Hurricane Festival 2011 review

Foo Fighters lose the battle in Germany

Photographer:Mark Holloway

Daniel Lomas - 20 June 2011

Scheesel is a quaint German village plonked somewhere between Bremen and Hamburg. About 80,000 rock fans have turned up here for Hurricane Festival 2011; a feast of massive rock bands, god awful burgers, torrential rain and gorgeous sunshine. Dave Grohl is in town, the numerous dance tents are thumping everything from punk to techno and the German beer is strong – very strong.

The festival’s four stages attract some of the biggest names in the rock and indie world with some dance acts thrown in too. They’re close together in a neatly laid out main arena so hopping from set to set is easier than at many large festivals. Beer tents are never far away either, nor the toilets which are – get this - clean! The only problem is the food; hotdogs, noodles, falafel or pizza – you name it, it’s terrible. Fortunately the same cannot be said about the music.

Friday kick starts with a bill of mostly pop-punk and emo bands getting crowds moshing in the Red Tent. Godfathers of the genre, Jimmy Eat World (7/10) later pack the huge Blue Stage for a set of sing-along-longs like ‘The Middle’ and ‘Sweetness’. Their set is a little heavy with newer songs but the old favourites go down a treat in the sunshine. Portishead (9/10) play us into the night with their epic, brooding trip-hop arrangements, complete with a neat black and white visual display.

Opening with singles ‘Ready To Start’ and ‘Keep The Car Running’, headliners Arcade Fire (10/10) set the tone for a show packed with their harder and faster songs. The set features ‘Laika’, ‘Tunnels’ and ‘Rococo’, and climaxes with the surging ‘Power Out’ which descends into a distorted racket before merging seamlessly into the catchy ‘Rebellion (Lies)’. ‘Month Of May’, their most pure rock n’ roll tune, has such ferocity it could singe the eyebrows off the first ten rows.

Saturday sees British indie bands dominate with Everything Everything (8/10) kicking things off in the early afternoon with ‘Photoshop Handsome’ particularly impressive live. Kasabian (6/10) struggle with sound the main stage and big tunes ‘Fire’ and ‘Club Foot’ lose their impact as the crowd will the sound man to crank that huge volume knob up.

Closing the second day, cloaked in a hooded green poncho, the enigmatic Conor Oberst leads Bright Eyes (9/10) through a rocking 1am set in Red tent. Drawing from the noisier songs in his back catalogue, there is no sign of his acoustic guitar as he spends much time on the keys for songs like ‘Shell Games’, ‘Lover I Don’t Have To Love’ and ‘Gold Mine Gutted’. Highlights include old favourite ‘The Calendar Hung Itself’ and the raucous ‘I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning’.

Sunday threatens to be a wash out with storms moving in, but The Asteroids Galaxy Tour (8/10) soon brighten things up with their infectious, colourful retro soul-pop. Blonde bombshell, Mette Lindberg, struts on stage in a gold sequin outfit and about 500 jaws hit the floor. The Danish band start with the funky ‘The Sun Ain’t Shining No More' and are forgiven for rubbing that in as they lift spirits with a bouncy set full of trumpets, synths, and catchy choruses. Recent high profile ad-campaign hits ‘The Golden Age’ and ‘Around The Bend’ are lapped up by the crowd too. You can hear influence from disco, soul and hip hop, and Winehouse, Duffy and Goldfrapp all come to mind, but Lindberg has her own unique voice and engaging charm.

Despite the downpours, The Hives (7/10) are all turned out in tail-jacket tuxedos without a speck of mud on their white shirts or shiny shoes. Cocky frontman Howlin' Pelle Almqvist demands the crowd hail The Hives for stopping the rain and the showman gets the crowd dancing to his band's frantic garage punk. Arctic Monkeys (8/10) are all about leather-jacket cool these days, but shaggy haired Alex Turner is possibly trying too hard as he walks on stage with a tactically timed cigarette hanging from his mouth. Recent single ‘Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I Moved Your Chair’ sounds huge and hits 'When The Sun Goes Down' and 'Crying Lightning' are sung back at Turner in enthusiastic broken English.

Foo Fighters (7/10) should be the perfect headliners for this festival; universally adored with more singles than a speed-dating night in Bremen, but this set just fails to catch fire. It is likely the exhaustion of three days heavy partying that holds the crowd back, not to mention the mood set by bleakest grey Sunday of all time, but thezjust won’t respond to the Grohl charm. The band tear through recent hits; ‘Rope’, classics; ‘Learn To Fly’, and stormers ‘Breakout’ and ‘Monkey Wrench’, that should send any audience moshing mental, but there is just no response. Fans even fail at their "sing it back to me" duties and poor old Dave seems a little disappointed. The band are awesome in spite of this, especially drummer Taylor Hawkins, who is thrilling to watch. Sadly, with this little atmosphere a number of Foo Fighters songs sound suspiciously like filler and two hours with them, dare we say it, becomes a little tedious.  


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