Category Archives: Festival Season 2012

Festival Season 2012: Reeperbahn Festival, Hamburg (DE)

King Charles during their free afternoon performance on Spielbudenplatz (© D. Prahl)

INTRODUCTION BY BELLE

Unneccessary to introduce, Reeperbahn Festival has become Germany’s most important annual meet-up for the music industry that bands, delegates and fans from all over the world flock to. Ever growing in size, both regarding the number of venues and crowd sizes, this year’s sold out festival comprised 60 locations welcoming 25,000 visitors, all of this happening on or in the vicinity of the ‘red mile’ Reeperbahn in Hamburg-St. Pauli. Of course this was a must-not-miss event for our team of writers, and we threw ourselves into the three-day gig marathon with enthusiasm and cameras. Here is what we liked, disliked, discovered – and who we hung out backstage with …

THURSDAY

Redheadess: The first band I went to see on Thursday were Capital Cities from L.A., who were playing Molotow with a capacity of 300. I’d just read the few words that were written about them in the festival booklet and decided to see what everyone was queueing for, half an hour before the band was supposed to play. And they surely didn’t disappoint me: Though the club was absolutely packed and hot as hell, and I was standing in the very back, I could see enough. With their ugly aloha shirts – all of them totally rocked –, a trumpet, and overdimensional sunglasses, they enchanted the whole audience with their summer feelings straight from California. They opened with an unexpected, almost happy version of Sinead O’Connor’s ‘Nothing Compares To You’ and closed with Madonna’s ‘Holiday’. Their own songs are electropoppy, danceable songs, the two singers Ryan Merchant (who reminded me of 2008-era Gabe Saporta) and Sebu Simonian brought their own dance steps on stage and made us sing along to catchy phrases such as ‘I Sold My Bed And Not My Stereo’ or ‘Love, Just Love Away’. It didn’t get boring once and suddenly the set was over. A perfect start to look forward to the rest of the festival!

What would Occupy say? Johann Van Der Smut playing in a branch bank. (© S. Prahl)

Redheadess: The most interesting venue for the weekend must have been the Haspa branch on Reeperbahn. It’s actually a bank, so it’s not really comfortable and doesn’t give you that concert feeling, but it’s interesting! The band I went to see there were Johann Van Der Smut, named after an Austin Powers character, who’d already opened for Kakkmaddafakka. They played some German indie-punk-pop stuff in the vein of 1000 Robota. Some lyrics found their way into my head and stuck there for a few more hours, and so did their faces – they showed up at Molotow later. It was a good set, with an audience interested enough to stay, but not enthusiastic enough to dance. I would’ve gone to see them on Friday, too, when they played Molotow Bar, but I had other bands to watch.

Blur? That’s a photoshop filter, innit? Graham Coxon took it easy. (© S. Prahl)

Redheadess: In order to be in the front for Kakkmaddafakka’s set, my friend and I went to Docks earlier to see Graham Coxon, who I personally wanted to see anyway. Before the set, as the host asked us who had heard of Blur, only a few cheers were to be heard and I was seriously appalled at so little feedback. It turned out to be a lot more people than those who had raised their voices, since the mood was so light that even Graham, after the first half hour, started smiling and joking around. For example, when one male fan in the first row, who knew every single lyric to every single song, shouted “I love you!!” a few times, Graham looked closer to check if that guy wasn’t that one stalker he used to have. Another boy had most definitely his night, if not his life, made by being allowed to toss the CD of his own band on stage (‘It’s only accepted when chucked!’) and into Graham’s hands, who promised to take a listen.

A crazy bunch (but you could tell from their name, aye?): Kakkmaddafakka from Norway. (© S. Prahl)

Redheadess: The last band to play the venue were Kakkmaddafakka from Norway, the indie-party-pop collective I’d already seen at Hurricane Festival. The sound was just fine this time, thank God. Once again, the five boys, two of them brothers, lured the teenage-girl front row and the rest of the audience in with their catchy upbeat songs, the huge flag, the three background singers/dancers, the hyperactive keyboarder Mr Jones and, in the end, a lot of naked torsos. They played one or two new songs that were just as good as the stuff from their debut, made the older songs stuck in my head for hours and hours after, and even covered ‘This Is How We Do It’ by Montell Jordan. Just as entertaining as the songs themselves were the instrumental intermissions, in which all eight of the guys were just randomly dancing around on stage so you didn’t even know where to look first. Kakkmaddafakka shows are just so much fun live and I still regret not having seen them at a headliner show but only at festivals so far.

FRIDAY

Nobody told them landfill bands ought to split after album #2: The View from Dundee. (© S. Prahl)

Redheadess: As about six different bands started at 7:30 pm on Friday, I decided to go watch The View at Grünspan and found myself queueing when there was absolutely no need to queue. I easily slipped into the second row and soon found Pete and another friend of mine. The Scottish four-piece’s show was nothing special, to be honest, and I hadn’t expected anything special, either. While I had totally forgotten to ever listen to their last two albums, I spent the first 40 minutes waiting for a song I knew and was proper disappointed when they only played ‘Same Jeans’ and ‘Superstar Tradesman’ from their debut, and ‘Shock Shock Horror’ and even ‘Realisation’ from their follow-up ‘Which Bitch?’, probably their best album to date. Singer Kyle and bassist Kieren took turns at singing the lead, which was nice. And if you thought other people were hard to understand, please try to make out any word Kyle Falconer has ever said that night – because I couldn’t.

Others play gigs, they perform steamy hip-hop operas: Dutch collective The Kyteman Orchestra (© D. Prahl)

Belle Brummell: I can’t recall the last time I was truly awed at a gig – as in, open-mouthed and bereft of words – before I stumbled into The Kyteman Orchestra‘s performance at Fliegende Bauten, a venue I hadn’t been to before. After walking in from behind the left side of the stage I was greeted by an at least twenty-people-strong collective, including a brass section, a string quartet, a few rappers and a choir of about ten to twelve young people in the back of the stage. Clothed in sparse yellow light and artificial smoke clouds, they performed a breathtaking clash of classical music, hip-hop, jazz and soul, which at no point really seemed like a clash but much more, if surprisingly, like a coherent whole, all of it conducted (and I literally mean conducted, because this orchestra really deserves its name) by mastermind Colin “Kyteman” Benders. I sure did not know I needed this in my life, but boy, how I do.

Typical rock-pose for a duo, yeah! Canadian garage outfit Japandroids (© M. Weiher)

petepelican: Some duos are much heavier and more energetic on stage than four- or fievepiece bands. Japandroidsare one of them and when I saw the two big Marshall stacks in the background I knew it would get really loud. The two guys intruduced themselves as Brian and David and started the show with the words: “We have a short time so we’ll play as many songs as we can”, and so they did. They rushed through their set with loud, distorted guitar riffs and onrushing drums and gave us 50 minutes of pure garage rock. Towards the end they had a little “band meeting” onstage to add one cover song to their set, because they had been too fast. A good decision watching something new instead of fun. for the second time!

Paparazzi get the ‘soon’ look: Bonaparte’s Tobias Jundt with fans (or bodyguards?) outside Schmidt’s Theater. (© D. Prahl)

Redheadess: New York’s chart-crashers fun. played twice on Friday, the first time at Ray’s Reeperbahn Revue, where we almost missed them, the second time at Große Freiheit 36.
Arriving at Schmidt’s Theater, where the Revue took place, my friend and I came ten minutes late, and didn’t get in, even though Belle was occupying two more seats for us. We didn’t back down, though, and waited 40 minutes for something to happen, for people to come out so we could take their seats, or for the security to become nice and let us in for whatever reason. All that happened was Bonaparte band members randomly going in and out, messing around with each other and with the security girls. They’d already played the Revue, and we’d missed them, too, unfortunately. All it needed for us to become important enough to get in was my friend Annie mentioning her horse to singer Tobi (he remembered her and her horse from Highfield Festival, where they’d talked about it already), who then asked us why we weren’t inside. As we told him we didn’t get in because it was too full, he shooed us in, saying we’re with him, and that was it. We broke down on the first steps that led down to the stage, behind Bonaparte keyboarder Uri and drummer Mo cuddling, just in time to hear ‘Some Nights’ and ‘We Are Young’. And Tobi was our hero of the day.

Sticking it to the critic who referred to them as ‘Disney kitsch’: fun.’s Nate Ruess. (© S. Prahl)

After watching The View, I hurried to Große Freiheit 36, where I didn’t have to queue at all, to my surprise. Belle and Annie were already in first row, watching Redweik, a band from Germany that played before fun. The latter played a good set, singer Nate Ruess was either drunk or hyperactive or bursting with adrenaline or just really happy, you could see it in his jumping around, the winks, the grins. And the others were happy, too. They played more songs off their second album ‘Some Nights’, probably to please the crowd, and a cover of ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ by the Rolling Stones. To Belle’s and my disappointment, once again they didn’t play ‘Be Calm’ off their debut, though it’s probably the most beautiful song ever made. Nevertheless, the set was wonderful, as last time where they played a secret show at Kampnagel, only with more people singing along to ‘We Are Young’ and nothing else. I mean, I’m happy with how big they’ve become because it means they’re touring overseas, but still I wish more people would just take the time to listen to the other songs instead of just coming to the show because they know ‘that one song from the radio’.

Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino: Away from her beloved Californian home aka “The Only Place”. (© M. Weiher)

petepelican: I had always enjoyed Best Coast‘s Californian surf pop and delightful lyrics so it was about time I’d see them live. As my only must-see act of the day they did a very good job entertaining me, but they weren’t their best on this day. But as I hadn’t expected much, I wasn’t disappointed. Bethany Cosentino’s voice was really great live but it seemed she wasn’t in the right mood (maybe jetlag or so?). They also played a lot of new stuff from the second album “The Only Place”, which I don’t like as much as the first one “Crazy for You” because some of the songs are a bit too boring and monotonous. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to see them at a smaller club than Grünspan someday. I think their music might work better there.

Pink light, pink lips: Kitsuné’s Chew Lips at their first ever Hamburg show. (© M. Weiher)

petepelican: Their first time in Hamburg will probably remain a memorable one for the members of Chew Lips, especially two of them. As the three entered the stage the singer had a severed fingertip and the drummer a broken nose (hard times in Hamburg, huh?). But that doesn’t prevent them to play an awesome dance-pop show with catchy synth parts and cool bass lines. And damn is the soundsytem good at Café Keese! It definitely worked perfectly for the music of Chew Lips. Every time the drummer hit her drum pad, the whole floor was trembling. When I stood in front of the nebulized stage and heard that awesome sound I only thought: How great to finally see some club shows after the long festival period! So all in all a really danceable set, but what else should you expect from a Kitsuné band?

Bonaparte at Ray’s Reeperbahn Revue: that was with clothes still on. (© D. Prahl)

Redheadess: After a quite unsuccessful wait for the fun. band members outside, we got back in at 12 in time to see Bonaparte play. Annie and I stayed in the back to have more space to dance, and we’d already seen them live a bunch of times this year, so we knew how the show would be going.
Once again, clothes were taken off, songs of all three albums were played, there was a lot of glitter, confetti and sparkling wine showers in the end. They played ‘Quick Fix’ and ‘C’est À Moi Qu’Tu Parles?’ as non-singles off their new album, and ended their set 20 minutes before they were supposed to. Singer Tobi completely lost his mind during ‘I Can’t Dance’, one of the better album tracks off their debut, proceeded to scream ‘DANCE! DANCE! DANCE!’ over and over again and then headed into the crowd with the first stagedive I’ve seen him do (which is a reason why they didn’t play that song the next day, since it was outdoors and raining, and he would’ve most likely slipped and fallen – thanks for the information, Pete!).
After the show, Annie and I really only wanted to take a picture with the band members scattered around the venue, while the stage was disassembled again. Dancer Claire and keyboarder Uri turned out to be really nice and welcoming, asked us for our names, told us they’d recognized us from wherever, told us where they’re from and how being in a band with people from all over the world worked out at all. We were practically thrown out by the Große Freiheit staff just a minute later, and not even Uri asking whether we could stay inside did help. He then gave up and joined us outside for one, or two, or three cigarettes outside, still clad in his stage clothes, lady’s boxing shoes (size 42), ripped pants, and a lot of glitter (‘This stuff’s everywhere, on my clothes, on my skin, at home, on my cat!’). We basically talked about everything: living in Berlin, being on the road, going out, his mental connection with drummer Mo, who he’d joined the band with in 2009, his cat, Annie’s horse, signing sessions, Ray’s Reeperbahn Revue, how many times they’d played that Friday (three, they were supposed to play even four shows!), when they’d be coming back (in December), school, church, food (he brought us sandwiches from the bus! That guy’s an angel!), costume designer Justus whom we’d never met though we were supposed to, washing costumes on tour, hats, policemen and -women, and even the silences in between weren’t awkward at all. Pete joined us sometimes in between and the time ran. We’d been talking to Uri for a good two and a half hours when the band decided not to go out at all but have a last beer inside. Well, okay, we thought, so this is goodbye. But no, Uri brought us inside through the back door without any trouble, backstage at the venue, just between the dressing rooms, where Mo and bassist Carlos were having a beer as well. And again we talked. About crazy hair, festivals, Carlos’s lampshade head (by that time, dancer Lulu had also arrived, all French with his chocolate croissant and a banana), dressing rooms, bus calls, future shows and so much more. We stayed with them until bus call, brought little Uri to the tourliner safely and then tried to realise everything that just happened. It took us a bit longer.

As always in stylish glittering clothes: The Asteroids Galaxy Tour’s Mette Lindberg. (© M. Weiher)

petepelican: At last the timetable had me heading into Docks, were The Asteroids Galaxy Tour should play as one of the last bands of the day. Having seen them twice before, I knew it would be good because they’re a great live band with lots of funky basslines, organs, trumpets and a lively singer with a unique voice. Well that was a good ending for a day of good live music, but that had been nothing: Later I met my friends, who were talking to the keyboarder of Bonaparte and he took us backstage for a beer!

SATURDAY

A good kick-start into Festival Day 3: UK art-poppers Vinyl Jacket. (© D. Prahl)
The perfect setting for intimate orchestra-pop: Einar Stray playing St. Pauli Kirche. (© D. Prahl)

Belle Brummell: “Blessed” with a 3.30 pm slot at some tacky franchise bar on Spielbudenplatz, Newcastle outfit Vinyl Jacket still managed to draw a reasonably sized crowd. However, most people were either not drunk enough to dance yet, or just awkward standing face to face with the band in lack of a stage. It certainly wasn’t due to their fast-paced indie-pop tunes full of hooks and lovely two-part falsetto vocals that the crowd was so reserved. A thoroughly entertaining performance pointing at a bright future for these young lads.

Belle Brummell: After some failed attempts to gain entry to overcrowded clubs around ‘prime time’ (ca. 11 pm), I took some back streets to St. Pauli Kirche, which I had never been to and had some smaller problems finding. Finally having found the church, and then the right door, I caught a seat on the balcony from where I had a good view of Norwegian singer-songwriter Einar Stray and his fellow musicians. With their range of instruments, including piano, violin and cello, they conjured up a beautiful, haunting sound that worked amazingly in the church setting. I sat through the entire set without wanting to leave at any point, which says something for him (my already short attention span seems halved when it comes to Reepfest, as I usually try to catch as many artists as possibly).

The perfect one-week music crush: Icona Pop from Sweden. (© D. Prahl)

Belle Brummell: Sheer ignorance had led me to miss Icona Pop‘s performance at MELT! this year, but at Reepfest their promotion team made sure every single festival-goer was aware of the girl duo’s existence by spamming the whole Kiez with posters, stickers and buttons featuring the slogans ‘I Love It’ or ‘I’m A 90s Bitch’. However, in my case their hit single ‘I Love It’ had kicked in before, and they were marked as a “dance-to-in-order-to-stay-awake” band on my schedule, playing Café Keese at 00:45. I may still have to get used to the fact electro artists rarely do anything obvious on stage to produce their music, so in between ecstatic hands-in-the-air poses (on my part) I did notice they were merely providing vocals to playback. Sooner or later one of them would bend over a controller or laptop though and eventually, it all didn’t matter that much as long as the music was fun. I didn’t even mind the set was only 30 minutes instead of the promised 45, as I had to go see Electric Guest anyway, but in comparison to Icona Pop they turned out rather a bore …

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Reeperbahn Festival 2012: Saturday Preview

And it’s time for the last bunch of recommendations before over 50 venues open their doors tomorrow for Reeperbahn Festival 2012. We wish you all an enjoyable festival!

Stages marked with an asterisk (*) are accessible without a wristband!

BEN CAPLAN

14:00, Ratsherrn Brauerei; 21:30, Hörsaal

Out of the manyfold singer-songwriter and folk acts at Reepfest, he is one you shouldn’t miss, with an outstanding voice that touches something deep inside. (recommended by Belle Brummell)

VINYL JACKET

15:30, Das Herz von St. Pauli

Newcastle upstarts play hectic art-pop for fans of Everything Everything. Catch them before the album comes so you can brag about it later! (recommended by Belle Brummell)

KING CHARLES

19:30, Spielbudenplatz Stage East*, 23:45, Molotow

Lively folk-mashup from Londonder who already sang with Mumford & Sons. Kicks right in, addictive and irresistible. (recommended by Belle Brummell)

INDIANS

20:00, Indra

Do you miss Youth Lagoon in this year’s festival line-up? Try to check out this guy from Denmark! He’s no less dreamy and calm – a quiet start into a long and exciting festival night. (recommended by petepelican)

FRAU POTZ

20:00, Knust

Their angry German punkrock tells it like it is, with a complimentary punch in your guts. Refreshingly free of clichés or ‘rebellious’ posing. (recommended by Belle Brummell)

LAST DINOSAURS

20:15, Molotow

These guys have some really good indie-dance tunes with playful guitars and impulsive drums. So start the evening on the Molotow’s dancefloor with these “dinosaurs” from Australia. (recommended by petepelican)

DENA

21:00, Café Keese

The coolest thing to come out of Berlin this year. MIA meets Friends and the most awful clothes of the 90s. (recommended by Belle Brummell)

COSMO JARVIS

21:55, Molotow Bar

Weightless pop songs telling big little stories of life, free from genre boundaries. Besides, this young Brit wrote one of the most epic love songs in history: “Gay Pirates” (no irony!) (recommended by Belle Brummell)

THE WAVE PICTURES

22:30, Uebel & Gefährlich

British storytellers play indie-pop with charm and an adorable sense of humour. An absolute delight live! (recommended by Belle Brummell)

PEACE

22:40, Molotow

One of NME’s Best New Bands of 2012 come along with some big refrains, in which we can sometimes hear a bit of Nirvana, but listen for yourselves! (recommended by petepelican)

ICONA POP

00:45, Café Keese; 2:20, Neidklub

No matter how much we try to come across as tasteful and sophisticated, chances are you’ll find us at 2 in the night, drunk and tired and happy, dancing like idiots to the incredibly simple, incredibly effective electro anthems by Swedish duo Icona Pop. (recommended by Belle Brummell)

ELECTRIC GUEST

01:50, Uebel & Gefährlich

Irresistibly laid-back, soulful electronic pop from mastermind Danger Mouse’s new project. A must-not-miss! (recommended by Belle Brummell)

 

 

 

Reeperbahn Festival 2012: Friday Preview

Off we go with round no. 2 of our Reeperbahn recommendations. Today we tackle Friday’s programme and give you our personal top picks. Note that some of our tips from Thursday play another set on Friday, so you may want to check out Thursday’s recommendations too. Of course we will be back tomorrow with the last load of recs for Saturday!

BLAUDZUN

15:30, Molotow Bar; 22:20, Imperial Theater

Dutchman playing songwriter pop in the vein of Dan Mangan, with orchestral instrumentation and a hint of sadness. Amazing vocals that really touch you. (recommended by Belle Brummell)

THE KYTEMAN ORCHESTRA

19:30, Fliegende Bauten

Hip-Hop meets opera meets Balkan folk. I absolutely love it. These are the things one would probably never come across if it wasn’t for Reepfest.  (recommended by Belle Brummell)

BOY OMEGA

19:30, Grüner Jäger

Wonderfully reminiscent of Elliott Smith, this Swede is a must for lovers of bleeding-heart songwriters with strings attached.  (recommended by Belle Brummell)

WASHINGTON

19:30, Prinzenbar

Megan Washington effortlessly lays down elegant indie pop ranging from delicate to cheerful.  (recommended by Belle Brummell)

HONIG

20:00, Terrace Hill

And as every year at Reepfest, I must revise my opinion on German music… Honig’s English-language songwriter-folk, his distinctive voice and well-crafted songs prove all the haters wrong (aka me.) (recommended by Belle Brummell)

JAPANDROIDS

20:50, Grünspan

Two guys, a guitar, drums, lots of noise and garage rock! Who needs more? Could be a nice trip, huh?  (recommended by petepelican)

FUN

21:05, Große Freiheit 36

My band of the year by far, they have heaps of addictive melodies to last you a lifetime, and deliver their cheerful indie pop live with irresistible joy and energy. Posting an ancient video because I like to stay unpredictable (and yes I liked their first album better blah), but mostly because this video is pure awesomeness. (recommended by Belle Brummell)

WE WERE PROMISED JETPACKS

21:30, Docks

Forget all those famous and hyped indie bands for a short time and check out these guys. They are as good as their “Big Brothers”, but way more heavier and exquisite. (recommended by petepelican)

BEST COAST

22:20, Grünspan

With their cheerful surfpop and good-humoured lyrics about friendship, love and the beach they’ll bring the LA sun to Hamburg. Presented by one of the toughest frontgirls you’ll ever see: Bethany Cosentino. (recommended by petepelican)

LESLIE CLIO

23:00, Prinzenbar

This newcomer from Berlin has all it takes for a fully grown mainstream career. White-girl soul with excellent groove and a both retro and modern feel. A tad too predictable if anything, but that didn’t bother anyone about Duffy, eh? (recommended by Belle Brummell)

SPRING OFFENSIVE

23:05, Molotow Bar

The reputation of being an awesome live band precedes them, now it’s up the Oxford youngsters to live up to it. Luckily they don’t sound all that much like Foals, compared to most other indie bands these days. (recommended by Belle Brummell)

CHEW LIPS

23:50, Café Keese

Some good, intelligent dance-pop with a clean female voice. Kitsuné’s contribution to this year’s Reeperbahn Festival! (recommended by petepelican)

Reeperbahn Festival 2012: Thursday Preview

Once more, Reeperbahn Festival is on the verge of flooding Hamburg with a bee’s swarm of musicians, industry delegates and music lovers for three days’ time, starting September 20th. As excited as we are, we are also quickly exhausted at the sight of a line-up comprising about 200 artists, many of them so new their debut won’t be out until the middle of next year. Where are the gems you must not miss? Luckily, to find these you don’t have to sit through hours-long listening sessions – because we did. And here is what we found: the ultimate Reeperbahn Festival preview for Thursday. (Friday’s and Saturday’s tips to follow …)

Stages marked with an asterisk (*) are accessible without a festival wristband!

FABRIZIO CAMMARATA

17:00, Spielbudenplatz Stage East*; 18:15, Spielbudenplatz Stage West*

Songwriter folkrock from English-singing Italian who shatters clichés with a cowboy’s rawness. (recommended by Belle Brummell)

ME AND OCEANS

19:30, Hasenschaukel

And when you think there will never be anything great coming out of Germany … then out of nowhere comes this voice, haunting and direct, absolutely unique, impossible to withdraw from. Think The National as a more stripped-down, experimental indie version. Addictive. (recommended by Belle Brummell)

CAPITAL CITIES

20:00, Molotow

Cheerful sywnthpop by LA duo featuring masks, triangles and beards. Grab a taste of the bygone summer and dance like you did at the last sun-kissed rave. (recommended by petepelican)

CHARLIE BARNES 

20:00, Neidklub

We stumbled upon this little piece of gold playing the daytime campsite stage at MELT! this year. Still an underground artist, Barnes combines beatboxing with church-choir-style vocals, creating, incredibly, something unique as well as irresistible. Leaves you wet-eyed and with your belief in youth and music restored. (recommended by Belle Brummell)

JAKE BUGG

20:00, Angie’s Nightclub

At merely 18 he manages to sound purely British one moment and incredibly American the next. Classy folk delivered by a voice that will make itself heard. Promising with an undeniable commercial appeal – almost 30,000 facebook fans without having an album out and the fact he looks like an indie Justin Bieber make this a sure shot. (recommended by Belle Brummell)

JONATHAN BOULET

20:45, Spielbudenplatz Stage West*

There is an unexpected band sound behind the name, sunny with afrobeat elements, but a lonely-kid-in-garage feel persists (in the best way). Possibly the next hipster darling on the rise. The glorious beard speaks for him. Second chance to see him: Friday 21:20 at Moondoo! (recommended by Belle Brummell)

CORREATOWN

20:30, Pooca

Crystal clear dreampop you want to keep listening to for hours while watching raindrops race across the window pane. (recommended by Belle Brummell)

AMANDA MAIR

20:30, Schmidt’s Tivoli

Reepfest has a space for radio pop’s rising stars, not a given in the German indie festival landscape. This little swedeheart presents her professionally manufactured pop with a surprisingly credible edge – almost too good to be handed over to the mainstream. Chances are she could become The Next Big Everybody’s Darling. (recommended by Belle Brummell)

SHIELDS

23:10, Molotow Bar

Incredibly addictive Foals-style indie. Second chance to see them: Friday 21:50 at Prinzenbar! (recommended by petepelican)

SOCALLED

23:40, Angie’s Nightclub

Grand Southern drama dragging you deep into the swamplands, swinging and grooving with irresistible vibe. It has actual soul, grabs you and doesn’t let go. Second chance to see him: Friday 21:45 at Hörsaal! (recommended by Belle Brummell)

2:54

23:45, Molotow

As convincing as they were at Greenville this year,  their dark and noisy indie rock definitely works better within a club atmosphere, which Molotow offers the perfect setting for. (recommended by petepelican)

GARISH

00:00, Imperial Theater

An intriguing blend of indie rock and Austrian folklore. There is a haunting atmosphere to their songs. I don’t know what it is about Austrian bands that got me lately, but I’m totally hooked. (recommended by Belle Brummell)

Festival Season 2012: Berlin Festival, Berlin (DE)

(© M. Weiher)

For the first time Redheadess and petepelican went over to the Berlin Festival to enjoy two days of indie and electronic music at an old closed airport. Their impressions of what they saw of this year’s outstanding line-up at Tempelhof Airport and Arena Berlin:

Of Monsters And Men

Redheadess: Iceland’s folk-pop sevenpiece were the Main Stage opener on Friday. While the drummer and the female keyboarder didn’t seem to have adapted to the change in temperature at all (big woolen jumpers), the male guitarist and the singer greeted the grey clouds with a pair of sunglasses. The band was happy to be there, handclaps and the first handful confetti were involved and that was already enough for a good opening act. But then they even covered ‘Skeletons’ by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs! An excellent first set of the weekend.

petepelican: Yeah, I agree with that! Her voice was awesome live and everyone was really good at their instruments, especially the girl and the boy on the left could play a lot of instruments such as trumpet, accordion and piano. An exciting new act that put you in the right mood for a great festival day, which should end with The Killers.

Alabama, Arkansas … No wait, that was not them. (© S. Prahl)

Friends

petepelican: This was the third time this year I saw Friends, after their gigs at Dockville and Molotow, the latter still being their best. Their Dockville show was a bit boring because nobody was dancing and after they had started at Berlin Festival, I thought that it was going to be the same, but after some songs the audience got into the right mood and some of them started jumping around and at the latest when singer Samantha Urbani went over the barrier, everybody was dancing with her.

Brooklyn’s finest: Friends (© M. Weiher)

Kate Nash

Kate screams out her mind (© S. Prahl)

Redheadess: If there was one unexpected performance this weekend, it was definitely Kate Nash’s. Her new album is not even out yet, but judging from all the songs we heard that Friday (she only played four old songs, of which only ‘Foundations’ was off her debut!) it’s expected to be a lot punkier and harder. Gone is the cute little girl in flower dresses; Kate’s hair is now dyed black and white and she’s traded her old band in for an all-girl band who are just as tough as her, as it turned out (throwing glass bottles …). Kate screamed and yelled while she sang but was just as sweet and kind as always when she spoke. And boy, did that woman have fun dancing in the crowd! She’s definitely learned to love her audience and is not afraid to show her affection by dancing with her fans personally.

Frittenbude

Redheadess: The electro-pop collective from Bavaria enjoyed playing the festival, even without having any plans what to play or how long, resulting in leaving the stage early and coming back for a two-song-encore, one of which was their best-known hit single ‘Bilder mit Katze’; the other being ‘Hildegard’, a non-single that’s always greatly enjoyed whenever being played live. Confetti and plushy panda, cat and dolphin mascots on stage got everyone in the right mood to party for the rest of the night. One of Frittenbude’s better festival sets I’ve seen so far!

Sigur Rós

petepelican: Turning out as one of the best performances of the weekend, The Killers may have had the best stage show but Sigur Rós spread a lot more atmosphere with their music than any other band at this festival. But I have to start from MELT! Festival 2010, where I saw Jónsi. Jónsi is the singer of Sigur Rós and around 2010 he made a soloalbum called “Go”. At this time I didn’t know him very well and I missed out on the fact that he was the singer of Sigur Rós, but because everybody was talking about him and saying that the show was going to be one of the best at MELT! 2010, I watched him and in fact, it was the best. His show blew me away. I had never heard such a beautiful voice, which is very high and gentle and at the same time so powerful. I don’t know where he gets the air for those long drawn out vocals but I wish I had a third of it. So two years later I was very excited when Sigur Rós were announced for Berlin Festival. The time had finally come to see Jónsi with his band. My expectations were high, but not as high as if I were going to see Jónsi again, because I had some problems getting into the much more complex songs and the Icelandic lyrics. Jónsi also uses vonlenska, a self-invented onomatopoeic language, which fits perfectly to some of their songs. Although I didn’t know many of their songs (it’s hard to get through six albums with songs that barely fall below six minutes each), I felt very excited when I stood in front of the stage and saw the large quantity of instruments and when the band entered the stage and play their first chords it kicked me off my feet again. They’re pure masters of creating huge sound landscapes that leave you standing one hour in front of the stage with wide open eyes and mouth and so many feelings you can’t describe. Also this was one of those festival gigs where the rain goes with the atmosphere and it’s absolutely a band you have to see in darkness. There was a controversy at Bestival a few days ago where on the basis of requirements from the headliner Stevie Wonder, who played after Sigur Rós, the band had to play in daylight. That was a bad experience, Jónsi later said in an interview. I agree that Sigur Rós’ music only works in darkness with lots of mist, faint lights and beautiful videos played on a big LED screen in the back. All in all definitely a band I would like to see again another time!

Purely aesthetic: Sigur Rós (© M. Weiher)

The Killers

Redheadess: A lightning and a lowercase ‘k’ were the first things to light up the stage when the headliner entered Main Stage on Friday night. They shoved their hits down our throats and we threw our voices in front of their feet. Talking of feet, some people should be sued for wearing heels (!) to a festival. Or at least for stomping on other people’s toes with those things. It’s safe to say I didn’t enjoy sitting in a corner during ‘Somebody Told Me’ while everyone was losing their shit, just because I couldn’t contain my pain between all those people. At least I learned how good the sight can be from the very back, if you only stand on something high enough to look over everyone’s heads.

petepelican: In my concert history I strangely ignored The Killers in all those years – maybe it was due to the fact that I didn’t really like their third record “Day & Age”. But when I stood in front of the stage in the seventh row or so, I thought back to their early years and the debut “Hot Fuss”, which was one of the first indie records I listened to. So I got excited for the next 90 minutes and especially for their light show. They opened with new single “Runaway”, which was okay but nothing more. Another new song they played from their forthcoming album was “Miss Atomic Bomb”, but this one didn’t impress me either. I also got through their “Day and Age” hits “Human” and “Spaceman”, but what I enjoyed most were hits like “Somebody Told Me”, “Smile Like You Mean It” and especially the end with “Mr. Brightside” and “All The Things That I’ve Done”. The light show was gorgeous and the second-best I’ve seen so far after Muse’s, especially the green lasers during Joy Division cover “Shadowplay” and the fireworks during the encore “When You Were Young” overwhelmed me. After that I could only say that I was happy to have seen them after all those years.

A Las Vegas look to accompany their sound: The Killers (© M. Weiher)

Friday ClubXBerg

petepelican: After The Killers had ended at midnight, we had some problems getting to the Arena Berlin, where the shows of ClubXBerg were held, within half an hour so as to see Metronomy. We decided not to take the shuttle, because of the huge queue at the shuttle service. So we reached the arena after a journey through the Berlin underground network and with the help of some visitors who’d been at Berlin Festival last year, all in all taking us 45 minutes. Therefore we missed the first songs of Metronomy, but the rest we saw was awesome. It was even better than the Metronomy set at Dockville this year. They played the same songs but the sound at the Arena was one of the best I’ve ever had (in contrast to the sound at the hangar stages, which was really bad sometimes). The bass automatically set your feet in motion, so we all danced through the rest of their set and were really happy that we had witnessed their last gig of the English Riviera Tour. They left the stage with the words: “Thanks to everyone! This was our last show for the next year or so. Hopefully we’ll see you all again. Goodbye”.
After that we had to wait one hour until Crookers entered the stage. At this point we were really tired and exhausted and the Crookers set was not as good as the set I’d seen at MELT! 2010, so we decided to go to the hostel and prepare for the next exciting day.

Bonaparte

Redheadess: None of the five times I’d seen Bonaparte before the sun was still up when they played. Only this very Saturday, as the multicultural collective played Main Stage in the early evening hours, it was still brightest day outside, and almost cloudless, too! Nevertheless, as kind of a hometown show (they live in Berlin), it was Bonaparte’s best festival set to date. Both the bassist and Monsieur Bonaparte himself had dyed their hair pink, clothes were taken off as always (yes, also eight layers of underpants, one after another until not one was left), make-up and costumes were shiny and sparkling and new, and there was confetti everywhere. Everything you’d expect from a Bonaparte show was there, actually. And it was beautiful to see how comfortable the band and dancers were around each other, despite the lack of clothes! Every Bonaparte show is a unique experience and so was this one. The only thing I still cannot grasp is why the hell they played before Kraftklub, as bands normally play in an order according to how ‘big’ they are.

Bonaparte as always in weird costumes (© S. Prahl)

Kraftklub

Redheadess: From the first time I’d seen them on TV last year, these guys from Chemnitz (DE) have always been a band to make fun of. They’re making fun of themselves and of other bands (The Hives, The Killers, Arctic Monkeys), and I’m making fun of them, but not really in a positive way. I’d always tried to boycott their shows, but seeing as we wanted to see Franz Ferdinand, who were playing afterwards, we had to watch Kraftklub, too. And really, I still don’t get why all my friends are hyping this band to infinity. The lyrics are only remotely funny, the indie-rock riffs are nothing new, singer Felix’s voice is not really made for singing, which is why he’s rather talking/rapping than singing at all. This all could have been a German version of Art Brut, but no, sorry guys. You’ll need to work a lot harder to impress me.

Franz Ferdinand

Redheadess: We all haven’t heard of them in three years, but our favourite Scots are definitely still around! They’re all still there, the same stomping drums, the forward organs, the unique basslines, and the voice! Franz Ferdinand fired one hit after another and the crowd was absolutely ecstatic in all places. They even played a few new songs, such as ‘Right Thoughts! Right Words! Right Action!’ and ‘Scarlet Blue’, and they were all amazing. Unfortunately, the band was only allowed to play an hour, but nevertheless, it was a perfect and well-earned comeback. And we’re all looking forward to a new album!

petepelican: I coudn’t add much here, ecxept that you are right! I was in the middle of the audience and everyone went nuts, jumping around and singing their lyrics to almost every song apart from the new ones, which you could dance to instantly without having heard them before.

Alex Kapranos had a good time on stage (© M. Weiher)

Saturday ClubXBerg

petepelican: Franz Ferdinand were the last band we wanted to see at the festival site and their gig ended at 10pm. The first act we wanted to see at ClubXBerg was Modeselektor, who wouldn’t start before 2am so we had to kill four hours after an exciting and also exhausting day. On the basis of our plan to see acts until 5am we decided to prepare for the night with lots of mate-vodka. So as I said the first act we saw at ClubXBerg was Modeselektor. I don’t remember much of their performance because I was a bit too drunk. I only know that there were two big screens in the background with amazing animations which fit the music perfectly  and I noticed Thom Yorke’s voice, so I think they played “Shipwreck”, which features vocals from the Radiohead singer. As their last track they played “A New Error” by Moderat, one of the few songs I knew and I really liked it. Somebody said Modeselektor sound like Berlin. I don’t know what Berlin should sound like but I can only say that this was some good German electro and I enjoyed it.
So after Modeselektor my ClubXBerg highlight of the day, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs stepped onto the DJ booth and, to my amazement, without his conspicuous indian headdress. His set was very good and danceable; he played all the songs I know of his, including “Garden”, “Household Goods” and the amazing seven-minute long “Waulking Song”. He also brought along two female dancers, who had some choreographies to some of his songs.
After that it was 4:30am I think and we started to get tired, but we wanted to see at least a little bit of Simian Mobile Disco but what we saw was not good. They didn’t even play any songs from their records. But I respect them anyway because James Ford produced some of the best indie-rock albums of the last years like the Arctic Monkeys’ “Favourite Worst Nightmare” or “Suck It And See”.

Picture Gallery

(© S. Prahl)
(© M. Weiher)
(© M. Weiher)

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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Festival Season 2012: MS Dockville, Hamburg (DE)

The festival’s ignorant stars: the illuminated industry complexes across river Elbe. © D. Prahl

Introduction by Belle

In 2007, Dockville Festival took on the Elbinsel of Hamburg-Wilhelmsburg for the first time. Back then, it was just one stage and a few food stalls and NGO’s, confused teens and twens traversing the surrounding wasteland. Or so my blurred memory recalls. Five years after its inception, MS Dockville is widely known for its arty, independent approach and fantastic booking, scoring, for instance, MGMT’s only festival show in 2009, while also offering spaces for the local and the obscure as well as poetry slams, discussions and guided tours through the art park. This reputation by now draws hip crowds from all across the country, turning Dockville into some sort of Mini-MELT! made up of small-town youths in fancy dress and glitter as well as intellectual urban thirty-somethings. And even as a “mini”-version, this year’s installment drew more people that the – significantly downsized – area could handle at times, causing obscene congestions especially at the second-largest stage, the Vorschot. But at least this year we were spared the mud – in fact, no rain came down at all, which in Hamburg is an absolute sensation for a three-day festival, even in August. Under these conditions we saw a beautiful festival headlined by Hot Chip, James Blake and Maximo Park, but which offered much, much more – some of which we will summarise for you now, accompanied by lovely pictures of course! We start with a personal overview by Pete:

Summary by Pete

After I had missed it the past two years, this year’s Dockville was a real revelation. I don’t know where to start, because there are so many points which made this festival something special. But let me try. So, the first point was that I witnessed the entire construction/deconstruction process, because I was working there the week before and after the festival and it’s unbelievable how much work is put into three days of music and fun. As a reward I got a shiny silver backstage wristband and free entry to the festival. The second point was definitely the weather. Three days of clear sky, sunshine and no rain, best weather for a festival and a record for Hamburg. The third point was that I did not have to camp this year, because I live in Hamburg now and it only takes me 45 minutes to get to the festival area. And believe me, after camping at three festivals this year, it was very relaxing to sleep in my own bed . So the last point was of course the music. As every year they had a large and good selection of bands with lots of new discoveries and thematic days. Friday was the day with the big indie bands like The Maccabees, Maximo Park and Hot Chip. On Saturday we had an electronic-influenced day with Metronomy, James Blake and Purity Ring and Sunday, when everybody was exhausted, was the relaxed, experimental/folk/dreampop day with Slow Club, Tune-Yards, Memoryhouse and Tocotronic. I noticed that there were lots of female singers in the line-up, like Lucy Rose, Daughter, Sóley, Tune-Yards and Dillon. And now we will sum up some of the performances we saw, along with lots of pictures of the musicians, area, visitors and artworks … There was truly a lot to discover!

Viennese boys with a poetic vein: Indie rockers Bilderbuch were our first act on Friday (© D. Prahl)

Belle: After I had stumbled upon Bilderbuch in 2009 at a club show in Berlin, I hadn’t heard much from the Austrian outfit and their stomping indie rock, obviously influenced by certain British bands dominant at the time. Preceding their Dockville gig, I had started listening to their two albums and they became an instant addiction. The expressive, engaging poetry of their German lyrics delivered a fresh approach to a stagnating genre and their festival performance proved once more that they are just as gripping live. Their latest album “Die Pest im Piemont” is a definite recommendation of mine.

Captain Capa’s Hannes Naumann: Raving against sunshine (© D. Prahl)

Redheadess: Not having heard of Captain Capa until last year’s Reeperbahn Festival, where the two boys from Germany had played alongside better-known label mates Supershirt, Bratze and Frittenbude (they’re all on Hamburg-based independent label Audiolith Records), I thoroughly enjoyed the energetic set on Friday afternoon. Freshly returned from Warped Tour – which has obviously left a big impact, seeing as the boys couldn’t talk about anything else – the band played their electronic dance-pop songs with great enjoyment. Contrary to popular Audiolith-bands such as Frittenbude, who played the same stage later that day, Captain Capa’s lyrics are in English, which is probably one of the reasons why they got to play Warped Tour at all. Songs like “Faraday”, a personal favourite of mine, got great response from the teenage crowd that danced in the midst of the afternoon sun, blowing bubbles and throwing confetti.

Doubtlessly a highlight of the festival: The Maccabees’ performance on Friday evening (© D. Prahl)

Pete: The act I was most looking forward to on Friday and maybe at the whole festival were The Maccabees. For a long time I had ignored this band for unknown reasons and the first time I listened to their latest record “Given to the Wild” it failed to impress me again. But after some weeks the wonderful dreamy songs made their way into my ear and this album grew to be one of my favourites of the year. So of course the time had come to see them live and after I had missed their gig at Uebel & Gefährlich in Spring I was very relieved and happy when they were confirmed for Dockville 2012. Unfortunately they only did a 50-minute set so they mostly played songs from their second and third record. Especially during the songs from second album “Wall of Arms” the crowd was jumping around and got on their knees at one point. After closing the set with “Pelican” the band was very thankful for all the dancing and singing and I think the audience was as well for a great little gig from a wonderful band. The voice, the guitar solos, everything was perfect.
If you were lucky enough you could spot some of the band members walking around the festival site. My friend told me he saw one of the guitarists in the circle pit during Maximo Park’s ging, so that was really funny and you could see that successful bands also have their fun at festivals.

Belle: A much anticipated act for me too, as I hadn’t seen live before either. “Given To The Wild” had, eventually, made it into my list of “must-hears of the year” as well. The set contained much older material too, but I found it no less enjoyable although I hadn’t listened to the earlier albums in full. Singer Orlando Weekes has an impressive voice, but pretty much no facial expression and seemed somewhere between unfazed and annoyed about having to be on stage. This was, however, compensated by the good mood and energy radiated by the White brothers on guitars. All in all, an enjoyable set that did not disappoint in any way.

Samantha Urbani (middle) & Friends: As always winning in the style category (© M. Weiher)

Pete: Friends, the new sensation from Brooklyn, entered the stage with a 10 minute delay at Maschinenraum Friday evening. In those 10 minutes the band were already on stage and I don’t know what they were doing there but mostly it looked like nothing much. So some people in the audience started to sing Justice’s “We are your friends” which led to some smiles and comments from singer Samantha Urbani. The performance and music was good but at the end I must say that the gig at Molotow earlier this year was better, because Friends are more of club band. I also have to mention that I never saw as little enthusiam on stage as that shown by bassist Lesley Hann. Come on, you’re in a cool band and you’re on stage and giving the people good music! But maybe she was nervous, who knows!?

Paul Smith pointing at things during Maximo Park’s set on Friday (© S. Prahl)

Redheadess: Maximo Park were one of the bands I’d been looking forward to the most, since I’ve been listening to the five-piece from Newcastle for five or six years now, but had never once seen them live. And I wasn’t disappointed. Having chosen wisely between Frittenbude from Bavaria, Friends from New York, and Maxïmo Park, I went to see the latter and was greeted by five guys in a very good mood. They played old stuff and new stuff, Paul Smith danced like there was no tomorrow (and dancing with him is now totally part of my bucket list, it would be so much fun) and told us to snuggle up to our friends and lovers during their 2007 hit “Books From Boxes”. It was a very good show, even better than I’d expected and left me happy and ready to rush over to Frittenbude playing Vorschot, to catch at least their last few songs.

Pete: I missed their whole set because I was watching Friends but I made it to their last song. Actually my plan was going to the Vorschot and watching the rest of Frittenbude but as I heard Maximo Park playing I felt the need to get close up to the stage, come what may. It only took a few minutes rushing through some people and finally I met my friend in the circle and they played “Apply Some Pressure”. What a great moment!

And the light show was good, too: Hot Chip were the headline act on Friday (© D. Prahl)

Belle: Thanks to pretty much everyone I wanted to see playing on Friday, and logically at the same time, I was properly exhausted when Hot Chip finally came on. Gradually working my way from the back of the crowd to the middle – I had been waiting for ages for The Hundred in the Hands to finally start and then didn’t want to leave without catching at least a couple of songs – I started getting into the mood for grooving along to some epic tracks of theirs, like ‘One Life Stand’ and ‘Ready For The Floor’. The recently released ‘In Our Heads’ had also left a good impression and accompanied by a blazing light show, it was truly something for the eyes, ears and feet.

Son with violin bow … (© D. Prahl)
… Daughter with the voice of the angel (© D. Prahl)

Belle: Just so discovered by me a few days before the festival, Daughter turned out one of my personal highlights. Her gracious stage presence (that smile!) went well with the delicately crafted songs often reminiscent of a sonically stripped Florence & The Machine. Especially her indie hit ‘Youth’ was a success with the predominantly teenage festival crowd – something like the hipster alternative to fun’s ‘We Are Young’. Then again, ‘Setting fire on our insides for fun’ is lyrically on a whole different level than ‘So let’s set the world on fire/We can burn brighter than the sun’. But hey, who would ask that fun. have good lyrics too …

For Katie Allard, it was her last performance with The Kabeedies. (© S. Prahl)

Redheadess: For the second time this year, the indie/afrobeat/rock’n’roll band The Kabeedies from Norwich pleased my eyes and ears. On the hot Saturday afternoon, they invaded the Vorschot stage, just as they had done twice before. For singer Katie Allard, it was the very last show and she has now unfortunately left the band, leaving the three boys on their own. And the sadness took over some: Not quite as happy-go-lucky as back in April she was dancing across the stage, while guitarist and birthday boy Evan Jones cracked jokes about wasps and heat and beer. I’m excited about the band’s future, now that Katie’s not with them anymore, and definitely hope to hear a lot from both her and the boys soon.

This time with a full band: British singer/songwriter talent Lucy Rose (© M. Weiher)

Pete: On the very sunny Saturday afternoon I made my way over to the Maschinenraum at the end of the festival site to see Lucy Rose. I had seen her before supporting Bombay Bicycle Club, but there she had played only with a cellist. This time she brought a whole band with guitarist, bassist, drummer and her old cellist friend, to the result that the songs had more power and the audience really enjoyed her set. Lucy was very sympathetic, smiling all the time and saying how great it was to be here. I remember her saying: “This is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever done in my life.” And maybe it was, because the weather that day was one of the best I’d ever had at a festival. Later I saw her in the backstage area, but was too shy to say that she has one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard. 😉

Matching trousers and musical skill: Metronomy had not just ‘The Look’ but also the sound. (© D. Prahl)

Pete: This year was Metronomy‘s second time at Dockville and they were the band I was most looking forward to on Saturday. I had seen them in 2009 and it had been great. But this time it should be even better because in the meantime they had released the outstanding and Mercury Prize nominated album “The English Riviera” with songs like “The Bay”, which they performed at the beginning and “The Look” at the end. Their uniform band outfits with white shirts and beige trousers I think is called the “Riviera style”. Their one hour set consisted mainly of songs from “The English Riviera”. From their old albums they only played “Heartbreaker”, “Holiday” and “The End of You Too”, which finally made the crowd freak out. For real fans they had the little gem “You Could Easily Have Me”. You can find this song on their very first and unknown album “Pip Paine”. Back in those days Joseph Mount made music on his own without any band members. So all in all it was a very good set and I really enjoyed it.

Belle: Another highly anticipated act for me, especially as I’ve just recently fallen completely for their latest LP ‘The English Riviera’, mostly my personal MELT! anthem ‘The Bay’ (Metronomy weren’t even there, but it always came on the PA in breaks between shows). As their band name suggests, they played as precise as a metronome, with a certain reserved attitude, but the songs’ perfection made up for this apparent lack of emotional involvement on the band’s part. I danced a lot and someone threw an unidentified item at my head. It still hurt days later when I touched the spot but boy was it worth it.

Me alias Charlotte Brandi and her drummer Matze Pröllochs were a true discovery (© D. Prahl)

Belle: Me And My Drummer were another late discovery of mine. The single ‘You’re A Runner’, however, hasn’t left my head since the first time I listened, and after seeing the Berlin duo at Dockville, I will most certainly pick up the album (good for them it’s not on Spotify). Calm, atmospheric, intense indie pop that gets strangely close to you in a way that’s not uncomfortable at all.

Made Sunday even sunnier: Charles Watson …
… and Rebecca Taylor of Slow Club (© D. Prahl)

Belle: One of the few highlights of the rather poorly equipped Sunday timetable were Slow Club from Sheffield. Not quite as twee as on their debut album, the duo’s second longplayer ‘Paradise’ shows a slightly more experimental side without leaving the catchiness behind. For their set they were backed up by a bassist and a second drummer beside singer Rebecca Taylor, which allowed her to switch between drums and guitar as she pleased. Apart from her hideous t-shirt, it was a wholly pleasurable performance.

Both the crowd and Tune-Yards’ Merrill Garbus agreed that face paint was a must at this year’s Dockville. (© D. Prahl)

Belle: A both fascinating and slightly strenuous set came from Tune-Yards. I was absolutely stunned what Merrill Garbus can do with her voice, often seeming like a shaman crying and drumming for rain (the face paint strengthened that impression). She was accompanied by a bassist and two saxophonists on stage, who together with her drum loops, ukulele and distinctive vocals formed a unique sound that evades description. At times something to dance to, at times something to marvel at.

Redheadess: We ended our festival with Touchy Mob – something I hadn’t expected to see. Just about everything about this set was surprising. At first, me and my friends spontaneously decided to go to the Butterland stage, a little dancefloor just outside the forest, where usually electronic dance parties were happening (at least every time we somehow found our way there). Since we had nothing else to do and I’d heard the name Touchy Mob somewhere already, we decided to sit down and look what happened. Touchy Mob turned out to be a solo artist equipped with a laptop and a guitar, German, very beardy, very ginger, who had serious sound problem. His music is very quiet, very soft, and very slow, with electronic bits and a voice seeming to be far, far away, somewhere between not on stage anymore and a secret dreamland. Even the crowd got very quiet and nobody even cared too much about the sound problems. It was definitely the right thing on a Sunday evening to end a wonderful weekend.

Picture gallery

Butterland was the place for DJ sets from day to night. (© D. Prahl)
Part of the art was this lovely swan-shaped seating area. (© D. Prahl)
And so were the artist collective Krautzungen, who decorated visitors’ body parts with lines from the German version of Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”. (© D. Prahl)
Our Belle was not spared … You can read the novel on Dockville-goers’ bodies at dockville.krautzungen.org!
(© Krautzungen)
A goggle-eyed owl watched over the Nest stage. (© D. Prahl)
And a tree of plastic bottles took care of environmental awareness. (© D. Prahl)
So much for the ‘Dockville style’ (© D. Prahl)
Sunset over the cranes of Wilhelmsburg (© D. Prahl)
Confetti was a must at the Frittenbude show … (© S. Prahl)
… while Metronomy fans got the sparklers out. (© D. Prahl)
We christened this installation ‘The Ha Ha Wall’. (© D. Prahl)

Festival Season 2012: Greenville, Paaren im Glien (DE)

In the year 2012, the German festival landscape has been graced with a newcomer: Greenville Festival set out for the first time to enrich the Berlin area with another spectacle music lovers should look to. So far for the plan. With a line-up encompassing international headliners Iggy and the Stooges, The Flaming Lips and The Roots as well as national favourites Deichkind and Scooter, Greenville doesn’t bother with narrow genre categories and instead caters to a range of tastes. Belle Brummell and Pete Pelican headed out to the lovely village of Paaren im Glien to check out this new festival first-hand, with a little help from Allmybands, who kindly provided guestlist slots. After three days of searing heat and torrents of rain, enriched with numerous mosquito bites, pains of unidentified source and heaps of memories, they’ve wrapped up Greenville for you.

Belle: I think overall we were both pretty pleased with the whole thing, right? Well organised for a first time!
Pete: Yeah, it was really relaxed because they sold only 3,000 out of 10,000 tickets, which made for a nice, calm campsite atmosphere.
Belle: Most relaxed camping ever, I guess! And the showers were great. For 1€ you got your own lockable cubicle, with a wash basin and hot water as much as you wanted.
Pete: Also the small number of attendants made it possible to see some really good and quite big bands close up, with only a small crowd.
Belle: Definitely. But do you think, apart from the size at this first installment, is there anything ‘special’ about Greenville? What is its advantage over other festivals?
Pete: I think for people with a wide range in music taste it is a very good festival. For everyone there was something to see I guess. For me there was The Big Pink, Noah and the Whale (who cancelled unfortunately) and Iggy and the Stooges. Oh, and 2:54, my insider’s tip at this festival.
Belle: I had also been looking forward to The Big Pink the most, along with The Flaming Lips, Young Rebel Set and Iggy of course. Honestly I was also very excited for HGich.T. The kind of thing I’d never pay to see, but wouldn’t miss at a festival. Same with Deichkind.

At war with the sun: The Big Pink played in the searing afternoon heat.

FRIDAY

Pete: Our first band were The Big Pink. Surprising that they made their way up to the stage at these temperatures (I think 30°C?)!
Belle: I think they should have played after dark, but that wouldn’t be possible at such a small festival I’m afraid … They didn’t play ‘At War with the Sun’, my favourite song, so I was disappointed. Actually they should have played it, because they were in fact ‘at war with the sun’! But apart from that it was good. They had no guitar at times, that surprised me.
Pete: Yeah, but at times it was a bit too noisy for my taste. They had new bandmembers too, compared to MELT! two years ago, the drummer and one of the two guys doing sound effects.

Surfing the crowd inside weird objects: Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips.

Belle: The Flaming Lips were awesome. I was too tired at some point though, and I  also think they did most of the good stuff in the beginning, like balloons, confetti … so the rest of the show had to seem a little boring by comparison. They started the show as if it was already the finale.
Pete: Yeah, but the whole show was like one big finale, visually. However, musically it wasn’t wholly my type of thing, very psychedelic and experimental.
Belle: We simply weren’t high enough.

Leider geil (unfortunately awesome): Electro/hiphop freaks Deichkind from Hamburg.

Pete: But it was a good warm-up for Deichkind, who played afterwards.
Belle: Please don’t refer to The Flaming Lips as the warm-up act for Deichkind. Though there were similarities in their performance, like interaction with the audience, and band members crowdsurfing inside weird objects (an inflatable ball and a big barrel, respectively). Had you seen Deichkind before, by the way?
Pete: Yes, and their show was even better this time.

The ‘dirtier’ alternative to Mumford & Sons: UK heartrockers Young Rebel Set.

SATURDAY

Belle: We spent half of the day in Berlin and had sushi. The first band we saw were The Kilians but honestly it wasn’t really a memorable performance.
Pete: It was good, but nothing more.
Belle: Young Rebel Set, who played afterwards, were much better.
Pete: Yes, indeed. During the more quiet parts you could hear a bit of Marcus Mumford in his voice.
Belle: Oh yes, that’s true. But they had more of a “rockstar look” than Mumford & Sons. I have to make sure to get Young Rebel Set’s album finally, though.
Pete: Yeah, me too.

On a mindless mission: Hamburg-based nutter collective HGich.T.

Belle: I don’t know why we missed The Roots… but we did. I think we were predrinking for HGich.T?
Pete: We had to drink because of a freaky night to come, with HGich.T and Scooter … Which of them did you like more?
Belle: Hahaha, I don’t think you can compare them really … Demented ‘art collective’ versus vapid textbook techno. Both are stupid, but that’s it 😉
Pete: But I would have thought Scooter had a great show, however, what I saw was crap. Some pyro effects and nothing more … can’t believe he gets money for that!
Belle: I expected more from Scooter too. Maybe they did a stripped-down show because they were ‘only’ special guest? However, HGich.T are quite terrifying. They wander through the crowd and make you say stuff into the microphone – or scream, in my case … They shaved a fan’s hair off on stage. I’m still not sure if he was just a drunk volunteer, or part of the gang.
Pete: Yeah, that was creepy! Even to think of that show … maybe we should stop at this point.
Belle: Why, are you scared?
Pete: Not scared, but the performance and everything was just so fucked up …

The Blockflöte des Todes (recorder of death) alias Matthias Schrei on guitar and back-up member Monika Lück on, erm, something.

SUNDAY

Belle: Sunday started out with horrible amounts of rain and wet tents all around. But I was cheered up significantly when comedic singer-songwriter Blockflöte des Todes came on. You missed him and I tell you again, it was sooo worth seeing.
Pete: Yeah, I slept through his set, shame on me. But I also missed the rain like that. So tell me again, what was so special about Blockflöte des Todes?
Belle: It was just hilarious! I liked his dry humour and self-irony. He sang songs about fair-trade cocaine, on how to kill mosquitos with his crutches (because he has only one leg and wears an artificial limb), and how he was allergic to girls’ hair. He drew a fairly large crowd even though it was 12 in the ‘morning’ (morning for festival-goers, that is).

Between insults: Up and coming indie-pop outfit The Kabeedies from England.

Belle: Then we saw The Kabeedies. I have to say I didn’t feel great all through Sunday, I was just too exhausted after two days and I didn’t really feel like dancing that ‘early’, but it was a nice set anyway. I especially like how they use the breaks between songs to insult each other.
Pete: Yeah, and it was worth going because it was one of the last gigs with Katie, who’s leaving after this year’s festival dates. The show was good as always.

Bad music makes me a sad panda: ‘Raop’ (rap/pop) ‘inventor’ Cro from Stuttgart.

Belle: Next was Cro … I think we both agree here …  not worth the hype. Or let’s put it like this: If someone gets hyped like this, you should already know better than expect too much. At least for the German music industry, this usually applies. So, as usual, I go for: “In one year nobody will remember him!!”
Pete: It was terrible hearing him sample one of my favourite bands, Bloc Party. He just had the original version play and he raps over it – wow, I can also stand there with my guitar, cover this song and sing something else.

Dark, yet strangley danceable waverock from London: O. Children

Belle: But hey, O. Children were good. I just listened to them again the other day and I’m still surprised how much I liked it, though all this joy-division-ish stuff usually isn’t my thing … Quite the surprise discovery!
Pete: Yeah, that was some good shit! Surprising performance!
Belle: Minus the ugly shirts though. Then 2:54

Mystic and hypnotic: Hannah Thurlow’s 2:54 from London

Pete: Oh yeah, my personal tip! One of the bands I wanted to see at this festival and I was not disappointed. They’re very mystic and the voice is great.
Belle: I think it’s good when you’re in the right mood. But I think right then it was too slow for me, because I was already too tired. Dizzee Rascal was better suited for my mood 😉
Pete: Only we didn’t have the energy to enjoy it in full anymore …
Belle: Not exactly my thing anyway, but good for partying. And we had to save our energy for Iggy & The Stooges. It was insane how close up you could get!
Pete: Yeah, it was because, as I mentioned earlier, they only sold 3,000 out of 10,000 tickets, so it was a once-in-a-lifetime thing. And yeah, I can’t believe that he’s 65. Could have been a show from the 70s or whatever.
Belle: The guy is incredible. He still does this after all those years and you can tell he still loves it and that’s what makes it so good. Most people would seem ridiculous at his age but not Iggy.
Pete: I was surprised when he let lots of fans enter the stage and they gave him hugs and rocked out with him, that was an overwhelming moment. Unfortunately we were not close enough to the stage to enter it ourselves.
Belle: I was surprised too. I thought it would be considered a safety risk but everything was under control. I mean when Iggy says so, the security guards basically have to listen to him. That was a great moment, definitely.

Iggy Pop (left, with microphone) and his “beautiful Berlin area dancers”.

CONCLUSION

Belle: So, all in all, was it worth going? I think yes. It was nice to witness the “first time”. Maybe it’s going to grow to become a popular institution.
Pete: Yeah but if I had paid for it I would say no because so many great acts I wanted to see cancelled. But all in all it was nice experience.
Belle: That’s true. It wouldn’t have been worth the price for me either, but that’s always a question of personal taste.
Pete: And they promised even bigger acts for next year, so we should keep an eye on that!

Festival Season 2012: Hurricane, Scheeßel (DE)

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!

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Thursday night, everything’s fine: The Green Camping Site. (© S. Prahl)

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.

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They brought summer: Bombay Bicycle Club (© S. Prahl)

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.

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Well-dressed from head to toe: Spector from London. (© S. Prahl)

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.

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The ones with the cute names: Disco Ensemble from Finland (© S. Prahl)

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.

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Still in love: The Cure (© A. Hachmeister)

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.

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Richard and David Beeston of All Mankind (© S. Prahl)

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.

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Young Guns’ Ben Jolliffe and his drummer faces, bass wiz Simon Mitchell (© S. Prahl)

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.

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A lot of dancing and a lot of dust: Party animals Kakkmaddafakka. (© S. Prahl)

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.

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Noel (l.) and his boys/birds (© S. Prahl)

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.

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I see a pink bass somewhere in this picture (© S. Prahl)

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.

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Only one of the many backdrops (© S. Prahl)

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.

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James Mercer had a better time than it seems here. I promise. (© S. Prahl)

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.

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Still dusty, despite the rain: New Order withstanding the weather (© S. Prahl)

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.

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(© S. Prahl)

Festival Season 2012: MELT!, Gräfenhainichen (DE)

The 1950s excavator was a big hit at the children’s birthday. (© D. Prahl)

INTRODUCTION

Somewhere in the no-man’s-land of eastern Germany lies Ferropolis, the city of iron. Ferropolis these days is an open-air museum starring a number of incredibly giant disused excavators. Once a year these monstruous machines become the not-so-secret stars of a music festival that draws 20,000 of people from all across Europe. For MELT! Festival, the giants become illuminated by colourful spotlights and the occasional pyrotechnics show for three nights. MELT!, which celebrated its 15th anniversary this year, has become insanely popular thanks to its internationally renowned line-up of electro and indie artists, among them many DJs. This is why MELT! has a slightly different biorhythm than most festivals: The fun starts with bands playing from 5 pm, then from about 2 until the early hours of the morning the DJs take over. Some of the many stages even see DJ sets all during the day, most notably the Sleepless Floor, which is open 24 hours.

Belle and Manu were on site for indie pen dance and are going to run you through their personal highs and lows. While Manu (he’s the guy who does a lot of the posts on our Facebook page) is a regular guest at MELT! – edition 15 was his fourth visit to Ferropolis – Belle made her debut this year. Here’s what they thought about MELT! Festival 2012.

Also a big hit with children of all ages: the swings. (© M. Weiher)

GENERAL IMPRESSIONS

Manu: What’s most special to me at MELT! is the atmosphere, the way everything is illuminated. That’s quite insane, you don’t get that at other festivals. The line-up wasn’t as good as in previous years, but all in all, it was a pretty cool festival.
Belle: I just bought the ticket at a venture before any acts had been confirmed. Eventually I was a bit disappointed with the line-up, compared to earlier editions, considering the price is about as high as for say, Hurricane. And then they give you Gossip, Bloc Party or Justice as headliners – all of which were cool, but would never have headlined at Hurricane for instance, which is a bit bold if you ask me.

Bangers, not anthems: Mike Skinner DJ’ed at the pre-party. (© D. Prahl)

THURSDAY: The Pre-Party

Belle: I think the pre-party was a good thing, so you didn’t have to be bored on Thursday.
Manu: Yeah, but it was kind of bold to charge an extra fee for that.
Belle: True, but you got a proper line-up for that: Mike Skinner, WhoMadeWho …
Manu: Mike Skinner was definitely happy to do a DJ set there, he’d played MELT! before with The Streets. He had his fun. TOY were quite a surprise, covering electro songs with a full band.
Belle: Didn’t they cover AC/DC too?
Manu: Yeah, right, that was the exception. Mostly they played stuff like Daft Punk and Boys Noize.

Got tomboy lookalikes for their backdrop: The Vaccines played songs off their upcoming album ‘Come of Age’. (© D. Prahl)

FRIDAY: The Vaccines, Bloc Party and gambling

Belle: What were we doing on Friday? Was that when we started hanging out at the Warsteiner casino? We got kind of addicted to gambling that weekend. Anyway, The Vaccines were great of course. Whatever you think about their new look though. They said in Q Magazine that they like bands who look different on each album so you can always tell from photos which phase they were in at the time. That’s why they got a new look for their new album. The new songs they played were definitely amazing, all of them.
Manu: I felt they’re gonna put in even more gas on the new album.
Belle: Now that they finally look like a ‘real rock band’, they can also sound like that. The Raveonettes though, I didn’t really get why they were there, but I’m always pretty merciless when it comes to bands who are past their prime …
Manu: I think their new album isn’t all that bad. Actually I wanted to watch the whole set, but after I’d seen the beginning …
Belle: It wasn’t a really good live show either, and the crowd wasn’t in the mood.
Manu: Exactly, they just strummed down their songs and it all sounded quite the same. Didn’t really make you want to stay. So I preferred going to the The Cast of Cheers, who I’d seen play at Motorbooty! before.

Fidgeters from Ireland: The Cast of Cheers. (© D. Prahl)

Belle: We watched all of their set, didn’t we? I don’t think that was necessary actually, but we were only waiting for ‘Family’ *cough* Of course we were only waiting for the hit, same for every band. 😉
Manu: Not at all, I think they were good. Just as ecstatic as back at Molotow, but the atmosphere at Molotow was a lot better than on an afternoon in the tent at MELT!
Belle: Yeah, not really a memorable performance. What I found funny though is that they really fidget about just like in the video, where it’s been cut to look that way, but they actually do move like that. Anyway, to me they were just another band sounding and looking like every indie band does at the moment … don’t think they’re gonna last very long. The Rapture were a lot better.
Manu: Really cool band, at least they have managed to last for a while now.
Belle: That’s an achievement in fact. And there were tons of people there and everyone was totally excited. One of the best performances in my view.
Manu: And they are a real ‘MELT! band’, they fit the bill absolutely. After that we took a stroll down to the Desperados beach, which was a really cool stage right by the water. There were mainly electro acts, as it was the “MELT!Selektor” stage, for which Modeselektor had picked the artists.
Belle: Then M83 – I don’t really remember much of their set. I had listened to the album before and found it quite underwhelming in the end.
Manu: I couldn’t stand listening to the album full length either, but live I think they made a better impression, especially with the light show.
Belle: The stage just sucked, there was not enough space for all the people who wanted to see them, so we were just sitting on the stand …
Manu: I think most people just waited for the hit anyway. Caribou was also amazing. Especially live he’s even a tad better than on record.
Belle: I totally agree, I just listened to the album again and thinking about buying it. Even though it’s a little bit too slow or calm sometimes to really go crazy, it was definitely a nice show. So what about Bloc Party? I’m not their biggest fan myself, but I definitely liked what I saw.
Manu: They’ve always been a great live band. This time they were almost better than the first three times I saw them. Maybe it only semeed like that after the long break … I think they played about four new songs, opening with ‘Octopus’, which was also the official MELT! anthem this year. The band were in a good mood, even when it started raining, which didn’t bother me personally at all, or anyone else in the audience, and the band also kept their good spirits up … I think once Kele said something like: ‘It’s raining, but MELT! said: Fuck off!’ Surprisingly, they played ‘Here We Are’ off their first album, one of my absolute favourites, which fit the place and atmosphere really well. They never played this at any other Bloc Party show I went to, so this was the craziest moment of all for me. I think as the intro for ‘Flux’, they played a Rihanna cover, ‘We Found Love’ … but when it’s Bloc Party, it’s kind of cool.
Belle: But that’s a normal thing, citing other artists. Gossip also played some covers, ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and stuff.

Bitch, I’m fabulous: US/Canadian indie diva Rufus Wainwright (© D. Prahl)

Manu: During Rufus Wainwright‘s show, I just stood outside the tent and thought: That’s an impressive voice.
Belle: Rufus Wainwright was kind of the exotic bird of the festival. His set was surprisingly up-beat, I’d had him down as a kind of gloomy singer-songwriter, but it was more like glittery pop, with a lot of piano of course.
Manu: I’d thought he was a calmer kind of guy.
Belle: He is actually, but this set was more cheerful. He had a seven-piece band on stage I think, including himself, which was kind of decadent in a good way, Vegas-style, with his sunglasses and glitter vest … He’s this dramatic person with big gestures and poses, a real showmaster. He made his jokes, but there was always a certain distance, like ‘I’m the star and you are the audience’.

‘And now look like you were really having fun!’ Citizens and, erm, girlfriends? (© M. Weiher)

SATURDAY: Two Door Cinema Club, Gossip and the odd German

Belle: Citizens! were nice, but nothing for eternity … As Spector would say: ‘Enjoy it while it lasts’ 😉
Manu: You might as well have sat on the campsite listening to the album … Would have been the same.
Belle: They look like clones out of some secret lab, or like a computer-generated band.
Manu: Build-an-indie-band!
Belle: An ugly printed shirt, standard hairdo, skinny jeans … Like a cheesier version of Friendly Fires with less electro to it.
Manu: And what was the point getting all those girls on stage in the end …?
Belle: Probably some pathetic attempt at making the performance memorable. Think it’s gonna be a one-hit wonder. Other than Two Door Cinema Club … In the very beginning I also thought they would be gone in a flash. But then they made the album … then they made the album.
Manu: But they did have some good tunes then, I already knew them before the album came out.
Belle: When I saw them for the first time, I didn’t know them at all, nobody did. And the peformance was pretty bad, they were still really new and didn’t even have a drummer. But the show at MELT! was good. They had new hairdos, had to get used to that …
Manu: So did the drummer in Blood Red Shoes.
Belle: Yeah, he had short hair too! We need to discuss hairdos.
Manu: Especially at MELT! you need to discuss hairdos … I mean, there was a hairdressing tent on the campsite. It’s just that kind of a crowd …
Belle: So, new songs by Two Door Cinema Club …?
Manu: They sounded pretty much like the old ones.
Belle: They were ok, but not overwhelming. Probably gonna be a second album like the one by The Strokes: ‘We’ll just do the same album again!’ I mean I don’t expect big leaps from them artistically, they better just do what they do best. Experimenting should be left to album three …
Manu: It’s hard for a band to decide whether to do something completely different on the second album. It’s always a risk – it could turn out amazing, but it can also go totally wrong. Next … Gossip.

Undoubtedly one of the festival’s highlights: Beth Ditto meets a fan dressed as a bloody pad. (© D. Prahl)

Belle: I think it’s really accessible, musically. Even if, like us, you’re not a Gossip fan, you can get something out of their performance.
Manu: Well, I actually used to like them a lot, back in the ‘Standing In The Way Of Control’ era … But now they’re totally on this pop/synthie track. I haven’t really listened to their new album, and well, Beth Ditto’s voice is amazing live, but I think the older songs they played were much better and got the whole thing going a lot more than the new stuff.
Belle: As you said earlier, it was a real one-woman show. Everything was focusing on the lead singer. Her outfit, her whole demeanour. And this guy who came up on stage dressed as a pad – I still wonder if he was an actual fan or if the whole thing had been planned.
Manu: She always does something strange like this at shows, in any case.
Belle: I have the impression that even though they are this huge now, she is still really fan-friendly and accessible.
Manu: I actually buy it when she says ‘Germany’s my favourite country.’
Belle: She also talked in German, that’s rare enough.
Manu: They’re a lot more famous over here than in America, anyways.

Epic bromance: Cult indie rocker Thees Uhlmann lifting hype-rapper Casper. (© D. Prahl)

Belle: Looking at Thees Uhlmann, I just noticed that while there are a couple of German acts at MELT!, e. g. Frittenbude, in general it’s a very small percentage. Sure, Germany’s pretty big in the electronic music scene, but I think Thees didn’t really fit in to the whole thing. MELT! is a festival for a ‘cool’ crowd, as you can tell from the people who go there, and Thees just doesn’t fit in there because he’s so anti everything that’s superficial or based on looks, he’s like ‘I’m this guy with heart and I’m so down to earth’. His music is really emotional and celebrates the authentic, while MELT! celebrates the false, the surface.
Manu: But PeterLicht was also there, he’s kind of similar. I think a little bit of German rock does fit to MELT! and a couple of people do go to see those acts. I mean all the hipsters don’t need to bother, they can just go watch something else. I was quite surprised by Thees’ performance, I hadn’t even planned to go at first …
Belle: What, you were the one that wanted to go there! I said I didn’t want to …

Manu: Didn’t you say: Let’s go see Thees Uhlmann?
Belle: Yes, I did …
Manu: And then I liked the idea.
Belle: I thought you totally wanted to go. Anyway, we stayed the whole set, and then Casper came on as well …
Manu: Well, there was nothing else to watch really … well, Modeselektor …
Belle: Yeah, we wanted to go there too, but that didn’t really happen in the end. Yeah, but I did like Thees. I mean I like him anyway.
Manu: It was quite refreshing after all that indie stuff and Gossip and all that we saw, just listening to a bit of German rock.
Belle: And the album is very different from his band, Tomte, very up-beat, very catchy anthems.
Manu: Well and Casper coming on, a lot of people liked that of course.
Belle: I was quite surprised that Casper seemed so easy-going there up on stage with him, as his music is somewhat angsty and aggressive … He doesn’t seem to be that kind of guy at all, as you might think from his music.
Manu: I also liked it when Thees ranted against the festival crowd a bit, those ‘young men who dress funny’ …
Belle: He has to comment on this, with his outsider status at MELT! He’s pretty much expected to. Yeah, and then we were on the Sleepless Floor. That was amazing.
Manu: I liked it how they let some pretty cool acts just play outside the festival area, which was accessible to anyone, even without a ticket.

The Sleepless Floor during Matias Aguayo’s set on Sunday afternoon. (© D. Prahl)

SUNDAY: The Whitest Boy Alive, Justice and the benefits of cycling

Belle: Sunday … we gambled away our last money.
Manu: Yeah, the casino … That was a nice passtime activity, gambling for free drinks.
Belle: And we cycled too, we didn’t only do bad things.
Manu: Bad things!
Belle: Gambling is dangerous, it spoils the youth.
Manu: The “Morgen-Stage” was well cool, with its beer garden attached. You could cycle to generate the electricity needed by musicians to play.

The latest addition to the Disney Princesses franchise: Lana Del Rey, now available in brunette. (© D. Prahl)

Belle: So, Lana Del Rey? Any thoughts on her?
Manu: Yeah, indeed, we dragged ourselves to the festival area on Sunday afternoon to see her after all. She’s a good singer, but well, it was just as I expected.
Belle: She’s pretty withdrawn, she doesn’t really connect to the audience. Kind of like a china doll.
Manu: Well, how are you gonna perform a great deal, with such music?
Belle: Exactly.
Manu: Well, I didn’t expect anything …
Belle: Expected nothing, got nothing. We were not disappointed, but not positively surprised either. Jezabels? Expected nothing here either, turned out kind of how I imagined it. The music wasn’t really my thing, kind of wall-of-sound-ish.
Manu: Standard, really, the kind of thing you book on a Sunday at MELT!
Belle: Destroyer were actually too sluggish for me.
Manu: Well, I saw the whole set, and though it didn’t exactly knock me off my feet either,  I though they just played it through real easily, it was relaxing. Fit for a Sunday afternoon. And they were seriously some of the most laid-back people I’ve ever seen on stage. The singer seemed to just have climbed out of his Volkswagen Transporter.
Belle: Well, I went to see Riton in the meantime. There was a really good mood in the crowd and on stage. The guy seriously had fun, there was a lot more coming across than say at Lana Del Rey’s show earlier. Very danceable music too.

Norwegian indie-pop professor and assistant: some of The Whitest Boys Alive. (© D. Prahl)

Belle: Yeah, The Whitest Boy Alive? Are you going to write us a little insider piece on that – ‘My life with The Whitest Boy Alive’?
Manu: Actually they really got me at their last Hamburg show, though I had seen them before. At MELT! they were perfectly placed, on Sunday before the headliner; it was slowly getting dark, the light show kept getting crazier … Everything was perfectly tuned, not a single wrong note! I mean with The Whitest Boy Alive everything has to be really exact, the drums are not so hard, just grooving along. You could say they are like DJs on their instruments.
Belle: It was a lot more danceable than I’d remembered them to be. I’d thought they were more chilled, but they played a really nice fast set, different from much of the stuff they do on record.
Manu: The records are also good. Their new one’s even better, more electronic too.
Belle: And they interacted well with the audience. The singer’s one weird dude, he looks really strange, like a cute confused professor.

Bass, LEDs and Justice for all. (© D. Prahl)

Belle: The Whitest Boy Alive were great, but Justice capped it all off. One of my personal highlights. The Whitest Boy Alive pretty much did the warm-up, and then Justice just got you going crazy.
Manu: The light show was really awesome, with that LED screen.
Belle: It’s incredible what you can do with a light show only, though it’s basically just two guys on stage twiddling some knobs.
Manu: On Sunday I really noticed how great music can revive you. Earlier I was just hanging around, close to falling asleep, and when the good bands finally came on, I was totally awake again. Although, during Yeasayer

Sadly, we had to say no to New York psych-os Yeasayer. (© M. Weiher)

Belle: Yeasayer were good too, and the light show was amazing as well, but it just wasn’t possible anymore, physically, for me. Shame, I actually wanted to hear ‘Ambling Alp’, I was looking forward to it so much, but it was just impossible to stay any longer.
Manu: I think Yeasayer aren’t such light fare either. It’s kind of catchy, but if you’re not wholly into it, you kind of  feel like ‘I can’t really keep up anymore, I think I’ll let it be’.
Belle: And then there was nothing on anymore, was there?
Manu: Except enjoying the last hours on the Sleepless Floor – for those who still had the energy. Probably numerous people who got through the weekend with some little helpers.

A bit dramatic, aren’t we, love? (© M. Weiher)

CONCLUSION

Belle: Coming back next year, or were you too disappointed? Or is it a no-brainer? I always felt it was a no-brainer; I just bought the ticket on blind faith and in the end I was a bit disappointed with the line-up.
Manu: It depends. I do think they will book more good bands again next year. For the atmosphere I would definitely return, that’s always good.
Belle: In general I’d do it again, too. But I think it’s too expensive, other festivals have a better value for money. For instance, the Dockville line-up isn’t any worse than the one at MELT! was, and it’s a lot cheaper.
Manu: For the bands, it may not be worth the price, but for the atmopshere, the whole package, I think you can pay that sum. Although, if it’s really supposed to cost €135 next year, that’s a lot of money.
Belle: Depends on who’s playing. Let’s say I’d do it again, but I wouldn’t buy the ticket ‘blindly’ next time. I only did that ’cause I thought ‘You’re not going this year either, just like all the years before when you said you’d go and then you couldn’t bring yourself to it …’ So I just went this time and I’m glad I did.
Manu: It is a good festival, definitely. And when there’s a proper line-up – I mean there have been good years too. And it’s certainly the one festival that deviates from the German average, that really lives up to international standards.