Berlin Psych Fest, an opportunity for Germany’s capital city to celebrate a genre of music so close to the hearts of locals, the same locals who are amongst the city’s undertones still reverberating from Krautrock joining together in one of the most historical, picturesque buildings in East Berlin.
Sounds dreamy don’t it? The reality, though, is a far more deceitful and fraudulent affair leaving paying fans feeling betrayed, cheated and robbed by the serial Texan Bullshitter going by the name of ‘Robbie D Love’.
Weeks before the event was due to take place we brought you ‘A Look at Berlin Psych Fest’ previewing the headline acts due to perform at the historical Postbahnof venue, four of the five were eventually forced to pull out of the show, thus leaving Jesus On Heroine, one shining light of the festival, to play the small stage in the back room.
It was during this pre-festival hype we were subjected to a roller coaster of expectations, somewhere between the loss of the venue and the headliners jumping ship they hit rock bottom. They only had one direction to go from here, after the dog penis Twitter hack and the delirium caused by a sleepless night in Stansted Airport we started to fear the worst for Berlin’s inaugural attempt at celebrating the music of psychadelia.
In reality though, it seems from the get-go it was destined to fail. Within the chaos and with majority of the attractive bands falling by the wayside, venues changed and for an inexperienced founder in Robbie D Love, things seemed set to go wrong.
Amid fears of a cancellation weeks before the doors were set to open one last U-turn meant Robbie and his cosmic crew had finally found home at the significantly less appealing, C-Club. Fears over now, surely? Think again, the official Facebook page of Berlin Psych Fest began to hit back at doubters in early morning rants leaving little in the name of confidence for festivalgoers.
At times the festival felt like an underdog being bullied by bad luck, stroppy bands and the evils of social media. This impression was only reinforced by a fleeting visit to the warm up gig at the popular venue of White Trash Fast Food.
The opening act of Bob Rutman feat. Nico Lippolis was made up of a drummer and an elderly man using a bow to play an instrument made out of sheet metal attached to a number of metal rods. Sitting there we started thinking ‘Man this festival is gonna be bizarre’, instead of the bigger name headliners we’re going to be treated to all of the weird and innovative that Berlin had to offer. We were rooting for Berlin Psych Fest, we were so willing to enjoy it and we couldn’t have been in a more positive state of mind, despite the setbacks. So it’s quite impressive how unimpressed we actually were.
Seemingly, Robbie D Love didn’t feel like he had enough egg on his face after early misdemeanours and in a sleazy bid for some quick cash began selling tickets on the door for a mere €10, a slap in the face for those customers who paid the far inferior €60 on offer months earlier.
As for the bands, highs included the aforementioned Jesus On Heroine compiled of seven guys from Copenhagen, resembling Brian Jonestown Massacre with a lo-fi psych sound. They drew a fairly large crowd in what could be a deceivingly small room, having said that they could be one to keep an eye on. As from there things became a little more surreal as with Deep Space who seemed to span numerous genres in one song without creating anything interesting, seemingly wrapped up in their own hype.
As the festival continued we slowly realised that the only thing psychedelic about this festival was its name, the bands were just a mixed bag of guitar music. There was however one running theme throughout the festival, a liberal use of what seemed to be a venue session tambourine/ egg shaker player. Apparently incidental percussive instruments are the hallmark of good psych music.
This being said the few visitors that hadn’t been put off by the drastically reduced line up did seem to be enjoying themselves. An army of over-excited wreck-heads nonchalantly grooving to every laboured note of dissatisfied bands who must have known their impending fate. This wouldn’t normally be worth a mention if it weren’t for the fact that the festival was ‘organised’ by an apathetic wreck-head, if only Robbie D Love had taken a leaf out of their book the festival might have at least been sincere.
Now, we don’t want this review to descend into an all round attack on something that could have been great but what followed the festival revealed a rabbit hole of deceit as Robbie’s attempt to line his pockets began to surface his cowardly actions, digging himself deeper and deeper.
Fans, bands and ‘friends’ of Robbie D Love started to contact us in a bid to out the deceitful actions of a man that took no regard for anybody but himself. Was Berlin Psych fest just the dirty money making dream of a delusional Texan?
We spoke to Marcus, the drummer of both The Spacelords and Electric Moon who revealed:
“We followed Robbie’s posts on Facebook and soon got the impression that he’s kind of a dreamer, but we didn’t want to judge him just because of this impression. We still wanted to play the festival but we had a certain feeling to be careful so we asked Robbie for a guarantee of money. Both bands wanted him to pay half of the money in advance, because of our doubts and he promised money for Electric Moon but not for The Spacelords. Weirdly, he did not want to make a contract as well.
“Electric Moon asked a couple of times for places to sleep but never got an answer. For The Spacelords, Robbie told us that he would pay us the day of the show. I knew already this wouldn’t happen because of the way he was fooling around with Electric Moon. So, if a headliner can’t be sure of anything, what about the other bands? As we can’t afford to travel more than 1400 km without any guarantee and the big risk of being ripped off, we cancelled our show, what’s going on now is not a surprise for us although we were hoping this wouldn’t happen.”
Now we start to get down the nitty-gritty, our early thoughts of bad luck couldn’t be further away but perhaps this was a one off? Perhaps Robbie and Electric Moon/ Spacelords just had an unfortunate breakdown in communication?
We thought we’d speak to another ‘cancelled’ headliner, The Telescopes. Here’s Stephen’s tale of events:
“We never withdrew from Berlin Psych Fest, Robbie just couldn’t get it together. First he tried to book us onto flights to Bergen in Norway instead of Berlin and then he tried to book train tickets that didn’t exist. So we sent him flight details, within the budget, we sent them a few times, but he never replied. It got to a week before the show and he still wasn’t answering, despite using our name and music to promote his festival, he clearly wasn’t serious about getting us over. The whole thing seemed highly suspicious so we let people know what was going on. His response was to send us a photograph of a German Shepherd dog with an erection which left us with two questions: had he trawled the internet searching for a picture he was pleased with? Or did he take it himself? Questions we’re happy to leave unanswered.
“We really tried to hold on in there for the ticket holders, even when the festival looked like it wouldn’t happen, even though we had witnessed first hand the shabby way he was dealing with everyone but he made it impossible. I don’t believe his priority was to secure any of the bands he was advertising.“
The tale takes another turn for the sinister as Robbie D Love, a man who triumphs ‘peace, love and positivity’ hatched a plan to advertise popular bands to sell tickets without any real intention of putting them on. Christian of The Wands sums it up beautifully:
“Robbie D Love sold a lot tickets and ‘booked’ a lot of bands to a festival without having figured out basic stuff like a venue and general cash flow. Fans and bands from all over the world bought plane tickets that are expensive as fuck during the holiday season. Like a lot of other bands we had to back out because we felt like he used our name to bullshit people.”
Did Robbie D Love just misjudge the scale of organisation it takes to put on a music festival or did he know exactly what he was doing all along? The feeling we got upon our arrival to the festival was one of embarrassment as we watched him strut around a half empty club thinking he was the big cheese, winking at the girls and taking photos with a joint hanging out his mouth. A source close to the D Love, who wants to remain anonymous in the hope of getting a refund told us:
“He basically didn’t do his research into the Postbahnhof. The situation there was that he booked three rooms without checking spec/curfews etc. Two smaller rooms turned out to have a 10pm curfew as the venue wanted to put on their own club nights. They told him he could have the bigger room until late but there was no PA in there, and of course it’d cost a lot to hire a PA to accommodate the size of the room. I was advising him just after Cosmosis Festival to cancel the festival, cut his losses, refund his ticket sales and have another go next year. Bands were dropping by the minute. Deaf ears, he was more concerned with being ‘the guy who didn’t manage to put the festival on’. It’s all about his ego. The kid’s got his head in the clouds.”
We turned up on Saturday having to negotiate with Robbie to gain access with our press passes to see the festival even more sparse than the night before, we took some photos and luckily didn’t hang around for too long. The night and festival drew to a close in aggressive fashion with Robbie claiming on the now deleted Facebook page to have been assaulted, unsurprisingly exaggerated as Triff of Psychedelic Trips to Death explains:
“It all started when he invited us three months ago to the fest. He told us that he would give us about €300. The whole organisation was a mess, fucking ridiculous.
“After Robbie finished his set I went to ask him for the money he promised because we had to catch our flight. He told me that there is no money and he started to run away. This happened for about an hour or maybe longer. He kept walking fast around the whole venue pretending that he had something to do and I kept following him trying not to lose him. After an hour or so I grabbed him by the hand and he started pretending to cry and calling the security. Two guys grabbed my hands and he found the chance to run away. That was the last time I saw him.”
It’s a shame that Berlin Psych Fest didn’t live up to what it promised to be as we think it was set up with the intention of creating something vibrant for the young and the old of Berlin to come together and enjoy. Unfortunately “peace and love” pays for very little no matter how strong one’s will is. It’s not for us to decide whether he always intended to create this mess, it is clear to see however that this is a mess that has grown to lengths even he can’t blag his way out of anymore.
Robbie D Love declined to comment until he has discussed the situation with his lawyer, somebody he will need to rely on in the coming months as a bunch of secret groups on Facebook are already plotting their revenge in court.
With hope, this by no means needs to be the end of a Berlin Psych Fest, with somebody sincere at the helm it can still be the triumph we all hoped it would.