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Downtown, Darmstadt, Germany
28th May - 31st May 2009
Schlossgrabenfest 2009 Day 1 & 2 Entega-Stage: Achtung Baby, 2nd Moon, Sir Toby, Luxuslaerm, Donots

Since 1999, the Schlossgrabenfest, the biggest festival in the federal state of Hessen, has transformed the inner city of Darmstadt into a boiling pot. The festival has become a well-attended event which attracted more than 400,000 visitors this year. Besides enjoying the free admission and the culinary delicacies, many people were looking forward to the musical line-up taking place on four stages and coming up with artists such as EXTRABREIT, DONOTS, LUXUSLAERM or MAX MUTZKE.

As the first festival day was a usual Thursday, I went to Darmstadt after work. I arrived near the huge Entega-stage in the evening. It was a wonderful scenery due to the castle next to the stage. The latter was built on the Karolinenplatz, a large place offering many standing rooms for thousands of listeners. Unfortunately, it was raining and I took the time to get the press ID. The staff was well-instructed and able to proceed everything in a friendly and professional way. After the mayor had delivered the festival’s inaugural address, it was time for the German U2 tribute band ACHTUNG BABY.

Thursday, 28th May 2009

Achtung Baby

The Lüneburg based formation ACHTUNG BABY consists of Marc Schülert (vocals), Carsten Stiehr (guitar), Andreas Hellwig (bass) and Hans Seelenmayer (drums). The musicians committed themselves to the sound of one of the greatest Rock bands of all time and promise to offer an authentic show confusingly similar to the Irish idol U2. Besides the tribute project ACHTUNG BABY, the quartet writes its own songs under the name 2ND MOON.

Music & Performance
When ACHTUNG BABY entered the stage at half past 9pm, the rain had stopped and the Karolinenplatz was well-filled. A miscellaneous audience - families, children, teenagers and tour shirt-wearing U2 fans - was waiting for the band’s appearance. Waft of mist gathered on stage, while an ethereal intro was radiating a festive mood and the musicians were welcomed with a warm applause. Firstly, I wasn’t sure whether they were able to fill the stage with their performance. Fortunately, they had no problems to catch the people’s attention. The tall front man Marc Schülert doesn’t look like Bono at all. That didn’t matter anymore when he started to sing, as his voice was amazingly similar to the vocals of the charismatic U2 lead singer. The audience seemed to be fascinated by that. Without hesitating, they attended the singer’s orders to throw their hands in the air and to sing along while Schülert was presenting such popular classics as `Elevation´, `Sunday Bloody Sunday´, `New Year’s Day´ or `Where the Streets have no Name´. Offering a small foretaste according to the upcoming U2 tour, ACHTUNG BABY also sang the recent single `Magnificent´ that caused rapturous applause. Finally and accompanied by a nice light show, the front man climbed the barrier to get in contact with the first rows that were celebrating him and his colleagues. Without a doubt, the musicians offered a worth seeing and solid show.

Music: 8
Performance: 7
Sound: 8
Light: 8
Total: 7.7 / 10

Friday, 29th May 2009

2nd Moon

On 29th May, it was a kind of déjà vu: The same location, the same musicians - but another project. Marc Schülert (vocals), Carsten Stiehr (guitar), Andreas Hellwig (bass) and Hans Seelenmayer (drums) appeared again to present eight own songs of 2ND MOON which is a further string to their bow. At the moment, the band is working on the debut album `Reveal´ that will be released on 28th August 2009. /

Music & Performance
Contrary to the evening before, there weren’t that many people in front of the stage, as it was early in the evening of a usual work day and the sun was shining. The 2ND MOON show was comparable to the ACHTUNG BABY one, as the focus was put on the front man who was swaying and announcing the upcoming pieces. One can’t deny that 2ND MOON is stylistically similar to U2 due to the characteristic U2 guitar sounds the guitarist Carsten Stiehr can copy very well.

Marc Schülert’s vocals were the icing on the cake and I’m sure that I would have sounded that out even if I hadn’t been there the day before. Nevertheless, I liked the catchy tunes like `Tiny little Pills´, `Lay down´ or `Blue´ as well as the partly socio-critical lyrics. Provided that 2ND MOON will benefit from a widespread radio promotion, I can imagine that it could reach its breakthrough in Germany. The primarily thinned out rows were well-filled at the end of the 40-minutes set and the audience seemed to be pleased by 2ND MOON’s music.

01. Underground
02. Next to you
03. Blue
04. The Place
05. Reveal
06. Tiny little Pills
07. Feedback
08. Lay down

Music: 7
Performance: 7
Sound: 8
Light: - (daylight)
Total: 7.2 / 10

Sir Toby

After a 30-minutes change over, the newcomer act SIR TOBY was scheduled to enter the stage. In 2007, the formation was founded in Mainz and named itself after the role of the hungry guest in the famous New Year’s Eve skit “Dinner for one”. Last year, SIR TOBY won the Entega Newcomer-contest. Therefore, the guys had the chance to perform on the huge stage within the scope of this year’s Schlossgrabenfest. After they had already released their debut album `Extended Player´, Philipp Hofsaess (vocals), Florian Sibum (guitar), Julius Zimmermann (bass) and Sebastian Luther (drums) proudly presented the EP `Bookshelf´ recently. Furthermore, the quartet has worked hard for its reputation of being an excellent live band. /

Music & Performance
There weren’t the best conditions when SIR TOBY went on stage: The sun was shining and the location wasn’t filled up. The band made the most of the situation and started to perform airily. In front of the stage I noticed a small group of fans or supporters who cheered for the formation. SIR TOBY presented all in all 13 catchy songs that sounded like fresh British Indie Rock.

I think that the band can be seen as an insider tip with a great potential to become well-known in the German Alternative music scene. The front man and lead singer Philipp Hofsaess, who also played the guitar, came up with a picture-perfect rock star’s attitude. And so his talented band mates did. Thus, it wasn’t surprising that the Karolinenplatz was well-filled at the end of the appearance. Thanks to nice waft of mist, the concert atmosphere was improving too. I would like to attend another concert of SIR TOBY, as the guys really impressed me due to their spirit for the show and their remarkably fresh attitude.

01. The City never sleeps
02. Say you will
03. Let me translate
04. Almost finished
05. Anywhere
06. My Friends
07. Marseille
08. My Fault your Fault Disco
09. Plate Tectonics
10. My Home my Castle
11. Bulletproof
12. Christine
13. Talking to the Tiger

Music: 8
Performance: 9
Sound: 8
Light: - (daylight)
Total: 8.4 / 10


Obviously, a lot of listeners had exactly one reason to come to Darmstadt: They wanted to see the German Rock band LUXUSLAERM. Impatiently and wearing band shirts, the young audience was waiting for the five musicians coming from Iserlohn. Before Jini Meyer (vocals), Henrik Oberbossel (guitar, vocals), Jan Zimmer (drums), Eugen Urlacher (bass) and David Rempel (keyboards, guitar) founded LUXUSLAERM, they had been members of the party band BLUE CINNAMON. Since 2006, Jini and her guys have been writing their own songs which made the fame increase rapidly. In 2007, the formation won the North Rhine-Westphalia “Rock it”-contest. Since that time, everything has been running like clockwork. The band toured with popular German artists such as LAITH AL-DEEN and THOMAS GODOJ and gained a lot of fans by releasing the debut album `1,000km bis zum Meer´. http://www.luxuslä /

Music & Performance
The place was nearly overcrowded when LUXUSLAERM entered the stage. The first song `1,000km bis zum Meer´ was a very good opener, as it was the most famous piece and everyone was able to chant along. I had listened to it on the radio and I was surprised how the song worked live on stage. On the radio, the pretty singer’s voice seemed to be bright and clear, but when the small front woman started to intonate in front of me, her vocals were much dirtier and slightly rough - I liked it. The lead singer turned out to be a real stage hog, as she was smiling and jumping all the time. The band radiated a good mood and it was a pleasure to take photos of them.

Regarding the music, the LUXUSLAERM sound can be compared to German bands like SILBERMOND and JULI: Well-dosed and Pop-influenced Rock music meets partly pensive (`Zeichen´), partly cheeky (`Ja Ja´) lyrics. After the girl and the boys had finished their 50-minutes set, they received frenetic applause and had to sign a lot of shirts, arms and records. Good job!

01. 1,000km bis zum Meer
02. Solang es noch geht
03. Was ist mit mir?
04. Du gehst jetzt besser
05. Zeichen
06. Unsterblich
07. Was sag ich jetzt?
08. Ja Ja
09. Abschied

Music: 7
Performance: 9
Sound: 8
Light:  9
Total: 8.1 / 10


More and more people went to the Entega-stage and squashed in the meanwhile exhausted crowd which was heated up after LUXUSLAERM had left the venue. They all didn’t want to miss the day’s headliners whose career had already started in 1993. Since then, the Punkrock band DONOTS has released eight long-players and was on tour with bands such as DIE TOTEN HOSEN, TERRORGRUPPE and BLINK-182. Last year, the band from Ibbenbueren brought the album `Coma Chameleon´ into the record stores; a long-player standing in the tradition of fast and guitar-driven Punk-Rock that guarantees a great party mood. At the moment, the guys are supporting the successful German formation DIE TOTEN HOSEN on the “Mach mal lauter” tour. /

Music & Performance
Ingo (vocals), Alex (guitar), Guido (guitar), Jan-Dirk (bass) and Eike (drums) had just arrived on stage, when the audience went completely wild. Though many listeners had spent the whole day holding out in the sun and must have been totally exhausted, they jumped, chanted and started to pogo. Some of them even dabbled in crowd-surfing. The setlist contained several pieces taken from the recent album as well as some all-time favourites the gathering was waiting for. The high speed show was driven by the fast guitars and the lively performance of the guys. I often wondered how they managed to keep on playing their instruments properly, but somehow they did.

The fun factor plays a big role and is one of the band’s trademarks. Nevertheless, one should keep clearly in mind that the formation isn’t only a fun combo, as the lyrics are pretty intelligent and ironic. The sweaty show proved again that the DONOTS are a kind of a phenomenon on stage.

01. This is not a Drill
02. I quit
03. Pick up the Pieces
04. Today
05. To Hell with Love
06. Hours away
07. Break my Stride
08. New Hope for the Dead
09. Anything
10. Saccharine Smile
11. Stop the Clocks
12. Duck and cover
13. Whatever 80s
14. Room with a View
15. Don’t you know
16. We’re not gonna take it
17. Good-bye Routine

Music: 8
Performance: 10
Sound: 8
Light: 8
Total: 8.6 / 10

All pictures by Katrin Renner (

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