I’m off to Maifeld Derby Festival in Mannheim this weekend and really looking forward to it. Marc, Verena, possibly Timon and I will take the car and drive down south tomorrow morning. It’s funny to go back to Mannheim after almost five years and it brings back memories of golden times in the Jungbusch…I will be writing about those days another time. Talking music festivals with Timon at work a couple of days ago, I remembered the first festival I ever went to – the Strange Noise Festival in Trossingen, Southwest Germany in 1996. I was 16 years old and went there with two friends of mine, Pese and Daniel. I think our parents drove us there and I remember a sunny day on arrival and a lot of people queuing to get in. At the main entrance drunk and evil looking security guys released the arriving festival folk of thousands of litres of alcohol, drugs and all sorts of things. Back then, there were no festival websites informing people of no glass bottles on festival grounds policies. I remember the security guys being very unfriendly, rogue and perhaps even slightly violent, sneering at people and taking cocaine.
But then I was only 16, rather insecure and coolness was just a role I had to play. I remember roaming the festival with my friends with big eyes. I had never seen such an agglomeration of freaks in one place before. I was from a small village. And at that time, I still listened to the music my father likes a lot – The Who, Cream, early Clapton etc., I loved The Doors. Before the festival, I had never heard or cared for bands performing at Strange Noise like Headcrash, Manic Street Preachers or Skunk Anansie. I already liked The Prodigy though and of course I knew (but disliked) Fanta 4.
The festival itself turned into chaos on the second day. Festival organiser Matthias Kästner had expected 15.000 people – around 40.000 came. Apparently, small town Trossingen’s supermarkets were all empty in one day and people were queuing for ages in front of the public „Freibad“ to take showers after the festival had turned into a mud bath following a thunderstorm with lots of rain. People threw mud balls at Placebo while they were performing, and folks on drugs were bathing in the small stream that ran through the festival ground (Strange Noise `96 took place in Trossingens „Teufelsgurgel“), which was full shit and debris. There weren’t enough loo cabins (perhaps 15?). I also remember drunk people turning those “Dixie” cabins upside down while somebody was in there taking a dump…ah, those were the day. Thinking of it now, it was a very rough and alcohol driven affair. I didn’t enjoy it myself that much. I remember the folks I was with not being particularly interested in me (I wasn’t cool enough) and we had an argument during the first night in the tent, and I so left early in the morning of the second festival day, my Dad picking me up at Trossingen station, and I missed out on most of the fun. I’m not even sure I saw The Prodigy to be honest.
A few of my today friends also went to this festival. I know Oli was there and so was Maxxi. It’s nice to know they were there at the same time and that we became friends only years and years later in other cities. Who else went there? Tell me about your memories of the festival – or share your memories of your very first music festival. I’m packing my stuff to get ready for the Derby now and look forward to your comments. Maifeld Derby, here we come!