A new Open Air Festival in Bonn? Some may argue that the only new thing about ‘Rockaue’ is the entry price. Will it have an impact on the success of its predecessor, mega-popular but ill-fated ‘R(h)einKultur? Armed with a Nikon, ear-plugs and sturdy shoes, 3songs set out to discover if the organizers claim of offering music for all age-groups and musical tastes held water and hoped there would be no clouds hovering above the Rheinpark that also did.
Wikipedia tells me that R(h)einkultur saw some 200.000 visitors in 2007. The numbers for Rockaue in 2015 are likely to be somewhat less dramatic for sure. Maybe it’s no bad thing that entrance is now no longer free but a bargain still at just under ten euros since, despite it’s being hot and sunny Rheinaue is pleasantly devoid of drunken figures littering the lawn. In fact there are numerous water stand-pipes providing a respite from the heat. Not sure that many people were looking for cocktails at 4pm on such a day but they could be found at a good many tents alongside the more traditional Bittburger, and Bratwurst.
I’m there in time to catch Gun Barrel on the Rock n Heavy stage which is no coincidence – it’s been a photographic ambition of mine to catch Sunny Skies frontman Patrick Sühl with a guitar in his hand for a while now and I can now reveal he knows how to play it rather well. Their ‘Damage Dancer’ cd is excellent Hard Rock, so if you missed them at Rockaue catch up with them via the disc.
There’s plenty of time to head for the local stage and see what’s happening, and it’s an intriguingly named ‘Das Frivole Burgfräulein’ who are happening. A lively bunch of men are dancing about in a manner that tells me, even from a distance, that this is likely to be in the direction of punk music and my ears soon told me I wasn’t wrong and also that they weren’t bad at all to listen to on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
First challenge for the day was MotorJesus (Heavy Stage 19:45) and Deserted (local stage 19:50) Despite the stages being far apart I managed to catch some Moenchengladbach Metal from the former and still hear most of the set from one of my fave local Pop/Rock bands. Truth to tell it’s the Local Stage that’s the most important one here in my book and good to hear a band like Deserted who deserve to be on the Main Stage sooner rather than later.
Indeed, I am back at the Mainstage again for some excellent power pop from a good looking and young trio from Munich (three reasons for being envious in one sentence!) They go by the name of (who thinks these things up?!) Blackout Problems. There’s no doubt that Rockaue is a great showcase for bands to spread their fan bases and there’s plenty of energy going down from all the bands I come across. The three ‘M’s’ (Marcus (bass), Mario (guitar) and Michael (drums) are no exception and indeed Mario leaps from stage to amp, to photo pit and then into the audience with an energy that I wish I’d had even at his age. The fans love it too when he sits on the grass to play a solo.
My energy expended by all the to-ing and fro-ing I decide to use the arrival of some friends as an excuse to stay in one place, and that happens to be the Main Stage, which is about to become presided over by a gentleman named Maxim who is famous around these parts for his urban pop songs. The songs didn’t grab me at the time but some thoughtful lyrics were on offer I discovered later such as these from his hit ‘Staub’ (Dust):
‘Doch Zeit heilt alle Wunden
Und es tut nicht mal mehr wirklich weh
Bald müssen wir uns gar nicht mehr sehen.
Und dein Punkt wird immer kleiner
Und langsam löst er sich auf
Und alles was ich dann noch sehen kann,
Not music to rock out to admittedly, but then there is supposed to be something for everyone here today and this is about the closest I came to Folk Music (admittedly not very close though).
By the time Jennifer Weist aka Jennifer Rostock hits the stage with her band the sun is a little lower in the sky and the greenish stage lights make my early photos look like stills from ‘The X-Files’. In the flashes of light though there is an opportunity to do some reading – the back of Rostock’s left leg seems to contain a whole books worth of text. The tattoos are as lively as the music and soon after the 3 songs photo limit is over it’s dark enough for her costume to glow so brightly that it’s possibly even visible to passing airplanes.
There’s a tram running only every half hour as normal ( After all this Festival was only announced months ago, how could the transport system prepare in advance!) so I decide to forego the end of Miss Rostock’s colourful musical display. Crammed in amongst young but happy (and sobre) Rockaue fans I would be lying if I said that the promise of something for everyone of every age was fulfilled (or did ‘every age’ mean 9 to 19?) But that said, this was a lively and enjoyable showcase for young Rock and Pop musicians both locally and nationally and that has to be a good thing. My apologies to anyone who came to this report and looked in vain for a mention of life on the Electronic Stage, the ears were willing but the feet were weak. All in all, a good start to a Festival that certainly deserves a future and a visit from anyone who wants Bonn to remain a lively City.