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Live: MS Dockville 2016, Hamburg (DE)

Zum zehnten Jubiläum legte das MS Dockville sich ganz besonders ins Zeug: ein Line-Up, das in der Spitze wie in der Breite zu überzeugen wusste, ein wie immer atemberaubend schönes Gelände und die entspannte, ausgelassene Stimmung machten 2016 zu einem der besten Dockville-Jahre in letzter Zeit.

Die Acts: Von den zehn Ausgaben seit 2007 war ich bei ganzen sieben; zuletzt war es aber immer wieder das mangelhafte Line-Up bei stetig steigendem Ticketpreis, das mich von einem Besuch absehen ließ. Dieses Jahr war das Dockville ein Festival der positiven Überraschungen: Gab das Line-Up bei einem vorherigen Hördurchgang nicht viel her außer bereits bekannten Favoriten wie Foals, Bilderbuch (die ich aufgrund des Timetables nicht sehen konnte) oder Unknown Mortal Orchestra, erwiesen sich die großen Lücken in meinem Zeitplan letztlich als Segen: Acts wie Faber, Isolation Berlin oder Die Nerven gaben einen hervorragenden “Zeitvertreib” ab. Dadurch verzieh ich auch das Booking gruseliger Formatradio-Verbrechen wie Matt Corby, Frances oder der furchtbar unlustigen Klaas-Heufer-Umlauf-Band Gloria.

geländeDie Besucher: Das Dockville-Publikum ist durchschittlich etwa 20 Jahre alt, trägt genderunabhängig Blumen im Haar und Glitzer im Gesicht, sowie in 80% der Fälle einen Turnbeutel mit witzigem Spruch der Wahl auf dem Rücken. Außerdem ist es äußerst ingenieurstechnisch begabt, wenn es darum geht, ein einzigartiges Erkennungs-Maskottchen zu erschaffen, das an einem hohen Stab über der Crowd geschwenkt wird, um die eigene Freundesgruppe zusammenzuführen (Highlight: ein seifenblasenspuckender Affenkopf mit LED-Augen). Als Wahlberlinerin fiel mir zudem auf, dass alle Hinweisschilder etc. am Gelände auf Deutsch gehalten sind: Das Dockville ist trotz weiterhin steigender Bekanntheit anscheinend immer noch ein lokales Ereignis.

Die Politik: Die Hamburger AFD legte jüngst Beschwerde bei der Kulturbehörde ein, wieso man ein Festival finanziell unterstütze, bei dem angeblich linksradikale Bands wie Slime oder Feine Sahne Fischfilet auftreten würden. Als Reaktion wurde ein riesiges “Fuck AFD”-Plakat am Gelände aufgehängt. Junge Teenager, die aussahen wie die Unschuld in Person, trugen “Niemand muss Bulle sein”-Beutel oder schwenkten Antifa-Flaggen bei den Auftritten von bekennenden linken Acts wie Sookee oder eben Feine Sahne. Auch weniger explizit politische Bands machten den Mund auf; etwa Faber in seinem Besorgte-Bürger-Song Wer nicht schwimmen kann, der taucht oder Isolation Berlin, die eine Textzeile zu “Er schnauzt mich von der Seite an, ob ich nicht stolz sei auf dieses Land” änderten. Ausschreitungen, Aggressionen und sonstiges Arschlochverhalten waren meiner Erfahrung nach vollkommen abwesend vom Festival.

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Festival Season 2014: MS Dockville, Hamburg (DE)

The look across the river: Dockville is famous for its waterside location (© S. Prahl)
The look across the river: Dockville is famous for its waterside location (© S. Prahl)

GENERAL

Belle Brummell: 2014 was my 6th Dockville out of 8 installments, and while I have never been this disappointed with the line-up before, especially in the face of the constantly rising ticket price, I must say that this year was extremely well-organised. There were both enough drink stands and toilets (the latter even with toilet paper!), no long queues anywhere, not even for the shuttle buses back (only a few extremely popular food stalls had long waiting times – the food range being great as well, by the way) – even the festival app worked, mostly. And it wasn’t poorly visited either – this year was sold out, except for Sunday day tickets, and a new second campsite was opened due to the high number of visitors from outside of Hamburg. The only thing I could complain about was the lack of any beer brand apart from the vile Jever – and no wine, which would have been a welcome alternative for me. Speaking of alcohol, they still cling to that frankly ridiculous rule that non-campers can’t bring any drinks at all to the festival area, while campers can officially bring one tetra pak, but in reality can just fill any alcoholic drink they like into a plastic cup and take it to the festival site. Which is why I used to buy a camping ticket, set up a tent, put alcohol in it and slept at home, but after being exploited too often by other people I saved the €10 and the hassle of setting up and taking down the tent and instead used my own wits to get the alcohol on the festival site. That’s what you get, Dockville.

The "Nest" is one of Dockville's DJ only stages. (© S. Prahl)
The “Nest” is one of Dockville’s DJ only stages. (© S. Prahl)

What was bothering me as well was the clear shift in line-up towards electro, resulting in me going home unusually early every night, as after 11pm or so there was only electro on. In past years, one would often have a local indie DJ spinning records somewhere, but apparently this is no longer demanded by the Dockville crowd. At least this way we always got a good night’s sleep, but it also makes me wonder whether in future years I’m still welcome there, as this year there was already hardly anything for me to see that catered to my musical taste. Still, I found enough things to somehow pass the time and not overly regret the amount of money I’d spent on an earlybird ticket, and it’s still a nice little festival after all, though it feels like the art installations are not really valued as much as in the early years. This year however I attended the poetry slam for the first time and it was really worth coming early for. Read on to see what musical acts we’ve watched and what we thought …

FRIDAY

Jungle's vocalist was definitely a sigh, though we sadly could not find out his name. (© S. Prahl)
Jungle’s vocalist was definitely a sight, though we sadly could not find out his name. (© S. Prahl)

Jungle

Belle Brummell: We hit the festival area on Friday afternoon for the much-hyped UK collective, whose indescribable blend of styles had actually managed to draw my interest (not something a lot of acts do these days). If I was a little more versed in sub-genres of hiphop I could probably do a better job at telling you what they sound like, but chances are you have already heard hit singles like “The Heat” and “Busy Earnin'”. Their set wasn’t exactly boring, but as I’m not that familiar with the album yet, I found it all to sound a bit alike.

Dressed like a real "Hein von der Werfs": Cole Alexander of Black Lips (© S. Prahl)
Dressed like a real “Hein von der Werft”: Cole Alexander of Black Lips (© S. Prahl)

Black Lips

croconut: To see the Black Lips I had to leave Hercules and Love Affair’s gig unfinished, which was a pity since they pretty much ruled with their mix of soul and electronical music. But well for Black Lips no price is too high. To be honest: my expectations about their gig were not low. As a great admirer of lo-fi and garage music Black Lips stand out as some of the leading figures of these genres for me. Well the atmosphere during their set was amazing. Everyone was dancing in the famous punk way, also known as pogo, from the start. Which was kinda weird since the first song they performed was pretty quiet and not very suitable for this kind of dance but well I guess that’s the effect that the band had on the audience. Just their appearance caused a major chaos. They played all their classics like ‘Oh Katrina’, also known from the ‘Scott Pilgrim’ soundtrack, ‘Family Tree’ or ‘Bad Kids’. Hearing all the songs live that I have danced to so many times, at pubs, in the street or sometimes alone in my room, was an unbelievable greatness. Also some favorites of mine like ‘Dirty Hands’ were part of their set. Well their new ones sounded amazing as well. Very soul-y, a lot like The Almighty Defenders, which I definitely approve of. As already mentioned not just their songs but also the band itself is quite legendary as a part of the garage scene. So seeing them play was something really special. Though the fact that they threw toilet paper rolls into the audience made it even more special. Ending their performance with ‘Bad Kids’ they once again gave everyone around a chance to get fucked up. Lots of people seemed to be well prepared for this last act of madness, some pyros were lit and guys from the Antifa movement were also just around the corner waving their flags at the end of the gig. There is nothing more left to say beside of ‘it was a very Hamburg-like Black Lips experience and definitely one of my highlights of the festival’.

Almost overshadowed by his backdrop, but Nottingham's Jake Bugg stood strong (© S. Prahl)
Almost overshadowed by his backdrop, but Nottingham’s Jake Bugg stood strong (© S. Prahl)

Jake Bugg

Belle Brummell: Perhaps surprisingly, Jake Bugg had been given Friday’s headlining slot, playing even after Birdy, who I’d thought to be more commercially successful in Germany, but I’m not complaning. (Except about the fact Birdy played there in the first place, as I have her down as a teenage mainstream singer who’s biggest hit was a cover, correct me if I’m wrong.) I hadn’t listened to Jake’s second album quite as much as to the first but I still found his set thoroughly enjoyable (though this time he sadly didn’t get hit by an inflated condom). The best part about seeing Jake in Germany, however, is still people showing the “victory sign” during “Two Fingers”, being beautifully unaware that “putting two fingers up” or “flicking V’s” is a British way of saying “fuck you”.

Annie May: Friday-night headliner Jake Bugg was seemingly unimpressed by the biggest festival slot he’d probably ever been given and started his set with There’s a beast and we all feed it, the opener of his latest album Shangri La. Maintaining his usual calm and expressionless stage presence the English singer-songwriter continued to play a few songs on his acoustic guitar, one of them being his hit Two Fingers before he switched from acoustic to electric guitar. In my opinion this was when his show really started. The songs had more energy in them, which was very appreciated by the crowd. Sing-alongs like Trouble Town and Seen It All were just as appreciated as newer songs like Kingpin, Slumville Sunrise and What doesn’t kill ya. The youngster proved his impressive guitar skills by adding guitar solos here and there and mastering them without batting a lash. A personal highlight was the extended version of Simple Pleasures that he played towards the end of the set. The last song was, of course, his smash hit Lightning Bolt. All in all, a worthy headliner performance.

SATURDAY

She probably named her band after her hair colour: Pale Honey from Sweden (© S. Prahl)
Probably named her band after her hair colour: Tuva Lodmark of Pale Honey (© S. Prahl)

Pale Honey

Annie May: Pale Honey, a drummer/guitarist duo from Sweden, opened the main stage on Saturday, only attracting a very small crowd due to the bad weather, earliness and the fact that this was their first time in Germany. The two girls were accompanied by a bassist and second guitarist, which suited their sound. The band’s strengths were not their quiet but rather their dirty, faster songs, which unfortunately were the minority. Their last song was definitely their best one.

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Not a real breton: Roman Rappak of Londoners Breton (© S. Prahl)
Not a real breton: Roman Rappak of Londoners Breton (© S. Prahl)

Breton

Belle Brummell: Less than twelve months after their spectacular, yet intimate set at Reeperbahn Festival, the Breton I saw at Dockville seemed like an entirely different band. Apparently having gained some commercial success with their second, more accessible album “War Room Stories”, Breton now drew a massive crowd to the Vorschot stage. Styled more rockstar-like than I remembered, frontman Roman Rappak had the antics of a poppunk singer, getting up close with the audience and being obviously amazed at the big turn-up. However, this daylight show did not allow for the visuals that had made their Mojo Club gig so atmospheric, so it felt more like watching some “cool” indie rock band without a very special vibe.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Synchronised dancing/headbanging: The olympics of Kakkmaddafakka (© S. Prahl)

Kakkmaddafakka

Belle Brummell: I’m not sure how I managed to get through the last 7 years without ever seeing these Norwegian guys live anywhere, as their big popularity in Germany is evident and they surely play plenty of festivals over here. I had heard a lot about their stunning live show, but as I’m not too enthusiastic about their formulaic dancefloor-indie, I remained oblivious to what a Kakkmaddafakka show is really like. There are about 8 people on stage, two of them being identical twins singing backing vocals while doing synchronised dance moves, and as if that wasn’t rad enough, the members will goof around by doing ballet jumps across stage between songs, or covering Loona’s 90s summer hit “Bailando” unironically, with their percussionist, who looks like Thor, on lead vocals. Needless to mention, pretty much everyone is hot. (They’re Scandinavian, duh.) Well I’m pretty sure their tour manager would rather herd cats, but I wouldn’t mind partying a night with these nutjobs for sure.

Annie May: There was a lot of expectations and pressure on Norwegian party band Kakkmaddafakka before their late evening set at Dockville. Last year they had to cancel last minute, which had left many fans disappointed. You could clearly tell that the band, now equipped with a new keyboarder, had big plans for that night. Their set had a rather unpleasant start for the people in the crowd who were pushed over at the very beginning of the set. It took almost all the time of their intro before everyone was back on their feet. The intro was traditionally followed by Touching and Make The First Move before the band launched into songs of their second album Six Months Is A Long Time. The thing with Kakkmaddafakka shows is that you never now where to look, as there are eight guys on the stage, two of them being their famous dancers. The crowd went especially wild during their hits which they played at the end of their set. As the last song their extra percussionist performed a cover of Bailando shirtless, which topped off their excellent show. But even that was topped by their encore Forever Alone and the fact that the band was absolutely unwilling to leave the stage.

SUNDAY

Sweet psychedelia from Berlin: Oracles were rather tolerable for a German band  (© S. Prahl)
Sweet psychedelia from Berlin: Oracles were rather tolerable for a German band (© S. Prahl)

Oracles

Sodapop: On Sunday morning I struggled through crowds of early birds, festival aficionados and music lovers. I passed flower-crowned women and men, surreal looking wooden installation art to finally get to the first act I wanted to see on this cloudy Sunday. We’re talking about Oracles, whose gig was announced to take place at the Maschinenraum stage in the early afternoon. Oracles are from Berlin and are music-wise geared to shoegaze, dream pop, afrobeat and exceptionally eighties and early nineties inspired neo-psychedelia. When they started to play, a constantly growing crowd in front of the stage had already been formed. Oracles straightly played their music into the open arms of the audience. Their opener Journey Back To Dawn is a kind of psychedelic ballad which walks in the footsteps of Temples’ Move With The Season. The audience swayed back and forth in the middle of these psychedelic electronica sounds. The next song was Melt Tonight, which features a captivating harmony between vocals and instrumental sounds. For one moment it just seemed as if the whole scenery was located way beyond the Hamburg clouded sky; somewhere far away on a South Seas island straightly set back into the paisley patterned seventies. I didn’t seem to be the only one to feel that way: from all quarters people in voluminous clothes came closer to watch the psychedelic spectacle on stage. Oracles created a musical intensity which unleashed the audience – dancing people who were one with the wind all over around. In the end Oracles threw two copies of their new EP Stanford Torus in the crowd. Their performance was dynamic and intense – in short the perfect new festival discovery.

Mac Demarco

Big Mac was apparently more entertaining than it looks here  (© S. Prahl)
Mac Demarco: More of a joker than a sensitive slacker (© S. Prahl)

croconut: Unfortunately I missed the first 3 minutes of his set. And dear lord, those were definitely 3 minutes too much. Mac and his band are possibly the most entertaining people you could have put together in a music group. With the charm of Southern state gentlemen (not sure if they are from the south though) and the charisma of young Jesus they could melt all the hearts in the radius of 5 kilometers, at least (!). They played their set in the most precious way filling the gaps between songs with little speeches that were full of this special Mac type of humor. After some glases of whiskey, spontaneous words of love to the security guy and broken guitar strings Mac jumped into the crowd taking a ride above people’s heads. Everyone was very pleased to be a part of the movement that brought him forwards. After he had finished the ride his beloved security guy helped him to get on the stage again. Later he disappeared from the stage promising to hang out with everyone afterwards. The eyes of everyone around were filled with love, pure and true love caused by the presence of Mister Demarco and his friends. Some stayed near the stage though he was already gone talking very excitedly to the people around about what has just happened. Was it even real?! No one knows but it was amazing and well I felt some love too.

Wolf Alice

Wolf in Wonderland: Ellie Rowsell, also more punk than it may seem  (© S. Prahl)
Wolf in Wonderland: Ellie Rowsell, also more punk than it may seem (© S. Prahl)

Sodapop: I arrived too late for Wolf Alice’s set at the Maschinenraum stage (blame Mac DeMarco and his blissful surf daze music). While my eyes were still concerned with working out a route through the crowd, I suddenly found myself exactly in front of the stage. Sense and action seemed to be alien to each other that day. Apparently there couldn’t be a better day for a new perspective. Wolf Alice have released their newest EP Heavenly Creatures in June and I wasn’t just very pleased about listening to these songs live for the first time, I was very curious about their performance at Dockville Festival since their last gig in Hamburg in November as well. Wolf Alice’s gigs always are fascinating live experiences. Lower tones are paired with grungesque pop melodies and rock guitar riffs. Ellie Rowsell’s voice can sound dulcet like that of an angel, a heavenly creature, and then wild again. Wolf Alice who already were the insiders’ tip of the NME back in 2012 have evolved into a festival secret weapon and guarantor of high spirits. The audience formed moshpits in front of the stage; confetti showers bathed the entire festival grounds in a colourful light. Wolf Alice played plenty of my favourite songs like Blush, Bros, Storms and Moaning Lisa Smile – and besides an exciting reinterpretation of Chris Isaak’s legendary song Wicked Game. Singer Ellie and bassist Theo Ellis jumped off their amps, did headbanging and one wouldn’t have been surprised if they would’ve done stagediving during their forty minutes set. They finished their set with their first grunge-affected single Fluffy. In the end I became aware of the fact that it was the right decision to see Wolf Alice and their blazing inferno of sounds live again.

Glass Animals' Dave Bayley, not looking like a complete dork with a tambourine also being an art.  (© S. Prahl)
Glass Animals’ Dave Bayley clearly won ‘outfit of the day’. (© S. Prahl)

Glass Animals

Belle Brummell: One of the few interesting new bands and reasons Dockville isn’t entirely shit yet were Glass Animals. Their fragile, electronic indie pop would probably please fans of Wild Beasts, who I bet were not too happy to find Glass Animals’ and Wild Beasts’ sets to overlap by ten minutes and the respective stages being at the opposite ends of the festival site. Whoever came up with that great idea. Same as with fellow Brits Jungle, I found all their songs to sound rather the same after a while, and of course they would wait until the very end to play hit single “Gooey”. But the fact alone that Dockville still books these kinds of bands proves while they’re still relevant to indie fans at least to some degree.

And with this cheesy picture we leave you… (© S. Prahl)
And with this cheesy picture we leave you… (© S. Prahl)

Festival Season 2013 Preview

It’s June, the sun’s finally out – time to get in the mood for the festival season! This year we’ll be going international, stopping over in Great Britain and hopefully Belgium to add some exciting new festivals to our usual routine. Here’s a quick overview of where we’ll be reporting from this summer:

From June 8th to 9th Belle Brummell is heading to Manchester for the Parklife Weekender. The week after, Redheadess hits the Isle of Wight to visit the festival of the same name, running from June 13th to 16th. The following weekend, Redheadess, Pete Pelican and ginsoakedboy1 will throw themselves into the rumble of Hurricane Festival in Northern Germany (June 21st–23rd). In July, Belle and Redheadess are hoping to visit Les Ardentes (July 11th-14th) in Liège, Belgium for a day. Of course, we will also be present at MS Dockville in Hamburg again, taking place from August 16th to 18th this year. Another stop will be Berlin Festival from September 6th to 7th, and we will probably end up for a day or four at Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg as well (September 25th-28th).

This was the plan so far, so make sure you subscribe or follow us on Facebook to stay updated on all the good stuff!

x Belle

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 2011 (3): MS Dockville, Hamburg (DE)

So, how do I begin to explain Dockville Festival? It takes place in the district of Wilhelmsburg, which happens to lie on an island in river Elbe. It is a conglomerate of music, art, poetry, performance and has its own art festival and children’s festival attached. It has been happening annually since 2007, growing steadily, and this year, it drowned. It had already drowned before it even started, so 1/3 of Friday’s bands were cancelled because the ground could not be trod on. I tried to set up a tent, due to Dockville’s funny policy of not allowing any drinks to be taken on the festival site, with the exception that campers, who pay 10€ extra and get a special wristband, are allowed to carry liquids on end from the camping ground to the festival area, as long as it’s in a plastic cup. This year, there was also the new rule that campers held the exclusive right of washing their hands. Unfortunately, the few spots of the campsite that did not consist in 50-cm-deep mud had been taken by Thursday night already, leading me to camp somewhere in the bushes, as many other people did. As ticket prices had risen to a new all-time high of 84€ (with camping), while the line-up was a joke compared to the year before, I had opted for working two days in setting up the ‘Kunstcamp’ and the festival floor ‘Butterland’, making food for the local kids who took part in the workshops etc., before the three-day festival even started, and got my wristband ‘for free’ in return.

In case you expect another stage-hopping marathon report from me, there will be no such thing. I have decided to let the pictures do the talking, because as so often at Dockville Festival, it’s not so much the musicians who are the actual stars. It’s always the small world that is created on that island, and what follows is merely a tiny snapshot of it.

And we trudged through the mud …
… and in it, we were free
"doch wir sehen gut dabei aus, ja was wir tun, das hat Stil …”
… but not as much style as whatever instrument The Black Atlantic's middle member is playing here.
Everyone else was enjoying The Pollywogs more than me.
So I passed the time taking generic festival crowd pictures.
The light show thrown against the storehouses at the other shore was too good for my camera.
We came to see Glasser. We got Peggy Sue. It's Dockville, baby.
My heart is crawling in the mud, mud, mud (and so are my feet, pictured right)
Fuck Art, Let's Dance. (Not some witty quote this time, but the name of the band.)
And fuck art they did.
Whereas they fucked the mud, and went back to the roots, I mean, trees.
Is Tropical, and mindfucks you with nasty beats.
While little of the art survived the storms, I think that white thing in the back might be part of it.
Another of the festival's brighter moments: Fenech-Soler's performance
It was called "Nest".
And this was called "Horn".
Nothing like a good light show, brought to you by Italy's finest, Bloody Beetroots Death Crew 77.
They played on Sunday, and there was sun, sun, sun. Noah and the Whale, undeniably the highlight of the weekend.
Whereas these two won "best hair".

And it would be mean not to mention Dennis Dirksen’s Portrait Movie, which clearly captures the nicer festival moments way better than my old camera can. (Although it does not at all reflect my own personal experience, but it’s a great image film. 😀 Plus it features the amazing track “Little Numbers” by Boy.)