Around 60,000 music enthusiasts gathered during the weekend of 21.06.19 - 23.06.19, celebrating their stars, life and themselves for three days. The 21st Southside Festival in Neuhausen ob Eck arrived with a strong line-up.
Not only the weather presented itself Janus-faced at this year's Southside Festival. On the festival Friday the visitors still had to struggle with so-so rainy weather but towards the end the sun was shining brightly from the sky. Unfortunately, with the musical material it was vice versa.
Even as an experienced festival visitor, you are confronted with a well-known problem right at the beginning: even if you planned meticulously in advance which bands and artists to visit, you never manage to see all those you actually wanted to see due to time overlaps in the line-up. It cannot be avoided. And still it is annoying each time again. So for three days you hurry from stage to stage to stage. You manage to see and hear a lot only in extracts or, worst-case, not at all.
The ALEX MOFA GANG opens the all-in-all cozy festival Friday on the Red Stage at 2 pm, followed by the retro rockers ROYAL REPUBLIC and WOLFMOTHER on the Green Stage. (At Southside, all four main stages are conveniently named after colors: Green, Blue, Red and White.) Then follows the first highlight of the day: Mike Skinner alias THE STREETS enters the Blue Stage with an accompanying band and to frenetic applause. The British rap hero from the early 2000s clarifies right at the beginning that he is serious about having fun himself: "I came here to have a good time. I don't care if you didn't!" he shouts to the crowd several times in his usual laconic-dry manner, before firing hit after hit. Like probably no one else, Skinner knows how to integrate parts of the audience into his show. He resembles a serious stand-up comedian, who always earns a lot of laughter. Today he makes fun of a fan in the front row who wears a homemade aluminum unicorn hat. Towards the end of the set he will finally steal this hat from the wearer's head. Put it on himself, descend into the crowd, let himself be lifted up by the audience and carried through the crowd with that exact aluminum unicorn hat on his own head. This all as the exhilarated audience dances in a circle moshpit in the front stage area, he in the center of it. Wonderfully bizarre festival moments that can hardly be put into words! "Have fun! It's still Friday" he yells into the microphone and says goodbye after a bit more than an hour of stage time.
On the Green Stage Héloïse Adelaide Letissier alias Chris from CHRISTINE AND THE QUEENS literally sings and dances her soul out. The androgynous French woman could be the queer version of Madonna. With several dancers on stage she delivers contemporary art-pop, her fans wished for on Madonna's latest album "Madame X"... In the white tent across the so-called "White Stage" it's time for JOHNNY MARR. The former The Smiths guitarist plays himself through a well-balanced set of songs from his last album "Call the Comet", as well as classics from THE SMITHS ("Bigmouth strikes again", "How soon is now", "There is a light that never goes out"). As the FOO FIGHTERS will be performing on the big Green Stage, the ranks increasingly thin out towards the end of the performance. You feel sorry because Johnny and his three-people backing band made a routine show but nevertheless it was a great performance.
Apropos FOO FIGHTER: The only thing that can be said about them is that they are a disappointing live band. Their dad-rock conceived on a drawing board has dropped out of time. You can call them the currently most overrated rock band on the planet. Of course, their front man is Dave Grohl who was part of the still and forever oversized NIRVANA. And of course there were a few decent songs on their previous albums, but since then the band increasingly only manages their musical heritage. Their performance sometimes seems like an over-excited rock revue show. Has Dave Grohl always been this extroverted and bragging teenager, trapped in the body of a Canadian brachial woodcutter? The low point is reached when - for whatever reason - suddenly "Another One bites the Dust" by QUEEN resounds over the site. You should think the FOO FIGHTERS have enough songs themselves to be able to fill the two-hour-show... We shrug it off. Next!
The counter program to the FF will be offered with THE CURE on the Blue Stage. Robert Smith and band deliver a great 105-minute best-of-set, which is completed with "Lullaby" at two o'clock in the morning. The fans are happy and only now the rain that had been announced for hours starts...
Overnight and until late Saturday afternoon it was raining and thus the festival grounds were softened quite a bit. Due to 120,000 feet, the meadow now is a mud field. Colorful rubber boots and rain jackets dominate the festival look of the day. But the wet weather doesn't stop the good festival mood. Those who foolishly slip and get muddy from top to bottom don't bother for long. After all, Southside is only once a year! The late Saturday afternoon starts with the riot rockers of PAPA ROACH (they still exist!), the cuddly pop of CIGARETTE'S AFTER SEX and BOSSE.
BILDERBUCH, right now the hot shit from Austria, offers probably the most extraordinary stage design! In addition to a shower, refrigerator, an oversized water tap, the planet Saturn and a waving lucky cat, from whose perspective the show is filmed and streamed live onto the video walls, there are also two drum sets next to each other on a pedestal. Falco´s reincarnation and BILDERBUCH singer Maurice Ernst immediately has the crowd under control. The band plays through a colorful potpourri of old ("Maschin") and new ("Europa") hits, the crowd dances and sings along loudly.
DIE TOTEN HOSEN for most festival-goers is of course the band of the evening, who else? The Düsseldorf still-punks perform at Southside for the first time in 18 years. In front of the Green Stage there is a dense crowd. Almost all of the 60,000 visitors are now standing in front of this one big stage to celebrate Campino and Co. for two hours. Besides current hits ("Wannsee") the Hosen also play numerous classics ("Alles aus Liebe", "Paradies", "Hier kommt Alex", "Bonny & Clyde", "Pushed again" and of course the inevitable "Eisgekülter Bommerlunder"). Everyone is happy once more, and so are we. Who still wants more, goes over to TAME IMPALA. Mastermind Kevin Parker comes on stage in his usual laid back way of being and then plays as the opener the almost eight-minute "Let it happen". Exactly this reveals strength and weakness of the band: You don't want to write anything bad about the nice guy Parker, but live the band is kind of boring with the always same melodies and same orchestration. Unfortunately they are more boring than entertaining. Everything seems sterile and produced in this clean way; the songs themselves remain low in suspense - and seem to last forever. It ignites only real fans, but not too many of them have gathered in front of the Blue Stage.
In midsummer temperatures the festival ends on Sunday evening. From a musical point of view, unfortunately the lowest day of this year's festival (THE WOMBATS, 257ERS, MUFF POTTER, ANNENMAYKANTEREIT, BLOC PARTY and as headliner MACKLEMORE and MUMFORD & SONS).
A total of almost 100 bands performed on four main stages on three days - in front of a total of 60,000 festival visitors per day. Southside is one of the most important and largest music festivals in the German-speaking world, alongside the twin festival Hurricane, which takes place at the same time, and will take place again next year from 19 to 21 June. The Berlin formation SEEED has already been confirmed as the first headliner. Tickets are available on the festival website www.southside.de
Text and photos: Nina Bayne and Gerhard Vogl