On An On: Haus Ungarn, Berlin – 10th May

On An On: Haus Ungarn, Berlin – 10th May

So I’ve recently followed the tide of cultural enthusiasm now geared towards the German capital. Buried amongst the minutia of how to turn a one month trip into a potentially long-term residency in pursuit of what might be an easier lifestyle, I haven’t had enough time for music of late. Tonight’s venue is the old HBC, a multi disciplinary arts venue that has recently become Haus Ungarn (literally, Hungary House). It is part of a larger block of buildings that perch themselves onto Alexanderplatz, the home of the iconic Socialist TV Tower built by the East German government of the mid-sixties.

In truth, it is a much less interesting environment than it should be. The building itself is essentially a concrete complex of flats, with an adjoining shopping centre and parade of cafés and bars underneath. Walking up into a spacious terrace that contains what I suppose could be considered quite charming 1980s hotel bar vibes, we are then lead into an adjoining box room that in all honesty, quite underwhelms me. When in pursuit of music venues, visitors to Berlin could do an awful lot better.

But it’s not about that of course, is it? We’re here for the music, I remind myself- that sacrilegious thing. On An On have been riding the crests of popular blogging opinion and all its questionable virtues since the release of The Hunter last November (below).

They open with this, which I guess suggests a certain anxiety to push beyond this track with the rest of the set (no one wants to be a one hit wonder after a year). And, do they achieve this? I can’t say I’m convinced.

The band’s performance is certainly tight and immaculate, but where the melodies of synth and voice may at first catch my ear, I often find that as the songs wind on I get a little lost, and ultimately feel a little less compelled than I did when those first drum beats propel in that song.

The band were formed in early 2012 by necessity, when said previous band (Scattered Trees) fell apart weeks before booked studio time and Nate Eiesland found himself needing to turn to a new slate, and write an entire album again. The opportunity was taken with a fresh grasp, and a new direction carved. Where Scattered Trees was perhaps a little colder, On An On buzzes and shimmers with outward-looking exuberance, and bleeds this re-found energy. What delicacy is contained in split seconds of tranquillity and glistening pauses, is ultimately carried by the overarching power of song; a rush forth.

Nonetheless, GIVE IN was recorded in one creative push and upon the success of their singles, the band have been playing almost constantly (this is the second time they have played Berlin, after coming with Chad Valley in February). They are touring material wrote in a rush to fill a void, and whilst it shows more than enough sparks of promise, it perhaps doesn’t take you on quite that journey that you might hope. And neither really does their live show, at this point.

Personally, I’d like to see them given a little more alone time to think this one out. Whether they’ll get it or not is another matter.

The band play The Great Escape Festival later this month.


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