1109 words on Haldern
Recovering from the long night wasn’t too bad – although naturally there wasn’t too much sleep to be had in the middle of a campground full of music fans. When getting up the weather looked lightly clouded and not threatening, which was a good cue to leave the tent and make some breakfast. While – to put it mildly – I’m not a big friend of camping, I quite enjoy the slow making of coffee and fried eggs sitting in front of a tent. It’s very relaxing… and you don’t even have to walk around. You can even just throw away those paper plates after finishing without the need for washing up (we did take proper mugs for the coffee, though, so this point doesn’t really hold).
There was plenty of time for procrastination before the music started again. Although, strangely, that time did pass rather quickly in the end and we went to see some more bands soon. On entering the festival grounds themselves, it became apparent that people had done a great job fighting all the water and mud that came there with the rain. Most of the area in front of the stage had been covered in saw dust to soak up the liquid and I heard people say that the fire brigade was there to pump away the water.
Everybody must have heard a song or two by The Rifles as I’m pretty sure to have heard songs like Local Boy or Repeated Offender in some local clubs before. And while I’d say that some of their songs are a bit dull and they’re not all that brilliant in total, they still have quite a few nice songs that will leave people pleased. Not the most exciting gig, but still a nice one.
I found Islands to be a difficult band to watch. While their music definitely had its moments and was nice to listen to, I didn’t like watching them: Seven people, who are somewhat – but not really – uniformised and dressed up in white clothes with a dash of colour, wildly ‘emotionally’ jumping violinists and so on just made their show look too much like a theatre play than like a band playing.
With their choice of ‘exotic’ instruments for pop music and their over-acting, it often looked like they are going for ‘interestingness’ rather than for the music. And it made it hard for me to tell whether they’re a young band who are overly excited or a wet dream of a Canadian record executive wanting to build ‘a second Arcade Fire’ but missing the real points.
After Islands finished, Guillemots came on (I learned that a guillemot is a bird which is called Lumme in German and which I had never heard of before). But we just listened to them from a distance, sitting in the shade with some drinks and crêpes, which they made good music for.
I wasn’t too impressed when seeing The Kooks at the Hurricane festival recently, thinking that the whole clarity which makes their album nice was lost there. And I think they sounded better this time along. Still a bit on the poppy side for your average indie-snob, but quite enjoyable nonetheless.
After that gig we went back to the tent – preferring a barbecue to singer-songwriterdom.
But we were back in time to see The Divine Comedy who – together with a local orchestra – were a great closing band for the festival in 2004. And while Neil Hannon came on stage with the looks to match the occasion back then, he looked like a sixteen year old fashion victim when he came on stage this time, which I found a bit disappointing.
The music was nice nonetheless, although I have to admit that I consider many of the songs to be quite similar and hard to tell apart. But while I’d consider actively listening to The Divine Comedy at home a bit boring, seeing them play live is good.
And while they weren’t as great without the orchestra as they were with it, and while I can see how closing with the same band twice in three years would have been bad style, I would have very much liked that because the band who actually closed the main stage – The Twilight Singers – were the only band I immediately grew to actively dislike. Old men rock music or so. As the others felt similarly we left early to get into the Spiegelzelt in time… which many other people did as well. Enough to give us an opportunity to enjoy queueing, but few enough for us still to get in before the gig started.
I had heard some Ed Harcourt stuff before the festival and thought it was a bit dull. So I was pleasantly surprised to see a gig in the Spiegelzelt which not only fitted the environment perfectly, with an actual acoustic piano and proper acoustic bass, but also wasn’t dull. To top things off, they got the guys from James Dean Bradfield (whom we didn’t see playing in the afternoon) and some girls from the audience to join making the music in between.
Great stuff and – as we skipped the very final gig of Kante because of general tiredness – a great way to end the musical indulgences of the festival.
I’m a bit split about this year’s Haldern. The was all right in total. And I was there with many friends which was great. I also thought that the organisers did quite a good job to make our stay enjoyable, by doing their best to fight the mud and providing things like running water, sufficiently many toilets and such like (although I thought there used to be more and better food stalls a few years back). On the other hand, I don’t think any of the gigs I saw was outstandingly exciting. There were good ones, for sure, just none really standing out for my taste. And that would have topped things off, of course.
I can’t completeley endorse Islands, but their debut album is pleasant enough.