indiepop, really beautiful, good live band
(www.myspace.com/sternbuschweg)

The Speed Of Stars
Very nice guitar Indiepop band, still unsigned
(www.myspace.com/thespeedofstars)

Brokof
More quiet, Indie and Folk influenced
(www.myspace.com/brokof)

Sorry Gilberto
Friends of Brokof, both recently played together for a record release party. Nice people all the way.
(www.myspace.com/sorrygilberto)

The Virgin Tongues
I accidentally discovered them, they seem to be very new, don’t know anything about them, just listen here
(www.myspace.com/thevirgintongues)

Munck // Johnson
Coming from Denmark, now based in Berlin, this duo has already recorded some records full of beautiful tranquility. Try to catch them sing live.
(www.myspace.com/munckjohnson)

Hans Unstern
Extraordinary singer/songwriter, holding the perfect balance between sadness, irony and wit. Good live performer.
(www.myspace.com/hansunstern)


Miscellaneous


The good thing in Berlin is that generally there is no curfew. The bars and clubs are open as long as they like, so basically there are only three ways to end the party:
1. The venues have set up a closing time by themselves
2. Everybody has gone home or somewhere else
3. The neighbours have called the police because of noise pollution

Since the beginning of 2008, the law regarding a smoking ban is in action. It's not allowed to smoke in public transport and in public buildings like hospitals, schools etc. Smoking in bars and restaurants are handled in various ways and laws differ from county to county. In Berlin you are allowed to smoke in some bars and clubs but not in others. Currently it seems the whole law will change again. To be on the safe side one should always refrain from smoking in restaurants. In bars and clubs it is generally advised to look out for non-smoking signs.

Different from Munich, nobody in Berlin cares if you drink in public or carry your bottles around, planning to open them in the public trains. Unlike in London, it is still allowed to consume alcoholic drinks in public transport.

Finally, if you really want to feel avantgarde, go to the northern part of the Neukölln district and look out for the emerging bar and gallery scene between the Landwehrkanal channel and Kottbusser Damm before the tourists come.

Schneeweiss
Simplonstrasse 16, 10245 Berlin.
Hidden in a small side street, the Schneeweiss restaurant is one of my personal favourite places serving first class cuisine from the Alps. Inside it is all snow white (this is what “schneeweiss” means). The crowd in there is mixed, ranging from business people with a tie, to families, fashion people, to the local neighbourhood. The good thing is that you don’t have to bother with your outfit at all, nobody will send you away (except when they are fully booked, which regularly happens at the weekends). So in case you fancy a high quality dinner with some bottles of fine wine and really excellent food, but prefer to stick to your dirty retro Adidas sneakers and your self-printed My Bloody Valentine shirt, then this is the place for you.
(www.schneeweiss-berlin.de)

Aldemir Pizza And Ice Cream
Falckensteinstrasse 7, 10997 Berlin, near corner of Schlesische Strasse
These guys and girls sell the best take away pizza slices and – right opposite their pizza store – the best takeaway ice cream, too. Open in the summer till very late, it can get very crowded there. The pizza is excellent for 2 EUR per slice and sold right out of the oven. For the ice cream be sure you can manage to eat three scoops, only then you get their freshly made large vanilla waffle with it.

Frittiersalon
Boxhagener Strasse 104, 10245 Berlin. Open Mon from 6 pm till late, Tue – Fri from 12 am till late, Sat / Sun from 1 pm till late
The best alternative to get some burgers and chips without having to go to a McDonald’s, Burger King etc. This place only uses high quality organic food, your meal gets freshly prepared, and their burgers are also far more tasty than the ones from that food chain stores. Very nice place, full of people from the local neighbourhood. They used to have bands playing indoors at the weekends, but I think they gave up on this.
(www.frittiersalon.de)

Curry 36
Mehringdamm 36, 10961 Berlin.
For the most famous Bratwurst go here. This is really the best place and it is open till very late. In the summer still incredibly busy at 2 am.

Weinerei
Veteranenstrasse 14, 10119 Berlin.
A place that is appointed like a huge, comfortable living room. Here you will look out for beer in vain, they offer wine only. The place works like this: You go in and pay 1 EUR first, then you can help yourself with a glass or a bottle of wine. You look around for a free table and then you can spend the evening there tasting different wines. Around 8 pm, buffet is served, usually containing a soup, a main course and cake. Help yourself until the food is gone. That’s mainly it. In the end, you decide yourself how much you want to pay.
(www.weinerei.com)

Berlin Festival
Annual festival for indie and electronic music. Check website for details.
(www.berlinfestival.de)

British Music Week
This annual event has its roots in Berlin. Because it has become so popular, there are also British Music Weeks in other cities around Germany now, but the one in Berlin remains the biggest one.
(www.britishmusicweek.de)

Main Berlin photograph © Daniel Gontz

If you'd like to recommend a club, bar, record shop, band or any indie delight for inclusion in the Indie Travel Guide, please email us. If we've included a link to your band/shop etc, it would be lovely if you could link back to us. Thank you!

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