To say that Freedom Sounds is a great festival is not enough. Before we tell you exactly what happened during the memorable last weekend of April in Cologne, Magdalena prepared her Top 5.
Since my first time at Freedom Sounds festival, I have not seen a bad concert there. And there is nothing surprising in this because fine line up is one of the advantages of this event. I’m not a hardcore festival-goer and I don’t have the urge to see every performance. Sometimes a girl has to eat, drink and record interviews (not necessarily in this order). And although what I see in the end is always very good, there are always some concerts that please me much more than others. This is my first five this year:
1. The Void Union ft. Riki Rocksteady
I did not have any special expectations before the show. When it ended, I wasn’t going anywhere! The band surely was thinking the same, because even the stern faces of the organizers who nervously pointed at the watches did not impress them. I don’t know how long this madness lasted, but definitely longer than the planned 50 minutes. I didn’t have so much fun at any other concert! I even forgive the boys for playing “Simmer Down” and one song I genuinely dislike – “Jump in the Line (Shake, Senora)”.
2. The Steady 45s ft. Natty Bo
Festivals have one advantage over club concerts – different musicians sometimes like to appear on stage when someone else is playing (on Freedom Sounds they also like to dance in front of the stage – this is another advantage of this festival). I tend to focus so much on cutting the rug that I don’t always know what’s happening on stage. While I was dancing to “Voodoo Working” in th very last minute I noticed that Natty Bo showed up among the musicians of Steady 45s. It could not get any better! Sorry, gentlemen, I adore you, but after this song this concert could as well be over.
3. Le Grand Miercoles
When Editor-in-Chief Budzik claimed it was going to be a firecracker, I could only rely on his words. Instrumental surf? Ok. But themes from westerns? I haven’t even seen too many of them in my life (forgive me, Dad). The records are very pleasant, but they do not foretell what those crazy Spaniards are doing live. Warbonneets, cowboy hats and commitment worthy of the biggest rock and rollers. This can’t be described! Believe me, you’d love to be in this club basement with us (and sing the guitar parts like some).
4. Jesse Wagner & The Badasonics
Wow, Jesse, wow! I think you can buy everything this guy gets involved with sight unseenk. The Aggrolites – no need to say anything (the guys will be in Europe in autumn with a new album, finally!). Reggae Workers Of The World – what a beauty! And now he sings soul and does it perfectly. Northern soul included. And of course musicians from The Badasonics, a band associated with Badasonic Records, are a solid team. If you look closely, you’ll find the founder of the label and R.W.W.’s drummer, Nico Leonard, behind the drums. They plan to record an LP with this line up – go ahead and take my money, guys!
5. Eastern Standard Time
In this case, there was a lot to wait for. A decade has passed since the memorable concert of the Americans in Warsaw. Moreover, EST finally released a new record, “Time For Change” (first since 2004!). It’s less jazz, but more rocksteady and reggae. And the concerts are still as good as I remember. Check it out in Poland – May 7th in Zduńska Wola and May 8th in Krakow. I would also like to grant the bass player a special distinction for the best shoes at the festival.
A special place in my heart is reserved for Los Apartamentos. After all, not every day you have the opportunity to go to a mento concert. Nobody on Freedom Sounds (and probably no one in Europe!) reaches deeper into the roots of Jamaican music. Los Apartamentos, the hosts of the festival, this time performed on the main stage promoting their album “Water Di Garden”. Unfortunately, the concert lost some of its atmosphere. Although I must admit that the charming young man at the back of the stage tried to make up for it with some original choreography.
It was a good weekend, I have no doubt about it. Even the temporary change of location to a larger one (in previous years, the festival took place in Gebäude 9 and from what I heard, will return there next year) did not change my reception of the whole event too much. Although I prefer concerts in smaller venues, I must admit that the lack of crowds in the first row was quite pleasant. It was a bit problematic to go through the yard from the main stage to the smaller one, but the rest was perfectly fine. So if you ever thought about going to Freedom Sounds, next year just buy a ticket. If you’ve never considered it, maybe it’s time to think about it seriously.