Friday, August 27, 2010

My Festival Summer: FM4 Frequency ‘10

It started one day on my way to work. I saw a poster with band names like Muse, Massive Attack, LCD Soundsystem and some others. What the heck?! All these bands in just one place? This is a must-seen. It was a matter of few minutes on Internet to find that this event of the year (besides the CCR races of course) was going to happen in just two weeks. St. Polten in Austria is just 150 kilometers from Bratislava my home town and so decision was made instantly - we are going for our first music festival ever!

We - that’s me and my beloved wife. We share almost the same musical interests though I’m more into that “boom-boom” harder dance styles. Tasks that needed to be done:
1. get the tickets – done
2. get the accommodation – all fully booked – failed
3. get the tent – done
4. plan out the route – done
5. Let’s go!!!

So here we are in a city of St. Polten together with tens of thousands of other people in an industry area next to a highway. Sun is shining sound systems are silent at the moment, few hours left to the opening. The first band starts to play while we are struggling with a tent. Never mind there are still more than 100 of them to come.

Our very first festival experience is German band Get Well Soon which plays fine indie. I can’t describe the cultural shock after moving to the main stage. Extravagant Peaches - Canadian-born woman living in Germany - is something I’ve never seen before. With gypsum on her leg most time she usually sits in pink-colored wheel chair. Explicit sexual lyrics, fancy costumes and some creature which is either a man with a silicon breasts or a woman with a fake penis (red-colored) all that mixed with experimental electronic rock bring something unusual. I’ve tried it and am sure I won’t be chasing them on their tour.

You may know Gogol Bordello’s production from a radio but it can’t prepare you for a live performance. Furious punk-rock with very strong gypsy elements provokes people to dance. Well if you can call jumping all round the place a dancing. Two massive mosh-pits and we are right between them. With dust in my hair and beard and hoed legs we’re giving up after three songs and move backwards to a relative safety.

We fill the waiting for the headliner of the first day with two legends; punk-rockers Bad Religion and ska’s eternal The Specials. And here they come, stars of opening day, British band Muse. Man you probably wouldn’t find a band with better live performance. Flawless musical production, exciting singing of Matthew Bellamy, music oscillating on a borders of various genres, spectacular show with tens of thousand of thrilled people singing along. This is worth every cent of it! You can try it as well they are on their US tour starting September, 22nd.

Nights in our tent were cold, mornings were hot. I mean the weather... 2nd day: The folk of Wallace Bird is followed by metal of Serj Tankian (System of a Down). My personal biggest festival surprise is a young German pop/rock band Madsen. Catchy songs and cooperating audience make their performance really worth seeing. New-York based LCD Soundsystem brings a show that takes my breath awake. No, it’s not about the lights and the glitz it’s all about the music. Very energetic with characteristic vocal expression of James Murphy and many different instruments makes us jump and sing. Second day headliner trip-hop masters Massive Attack have a disadvantage because we have seen them already this year. Their show is good but not surprising for us. OK it’s time to go to sleep.

Are you ready for the last day of FM4 Frequency ’10? We are welcomed by another surprise. The Sonic Boom Foundation, an unknown band for us until now, plays mixture of electronic and rock and it works just fine. Later it’s time for another of my favorite bands - Archive. Hard to define their production; trip-hop with rock, one female vocalist, two singing men and a bit of rap. It is awesome! Just some perplexed teenagers powered by Zipfer (beer) and Spritzer (mixture of soda, wine and some syrup) who are anxiously waiting for their beloved 30 Seconds to Mars (30STM) are asking who it is. They sort of ruin the feeling.

Trio Zoot Woman has a style and plays good music but then it’s time to leave the place for the youngsters. But curiosity is strong and after some time we are back to witness a performance of 30STM. If you want to label someone as “teen-approved” then 30STM is the one. Typical MTV production pop/rock for the masses, singer (well-known actor Jared Leto) commanding the thousands of teen fans and they obey every his word like a herd of sheep. It does not offend me, I’ve heard much worse in my life. But I’m sure it would have worked even without all that F-words Jared uses so often. Billy Talent and Element of Crime are our last two performers of this year’s FM4 Frequency.

In addition to an astonishing musical experience I also got a sore throat. The pain will pass away, the good memories will stay and next year I’m back.

A bunch of numbers:
- 2 stages: Day Park and Night Park
- 3 days full of music
- 68 reported cases of thievery
- 89 people ended in a hospital
- more than 100 performers
- more than 700 members of medical staff…
- …have treated 2.149 people
- 115.000 visitors estimated

Gogol Bordello

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