Live Review

Dockville Festival 2010

More of a movement than merely another European festival.

Dockville comes across as something of an oasis, more of a movement than merely another European festival. The combination of cutting edge art, music and culture that creates such a community is reminiscent of 1960s and 70s Germany with its wave of experimentalism and sound manipulation. Most refreshingly, the site does not become a colony of Britain like Benicassim or Melt Festival. It has a local clientele, fitting its communitarian ethos.

Friday presents a menagerie of mainly German bands, an entertaining “highlight” being a bunch of German rappers called K.I.Z, performing in front of a banner displaying a penis-adorned skewed swastika, with the motto “Sexismus Gegen Rechts”, which we hope doesn’t require a translation. We’re not entirely sure what their message is, but it’s sure to be fun. Villagers also play on the mainstage and, with their homely, acoustic folk, prove a match made in heaven with the late afternoon sun, quite the juxtaposition to the well toned, beefy German rappers. Over on the second stage, named Vorschot, I Blame Coco play. The crowd appear to lap up their electro-pop enthusiastically. Coco Sumner, however, is rather keen to point out her particularly rasping cough. Perhaps it is that which holds the band back from really unleashing their all in this set; it seems somewhat straightjacketed. An amble back over to the mainstage finds the Shantel Bucovina Club Orkester - a riotous array of Romanian, gypsy funk with a club twist. They build the crowd up to a climatic frenzy of emotions before breaking down and starting all over again with different instrumentation. It seems rather niche and clichéd but taking the crowd as a barometer, the Orkester do a great job. Second stage headliners The Whip may have expected a greater crowd had the first day of the festival not been flooded with those clad in headlining band, Wir Sind Helden, shirts and hoodies. Not to be deterred, they play a tight and enjoyable set, unleashing on the partygoers an unbridled musical ecstasy - old single ‘Trash’ is undoubtedly the highlight.

Saturday sees a more indie side to the lineup, with the likes of Bombay Bicycle Club, Harlem and Post War Years all playing. Harlem’s set, comprising of material from second album ‘Hippies’, is enchanting and a perfect cure to the festival wake-up blues. Kitty, Daisy & Lewis manifest on the second stage their ability to be a refreshing, rockabilly knife through muggy weather butter. They are received by a large and rapturous crowd - perhaps they should have been booked for a later slot to get a 50s rock n’ roll boogie going. Bombay Bicycle Club disappoint unfortunately, they enjoy a substantial crowd yet fail to excite. There’s a much greater crowd than on Friday and many are here for headliners Jamie T and Klaxons. But before on the mainstage come a comedy band called Bonaparte. Loved in Germany, this lot seem to have barely scratched the surface abroad. No wonder, as they play a scrappy set hot on Lady GaGa-esque stage props and pyromania. Is it a circus or is it music? Judging by a bassist clad in a Superman costume, it only seems reasonable to say that it is the former, supported by copious doses of Germanic humour. More of which is on display on the Sunday with wrestling mud-clad punters. Hamburg’s own Die Sterne pull a sizeable crowd, playing a Pavement-influenced set. Little in the means of dancing but enough charm. Jamie T is far more animated, heavy on material from new album ‘Kings & Queens’. ‘368’ and ‘Sticks ‘n’ Stones’ get the greatest reception, and Jamie, backed by his band The Pacemakers, acknowledges this with a even more committed performance. They fit the bill as a great festival band, enough ‘nostalgia’ with the likes of ‘Sheila’ and ‘If You Got The Money’ and enough new material to thoroughly excite. Next up came Klaxons with a bombastic, bass heavy set. Many came for a hark back to the neon days of ‘new rave’ but Klaxons opt instead for an almost metal performance. Bold, loud guitars seem to be snaking their way back into fashion and it seems that Klaxons are going to ride this wave too. On the basis of this performance, they have utterly re-invented themselves. Guitarist Simon Taylor-Davis stands Withnailian on stage, stooping over his guitar, and this conjures up images and themes of magicians. There is continuation from where they left off, but the new Klaxons is a different beast. There is an unfortunate partial lineup clash between Klaxons and early 1980s, Neue Deutsche Welle-influenced Schwefelgelb, whose set is cut short as uncharacteristically a car is set on fire in the vicinity of the stage. It is a shame as Schwefelgelb are clearly ultimate party-starters, not fire-starters as the Prodigy may have liked.

Sunday comes around with a great looking end to the festival, with a triple whammy of bands to see on the second stage. Fanfarlo delight with their Arcade Fire-like orchestrated instrumentation and their tight, energetic performance. The vibrant tones of their violins cuts a tender incision through the murky skies and cooling temperatures. Following them are The Drums, who seem to be playing every festival under the sun. It takes them a while to get going - a big contrast to the likes of Therapy? and Hamburg punk pioneers like Slime over on the main stage, who unleash their might and fury instantly. The Drums do get going eventually and are well applauded. The undeniable highlight though, of not only the Sunday but also the whole Dockville Festival, is Hallogallo 2010 - the project of Neu! founder Michael Rother, Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley and Tall Firs’ Aaron Mullan to play original Neu! songs. Their set appears apt for the setting - Dockville is located in the Hamburg docks, surrounded by monstrous looking, 1984-esque buildings. Whilst Hallogallo 2010 play, a ship of unworldly magnitude passes by, alienating and enchanting at the same time. Rother couldn’t have found two better people to play with as Shelley replicates the drumming of deceased Neu! founder Klaus Dinger with the same energy and dedication, continuing Dinger’s motorik, “apache beat”, and Mullan’s bass is so thunderous that it is unclear whether it is the noise of the near-biblical lightening storm or an actual part of the performance. Rother himself seems content to stand behind a massive desk of electronic equipment and theremins. As with any classic band, the songs still sound just as fresh as when they were released, continually exciting, continually driving. Watching Hallogallo 2010 is like driving in a car for twelve hours non-stop, in space. It is quite simply unique.

Dockville Festival is unlike anything else. It is regenerative, musically varied and friendly, what more can you ask for from a festival? Let’s hope it will continue to embrace a diverse and exciting lineup, not to mention the incredible art installations.

Tags: Klaxons, Features

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