Festival Season 2012: BootBooHook, Hanover (DE)

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BootBooHook main stage on the Hanover fair grounds (© S. Prahl)

GENERAL IMPRESSIONS

BootBooHook Festival turned four years old last weekend and it was my second time visiting. Having moved from the hippest district in Hanover – Linden – to the fair grounds at Kronsbergpark, there was more space but less visitors. Apparently, the fair grounds were too far away from the city centre to be cool enough – it’s at the end of a tram line after all.

I was lucky to have my friend living about four tram stops away from the festival grounds, so we always rode our bikes there, or took them with us inside the tram when it rained – or when we were just too tired.

Last year’s line-up, consisting of Bonaparte, Art Brut, Frittenbude, Wir Sind Helden, Sophie Hunger, Get Well Soon, Crocodiles, Young Rebel Set and about 30 other bands, was a lot better than this year’s, but we still managed to see a few bands we really enjoyed.

With three stages, a silent disco and tons of bean bags randomly lying around all over the festival grounds, the atmosphere was actually quite nice, even though there were astonishingly many families there, especially on Sunday, being “Family Day”, on which each visitor could bring two children under 14 with them. There’s just no such thing as screaming babies on any other festival I’ve been to.

FRIDAY

We started our day with Striving Vines, a four-piece from Denmark. They played nice, danceable indie rock in a tent (the Faust Stage) that seemed to be full, since people were standing outside the entrance, peeking into the darkness. But no, as soon as we got inside we realized those people were just too cool to go inside, since there was a lot of space left inside the tent – which looked more like a really small circus big top –, even right in front of the stage! Striving Vines didn’t talk much, singer Jonas showed off his trendy Chris-Hemsworth-hairdo, while bassist Jacob was apparently too cool to even take off his sunglasses inside the dark tent. I can’t really decide if those Danes sounded more like The Killers or The Audition (the higher notes were definitely Brandon-Flowers-like), but the audience thoroughly enjoyed it.

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“Daaaaaaaance!”: Striving Vines from Denmark. (© S. Prahl)

Next up were Japandroids. These two Canadians played Main Stage with not really a lot of people watching – too bad, since their energetic set knocked me out my shoes at first. I didn’t know what to expect from them, since I’d only heard the band name many, many times, but had never cared to listen to them. From what I experienced, singer Brian and I could have easily had a fast-talking-battle, because whoa, I thought my talking was hard to understand! As nice as it was, in the end the stage was just too big for the two of them, no matter how much room David Prowse’s glitter drum set took in.

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Both guitars looked the same: Japandroids’ Brian King. (© S. Prahl)

You know, those bands you’ve heard the name of plenty of times but never knew what they looked or sounded like? Yeah, Of Montreal were one of those to me. I really hadn’t expected to see what I saw, a six-headed collective from, no, not Montreal, but the USA. Their singer Kevin Barnes reminded me of Nikolai Fraiture of The Strokes, Shawn Harris of The Matches and Davey Havok of AFI – a completely unusual and weird mix, just as weird as his haircut, outfit and make-up. Looking at the others… well, a hotpants-clad male keyboarder, a lost ABBA-member with really fast fingers on guitar, a glued smile on the female keyboarder’s lips, Nick Valensi of The Strokes on the drums…? A good show, very entertaining, and the crowd was in a lighter mood, too. What else do you need? 

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Talk to me about the lights man, the lights the lights the lights!: 4/6 of Of Montreal. (© S. Prahl)

To save ourselves from the northern downpour surprising us – after a disappointing experience at the Silent Disco (you just shouldn’t let two little war-painted hipster girls control a whole festival crowd) – we headed to the Tent Stage to get a glimpse of Casiokids from Norway, whom we hadn’t heard of before either. They turned out to be too big for the small stage, six people who all seemed to have been to the same hairdresser (or brothers…or both?), and they had two drummers, of which one was playing some really weird drumset consisting of bongos and cowbells and other fun stuff.

SATURDAY

The first act of the day, French Films from Finland, was a quintet being happy to play to more than seven people. At a small festival like this, at 2 PM… even I was surprised to see more than twenty people standing behind me. I’d seen the boys a few months back, in a club that contains 300 people, and unexpectedly, I’d had to queue for one hour to even get in. And this lovely Saturday noon, they were just as good, still sounding like a happy mix of Joy Division and The Vaccines, and looking just as bored. Nevertheless, a good start in the day.

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“I’m still sober, this has to change ASAP!” Well, it did for little Joni (right). (@ S. Prahl)

Me And My Drummer from Germany had been added to the line-up for dropout Brendan Brenson. The duo played Faust Stage, which was exceptionally crowded, and impressed me a lot. I’d missed them two weeks earlier at Dockville Festival and yes, I still regret it. Singer Charlotte’s voice sounded through the tent angelically, especially during their cover of Radiohead’s “Where I End And You Begin” – which also marked the highlight of their set because everyone in the crowd had to guess which song from which band from which album they were covering, and the winner got a free shirt. This band, I thought, were a bit like the Dresden Dolls without make-up to me – a dramatic boy-and-girl-duo. A wonderful set which left me truly jealous of Charlotte’s voice.

Another band I’d heard the name of, but could neither think of a face nor song, were We Have Band. But those three British live wires and their drummer pulled me in with their very varying, danceable and electronic indie-pop stuff. Married couple Dede and Thomas and their friend Darren were in a good mood and so was the crowd.

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“I have a drumstick and I will not hesitate to use it!”: not the married two thirds of We Have Band. (© S. Prahl)

The Whitest Boy Alive, Erlend Øye’s other band next to Kings Of Convenience, headlined this year’s BootBooHook and they did it with absolute grace. Not even a wild stage invader (some random dude I’d coincidentally seen at Dockville as well, but not as drunk as that day) could bring their mood down, and the crowd was just was pleased to see them. Everyone was dancing, on- and offstage, to the juicy beats and loud guitar- and especially basslines. A headlining set some bands could really learn from.

No festival without at least one Audiolith band? Pretty true at least for this summer, since the Hamburg-based label seemed to send out their bands to all festivals, even Warped Tour (see Captain Capa). Bratze, a duo formed by solo artists ClickClickDecker and Der Tante Renate, played Tent Stage, but were nowhere to be seen, swallowed by the smoke-machine smoke. They sampled labelmates Frittenbude for a few seconds and smashed our ears in with some bass we could still hear when we were already home again. Too bad those guys always seem to get the night slots at festivals – which is one of the reasons why it took me so long to finally see them live.

SUNDAY

Judging from the pictures I’d seen before, Ja, Panik should have been a quintet, but those four guys from Austria did not say a word about a missing band member. When I try not to understand the lyrics, just listening to the music alone, Ja, Panik aren’t even that bad. But what bothers me too much is the confusing mix of German and English lyrics – which would only be half as bad if singer Andreas 1) wouldn’t switch languages in the middle of the sentence and 2) wouldn’t have his annoying German accent when singing in English. I’m sorry, but that will probably always be something bothering me about this band. At least they had a very impressive outro in which they proceeded to sing the same line over and over again, leaving the stage one band member at a time and let the sound guy (!) sing the last few times from his booth in the middle of the crowd.

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Awkward: the guy on the mic is not even the singer. (© S. Prahl)

Headliner Boy, a German-Swiss girl duo (obviously), were the last band to play and their dreamy piano pop made people huddle together like penguins – it got really cold and wet that Sunday – or cuddle on the Fatboy bean bags that were put up all over the festival grounds. Others were dancing by themselves or with their children, or babies even – it was still Family Day and Boy’s music was family-friendly enough. When playing their hit song “Little Numbers”, it started to rain, but neither the band nor the audience cared about that – too nice was the closing set that ended a nice weekend in Hannover.

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Oh Boy: Sonja Glass and Valeska Steiner (© S. Prahl)

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