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Annoying the Bands of Reeperbahn Festival

Butt plugs and self-discovery in Hamburg.

Really, life is just one high before another inevitable low, right? Like, Hamburg is so great until you remember that everyone's German. Similarly, I'm sure that playing gigs with your band is really fun, before you come back to your dressing room, where two drooling "journalists" are face down on the floor with the remnants of your rider in their pants. This weekend, I was stomping around at the seventh annual Reeperbahn festival, proving both those theories correct and waving my laminate at anyone who pretended to care. Here's what went down: Firstly, though, I would like to point out that, while I was treated to some of the daylight sights and sounds of Hamburg during my press trip, JLCT wrote about all that stuff a year ago. I don't know when this press trip became an annual holiday for whoever the worst paid staff member at VICE is, but it has. Anyway, since you all read Jamie's wholesome blog from last year, I'm instead gonna regale you with my own tragic, yet self-congratulatory tales of getting pissed during the FESTIE.


Press trips such as these are normally quite hard to get your head around, simply because it's stupidly tricky to gauge how much of the tourist board stuff you're actually obliged to do. I've done a few before and the free booze combined with the "walks round the young, hip quarters" of whatever town you're in tend to end in threesomes, tampons falling out on dance floors and rudely pointing and laughing at the organiser's soul patch.

Prostitution is legal in Hamburg and the whole place is sex-mad. Women are prohibited (actually, though) from walking down some of the streets where you can buy time with a street prozzie so that they don't make men feel bad. But there was still lots to see!

The sex shops in Hamburg are like department stores. I visited several that were split over three levels, or something crazy, with more weird sex technology than I ever knew existed. And I say that as someone who had a short-lived television career observing gimps. I wasn't allowed to take photos of the insane variety inside, but here is a picture of a dildo I bought that absorbs all your vaj juice then squirts it back at you at the press of a button.

After eight cans of Astra – the local beer that puts strippers on its bottles – and time spent handling countless butt-plugs, I decided to have a strip-wash in the basement of a table dancing club, which, at the time, seemed like a really sanitary idea. Here I am post-douche.


Every band at the festival had a name that thought you'd heard before, but actually hadn't. I'm guessing that was a deliberate move on the bookers' part, because once you've knocked back a few comically large mugs of beer, Foam Lake, Glass Animals and MOUSTACHE PRAWN all sound like buzz bands you've felt peer-pressured to listen to on HypeMachine Radio at work. Speaking of band name generators, one of the first acts we watched was Swim Deep, who are some guys from Birmingham with a really hot drummer.

Is it possible to have beer goggles on when you look at yourself? Recently, when I'm drunk, I spend ages putting on other people's make-up, then spend the whole night pouting, never realising I look like the Joker with lipstick smeared up to my eyeballs. Until the pictures are ALL UP IN MY NEWSFEED the next day.

Toy were also there, which is great, because they're great. This was the only picture I got before trying to make their tour manager shelve my dildo and obnoxiously quizzing the lead singer, Tom, about who applies his guyliner for him. What am I like, eh? (Totally likeable and not annoying.)

The next day's a bit of a blur. Some useful and not at all rude advice I can give you about Hamburg is that lots of the restaurants smell weird. Not necessarily weird-bad, but weird as in impossible to handle if you're on vom-alert. No offence, Hammy. For this reason, I skipped breakfast and went on a Beatles tour. I'm guessing lots of you will be interested in The Beatles, so here is a picture of them getting high on some slimming pills at a cinema they used to live in.


A beautifully framed picture of Peace before their show.

Before I knew it, it was time to get back on it and, in Hamburg, they gots Tyskie on tap, so it's quite easy. Naturally, I again found myself watching bands that play fortnightly in London. Next in line for harassment were Peace.

In case you haven't already realised, this isn't a blog about music, it's a blog about self-discovery. That's why I don't have any pictures of bands actually playing. Instead, I present to you a series of intimate mood portraits that I feel accurately capture the essence of the festival.

Oh wait, here's a live photo!

Apparently the lead singer's style icon is Penny Lane. Snap! Right, girls?

I'm not a groupie, I'm a band aid.

This is when things fell off a cliff, at least as far as my sanity was concerned. The boys were making out/drooling and my friend Lucy started taking self-portraits on the toilet.

Look at this street fan art portrait of me I came across. Being appreciated in Hamburg feels great.

I'll tell you what, festivals are the same wherever you are: you'll never watch many bands and you'll always be drunk. Maybe one day you'll go to festivals as an adult with a baby on a sling wearing headphones, but it will still be the same old shit. If you're not foaming at the mouth, you'll be FOMOing at the mouth because you missed the lock-in at the press tent. It's an inevitable mess.

Bye Hamburg! See you next year! PS: It's okay to be casually racist if you're part German, right?


Follow Billie on Twitter: @billiejdporter

More fun trips we've been sent on by PR companies:

We Went to a Foam Party in Magaluf

Hamburg: A Holiday Guide!

Lauryn Hill Live… On Acid!