Mud, Rain and Good Music

On Thursday, I borrowed my parents’ company’s car (a VW van, just like it’s supposed to be, but newer and more comfortable) and set off with deadra and S. to the Frequency festival in Salzburg.

I removed the back seats in the van and put in some mattrasses, which actually made for a comfortable bed (at least much more comfortable than any tent would be. And drier). We got water and food that won’t turn bad without a fridge and arrived in Salzburg in the afternoon. We parked the car in a nice meadow and then the fun could begin.

Surprisingly, it was sunny and hot and as we walked (about a mile, I’d say) to the actual festival area on the Salzburg Ring (Formula 1 car race thingy), I thought about all the warm clothes I brought and if they were really necessary.

Anyway, we arrived just in time for The Dresden Dolls. I have to admit that I was one of those people who didn’t really know any song by them (except Coin-Operated Boy, which was featured in a commercial in Austria) and I wasn’t the only one by far.
Their show was great, very itense and funny and the music is really worth looking into more closely. And I loved their Eisbär version:

Extra: Amanda Palmer performing Neil Gaiman’s song “I Google You”:

Next stop was José González. Again, someone I “met” through an ad, this time a more international one, for the Sony Bravia LCD TV, the spot where the rubber balls jump through San Francisco [The Knife‘s Heartbeats].

He sat alone with his guitar on the stage and seemed a bit lost, too small. But only until he started singing, because with his voice and his playing, he immediately filled all the space. He even enticed some teenages girls to scream “ROSE! [sic] WE LOVE YOU!” [which had me laughing to no end… and reminded me of last year, when I was at the Frequency with my sis and we saw The Good, the Bad and the Queen and I explained to her that it was Damon Albarn singing. And she fought her way to the first row and then screamed: “DAMIEN!!!”].
Anyway, José finished with Teardrop. How cool can a person be? Covering Massive Attack and actually being good at it is definitely amazing.  Here’s the video:

During Flogging Molly, we didn’t really listen, but did some shopping and went to the ATM, which took up most of our time [1 ATM, 50.000 or so people], so I can’t really tell you about their performance. But people seemed to enjoy it.

Then came Travis. [Btw: New Album coming out in a month: Ode to J. Smith] After I got over my initial shock of “FUCK! Fran’s going grey!”, I really, really enjoyed them. They just got everything. They seem nice, they know how to rock, they have good music and they definitely know how to work a crowd. And they must have some contract with the weather goddess, because right around singing “Why Does It Always Rain On Me?“, it started to rain [Well, at least some drops…]. [And I was happy that I had some clothes for the cold with me.]
I love those guys. Seriously, if you ever get the chance to see them live, do so. They’re great!

After Travis, there came R.E.M., arguably the biggest band at the whole festival. They started with “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?“, which obviously is a great choice for the Frequency festival. Unfortunately, all the light show and video installments couldn’t change my feeling that it all was such a routine for them. They even introduced the song “Imitation of Life” with the exact same sentence they said 3 years ago at their concert in Vienna (“It’s always a special pleasure to introduce our next song, the first number one hit we ever had in Japan.”). And they played only 70 minutes.
I mean, okay, they gave us a 5 song encore after that, which was good and left me feeling not completely disappointed, but still. The headliners in the last years usually played like 2 hours…

Anyway, we made our way back to the car and arranged ourselves and fell asleep, just as it started to rain. For real this time. It still rained, when we woke up the next morning. S., who only stayed for the first show, tried to wait till it rained less to get to the shuttle bus to Salzburg city, but unfortunately, it wouldn’t stop.

Deadra and me waited. Therefore, we missed The Roots, for which I am very sorry. Finally, it stopped raining at about 4.30 and we made our way back down, through more mud than I thought possible to exist (boy, was I glad that I bought gum boots) and arrived basically as the Dirty Pretty Things played the last notes.

We got some coffee and I got a new piercing (not a new hole, just a new ball thingy). See:

(sorry for the crappy quality, it’s pretty hard to take a photo of something in your face yourself)

Afterwards we headed to IAMX and that was a great show. I love the Sneaker Pimps and though IAMX is different, there’s still this undertone that Chris Corner carries along.
And who doesn’t love a guy, who wears a Two-Face style black and white jacket (no shirt) and hat, suspenders and black and white striped socks?
Anyway, I danced till I felt like my feet would fall off and then I danced some more. Really cool stuff.

Next, we caught some of The Charlatans, who probably would be a good band, if it wasn’t for their lead singer. Tim Burgess has the charisma of a dead frog, the energy of a stoned, dead frog and the haircut of The Beatles meet Anton Chigurh. Not a good thing if you want to perform life.

Anyway, as it started to rain again, we headed for the UK Weekender stage, which was inside a tent. (And probably one of the few places, where we wouldn’t have to listen to The Hives‘ self-admiration.) Only young and relatively unknown bands played there. We saw Kingsize, who have potential, but not their own sound yet and a bit of The Indelicates, who sounded really nice and have really cool fan shirts, but unfortunately, we didn’t really have the time to listen to them, because we needed to go out into the rain and see Iron and Wine.

It was raining pretty hard, this drizzly kind of rain that you hardly see but which drenches you within minutes. And it was fucking freezing. I really envied Iron and Wine, standing underneath all those spotlights.
Their performance was really nice. Unfortunately, it was much too cold and their music is not really dance-y, so we stood an hour basically motionless in the rain. Every once in a while, Samuel Beam would be astonished that there were still people listening to him. (“You really must love music”, is what he said.)
But we do love music and I especially love his music. I rather listened to him than the Manic Street Preachers, anyway.

But after this show, we called it a day. The Rain would get into deadra’s sleeves everytime she clapped and I didn’t have a hood on my jacket. So, we let the Fantastischen Vier (Fantastic Four) be the Fantastischen Vier. They are cool, but not worth getting seriously sick.

Again, we had to fight our way through the mud, which had become even more. When we arrived at the car, we let the heater run for half an hour before we went to sleep. Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough to get our clothes dry. But both of us were prepared for that case.

Again, it rained the night through and by morning, the idyllic meadow we parked on looked like this:

A lot of people were leaving. So many, in fact, that we were afraid that they cancelled the festival. (which thankfully, they didn’t). We decided to wait if the rain stopped until five and if it didn’t, we would drive home. Fortunately, we only had to wait till 3.15, then it really stopped raining and we were on our way again. This time, the mud had increased so much that the gum boots were hardly enough (I swear, if they had been 2 cm shorter, the mud would have spilled inside). At times, we sank so much, that I was afraid that I’d lose the boots if I pulled too hard.

First thing we saw was Julia (link’s in German), an Austrian (punk) rock band. Their music’s good, better than the average Austrian band, but not my style. They also sang a song with Itchy Poopzkid (link’s in German, again), a German punk rock band with probably the stupidest name I’ve ever heard.

After them, it was The Subways‘ turn. I didn’t really know much of them before, but I like them. Nice, catchy songs and definitely one of the best shows this Frequency. And Charlotte Cooper speaks really good German (Billy Lunn not so much).

In the break between The Subways and Kaizers Orchestra, deadra got herself a Henna tattoo (real one is out of the question, needle phobia. And, in my opinion, a festival’s not the right place for that anyway). It looks really cool, don’t you think? Unfortunately, it’s fading already.

Also, it was announced that the Babyshambles cancelled. Not surpising (surprising was that, at least that’s the official story, the reason was not that Pete Doherty was too high to perform, but that he missed the flight. And the rescheduled flight as well), but a shame nonetheless. I would have liked to see them. The Babyshambles (and also the Libertines) are a good band, and Pete Doherty would be a great singer/songwriter, if he’d manage to perform every once in a while.

Kaizers Orchestra were pretty cool. Norwegian singing and still internationally successful should say it all. There show’s extravagant: They use crowbars and dust bins and their piano/accordion player, Helge Omen Kaizer,  wears a gas mask. Their tunes are catchy, they use gypsy and arabic melodies and it’s all very danceable. Plus, their lead singer, Janove Ottesen/Sjakalen Kaizer is hot.
And they gave us a almost twice as long show to make up for the missing Babyshambles.

By now, deadra and me were fighting the cold. It didn’t rain anymore, but the temperature had dropped to around 10°C, which is frickin’ freezing.

deadra: “Tea?”
me: “Yeah. I’ll go and buy the cool over knees we saw the other day. Want a pair?”
deadra: “Yes.”
me: “Who’s the next band anyway?”
deadra: “The Dropkick Murphys. Where are they from?”
me: “Don’t know. Ireland? At least, they really work with the Irish imagery.”
deadra: “Then they could be from Boston as well.”

So, I went and bought the over knees, which were the third pair of socks I was wearing. And deadra got the tea and then the Dropkick Murphys started to play and turns out, they really are from Boston.

They were good, but it’s not really my style of music. I prefer the Irish folk songs without the rock. They played a little longer as well, thanks to the Babyshambles.

Finally, it was time for The Killers. They started with Somebody Told Me, which was the right choice to get us warm again, at least a little bit. Unfortunately they slacked off a bit. But by then, deadra and me were too busy wondering about the video wall director. We were standing in the back, we depended on the screen to see more than fingersized man shaped shadows and a lot of stage lighting (very cool lighting, btw). And the director refused to show Brandon Flowers, instead showed almost exclusively Dave Keuning. I don’t insist on the main focus being on the lead singer, which is the usual thing at such events, but they never showed him, which is not normal. I mean, Flowers would move about the stage and the camera would move the other way. Flowers played one song on the piano, alone, and the camera showed the lighting.
I have some theories as to why they did this (the director has a grudge against Flowers, Flowers has a special kind of contract, it was a doppelganger singing playback, …), but when they came back for the encore, Flowers couldn’t talk, he only slurred and altogether, the show was really short. So either, Flowers was tired and jet lagged and dead on his feet or he was high and either way, he/his management didn’t want people to know.
[If you have any other theories, you’re very welcome to share.]

Well, after that, we went to see if Tricky would be as cool as he promised to be. But we didn’t stay long, because the music was so loud that you hardly could hear it, it seemed more like noise. [I’m not saying that it’s his music in general that sounds like noise. More that the sound guy at the Frequency was tired already.] And we were tired. And very, very cold.

So, we went back to the car and there, the horror struck us: we would stay another night, but so many people wouldn’t, that there was hardly any grass left and the whole place was a mud field. And there were tractors moving about, pulling people and their cars out of it because they couldn’t manage alone anymore.

We hoped, against reason, that the next day it would be better and that a VW van is probably better equipped to handle this situation than a VW Lupo. And went to sleep.

We awoke again at 4.30 in the morning, because it was too cold. Much too cold. I lay in my sleeping bag and had the choice to cover my face and start hyperventilating [I can’t stand it, if my face’s covered. Panic ensues] or probably lose my nose to frostbite. But I also couldn’t bring myself to leave the sleeping bag and start the car and wait for the heating. Fortunately, deadra could and she saved my nose.

When we woke up again, reasonably warm and ready to depart, we saw that the tractors were still at it, pulling cars out of the mud. We gathered our things and I started the car to try to see how far we would get.

Well, the answer was “not far”. I manage to turn the car around and then got stuck and ended up farther from the street than we had been parked. And then we had to wait for almost two hours until the tractor came to our rescue…

The drive home was uneventful, but my arrival home and subsequently in the bath tub was great. I don’t think I ever enjoyed warm water as much.


18 thoughts on “Mud, Rain and Good Music

  1. No worries about that, I can probably handle the multiple comments thing ;)

    It was awesome.

    I like Amanda Palmer, too. It’s just kind of a late discovery for me (a friend of mine called her blog after one of her songs and I never listened to it…)

  2. Alright. A few months back, I saw The Shins live and up until a few minutes back, I was certain nothing could top that.

    Thank you m’am for ruining my day.

    PS: I would kill to listen to Samuel Beam do a live performance of ‘House by the Sea’! Kill!

  3. Wow .. that seems like quite a festival you attended. Damn and the Fantastischen Vier still perform? I mean the last time i listened to them was back in 93. I think I still have the CD at home :)

  4. It was really cool… and yeah, the Fantastischen Vier are still really big. If you want to know, what they’ve been up to, listen to “MFG” or “Troy”. Those were the biggest hits they had these past years.

  5. been there, too..

    good review, for the bands you’ve been to at least..

    we’ve been in the camping zone so and our tents were not as rain-safe as your VW.. still, the whole experience is great, we wouldn’t mind if it rained axes :)

    for those who want more on the irish – flogging molly put on a great show, tho a bit routine, obviously, because the crowd was much too still and dead for band that played there. that’s why i think rem played the way they did. a great show, nevertheless.
    as far as dropkick murphys go, well it was one of the best shows i’ve been to, i’m not bragging but i really think we’ve made ken (casey, bass/vocals) happy because he went down the stage and sang “Kiss Me, I’m Shitfaced” with a bunch of us from the front row. It was a change, both for us and for them, i think only one more frontman left the stage to sing with the crowds.

    Finally, the killers, of course, a disappointment, even tho i don’t favor their studio performances, i expected a lot more from one of the top bands today. Their sound was a void off-centered disaster, and the screenwork, fuck, i thought they abandoned those effects in 1980s. However, the crowd was suprisingly supportive, both by number (the biggest crowd on the festival was on the killers) and groove – they sang the whole time. I think they played over playback, because the lead singer adressed the crowd only once (with “hello austria”) so basically it was obvious that something was wrong.

    This post got quite long, i hope you don’t mind, a few more things i’d like to mention and i’m off: A lot of the bands i’ve never heard of before put on a hell of a show: Jesus Christ Smokes Holy Gasoline (ska-punk-trash metal), Balkan Beatbox (balkan/gypsy flok-dub- electro) Mindless Self INdulgence (fuck if i know what that was electro-punk-something-something-core) all were very danceable and enjoyable, their performances were full of rythm and energy.. great stuff alltogether, and a great experience

    peace, nick

  6. Thanks, Nick. Of course I don’t mind you adding depth and more details to my review.

    Unfortunately I missed Balkan Beat Box – we were too late – I would have loved to see them. Same for Mindless Self Indulgence, although I don’t know them, just for the band name.

    As for the Killers – at least somebody else thought he was probably singing playback :)

    It was the fourth time I was at the Frequency, and I’ll definitely be back… but probably with a dry hotel room close by…

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