Australia is great at many things. Attracting musical talent isn’t one of them. If you go to a big Aussie music festival you can’t be too surprised or disappointed if it’s headlined by a tap dancing chook. Which is a bad example because that’d obviously be sick.
Australia is too far, has too few people, and is too expensive to tour. When the Rolling Stones hit Adelaide in 2015 I’m pretty sure I saw Mick Jagger squint and mutter ‘Prague’s changed a bit.’
Therefore no Eurotrip is complete without a music festival. Attracting the best ear lollies from around the world, European festivals are a heady mix of awesome bands, non-existent alcohol restrictions, and terrific people who aren’t particularly Australian.
Nuremberg is famous for two things. Neither of them are music, although by the enthusiasm of the crowd I think it’s fair to assume that the tunes at the Nazi rallies were bangin’. Nonetheless, upon seeing the lineup of Rock Im Park, and realising it was perfectly placed between Sweden, where we’d be, and Budapest, where we’d be heading, the decision was made to check the town and its festival out.
A digital boy in an analogue world
I don’t like wasting paper. I’m also a big fan of convenience. If you were to ask me whether I’d prefer to receive a lovely handwritten letter that took 4 days to deliver or a notification on my phone to say that you’d WhatsApped me a photo of your poo, I’d probably tell you that your question was too long and inconvenient.
‘How would you like your tickets sent to you?’ the Rock Im Park website enquired, ‘standard mail or express?’ After confusedly looking for the e-ticket checkbox then shouting ‘JUST FUCKING EMAIL THEM’ at my screen for four to five minutes, I finally gave in and paid the $50 to get the physical tickets sent from Germany to Budapest. Surprisingly that fee didn’t include hand delivery by a butler or a pat on the dick upon arrival.
We were heading from Budapest to Sweden a week before the festival, travelling via Nuremberg on the way back to Budapest. And it was a full three days into the Swedish leg of the trip before I noticed a severe lack of ticket in my bag, which I followed up with my longest ‘OH FUUUUUUUUUUUCK’ ever.
My aforementioned decade of German lessons once again came in not at all handy as I explained the situation to the Deutsch branch of Ticketek, who, in a fucking stunning display, were somehow less helpful than their Australian colleagues. The upshot was that the tickets were apparently as irreplaceable as their delivery price made them out to be, and my choices were to buy new ones or to go back to Budapest and grab them off the couch.
Three satisfying German curses later I decided to spend $300 and 16 hours of non-stop travel doing the latter.
You get what you pay for
The problem with Ryanair is everything. The specific problem with Ryanair in this story is their baggage allowance. Unwilling to fork out money for a seat in a real plane, we decided to pack thriftily and jump on board the airline equivalent of Black & Gold cooking chocolate, with a plan to buy camping gear nearer the festival. Happily we stumbled across a second-hand store post-flight, and to our delight walked out five minutes later with two sleeping bags and a generously sized two man tent, having forked out a grand total of $15.
You get what you pay for, it’s true. If I paid $15 for breast augmentation I wouldn’t be surprised or even disappointed if the doctor suctioned a couple of plunger cups on my chest and painted them beige.
For $15 I wouldn’t have cared if the tent’s zip didn’t work or there were a few missing pegs, so I had a quick peek inside, decided that it definitely looked tentish, and went merrily on my way. One thing I didn’t check for were the poles. I’ve since come to the conclusion that they are, by some distance, the most important part of any tent construction.
Have you ever tried to buy tent poles by themselves? Oh, you’re not an idiot? Fair point. Turns out that you sort of can’t, so unless you want to go for the upsized combo of an actual tent, or you’re soulless enough to toss some poles down your slacks and walk out of the store, you’re shit out of luck. While I’m not above putting chillies through as carrots on Coles self-service machines, outright tent-pole theft is perhaps a step too far for this guilt-riddled Catholic. Jesus might tell his dad or something? I forget what the system is.
Our next best bet: broom handles, which I spent the better part of half an hour sharpening on the pavement outside of a coffee shop so that they’d feed through the eyelets of the tent. PRO TIP: If you’re ever sharpening a heavy wooden pole to a spiky point in a public space, avoid grinning at passers-by, as what might be meant as reassuring can be construed as ‘fucking creepy’ and will make you look like ‘a hipster Charles Manson.’ Or so I’m told.
Anyways, they worked, so at least this little serial killer had a comfortable place to rest his weary head.
Talk about the festival you dickhead
Fair if aggressive point. The festival itself was the tits, as European festivals so often are. Highlights were many and varied. Some notes for future attendees:
- If a German festival starts at 2pm on a Friday, be there at 8am on Thursday to set up your tent. Otherwise you’ll be sleeping on gravel, human waste or a heady combination of the two. Remember: Germans are very German.
- Rock fans seem a little too happy to sit in their own shit.
- Dave Grohl should talk less.
- If you’re at a festival on the former site of the Nazi rallies, be conscious of your hand gestures. Try to wave with an open hand. Avoid blocking the sun from your eyes.
- Festivals are far more comfortable when they feature a full-size supermarket.
- If a security guard asks you why you’re taking a 5m long tree branch out of the festival and back to your tent you need to think of something better than ‘just cos.’
- Alt-J don’t look like they sound. I was imagining people who looked more like envelopes.
- Offering free beer ups the strike rate of ‘Show us your bits’ signs exponentially.
- Catching a 10am flight the morning after the festival seems like a brilliant idea until you actually have to do it.
IN SUMMARY: While my organisational skills had room for improvement, the festival itself did not. It was no more than a tap dancing chook away from receiving the official Fishy 5-star certification.