Last year, the festival program was disappointing – so disappointing, in fact, that I didn’t go to any of them. Which means that this year, of course, there were at least three I really, really wanted to go to.
I finally settled for the Frequency – the line-up was just too good and I could stay at my brother’s girlfriend’s mother’s house – which meant none of the usual festival inconveniences! Yay! [Here's my review of the Festival in 2008.]
So, on Thursday of last week, I got my parents’ car, and picked up B. and deadra in Vienna and we drove to St. Pölten for three and a half days of music and awesomeness.
We got to St. Pölten and pretty soon there were signs for the Frequency Parking. So I parked the car, we got out and started walking.
20 minutes later, we had reached the ticket booth. Deadra got her entrance-wrist-band. I got mine. B. didn’t get hers – she had a print-at-home ticket which could only be used at the main booth. Which was another 45 minutes walk. Since the stages were also up there, we had to take the walk anyway – but man, who makes a parking space an hour from where the action is happening?
Anyway, we started to walk, passing an amazing amount of tents and even more astonishing amount of drunk people (it was two in the afternoon. On the first day) but we finally made it.
Unfortunately, this unexpectedly long walk meant that we missed Kommando Elefant and only got to hear The Cribs from a distance. Though I did get to hear Cheat on Me and that was the most important thing.
While getting settled, we listened to Get Well Soon, but since we were mostly busy arriving and soaking in the atmosphere and checking out the grounds, I have to admit that the concert is more of a blur to me.
When Get Well Soon had finished, we heard a little bit of Peaches from the other stage while waiting for Mumford & Sons to start. This was the first of the concerts I really took in – and it was great. The band rocks their songs way more than should be possible.
After the Shout Out Louds, it was the turn of the White Lies. I enjoyed the concert immensly – though neither B. nor deadra seemed to really get into it. But between the three of us, I’m probably their biggest fan, so no surprises there. Deadra waited for To Lose My Life and then said that we could leave. I think that neither B. nor deadra had noticed how much I was enjoying the concert before they saw my face when they suggested leaving early. :) In any case, I had my way and we stayed until the very end.
And then we ran over to the other stage and caught the end of Hot Chip. It is amazing but the frontman actually manages to radiate uncoolness. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a talented musician and I really enjoy his music but charisma? Has to be found somewhere else. [Though deadra actually thought that the White Lies had less charisma. Poor, misguided deadra. :P]
Then it was time for Gogol Bordello. I don’t know much of his music, but I expected it to be fun and very danceable. It was fun, but much more political than I thought and much less danceable. But you have to respect a guy who easily adds another syllable to “segregation” ["segurugation"]. [Also, here's someone who has more charisma than musical talent.]
In the break between the shows, we went for a little tour of the grounds, seeing where we could best leave our money and where important stuff was, like toilets (which were pretty damn luxurious), fresh water (plenty) and ice cream (little variety, great stock – it was fucking hot, but the sun was only getting started. Seriously, in the three days we spent there, I got more colour than the whole summer so far).
Then it was Skunk Anansie‘s turn. I love their old stuff and I don’t know their new stuff, so I was a little torn. But Skin really rocks and then she played Charlie Big Potato and nothing could go wrong anymore [it's my favourite Skunk Anansie song]. Though they then played mostly new stuff, that left me cold, I enjoyed myself (though I was a little worried about Skin fondling the camera man, who didn’t look to happy about it). Though they played Hedonism, of course, which is like a dream come true for someone my age. Summarising: great show.
Because Skunk Anansie were so great, we had to rush over to the other stage to catch the end of La Roux, which worked perfectly: We arrived at the stage, she started playing In for the Kill and then Bulletproof and then she was done and I had seen everything I wanted to see.
And then the grand finale of the evening: Muse. It was absolutely epic. [It actually started with the soundcheck. Where everybody else basically said "One-two-one-two-check-check-check", the Muse guy said "One-two-one-two" and then he started squealing into the mike. Good stuff.] The concert was great – basically a best of everything with a good light show and these guys know how to rock a crowd. They played all my favorites, the old stuff as well as the new one and melted Knights of Cydonia with Morricone’s Man with the Harmonica, which is just a stroke of genius.
Also, you haven’t really lived until you’ve screamed “They will not force us / they will stop degrading us / they will not control us / we will be victorious” [or the lyrics to almost every other Muse song] with 30.000 people. Just adds that certain oomph.
Basically, if you haven’t seen them perform live and you like their music only the teensiest bit, see that you get tickets.
After all the excitement and running around on Thursday, Friday started very calmly. First, we managed to get a parking spot that was only half an hour’s walk away [yay!]. And then we just lay in front of the smaller stage and let the music come to us while we were baking in the sun. [Did I mention that it was really, really hot?]
It all started with Portugal. The Man, which was nice, but pretty unassuming. Then Wallis Bird came on stage, who is basically a tiny, but undiluted energy pack. Though I don’t like her new album that much, she played my new favourites like Travelling Bird, as much as my old ones.
Around that time, J. and M. arrived, who had decided to come for the day. They sat down next to us in the grass and together, we mostly didn’t listen to Serj Tankian. Which was not his fault. J. and M. just had a lot to tell us (and we them) and I have to admit that I only like two of Serj Tankian’s songs, Empty Walls and Sky Is Over, even though I think he’s very talented. But he’s also very creepy. [Also interesting was that Serj Tankian was placed right after Wallis Bird - sudden change much? - and that he played so early in the day. I thought that he'd be bigger.]
Anyway, after Serj Tankian, we left our nice place in the sun and plunged ourselves into the crowd to see Delphic, who are surprisingly hard live. I didn’t mind, their music was very danceable and it fit the mood after Serj Tankian. They also tried to make a security guy posted on a nearby roof dance. Unfortunately, they failed. But I had a lot of fun, even if the security guy didn’t. :)
Then we headed over to the bigger stage, where we caught the Klaxons. I knew exactly three songs by them going into the concert. Surprisingly, it turned out that they were also the only three songs I liked… [The songs are, btw, Golden Skans, Echoes and Not Over Yet.
After the Klaxons, LCD Soundsystem came on stage. And while I enjoy songs like Drunk Girls when they come on the radio, I had to flee the stage after the third song because I could actually feel how they played a migraine into my head. [The next day we heard someone being interviewed on the radio about the concert and she said, "it was amazing how somebody who is optically not that attractive could still make such beautiful music" *headdesk*.]
[Btw, they confirmed that this was going to be their last tour...]
Anyway, deadra and me left B., J. and M. to enjoy more of LCD Soundsystem and headed to the smaller stage where We Are Scientists were playing. We Are Scientists have a kind of muzak quality to themselves. Most of the concert, I just let myself be sprinkled by their music, which never offended or annoyed, but never ellicited much emotion either. It only got interesting when suddenly a shoe turned up out of nowhere and they tried to find the owner. [Seriously. They left the stage with, "We are We Are Scientists and I have your shoe!"]
After We Are Scientists, we headed over again to the big stage and waited for Massive Attack. I don’t think I need to tell you that they are pretty awesome – but their show was a little misplaced. I mean, it was completely elaborate but nobody stopped to say, “people, we’re doing this at a festival where most people already spent the day listening to music and watching shows and we start playing at 11.30pm. It might be a good idea to, I don’t know, not make this show a political manifesto and only play our slowest songs*?” [Also, to be honest, their music just didn't fit the rest of the festival. But I knew that going in.]
*They played the slowest version of Teardrop I have ever heard.
So they had this amazing light show (with a lot of writing that was too small too read from where we were standing, which was not completely at the back) and they have their great songs (though they didn’t play Karmacoma) but put altogether, the concert was pretty damn exhausting.
Though, personally, I wouldn’t have missed the chance to see Massive Attack there in a million years, just because their show was not easy entertainment, I could understand that many people decided to leave early and that by the end of the show, the crowd had thinned considerably.
But then again, I sometimes felt like most people came to drink and dress up anway (I saw 3 different Batmen, 1 gorilla, 1 banana, and a tiger high-fiving a penguin), so maybe they just didn’t know what they were getting into with Massive Attack?
[This time we got a parking space 5 minutes from the festival. Another 3 days, and we would have parked on stage.]
Saturday was even hotter than Thursday and Friday and the show started an hour later than planned [because - which I found out after the festival - the singer of Ou est le Swimming Pool killed himself a couple of days before]. So, we lay in the sun some more and drank cider from glittery cups and had ice-cream until The Sonic Boom Foundation started to play.
I hadn’t heard of them before, but I really enjoyed their show. They knew exactly what was expected of them [party and waking people up] and they delivered nicely. I still have to have a closer listen to their music, but so far I like them.
Then it was time for one of my highlights: The Beth Edges. They are a very young rock band from Austria with really great songs. [They're probably the most exciting Austrian music since Bauchklang.] They played on the smallest stage and were ever so cute and grateful for their audience. ["I didn't think so many people would show up." "You are a really awesome audience." Basically, they did everything but thank us for clapping.] It is amazingly gratifying to have good music come from Austria and even more so, when the guys playing it seem to be really nice.
When The Beth Edges had finished, Archive was playing, but honestly, I can’t bear to listen to them for longer than two minutes. So, B. and me left deadra listening to Archive while we hunted for merchandise. [B. got a shirt. I wanted the Beth Edges album which was unfindable.]
We returned and got something to eat, sat in the shade and half-listened, half-ignored Zoot Woman. They would have deserved more attention, and they’re going to get it from me now, but when we were there, it was just too nice to sit and drink an iced coffee and talk and not listen.
After Zoot Woman, we got ready for 30 Seconds to Mars. After their catastrophic show in Vienna, deadra and me were expecting the worst. And we were quite surprised, actually, when the show turned out to be pretty good! I mean, Jared Leto’s stage persona is still a diva and they announced A Beautiful Lie with “this is for the old-school-fans”, making me feel like my own grandmother. But it helped a lot that he seemed to be clean and that they weren’t playing their own videos in the background.
Unfortunately, though, they didn’t have time to play The Kill (what the fuck?) and at some point he said, “let’s make this next song into a prayer! Halleluja! Amen! Praise the lord!” (what the fuck????) Which is out of place in general, but especially at a festival.
Still, it was so much better than what we’ve seen in Vienna, there’s really no comparison.
After them, Billy Talent came on stage. Now, I’m not a huge Billy Talent fan, but I do like a few of their songs (most notably Surrender, Fallen Leaves and Rusted from the Rain). They played all these songs [and there were surprisingly many, actually] and their show is fun, though I was very happy not to stand in the crowd at the front, since there was the biggest circle pit I have ever seen there [still, better than the five different mosh pits during 30 Seconds to Mars (I wish I was kidding) or the five people who decided that they really had to have a mini-mosh pit during Billy Talent right. in front of. us].
In between Billy Talent, B. and me decided to give FM Belfast a listen, who then turned out to be playing later than announced, so we decided to listen to more of Billy Talent.
After Billy Talent, we skirted the Toten Hosen fans and headed over to Fettes Brot. As with Billy Talent, I’m not a huge Fettes Brot fan, but I know and like a few of their songs. They had a pretty cool and impressive stage show and they even played the first Fettes Brot song I ever heard, Silberfische, which made me all nostalgic.
During Fettes Brot, B. and I headed to FM Belfast again, but quickly left there because their music is actually pretty grating, at least life. I only knew Underwear before, and I’m probably going to stick to just this song from now on.
So, we returned to Fettes Brot, who talked a lot (and actually a lot of crap, but fun crap) and played more songs, including, of course, their biggest hits and generally put on a surprisingly good show.
And then their gig was over and it was time for us to go home. So we made our way back to the car, accompanied by Alles aus Liebe, one of only two Toten Hosen songs I like and it was pretty much the perfect end to a very cool festival.