(from MOG) My Southside Festival 2010 review

Posted on 24.03.2011

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Hello, here I am!

So. Southside.

I’d like to start by saying a few things:
~ I had a bad experience at age 5 with a can of bug spray and have never gone camping since then

~ I was being RULL optimistic about the weather: the reports initially called for 3 days of sun and then slowly deteriorated into rain forecasts. I didn’t want to believe them.

~ I’ve been meaning to do a music festival/3-day camping expedition for years, and just never had the time or the partners in crime to commit such massive amounts of hair and clothing injustice. Distance makes us closer, no doubt.

~ Upon moving to Germany, I made a list of 4 bands that I absolutely MUST see while living in Europe, since they never make it to Baltimore (much less the continental US): Placebo (achieved Nov 2009), Faithless, Massive Attack and Portishead (pipe dream on that last one, I know).

So this year’s festival was one mother of a BFD.

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The prelude:
Kristi and I were missing each other long distance, hard core since my move overseas.

I got wind of the Southside Festival through a newsletter from the Faithless website, and in a manner that was only half-joking and half-woe-is-me-how-amazing-is-this-lineup, I emailed it to Kristi. She responded promptly by saying it was one of the most amazing lineups she’d ever seen and that she was jealous. I, in turn, responded by saying, ‘Want to come to Germany and be nasty hobbitses for three days?’, to which she said, ‘FUCK YEAH’.

And that is how the idea was hatched to get Krizzle4shizzle over here for 7 days of touring Germany and 3 days of great lineups and camping. We told René about it after we’d decided it HAD to happen.

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In normal Gina fashion and as stated above, I planned a pretty optimistic wardrobe for the event and was absolutely struck down by the torrential downpour that started just as we got to the campground. Not that I am a fashionista or anything, but I really hadn’t planned for so much mud. I brought flip flops, for jebus sake.

In a past life, René sold ice cream at festivals… so we had an in with one of the vendors at Southside and got a pass to camp on the vendor lot. I can only imagine that this was a major blessing in disguise, as the long lines of people trying to get in to the festival made us aware of the fact that even at 8:30pm (the gates opened at 8pm the night before for camping), we were majorly late.

So we got to the lot and set up camp very close to the bathrooms and showers, and even got wristbands for the vendor ground. This of course meant that we had 4 tickets that could be sold for spending money at the festival. WIN! René and Jo went off and did that and got some decent money for the passes. It came in handy when we realized that the shoes we’d brought were not going to cut it, we needed rain boots.

At €30 a pop, they were a sound investment. That broke down to a little under 10-Euros a day (we were there for nearly 4) and was definitely the “PRICELESS” part of the mastercard commercial.

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There was only a weak internet and tower signal in Neuhausen, so there was no way to live-blog via my blogserver. So I took notes in the iPhone, which is ALSO quickly turning into ‘typical Gina fashion’. I’m pasting them below and adding images and input as needed. Enjoy:) We certainly did.

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Friday morning, PRE SHOWS:

Lots of English speakers: shocking, or no? We were near the Swiss border. But there were a lot of brits there, surprisingly.
Kristi was afraid to shower alone because on the first night, they found a guy standing naked in the shower hall: his friends had stolen his towel and his clothes. We’re not sure how that turned out, but I ended up making a trip to the showers with her to guard her stuff while she showered. I stayed true to the ‘Nasty Hobbit’ title and only washed my face once. And by ‘washed’, I mean I put more face lotion on it. No showers for me, no sir. It was too cold that weekend to bathe and it was raining intermittently; I hate walking around with goosebumps after a warm shower.
We met a man from Ghent that sold us our rainboots at the first stand we found. This is important because René, Jo and I spend a LOT of time in Ghent training with our martial arts group. Rainboots are very necessary. I can’t state that enough. And it was nice to talk to the Ghent man.
The public ground had a World cup viewing space. It was easy to hear when the Germany game was on, on Friday. It was a shame that Germany lost, but that may have been a good thing for the festival.
Contraband: Kristi and I exercised our old High School kleptomaniac ghosts at one point early on. We made penance later, that is all I will say on the matter.
Finally, a stand with HOT DOGS!!! And not just normal hot dogs, these were some MASSIVE hot dogs. They were our Friday breakfast, too.

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MARTINA TOPLEY BIRD

Martina was an added bonus to the festival, as she does the vocals for a few of Massive Attack’s new tracks on Heligoland. BUT she had her own spot as well. YES!!! In the number one player spot beginning at 3:45, she had an impressive crowd already beginning to form.

Since we were there early (as staff, hahaha!), we were up front with our arms over the fence (typical for me) and ready to go. She opened up with Poison and played a decent amount of tracks from her previous albums, like Baby Blue and a new favorite of mine, Lying. She’s got a new album called Something Simple. Look for it. The new tracks she played sounded great.

In case seeing her live wasn’t enough, she BROUGHT HER FUCKING NINJA with her. I didn’t even know she HAD a ninja to bring to places, but she does, and did:

Just to solidify that this ninja was in fact hers to bring, she made a comment between songs that she’d been on tour for a while without him, and this was her first time back with the ninja, and she was very happy about that. He seemed pretty happy, too. He was back-up everything. Machines, drums, guitar. Just, awesome. SHE was also making some effects herself. Even with a really simple stage setup, there was enough on stage for her to rock a xylophone with her keyboard, and keep a guitar on the side. Yeah. I love when the musicians just make everything themselves on stage. It’s a sign of musical mastery, in my opinion, not needing to be backed up by lots of machinery and pre-planned sound effects.

Martina had this crazy presence about her that reminded me of that confident, slightly bitchy but quiet attitude I so love in OTHER female musicians.

We decided that if Martina was a character in a movie, she would definitely be someone like the Oracle from the Matrix. THAT confident and all knowing, but calm at the same time.

She closed her set with my personal favorite, Too Tough To Die. And she rocked the fuck out with her guitar for it, which was just DOUBLE wow.

I love you even more now, Martina.

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Vampire Weekend got stuck with a shit spot just before Florence took the stage on the other side… They were good, but we didn’t stay long and left mid-set in order to get a good spot for Florence. Which we did. And it was worth it.

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FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE

As you can see above, Florence was of course adorable and so happy to be performing. I really love seeing musicians REALLY enjoying their audience and playing. It’s refreshing. It doesn’t look like a job when that happens. And what you love should never feel like work, you know?

A. Mazing.

Kristi had mentioned a slight concern over Florence’s sound in an open-air venue, since she had just seen her in Philli in a nice, intimate space. Luckily, there was no cause for concern and she sounded just as good outside (I think) as she does in smaller places. Rock. I don’t need to tell you what she played, since she’s only got one album out as of right now.

She mentioned on stage that there is a new album coming out, and that it will be different. I personally can’t wait. She’s a great performer. There are a LOT of photos of her in the set (link at the bottom).

I’d like to also mention that she’s got a talented lighting artist. My photos are all wonderful because the people lighting the stageunderstand color theory. Undoubtedly. I almost feel like I can’t take credit for the awesomeness of the photos. But I think I can, and will instead thank the lighting people and call it a collaboration with a BUNCH of great artists. Yeah. Florence is a wonderful subject.

Screw front row passes that don’t get doled out to ‘freelancers’ (eff you, Scorpion entertainment, I thought we were cool)… 2nd row back with a Nikon Coolpix worked pretty well. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that I probably got some of the best non-professional photos of her performing, PERIOD. Yeah, I am putting my balls on the line. And yeah, I’m pretty confident in that statement.

If Florence were a movie character, she’d be the Lady of the Lake. Lays around in bogs handing out swords.

 

Enjoy the photos:)

 

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JACK JOHNSON

Some horrible villain scheduled Jack Johnson in the same time slot as Florence, but on separate stages. I wonder at times like these if concert organizers assume that everyone fits into separate, rigid, non-intersecting musical genre tastes and that there is NO WAY that one would be interested in seeing both Jack AND Florence. INCONCEIVABLE!!

I have to admit that I am not a follower of the former surfer-turned-musician, in the same way that I never got that into Jimmy Buffet. I wanted to see him, so I could make up my mind. We decided early on that Jack would have to be sacrificed to the wonder of Florence, but we still rolled over after Florence finished to catch what was left of his set.

We came in around Banana Pancakes and left pretty shortly after, as there wasn’t a lot of time left in the set after stopping at the bathrooms on the way, and because it was just kind of, well, EH.

No offense to Jack meant, I just need to give the Jimmy Buffet of our generation some more time to grow on me, I guess.

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FAITHLESS

This little girl’s dream finally came true, and we got to see Faithless on the same day as Florence… what are the odds? So, thanks for that great lineup, Southside organizers.

It had occurred to me early on that maybe it wasn’t a good idea to try to get up front to get some good images of the band, as I had heard that they were pretty huge in Germany. And in all honesty, it didn’t seem right to be elbowing for my space in the front when one should really give Faithless the respect they deserve by dancing one’s fucking ass off.

So, that’s what we did. We hung out in the back where the sound was perfect and danced like there would be no tomorrow. And it was grand. They closed with We Come 1 which (is my absolute favorite from them aside from Killer’s Lullaby) would have made me wet myself if I hadn’t done so already. 2 of the 4 down, 2 to go.

If Faithless were characters in movies, they’d totally be the badass slightly evangelical team that is not the main focus of the story, but plays a supporting role, possibly as arms or supplies dealers with existential wisdom that comes out every time they’re on screen. And if it were a Guy Ritchie film or Constantine, they’d be the only people alive and unharmed at the end. Because of their amazing faith in humanity. Or something.

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After Faithless finished, we went back to the Blue stage to catch the end of the XX‘s set. They sounded pretty good live and we were sorry to have missed most of it, but when Faithless and the dance floor (field) calls, one must answer, you know?

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We had an hour after they finished to chill, get a drink and use the bathrooms before Massive Attack took the stage at 00:30. We made some fun friends that sat at the table with us and ended up watching MA with them later on. The Strokes were playing on the Green stage in the interim, but we couldn’t be bothered to go over to that stage and risk NOT being nearby for the entire Massive set. So we sat at our tables between the stages and watched what can only be described as a Hipster-fucking-Hoedown. As soon as the singles came on, everyone wearing an oddly-placed headband was doing some dopey-looking jig. It was pretty hysterical. I gave up on the Strokes a while ago and couldn’t be bothered to get off my ass. Yet.

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MASSIVE ATTACK

Why, YES, I could be bothered to get up and walk to my appointment with the almighty MA’s performance. In fact, we walked over a bit early just to stand around and try to get a good spot. We managed that, but then a lot of the fans turned into rabid assholes and were effectively pushing us out of the way so THEY could get closer. Realizing it wasn’t really worth cutting a bitch to see MA since we were already there and THAT was awesome enough, we retired to the front left side of the stage to just hang out and sway to the music.

I DID happen to sneak in and get a few good shots once or twice as needed, but not many. Instead I started experimenting with photographing the screen that we were standing directly under, with ok results. They brought Martina and another totally awesome Diva with a rocking voice out to do a few of the tracks, and Martina performedPsyche (LOVE!!!) and subbed in on Teardrop, which was pretty perfect. ‘Other Diva’ knocked Unfinished Sympathy and Safe from Harm out of the damn park:

Rob and Grant (and Martina) ALSO made all of the vocal effects themselves, and the stage had 5 mics: one for each singer. There were also 2 keyboards: one for Martina and one for Rob. Awesome. The coolest part of the show (minus the amazing British sexiness going on on-stage) was at the end when they were thanking the audience, then said ‘We’ve decided to keep the political messages to a minimum and have instead brought this clever light show’:

The ‘light show’ was in fact a gigantic digital screen across the back of the stage (probably why everyone that played on the stage earlier had just fabric drops) that had been charting and presenting some MAJOR statistics: the number of gallons of oil spilling into the gulf every day, the number of people in South Africa carrying the AIDS virus, the number of people dying in Ghana on a daily basis, etc. And the titles were in German, so you know the audience knew what it said. I thought it was VERY clever.

3 out of 4 “bands to see in Europe” DOWN. I feel so accomplished. Really, I do.

Oh, and the recent Psyche video is gorgeous. It’s my favorite track from Heligoland and features Martina.

At the end of a spectacular full day of music, here are the notes I typed up back at the tent:
Thoughts on fans needing to be close: I gladly walked to and fro when I wanted a photo. I’m not sure why some people just need to be in the front the whole time and to be shitty about it with the other concertgoers. Jesus, just let the short girl stand in front of you, tall guy!!!

My own solution to a problem: when people see you and walk into you anyway, accidentally spill your drink on them. That may teach them. Wishing I’d brought a straw and napkins, per the MOG article about ‘concert solutions’. Or that I ate lots of beans. I bet that would work, too.

The mud problem was insane, and my photos really don’t do it justice. There were some puddles by the end of the first day that were almost deeper than my rain boots were tall. It was a lot like walking through your state’s farm fair, except it didn’t smell like livestock. I saw three people fall face first in their own vomit in the mud, which I think may be worse than my lemon meringue incident. Maybe. Either way, €30 for rainboots is a bargain for the simplicity and peace of mind. There wasn’t any vomit on MY feet!

By Friday night, a few people had already done the “Woodstock mud people” thing. I’m really, really thankful we were in the crew campsite. It’s not so crazy at night there and I am too old for that ‘all night’ shit. I need a few hours.

Day 2 (Saturday):

So, really: nothing could possibly compare to Friday’s line up. I could die now, nothing will ever top that. I kind of gave up on trying to get amazing shots after getting Florence and Martina, so the photos from now on are going to be few and far between. With that in mind:

Revolverheld was great live, look them up.

Does it Offend You, Yeah? was not particularly my style, but a great show also. They were tons of fun for everyone. Even with the rain. Lots of dancing, yelling and jumping going on.

The Shout out Louds were cool, but we were getting tired and didn’t want to keep standing. So we went back to the camp site for a while to chill.

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PARAMORE

The sun came out for Hailey, of course and she looked great per the usual… but the set was slightly lackluster compared to the last time I saw her in ’08. It may have been the new songs and that as performers they’re more experienced now, but she wasn’t as energetic ad I’ve seen her be.

We rolled on Paramore early to try to get a decent spot for Phoenix coming up next, sadly.

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I say ‘sadly’ because a LOT of people left Paramore early to hit the Blue stage as we did, but it was already too late and we were pretty far in the back. Which sucks when you’re 5’2″ and wearing flats in the mud. This is what festivals look like for short people that get stuck in the back:

Question: Who brings a fucking umbrella to the show when it’s stopped raining!?!? Man, Funk Dat!

Someone closer to the front brought their damn pink umbrella and was waving it around, conveniently in our already compromised line of vision. I don’t mean to complain, but that was total lame sauce. It made me think of that thing I heard/read about Rihanna not allowing umbrellas at shows. We would have left Phoenix halfway through, but since Postal Service was nowhere to be found, we (ahem, Drew) stuck it out a little longer. Lots of drunk people were dancing and there was still lots of mud. Phoenix sounded good live, just like the free live album they released recently, not surprisingly.

Honestly, aside from Frontman McFrencherson (I can’t be bothered with names right now, Germany just beat England and I’ve been drinking all day) being super cute in that impossible way that only Frenchmen can be, the set was pretty boring. Like, we actually DID end up leaving before they finished. How does Drew know these things??!?!?

If we could have seen more, maybe we would have stayed. But since there were drunks around us screaming (from the far, far back) ‘Play 1901!!!’, tall people that must have short people radar standing RIGHT in front of us and we were thirsty, we left. Sorry, Phoenix. I like your album, but I might not bother to see you again, live, unless I get that press pass.

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Because of seeing Phoenix, we missed out on the Temper Trap. I am slightly ambivalent to this, but would still like to see them live eventually.

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We had some time before Dropkick Murphys, so we went back to the car/camp site and had some Irish Coffee. That seemed fitting. It was then that we saw something amazing. There was a bungee jumping station right by the crew entrance. We witnessed this:

We went to the security guard at the gate to ask if that man was really nude (I said ‘yeah’, others said ‘nay’) and she rolled her eyes and said that he was the 4th person that day to go nude. The pitfalls of working security, eh?

Oh, did I mention that it was really, really muddy yet?

 

We had to keep telling ourselves that sometimes people pay EXTRA for this at the spa…

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The DROPKICK MURPHYS had everyone dancing. I’m not sure why, but they sounded a LOT better (and clearer) from the very back of the grounds. It was a really loud show. And it effing rocked.

As we were standing there, listening, I was taking a photo and then all of a sudden, a line if people dressed as bunnies was there. Out of nowhere. It was the last thing I saw before the camera died: they did a circle around me and then were on their hippity hoppity way. It was what I expect someone sees before they die. It was creepy. Thankfully I was sober when that happened.

If the Dropkick Murphys were in a movie, they’d be that lovable bunch of brothers down the street that is always getting into trouble and bloody bar fights. They’d come out alive in the end with some crazy redeeming lesson. Or, they’d be the Boondock Saints. Whatever.

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The PRODIGY

Biggest crowd: Prodigy ftw. I really didn’t expect that, but I also had no idea that they were so popular over here. Shows how much I pay attention, huh? I’m pretty sure the entire festival was there, pushing and moving forward even in the back, just killing time beforeBeatsteaks came on. When that time rolled around, about a third of the people were gone just as quickly. There was a lot of pushing and aggressive dancing. I actually had to push and punch a few people that came too close. It was good kamae practice.

Prodigy rocked out live, but the crowd was so hard to handle that we just walked out of there before the set ended. I was sad to do it, but I learned at Southside that you have to pick your battles: there is always someone that is a bigger, more committed fan that you and they are definitely willing to assert their dominance by knocking into you, knocking you over, or walking right through you. It was pretty crazy to think that I may just be too polite, just too interested in hearing the music, or getting too old.

Regardless, Prodigy had a great set and that was a great end to our weekend.

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I was up at 6:45 on Sunday morning. It was damn cold that weekend, but I think that was definitely better than if it had been too hot. Even though, if it HAD been hot I may have seriously considered mud wrestling.

Because of our Monday schedule, we left the festival around noon or 1 on Sunday. This means we bailed on seeing the Deftones, La Roux, Marina and the Diamonds, Mando Diao and STP. I was only sad about a few of those. I get how arranging lineups works in order to maximize profits and massage egos, but man, I kind of wish I could have seen La Roux.

Next time, lovely, next time.

Notes to self: next time be prepared for the cold and to get REALLY dirty. I’m down for it, just need to plan a little better. I wouldn’t say I was high maintenance this time around, but since it was my first camping experience in over 20 years, I wasn’t really ready to relax just yet. Again, next time.

BUT: One thing is certain: I’d definitely do Southside again, in a heartbeat. It was too fun and too well-done to only do once.

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You can see ALL of my band photos HERE!!!

And all of the just Southside photos HERE 🙂

 

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Posted in: music