It’s has been a while since last year’s Freak Valley festival, but in the dead of winter, our summer memories are as sweet as ever and hopefully we can also ease your cabin fever by inviting you to read this brief writeup by Kutya. See you in the Valley, Freak.
The venue is beautiful. Rolling hills dressed in green and soaked in blue. The friendly locals frequently drive around giving a lift to those in need. They don’t mind a few hundred blissful rascals having a ball in their neck of the woods, even if it means that they can hear everything in their homes. Like Russian Circles at midnight, clearly. Westphalia.
Freak Valley is LOUD. Staggering, the amount of care and work that goes in to the sound system, so that we can enjoy Summac tearing our heads off in perfect clarity, cranked to eleven. Nearly everyone working at the festival is a volunteer and it’s one of the best organized and run festivals of this size I’ve been to. I don’t have any official data, but by my estimate the festival hosts about 600 people, from which 100 are crew and maybe 50 artists in the evenings. There’s a record store, merch tent, handcraft bodegas, swings and they also offer sustenance to anyone with any kind of diet. Although, I couldn’t get pork knuckle stew and I think that it is an outrage that I can’t get a gin without tonic water, but that’s probably just me.
There is an MC, very likable guy, who always comes on stage to introduce the next band and yell “Viel spass!” As far as I know, Om was the only band that didn’t receive -or didn’t need- this type of introduction during the history of the festival. Another first was that they didn’t bring any merch, although it would’ve made me very happy, not that I can complain. OM was the last band on the bill with a sound so pristine, that it might as well been made in a laboratory at the Alpha Century Vaporization Research Facility. Perfectionist madness. After the show people began asking each other, “which was your favorite show, beside OM?” I think this is the time for me to mention how My Sleeping Karma, a metal band managed to lift the elements of psytrance in a way that it’s not bothersome is beyond me. Why is it that Mother Engine writes half hour long instrumentals and it doesn’t bore me? How can something be so simple like Humulus and be so complex at the same time or how can something be so smooth, that’s hard as Yuri Gagarin? Why don’t I need to know German to love DYSE? Instead, I’ll just flood you with links. If I could I’d write about how amazing each band was this year. Next year’s line up is also very promising, already boasting names like Electric Moon, Brant Björk, Yob and Wolfmother, but the Freaks running the show have been known to cause surprises. Also, be warned that like previous years, Freak Valley sold out in about an hour for 2019, as the legend says, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go on an adventure to at least see the beautiful nature of the area and who knows, you might even score a ticket somehow!
The artwork is simply breathtaking a cross between the sixties post-secessionist poster culture and modern graphics, the letters are nearly readable without squinting. The main artwork changes each year and each band gets it’s own concert poster.
Freak Valley festival is held near the town of Siegen, known as the city built on seven hills and as one would expect, the region possesses a very temperamental micro climate. One moment the sun is shining on the cloudless sky, the next heavy rain falls on the confused traveler as the temperature soars and plummets. Fortunately, the Freaks don’t mind. The camping and the venue are just a twenty minute stroll away through nature. On one of these trips I have stumbled upon the most curious of roadblocks, made up of local women who locked arms and stood in our way in the middle of nowhere. We were puzzled and maybe very mildly offended before we saw some twenty horses galloping on their usual route home, thus the precaution.
There are two stages, the small one operates until half past one and after that, the main stage takes over. There is no distinction in genre between the two stages as one would expect at a major festival, rather the stages are sized towards the popularity of the bands. Judging by the line-up, the organizers take their motto “no fillers, just killers” very seriously. The festival’s line-up is mostly invitational and no one band can play two consecutive years. Buying a ticket is an adventure in and of itself, since every year tickets get sold out very fast.
The festival, given it’s size, is cozy by nature, it really doesn’t take much so start making friends. My friend, whom I dragged with me, stated that people are even nicer than at psytrance festivals, not that the two could be compared in any meaningful way. True to the name of the festival, all kinds of wicked folks walk around, with whom it’s safe to assume, they didn’t just dress up for the event. Also, tattoo density is pretty high as well, I almost felt conservative in this crowd.