Having planned long ago a one-week holiday in Barcelona, Spain, I was stoked to find out Berri Txarrak would be playing at Apolo on my last night in town. Ever since I was introduced to them some years ago I kept listening to their music, especially the last two records Payola and Haria, the former produced by Steve Albini and the latter by Ross Robinson (if you know what I mean). Their personal blend of rock, metal and hardcore, with a hint of melodic punk rock here and there, is one of the best musical discoveries I’ve made in a while.
And, also, they’re basque and they sing in Basque (“euskara”), which adds something because the language has a weird sound to non-speakers (like myself). I often find myself singing their songs by completely making up the words.
The Sala Apolo is a huge music hall with at least three different rooms. Ours was almost full–I’d reckon there were some two thousand people–by the time opening act Note To Amy left the stage. They played some sort of metal-ish alt-rock and two of them wore Bad Religion t-shirts.
Berri Txarrak opened with the first few songs off of Haria, and I was immediately blown away by how powerful they sounded. They’ve been doing this for a while, and it’s clear they’re great musicians. One really cool thing about the show was how little they talked and paused between songs. They went on for more than two hours and hardly ever stopped, except for a handful of encores. And the drummer was pounding like crazy, always flawless and dynamic. Awesome indeed. Some songs have softer, acoustic parts, and the contrast between these and the heavier ones was simply devastating (like in “Makuluak,” for which they pulled out two more bass drums).
A great part of the audience was clearly Basque and sang all the lyrics, which made me feel strange about, as I mentioned before, yelling to the music with non-existent words. Nevertheless, I just had to. I had sometimes a feeling of taking part in a party I had nothing to do with, a get-together of Basque people talking passionate and angry Basque politics in a language I don’t understand a single word of. Many of Berri Txarrak’s songs deal in fact with those issues, and it was obvious the show had a lot to do with this sense of identity (it is worth noting that Catalonia has similar left-wing independence ideals, which was yet another reason for that sense of communion). Someone waved Euskadi and Catalonia flags and there were a couple of anti-Spanish choruses (if I got them right).
Besides that, anyway, everyone was dancing and jumping, and many were pogoing. There was more than one circle pit and when, during “Lepokoak,” I turned around to look at the venue, the sight was really impressive.
So, even though I somehow missed the political aspect, which must have been a great part of the show, I can say as far as the music goes it was devastating (I’m running out of adjectives here, sorry). Hell of a band, both on record and live.