One of the things that Claudia and I talked about when setting up this blog was covering festivals, concerts, and music events, hence (at least if I have understood correctly (little help Clau?)) the word “indie” in “Indie Road”. Festivals are a beautiful thing. They are a combination of music, food, alcohol, camping, mud, portaloos, alcohol, ruined sneakers, alcohol and alcohol. There’s nothing not to love about the feeling of freedom and about letting go, and I must confess with absolute regret, that this is something I have not experienced.
Well, at least the way I see it, is that I will continue to be a lame festival virgin until I have been camping at a multi-day music festival. That said, I have definitely been teasing with the idea with some progressive foreplay, and I can’t imagine it will be too long before I am waking up dehydrated, alone, naked, and in the wrong tent to the sound of muffled bass drums and my unknown neighbours vomiting onto the tires of their dented car. What an awesome day that will be.
So now I’m going to discuss all the aforementioned foreplay in excruciating detail until you all want to repeatedly punch me in the face. I feel that this has all been initiated due to geographical location – the Germans have got to be the best festival-goers in the world. This is apparent when you are walking around any German city and you notice that at least half of the younger population are plastered up to their elbows in damp, smelly and deteriorating festival bands dating back to the Baroque era. Since the sun dragged us all out of winter, it has been hard to get away from free music and events all over the city. Even when there’s nothing directly here, it doesn’t take long to travel to the nearest happening. It is a huge part of their summer culture, and to be honest, I have absolutely no complaints.
Fränkisches Bierfest, Nürnberg (June 2017)
My first real event of this nature was in fact not a music festival, but a festival revolving around another one of my favourite things – beer. Ever since I was a little boy, I have been raised to believe that you’re only an alcoholic if you can’t handle your alcohol, the trick is just not to let the beer beat you. Although I was graced with the presence of some very strange people, I had a jolly good evening consuming marginally too much local beer in large portions while pretending to know the words to all of the songs of the excellent cover artist playing just a few metres from our beer bench. At one point, I did fall off the beer bench, but I blame everybody else. Most importantly, entrance was freeeeeeee.
Afrikafest, Nürnberg (June 2017)
Amazingly, I found myself with a spare few hours one day and decided to throw caution to the wind. This was going on during the same weekend as the bierfest, and so many people I know were just alternating between the two (or stopping off at the bierfest to drink a beer (or four) on the way to the Afrikafest). This was a weird and wonderful combination of African fusion music, African food, African crafts, AfriactuallyGerman beer and a bridge. Entrance was also free, and we all felt wonderfully cultured and better than everybody else by the end of the evening.
Donauinselfest, Wien (June 2017)
I actually went to Vienna to see a friend of mine who is far too rock and roll to have anything to do with me, and I had absolutely no idea that I would end up walking into the largest free music event in the world. Over the course of the three days, over three million people attend to sing and dance to music spread across what must have been over twenty stages. It took us more than an hour to walk from one side of the festival to the other, and what’s more, we were sober. We really only attended two acts, which were Anti Cornettos (an energetic Viennese punk rock band) and Moop Mama (a Bavarian hip hop band composed of the same instrumentation as a traditional marching band). The atmosphere was electric, the moshing was manic, and the beer was overpriced but necessary.
So far, so good, and no money spent on entrance.
Folk im Park, Nürnberg (July 2017)
This is where the free-stuff streak ends, as the entrance was a whopping 28€ for the afternoon. That said, the beer and food were very reasonable, and so this was somewhat forgivable. As the name suggests, there were a number of folk bands playing in a park, on a very intimate stage as everybody sat on picnic blankets and quietly nodded their heads. I spent the day here with one of my favourite humans of all time and we experienced Folk’s Worst Nightmare, Burkini Beach, Marlon Williams (from New Zealand!!), Kim Janssen, Charlie Cunningham and Nick Mulvey as well as this overly enthusiastic children’s entertainer singing overtly about bubbles for extended periods of time. While the music was a little bit too slow, the atmosphere was so chilled and the weather was perfect, and everything was rather awesome. Other notable experiences was seeing the face of somebody who I met in New Zealand and accidentally bumped into in Canada and thinking “yeah nah, that can’t be her” only to find out it actually was, receiving my first ever festival band and witnessing the pure and innocent joy of a fully grown adult (at least physically) receiving a helium balloon.
Bardentreffen, Nürnberg (July 2017)
This is the big one. This is the big one! For three days a year, the city of Nürnberg makes it very difficult to be a pedestrian as the whole of the Altstadt comes alive across multiple stages and all of the pathways are packed full of buskers that all blend into each other like a weird auditory homogeneous multicultural orgy. I went along with some recurring faces on these pages (Axel the metallic flower, the Vegetarian Bavarian and #DAMMITTIM) to two out of three days of the events, picking and choosing various acts and dancing like my life depended on it but I was still doomed to die anyway. Let me tell you now, my legs are protesting against my brain.
Day one (which was day two for most people) started at The Wanderer where I simply took Axel and Tim to witness a truly cultural Franken flavour experience (chugging beer on the street), only to have our party crashed by some awesome street buskers who claimed to be a trio but clearly had four members. We took a walk around town and miraculously ran into my flatmate who had a rather beautiful and awesome friend with her who possessed a water gun and was spraying random strangers and throwing glitter in their faces, and we went to some weird and interesting experimental stuff. The night finished with a band called Meute who are an 11 piece marching band from Hamburg who play some pretty hardcore techno music. You did just read that right.
Day two (really day three) was what we were all excited for. The afternoon started with a band called The Magic Mumble Jumble from Holland who had an old school alternative gospel-rock feel as the multi-instrumentalists put every musician within a five-mile radius to shame. The afternoon was spent chilling with a multitude of different friends as some bands provided some background noise, and the day finished with a huge set from Moop Mama (again) and then Fiva X JRBB who consist of a hip hop singer, an orchestra, a wind band and a DJ, and although the set started 45 minutes late due to technical issues, the final song “Die Stadt Gehört Wieder Mir” was the highlight of the whole festival for me. The lights illuminated the light rain as everybody danced our hearts out to the final saxophone solo, and man, it was a throbbing climax I will never forget.
Klassikopenair & Stars im Luitpoldhain (August 2017)
Klassikopenair was actually happening before on the same weekend as Folk im Park, but I didn’t witness this as I was too busy warming my soul to Kiwi accented folk music, but there was another night a week after Bardentreffen. I read somewhere that there were 80,000 people there, so in the inevitable process of trying to find my friends, I was amazed to casually bump into water gun glittergirl again. The music was perfectly executed, but potentially difficult to appreciate for those with no interest in classical music. The highlights were the sombre sound of the theme of “Schindler’s List” performed next to where Hitler held his rallies, the moment when the entire crowd raised sparklers just after one of the most stunning sunsets I have ever seen, and when I was later dragged through the streets of Nürnberg on my longboard by two cyclists. Stars im Luitpoldhain was at the same venue on the next day and was mostly a showcase of Jazz musicians (although, the meaning of the word “Jazz” seemed to be a stretched by the end of the night). There were fewer people than at the Klassicopenair and no fireworks, but it a very pleasant experience to lie on the grass, to look at the stars, and to not get silenced by the people sitting next to us for talking too loud.
Brückenfest (August 2017)
By now you’re probably wondering how I’m still going, as I do like to dance like a dickhead, and there has been SO MUCH MUSIC. Honestly, I don’t know, but this is the last one (for now). Brückenfest was under the same bridge as Afrikafest, which is weird but cool, and although the music was mostly a bit techno for my liking, the company was excellent, and many a beer was consumed. It felt good to close off my run of music festivals basically where it began. Pens were stolen, Birdie Berlin’s face was glittered, and my dancing was beautifully terrible.
I have to say, with absolute sadness, that the festival is starting to come to an end, and I haven’t had the chance to breach the perimeter and to sample the warm and welcoming loins that lady festival offers when one stays a night with her. I hope that Nürnberg is as fantastic and interesting during winter, otherwise, I’m going to find myself with far too much spare time.
– Tom @ indieroad