Lots of happy faces, children playing, people laughing, eating and drinking on a warm and sunny Summer evening. So why do I feel sad? Because it’s the last time they will be doing this down between the lake and the Kunst!Rasen. There is music from Westerwald band Max is Alright to lift my spirits though and a spirit of ‘Carry On regardless’ that by evening’s, and venues end where the Kunst!Garten is concerned, makes me feel a bit more optimistic.
It’s shortly before 6 pm and there isn’t an empty seat to be seen anywhere in front of the ‘small stage’ that has become home to so many aspiring musical stars these last six years. Some, like Gabby Young and Deserted have done quite well for themselves, others have managed to just leave a footnote in the venues annals saying ‘I was there’. Tonight’s band has actually been able to say ‘I was there’ on more than one occasion even this year having started the Season on 1 June.
I’m wondering how many people were at that first June concert, or indeed at most of the concerts here this season. The question springs to mind, as it did when Mr Music closed it’s doors, as to whether , if all these people had made this a regular place to chill out would this still be the last ever show here? I suspect, given the complicated situation surrounding the Kunst!Garten’s existence, that numbers would not have saved it – but they would have raised more attention to it’s plight.
Kunst!Garten Mastermind and Organizer Martin Nötzel is called on to say a few words before the band gets down to musical business, and is rightfully loudly applauded for having the vision to create, literally, a stage where pretty well anyone was able to apply to appear. His only requirement being originality. It led over the years to some, admittedly, not so entertaining evenings musically – but, given the criterion for appearing, surprisingly few such evenings exist in my memory. Overall it was always fun to have a drink, a Pfannkuchen, and listen to the band (or, in worst case scenarios, talk over them). Well deserved loud applause then, and I don’t think Mr Nötzel is a man to be put off by the occasional set-back. I, and the many applauding before the show, certainly hope not.
Away from the local politics of the venue let’s just judge the music on offer tonight. Westerwald seven piece combo Max is Alright are the ideal band for a venue like this. They have a simple pop music element about much of their self-penned set that is guaranteed to appeal to a wide range of listeners and can dig a little into Hard Rock too when occasion or fancy demands. Paul Thomas Morton’s Mick Jagger T-shirt is almost a promise that things will get rockier as the evening wears on, and to a degree, so it proves. The regular switch of vocalists also helps keep the band sounding fresh and Max (Schmidt) is indeed alright, staying for the most part in the musical background on guitar.
The usual delays and semi-confusion at the food/drinks booth are on this occasion something to savour. Instead of rolling my eyes at being given a token to accompany my beer I smile at it as a quirk that I will miss. I get back to the stage in time to see a short but obviously very much heartfelt video put together by the Kunst!Garten Team as a thank you to Martin Nötzel and I’m sure that paper tissue in his hand wasn’t just to wipe away a sneeze. I almost felt like asking if he had a spare tissue after such a moving end to the evening – but that would be to suggest that I thought it was all over, and such a great idea to introduce emerging talent is too good to die. I had the same feeling surveying the ashes that destroyed the Kunst!Garten first time around. Somewhere in Bonn, there is a Phoenix!Garten waiting to be invented for the good of young talent. I certainly hope so.