What does a band or DJ get up to before their performance? My idea up until now – lounging about in the smoky backstage area, ranting about the food offered in the buffet and pseudo-intellectual conversations. Just enough time for a joint, a line of coke and then it’s time to unenthusiastically head onto to the stage. It’s just a job for them. Maybe my assumptions are true, but Modeselektor was different.
My 10th Festival. What started off in a few clubs in Graz 12 years ago and attracted around 2000 guests has now become a festival loved the world over. Seven stages, over 30 artists and a varied supporting programme. From bass-heavy Beate to depressing Dillon. The aim of the Springfestival is to bring that festival feeling into the city and to mix it with urban influences. Bringing that festival feeling to Graz, to be precise. An urban festival so to speak.
Dancing through the night to electronic music, and doing touristy stuff during the day: walking around the Schloßberg and visiting the clock tower. And if you’re too hungover, you can take the Schloßberg rail. But either way, going to the top of the Schloßberg is a must, since Graz’s Schloßberg is in the Guinness Book of Records as the strongest fort ever. Even Napoleon couldn’t conquer it. The Schloßberg contains a network of tunnels 6,3 km long and the “Dom im Berg”, an underground events venue. Insider told me that normally rather embarrassing events are hosted here, such as heavy drinking parties à la Magaluf or parties for over 30s. But during the Springfestival this room in the tunnels is the hottest location.
They’re standing in front of the steps leading to the stage. One’s wearing a hat, the other a french beret. It’s pitch-dark. Basically all I can see is their silhouettes, moving around nervously. A lighter is lit, illuminating faces and the cigarette is hastily drawn. Adrenaline is in the air. Last photograph with friends. Flash. Their heads constantly turn towards the stage, they’re waiting for a sign. Second cigarette. Keep moving. To calm the nerves. Now it’s time. The first one’s brought onto the stage and stands next to the decks. The audience is silent and the lights are out. Nobody important then. Now the two guys in hats from Modeselektor are brought onto the stage. The boys are ready to rock the stage. A last clap on the shoulder, a slap on the bum, good luck! They’re to walk past the screen that’s backlit. The audience flips when it sees their silhouettes on the screen. They step up to their decks and start.
Fine electro combined with psychedelic visuals. This is only the beginning for the masses, but sadly it’s over for me. The observing, soaking up the atmosphere and sharing the anticipation, without being a part of it. Experiencing the artists as humans, understanding how such a festival works. Looking behind the stage. This time I made a load of personal experiences.
I love the motto for Springfestival 2012 – pull an allnighter, then stagger home and collapse into bed. In practice, though, it looks a bit different. Of course you dance and drink all night long, and stagger home or take the bus. There you’re sat, drunk, tired, and smelly, next to primary school kids on their way to school. Arriving outside the Hotel Wiesler, and the first show-off tourists are ready for their day ahead, guidebook in hand wearing their beige capri pants and sneakers with matching sneaker socks. Eager to squeeze as much into the day as possible. After experiencing this I realise why most other festivals are located in the middle of nowhere, far away from normal people, so you don’t stand out so pathetically.