Let me tell you the story of one of the best weekends of the year, June 22–24. This is what you missed on–– no, wait, we’re not MTV! This was Hurricane 2012:
Arriving at Eichenring in Scheeßel, North Germany, was just a bit easier than the previous years: in 2010, Belle and I had been dropped off halfway between the motorway and the festival site; in 2011 I arrived per train and I was greeted with one rain shower after another. Enchanté!
This year, I shared a tent with ‘The Annikas’, one of which, Anni, gave me a lift from Hamburg to Scheeßel, while the other, Annie, arrived from the other side – Hanover – with two other friends. The latter were luckily already on the Green Camping site (the Green Campers really weren’t that square, I didn’t even see any grass around! Brown Camping, anyone?) and took our stuff to the already put up tents. What a service!
We queued for about one minute to get our three (!) festival wristbands – a regular one, a special beautiful Green Camping one, and an ugly green plastic one that had no other use than to show the security at the festival site entrance that our tickets had been seen and accepted by the staff at the wristband booth.
Thursday night, The Annikas and I visited our friends on another camping site and coincidently got to see Madsen, who were playing on top of a Red Bull truck – what a surprise! The set was incredibly energetic, just as the first time I’d seen them in 2011. After their set, Annie and I visited the party tent in which the DJs of Hamburg’s popular indie party Motorbooty! (Saturdays at Molotow) were feeding us our favourite songs, old and new. Well equipped with our matching captain’s hats we’d got for £7 at a beach souvenir shop in Cornwall last summer, we had a great night and met a bunch of nice sailors who threw confetti at us.
With Friday afternoon finally coming along, we got to the festival site as soon as they opened the doors to have a look at the multiple merchandise booths, food stalls and the new Red Stage, which had been a small stage inside a tent the years before and had now finally gotten upgraded to an open air stage.
The first band of the day were Bombay Bicycle Club, who I’d never seen live before and who’d been one of the acts I’d been looking forward to the most. And I wasn’t disappointed: those guys were in a good mood, blinking against the afternoon sun, enjoying the hundreds of bubbles blown onto the stage from someone in the crowd. There were a lot of drums, a lot of happiness and cheering and a lot of dancing, and before I could take a look at my watch, the set was already over, after only 40 minutes. Time just flies when you’re watching a great band.
After Bombay, I finally found Manu, who was working at a cocktail bar near the Red Stage, and we went to see Spector over at the White Stage – the only indoor stage this year. Me only knowing their hit single ‘Chevy Thunder’, I also found the other songs to be really damn catchy. Energetic singer Fred MacPherson had some great dance moves to show, as well as a high-end fashion sense, while I was mostly delighted about how much guitarist Jed Cullen’s outfit looked like it had been stolen from Steve Rogers/Captain America’s wardrobe. Manu had to leave earlier, but I had the pleasure to watch the full set and decided I wouldn’t miss them for the world when they’d get back to Germany one day.
We crossed the festival site to get to the next act: Disco Ensemble, who I hadn’t even expected to be back. I hadn’t heard of them in a few years, but was surprised when I saw that they hadn’t changed at all: still energetic, still long-haired, still in a good mood. Unfortunately, I couldn’t catch their whole set because my friends persuaded me to go back to the White Stage and watch Ed Sheeran. And what can I say: Of course, 15 minutes before his set, the tent was full and we couldn’t get in. Watching him on the screen outside the tent wasn’t worth it, especially because the sound was terrible out there, so we decided to go back to the tent and ‘cook’ and prepare for the first headliner of the weekend.
Excitedly, I dragged my Annikas to the second block in front of the Green Stage, ready to watch the two-hour-set of The Cure. I’d been looking forward to seeing them from the moment they had been confirmed to play and yes, it was wonderful. And it was Friday. And you all know what that means. To be completely honest, I found two hours to be way too long, and I got really tired after the first hour. It would have probably been less tiring if we’d stood in the front where all the old fans enjoyed seeing the band after being a fan for 30 years. They played most of their hits, but I found ‘The Love Cats’ was missing, which I was a bit disappointed about, since I absolutely love that song.
Saturday started with those familiar waves of excitement rushing through your body when you know you’re about to watch your favourite band live for the fifth time (What, that never happend to you?). As soon as the festival site doors opened at 11.30 AM, me and my Annikas rushed to the Green Stage to be in first row for Young Guns. First, we got to watch All Mankind from Australia, and during their soundcheck we were already absolutely sure we were listening to Coldplay. Don’t get me wrong, I like Coldplay, and I enjoyed All Mankind’s set a lot. It was only when I closed my eyes I could literally see Chris Martin and his boys standing before me. The band definitely had their fun, despite only a few people being already up to watch their set.
All Mankind, as good as they were, literally changed to being All Forgotten as soon as their set was over and we saw our personal highlight of the weekend enter the stage: Young Guns had us wrapped around one of their ten little fingers with the first guitar chord and they didn’t let us go. No, instead, singer Gustav Wood let us kneel before them (no, really, staring at you with these intensive blue eyes, you can’t help but obey). Annie, wearing a self-made YG-shirt, got us a Meet And Greet with the guys, taking place a few hours later, up in the Jack Daniel’s tent, from which we could see the Green Stage and most of the festival site. Well, when I say ‘Meet and Greet’ it was more a ‘Chill Out And Get Drunk’ with the band, since we were getting free Jack Daniel’s and mixers and chatted about totally random things while half-heartedly watching Band of Skulls and Less Than Jake down on the Green Stage.
The next band Annie and I were really excited about were Kakkamaddafakka from Norway and their excellent live show. I’d been claiming to having seen them at Dockville 2011 already, while actually standing around getting drunk in the last row. The next chance to see them came in April, but I decided to ditch them for The Kabeedies that day. Still a good choice. Kakkmaddafakka were brilliant, had a lot of fun, and a lot of devoted fans with weird signs and even weirder costumes. They also had a bunch of male background singers/dancers on stage, and, which was the only bad thing about their set, tons of sound problems. It took about three songs for the sound to just disappear for the first time, and then every two minutes. The band themselves still had their fun and we really couldn’t be angry with them. After all, the sound problems weren’t their fault.
Madsen, we decided, were another must-see, though we’d seen them on Thursday already. Still, songs like ‘Nachtbaden’ and ‘Die Perfektion’ as well as their cover of Alex Clare’s ‘Too Close’ kicked in and we just had to stay for the whole set. The guys also let the audience give a big cheer for the band’s parents (three of the band members are brothers). We also kind of watched Wolfmother while lurking around on the festival site to get a glimpse at Young Guns, who were casually sitting around having a few drinks between the food stalls. Wolfmother’s set was full of good songs and, well, hair, but what else would you expect, really?
Who I was extremely curious to see were Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, with a guitarist looking like a young John Lennon. Noel didn’t talk much, played his songs, but opened up after a few minutes. He found a Manchester City fan in the crowd, dedicated a song to him and prodeeded to play ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ at the end. Unfortunately, we missed the latter (except of catching a few words sounding from the Blue Stage), since we were already sitting in front of the Red Stage, waiting for M83 who were supposed to play at 9:15 PM.
Instead of seeing M83 who should have been playing for fifteen minutes already, we realized they were already soundchecking for Bonaparte who were on next. M83 had apparently played a lot earlier than they were supposed to, which was why we could see almost the whole of Bonaparte’s set. Both Annie and me had seen the party band from all over the world already, but you just wouldn’t want to miss that stage show for anything. The crowd was going mad at every single song; the band played a bunch of new ones from their upcoming album ‘Sorry, We’re Open’ and once again I was astonished how many new stage costumes they’d brought on tour.
When the Hurricane timetable was revealed, I had a bit of a breakdown, looking at Saturday night: Bonaparte, Mumford & Sons and Blink-182 at the same time? Who the hell was I supposed to watch?
Thanks to Bonaparte playing earlier, we could see more of their set and went to see Mumford & Sons afterwards. It was night, a bit cold, but the heart got warm as I stood in the back with lovey-dovey couples and drunk people sitting on the grass next to me, just listening to Marcus Mumford’s soothing voice. Even if I’d have had a bad day, this band would’ve made things better in a second. They were relaxed, the polyphonic songs lulling us all in (I especially enjoyed ‘The Cave’, which is one of my favourites, and it was even better live, under a starry night sky) and then suddenly started talking German. “Heute ist Ted’s Geburtstag!,” Marcus told us, pointing to Ted Dwane, and asking us to please sing Happy Birthday to his bandmate. Which we did. In German. The band was delighted, especially because it wasn’t even Ted’s birthday: it was just the only thing they could say in German, so it’s been Ted’s birthday the day before, and every time they’d ever been to Germany. Oh well.
After the Londoners’ set, it was time for the second headliner of the weekend: Blink-182. I’d seen them live already, but enjoyed their set just as much as the one I watched in 2010. There was an impressive drum solo from Travis Barker’s side, at least one of his children also hiding somewhere sidestage, a non-working screen for the people in the back, and a lot of confetti. There was probably also a lot of making fun of each other from Tom DeLonge and Mark Hoppus’s sides, but we unfortunately only managed to catch the last few songs of the set. Still a good way to end a perfect day.
With Sunday morning coming along, we woke up to rain, our personal mole having built a few more hills under and around our tent, and people already packing up their stuff. Seriously? On a Sunday morning? That’s spending 41 euros on nothing!
Due to the rain, we decided to sleep a while longer and miss The Black Box Revelation’s set. An hour later, we were ready to withstand the rain, with Annie finding a new identity as Plastic Girl, clad in multiple garbage bags and single-use rain ponchos. Looking fresh and feeling as fine as possible, we strutted up to the Green Stage to catch Zebrahead‘s set, who had decided on the best entrance music of all time: ‘America, Fuck Yeah’ from the Team America movie, a song that’s even found its way on my iPod. Zebrahead, as usual, had their beach bar and inflatable palm trees on stage, as well as six or seven different backdrops that fell down with each song they finished. They got some fans on stage to have some drinks with their personal bartender, and despite the rain, made every single audience member – front to back – jump and sing and put their ‘Muschis’ in the air. You didn’t even feel the rain anymore, the summer feeling just washed away everything else.
Me and my Annikas crossed the festival site to get a glimpse at Die Antwoord who were playing Red Stage. We managed to see ‘I Fink U Freeky’ and that was it. Not because the set was over or there were too many people there (there were many people there, but looking at the screen in the back was already enough), it was simply too creepy to look at it any longer. I’d come into contact with Die Antwoord about two years ago, when ‘Zef Side’ was out and they were slowly becoming more famous over time, getting played on MTV, etc. To be honest, I hadn’t expected them to wear that little, and Yolandi Visser’s all-black contact lenses didn’t make it any less creepy. At least the crowd in front of the stage had their fun, but seriously, I don’t think I want to see them live in the next few years.
Instead, we hid from the rain next to a food stall, with a great view of the Blue Stage. Without really having planned to, we got to see the whole of Frank Turner‘s set, which was absolutely stunning. That guy didn’t care about the rain, he just played his songs, he was in such a good mood and so incredibly relaxed about everything. Sympathy points: +10,000. I hadn’t heard any of his songs before, though I’d read a lot about him and had always wanted to take my time and listen to him. If it hadn’t been for the rain, I probably wouldn’t have watched more than one or two songs of his set.
Before German rappers K.I.Z. could take the stage, we fled the festival site to have dinner before returning to what I’d been looking forward to most this Sunday: The Shins. People in colourful rain ponchos and even more colourful rubber boots let us wind our way to the crowd, which was surprisingly easy, so Annie and me found ourselves in the 6th or 7th row. And well, what can I say, I just wish I’d stayed in Berlin for another day to watch The Shins with Belle and Manu, back in March. The set pushed my mood to the top of the scale when they actually brought the sun out for the first time that day. The crowd cheered, sunglasses were put on and even more people started singing along.
After another substantial pause, we went to watch the last bands for this day: First up were The Kooks, who unfortunately couldn’t bring out the sun again, not even with their sunniest of songs – ‘Shine On’. Slipping and sliding over the stage in their big woolen jumpers, they raised the mood nevertheless and sometimes even stopped the rain for a short moment. And even with the wet drops on your face, you didn’t care. Dancing was more important to all of us. Because hey, why wear rubber boots if you’re not dancing in the mud at least once?
Not less rainy was The Temper Trap‘s set on the Red Stage, which we only catched the last few songs of, watching from the cocktail bar Manu was working at. A fine band with really good songs, a set I’d been looking forward to but unfortunately couldn’t enjoy in its whole.
We were not prepared for what happened next: I’d been planning on watching a few songs of Germany’s best live band (that’s what I’d heard) Die Ärzte, and then waiting to watch the whole of New Order‘s set. Because really, if you’re at a festival and fucking New Order are planning, you’re going to watch at least a few songs. But as soon as Die Ärzte had played their first few songs, I couldn’t help but stay for another hour. They were just too good. Making fun of bands I like and bands I don’t like, and of each other, and of us, and of the weather, telling us anecdotes from the last 30 years of band history, and playing all their greatest hits. They kept their schedule of five-minute-talks and four-minute-songs and it was brilliant. I’d almost forgotten about New Order, it had gotten dark and at 11 PM I finally got Annie to come to the Blue Stage with me, despite the mud and rain and darkness and all. And I hadn’t expected what I saw. The first block wasn’t even full, most people were watching Die Ärzte or were already on their way home, so we got to the barrier of the second block and watched the last two songs of the set. It really wasn’t that special, a good light show, and a most upset “Fuck you, rain!” by Bernard Sumner. And then, as the highlight to end all highlights, they played ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’. And the night was done.
We returned to our tent with the last song of Die Ärzte playing to get up at seven the next day. With the festival over, the trash all given to the staff and our tent kinda-but-not-really-packed up, we left Scheeßel for another year. Who knows what 2013 brings.
I will now leave you with a few wordless impressions in photographic form.
(© S. Prahl)