Festival Review: Open Source
July 9th 2016, Düsseldorf
Words & Photos: Elena Katrina
There comes a time in every bloggers life where they think that some things are not real, such as free records, back stage passes or invites to secret stages at festivals. They’re the smaller things, and they do exist, and you just have to keep on keeping on until they happen for you. Then there’s the big stuff, the festival invites, the international festival invites and then the hallowed all expenses paid festival invites. I was sure these were made up but no, oh no, it happened and off I went to Düsseldorf, sunscreen in hand, to take part in the NRW International Visitors programme and attend the 11th year of Open Source.
This isn’t going to be, therefore, one of our usual festival reviews, because, well, this wasn’t one of our usual festivals. I was introduced to a small group of journalists at our hotel the day before the festival and that is where our adventure began. We were treated to a fabulous lunch, Italian not German, which was a surprise, but it was delicious and we all got to know each other a little bit before we wondered across the way to be taken on a very special treat. This treat was a visit to the original KlingKlang studios, that of Düsseldorf’s famed and much loved electronic heroes Kraftwerk. Here we met with Open Source’s director, Philipp Maiburg, who in turn introduced us to some of the music makers and producers who have recently been using the unassuming hidden gem of a studio to provide a soundtrack for the festival as well as taking part in an open invite to use and create music there before it’s doors are closed for good. Why, you might ask, is this place such a treat? Well, it still very much remains a secret, there is no sign above the door to indicate that it is what it is, in fact quite the opposite. The door sign remains the sign from the building’s original purpose, pre-studio. Then there’s the fact that it is in a cute little courtyard, tucked off behind the back of a road smack bang in the middle of the red light district! Yet there is more. Only the very discerning of guests were originally allowed to come here, it’s never been open to the public and we were told that not even Davie Bowie was allowed in (though there’s no source to say that he ever tried).
We moved from here to the NRW Forum, an art gallery, which automatically won me over because it had acrobatic skeletons hanging from the very high ceiling in the cafe space. We were given a special welcome and tour which included the fabulous Planet B exhibition which features many immersive and interactive aspects and well worth a look should you be in the area. It was also here where Open Source festival would hold their impressive (and very loud) aftershow party on the Saturday.
It didn’t stop there, we had a full day packed with further social meetings gatherings and parties – I couldn’t believe this was all before the festival was even taking place. I was falling in love with this place. It was beautiful in the old town by the Rhine to boot.
When Festival day came we were collected by an official festival shuttle vehicle, a bit like the ones big bands get ferried to their stages in, and we were dropped off directly back stage and again more tours and a look around the wonderful festival grounds. Open Source takes place at the Galopprennbhan in Düsseldorf, their horse racing and golfing course. A pretty site it is too, compact but plenty of room for the three music stages, the artist instillations (my favourite of which, was a work in progress, where by a guitar was connected to speakers in water to create a visual effect of the different sounds), and a great area for creative and art-based businesses to show of their wares – oh and did I mention the cute food area with a fantastic choice of great value posh nosh and a great choice of drinks. I was actually really impressed with how many people were going in for the soft drinks and there was an entire bar dedicated to just this, and we’re not talking your usual big name fizzy drinks either, something perhaps for UK festivals to consider!
Music-wise the festival felt more geared toward a more hip-hop, dance scene than we would necessarily normally cover but I loved the fact that there was a strong focus on new music, and German new music at that. I did miss the opportunity to see some new UK acts play at a foreign festival but perhaps that’s for another time! The music, even the German bands of which I couldn’t understand were all great and of course I wanted to spend most of my time listening to the newer bands. They generated great crowds with open minds and lots of kids seems to be very much enjoying the sunny atmosphere and enjoying discovering something new. I particularly liked the sounds of Brookland, who we were able to meet and chat with during a press meet and greet during the festival too. Open Source Fest provides a great platform for new music and this opportunity to meet with both local, national and international press was brilliant all round.
There was time, somehow, to grab a wonderful froyo and chill out on the steep and imposing concrete steps of the stands, that looked out onto the main stage, soak up the sun and enjoy a few bands on the main stage too. My favourite there of which was Get Well Soon – a fairly similar affair to the musical stylings of Arcade Fire ran through much of their set and I very much enjoyed them, in fact I’d like to see them again. The day went so fast and it was all built toward the headline set by Hot Chip – a band who I’ve not seen play live for what could be at least 10 years now. The design of the festival programme meant that everyone congregated together for this one band, all other stages had ended. The band then proceeded to delight the crowd on a hot summer’s evening. People really danced, some like no one was watching, and they sang, they really sang! The set was sadly cut short due to a strict curfew and this meant they didn’t have too much time for any interaction with the crowd. No one seemed to mind though and much merriment was had.
Just because the festival was over didn’t mean the fun was…. this is a festival that knows how to party as much as it knows and curates a festival for open minded people with a keen interest in the arts and in music. I now want to grow them a stage of British new music for next year, if only huh! Well done Open Source, I thought you and Düsseldorf was a true highlight of my very hectic festival season and I’d love love to come back and join you all again.
Open Source Press Trip Gallery: