More than Music

Over 150,000 people visited this year’s Nova Rock Festival in Burgenland

In black leather jeans and a bikini top, Joan Jett rocked Europe’s biggest stage, the Blue Stage in Nickelsdorf, Burgenland on the evening of June 12.

“Do you wanna touch me?” asked the 52-year-old queen of rock. But even though she performed songs like “Bad Reputation” and “Cherry Bomb,” the spark didn’t strike.

The majority of the audience was used to louder and harder music.

Therefore, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts were a welcome change at the 2010 Nova Rock festival taking place from June 11 to 13 – at least for me and my friends. Others, standing right in front of the former member of the girl group The Runaways, were either sitting on the dusty ground or nodding their heads to the rhythm.

Most of the young people seemed to have forgotten what the real thing was, if they ever knew. After Jett’s tunes of “I love Rock’n’Roll,” the festival’s organizer, Ewald Tatar, entered the stage, announcing that heavy rainfall and windstorms were to be expected. The festival was cut short; Joan Jett left the stage.

No more than 10 minutes after his announcement, strong winds stirred up the dust, making it impossible to see things that were perhaps only 10 meters away. Disappointed, we made our way to the camp ground, to see if our tent was still there. We were lucky; others were pitching theirs again already. For about 40 minutes everyone was in a doomsday mood, fearing the end of the sixth edition of the festival at the Pannonia Fields II.

Fortunately, the rain held off and the punk rock band Green Day was able to perform with a half-an-hour delay. Lead singer Billy Joe Armstrong jumped around in his red jeans, brought kids from the audience on stage and shot toilet paper and shirts in the crowd. The show was stunning, including fireworks, and they didn’t miss out on a single song. Entertainment was guaranteed, but it didn’t get my body moving. Somehow the individualism was missing.

The American trash metal band Slayer, formed in 1981, rocked at the same time on the smaller Red Stage in Nickelsdorf. Our tent was close – I could still hear a noise in my ears when I woke up the next day after only two hours of sleep. At least, these four made us forget about the chaos hours earlier.

Apart from the windstorm on Saturday, the weather served us well. On Friday, at the beginning of the festival, the thermostat measured 36 degrees Celsius. There were no riots.

“It’s too hot for people to do anything stupid,” one of the security guards told me. The Red Cross treated 2,780 patients, most of them because of circulation problems or eye infections due to the dust.

We were looking for places in the shade drinking as much water (and the freshening Spritzer – mineral water with white wine) as possible to avoid dehydration. Passing a sprinkler, we got our clothes wet, to make it bearable to enjoy the bands playing in the afternoon’s sun.

All in all, it was a good festival; Friday had been a good start with acts like the Austrian-Russian band Russkaja, folk metal band Subway to Sally from Germany and Saul Hudson, who’s better known by his stage name Slash, the former lead guitarist of the hard rock band Guns N’ Roses.

Also impressive was the Austrian group Bauchklang: five young men making music without any instruments. It was the first time I had ever heard beat boxing, and their performance was impressive.

After Joan Jett, my personal highlight was Kate Nash; with lyrics like “I’ll just read a book instead” or “I don’t have to be your baby,” the 22-year-old demanded emancipation, nearly exploding after her last song, stepping up onto her piano and jumping up and down. She had fun and so did her audience. Particularly, the girls around me were dancing and singing to the lyrics of “Foundations,” even though it was 40 degrees in the shade.

However, most seemed to be waiting for the metal band from Berlin, Rammstein.  “Don’t listen to the lyrics,” my friend told me, “because it’s only about the music.” I should have listened to her. It was all about masturbation, sex, torture, Hitler – call me a wuss, but I find them scary. Their show was underlined with pyrotechnics at its finest; however, I was happy when they left the stage shortly after 1 a.m.

When I woke up on Sunday, finally in a cool tent, I was looking forward to going home: to having a shower where no one else was waiting right in front of the curtain, to eating healthy food instead of burgers and kebabs, and best of all, to putting on some clean clothes.

Still, the last day in Nickelsdorf was a great one. On the Blue Stage, The Bosshoss managed to get the crowd dancing. With a weird English accent, the lead singer told us they were from Wisconsin – it turned out they’re from Berlin. Nonetheless, even the hardcore metal fans found themselves moving their bodies to country music.

The next band, The Prodigy, was quite the opposite. A British band formed in the 90s and influenced by techno and electronic music. But the light show and the extremely loud sound of the synthesizer made it impossible to see or talk to the person right next to you.

To avoid the crowds leaving the festival on Sunday night, my friends and I left with the sounds of the Beatsteaks in the background. For my first festival, Nova Rock had been a positive surprise. I wasn’t prepared for a lot of it, especially for the teenagers losing all their inhibitions. But still, a festival is more than music: it’s a celebration of being young.

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