So was the 25th Orange Blossom Special: What’s Love Got To Do With It

The OBS proves how you cherish and care for a festival over the years and keep it alive with a lot of love.

The Orange Blossom Special, OBS for short, celebrated its 25th birthday – with fantastic gigs from Whispering Sons, Wrest, Saitün, Thumper, Tiny Wolves, Philine Sonny, Dienerven and The Haunted Youth. Daniel Koch was there for us.

If you are allowed to report on a festival as a music journalist, you are always looking for THIS ONE MOMENT (as Stuckrad-Barre would write). That one scene that can be sold as the essence of a whole weekend. The bow on the colorful bouquet of beautiful memories that blossomed in a haze of day-drinking buzz and a bit of sunstroke, while here you write down your hangover plus festival blues. At least that’s how I always do it. Knowing full well that a successful festival just does not fit into a compact gleaning. Especially not when, like me, you have a personal connection to the event and are finally back at the event after a few (too many) years off Orange Blossom Special in Beverungen – with a great festival clique of old friends and likeable newcomers with whom you pitched the tent.

That One Moment: “What’s Love Got To Do With It”

But good. “Watt mutt dat mutt”, as my father would say. Here comes THIS ONE MOMENT. It’s Sunday noon, around half past midnight. The Nerves are the traditional Secret Act – which is obvious because they are signed by the hosts’ label: Glitterhouse Records, on whose company terrace the bands play and in whose company garden the audience stands. I slept three hours, strolled home from the daily after-show party at the “Stadtkrug” in Beverungen at half past four in the idyllic morning fog over the Weser, but I still went to the “Adventure Bath Batze” at nine in the morning to get by reasonably well and am now listening to this trio , which made German guitar music exciting, political and unpredictable again. It’s the earliest gig The Nerves have ever played. In general, it was the first time that Max Rieger, Julian Knoth and Kevin Kuhn were making music at this time. At least that’s what Max Rieger says, whom you should believe everything or nothing at all when he’s on stage and ironically breaks the “rock concert” ritual again and again.

After a loud, powerful gig, which mainly consists of songs from the current album “DIE NERVEN”, drummer Kevin Kuhn gives one last encore, while his band mates stand by grinning. Kevin, in appropriate mourning clothes (tie-dye shirt, sports shorts the length of hot pants), grabs a guitar and sings “What’s Love Got To Do With It”, the 80s super hit by the recently deceased Tina Turner, in a weird and respectful manner. The audience – almost all of whom came to the Secret Act – loves it and loudly sings along to the refrain. I can’t get that line out of my head all day. Probably because it’s already the third and last day of the festival and I still need THIS ONE MOMENT for this text. And then I decide: That’s exactly it! Not because the cover version is better than the nerve-racking songs – not that at all – no, just because the line in the chorus answers an important question: What makes a festival special? The one that is visible everywhere, especially with the OBS (which top checkers pronounce like “opps”): LOVE.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to be the stoned hippie who grins this big word at the world in an inflationary way. I’m deadly serious. The festival in Beverungen, which has now been in existence for 25 years, is an affair of the heart from start to finish, where you can see the attention to detail in every nook and cranny. With loving, self-deprecating merch; at the line-up, which mixes crowd pleasers with friends of the house, long-time active musicians and hand-picked OBS newbies; in the gastronomy that has grown together with the place; in communication between festival and audience; with the announcements of the bands – and with the crew, who are paid fairly, but still work and celebrate themselves, as you would otherwise experience with dedicated volunteers. It’s no wonder that some of them have the outline of the Glitterhouse mansion tattooed on their ankles. The sum of these individual parts is what traditionally happens over Pentecost in the garden of the house under the name “Orange Blossom Special” – this year with the most beautiful birthday greetings from old Peter: three days of glorious weather.

Born out of a crazy idea

Briefly on the history of the OBS, which is mentioned again and again in the announcements by Rembert Stiewe, who is one of the most visible characters of the festival organizers and who, together with his colleague, personally announces every band on the main stage. The label Glitterhouse Records (and the associated mail order service) co-founded by Rembert made sure that Sub Pop records were available in Germany in the 90s, made Americana socially acceptable and had a few of the most exciting German-speaking guitar bands in the artist roster in recent years : The already mentioned DieNERS, for example, and most recently they had the fantastic third album by Steiner & Madlaina. Because of this label work, international bands stopped in Beverungen again and again. In the summer of 1996, for example, the Americans Go To Blazes. Then there was drinking, barbecuing in the garden – and at some point making music: The band got their acoustic instruments from the tour bus and played for a few hours. “Let’s just do this more often,” said Glitterhouse co-founder Rembert Stiewe to his colleague Reinhard Holstein. It was literally a crazy idea that gave birth to the Orange Blossom Special – and it has continued to this day.

But anyone who thinks that OBS is just a festival for middle-aged music fans because of this story will be proved wrong on site. From the stage you can see a few mottled gray receding hairlines and the festival button “You’re slowly getting your back” was sold out in no time at all, but on the campsite you can see younger cliques as well as families with kids who are hooking up the offspring here. And you can tell from the line-up that OBS always tries to present younger acts. This works particularly well with the Belgian Saturday headliners The Haunted Youth around Joachim Liebens, who with audible admiration for MGMT delivers a very contemporary and sometimes wonderfully noisy new wave meets shoegaze update and has an official hit with “Teen Rebel”.

Or with Thumper from Scotland: they mix up the Sunday afternoon, rush off with two drummers and three guitarists, jump into the audience, convince with their own numbers like “The Loser” and their noisy interpretation of Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten”, which becomes one for them real emo number and makes for the wildest moshpit of the festival. The opulent set of instruments and the band’s manic-euphoric drive outshine the songwriting a bit, but I don’t want to complain here.

The festival opener Get Jealous on Friday can also be understood as a statement: The trio makes pop punk socially acceptable again, gives the genre a queer spin and is on a damn good path. Here I would like to give a loving, belated slap on the neck to the older guy who was standing next to me and had the first statement “Och, ne Mädchenband” ready of all things. Two songs later, your head is still bobbing along – without a bang in your neck. Philine Sonny also fits the OBS very well with her grungy indie rock and hopefully has collected a few more fans.

The new discoveries are the best

When it comes to German-language music, there are also numerous highlights to report. Thees Uhlmann reliably plays the exhilarated man-catcher, delights old fans with the tomte song “Die Schönheit der Chance” and finds the perfect conclusion with “Ein Satellit transmits quietly” – a song about deep friendship, which is often also a different form of Love is. Herrenmagazin honor the OBS with a very discreetly communicated reunion and remind me with songs like “I used to be mostly sad” and “Don’t worry” how important they were for my indie music socialization. Kratzen suffer a little from the nice weather, which isn’t really the right setting for their hypnotic, poetic, nocturnal herb sound.

Hotel Rimini are aesthetic and ironic at the same time and convince even without their sick drummer. Coughs, on the other hand, are a nice end to Friday and I realize again how much I love a few lines from Gisbert zu Knyphausen love. While I’m standing under the red sky and nodding my head at the stage, I decide: The last lines of “Da sein”, which Gisbert unfortunately has to sing today without Sophie Hunger as a duet partner, could one day be written on my gravestone stand: “There are no words, I’m sorry / For everything behind the edge / For everything before that I have two for you: / A thousand thanks.”

In the end, it’s the new discoveries that send me home happy. The OBS always manages to surprise even supposed top checker journos who have been writing about music for 15 years. With the Scottish band Wrest, for example, which I had zero on my radar, although as a frightened rabbit ultra I really should. I know that I’m knitted simply and that the mixture of early Coldplay pathos plus Scottish vocal sound always gets me. Saying the word “had” with 13 “t”s and “up” with 24 “p”s will always win my heart, but Stewart Douglas and his colleagues also have great songs like “Human” and “Kingdom” on them Begin.

The highlight of the festival is then perhaps the gig of the Belgian Whispering Songs. Post-Punk in the style of the Savages, but more abysmal, unpredictable – which is mainly due to singer Fenne Kuppens. Not only does she have a fascinating grave voice, but she would even win a staring contest against Nick Cave. The Swiss from Saitün, who mix psychedelic rock with folk elements from the Middle East, are just as hard to resist as the Berliner-by-choice AfroDiziac and his wild open-mouthed rock’n’roll, which sounds just as far-travelled as his biography reads : born in Halifax on the Canadian peninsula of Nova Scotia as the son of Brazilian immigrants, hooked on punk and rock’n’roll in New York, lived in Stockholm for a long time, now lives in Berlin by choice. He plays on the small stage, two short sets on Saturday, where he only needs a few minutes to get the crowd up to speed.

I could write so much more, but the MUSIKEXPRESS editor-in-chief will – rightly – complain about half this novel (and then hopefully wave it through reluctantly). I might have to mention that OBS is also one of those rare examples where a festival is kid-friendly without spoiling the fun for non-parents. And I was asked to tell the audience and the team that the traditional series joke that is presented on the three evenings may be flat, but please not asoooo flat as this year’s. Other than that, all I have left is a slightly dishonest, sunburnt curtsey to everyone involved in this festival and my personal festival experience. What’s Love Got To Do With It? All natural.