There are some things Europeans do very well. The Alps. Really old architecture. Fine literature. Socialized health care. However, there is something that they do best, and no it’s not drinking alcohol on the street, it is organizing and hosting excellent music festivals. In some cases, festivals can be professionally run events, where your wristband gets you effortlessly around the musical landscape; where you blow ten euros on drinks and overpriced pizza and get to see lots of bands you (maybe) have heard of. Other times, it’s your ticket to mildly controlled anarchy, where people are sleeping in the mud, keeping warm by chemically induced fevers and cuddling next to new “friends.”
The beautiful thing about music festivals is the varied selection, whether you want to kick it with 30,000 music fans in an old ironworks factory in the Czech Republic (Colours of Ostrava) or maybe you prefer the intimate woodland setting at the edge of Lake Geneva (For Noise) or the student heavy vibe of a Danish noise and punk fest (Bryggerfest 2013), the next few months have a lot to offer. Festivals are windows into various music scenes, and so go see someone you know and stumble upon someone you don’t know. NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION has combined knowledge from all over the world to help you find the perfect one. Whether your tastes lean-to electro, post-rock, indie rock, pop, or Scandinavian up-and-coming musicians, you can get it all. Let us help you figure out where to pitch your tent or book your hostel.
Dunk!Festival – Belgium, Easter
Europe’s biggest post-rock festival, Dunk!Festival, which takes place every year at the easter week is definitely one of the hottest ones. A festival with about 600 people from everywhere and the best acts of the current post-rock scene. NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION partnered up with Dunk!Festival in 2012 and also presented it in 2013. Already now we are looking forward to the festival’s 10th edition in 2014. For this the festival team just launched a crown fund. If you are into post-rock then you can support Dunk!Festival. This years headliners were MASERATI, BALMORHEA and I LIKE TRAINS. Let’s see who’ll be there next year. See you at easter 2014 in Zottegem, Belgium!
Distortion Festival – Denmark, May 29-June 2
Distortion is a five-day festival at the beginning of June in Copenhagen. This festival has grown from a one-night party first held in 1998 into a near weeklong extravaganza, with over 150,000 “guests.” Billed as a celebration of Copenhagen nightlife, it features street parties, night parties, and band showcases in various clubs. The description “tsunami-like” is apt; imagine streets teeming with people, dancing, drinking and craziness. The best feature of this festival is that it mobile, each night it takes place in a different neighborhood. So you can see and systematically destroy various parts of the capital. Best choice if you want to see some top of the line DJs, dance your ass off, and also if you want to peek in windows into the underground scene. Noise drone show at Spillestedet Stengade anyone? This year hears what one of 2012’s most influential djs, DJ HARVEY brings. This is a man who said “… you can’t understand my music until you’ve had group sex on Ecstasy.” Get all sparkly with Norway electro-disco, TODD TERJE or flounce around to the disco-pop dandy VINNIE WHO. Check out two emerging acts from the USA, Brooklyn’s synthpoppers LIGHT ASYLUM and singer songwriter DAUGHN GIBSON.
Roskilde Festival – Denmark, June 29-July 7
Roskilde Festival takes place in the south of Roskilde, Denmark. Besides Sziget Festival, Glastonbury Festival, Paléo Festival, Rock Werchter, and Exit Festival, it is one of the six biggest annual music festivals in Europe. Roskilde Festival started in 1971 and runs as a non-profit organization for the development and support of music, culture and humanism. A festival that once started as real hippie festival, now also covers mainstream but still carries the hippie mentality. Could it be better? This years headliners will be KRAFTWERK, THE NATIONAL, RIHANNA, SIGUR RÓS, QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, SLIPKNOT and VOLBEAT. Besides them tons of other acts (like CRYSTAL CASTLES, HIGHASAKITE, INDIANS, MYKKI BLANCO) will be there. NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION will be there. And you? Hope to see you at Roskilde Festival!
Exit Festival – Serbia, July 10-14
This festival is in an eighteenth century fortress on the Danube, in Novi Sad, Serbia. Founded in 2000, the festival lineup is a mix of rock (BLOC PARTY), electronica (FATBOY SLIM), metal/industrial (PRODIGY), R&B (CEE LO GREEN), drum n bass (BROOKES BROTHERS) and rap (SNOOP LION). Spanning five days, the campsite features a small beach, where you can go and cool off after dancing the night away. A lot of acts start late in the evening, the weather at that time in Serbia is usually hot to sweltering, so get out at night in tiny shorts and a big drink of water. There is a main stage and a dance arena. This year the line up includes THOM YORKE and FLEA’s experimental rock super-group, ATOMS FOR PEACE. Highlights for you dance machines will be producer DIPLO and Brighton-born DJ DISMANTLE.
Colours Of Ostrava Festival – Czech Republic, July 18-21
They are still finalizing the line up, but the confirmed act includes Icelandic geniuses SIGUR RÓS, XX, THE KNIFE, DEVENDRA BANHART and WOODKID. Just when you think it’s all headliners from the pseudo-indie-mainstream-rock set, you’ll realize this festival has more genres than you can shake a stick at. There’s African reggae (TIKEN JAH FAKOLY), there’s Israeli folk (ASAF AVIDAN), there’s a Madchester band (INSPIRAL CARPETS), and there will be beatboxing and drum n’ bass (DUB FX). Located in a refurbished old factory outside Dolní Vítkovice, the site is three tram stops from the Ostrava city center. The festival also includes discussions, workshops and as-yet-undefined cultural activities, look for the full line up in June.
Bryggerfest 2013 – Denmark, July 19-20
This two-day festival in the manageable yet mighty portside city of Århus features a mix of local bands and international bands. Taking place in a large rehearsal space, the festival features cheap beer, cheaper food, and a lovely little grassy area for chilling out in between having your soul destroyed by some punk, noise, and hardcore. Check out Norwegian URBANOIA’s classic 1980s hardcore, or better yet the rank beginner, let’s-just-try-it-and-see-what-happens dark punk rock of BED BUGS. For you garage rock fans craving some brilliantly simple vocals over simple 1-2-3 chords, see FRIGHT EYE or the awesomely named HAPPY HOOKERS FOR JESUS. Keep checking back as they add to the line-up.
Off Festival- Poland, August 2-4
The alternative music festival, OFF Festival, started in 2006. Besides focussing on music the festival supports a variety of independent arts and culture events. So if you are into alternative music, exhibitions,workshops and movie screenings, OFF Festival is the festival you should go to. For 2013 acts like MY BLOODY VALENTINE, SMASHING PUMPKINS, GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR, DEERHUNTER, THE WALKMEN, SKALPEL, PATRICK WOLG, SOLANGE, MOLESTA and many others are announced. NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION has been at Off Festival 2012 and highly recommends the festival that is definitely one of the best in Europe.
Sziget Festival – Hungary, August 5-12
You can go to Hungary, or you can live in Hungary. Perched on an island in this legendary and stunning city, Sziget features an impressively international line up, with acts from all of Europe and the USA. Now in its 21st year, this festival has seven large stages and eighteen smaller stages, villages, sports venue (beach volleyball anyone?) and art exhibits. Take in city views from the 42 meter high Ferris wheel. When you need a break just head to any of the historic baths around Budapest, have a sauna and a massage and get back to dancing. A week-long festival, you a hear everything from classical to metal, from German legends SEEED to TOTALLY ENORMOUS EXTINCT DINOSAURS, from the folk-meets-electronic wispiness of MONOPHONA to anti-folk female vocalist REGINA SPEKTOR, from the classic Brit pop of BLUR to legendary producer JOHN DIGWEED. Recommendations include hottest incarnation of dirty, danceable hip-hop, AZAELIA BANKS and the dark pop rock of Belgian BALTHAZAR.
Way up North highlights
Here we are going to smash three festivals into one listing, not because they are less important, but because almost similar line-ups and they all overlap in terms of time. Plus we know you’re lazy and won’t read this if it’s too long. All take place in fairly large cities so no camping. Each of the three has it’s own special thing, and unless you can bend the time-space continuum, you will have to choose. On a side note, CAT POWER is playing all three, so don’t be hurt when she doesn’t return your calls in early August.
Flow Festival – Finland, August 7-11
MY BLOODY VALENTINE? It’s true. Taking place in the former Suvilahti Power Plant, this festival features a specially designed balloon stage, which allows for a 360 degree view. The result of an architecture competition, the audience is seated under a roof that is a huge pressurized balloon. Not only music, Flow Festival features creative urban spaces, visual arts, films and of course, good food and drink. NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION has been at Flow Festival 2012 and will be there again in 2013! See you in Helsinki.
Øya Festival – Norway, August 6-10
Spread across four stages all in Oslo’s Medieval Park, this festival will feature BLUR and KRAFTWERK, for your history buffs. After parties will be at clubs in Oslo. We all hope for a mind-blowing set from Canadian witch electronica prodigy GRIMES. Øya strives to be one of the world’s greenest festivals (featuring organic food) so please put your trash in the appropriate receptacle.
Way Out West – Sweden, August 8-10
This festival answers the question: where can I go see American rock n roll legends NEIL YOUNG AND CRAZY HORSE alongside PISSED JEANS? Göteborg of course! Check out the psychedelic rock of UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA or UK darling BAT FOR LASHES. A distinguishing feature of this festival includes film screenings around town, so when you get tired you can go sit somewhere dark, watch an assortment of art-house and documentary films, and recuperate, all included with your wristband.
Haldern Pop Festival – Germany, August 8-10
Haldern Pop Festival in Haldern, Germany, won the award as Best Small European Festival in 2012. The festival started in 1984 and takes place at an open at place with a capacity of 7000 people maximum. The nice thing about Haldern Pop Festival is that – years ago – the organizers decided to not move the festival to an area where more visitors could come. Furthermore only very few well-known acts play Haldern, the line-up mainly consists of unknown or up- and coming acts from the indie, singer-songwriter, folk-rock and pop music scene. A cozy festival that simply feels wonderful and familiar. At this years Haldern Pop edition EFTERKLANG, GOLD PANDA, HALF MOON RUN, LOCAL NATIVES, METZ, SUUNS, VILLAGERS and many others are announced.
For Noise Festival – Switzerland, August 22-24
This fest in Switzerland is located in Pully, just outside the charming university town of Lausanne. Fly to Geneva and book your lodging in Lausanne, the festival grounds are short bus ride outside of the city. This festival wins for most uncommon pairings in a three-day line up. Starting Thursday, For Noise this year features Danish electronic pop RANGLEKLODS playing with TOMAHAWK (US) is an experimental alt-rock group featuring former members of THE JESUS LIZARD and MR BUNGLE, with combustible former frontman from FAITH NO MORE, MIKE PATTON. The last night features FRANZ FERDINAND and CRYSTAL CASTLES. It’s up in a wooded, hillside location, with one main stage and two smaller indoor stages. It’s small, it’s pretty, and it’s Swiss so very well run and efficient. If you have the day free head over to Montreux and pay your respects at lakeside Freddie Mercury memorial.
Iceland Airwaves – Iceland, October 30-November 3
Founded in 1999, this festival is a showcase for some new bands and some not so new bands (visionary electronic outfit KRAFTWERK will close the festival). Reykjavík is an amazing city for a festival: small yet big enough to offer an awesome range of nightlife. This festival will bring you the known and lesser known of many genres, remember bands like THE RAPTURE to THIEVERY CORPORATION got some big exposure here. Rock out in an old airplane hangar to your choice of: Denmark’s own version of GRIMES, MØ, or maybe you want to switch it up with Syrian folk pop legend OMAR SOULEYMAN. Perhaps Icelandic experimental electronic duo REPTILICUS tickles your fancy, or maybe the subtle indie rock electronic trio ON AND ON. Don’t forget unsigned shoegaze Icelanders OYAMA. After you wash yourself in new music, spray on some glitter and hit the legendary after parties. If you need a break from the crowd, just hop on a train and take in some lava fields and feel small again.
TransMusicales de Rennes Festival – France, December 4-8
Les Rencontres Trans Musicales, which is also known as Les Transmusicales de Rennes or simply TransMusicales de Rennes, takes place in Rennes, France. Since 1979 the festival captures the musical zeitgeist and gives the possibility to discover new acts and new music styles. TransMusicales grew from a small festival to one of the most significant events in Europe with more than 30000 visitors. NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION visited the festival in 2012 and talked to the program director Jean-Louis Brossard and the director of cultural events Béatrice Macé. To be in Rennes during the days of TransMusicales is highly recommendable, since at the same time the festival LES BARS EN TRANS takes place. A great chance to see massive amounts of new acts within some days. High quality, great people, amazing atmosphere and of course a lot of wonderful music.
article by Kika Jonsson & Robert Helbig