August 2010 - The Live Show Retrospective Part XV


18. Aug. 2010, 14:36

Hi folks,

as I have to write a insanely long review for the festival, I spare you the usual jibber-jabber and cut right to the chase.

08/04/2010 - Lagwagon w/ No Use for a Name and Radio Havanna - SO36

When two of your favorite punk bands from your teenage days are playing a show together, would you accept the call, even if it was a Thursday night? You would, if it were the FatWreck-flagships No Use For A Name and Lagwagon. So we put on the old shoes, got excited like pimply pubic teens an stroke off to the SO36.
We arrived around 8:30 pm, hoping that support act Radio Havanna had already finished their set, sadly we were mistaken as they didn't start until 9 pm. Their monotonous mixture of every German punk band from Wizo over Die Toten Hosen to you name it bored me very quickly and I don't feel the urge to waste my time continuing with my review on them. There.
Around 10 pm No Use for a Name entered the stage with yet another new Intro, which I don't really recall, I guess it was some electronic tune. Anyhoo, the well filled SO was bursting with anticipation and sure enough the band knew how to convert this size D firecracker into a nuclear bomb of jauntiness. I don't know with which song they started their set, but to be honest, it doesn't really matter because NUFAN can have played any song and the fans would still have gone crazy like they did. With Christ Rest on Guitar. they fired one hit after another for approximately 50 minutes, giving the ones willing to dance no opportunities to catch a breath, as you can see from this list of songs, I remember they played

Setlist (incomplete, not the correct order)
International You Day
Justified Black Eye
The Trumpet Player
Dumb Reminders
On The Outside
The Biggest Lie
Under The Garden
The Answer Is Still No
For Fiona
Not Your Savior
Chasing Rainbows
I Want To Be Wrong
Coming To Close
Feeding The Fire

After a furious finish with "Feeding the fire", I quickly visited the bar to fill up with the non-alcoholic liquids I've lost during the non-stop pogo and prepared myself for the next one.
Sadly, the break was very long which ruined the great atmosphere that build itself during NUFAN's set and it wasn't until 11:30 pm that Lagwagon appeared on stage. I haven't seen them for four years up to that day and so I was excited whether they still got their great entertainment skills or if their song "Falling Apart" was more omen than bogus. I must say it was neither here nor there. The band really made an effort to satisfy fans of all periods from the bands two decades of existence. Though that was nice, the band seemed rather dull and the spark I remember from previous concerts, that usually kept jumping from the band to the audience and back was taking a break that night. However, the 70 minute set featured the following songs

Setlist (incomplete, not the right order)
Change Despair
After You My Friend
Island Of Shame
Give It Back
Making Friends
Wind In Your Sails (personal highlight)
Falling Apart
Alien 8
Heartbreaking Music
Razor Burn
The Kids Are All Wrong
May 16th

and I was already almost completely satisfied with it, but the encore turned it up a notch. Now get this, they called the guys from No Use on stage and performed a memorable version of Motörhead's "Ace of Spades" and the SO36 just went crazy. So a above average evening luckily got it's highlight finish and after all, I was glad that we attended this show, even though we were about to see both bands at the Open Flair festival as well.

(Sorry for the crappy review, I just couldn't vanquish myself to get started right away and as time passed and I realized how much time the stupid review for the OF festival will consume, I just wanted to get it over with)

08/12/2010 - 08/15/2010 - Open Flair Festival - Werdchen, Eschwege

Nothing says „Rock’n’Roll“ more than four days of non-stop live music, camping, canned food and sleep deprivation. That’s why I decided to go to a festival again, for the first time in six years. At first, we had casted our eyes at the Highfield Festival near Leipzig, but when I read the line-up for the Open Flair Festival in Eschwege near Kassel, the decision where to go to was a real toughie. In the end, we let the ticket price be the determining factor and so signs were pointing to the Open Flair. A choice we wouldn’t regret.

Day 1 - Thursday

After a four hour car ride through a monsoon-like rainstorm from Berlin to Eschwege, we arrived at the already intensively crowded festival area and had some problems parking our car on the soaking wet crop field that served as the parking site. We paid the pretty high price of 15 Euros to get access to the camping site and found us a nice spot to camp right in the middle of the area. After unpacking the car and setting up our tent, we decided to skip the acts on Thursday night (Mr. Irish Bastard, Mofa, Dúné, Sondaschule and Großstadtgeflüster) in favor of eating out, organizing our festival wristbands and wandering through the city center of Eschwege. We returned to our tent and sat in front of it for another couple hours, talking to people passing by, taking in the atmosphere that only a festival entails and preparing ourselves for the next exciting three days.

Day 2 - Friday

Since I started my job, can’t sleep longer than 9 a.m. so I got up rather early and stepped out of the tent. Not that many people were awake, but the ones who were looked tired and tuckered. I went back to the car and as I noticed the field had dried a little bit over night, I came to the conclusion to move my car closer to the edge of the field so I could get of it without a problem, even if the forecasted rain for Sunday and Monday really came. In retrospective, a wise choice. When I returned to the tent, Thomas was already up and we decided to once again to the city center to have breakfast and discover a little bit more of the town. We were probably two of a handful of festival visitors, who also did some cultural exploration of Eschwege, but this was very nice as the weather was nice and we got a great view over the festival and camping area from the city’s “Nikolaiturm”. After a quick lunch at our tent, the musical program was about to start and we were ready for the first bands

1:45 pm - No Use for a Name (45 min = full set)
It has only been ten days since I’ve seen them the last time, but I was looking forward to their show nonetheless. They played on the smaller Stage (the “Freibühne”) and had some technical difficulties at first, but the roadie was able to fix Tony’s guitar pretty quickly, so not that much time passed idly. Plus it was fun to watch the band members of Lagwagon and NOFX hanging around backstage and hearing El Hefe from NOFX playing Matt’s bass. After this short intermission, it was back to business and with NUFAN, that means a Punk Rock show at its finest. The sun was heating up the circle pit furthermore and the only thing cooling down the dancing fans were the security people hosing the people or passing on water bottles. A good choice, as the setlist let no opportunities for breaks. Seeming as a shortened version of the Berlin setlist, they fired out one hit tune after another and the people kept singing, shouting and screaming along to songs like “Justified Black Eye”, “Invincible”, “Chasing Rainbows”, “Dumb Reminders” and “Feeding the Fire”. Whoever has the complete setlist, let me know. After 45 minutes of intensive dancing and singing, soaking with sweat and having hay sticking all over my body (as it was lying on the “dance floor”, very slippery to dance on), we left the festival area and went back to the car to drink something and avoid the overpriced festival beverages, so we skipped Liquid Lightening entirely.

3:20 pm - Lagwagon (55min = full set)
I could pretty much just copy and paste the NUFAN review, as I’ve also seen them just ten days prior to this show too and they also played on the same stage. But unlike NUFAN, who were equally good on that day as they were at the Clubshow in Berlin, Lagwagon were able to shift their set in comparison to the one in Berlin. The whole band seemed to be more playful, just like I remembered them from older concerts. The Caper showed up in a hilarious ensemble of bright Hip-Hop clothes and all band members had big grins on their faces the whole time. My already weakened voice had to suffer some more as I had to sing along to old and new hit tunes from throughout their entire catalog like “Alien 8”, “Give it Back”, “Violins”, “Falling Apart”, “Heartbreaking Music” and of course “May 16th”. But the highlight was once more the bombastic version of Motörhead’s “Ace of Spades” with the members of No Use For A Name. This song once more finished me off and we had to skip Therapy? and Skindred all together to recover from these two great shows.

6:00 pm - Blumentopf (30 min = half set)
Well, as I’m not a big fan of Hip-Hop, my expectations were quite low when we went to watch “den Topf”. I didn’t like their set that much, that’s why we just made it halfway through it. My respect for the fact that they had a live band to play their songs, but other than that I got bored with them pretty quickly. Not my cup of tea. We left early and also skipped the show of 3 Feet Smaller.

8:00 pm - NOFX (90 min = full set)
It has been six years since I’ve last seen NOFX, so I was excited and skeptical at the same time. Since 2003, their albums have been going downhill in my eyes and I haven’t heard good things about their recent live skills, but hey, if they play the old hits, nothing could go wrong I thought. And I was absolutely right. With their tiny NOFX-Flag in the background, not even hanging straight, they entered the stage on time and opened with “Dinosaurs will die” and instantly two bit pits evolved, which later merged into one massive pit. And of course they played all the old hits like “Stickin’ in my eye”, “Franco Un-American”, “Bottles to the ground”, “Kill all the White Man”, “Murder the Government” and “Eat the Meak”, but the best thing was that they played their ’95 album “punk in drublic” in its entirety. I couldn’t believe it when Mike announced it, but after the fifth song of this record I was sure he wasn’t lying. They could not have picked a better album to play it live. Best set of NOFX I’ve ever witnessed. Also, because they haven’t lost any of their entertaining skills. This show will stick with me for a while.

We scrubbed the Levellers and Jan Delay in order to get our and other sweat off by taking a swim in the nearby Werratal-lake. It was nice and we were able to regenerate for the last show of the day

12:30 pm - Mad Caddies (60 min = full set)
So the Mad Caddies were designated to round off an admittedly FatWreck-heavy day and I was glad, as my bones and bruises were ailing and my voice was severely damaged from singing along to every NOFX song that night, so I hoped I could give my body and my voice a rest. Well, at least my body was spared further maltreatment, but my voice had to suffer a little bit more. But honestly, who could just stand there quietly when the Caddies play songs like “Lay Your Head Down”, Leavin’”, Weird Beard”, Road Rash”, “Monkeys” and even put their cover version of “S.O.S.” on the setlist? No one, that’s who, so I threw caution to the wind and enjoyed the last show of the day to the fullest. The atmosphere so close to the lake was pretty cool and there enough people in front of the stage standing in for me and the band obviously enjoyed the show as they came for a one song encore. That sure was a nice finale for the first day of Open Flair 2010

Day 3 - Saturday

After a short night and a quick shopping for groceries, we got ready fort he first band of the day.

2:00 pm - Streetlight Manifesto (60 min = full set)
It was pretty crowded at the entrance as the septet from Brunswick, NJ was the first band that day that was worth leaving the camping site for and once more walk the 10 minutes to the festival area. Sadly, we missed about three songs waiting in line, but were able to get very close to the stage either way since obviously not that many people were already up on their feet yet. A small pogo had developed in front of the stage nonetheless, and it was nice to see that enough people were dancing to the tunes of SLM, so the band didn't feel to be incongruous (or at least they didn't show it). As my bones were still aching, I decided to catch their great songs like "Somewhere In The Between", "A Moment of Silence/Violence", Point/Counterpoint", "We Will Fall Together" and of course "Down, Down, Down To Mephisto's Cafe" from a safe distance. It was a nice show, the sun came out and the weather and music formed a beautiful symbiosis and sure my voice was fearing the day once again as I couldn't help but singing along. Their set made me regret the fact that I choose not to catch their clubshow in Berlin a few days earlier. But there's always next year.

3:00 pm - Broilers (45 min = 3/4 set)
Well, I mainly watched their set because I didn't want to leave the festival area until after the following band so I gave them a shot. Not bad actually, with nice brass parts but over all to slick and I'm not a huge fan of German lyrics. Don't feel the urge to see them again, but I sure understand why they appear to be quite popular.

4:00 pm - Against Me! (60 min = full set)
One of my highlights and one of the reasons I choose the Open Flair over the Highfield festival. Sure, I've seen them play in Berlin this May and I'm going to see them again in November, but I can never get enough of my favorite band. Especially since they are in such a good mood lately and play their butts of, despite of how many people are joining the pit. It was a little sad that it was that empty and only a few people seemed to know and/or enjoy their songs. But to hell with them, I had a great time dancing and singing to the well-mixed setlist that featured songs like "Miami", "Don't Lose Touch", "Thrash Unreal", "White People For Peace", "High Pressure Low", I Was A Teenage Anarchist" and the unparalleled classics "Pints Of Guinness Make You Strong", "Walking Is Still Honest" (once more the slower version) and "Sink, Florida, Sink". Exhausted, hoarse, hurt, extremely wet (mainly due to massive hoasing of the security folks) but happy, I left the pit after a good hour, with the feeling that I've probably just witnessed one of the best shows of the whole weekend (independent from my affection for this band). This band reduced their live appearances to what they can't do best and that is playing amazing songs. I don't mind the occasional joke or chit chatting with the audience, but for AM!, less is more. And even if it seems rude or arrogant, don't let these first impressions fool you. If you've been to a couple of their concerts, you learn to appreciate their quietness as you can never hear enough songs. Fact
We skipped Turbostaat in favor of eating a pizza in the city and returned for the next great band on the list

6:00 pm - The Gaslight Anthem (60 min = full set)
Folk-Punk overkill this day. Ah, not quite as TGA reduced their folkish style and exchanged it for the bluesier sound, that imprints their latest album "American Slang". I've only seen this band once before, but they put up a great show at the Kato last year (see my live show retrospectice part II) and played a cool mix of both albums. Sadly, their set at the Open Flair was more focused on the newer, slower songs and even the few old tunes were obviously picked because they are rather quiet. So I wasn't able to enjoy the show at the fullest as a little resentment against the setlist could not be calmed. The atmosphere was great though, the audience was grateful, the band seemed to have a good time, the weather was excellent and with the slowly setting sun, this show spread a cool vibe, but for an epic show, that was just not the right soundtrack. Still worth the wait.

8:00 pm - Ska-P (60 min = 2/3 set)
We arrived 30 minutes after SKA-P had started their set and it was insanely crowded. I'm not gonna spoil it for everyone who hasn't seen this band yet. Go check them out if you can, it's not just a Ska-Punk show on a high level, it's more like a big circus with great music. Just brush up on your Spanish skills as they still refuse to talk any English on stage (which is not really clever if you talk about political issues to an audience, that doesn't speak Spanish). But other than that a fun show, I really have to give it to these guys.

9:30 pm - Madsen (60 min = full set)
I don't think I want to say much about this band. I'm really not a big fan of German lyrics and i consider their songs to be pretty mediocre. But there are obviously a lot of people who would disagree as it was very very crowded in front of the smaller stage and one could hardly see the stage. They played a set without memorable incidents and as I only knew two songs, I don't know if their set was well mixed or whatever. Can cross them of my "to see live" list, but could have lived without their appearance.

10:30 pm - The Hives (90 min = full set)
This show was without a doubt the biggest surprise of the whole weekend. I've expected at least good shows of all the bands before and they all delievered, especially NOFX. But even though I've heard from many people that The Hives play awesome live shows, I didn't expect it to be that great. Not only did they manage to fill the 60 minutes of music with mainly songs I knew and artistic performances, they also filled the other 30 minutes with great stories, hilarious actions and crooked German announcements. I actually wanted to leave early to go swimming as the day before but just couldn't wrest myself free of this ridiculously amazing show. That's one band I have to keep far up on my "must see live again" list.

We caught the last song of Dendemann on the Seebühne on our way to the car and listened to Klee while taking another swim (both not really mentionable) and returned to our tent around 1:30 am to hang a bit and get ready for the last day filled with music and a little "exercise"

Day 4 - Sunday

After two rounds of miniature golf (we both won one round each) and a rather small lunch we headed for the first act we wanted to see that day. He had already missed Arcona Comes, Jona:S, Timid Tigerand Livingston but we were able to listen to these bands as the miniature golf course was very close to the festival area. And as measured by what we head, that wasn't a great loss, especially as it started pouring with rain. So we finished the 36th hole with aqualung on the course and set off for

4:00 pm - Papa Roach (55 min = almost full set)
Man, I haven't seen this band for almost a decade. They were the second band I saw playing live ever, those were the wild days. Well, what to say. Their NuMetal style hasn't changed at all (at least to my ears) and so I'm not sad that I haven't kept track of their career. I was just waiting for their "hits" Between Angels and Insects" and "Last Resort". But except for Jacoby's jaunt into the audience, this show featured no memorable moments. So we left early and skipped Das Pack to change into dry clothes.

6:00 pm - Bela B (60 min = full set)
Ever since I've been to a Farin Urlaub solo gig, I wanted to see Bela B. and his fellow musicians (the Los Helmsteds) as well, but what we got to witness wasn't worth the anticipation at all. Being a big Die Ärzte fan, I was just disappointed by the fact, that the Graf wasn't able to entertain the audience without his two band mates. The setlist featured mainly new songs, which I think are weaker than the tracks from the record "Bingo" and his sad attempts to communicate with the audience were just opportunities for vicarious embarrassment on the highest level. I'd really like to erase the memory of this concert before the next DÄ gig, or I will never be able to enjoy it as I justed to.

7:00 pm - Blood Red Shoes (60 min = full set)
Well, I'm almost a bit suspicious about bands, that only consist of two instruments like a guitar and drum (I mean, what about a bass?) but as it seems to work for some bands like the White Stripes or the Ting Tings, I decided to give this duo from Brighton a shot. I checked out only a couple of songs on their myspace page in advance to this show, but I actually liked what I heard. And I enjoyed their live show as well, even thought the diversity of sound is more limited with only two instruments and the songs sounded very much alike. So these two rather shy musicians played an energetic set of 60 minutes and that was the perfect length you can listen to this music without getting bored. So if you get a chance to check them out, consider it.

8:00 pm - Bad Religion (90 min = full set)
Along with NOFX, another dinosaur of punk rock genre played the main stage of the Open Flair 2010, and this archaic act was Bad Religion. I was surprised how many people were attending their show, but after a while I understood why that was. Despite the fact that they are like the Rolling Stones of punk, they put up a hell of a show. If only I knew more songs, I would have been able to sing along. Time went by rather slow as the average BR song is only 2 minutes long and so after 12 songs, only half an hour had passed even it felt like an hour. But Greg and the rest of the band seemed to enjoy the show and they were very talented with entertaining the audience. All in all a solid show. Would probably not check them out again, but I don't regret going to their show either. It is definitely too late for me now to concern myself with this band now.

9:30 pm Wir sind Helden (60 min = full set)
As the day before, a well known German act was supposed to play on the smaller stage and so, it was getting really crowed very quickly as it did before the Madsen show. And as the day before, I was watching a show of a band I always kinda wanted to see, but not so badly that I would have payed to solely. I like most of the tunes of this pioneer of female-fronted German Pop-Rock, but the general sound is too soft for me. I was pleased that they played all of their hits along with some new tracks which also sounded pretty nice, but now that I've seen them, I don't think I must see them again. Their communication with the audience was okay, but not what I'm used to from other German acts like the Beatsteaks or the band to follow. Let's just say, it was an above average show with many chances to sing along, even if you just know this band from the charts and that it's worth to catch them at an opportunity like this festival anyway. But you need to be a full-grown fan to enjoy them at a headliner gig.

10:30 pm - Fettes Brot (90 min = full set)
Last band that night, in fact the last band of the festival was the German HipHop trio from Hamburg. Predictably, this was the best-frequented show of them all, since their music is really suitable for everybody, as it features German sing-along parts at it's finest (e.g. Bettina, Schwule Mädchen, Emanuela) for the fans, a full band line-up for the rock fans and rather clean lyrics for the parents. They played mainly their best known songs, which gave everybody at least once the chance to sing along and it prevented the audience from getting bored. Their little anecdotes and stories were entertaining and not too dominating. All in all a nice show and a felicitous closure of a great festival. Well done, boys

Day 4 - Monday

After a short night, it was time for us to pack our stuff and head home. We were lucky that we didn't need any help getting off the parking site as I cleverly parked my car on an asphalted street the night before. And since most people set off for home Sunday night, we were able to leave the city without any traffic. We arrived in Berlin around 1:30 pm after a 3 hour drive and at least I was glad I could enjoy the benefits of the normal civilization like real toilets, showers and a real bed. It's good to be home, even after such an exquisite festival. Hope to see you next year, Eschwege...

Yeah well, that's it for August. No shows in September, but I see you in October for some shows of Frank Turner (Yeah!!), Dead To Me and the Mad Caddies. Let's just hope I'm more motivated to write the reviews by then.


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