Southside 2012 Festival Review
'This year's festival will live long in the memory'
Emma Ritchie Downes - 26 June 2012
Southside, so named due to its location in the beautiful countryside of Southern Germany, is a gem of a festival. Born
in 1999 the little sister of Hurricane Festival caters to fans of rock, indie and alternative music over four stages in a
small, easily negotiable festival compound.
Despite bad weather over the previous two years Hawk Eye (6/10), an alternative metal band from Leeds, open the Blue Stage, the smaller of the two outdoor stages, on Friday afternoon in glorious sunshine to a sparse, largely sober but enthusiastic crowd. Elsewhere Swedish electronic band Little Dragon (6/10) bring a welcome touch of eccentricity as the energetic and enigmatic Yukumi Nagano capers around the indoor Red Stage to a small but receptive audience.
In a laughably early slot Florence and the Machine (10/10) perform a blinding set which impresses with its enthusiasm, beauty and simplicity. Predictably the bigger hits, 'Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)', 'Dog Days Are Over' and 'Never Let Me Go' are massively popular with a crowd mellowed by beer and the early evening sun.
In stark contrast to Florence’s warmth and energy, Noel G., as he is known in Germany, and his High Flying Birds (3/10) seem frankly bored as they plough through their tiny repertoire of hits and then fall back on Oasis classics which, of course, make the crowd happy but seem ultimately like an admission of failure and a sad reliance on former glories.
Performing before the German headliners on the massive Green Stage are Brighton band The Kooks (8/10). The band are surprisingly polished, infuriatingly catchy and absolutely perfect to be enjoyed on a beautiful summer’s evening as they happily dole out the hits including ‘Naïve’, ‘Shine On’, ‘Ooh La’ and ‘She Moves in Her Own Way’ to the dancing crowd.
Mumford and Sons (7/10), headlining on the Blue Stage, are a huge draw. Despite nursing a broken hand Marcus Mumford looks every inch the movie star’s husband/rock star and is obviously much appreciated by the young female crowd. Although the hits ‘Little Lion Man’, ‘Winter Winds’ and ‘The Cave’ receive a rapturous reception the set as a whole seems all style and little substance.
Saturday dawns hot and humid and midday finds the site eerily deserted as people seem to be still sleeping off the excesses of Friday night. We Are Augustines (7/10) therefore start the day off to a small crowd which is a shame as the Brooklyn based Springsteen-esque indie rockers perform competently and confidently at their first ever European festival.
Another new band to debut at Southside this year are Spector (8/10), an indie band from London. They certainly look the part, stylish but not too pretty, and their tunes, particularly ‘Clementine’ and ‘Chevy Thunder’, are intelligent and catchy but the lead singer appears arrogant, perhaps explaining why the audience fail to respond quite as enthusiastically as expected.
The Cure (10/10), playing to a crowd of thousands, are quite simply sublime during a set which lasts well over two hours and covers every facet of their evolution. Robert Smith is a joy to watch and his obvious enjoyment during the set is a tonic after a weekend filled with arrogant, too cool for school no-marks. Directly following the Cure, New Order (7/10) are a disappointment and Bernard seems to know it as he harangues the techs for the “too clean” sound of the set. They dutifully churn out the hits and follow up with some classic Joy Division but they largely fail to hit the mark and leave the crowd feeling unsatisfied although unable to dispel the euphoria previously created by the Cure.
Sunday dawns bright and clear to a timetable largely dominated by German bands. Although this is obviously to be expected, and although it is always good to broaden one’s musical horizons, the preponderance of absolutely appalling heavy metal and hip hop make 99% of the local music on offer absolutely unbearable. In line with Germany’s love affair with thrash and hardcore rock both Eagles Of Death Metal (7/10) and Wolfmother (8/10) go down an absolute storm producing admittedly slick and highly entertaining sets. At the other end of the scale Ed Sheeran (9/10) plays to a largely female capacity audience on the white stage reducing several of the enamoured young things to tears.
The Stone Roses (perfection can’t be marked out of 10) close the Blue Stage with an unsurpassable performance to a disappointingly small crowd due to their clash with Blink 182. Unlike so many reformed bands who fail to live up to their former glories the Roses have easily survived the passage of time with both style and talent intact leaving the audience stunned with delight and eagerly anticipating the release of new material.
The combination of beautiful weather and a killer line-up have ensured that this year’s festival will live long in the memories of those of us lucky enough to have been in attendance. The festival is small, friendly, relatively inexpensive compared to UK festivals and renowned for its quality line ups, it is therefore heartily recommended for anyone looking for a different kind of festival experience.
Click here for our full Southside Festival coverage.
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