Frequency Festival Day 1

The Frequency is an Austrian alt rock festival that attracts approximately 50 000 guests. It takes place near Salzburg

It is not the greatest of all rock festivals – given the facts that: this year the headliners at Lollapalooza (USA) are among others Radiohead and Cat Power, the Benicassim f2008 estival (Spain) featured Leonhard Cohen, Death Cab for Cutie, My Bloody Valentine, Sigur Ros, Spiritualized, Pukkelpop 2008 (Belgium) features among others Sigur Ros, Editors, Flaming Lips, Tindersticks, Mercury Rev, Roskilde Festival (Denmark) 2008 featured Radiohead, Bonnie Prince Billy, Björk, Neil Young, My Blood Valentine, and the All Tomorrow’s Party Festival 2008 (New York) includes e.g. Built to Spill, Tortoise, Meat Puppets, Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth), Mogwai, Yo La Tengo, Shellac, Silver Mount Zion, Mercury Rev, My Bloody Valentine, Dinosaur Jr.

That is the creme of the crop of alt and indie rock. Well, Frequency does not have all of that. Instead its headliners 2008 are R.E.M., Die Fantastischen Vier, and the Killers.

If you live in Austria and do not have the money to go to the great festivals mentioned above, then you have to choose the mediocre option. Globalized rich and localized poor – that’s the way the story of contemporary capitalism goes. Nonetheless Frequency is an opportunity to see a few good bands.

On day 1, the Dresden Dolls played a great concert. The highlights for me were that they covered Grauzone’s “Eisbär” and Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs”.

On the small stage, José González played a concert that was rather unusual for Frequency because the latter hardly features slowcore performers . González has a reduced minimalistic sound, he just uses an acoustic guitar and his beautiful voice. He has thus far published two albums: Vaneer (2003) and In Our Nature (2007). I found the first one great and innovative, the second one really boring, repetitive, and standardized. The concert was like his two albums. The first half featured mainly new songs, which I find more repetitive and standardized. The second half then featured in my opinion great artistic pieces like “Crosses”, “Heartbeats” and his cover version of the Massive Attack Song “Teardrop” (the only exception from the rule on the new album). The highlight for me was that he gave a great performance of the Joy Division classic “Love Will Tear Us Apart”. All in all it was a great concert.

José Gonzalez performing “Love Will Tear Us Apart”. Hear Joy Division’s 1980 original version here.

The headliners of day 1 were R.E.M. What can one say about them? Old men delivering a great live performance supported by a perfect video art show. They have shown that they are still much better than many of the standardized boring clown bands that day one featured, such as Travis, Maximo Park, Flogging Molly or Ladytron. I did not at all like the recent R.E.M. album “Accelerate”, which is a poor shadow of what they were once able to do. The concert therefore also worked best at those parts that featured older and classic songs such as “Imitation of Life”, “Electrolite”, “Orange Crush”, “Drive”, “Man on the Moon”, “Losing my Religion”, “It’s the End of the World as we Know It”. The opening song was, well fitting the festival’s title, “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?”. A song that I was missing was my favourite R.E.M. track “Leave”. Overall, it was great for me to experience for the first time this influential classical alt rock band in an impressive performance. Most of the other bands that perform at Frequency would not exist without the influences by R.E.M.

Tomorrow, day 2 will feature among others my festival favourites Iron and Wine and the socialist rockers Manic Street Preachers.

Iron and Wine “Jezebel”

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