Yeah, yeah, Berlin is changing all the time, but the biggest changes these days aren't with the buildings, but with the people. The city is jam packed with tourists -- I think there were even more tourists in the city this month than there were during the World Cup in 2006 -- and Berlin's newly mainstream appeal means everything in the city is a lot more expensive than it used to be. Beer prices are about a Euro more, on average, than three years ago, new CDs are consistently in the 15-20 Euro range, and I found fewer crazy good bargain bin deals at my usual stops (e.g. Dense, Neurotitan). Dense has moved from its old home on Danziger Strasse and is now on Petersburger Strasse, however, some things don't change -- you still have to look carefully to find it, because the name of the store only appears in faded lettering on one of the windows. It blends in with the surrounding shops and I walked right by it twice before finally noticing it. Just like old times. Even armed with an address, you still have to search for shops tucked away behind buildings and down creepy alleys.
After getting rejected from entry to Berghain, we moved on to plan B, which was Pan/Tone live at the new Tresor club (it's a couple of years old, but I've never been to the new location so it was new for me). I didn't think they could possibly replicate the feel of the old club in a new location, but they somehow did it. First off, ignore the huge brick monstrosity of a building that houses the club, just head inside. Upstairs, you'll find the half-dancefloor, half-bar section that houses the Globus floor. Now, this section can hardly be called edgy (particularly the bar section with its plain, student pub atmosphere), but that was always the case for the Globus section of the club. Downstairs, you have to pass through a long, dark, cold corridor with blank grey stone walls, and as you walk, the sense of fear and mystery grows as the thundering hard techno music grows louder and more ominous. The empty old wooden shells of safety deposit boxes have made the move from the old club, as have the steel grills and the merchandise alcove. For me, The music had too many elements of 1991-era hardcore/rave for me on this night, but the atmosphere was fantastic. The DJ's on the Globus floor were better, and Pan/Tone just killed it with his punishing live set.
On the weekend I was there, the parties were great but not "Berlin great". The best may have been the Vakant 5yr anniversary (Onur Ozer, Jeremy P. Caulfeld, many more), but none of us really wanted to trek out to Rechenzentrum so we didn't seriously consider going. OTOH, the schedule for the next weekend was just insane. On my weekend there were no real dream lineups, but the week after featured a handful of them, beginning with the various Red Bull Music Academy events (including a Moderat gig on the day I left Berlin ... damn), but the Friday party at Watergate was the stuff of legend, with various Perlon stars plus Villalobos, Baby Ford, and a live performance by Isolee. WHOA. It was a great week for concerts, and if I'd gotten my shit together I could have seen Leonard Cohen, NIN, Suzanne Vega, Nouvelle Vague, Ron Carter ... and didn't see any of them. We wanted to see La Roux, but it sold out. However, I did see a great performance of Jewish music in a charming, lovingly dilapidated ballroom that dates back to 1913, chilled until 6AM listening to techno on the riverside rafts of Club der Visionnaire, and finally saw "Berlin Calling" starring Paul Kalkbrenner. It's Berlin, you can't do everything, or even 0.00001% of everything.