Thirteen multi-instrumentalists and music to get you dancing

17 Hippies – Zakk, Düsseldorf; May 26th 2014

Working for an online magazine I receive a lot of emails every day telling me which band is currently on tour and where I have to apply for press accreditation and interviews. Of course these are not the big bands that everyone has heard about, but usually those that are not widely known. About 80% of these emails are about bands in genres that I’m not hugely interested in and I discard them immediately. At least half of the remaining 20% I delete, because the band either does not play on a date where I can make it or – most often – not in my area at all. Once in a while though there is a case where everything fits: the band sounds interesting and plays somewhere near me on a date where I actually have time. And this is how I came to see 17 Hippies.

Before the concert, there was more than an hour to spare. Enough time to chat with the people next to me and take a look at all the instruments already set on stage, some of which I could not even name. From my front row spot I had a good view of everything and enough room to move even when the venue filled up. Most people around me seemed to have seen the band before and looked at the stage expectantly. I spent the time checking out all the instruments on stage, trying to name them all. I recognized many, but there were some I was not so sure about. 🙂 This was going to be interesting. The band walked out (not 17, but 13 people 😉 ) and entertained us for over two hours with diverse music that made it impossible to stand still.

The first song was in French, sung by one of the women on stage. There was so much going on it was difficult to take everything in. It sounded great though and I immediately liked them. With the second song, a Frank Zappa cover they explained to us that on the new album they had wanted to play songs that nobody expected them to play. I cannot confirm or deny that since I didn’t have specific expectations. Yet they managed to surprise me time and again with the diversity of their songs and all the instruments they played. There was the violinist who played the singing saw or the percussionist who was playing a washboard with two spoons. Every one of them seemed to be an expert at whichever instrument they were playing. It was pure joy just listening to the sounds.

The songs meandered between styles and genres, from slower to faster and through a full range of emotions. What united them all was that you could have danced to them. The lyrics came in different languages – French, German and English and sometimes they just let their instruments speak. Not everyone was singing, but who did changed quite often. With the songs they shared a few stories too and explained where some of the songs had come from. Apparently they have made some quite diverse albums, one of them full of children’s songs. Of those I especially liked ‘Kaperfahrt’ where they explained to us that only men with bears were allowed to accompany them on their pirate ship.

Even the sad and melancholic songs made me smile and I kept marveling at their skills. No matter if they had taken a Spanish song and transformed it to a German one, covered stuff from obscure albums or played a Rumba – everything seemed to come easy to them. Their stories were fun as well and I especially liked the one about memories of riding the first motorcycle and the smell of weed. 😀 For two songs they even had an additional guest who played some type of horn or flute I had never seen before. All this made me smile broadly – I just love it to be surprised like this. 🙂

Unfortunately they started late and I had to leave before it was over. Still, it was a fun evening and I kept humming all the way home.

Setlist

Ton Étrangère
Peaches en regalia
The beast on your tracks
Zapateado
Kaukapol
Biese Bouwe
Marlène
Jamais tout
Schattenmann
Der Traurige Froschkönig
Vom Mädchen aus Schnee
Kaperfahrt
Ifni
Deine Tränen
Saragina Rumba / Der Zug um 7:40
Just like you
Hinter den Hügeln
Frau von ungefähr
Adieu
Wedding Song
So leicht
Worksong
Mad bad cat
Chassidic Song
Jovanne Jovanke
Ilkley Moor Bar Tat

pictures of this concert

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