MS DOCKVILLE FESTIVAL has become one of the most popular festivals within Germany, though it’s relatively unknown to the rest of the world. People flock to the grounds in Hamburg from all over the country to spend a weekend running between stages set on a small harbor in an industrial wasteland. Cranes, shipping crates and old warehouses become beautiful backdrops for the festival when combined with the setting sun and the still harbor. The surrounding smoke stacks and brick buildings become the canvas for light projections, an example of the attention to detail Dockville puts into the weekend that makes it so special for those who attend. This year, Hamburg laid off the rain for some of the only days of the year and gave festival goers perfect weather for the entire weekend- meaning that the mud on the grounds only doused their shoes but avoided creeping up their legs.
MS Dockville has a reputation of casting artists who will make it big in the following year. In 2014, they brought out names that soon became commonplace and filled the lineups at the festivals following. CHET FAKER, MØ, KAYTRANADA, and RYAN HEMSWORTH were amongst those names that made it in last year’s roster and have since toured the international festival circuit and sold out shows for months. This year will undoubtedly have the same result, with names like SYLVAN ESSO, ÁSGEIR and HAYDEN JAMES taking the stage.
Those sets were amongst our favorites, standing aside SEKUOIA, JOSÉ GONZÁLEZ, DJANGO DJANGO and ALLE FARBEN. The energy at the SYLVAN ESSO and DJANGO DJANGO shows was infectious and led to a dancing crowd that reached well over the stage barrier out to the artists. We sat down with the duo that is SYLVAN ESSO right before their set to talk about what they’re currently working on, so watching the crowd’s reaction when they played their new, untitled tracks was all the more rewarding. The band’s vocalist, Amelia Meath, and their producer Nick Sanborn, have a palpable chemistry and animated dance moves that make their live shows a must see. The same rings true for British rock band, DJANGO DJANGO who made their fans jump around for their whole performance, especially when they played their all too catchy track, Default.
The voices of JOSÉ GONZÁLEZ and ÁSGEIR were as equally gripping as the energy of those sets. GONZÁLEZ’ fingers moved effortlessly across his strings while he cooed lyrics in his hypnotic voice. ÁSGEIR showed a voice just as compelling as he alternated between Icelandic and English. He spoke with us shortly before his performance to talk a bit about his use of both languages in his shows. ALLE FARBEN and NOD ONE’S HEAD returned for their second round at Dockville and both put on shows that made people understand why they were asked back.
The main letdown of the weekend was ODESZA, though really by no fault of their own. The duo usually puts on one hell of a show, but they didn’t stand up against the live instrumentals included in the electronic sets of CARIBOU or SON LUX. The only other complaint was the lack of signs around both the festival and campgrounds that led to even veteran attendees losing their way on the muddy paths.
Overall, MS Dockville provides an ideal festival experience: not too big, but just big enough, stages that are close enough together to catch every set but far enough apart that sound doesn’t carry, and the perfect mix of alternative, electronic and rock music.