As If We Needed Proof that Berlin and Williamsburg (Brooklyn) are One and the Same

Yesterday after a hearty brunch in Kreuzberg, I went with friends to the self-proclaimed (and a bit too self-satisfied) Heldenmarkt (“Heroes’ Market”) in an old performance and event space cutely titled Postbahnhof am Ostbahnhof. It was one of these bizarre Berlin experimental markets that I characterize as “Save the world and drink good coffee at the same time!” There was hemp clothing. There were belts made out of tires and earrings made out of playing cards (full disclosure: I bought a pair) and fair trade coffee and pink Himalaya salt. The atmosphere was a distinctly yuppie Prenzlauer Berg crowd, even though the location was alternative Kreuzberg. Parents with kids wheeled SUV strollers around. Hipsters munched on what was sure to be vegan, gluten-free food. It was all a bit too Brooklynesque, which basically means it was really all a bit too Berlinisch.

I was there to see a band that a friend had recommended, called Orchestra Miniature in the Park. Granted it wasn’t a park, and if it had been the results would have been decidedly soggy and unpleasant given the weather, but the sunny exuberance reminded me of the Polyphonic Spree at Central Park Summer Stage years ago, or any one of a number of twee indie bands that are usually too adorable for their own good. Picture this: around twenty people, each one playing a miniature children’s musical instrument, plastic and colorful. A lead singer who dances around and jumps off of things and disregards completely the fact that the mic is on way too low and that no one can really hear him, and that anyway they’re all far too busy eating their vegan food and drinking their little eco-friendly bottles of lemonade on which is printed, cutely, the word “LemonAid.” Actually you don’t have to picture it on your own, because here’s a video.

While I appreciated the enthusiasm of the performers, and the fact that they really were geared towards entertaining children and parents (as opposed to hipsters who never grew up) and I thought the idea of playing children’s instruments was original and entirely successful considering the context, I was struck by a frightening thought about halfway through, that almost forced me to pick up and leave: Berlin and Brooklyn really are one and the same.