Solaris goes Berlin

If there is a city with similar hype levels than London then it surely must be Berlin. One could even say that Berlin is actually taking over London as the most hyped city in Europe and maybe the world! If Bowie loved it then it can’t be all that bad right?

Now, my dear reader, please don’t expect a deep meditation about life in Berlin. I never lived in this great city myself and have been only visiting as a tourist. But I’d like to share some impressions from my last trip and some thoughts that go along with it…

Day 1

It’s not a secret how great Berlins music scene is. But on this trip I wasn’t keen on sampling the local DJ talent: One of my fave bands skipped Hamburg on their tour schedule so that I had to jump on the train to attend their gig at the Columbia Halle! Talking about trains: The connection between Hamburg and Berlin is ace and instead of gruelling 3-hour bus journey one can now be in Berlin within less than 90min. Awesome! 

 Not the set of Bladerunner
Not the set of Bladerunner

With nearly 3.5 Million inhabitants it’s easy for Berlin to feel futuristic and derelict at the same time. So from the spaceport interior of the Berlin Main Train station, I effortlessly stumbled into the shabby chic of Soho House Berlin. A friend invited me for a catch-up and some food and once I walked past the big copper doors I got instant flashbacks to the Shoreditch House in London. They do run a franchise here after all and it looks like each House has a similar vibe to it. Not that I am complaining tho!

Soho House Berlin and London have another thing in common: A pimp pool on the roof. PLAYA! So yeah… it’s advisable to make friends with memberships. They are just the nicer people anyway… right Sascha? 😉

 Tropical plant vs Grey Berlin sky
Tropical plant vs Grey Berlin sky

After applying some fragrant Cowshed hand moisturiser I waved the In-Crowd goodbye to meet my sister for the main event: The Berlin concert of my beloved band Justice!

There are very few musicians I really obsess over, but they all have one thing in common: Great style and a theatric demeanor! Being it Björk, Deee-Lite or Justice… the attitude levels are cranked up alongside the volume.

With their satin jackets, unkempt hair and vintage Genesis T-Shirts Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay just ooze 70ties porn style and could have been rebellious heartthrobs in 80ties movies like La Boum. As you can see… I am having a massive man crush on these dudes! Stylish French fuckers…

After we stood half an hour outside the wrong venue wondering why all these Goths wanted to attend a Justice concert we ended up in the right spot. What can I say, they fucking killed it! A perfect blend between rowdy Techno and Electro served with a massive slice of melodic French cheese. Fantastic. If you have never witnessed their stage show I can recommend their great Tour Documentary Across the Universe or the many live recordings of their shows on YouTube.

To round the amazing evening off the whole Ed Banger Squad was in town, playing at the Prince Charles Bar a thoroughly enjoyable eclectic set consisting of House, Electro and some heavy Rave classics. Especially seeing the legendary Cassius open a bottle of Vodka with their teeth whilst dropping 1999 was a joy to behold…

 Too many men too many many men
Too many men too many many men

So yeah… it’s a no brainer that Berlin really is a global party capital. And NO, I haven’t been rejected by Berghains bouncers yet. That will be an adventure for my next trip!

Day 2

Time to hit the stores! Although Hamburg has some great stores, Berlin of cause presents a wider variety for the indulging fashionista. As I purchased some pretty awesome and limited Levis x Justice patches at the concert I needed some vintage garms to put them on. So off I went on a tour of Berlins vintage shops…

After being blessed by the thrift gods in the first shop with a ferocious vintage college jacket for 45€ I still had some time left to check out further Berlin Hypebeast stores like Overkill, Firmament, WoodWood and more. So yes, Berlin is a fantastic place to upgrade you wardrobe and I would recommend the area around the tube stations Hackischer Markt, Weinmeister Strasse and Schlesisches Tor.

 Literally... shoe overkill
Literally… shoe overkill

And off I went towards Friedrichshain to check out HHV. The physical store of the virtual record store Hip Hop Vinyl has everything to kit out any aspiring Rapper: Shoes, garms, magazines and, of cause, vinyl. Loads of it!

On route, I met my good friend Peter. As to prove my point about Berlin snatching Londons crown, cool cat Peter swapped London for Berlin this autumn and has apparently never been happier!

Check out his great design work here: http://www.petercrnokrak.com

So yeah, the bottom line is: Shopping is great in Berlin. And if you don’t believe me you are either boring, badly dressed or BOTH!

 Spoiler warning: ME!
Spoiler warning: ME!

Day 3

After having had my music, party and shopping cravings satisfied it was time to tick off the last box of any respectable Solaris100 City Break: Street Art.

Basically the whole East of Berlin has been covered in tags, throw-ups, pieces, stickers, paste-ups and any other form of color based artistic expression so it’s great fun to just have a walk and go on an art hunt like an art c**t. Of cause, the odd Solaris sticker might have been applied at various places around town as well.

The big Street Art related thing in Berlin is the recently opened Urban Nation Gallery at Nollendorfplatz bang in the centre of town.

Actually, I shall dedicate a fresh new blog post about this magical place in the future. Just be assured it’s worth the journey. From Ben Eine to Faile, Ben Frost and Banksy… the show is incredibly well curated and has the who is who of the current urban art scene hanging on the walls.

And no, there is no gift shop YET! 😉

Seeing all this amazing art really inspired and motivated me to go back to my studio and start painting again! But first I had to catch up with a good friend and fellow artist for a tasty Currywurst and a chat: Rainer Bornowski has been an inspiration to me since I started to dabble in Vector illustration and we both share a love for bold colours and applying our designs to physical products like record covers, T-Shirts and Postcards.

Check out the world of Bonito here: https://www.boronowski.com

What I really love about Berlin is the derelict vibe of it all. There is really no other city in Germany comparable with this sense of freedom you have in the German capital. I really hope that London will realize that aggressive gentrification will extinguish any creative spirit that made the city so amazing in the first place.

A city without any space to roam and get lost will loose it’s artists, so let’s hope Berlin stays fun, funky and the right amount of dirty!

So bye-bye Berlin, you have been great! Oh, and by the way, I prefer the Currywurst at Curry 36 over the offering at Konnopke’s Imbiss. Go for the spicy one!

Solaris over and out!

Solaris on tour: London calling Part 2

Bright lights, big city. So if you are not really culturally inclined then London has a lot of damn good shopping options as well!

Although classic streetwear locations like The Hideout, BAPE London and the Stüssy London Chapter closed down yonks ago, the town is littered with other great options to get rid of your hard earned cash for some hip garms!

One of my favourite stores in London is the DPMHI store in Great Pulteney Street. Not only is Maharishi one of the OG’s in the Street Wear game, but the store looks absolutely fantastic: Camo tiled floors, Japanese armour and a selection of the finest Urban Vinyl really makes this location special!

I love the connection between art, fashion and music and Maharishi is championing this mix with their embroiled art pieces by Futura and Neckface up the walls, it’s great jackets and pants and collaborations with musicians like Travis Scott.

You don’t need to walk long to hit up the next spot: Just around the corner from Maharishi is the latest brand to kick up a stir in the Hypebeast scene… Palace Skateboards.

Ripping a massive page out of Supremes playbook, Palace is like the rowdy British cousin of the US streetwear giant who,  instead of listening to Capone-N-Noreaga, raved through the early 90s to 2Step and UK Garage.

The shop turns up the swagger with it’s Versace style floor tiling and a Rolls Royce grill mounted to the wall. And if you still don’t believe the place is fresh, cool and dope you better believe my homie Jonah Hill!

The rest of the shop is following Supremes approach of less is more with a clean shop space with a TV screen mounted on it’s white walls showing skate vids. Don’t forget to grab some overpriced silly merch on the way out: I recommend the  £1 Palace matches…

Talking about Supreme… let’s just say we have history together! 

Of cause I had to drop by the Supreme store also. When the London store opened 2011 I expected for the hype to die down a little, but what do I know: It went straight through the roof!

Queues every Thursday morning ( aka Drop Day ) were a regular sight on my way to work. No shopping luck for me this time tho, but at least I got a good birthday present for a close mate!

To cover all awesome shops in the centre of town is futile, so let’s just say I had a good ol’ snoop around my favourite haunts for sneakers, records and magazines like Reckless Records, Foot Patrol, Size?, Oi Polloi and others!

When I was heading back east I had to have a quick check around Bricklane as well. Rough Trade East is great for record collectors and stores like Son of a Stag are perfect for finding some great denim and menswear.

Rare Japanese denim threads for the urban cowboy… 

The shopping gods finally revealed some treasure for me when I checked out the Good Hood Store further up in Shoreditch. As late January is traditionally Sale season I was able to pick up some wicked WTAPS Vans for such a nice  price that I was able to afford an additional Eric Elms Kilroy coffee mug as well. Result!

What can I say: London always delivers! There is so much cool stuff to do, buy and see that things can be overwhelming. I might do a little shopping guide for London soon, but in the meantime you can read Part 1 of my London travelogue here or buy yourself a ticket to fly to this great city. It will be well worth it!