Friday, 24 February 2012

Tiki bars, Eclectic Music and Tropical Fruit (Bananas)

My favorite tiki bar in my favorite quarter of Berlin has to be Tiki Heart in Kreuzberg.  You can get Elvis Burgers, rockabilly and surf music, and tropical cocktails served in giant, 1-litre Bavarian beer mugs.  I don't believe you need much more in life. On Sundays they have a music program called 'Acous-tiki' with live acoustic music.  I was having a look at the flyer when a name popped out and hit me in the forehead like a banana flung from a tropical islander (more on flying bananas later):  Anton Barbeau was to play live at Tiki Heart.

Twenty years ago I saw Anton Barbeau playing in a now-defunct joint called 'Cafe Montreal' in my hometown of Sacramento, California.  He had wild, curly red hair and big glasses, which suggested a mad genius of sorts.  Two decades later, probably the only two Sacramentans living in Berlin happened to bump into each other at the same watering hole.  Figure the odds.

Now Anton's hair has gone from a shock red to an electric gray; still wild and curly, suggesting a mad scientist of sorts.  Anton's music is a heady brew of folk, classic rock and rampant balladeering.  I'm always up for something a little bit different, so I was pleasantly entertained to be sure.

When photographing live music I prefer not to use flash, leaving the dramatic stage lighting to create my mood for me.  However, since Tiki Heart has no stage lighting, I decided to use what was abundantly available to sculpt my images:  bright colors, tiki masks and electric gray hair.  I rely on slow shutter speeds and bounced fill flash to achieve shots which are full of vibrant color and swirling motion.    Fortunately for me, Anton Barbeau waved his arms frequently, and in one song, coaxed the audience to sing 'BAAA-NAAAA-NAAAS!' along with him.  He later informed me that this particular song has resulted in fans throwing bananas at him on stage from time to time.  Sadly, the Berlin crowd didn't know of this fruity phenomenon--or perhaps the Bananas song.  Shame, that would have been one helluva shot.

More band and musician photography in Berlin and beyond.