The Haldern Festival 2006 – Day 2

It was at this moment that all hell broke loose.


It was at this moment that all hell broke loose.

Day the second; Friday 4/08/06

 

The day dawned clear and bright, even hot. After our regular jaunt to the village for tea & sausage rolls it was time once again for the wondrous, magical, enclosed space that is known as The Spiegel Tent. We were to be presented with lots of young and unknown acts and I for one was pretty excited about seeing Mumm Ra who were due to appear later in the day. The day began with Belgium‘s Hollywood Porn Stars. For the record, they play heavy-ish, spit n’ stride, ACDC/Stones/Aerosmith-inspired rock n roll, albeit with that skinny jeans floppy fringed look that is seemingly a pre-requisite of every band these days.

 

They certainly look like a band. They wear skinny fit jeans, have daft haircuts and they try to pull the kind of poses people like Motley Crue and Van Halen used to do. They just look so manufactured. Like those bands you see playing high school balls in 80’s movies.

 

It was all very meat and two veg stuff, apart from the last track when they suddenly got loose and very, very good indeed. The weirdest thing about the whole set wasn’t the audiences indifference to the band’s willing attempts to lighten the atmosphere of teenage angst and lounging that pervaded the tent; oh no, it was the fact that most of the audience left once the Porn Stars stopped playing, in essence proving that this bunch of indifferent teens were the band’s fan base. Christ on a bike…

 

Next up, playing in front of a rapidly diminishing crowd were Denmark‘s Utah, who were cut from a poppier cloth. They soon established a recognisable framework of bittersweet EMO-ish soft alternative rock, awash with beautiful harmonies and “found sounds”. So far, so typical of Danish bands I’ve seen. Nordic angst to the fore, there were times when things got a little one-paced, but we forgave them on the strength of their vocal harmonies, which wandered into Crowded House/Aha territory at times. Yet again they blew Incendiary away with their last song, a gargantuan epic filled with Pale Saints style noise rock and unearthly bellowing. If only they had more tracks like that. Still, good stuff we thought.

 

Yeah, the first three quarters of the set was all very relaxed and mellow, then they just had a nervous breakdown and decided to make their guitars squeal. Good stuff indeed.

 

Local lad Daniel Benjamin was up next and we were anxious to see him on the strength of his merchandising alone, which included a to kill for gatefold CD with a pop up owl. And yet again Incendiary saw wacky instrumentation, fragile EMO-esque songs and (thankfully) some complete rock out moments which were very fierce and very, very good. This guy has a great deal going for him and must be checked out. Yet again the last song was utterly brilliant, almost on a Magma scale of Utopian wigging out.

 

In every song he sits you down, tells you to relax, whispers quietly into your ear for a few minutes and then suddenly yells BOO as loud as he can. He kept us on our toes. We liked him.

 

 

Things were turning out quite wonderfully at this stage, none of the first acts had remotely bored or angered us and now we had Mumm Ra to look forward to. Mumm Ra I’d heard a lot about. Whisperings on various forums suggested that they could be the real deal. Incendiary are pleased to confirm therefore that Mumm Ra are indeed the real deal. The vocalist has that Estuary nasal yelp, so beloved of the Cure’s Mr. R. Smith and less excitingly the laddie out of Good Shoes. Mumm Ra are spiky and fun. They cross genres with a certain ease, and whilst decidedly heading towards lo-fi/found sounds/oddball territory at times, have enough suss about them to pay things straight and hard when needed; a reminder as if by comparison indeed that everyone else is getting a leetle too woolly, too soft focus, too hand knitted these days in the pop world. Yet again a rousing finish was produced, and plenty of noise was meted out. Rock on!

 

Fully buoyed up by the events in da tent, we wandered over to take in the mighty The Veils who were playing the main stage. Nux Vomica is a cracking album and I was mighty impressed with them earlier this year at Metropolis. However today was not to be their day.

 

That’s putting it mildly.

 

Curiously fuggy sounding, they played with a nervy set, which helped some tracks, notably Jesus for the Juglar, but elsewhere it all seemed a bit taut. Then disaster struck. Lead singer Finn Andrews guitar strings broke and with a shrieked “fuck” he stormed off. Hey what’s going on here? The rest of the band stood around puzzled, and to deflect the increasingly insistent whistling, tried to explain that they too had no idea why the snapped strings had produced such an outburst. After what seemed an eternity (but was closer to five minutes) Andrews came back on and explained that due to a complete fuck up on behalf of B.A. the Veils were playing with the Rev’s guitars; their own instruments seemingly bound to Marrakesh. Hence the strings had literally been in this case the straw that broke the camel’s back. The rest of the set, uncomfortable though it was, went down well and you have to say, fair play both for playing and for producing such a lightning bolt moment. 

 

After this Morning Runner came on, started boldly for a song or two and then seemingly played the same song for the rest of the set. It was okay, but well, needed something. Variety perhaps?

 

A second idea, more like it. Suddenly it was Groundhog Day and I’ve never been a big fan of dej√† vu.

 

 

Still we had The Zutons to look forward to, and one thing guaranteed from The Zutons is good old fashioned entertainment. Whilst Incendiary aren’t big fans of them on record, particularly the 2nd LP, which seems a bit cloying and flat to us, we have to concede that as a live band they take some beating. And, much more encouragingly, their new stuff is a revelation live. Punky, brasher, delivered with more wit and verve, the new stuff really rocks one’s socks. It’s a shame they just can’t get it down on disc. Still, it was a good gig and You Will You Won’t is always a great moment. Plus there is always Aby Harding with her daft jogging dance to set male pulses a-racing. Oh; Fair Play Indeed to them for dedicating a song to the Late Great Arthur Lee, the sign of true music lovers.

 

I’m still not quite sure how they did it but they were marvellous. How? Their second album is such a  disappointment and yet their new stuff sounded fantastic, especially Valerie. How did they manage that? No matter, they were top drawer. It’s a shame the crowd didn’t warm to them a bit more but perhaps that had something to do with the big black clouds that were forming overhead.

 

Suitably heartened we awaited We Are Scientists.

 

It was at this moment that all hell broke loose. Festival goers from last year who remembered the rain thought it wasn’t possible to get any wetter than they had in 2005. Well, they were about to be proved decisively wrong. Let’s just put it this way, none of Incendiary have never, not ever seen rain like that, and that’s saying something seeing we hail from the North of England, Holland and Ireland respectively. Consequently we ran away from We Are Scientists, who are a fine band, but on this occasion mere pawns in the story of the Biblical Deluge that was Haldern on the Friday. Sadly this was also true of the Cooper Temple Clause.

 

I’m sorry, we do try to be professional, but if you think we were going to stand out in that, you’re sadly mistaken. It was like God just decided to scoop up the entire North Sea and dump it on a field in Haldern. People were getting swept away and I think the Cooper Temple Clause actually played to a lake.

 

Still, we were able to be witness to a true Haldern moment over at the Spiegel Tent, where soggy festival goers had fled to find some form of shelter.

 

In the tent, the Revs and Final Fantasy were sound-checking and warming up. Much to their surprise I think they were presented with one of the wettest and most ad-hoc audiences they will ever encounter. Still, both bands started to fine tune stuff and much to their credit the Revs played the odd number to a wildly enthusiastic crowd. Indeed it’s a shame they stopped (inhibition maybe?) as the atmosphere at that moment was truly magical – and Incendiary don’t really dig the Revs. A DJ was selected from the staff, (apparently) two CDs were hastily dug out and an impromptu disco stared, replete with two second gaps between the songs; it was akin to a teenage house party when the parents are away. It was wonderful. As the only music to hand were the two compilation CDs the tracks played varied wildly, Rage Against the Machine followed by Beth Orton. It was quite bizarre, moving and unable to be premeditated or even replicated. If last year’s tent highlight was the British Sea Power bulb fight, this year’s was without doubt the Soggy Disco. 

 

Whilst some of our team decided to stay in the tent and enjoy the impromptu school disco, some of us wandered back into the quagmire that was the main arena and checked out a bit of Motorpsycho, began to sound very much like the rain; hard, very loud and unforgiving. Indeed they were the ideal band to soundtrack the colossal feat of engineering undertaken at that moment by the German Fire Brigade, who must have pumped off enough water to fill the nearby lake.

As for Element Of Crime, we simply didn’t understand them. That’s not just because they sang in German, but because they played some kind of folk rock crossover that simply went straight over the top of our heads and floated off into the night sky. Which was a shame really as what was left of the crowd seemed to be enjoying it somewhat. Perhaps we missed out.

By this time the rain had abated and people were crawling out from their shelters intent on enjoying themselves. And they did with abandon. Mogwai did with aplomb what Mogwai are very good at, huge, epic bursts of noise with the occasional mumbled vocal thrown in. A very fitting end to a very crazy day. Sorry to The Revs and Final Fantasy for missing them, we had to get dry sharpish… 

Words: Richard Foster and Damian Leslie

 

Click here for Day One

Click here for Day Three