The big day! Somehow the festival organisers decided to cram all the good bands into the Saturday. Which made the day very exhausting. But – first things first – we had to drink instant coffee because my friend had brought the cooker and the filter but had managed to forget the filter coffee (among other things) that goes with it. Another omission was the pan and the eggs, both of which make getting up in the unpleasant situation that is a campground a lot more tolerable. To start this day off extra miserably, it was quite chilly. And it was raining. Which is where the party tent came in handy as we could at least be in there rather than crammed into tiny tents.
As noon came near – and damn me do these hours of discomfort last long with the only pleasure being an iPod with speakers that had made it to the campground somehow and prepared us for the day – the weather improved and there were even a few minutes of sun. Finally we moved out of the safe tent and first had to grab some food. I picked a Chinese stall and the food was easily the worst Chinese food I ever had. Yucky, greasy, disgusting and making me feel sick. But at the same time good at fighting a hangover which was a main objective of that plan.
And then the music started for us. First with The Bravery playing, whose music always seems a bit too poppy to me but is charming enough to make you smile and cheesy enough to put on at any party. And I guess their gig was enjoyable. I still have to make up my mind whether the ‘real’ setup on stage which made them sound less slick and synthetic is a good or a bad thing. While that slickness is a big part of their music, I still lean towards the former.
Next on were Virginia Jetzt. I always thought their music was quite charming – particularly their first EP – but also a bit too nice to be great. They played a number of their charming songs and a few of the duller ones and their singer really liked talking. Very few singers are good at that. Very few. Still sort of enjoyable and with a nice logo behind the stage.
Next on were The Sounds. I sort of enjoyed their music at Hurricane last year but found it a bit disappointing on CD afterwards. And they didn’t disappoint, the music was enjoyable again when coming from a stage. Even more enjoyble even while sitting down. But hey – look at the screen in the back!
Slowly things were starting be more serious and Mogwai came on next. I like Mogwai and their music is great. So dedicated to noise. And in a very serious and unironic way (give or take a knitted woolen hat). Not many people make this kind of effort. And go on stage without silly jumping around or at least having some lead singer type of person. And make people like them! Seriously cool, coolly serious music. Best enjoyed loud and close to the stage. Which I made an attempt to do, thus noting that the volume levels were very reasonable at the festival – loud but not painful.
Once Mogwai got going I saw that there was a queue to get into the area right in front of the stage for the next gig. And that the queue was quite short. With Arcade Fire being the next band to come up, I did a bit of queueing (in their somewhat random/idiotic system) and watched Mogwai more from the side for a while. Because, uh, Arcade Fire were the main reason for me to come. After seeing them in Köln two years ago I just needed to see them again. After standing through a bit of rain there next to a bunch of very vivid tiny Italian girls and after (this really sucked!) the set up for the band needing 15 minutes longer than it should have, the band came on.
When seeing them in Köln I had fears that their music wouldn’t translate to an open air stage. A fear which turned out to be completely unwarranted. So this time I wondered how they’ll do on a huge open air stage. I actually was quite optimistic about that. And even that didn’t do them justice. And nor could any description of mine. Their music and their gig were just fantastic beyond words.
I’ll leave it at that. The problem was that they really ruined (well not quite ruined) the rest of the day for me because any other band just seemed old-fashioned, boring, dull and lifeless in comparison. For example Modest Mouse whom I saw afterwards (after just missing Tokyo Police Club, unfortunately) and who weren’t at all bad, just seemed dull to me. Even the crappy photo I took of them didn’t want to be in focus.
With things overlapping a bit, I still managed to see a few songs at the Bloc Party gig. I think they’re an OK band and certainly did well and a good show. But that’s about it. One thing to learn from the kids there: If you are standing way bac and don’t really see the band, look at the huge screens. If you want to take a photo of the band, just take a photo of the screens. That doesn’t make terribly much sense to me. But it works.
Next on at the second stage were the Manic Street Preachers. I never really got into their music but I know a few people who are absolutely crazy about it. I also figured that getting in at the front would ensure me having a good place for seeing Bright Eyes afterwards. Afterwards I have to tell that the Manics surely have dedicated fans. But that I’ll not be one of them. And their bassist has a bit of a problem with thinking he doesn’t get enough attention it seems. It seems mostly unnecessary to jump around like hell when playing bass – which is four strings, pretty much one at a time, the last time I checked. On the other hand, their keyboard and second guitar player were hidden somewhere at the back of the stage. Uh? At least I took what is pretty much the only decent photo of the weekend during the gig:
Bright Eyes came on afterwards with a whole orchestra and all of them were dressed totally in white. I was a bit disappointed by that. And I think it was overdoing it and killing the ‘whiney boy with guitar’ charme you usually associate with Bright Eyes. Things became a bit better when the orchestra left, but I still wasn’t persuaded to stay all the way to the end – I was supposed to meet my friends anyway.
Somehow we didn’t manage to meet, but I got to see a bit of Marilyn Manson instead. While the guy seems to be funny and all, I’m just not a friend of his music. And the whole thing seems to be about the persona anyway. More an ‘act’ than a band or so. The show looked quite elaborate but it definitely isn’t my cup of tea.
I was keener on seeing Aerogramme anyway. Their ‘The quickest way of ending a war is to lose it’ shirts at the merch stall amused me when I saw them (but weren’t pretty enough to actually get one) and I enjoyed their Story in White album. I was shocked to see how old the band are – having thought they’d be much younger. The music was all right, although I thought it lacked some of the lightness I had perceived in their album.
The final gig of the night were Interpol. I have a bit of a mixed relationship to their music because I always think I like it but I’m sometimes disappointed when I actually hear it. Still, their gig was solid and if I hadn’t seen Arcade Fire before, I may have even though it was great.
After that gig it was two o’clock. I had been running around in rubber boots which are two sizes too large all day and because of the mud everywhere I pretty much stood all the time. My feet were aching like hell and all I wanted was to lie down and get some rest. Which I almost got but I made the mistake of drinking a lot of water before going to sleep and not having had enough alcohol to be able to just ignore the noises from the rest of the campground.
Next: Hurricane Sunday