660 words on Haldern
During the first days of the festival the weather was tolerable but not good and many of the bands were ‘interesting’ rather than great. Both of these things improved on the last day. While it wasn’t proper summer that returned, the sun did come out for most of the day and let us enjoy the lake they have behind the festival grounds. After returning from that - plus cruising to town pimp-style to eat some cake - things became rather excellent musically as well.
Okkervil River played in the afternoon and they were very good and much more loud and lively than one might expect from their albums. Extra brownie points their drummer who not only did the job with a necktie but was smiling and apparently enjoying himself all the way through. Welcome to Happy Drummer Day!
The ‘Fink’ playing in the tent apparently were some English band going by that name rather than the English one, which made us just wait for the next band on the main stage. Perhaps the word ‘act’ would be more appropriate for Jamie Lidell and his costumed music troupe. No sir, I didn’t like it, even though some parts of the music may have been reasonably ‘interesting’.
An early escape from Jamie Lidell gave us plenty of time to be in the - at that stage hardly existing - queue for the Spiegelzelt to see Alamo Race Track. They turned out to be very good and played an excellent set. With a happy-looking drummer, btw.
We saw the beginning of Iron & Wine’s gig on the main stage afterwards. I spontaneously rated their sounds as ‘hippie music’ - but on the boring side without the magic and intensity that The Magic Numbers bring to the genre. In the Spiegelzelt late at night this might have been nice. But in the afternoon on the main stage we went for a quick bite instead.
That way we were a bit rested for The National. Their music is tricky. On the one hand it is very intense; but on the other hand it isn’t punchy or fast, so it’s a bit difficult to judge how things work out. People may find it dull. For me things worked well though. They made good use of the live setting to be a bit more energetic than on their albums and gave us a reasonably noisy set without skipping on details like the brass or their crazy violinist (at which speed and overdone arm movements does a violin stop sounding better than violin mode on a keyboard?).
Their singer caused discussions later on. Some people seemed to think he has some sort of psycho problem because of the way he acted and how he liked turning the back to the audience whenever he wasn’t singing. I just thought he tried to be polite to not distract from the band. It’s a thin line between craziness and genius I guess.
The last band on the main stage were Maxïmo Park. I tried liking them but I keep thinking they’re mediocre at best. Their singer is a clown who behaves like an overly excited participant in high school theatre while the rest of the band just stand there disconnectedly. Reading stuff from notebooks isn’t clever, having a superfluous diaeresis in your band (or new economy corporation) name isn’t either. Bonus points for a nice and clean stage design though. When did ‘stage designer’ become a job title?
And that was that. There was too much of a queue to get into the Spiegelzelt again afterwards to see Scott Matthew and too much tiredness to stand things out until he was finished to see Ólafur Arnalds, who might have been interesting to see, afterwards.