1679 words on Haldern
After the rainy yet musically satisfying Friday at Haldern and after getting a few hours of sleep, we were ready for the festival’s second day. Waking up in the morning wasn’t too bad. Sure there was a headache but there wasn’t any rain. Once everybody had gotten up, we went on to make breakfast. Which included filter coffee, south European style espresso and fried eggs in addition to the obligatory nutella (and also cheese) breads. The fried eggs and some Aspirin successfully eliminated the headache… but once that was gone the rain started again.
Because of that and some confusion on our part considering the schedule, we started the day missing Saint Thomas, a band I couldn’t find much info on beforehand and was quite keen to see. We also missed The Magic Numbers who were supposed to play next because their gig was somehow rescheduled and they ended up playing at the same time as The Coral… the first gig we went to on Saturday.
It was reasonably nice when we went for The Coral’s gig. But somehow that changed. And by the time the band started playing it was pouring down once more. Not too bad for myself, but a bit of a problem for some of my friends who had trusted the sunshine to last and didn’t have their raincoat with them. While I like The Coral, my enthusiasm for the band hasn’t been too great. In fact, I declared their new album unnecessary recently. And having such a development in mind, I feared their gig could be disappointing.
But that fear was unwarranted. They played very well. And they played a very enjoyable concert. The right thing to cheer you up and get you going for another day of music.
While we were in the right mood for more now, we went back to the tents anyway. Mainly because Moneybrother was on next. And we sort-of hate him. He’s been on on telly so many times and the cool girls on music television dig him… but we just fail to see his brilliance. It sounds like he can’t sing (they did some karaoke stuff on the one show where both Moneybrother and Adam Green sung tacky 80s karaoke stuff. And luckily the result of that was just as it should be: Adam rules and Moneybrother sucks) and I don’t like the music at all. So there we were to rest a little more. A nap here, sitting in the car while there was another downpour, sitting in the huge tent of our nice neighbours and even using their barbecue for some sausage, idly chatting, enjoying to hear the girls from Richard’s group sing, and partially dance to, the complete Mando Diao repertoire (as well as some Libertines and other nice bands) – a relaxed afternoon. So relaxed that we didn’t even get to see Phoenix.
But we did go and see Tocotronic. Tocotronic were my heroes when I left school. Their music was phantastic. Short songs, twisted lyrics, German lyrics, in fact, something that was mostly unfashionable before they came along… and many song titles starting with
Ich …, i.e. ‘I’. When I saw them at the Hurricane festival in 1998, I loved it – and was sunburnt on the half of my face that was on the sun’s side during their gig for the next week.
But times have changed. Tocotronic have become older and more established. Their songs have become longer and more sophisticated. Sure, they still make interesting lyrics. But they just sound too clever these days. Social scientists singing, I’d say. And that’s with the expression ‘Social scientist’ in the derogatory sense that you might expect to hear from a mathematician. In short, I mostly don’t like their new records. But they still have an excellent back catalogue they can use to please us.
Which they did in a small way. They played a couple of old songs – but none of my particular favourites and quite a bit of new stuff. Their gig seems to be quite controversially discussed on the Haldern Pop message board with some people loving their gig and others (most) hating it. So this may be a matter of taste.
But what really annoyed everyone I met were Dirk’s little texts to announce the next songs. He was trying to be funny and clever but they mostly weren’t. Or at least they made him look like a fool and in the wrong place. (Personally I only thought one of those was funny: where he announced their to be a cover version of Sportfreunde Stiller’s Heimatlied and then they played Aber hier leben, nein Danke. It’s quite funny but it’ll still be considered to be quite rude by most people.) Let’s just say I wasn’t too impressed.
What was quite good about that gig, though, was that we managed to get quite far to the front. And for the first ten metres or so, they had covered the ground with some solid plastic material, meaning we could stand properly and not get stuck in the mud all the time. It also meant that we were in a good starting place for the next gig. But before that started we had another hard downpour of rain… which was announced to, and did, stop during the third song of
Whew. I could see Mando Diao for the third time. Cool. They had a brilliant debut album in 2003, a good sophomore album this year and they’re even starting to be popular. So popular in fact, that I feared the Haldern festival might be swamped by little kids who spoil everything. The good news was that this didn’t happen.
If you wish, the bad news was that once again they’ve been very distant and cool rather than going for a bit of interaction with the crowd once more. Many people complained about that. But having been right there at the front with all the other enthusiastic people who managed to turn the cold and wet outdoor environment into a somewhat subtropical one within minutes, I shouldn’t complain. I enjoyed it anyway. And while I would have liked and encore as well, I quite appreciate bands who don’t do them. Encores just seem to be so fake anyway.
The closing act for the main stage were The Polyphonic Spree. They’re a huge bunch of people dressed in robes from Texas who make music. They could be religious nutters. They could be hippies. But they seem mostly harmless and making a show instead. And whether you’ve just listened to their popular Soldier Girl so far or sat through all of their 20 stages… it should be clear that they were a perfect choice as a closing act. Energetic but not agressive. Music to listen to, look at and enjoy. After the Divine Comedy along with a local orchestra had been a phantastic closing act last year, The Polyphonic Spree tried to do the same thing this year.
Which they managed to do. Less subtle, perhaps. And weirder, more entertainingly. A cool thing to see.
But despite it being nice and all, we still left the gig quite early. Because the others were already queueing at the Spiegelzelt for the next gig and we didn’t want to jump the queue too badly. The queue was quite long and we stood there for a while, meeting the girls from Richard’s group there and starting to be nervous as we heard the singing inside start while we were still way off the door.
It was Emiliana Torrini we were queueing for. Her name sounds Italian, she’s from Iceland, apparently she’s known from having sung on the Lord of the Rings soundtrack and her album has been on almost constant rotation in our flat since it appeared. My flatmate Daniel has been particularly guilty of turning this bit of ‘preparation’ for the festival into something just short of an obsession. So we just had to see her. And we did. With people trickling out of the tent, we managed to get in about half way through her concert.
Her singing was great and strong and we enjoyed it a lot. While he album sounds a bit overproduced – with the voice and guitar being too clear and separate – for my taste. That exact problem was avoided by seeing her sing life with her band. Great. And while everybody was frozen and tired from the long queue as well as pissed off by seeing numerous people just hang around in the tent and sleep or otherwise not pay attention (and thus making the queue worse for no good reason, people left with smiles on their faces. Emiliana seemed to have noticed the rude people at the back as well… and just told them to please shut up and pay attention when announcing one of her songs. Great.
With the smiles on our faces we waited a bit longer to see the very final singer of the festival: Françoiz Breut and her band. She seems to have been around for a while and collaborated with people like Yann Tiersen or Calexico at times. The wait for the stage to be set up seemed eternal and we got very tired. Her music, mostly sung in French – but I also heard Spanish – was fine. But we still left half way through the set as we everybody had gotten really tired and we didn’t want to fall asleep during a concert.
And that was that. A nice festival was over. We passed the disco they had set up and which looked like it could be cool because it was cold and we were tired.