Category Archives: Festival Season 2015

Festival Season 2015: Lollapalooza Berlin (DE)

The first European Lollapalooza looked to be a success: The two-day festival on Berlin’s defunct Tempelhof Airport –former site of the Berlin Festival– sold out shortly before opening its gates on September 12th. And that despite raising its ticket price quite spontaneously to 139 Euros, making it more expensive than e.g. the Hurricane Festival, which lasts three days and offers camping. Of course, Berlin’s Lollapalooza differs in size from its Chicago counterpart: Four stages instead of seven, two days instead of three, a capacity of 50,000 instead of 160,000. Obviously the headliners Muse and Macklemore were not exactly Metallica and Paul McCartney (Lolla’s 2015 headliners) either, but still it was an overall good line-up (especially if you had only paid the early bird price like myself).

Show women walking on stilts across the festival site
Show women walking on stilts across the festival site

Apart from the music programme, Lollapalooza attempted to stand out from the German festival landscape by offering a special kids’ area, a ‘fun fair’ (with showmen, can knock down and a glitter make-up stand where you could queue for hours), a ‘Grüner Kiez’ (green neighbourhood) with charity and environmental stalls, and something they called ‘Fashionpalooza’, which turned out to be one (1) sponsor stand by a fashion online shop.

One of many games of skill on the fun fair.
One of many games of skill on the fun fair.

While the ‘Kidzapalooza’ was clearly embraced by the visiting families and the special kids’ tickets sold out as well, I still don’t really see why it has to be encouraged to drag your little child along to an event like this. It’s loud, people there get drunk and ruthless and throw things, and crowds are generally not a safe place for children. I think festivals should allow the audience to “go wild” without having to fear that they might trample on a child.

I suppose enough has been written about the disastrous  water-pipe burst which led to insanely long toilet queues on Saturday, and about the insanely long food queues as well, so I won’t linger on and finally get to the musical performances.

Colour-coded goodness: Everything Everything.
Colour-coded goodness: Everything Everything.

After a quite strenuous procedure of trying to enter the festival site at the same time as thousands of other visitors, we caught some glimpses of Joywave and Parquet Courts, the former sadly having to replace the dropped-out San Cisco, who I’ve never seen and was really looking forward to. The first band we actually watched, though, were Manchester’s Everything Everything, who I’d lost track of a bit despite quite liking their 2010 debut albumIt turned out their third and latest LP had spawned at least two venerable hits, Regret and Distant Past, and they were drawing a reasonably sized crowd as well. As ever, the quartet appeared in matching stage outfits – luckily these ones were a step up from the beige overalls I saw them perform in the last time. Like any good girl group’s outfits, these ones were not uniform but differed in details. The set was good fun and the perfect way to open our festival, the crowd was into it and even though I only recognized two of their early songs, I could also dance to the rest of them.

I saw James Bay while passing the main stage and was surprised he didn’t sound whiny and instead really ‘rock’, knowing him only from his detestable radio hit Hold Back The River and for being a shameless Jamie N Commons cosplayer. Also a 3 pm slot seemed kind of shitty for a successful bloke like him, but that was only one of many weird running order decisions.

MS MR did not, however, match their outfits in advance.
MS MR did not, however, match their outfits in advance.

Up next for me were MS MR, a New York electropop duo that I completely missed out on until I heard their melancholic 2012 song Hurricane on the radio quite recently and instantly liked it. Unfortunately I hadn’t listened to anything else by them, and didn’t know virtually all of their tracks were apparently lively, upbeat 70s/80s style synthpop. The members Lizzy Plapinger and Max Hershenow were both extremely outgoing and self-confident and danced around crazily in their 70s/80s glitter outfits. I didn’t even know they had a huge following as well. Unfortunately I had to leave right before they were about to play that one song that I knew, which would maybe have made me enjoy at least a little bit of their set.

Then we attempted to get food. Oh my. I thought there was enough time – like 45 minutes – until Hot Chip would start. In the end, I missed almost their entire set queuing. There were tons of food stalls really, but it just wasn’t enough for 50,000 people (who couldn’t just go to the non existent campsite and make some canned ravioli). Hot Chip also had a really shitty 5 pm slot, which made me feel a bit sorry for them, but I can’t really talk about their set because I spent the rest of it sitting on the floor eating. (It should be mentioned that even the headliners already started at 9:30 pm, as the curfew was 11 pm due to noise reasons, so I suppose there was little other choice than cramming even high profile acts into the afternoon.)

Ron Mael (70) of Sparks showing Franz Ferdinand's Nick McCarthy and Paul Thompson that he's got the moves.
Ron Mael (70) of Sparks showing Franz Ferdinand’s Nick McCarthy and Paul Thompson that he’s got the moves.

Finally, FFS, the supergroup consisting of Franz Ferdinand and Sparks, formed one of my personal festival highlights. I have to admit I didn’t know Sparks before at all, and I did not expect the two members to be 66 and 70 years old – which one would never have thought, with how agile both of them still were on stage. Singer Russell Mael looked like an aged emo kid, only really cheerful, in a funny looking poncho, while his brother Ron Mael sat stoically behind his keyboard just to suddenly get up at one point and perform crazy dance moves. Franz Ferdinand, on the other hand, don’t seem to have aged a bit, physically, since appearing on the scene 10 years ago, and with the self-titled FFS album they have once again proven themselves incapable of writing a bad song. Their stage performance was fun as ever, be it four of them playing a keyboard at once or inviting the crowd to tell the person next to them to “Piss off” when the track with the same title came on. They even performed a few songs from the respective bands, which were especially celebrated by the crowd.

I then tried to watch some of Chvrches‘ set but I only knew ca. two songs – one of which I also saw – and quickly lost interest, trying to find a toilet instead and almost freaking out at the size of the queues (but it was possible to sneak into the broken ones and use them, because security was apparently unable to block access to them).

Deichkind crowdsurfing in a giant barrel.
Deichkind crowdsurfing in a giant barrel.

Of course we couldn’t miss out on Deichkind, the Hamburg hiphop/electro collective known for their spectacular live shows. It was already the third time I saw them perform at a festival and they never disappoint, whether presenting perfect boygroup-style choreographies, dressing up as old ladies, wearing Daft Punk like LED helmets or giant brains (to illustrate song title Denken Sie groß – ‘think big’) or surfing the crowd inside a giant barrel waving a “Refugees Welcome” flag and wearing sweatshirts with the same slogan (which are also sold in their online shop to support refugee aid organisations). The themes in their music range from dumb party-and-booze songs to criticizing the status quo, the latter being done quite cleverly in recent hits Denken Sie groß and Like mich am Arsch, however trying to fashion an entire song out of advertising slogans and then declaring that ‘We only want your money’ is kind of like the musical equivalent of Banksy.

Finally our Satuday ended with The Libertines, who had to play the third-biggest stage for some reason – presumably because the Main Stages 1 and 2 were so close together that the sound would have interfered even more than it already did (halfway through the set Carl Barât asked if ‘those German hiphoppers’, meaning Deichkind, were still playing, as he had probably heard Macklemore & Ryan Lewis all the way from Main Stage 1). The Libs had had to cancel their previous two gigs due to health issues – they later released a statement that Pete Doherty had suffered an anxiety attack – and indeed the scandal-ridden singer seemed a little unfocused for someone who is allegedly clean, so he might have been on meds. Also his microphone was turned off for large parts of the gig, so often one would only hear the crowd chanting along. They mostly dismissed their new album Anthems For Doomed Youth, their first in 11 years, which had only come out the previous day, making this their first gig since the release. Their comeback single Gunga Din, however, was celebrated just as frenetically as classic hits such as Time For Heroes, Boys In The Band or Can’t Stand Me Now. Due to the set being obviously packed with bangers like these, their performance was one big party, with a very dedicated crowd singing along loudly despite the competition of the headliner playing at the same time (but then again I doubt their fanbase intersects much with that of Macklemore).

After all three final acts ended at exactly the same time, the entire festival attempted to leave the site to either get home or to somewhere where you could party. Of course, the underground stations got blocked and an atmosphere of hopelessness spread. Somehow we managed to get to the next crossing and escape in a bus, but it was clear the organisers had not put any thought at all into how to get everyone away from the festival site. For Sunday it looked like there would be shuttle buses to replace the U-Bahn, but I had still prepared routes of getting home with the help of regular buses, as it would take years to try and get on one of the train service replacement buses anyway.

On Sunday the toilet situation had been resolved, and we got food quite early on so I only needed to get a snack later for which I didn’t have to queue so long. Unfortunately the running order for Sunday left us with hours of nothing to do (apart from watching Stereophonics or something), and the lone fashion stall had run out of colours to design gym bags with, so we couldn’t even burn time on that.

Wolf Alice opened the Main Stage on Sunday.
Wolf Alice opened the Main Stage on Sunday.

Our day had begun with Wolf Alice, who I’d seen previously at the Libertines’ 2014 gig at Hyde Park long before their album was released. Knowing most of their songs now, it was definitely more fun. The stage presence of the young Londoners was still quite timid but their grungy sound and singer Ellie Rowsell’s witch-like screams definitely made it an interesting experience.

Belle and Sebastian's Stuart Murdoch had fans dancing on stage.
Belle and Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch had fans dancing on stage.

After a long period of doing nothing much, we headed over to Belle & Sebastian, a band that I had never seen, but that I appreciate in a  kind of passive way because the amount of albums they’ve put out is too intimidating for me to really start listening through them. The Glasgow collective, which has been around for two decades, definitely turned into a highlight for me despite not really knowing any songs. But singer Stuart Murdoch’s stage presence was so endearing and their calming, cute indie pop simply matched the sunny afternoon perfectly. At some point Murdoch decided to get a female fan on stage to dance with him, and then continued to bring at least a dozen people up there who all seemed to be having the time of their life. He also talked quite a lot, among other things about how embarrassed he was that the UK didn’t take in any refugees.

Afterwards the Beatsteaks were on, a popular Berlin band who play punk-infused rock with English lyrics. I watched most of their set from the ‘Grüner Kiez’ area, which offered stacked pallets with grass on top and flowers growing in the bottom, allowing you to sit on them and still watch the Main Stage 2 sets on the screens. And sitting was definitely necessary whenever possible after  standing/walking almost for the entirety of Saturday. The Beatsteaks are famed for being a great live band, but I’m kind of indifferent towards them so I didn’t feel like moshing in the crowd. I could however enjoy their set as I recognised most of their songs.

Due to lack of alternatives (the only other option really being Sam Smith, another of those abominable radio people taking away slots that could be filled with like actual good acts), we ended up watching Little Dragon next, a quite crazy Swedish indie-electro act, but I didn’t know anything by them and their flashy live show didn’t really convince me at all.

Again due to lack of alternatives, we then attended Seeed‘s set, another hugely famous Berlin act playing dancehall with mostly German lyrics. I have to admit that while I never cared about their music, they put on a really good live show. The three frontmen were accompanied by a large brass band, the sound was great and they threw in some clever cover versions/remixes – e.g. their own Berlin anthem Dickes B to the tune of Justin Timberlake’s Sexy Back – that really spiced the thing up.

"I love big black balls." - Ariana Grande
“I love big black balls.” – Ariana Grande

I left Seeed’s set earlier so I would have enough time to queue for toilets before Muse came on, but somehow I didn’t have to queue at all and ended up sitting in front of the main stage for over 20 minutes. Well at least I could see a little bit of the stage like this and not just the screens… Muse is another tricky band for me. I mean, I could have watched Tame Impala, who for inexplicable reasons were playing at the same time despite target groups definitely intersecting, and many fans being mad about this, but I had seen them several years ago, other than Muse who I’d been waiting to see since 2005 or 2006, so I had to take that chance. In the ten years since, I had however gradually lost all interest in them as their musical quality seemed to steadily decline. But as they are famed to be such a great live band, of course I had to form my own opinion. At first, I have to admit I was a little underwhelmed; partly for sure because I didn’t know a lot of songs, but also because in my opinion there are many major bands who put on a just as good light show (but maybe a festival gig isn’t comparable to their own headline show). Well, that was before they let the toilet paper rain down on us (actually just long strips of white paper, along with a bunch of confetti, but it looked awesome). And let loose gigantic black balloons into the crowd. And this massive crowd singing Our Time Is Running Out and Starlight. I will still hold up that Muse are not a ‘better’ live band, show-wise, than say The Flaming Lips or Deichkind. But it was definitely fun to have seen them once, and I will surely meet Tame Impala a second time in my life. So in the end I stayed for Muse’s entire set, and then hurried to that bus stop where I managed to get on one that was less than half full, because apparently no one wants to go west anymore, and got home by a super long detour, but I was glad I had made it at all.

Despite some organisational mishaps, I still think the festival itself was neat (at least for the early bird price I paid), but not so great that I would blindly buy a ticket for next year. In parts the line up was too mainstream for me, but this can be said for the US Lollapalooza as well. Still a good alternative to the completely-gone-electro Berlin Festival.

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Festival Season 2015: Skandaløs Festival, Neukirchen (DE)

11897095_1001197686567720_1814837196_nHiermit gehen wir in die zweite Runde der Geheimtipps der kleinen norddeutschen Festivals und stellen euch nach dem lunatic Festival nun das Skandaløs Festival in Neukirchen, nahe der dänischen Grenze, vor.

11897057_1001197816567707_1519831737_nDieses liebevoll gestaltete Festival findet in einem Rhythmus von zwei Jahren statt und bietet neben der Musik auch eine sehr verspielte Geländegestaltung und ein umfangreiches Rahmenprogramm, zu dem Yoga- und Hula-Hoop-Workshops, ein Badesee, ein Kinozelt und viele andere Attraktionen gehören. Dieses Jahr fand das Festival vom 6. – 8. August statt und konnte auf den letzten Drücker sogar einen Ausverkauf vermerken.

Wir reisten am Donnerstag an, da an dem Abend auch das musikalische Programm starten würde, und sicherten uns gleich einen guten Platz auf dem Camping-Gelände, das unmittelbar neben dem Festival-Gelände liegt.

Mein erster Act des Abends waren Boreals, ein Duo aus Spanien, das einen mit sphärischen Sounds von Synthies und Gitarren in die stimmungsvolle Welt der elektronischen Musik lockt. Sie spielten auf meiner Lieblingsbühne „Gestrandet“, welche direkt im feinen Sand am Ufer des Sees lag. Es war also möglich direkt aus dem See auf die Bühne zu gucken.

Das Highlight des Tages waren für mich auf jeden Fall Torpus & The Art Directors, die ich erst vor ein paar Wochen bei einem Straßenkonzert in Lüneburg lieb gewonnen hatte. Sie spielten im großen Zelt, welches auch rappelvoll war, trotz des grandiosen Wetters. Ausgestattet mit Akustik- und E-Gitarren, Kontrabass, Trompete, Mini-Orgel und mehrstimmigem Gesang, überzeugten die fünf Musiker jeden im Publikum. Die eindringliche Stimme des Sängers ging mir besonders unter die Haut. Die Band war völlig überwältigt von der guten Stimmung im Publikum, sodass sich auch das ein oder andere Tränchen in die Augen der Band schlich, was die Emotionalität des Auftritts nur verstärkte.

Leider kam ich viel zu spät zu der nächsten Band im Zelt, The Age of Glass, und konnte nur noch ihre letzten beiden Songs hören, die mich aber auf jeden Fall überzeugt haben. Die Mitglieder der britischen Band trugen allesamt seltsame Outfits, welche allerdings auch zu ihrer wilden, teils elektronischen, teils akustischen Musik passten. Es wurde auf jeden Fall viel getanzt.

Den Rest des Abends ließ ich dann im Sand an der Strandbühne ausklingen und tanzte zu den elektronischen Klängen eines weiblichen DJs.

Der Freitag begann für mich auch wieder auf der Strandbühne, wo die Band Shetsou angenehmen Jazz spielte, der sehr gut zum entspannten Start in den zweiten Festival-Tag passte. Am Nachmittag guckte ich mir einen Film im Film-Zelt an, weswegen ich den größten Teil des Sets der deutschen Indie-Band Von Wegen Lisbeth verpasste. Ich hätte gern von ihrem erfrischenden, abwechslungsreichen Indie mit lustigen, deutschen Texten gehört. Die Band war schon Vorband von AnnenMayKantereit und werden mit ihrem Wortwitz und Teenie-Charme wohl bald noch viel mehr Fans haben. Die Songs über Sushi, Social Media, Penny, Milchschaum oder Kafka haben auf jeden Fall Ohrwurm-Potential. Es war an dem Tag so heiß, dass der Sänger in T-Shirt und Boxershorts performte, war ein anderer aus der Band gleich oberkörperfrei. Sehr sympathisch.

Als nächstes gab es auf der Hauptbühne Parcels aus Australien, die mehrstimmingen Psychedelic machten und allesamt längere Haare hatten als ich.

Den Rest des Abends verbrachte ich vor der Zeltbühne, wo ich unter Anderem Salamanda gesehen habe. Die fünfköpfige Indie/Rock Band aus Flensburg hat ihrem Publikum ziemlich eingeheizt und hatte auch den Lokal-Bonus. Die Bandmitglieder waren allesamt sehr stylisch, wobei ich einen Wollpulli bei 30° im Zelt nicht verstehen kann. Auch nicht, wenn man aussehen will wie Matty Healy von The 1975. Als nächstes spielte der Singer-Songwriter Jake Issac, der es schaffte, sein Publikum nur mit einer Akustik-Gitarre und einer Bassdrum komplett mitzureißen. Seine soulige Stimme ging unter die Haut und spätestens, als er den letzten Song komplett a capella sang, verspürte jeder im Zelt eine Gänsehaut. Dem späten Abend heizten The Youth und Vladi Wostok noch mal richtig ein im Zelt. The Youth aus Dänemark betraten um 2 Uhr Nachts die Bühne und brachten mit ihrem schnellen und treibenden Rock’n’Roll noch mal alle zum Tanzen. Im ordentlichen 60s Style trugen alle vier Dänen schnieke Anzüge mit Krawatten. Die Bühne zu rocken reichte ihnen auch nicht und so sprangen die Gitarristen das ein oder andere Mal auch in die Crowd und teilten sich dort ein Mikrofon. Doch damit war an dem Abend schon lange nicht Schluss, denn danach kam Vladi Wostok mit seinem russischen Surf-Rock.

Meine Highlights am Sonntag waren Pecco Billo, die Hip Hop Band mit dem rappenden Drummer, Martin Kohlstedt, der extentrische Pianist und Monolink.

Festival Season 2015: Lunatic Festival, Lüneburg (DE)

We said we would, and so we did:

Those two of us that were spending the weekend in Lüneburg were also busy working at this year’s campus festival, which has been steadily growing every year since 2004. Therefore we weren’t able to really see any of the acts playing. But the two days (Friday and Saturday) were still enough time to realise that it’s impeccably organised (even though literally all the work is done by students of Leuphana University in Lüneburg, so props to them). It’s not even really the music that counts at this event, even though you can barely escape the beats and riffs floating over the festival grounds. There’s graffiti artists, DIY-lemonade stands, a 360° performance stage for comedy, screenprinting workshops, information tents about social and political issues and every piece of food and drink is vegetarian. Sustainability is in every corner, and that’s what counts. Even the festival merch is organic, and beautifully illustrated as well. It’s a small festival, easily overlooked, and I’m having a lot of fun simply listening to bands like Bergfilm, Carnival Youth and Balthazar from the press lounge where I’m editing my pictures between my time shooting bands on the smaller stage – the Spielwiese (lit. “play meadow”. Yes. It is a meadow. But it’s small and nice and there are no barriers in front of the stage).

We’ll simply leave you with a little gallery from the first June weekend (at which we had temperature peaks of 31°C and no rain). I’ll do my best to be shooting at Lunatic next year as well.

(Click on a picture for large view)

All photos © by S. Prahl

Festival tip: Lunatic Festival

An Vielzahl und Verschiedenheit von Festivals mangelt es Norddeutschland nun wirklich nicht. Die Riesen wie Hurricane, Wacken und Deichbrand sind so gut wie jedem Musikenthusiasten in Deutschland (und auch außerhalb!) ein Name. Doch auch das Dockville genießt sich immer mehr Aufmerksamkeit, während in der Umgebung immer mehr Festivals wie Pilze aus dem Boden sprießen. Ein Neuling ist da das A Summer’s Tale Festival, welches sich ungefähr 20km außerhalb Lüneburgs ein Gelände mit dem ebenfalls neuen Elektro Festival Because We Are Friends teilt.

Bei einer solchen Breite an Festivals lenken wir die Aufmerksamkeit an dieser Stelle mal auf ein Festival, welches 2015 bereits in die 13. Runde geht und somit zum Beispiel an Alter das Dockville übertrifft. Dieses Jahr zum zweiten Mal komplett ausverkauft, wird das lunatic Festival von einer Gruppe Studenten organisiert und durchgeführt. In seiner Geschichte seit 2003 standen schon Künstler wie Bonaparte, Clueso, Materia, Mighty Oaks, FM Belfast und Die Orsons auf der Bühne des liebevoll und nachhaltig organiserten non-profit Festivals.

Doch das lunatic Festival besticht nicht nur durch seinen guten Riecher für die heißen Acts von morgen, sondern auch durch ein vielfältiges Kunstprogramm (+art). Wer jedoch auf einem Festival einfach nur saufen, campen und danach am besten auch noch allen Müll liegen lassen, ist hier an falscher Stelle (und sollte vermutlich auch mal über sein Verhalten nachdenken).

Das lunatic Festival ist nachhaltig ausgerichtet und organisiert. Hinter dem großen Wort „Nachhaltigkeit“ versteckt sich in diesem Fall ein (komplett vegetarisches/veganes) Catering Angebot, welches ausschließlich von (Bio-)Höfen/Lieferanten aus der Region besteht, eine enge Zusammenarbeit mit politischen, sozialen und ökologischen Initiativen. Auch eher untypisch für ein Festival, wird das Gelände nach der Veranstaltung auch so verlassen wie es vorgefunden wurde.

Da wir jedoch ein Musik-Blog sind, habe ich mal ein paar von den diesjährigen musikalischen Leckerbissen rausgesucht und werde sie euch hier vorstellen.

Freitag:

Tice

Female Rap- Power auf dem lunatic! Die junge Rapperin aus Düsseldorf hatte es nicht leicht, sie musste sich in der immer noch stark männerdominierten Hip Hop Szene durchsetzen… Unterstützung auf diesem Weg erhielt sie unter Anderem auch von Sookee.

tice

Moglebaum

Auf jeden Fall etwas besonderes an dem sonst Hip Hop orientierten Festival Freitag ist die Band Moglebaum aus Düsseldorf. Sie mixen elektronische Musik mit Elementen aus Klassik und Folk. Ihre Musik geht auf jeden Fall in die Beine, was sie auch bei ihrer kürzlichen Tour beweisen konnten. Visuell unterstützt wird die außergewöhnliche Musik durch einige Licht-Installationen, die definitiv für eine mystische Atmosphäre sorgen.

moglebaum

Slowy & 12Vince

Den Abschluss auf der kleineren „Spielwiesen“ Bühne macht am Freitag der Hamburger Rapper Slowy mit Unterstützung von 12Vince. Diese erspielten sich im letzten Jahr viele Fans in Hamburg und außerhalb und werden hoch geschätzt. Man munkelt, dass es auch einen gemeinsamen Track von Slowy & 12Vince mit dem befreundeten Rapper AzudemAK, der 2 Stunden vorher spielt, geben wird…

Samstag:

Krahnstøver

Hinter diesem Namen verbirgt sich ein junges Trio aus Leipzig. Ihre Musik klingt jedoch schon sehr erwachsen. Dass die drei Musiker um Sängerin und Gitarristin Stephie es ernst meinen, kann man ab Herbst auf ihrem neuen Album hören, welches sie auf einer ausgedehnten Deutschlandtour vorstellen werden. Sonst kannte man die Band auch schon z.B. als Support von I heart Sharks.

Berlin Syndrome

Kleiner Geheimtipp diesen Festivalsommer. Man sollte sich von den wuchtigen Bärten der Jungs von Berlin Syndrome nicht verwirren lassen. Was die fünf Magdeburger fabrizieren ist Indie von der feinsten Sorte und ihre Single „All for the good“ ist der perfekte Sommerohrwurm.

Helgen

„Ich will den Leuten sagen, dass ich sie scheiße finde// Ich will, dass Leute sagen wenn sie mich scheiße finden.“

Sankt Pauli. Gelbe Regenmäntel. Helgen.

helgen

Rangleklods

Zum Abschluss des Festivals wird es noch mal richtig heiß. Rangleklods aus Dänemark werden nochmal richtig einheizen, sodass kein Fuß still stehen kann. Das Duo bringt äußerst tanzbaren Indie-Elektro mit.

Das Festival ist bereits komplett ausverkauft, aber wir werden für euch vor Ort sein und tolle Fotos machen.