Baloise Session 2016 – Parov Stelar (AT) / Culture Club (UK): Back to the Future

Baloise Session, Blog, Concerts, Festivals, Music, Photography

Fall means a lot of things: change of temperature, grey days and layering of clothes. A big Yikes! for me. But fall also means that the hippie dances at festivals are replaced with indoor locations. Some of them are simple, others outstanding. Last week I was part of one of the most beautiful indoor festival settings I’ve seen so far. Baloise Session has me two times this year and let collide two different generations. But we all danced together in the end. The power of music. So kitsch but so true at the same time.

Opening the night between candle lighted tables was the guy who invented the most influencial kind of dance music of the decade. And no, I’m not talking about EDM – that might be the worst invention ever. Parov Stelar, an Austrian DJ, mixed Jazz, Electronica and 50s music together, bringing it to the audience as Electro Swing. The younger crowd knows him and his band well, but the fun part about this type of electronic music is that it pleases a wider age range. So there you saw them: the audience that came for Boy George, standing up and dancing before there were any 80s vibes in the room.

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Parov Stelar is contagious, that’s been clear since the first time I saw them. The mixes are great, but the band plays a big role live. They are the main entertainers up front and lead singer Cleo Panther is the proof that sexyness is an attitude and not a matter of having a dollface. She is a gorgeous human being with an outstanding power over the crowd and I obviously don’t have to mention anything about her voice – perfect. These guys were the perfect warm up, playing hits like “Clap your Hands”, “Mojo Radio Gang” and “All Night”, but also introducing the brand new single “Grandpa’s Groove”. If you’re never heard of Parov Stelar before, first of all: shame! Second, go and listen to “The Demon Diaries” a double album that has the classic electro swing on the one side, and some darker DJ sets on the other (read my album review here).

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After the first sweats of the night it was time to see the main act, which was Culture Club. I have to admit, I didn’t know much about them, since I was born when they landed they’re first hits already, like “Karma Chameleon” or “Do you really want to hurt me”. Boy George rings a bell to me sadly more because of his past in the media with drug abuse and jail, but I always loved the guy somehow: especially because his make up looks way better than mine all the time.

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During my shooting session in front of the stage, which was run over after ten seconds sharp by all the 80s fans in there, I was overwhelmed by the love the band got at first glance. Culture Club didn’t play in a while, but the place was packed and ready to rumble. After finding rescue on an empty chair in order to get some decent pictures for this article and pissing off every single being sitting right behind me, I was pleasantly surprised how great Boy George sounds live. He’s not only freaky suits and big hats, you could tell that this 80s LGBT legend was having loads of fun up there like he never left. He’s cheerful, with a great sense of humour (“Hey you look great! You had something done did you?”) but thoughtful at the same time – most part of the Culture Club songs are about loving and missing, a thing that seemed to be a lot present in Boy George’s life. The band and the gorgeous back up singers brang back oldschool disco times, and I have to be honest, I’d have loved the idea of going on an aftershow dance with them and throw some glitter in the air. After Boy George would have done my eye make up, of course.

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Baloise Session is still on in Basel, Switzerland, until November 8th, 2016. You’ll find the full program here.

A huge thank you to Baloise Session for having me, three times and still not sick of it.

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