July 18, 2011

Do you like this?

Day three, the end

By Sunday afternoon as the festival grounds opens its arms to us smelly, dirty, mongrelled things once more, it was absolutely pissing down. The beach stage had closed and half the campsite had headed home, fleeing the downpour and most likely returning to the real world with their Monday morning office jobs. Thanks to the rain, Berliner chic had given way to the garbage bag army, and we wet, bedraggled dregs valiantly sticking it out.

In one of only two sheltered stages, Californians Crocodiles reminded me that I’ll never be a proper Berliner because I was so relieved to not have to hear another synth. Rising to fame after being blog-name-dropped by noise poppers No Age, Crocodiles borrow the dark jangle of Jesus and Mary Chain and slap on a coat of the retro garage sheen California’s exporting so well right now, while looking the part in their leather jackets, singer Brandon Welchez’s Tom Waits tee and tight jeans.

The real early highlight though, making tomorrow’s head cold all worthwhile, were Glasgow’s Errors, who jammed out post-rock for the dance floor via two guitars, two synths, drums and a cow bell.

“It’s so lovely you’re here when there’s still all those drugs for you to take.”

Picking up the grand Brit majesty of fellow Scots like Mogwai or The Twilight Sad, the foursome’s genre-curious instrumentals twist into bleepy, cosmic goodness with a solid sub-bass beating the mostly anglophilic room mental; “Is anyone here actually from Germany?”

Still raining. After being turned away from the over packed stage of Architecture in Helsinki, who I’d wanted to see in the name of hometown loyalty, and after a short dry-off boogie watching Bodi Bill wrapped in a giant cocoon with a sea of umbrellas stabbing the air, it was finally time for Pulp, who were headlining the open-air Bench Mainstage.

Since Pulp split in 2002, Jarvis Cocker and his dandy blazers have remained in the limelight – albeit with public butt-wiggling kept to a minimum – and yet for years he continued to fob off reformation requests. With still little explanation for why it’s happening now, Pulp’s original line-up reformed late 2010 for a string of festival dates and wielding a set list that ran like a "Best Of" compilation, including "Something Changed", "Disco 2000", "This Is Hardcore", "Sorted For E’s & Wizz", and "Common People".

As the soggy audience geared up, huge laser green projected text ran in both English and German across the top of stage, brilliantly Pulp-esque in its snappy, facetious tone, playing off both the cheesy nostalgia and sincere affection that is ultimately at the heart of a band reunion as it finished with the words, “Do you remember the first time?”

The fact that many of the crowd were actually too young to remember first wave Pulp or their slow burning rise to fame seemed suddenly of little importance, though it was interesting to witness mass adoration for a band that always played the antihero.

Cocker was relishing it, gazelle leaping about the stage, mounting and molesting speakers, venturing into the crowd and pulling the same beloved pouting, melodramatic poses from the old video clips, as the band in brilliant form pumped out the disco pop and glam post-punk hits and the kids went ballistic, pogoing in the lake-like puddles that had flooded the downward-sloped ground.

By the end, my shoes and socks were saturated, water rising up my jeans to the knee and still grinning, I didn’t care. Waiting for Junip, I wrung out my socks before José Gonzáles and his friends started their warm gentle psych-rock, bidding Melt! a bittersweet farewell.  


July 18, 2011

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