Euro Review

Isle of Wight Festival, U.K.

This Isle of Wight wasn’t expecting monsoon style weather causing water logged fields, sinking stages and thick mud camping sites, but everyone that attended encapsulated the festival spirit of us against the elements. The rain caused severe gridlock in to the island, but the problems were not as bad as reported in the media and the festival provided a welcoming if very muddy atmosphere.

Friday got off to great start with Seasoned rockers Tom Petty and the heartbreakers making their first ever UK festival appearance. The style of all out proggy rock made a great evening of easy listening in the summer sun and a mix of all ages embraced the night. Over at the big top Kellis had the tent shaking with dance classics and a rare drum solo display. Feeder also provided a brand of Foo Fighter style rock on the main stage as well as Lana Del Rey performing an eerie yet captivating display. 

Saturday provided Pearl Jam, who are one of these us bands who have always failed to command the same levels of fans in the UK that they did in the US. Frontman Eddie Vedder however was mesmerising, with showmanship similar to the likes of The Boss himself Bruce Springsteen. He executed song after song, gripping the audience with his unmistakeable grainy vocals. Although IOW organisers were trying to stay away from popular pop genres, Saturday provided a great radio one mix with the likes of Jessie J and Tiny Tempah storming the main stage.

The final day provided the highlight of the festival and those who endured the weather were given their reward of three hours with The Boss, Bruce Springsteen. From opening song to encore Springsteen offered complete value for money, blasting out hits of Born in the USA and The Rising. The Boss was a great coup for the organisers and his 3 hour set defined him as the headline act. Without doubt Springsteen nailed it and with a musical career spanning five decades, it was a magical ending to a wonderful festival.

Rob Collins. Irish Festival Awards 2012

Melt! Festival, Germany

Melt! is an indie-electronic, three-day music festival; set on the peninsula of Ferropolis, against the backdrop of giant rusty cranes, which when lit up transform the sky into rapid sequences of lasers. Not even two hours from Berlin’s centre; it is a simple train ride south from Hbf Main station. I set out from Dublin to find out more.

Security allows 1.5l soft drinks into the festival but the campsite had no such rules! Campers carry as much food and drink as they can manage to their tents; bbq’s and dj decks playing on amps kept the atmosphere lively in the campsites. The nearest supermarket being Lidl; in Grafenhainichen, provides all the essentials. I got myself a four man tent there, which turned out to be bigger than my apartment: two bedrooms and a front sitting room! It took seven of us an hour to put up and served us well; through the temperamental weather over the weekend. 

Friday was the highlight of my weekend. The Naked and Famous’ relentless hooks didn’t disappoint! Fake Blood really had the crowd jumping with his electro, endorphin-raising remixes. Swedish popstar, Robyn, bounced her way around the stage much to the enjoyment of the crowd and Housemeister’s high-strung techno-electro mixes; wowed the crowd at Desperado’s Beach. This man loves his synthesiser effects and had the crowd clueless as to what was coming next; instead we gave in and just danced!

Saturday was a scorcher. Campers were woken early to the unforgiving sun and were fortunate enough that; the surrounding lake was freezing cold and relaxing! A few warm beers throughout the afternoon had us back to normal. Beady Eye played a disappointingly average set; proving the Gallagher brothers make better music together. The Streets played their third and last ever Melt! gig. They brought their clever lyrics; attitude and crowd control techniques to thousands of adoring fans, Skinner proved himself to be a very witty and entertaining performer. Many people I spoke to; agreed this was one of the best gigs of the weekend.

Sunday was a miserable day of non-stop rain. The downpour didn’t stop the crowds making it to their favourite acts but it did put a dampener on things. Also the fact that the ATM’s had broken the previous night and hadn’t been fixed led me to be cranky, hungry and cold. I retreated to my tent earlier than I would have liked to warm up; missing Richie Hawtin for warm, dry clothes. I did manage to catch an inspirational set from Jose Gonzales and have a dance to the highly entertaining Carte Blanche. Cold War Kids pulled a decent crowd; even in the heavy downpour and their early evening set. Their bluesy, indie rock had everyone dancing and jumping in puddles. The plastic anoraks being handed out by Jaegermeister were much appreciated!

The recycling incentive implemented was very clever; upon arrival and receiving your wrist band; campers also received a recycling token. On the last day, if the token is returned with a full bag of the rubbish; then campers receive five euro back. That fiver was a godsend; having run out of money on Saturday, with no ATM’S working; I bought myself a lovely hot slice of pizza. When the time came to leave the festival grounds; there were regular buses there to drop campers to various train stations.

I found Melt! overall to be a really chilled, well organised affair. You could download your Melt App prior to the festival and have all your favourite artists and stage times stored on your Smartphone; no excuses for missing your favourite bands. The stages were set up close together but with no overspill; meaning you could walk to the furthest stage in a matter of minutes, not wasting precious music time. The lighting was out of this world and the use of an industrial museum; to house the effects made it all even more surreal. The colours and twists in the sky at night are worth a Youtube search alone if not a visit!  The crowd was very friendly; Germans mixed with the rest of the world. Everybody just wanted to dance and have a good time. Melt! has been held annually for the last fourteen years and it’s clear to see why it keeps getting more popular every year.

Gillian Giblin, Irish Festival Awards 2011