Emotions, Long Queues & Sting: Reeperbahn Festival Welcomes 25,000 To 16th Edition

Nana Adjoa on stage at the Nochtspeicher in Hamburg.
Axel Heimken/picture alliance via Getty Images
– Nana Adjoa on stage at the Nochtspeicher in Hamburg.
Festivals promoting the incredible young talent this world has to offer are particularly important after 18 months of near-silence.

The organizers of Reeperbahn Festival wanted to take a step closer to normality with the 16th edition, Sept. 22-25. By all accounts, they succeeded.

Yard Act on stage at the St. Pauli Theater after winning this year
Axel Heimken/picture alliance via Getty Images
– Yard Act on stage at the St. Pauli Theater after winning this year
“They blew us away,” said jury president Tony Visconti

First, the numbers: 285 live performances by 250 acts from 26 countries, plus an additional 86 program items from the fields of art, film and word, taking place across 35 venues along Hamburg’s Reeperbahn district and attracting some 25,000 visitors, including 2,000 conference delegates. 

The conference took place as a face-to-face event, after last year’s all-digital version: 100 sessions, 20 networking events, 30 showcases and four award ceremonies. All panels, talks and interviews, including highlights like the opening talk by Lyor Cohen are still available on the digital conference platform. 
Yard Act from the UK are this year’s ANCHOR winners. They were the jury’s favorites, which consisted of UK singer Emeli Sandé, U.S. songwriter Tayla Parx, German singer and actress Yvonne Catterfeld, UK songwriters Tom Odell and Jacob Banks and U.S. music producer Tony Visconti. They attended the concerts of the nominees May The Muse (GER), Florence Arman (UK/AUT), Lie Ning (GER), OSKA (AUT), PVA (GBR) and Yard Act (GBR). The latter “just blew us away,” said jury president Visconti, adding, “it was quite an emotional experience for me to finally see some live performances in Hamburg again.” 
Reeperbahn Festival 2021 Opening:
Axel Heimken/picture alliance via Getty Images
– Reeperbahn Festival 2021 Opening:
British musician Sting gave his first concert it 18 months on stage at the Operettenhaus.

None other than Sting kicked things off on the first day of Reeperbahn Festival, admitting to the audience that he’d been quite nervous ahead of his first live show in 18 months. Other performers included newcomers such as the eight-member rap collective Daughters of Rejkjavik from Iceland, UK synth-punks Working Men’s Club, Dutch funk band Arp Frique, Norwegian songwriter Red Moon, Austrian indie rap trio Sharktank, as fell as established acts such as German soul singer Joy Denalane, Griff from the UK, and last year’s ANCHOR award winners ÄTNA, also from Germany.

The long queues in front of some venues were owed to the fact that the audience has been craving concerts for a long time, as well as to the severely limited capacities, which were a condition for the event to go ahead under the current coronavirus rules in Hamburg. Visitors had to show one of three health proofs to get in, either of vaccination, recovery or a negative test. A Reeperbahn Festival vaccination bus on site registered over 400 vaccinations with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 
During Reeperbahn Festival, a press conference was held presenting the results of a gender distribution study of the Keychange initiative exploring the representation of women in the music industry and the expectations of consumers in Germany. “The findings made it clear that music companies would benefit from a more balanced gender ratio in music products (such as playlists, music programmes and festival programmes) in the medium term. These factors play an increasingly important role in the purchasing decisions amongst younger consumers especially,” according to the press release.
Dates for next year’s Reeperbahn Festival have already been set from Sept. 21-24 September 2022. The U.S. will be next year’s partner country, following this year’s South Korea. Tickets are on sale.
Reeperbahn Festival under coronavirus restrictions.
Axel Heimken/picture alliance via Getty Images
– Reeperbahn Festival under coronavirus restrictions.
Visitors had to show one of three health proofs, venue capacities were limited.

More award shows and winners at Reeperbahn Festival 2021:

VIA – VUT Indie Awards 
Best Newcomer: Sofia Portanet  
Best Act: Danger Dan  
Best Album: Vertigo Days by The Notwist
Best Label: City Slang  
Best Experiment: Dadabots & Portrait XO – “I’ll Marry You, Punk Come”  
Best New Music Business: Antilopen Geldwäsche  
VIA Special Award: Balbina, Peter Maffay, Sarah Lesch & Rocko Schamoni for  their joint efforts for a better new copyright law in Germany.
Helga! Festival Award
Best Festival: WATT EN SCHLICK FEST   
Most digital festival feeling: DEICHBRAND FESTIVAL
Thinking outside the box: Lunatic Festival  
Most productive break: SNNTG Festival
Festival personality:  
Rembert Stiewe, representing festivals that did not take place   
Markus Blanke, representing festivals that took place   
Franziska Pollin, representing political commitment for festivals at state level
Forum Veranstaltungswirtschaft – representing political commitment to festivals at national level
IMJA – International Music Journalism Award
Best Music Journalist of the year  
German: Aida Baghernejad (Musikexpress, taz, tip berlin) 
English:  Stephanie Phillips (Independent, The Quietus, Vice, Bandcamp ,The    Wire, author of “Why Solange Matters”) 
French: Jean Morel (Grünt) 
The year’s best work of music journalism
Text – German: Julia Friese for her column, “gedanken zum gegenwärtig*innen” in Musikexpress
Text – English:  Amanda Petrusich: Genre is disappearing. What comes Next? – The New Yorker 
Text – French: Hugo Lautissier: Danser sur les décombres : les trois vies du B018 Trax (21.02.21) 
Audio – German: Diviam Hoffmann, Klaus Walter
Audio – English: Carmichael Rodney, Sidney Madden
Audio – French: Wetu Badibanga, Kay Kagame, José Tippenhauer
Multimedia – German: Lea Schröder 
Multimedia – English: Tracklib Sample Breakdown
Best work of music, under 30: 
Rosalie Ernst: Unfuck the EU in Kaput Mag  
Katharina Meyer zu Eppendorf: Musikfluencer in ZEIT Campus 
Yannik Gölz: DOUBLETIME: Xaviers Armee der Finsternis on laut.de