Erstellt am: 21. 7. 2012 - 15:06 Uhr
Shelter From The Storm
- FM4 - your Festivalradio!
All you really need to be happy is a roof over your head.
It's an ancient wisdom; something that even cavemen knew or, I guess, they would have just been cliff-men, and it is something that, a few millennia down the road the green-suited officials at Wimbledon tennis club have finally realised. It's also something that the organisers at the now ten year old On The Rocks Festival near Golling, a few kilometres up the Salzach river from Salzburg, must have known, because the stage is covered by the massive high concrete roof of the derelict industrial complex that hosts the festival.
You can't surprise an old-hand like me. I'd known it would be raining of course. I've been to music festivals in the Salzburg countryside twice before. That was back in the days when children were politer to their elders, milk was cheaper, financial crises were something that happened to South American or Asian countries and the FM4 Frequency Festivals were held at the Salzburgring.
I was naive back then. The first time, I was barely out of school really, I went with the FM4 Morning Show's Stuart Freeman who was staying in a nearby Pension. Foolishly, I had reserved the middle spot in a friends tent and, as we drove to Salzburg, I gave poor Stuart a long lecture about camping being the very essence of festivals. Without the camping, I claimed, it was not really a festival at all.
At 4:30 am my soaked clothes were lying in a soggy stinking bundle, my dry clothes were no longer dry because I had put them too near to the edge of the tent, and someone was tunelessly singing Bob Marley's Redemption Song outside the tent and inside someone was farting. I desperately needed to pee out the watered-down beer I had expensively consumed, but I couldn't bear the idea of finding the portaloo somewhere in the hideous mudfield outside. I called Stuart, who's a gentleman and woke him up to ask if he could book me into the Pension for the remaining two nights of the festival and whether, in view of the emergency, I couldn't sleep on his floor that night. Under a roof!
The second time I went it was so wet that I actually decided that damp, crowded tunnel was a nice place to spend a summer's afternoon and our car had to be towed out of the mud. So, I repeat, since it is based in Salzburg province, I had naturally expected a downpour at the On The Rocks.
But Eva Walkner, the freeride vice-world champion who is from the neighbouring village Kuchl, is on the organising committee of this boutique festival, and she can talk me into anything. She tempted me to risk my precious life by skiing off the Valluga with her, the siren, so I wasn't going to have the will power to refuse to chill out in the countryside watching some great bands that I had never yet seen live. The arena is watched over by grey bare rock-face of an abandoned quarry. On a rainy day, with the low clouds swirling around, it is a mystical location.
When I got to the Golling Steinbruch the water was pouring off the edges of the flat roof and was falling as an elongated water fall. The ground outside, softened by woodchips, was already water-logged. Eva and I jumped through the falling water, Last of the Mohicans style, into the dry at the stage. The industrial setting of the stage area lent it the feeling of one of those 1990's Berlin factory parties. At the back, on a raised platform, there were sofas. Behind the stage to the right, three giant silos were lit up with visuals and the concrete floor was already filling up.
Eva had predicted that, given the miserable weather, many people might stay at home, but with my knowledge of Austrian hardiness and of the dismal TV schedules, I was more optimistic and for once I was proven to be right. It was still quiet for Grey Czar, who played with admirable passion and energy in front of just a few dozen people in the early evening, but by the time the Sahara Surfers from Innsbruck, fronted by the charismatic Julia Überbacher, were playing their stoner rock songs the floor was already fairly full and dancing.
After that concert, I splashed my way out to the backstage tent for a warming cup of tea, where I found local bands the Steaming Satellites sitting around a table and picking from a big tub of multi-coloured jelly sweets of the type that are often shop-lifted from pick'n'mix selections. Now I'm not much of a music journalist, as you might have noticed, nor am I much good at conversation, but I wanted to be seated on that table eating jelly sweets.
So I plonked myself down and engaged singer Max Borchardt, whose father is the Hausarzt in Kuchl, about his own broken-off medical studies. Did he think, I asked, that the new US-influenced patient culture of "be cured, or sue" was changing the perception of medical care and encouraging doctors nowadays to be overly risk averse and conservative in their diagnosis? Max, wearing a sort of Russian flat camp over his blond hair, fielded my questions expertly and patiently in perfect English and, more importantly, offered me a jelly-sweet. I decided they were my favourite Austrian band.
On stage, where they followed the engaging and well-bearded band Deckchair Orange, it was clear that the Satellites, who on this cold night were literally steaming, were the Headliners der Herzen. The floor was now heaving. A lot of people I had met in the audience said they had come especially to see the Salzburg-based band. The drums had been set up, innovatively I thought, at the left side of the stage and Matl Weber was hitting them with raucous enthusiasm, and Max, with his cap still on was doing that doubling-up and crouching down playing that I always try and imitate when I am playing air guitar.
Wheel-chair bound athlete Max Gfatterhofer was in the crowd. Max was paralysed by a motocross accident but still an active surfer and wakeboarder with ambitions to be a rally car driver, and tonight he was held aloft by a group of friends. It was a sort of wheel-chair crowd surfing and was utterly charming. It summed up why I was enjoying the festival so much. There was a wonderful feeling of being part of an intimate concert of a well-loved band playing in front of their friends. And the early bands were allowed to play encores with the festival timing getting further and further behind schedule and no-one seemed to care. I liked that too.
The official headliners were Blood Red Shoes from Brighton in England. That's a two-piece loud band with Laura-Mary Carter on the guitar and Steven Ansell on the drums and both sharing vocal duties. Inevitably, they made me think of a sort of inverted White Stripes. At these smaller festivals it is easy to get really close to the stage where I could see Laura-Mary, who is glamorous in a sultry sort of way, strumming her guitar so fast on the punk-rock rhythms that her hands were literally a blur, while Steven rained the blows down on his drum kit. "Bleeding fingers and toes is what makes music great", as the drummer once said.
I couldn't hear a single lyric clearly but I was swept along with the raw energy of the show. At one point, I couldn't decide whether the relentless fast pace of the music was mesmerising or disorientating - then I started wondering whether disorientation was a sort of memorisation, at which point I realised it must be getting late. Blood Red Shoes are a vocal supporter of the anti-fascist Love Music Hate Racism project. That's enough recommendation for me.
Tonight bands like Kreisky and Effi are in action under the roofed festival arena at Golling. -I have to leave the On The Rocks Festival because the FM4 Morning Show beckons tomorrow, but as I write the clouds are rising over the forested Salzburg slopes. Maybe it is dry here sometimes ? I'll have to wait until next year to find out.