Whether punk, pop, rock, indie, electronic, jazz or hip-hop – until Saturday evening the focus will once again be on music from almost all genres on Hamburg’s Reeperbahn. The 18th Reeperbahn Festival officially opened in the evening.

It represents the voices and the sound of society and democracy: “young, diverse, queer, avant-garde and creative,” said Minister of State for Culture Claudia Roth (Greens) at the opening show at the Stage-Operettenhaus in Hamburg. Events like these are particularly important in times when democracy is under attack by racists, among others.

Hamburg’s mayor Peter Tschentscher emphasized the importance of the festival for the music industry and for society. “We live in challenging times. That makes it all the more important not to forget what makes us happy and content.” Hamburg is proud to host this unique event, said the SPD politician. The star of the opening show was Arlo Parks, who performed two songs. The acts Iniko and Gerd as well as stand-up artist and activist Enissa Amani were also on stage.

Newcomers in the spotlight

Last year, Kraftklub and Bill Kaulitz gave a surprise concert directly in front of the Operettenhaus immediately after the opening show. This year, the show guests were able to dive straight into the clubs. A well-known surprise band is only scheduled to perform on the Heiligengeistfeld on Thursday evening and will probably attract thousands to the stadium of the second division soccer team FC St. Pauli.

Actually, the spotlight at the festival should not belong to the big names, but rather to shine a light on newcomers. Festival boss Alexander Schulz emphasized that this year he wanted to respond to the needs and expectations of the “next generation” and give them a stage. “The next generation knows exactly what’s going on. That’s why we should listen to them,” said Schulz.

And that’s what the visitors did. Be it the Berlin singer Ilayda and her atmospheric, dense club performance, be it the open-air concert of the Regensburg pop-folk band The Komets or the guest performance of the Canadian singer Cam Kahin, who was already in bright sunshine and warm temperatures in the afternoon had impressed at the Heiligengeistfeld with his hard indie sound.

Festival prize: Six young bands in the running

Until Saturday evening, more than 300 concerts are scheduled in around 60 clubs and venues in the cult district of St. Pauli as well as in the Elbphilharmonie. Around 320 acts from around 40 countries want to show not only music lovers, but also labels, bookers and organizers what they can do.

Six up-and-coming bands and artists are also competing for the festival’s undued young talent prize, the Anchor Award. It should be awarded on Saturday evening. This year the jury also includes singer Katie Melua.

Significantly more visitors are expected at the 18th edition of the four-day club festival and conference than in the past three years. Expenditure since 2020 has also been determined by the corona pandemic, a subsequent reluctance to buy among music fans and the enormous increase in production costs in the industry.

Last year, the rush in front of the clubs was also a challenge. This year, the organizers are countering this with a clearer app with a traffic light system to show venue capacity. This worked on the opening day, as Ilayda’s performance at Club Häkken showed.