Thursday, June 23, 2011

Enjoying the ride: Up and downs of the Hurricane festival 2011

Being on vacation from London for a while, my mostly lonesome journeys on the Hurricane Festival 2011 took me on a rollercoaster ride between "Schwing den Hammer" and "Novocaine for the soul". Impressions of the weekend following.

On the way to the festival, we were once again greeted by the impressive northern German landscape. The traffic control we got into was warmly welcomed distraction from the fields and grassing cows. I almost was a bit envious of our driver Le Büth, who was entertained with challenges like having to estimate half a minute's time or following a police officer's finger with his eyes. After an almost traffic jam free journey and having arrived on the holy acre of the festival campsite, I found shelter and my first beer under a damaged pavillion, while the others waited for their wristbands. In spite of the storm which blew around us we still managed to build up our tents and the pavillions somehow, after which we took the evening to celebrate Jörn's birthday by barbequeing and getting excited about all the great bands we were going to watch in the following days.

Not for nought, as it turned out.YOAV already was a good opener, although the single guy with his guitar seemed a bit lost on the big stage his astonishing looper compositions made up for this soundwise.

After Portugal the Man, who failed to stick in my head, I stayed at the blue stage to watch Kaizers Orchestra, who I had never seen live before, but who turned out as one of the absolute highlights of the festival. Already the intro played solo by a mysterious organist behind a gas mask was promising (although the mask seemed a bit unessential, when the most beautiful man behind it, Helge "Omen" Risa, showed his face and started to fix his hair after every line he sung or played later). After a lot of (mostly rock-polkaesque) songs sung in Norvegian, awesome guitar solos, and the unavoidable band introduction (each members lastname seems to be "Kaizer" by the way) the show found its appropriate climax in the stomping performance of "Schwing den Hammer", athmospherically supported by a lot of empty barrel beating. All in all definitely a show to remember, and for which the band was celebrated accordingly.

Afterwards, while the others returned to the tent, the evening got calmer for me. Kashmir and Elbow I enjoyed partly laying on the tribune and partly from the "behin the sound tower"-area, but still especially Elbow's ear-haunting Grounds for Divorce sticked. The evening was crowned however by the performances of Portishead and Arcade fire, and while the former sent me spiralling down a black hole emotionally with their atmospheric soundbeds and sad-lullaby lyrics, the latter put me up singing and dancing again with their powerful songs from the "Suburbs" album. A perfect end of the evening for me so I missed the Chemical Brothers on purpose to return to the tent for a chat and a good night drink with Bördy.

After having drawn strenght from instant cappucino with lacing of Whiskey the next morning, my first act on Saturday was Monster Magnet, which although Dave Wyndorf seemed to have had a few more lacings than all of us together put up a good opening show for the day, of course with Space Lord at the end. Still a bit tired from the day before and on my own, I watched half of Gogol Bordello from behind the sound tower, before I noticed I wasn't in the right mood and went to the white stage to dance that mood away to more raving tunes :) It was only after left-wing rave band Egotronic had left the stage that I returned from that flush. When Frittenbude started playing their teenage-romance love songs it was enough for me, and as the Kaiser Chiefs were going to perform past midnight, I decided to party on at the Open-Air stage next to the party tent next to the campsite exit, and call it a day afterwards, visiting the neighbors and letting the school children among them have part of my wisdom in exchange for beer. The right decision, as I have been told afterwards by my friends who watched the band.

While the others headed off again early on Sunday to watch the first bands around noon, I took my time to relax in my camping chair as the first band I was going to listen to originally were the Hives on the green stage at around seven. So while the others went out in the pouring rain I kept watch under the pavillion like a captain on a sinking ship, and even managed to hold it for three more hours, before it breath out its live in a salto mortale over one of our tents and came to its final resting position bug-wise. Fortunately I found shelter with the neighbors and shared a bit of accident-damaged chili with them in their tent before I went to watch the Hives, only to notice I wasn't interested in watching them anymore when I heard there were a lot of people cueing for the Eels at the red stage tent already.

As the Eels were an absolute must for me, I bade my friends farewell again and headed off to the tent, to be rewarded with admission after a quarter hour and a great performance by the Kills who reminded me a bit of the White Stripes in exchanged roles, VV alias Alison Mosshart being the frontwoman of the combo and guitarist Jamie Hince mainly sticking to his instrument. Although their music failed the comparison to Jack and Meg, it was still rocking and shortened the time until the Eels took stage, together with a chat I had with some students sitting on the ground.

When they finally did take stage, it was even more amazing as expected. From the opener on, the whole tent was on fire, celebrating all the hits of the combo shook from their sleeves, who seemed all to be dressed up as copys of front man Everett, with beards and shades. The whole show was mainly dance and sing-along-oriented, which seemed to be the right strategy for the occasion as the audience proved to be extremely versatile on the text side. I can't even emphasize a special moment, it was a nearly perfect show all the way.

The Klaxons, which I stayed for in the tent mainly to avoid the rain and stand my ground against the young pogo-beginners in the tent around me, and the Foo Fighters on the main stage were as solid as expected and closed the Festival in a good way.

As we had already carried our stuff to the van, all there was left to do for me was to wait, first for the others, then for the car line to clear on the park site and then for our dedicated drivers to drive me back to Cologne, where I arrived on time for breakfast, tired and dirty but happy after a great, for me new-style festival experience.

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