Tempelhof Airport, Berlin
September 12 - 13 2015
Words: LB, Alison Mack
"Hallo Berlin!" was the rallying cry as thousands began to descend on the former airfield of Tempelhof in Berlin (which ceased operations in 2008) for the start of the two-day German leg of the Lollapalooza brand music festival. Over two late summer balmy days, Perry Farrell’s (Jane's Addiction) originally conceived 1991 event (as a farewell tour for his band) has now grown from its Chicago home as a brand that encompasses Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, and now marking its inaugural entry into Europe this weekend in Germany.
Despite the inevitable long queues for everything (90 minutes for wristbands, for example), and a rather disastrous plumbing fiasco with sewage eruptions rendering the toilets unusable, the late summer balmy weather played host to three stages and a raft of international acts and entertained a 50,000 strong crowd, largely from parts of Germany, but an estimated 39 per cent travelling from further afield.
James Bay opened early afternoon on the Main Stage in trademark hat, accompanied by a ghostbusting tee and dark shades with a set that included 'Scars', 'Collide' and 'When We Were On Fire'. He is followed by Bastille who look, sound and command a festival stage like rock gods. Standards 'Pompeii' and 'Icarus' come out, as do 'Of The Night' and the atmospheric standout 'The Draw'. Dan Smith ups the game with a crowd mingle during 'Flaws', that sees the hoodie'd up frontman lost to view for the entire song, before once again reclaiming the stage to set the standard for the rest of the day's artists.
US duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis obviously have a big German fanbase that saw their set filled with raucous crowd cheers and whistles. The Grammy winning hip hop duo of Ben Haggerty (Macklemore) and Lewis fed the fever - "are you here to paarty with us?" - before building up a frenzied long intro to their massive 'Thrift Shop' hit.
The question on many people's minds was whether or not first night headliners The Libertines would make an appearance, and if they did, whether they may be a man down. That they did must have been galling to those just 48 hours before in London who had waited three hours for a gig to happen that was aborted supposedly due to a Peter Doherty 'medical emergency'. [A statement issued yesterday, September 14, by the band gives the reason as a "serious anxiety attack".] The return of The Libertines has been much heralded, and despite at times looking a little unprepared and ramshackle, they turned out 20 songs that ranged from the old ('What Katie Did', 'Death On The Stairs') to material from new album 'Anthems For Doomed Youth' released the day before, before closing on 'Don't Look Back' and 'Into The Sun'.
Main Stage 1 headliners Muse close Sunday night's programme, and the festival, doing what Matt Bellamy & co. do best: putting on a lavish stage production. They didn't fail in their duty either, powering through 18 songs amidst an over-the-top light show and stadium theatrics. After opening big style with 'Psycho' and 'Drones' highlight 'The Handler', they bashed out a raft of live favourites, including festival anthem 'Hysteria', recent singles 'Dead Inside' and 'Mercy', previous hits 'Time Is Running Out' and 'Stockholm Syndrome', before reaching a conclusion with an encore of 'Uprising' and 'Knights Of Cydonia'.
As Lollapalooza Berlin puts the shutters up at the end of its first event in Germany, it has already been confirmed for a return next year over September 10/11 2016. Second time around may iron out the teething problems suffered this year. It will be interesting to see how Lolla fairs in Europe compared to other big festivals like Primavera, Sziget and Glastonbury.