“Honestly,” exclaims Johannes Jacobi, one of the two moderators of the “Helga! Festival Award” to the audience, “it was a really shitty year for the whole scene.” Everyone in the audience nods and smiles wearily. True words. At this year’s “Helga! Festival Award” bravery reigns – despite poor ticket sales, debts and high energy prices for most festivals, people gossip, support each other and look to the future. How else should it be? When “Fusion” – one of the largest festivals in Germany – registered 1.5 million debts in August, even the last person knew: Culture in the pandemic has its price. And so at “Helga!”, Germany’s largest and most important festival prize, not only the best festival of the year is chosen, but also the most sustainable approach (“greenest meadow”), the most sophisticated awareness concept (“most mixed bag”) and the best way of dealing with employees (“most comfortable trade”). The future must be kept in mind.

    Finally there are shows again where something can go wrong

    The Reeperbahn Festival hasn’t had it easy in the past two years either. Just like everyone else, Europe’s largest club festival had to step back, reduce its program and wait for better times. But it’s back all the more this year: Hundreds of music acts in four days, countless panels, talks and workshops. The festival is still considered a show stage and platform for artists who have not yet had their breakthrough and as a networking place for people from the music and event industry. And that’s how it goes for me after the “Helga! Award” directly to nand into the mojo. The 22-year-old architecture student became known almost overnight with his 80s wave track “Wohlfühlen” in 2020 and only released his new EP “Sonnenmilch” at the end of August. The mood in the underground club is good, the audience pushes forward, but the musician doesn’t have it easy today. First a loop gets caught in the DJ desk, then the trumpet isn’t plugged in properly, and then it sounds twice – the first twenty minutes of the concert are marked by technical problems. The more often the “Aperol Spritz” singer has to break off songs, the more tremulous his voice becomes. But nand remains professional – and the audience takes it easy. Finally live music again, finally there are performances again where something can go wrong.

    where does love fall Where do I have to stand to catch them?

    After nand it drives me Paula Hartman to “Uebel und Gefahrlich” – the club is on the top floor of a bunker on Hamburg’s Feldstrasse and is just as dark and cold as the big city life that Hartmann sings about in her songs. The only 21-year-old singer sings in songs like “Truman Show Boot”, “Never in Love” and “Veuve” about the lostness of the young generation, between cheap wine and dirty subways in Berlin. She seems to have struck a chord with this. The former child actress has half a million monthly listeners on Spotify, most recently she released a song together with Casper and her debut album NIE VERLIEBT. She describes her music as a “fairy tale in the big city”, only without a happy ending. Crowded as close to the stage as possible, the crowd in the audience is in their early to mid-twenties. Paula Hartmann expresses things that she could never formulate in this way. Every line of text is shouted, hands stretched longingly to the sky. “Where does love fall?” sings Hartmann, “Where do I have to stand to catch it?” replies the audience. They were all spot on that night.