The festival summer in Europe is a thing you have to experience to understand. Let me still try to explain.
Imagine you’re a teenager, camping out with your best friends for four days in a land of unlimited booze, food, games, dancing, sex, your favorite bands, and new, exciting music waiting to be explored. All your camping neighbors are in a great mood too, and it’s easy to hang out with everyone, inventing drinking games and making new friends all day. I’ve rarely ever witnessed a fight at a festival and have never seen a single cop at these gatherings of sometimes upwards of 100,000 people. From your tent to the stages it’s usually only a five-minute walk, and you can hear bands play all day without necessarily having to leave your tent city.
Once it gets dark, the mood gets more and more rowdy, and a sense of danger kicks in. People free themselves from society’s rules, giving into their animalistic instincts. It literally gets wild. At this point you are ready to completely submit to the music. It’s the perfect framework for a rock show. The bands act as the leaders of a huge, ritualistic ceremony. The masses start moving to the same beat, chanting the same melodies, feeling the same emotions, slowly becoming one big organism. It’s a beautiful sense of losing your individuality that satisfies a deep-seated need that’s largely ignored by our society otherwise.
It was our third night at Openair St. Gallen, one of the biggest festivals in Switzerland. I was 19 years old, and somebody had just woke me up; I had slid down a long, muddy slope and apparently fallen asleep in a ditch at the bottom of it. My friend Yannick was very surprised but also happy to find me there. We were right next to the side stage, which resembled a huge circus tent. It was three in the morning, and Leningrad, a 14-piece Russian skacore band, was about to go on. We managed to reunite with a large part of the rest of our group before the show began. I was still a little tattered and very, very dirty from my earlier adventures, but I felt the music giving me energy. We were all ready to let this festival go out with a bang.
The concert itself is a bit of a blurry haze. I remember being amazed at the big variety of folk instruments that kept being brought out on stage, as well as by the virtuosity with which the different band members played them. We were skanking in the pit, headbanging, singing along, making up Russian folk dances, locking arms over shoulders to jump around and spent a lot of time loudly cheering on their “dancer” (this was a huge man with crazy eyes sitting on a small wooden chair at the side of the stage, yelling at the audience and drinking copious amounts of vodka. He also badly screamed a song at one point during the set). In the middle of this completely unhinged, almost orgiastic and absolutely ritualistic happening I ran into my older sister, who had introduced me to the band a few months prior. Of course I’d find her among a crowd of thousands and thousands of people in the middle of the night. After all, we were both part of the same greater whole.
Victory Kid’s “Stepping Out” single is out now.