I have just got back from a long weekend in Berlin. I was in the city for PEOPLE festival, a unique music festival made up of 160 collaborating artists. There was no line-up and the festival is intended to be non-hierarchal. A brilliant concept and something that I’d been looking forward to for a very long time.
The highlight of the festival for me was seeing Feist sing with Kings Of Convenience. This performance felt really special and encompassed everything about why I wanted to go to PEOPLE festival in the first place. As promised, the festival provided surprises and a vast array of different types of music. Seeing Tim Fain was pretty magical, although I’m annoyed at myself for not writing down the names of the pieces he performed… A little room in the Hallway Studios introduced me to the poetry and charisma of Astronautalis and the fragile voice and piano wizardry of Kristín Anna Valtýsdóttir. It was intimate performances like these that truly set this festival apart from others.
Sadly, that’s where the positive review ends. I came away from the festival feeling pretty crestfallen. The most disappointing part of the festival was the waiting. Long queues in overcrowded spaces were made unbearable by the very hot weather. (Audiences should’ve been handed out free water in this situation.) On Saturday, the overcrowding, long queues, unbearable heat and lack of information just became too much. I felt so unwell in the queue that I was hyperventilating and in tears. I didn’t know it at the time, but this was my first panic attack.
The music itself was great but everything else felt mismanaged. It was pretty frustrating standing in a swelteringly hot queue for an hour, knowing that you were missing out on seeing some of your favourite artists on other stages. However, it was encouraging to see that the festival organisers made improvements for Sunday and must’ve taken audience feedback onboard. We were allowed to wait outside where there was a breeze, and this was such a relief. The festival was so focused on the quality of the music (and rightly so!) that some other elements were overlooked. i.e. crowd control, food for a range of dietary requirements, info points and staff communication.
Hopefully, for the next PEOPLE festival, there will be info points for the audience so they can be easily updated with delays and not feel that they’re missing out on special performances. The festival promised that the audience would see each artist at least once, and sadly, this didn’t happen. After a frustrating weekend, we thought that maybe we’d get the chance to see all of the artists on Sunday evening (on the main stage for a finale performance) but this didn’t happen as we missed the main stage performances due to our group being so delayed throughout the day. The festival made improvements for the second day so I’m hopeful that PEOPLE’s next event will have ironed out this weekend imperfections.
Anyway, let’s talk about the food. The food at the festival was ‘ok’ at best. (It wasn’t a patch on the food at Haven Festival in Copenhagen last year…) The only festival food that truly impressed us was the ice cream from Jones‘ food truck. We were giddily led to the pastel yellow food truck by the intoxicating smell of melted butter. The source being handmade waffle cones which were so crisp and delicious that I could have happily sat by the River Spree eating them all afternoon.
Outside of the festival, we mostly explored the area of Friedrichshain. If you’re staying in this area then I recommend you pop by Silo for coffee and breakfast. We loved the place so much that we went twice!
If you’re in the area on a Saturday then swing by Boxhagener Platz to experience their weekly food market. We bought Cannelé from Lautz Patisserie which turned out to be the best I’ve ever eaten. (They also made me realise just how WRONG I’ve been making mine!!) The market was the perfect place to pick up some Kartoffelkruste, eggs and freshly-squeezed orange juice for our Sunday morning breakfast.
Overall, we had a wonderful weekend away in a vibrant and historic city. I hope one day we get the chance to go to another PEOPLE festival. And maybe in the future, the festival will be the best it can be.