Getting down on the Southside festival in southern Germany

Southside is a relatively small and fun rock festival in rural southwest Germany between Stuttgart and Zurich. Why go? The line-up of artists is among the best in Europe this summer. Though sold out, it’s not crowded like Summersonic in Japan. Should you spend thousands of dollars getting and staying here?

Good: No waiting in line at Tuttlingen station for shuttle buses to rural festival site. Mats on the infield cut down on mud and dust.

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The Ikea rest area.

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The otherworldly lighting in the white stage tent.

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Four stages are close together, only minutes apart. You can see every single band on the bill. Like a Thai festival, sounds bleed over. Paul Kalkbrenner’s techno beat on the blue stage was adding rhythm to Ben Howard’s acoustic stuff on the red stage. Your in southern Germany, so drink beer and have fun. If you pass out, there are medics in white uniforms ready to help.

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Bad: No photo pit pass for pro photographers? Deap Valley, Triggerfinger from Belgium, and Steven Lewis (a genius who calls to mind Yes and King Crimson) are photogenic acts with little press attention and small fan bases, but only a handful of photographers were allowed to shoot them. This punishes the artists who need promotion, and takes the paint brushes away from photographers who are also world class artists. Steven Lewis, greeting friends in the crowd, was happy to have his picture taken.

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The only person who can upgrade passes wasn’t working on Friday. This is famous German efficiency?

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Ugly: The guy whipping out his schlong and pissing in front of the crowd streaming into the camping area on Friday. The human animal, in general.

Don’t look for spiritual transformation here. Think corporate sponsorship, drunken Euro-trash, intimidating security guards. Don’t step out of line and disobey the social rules. The artists do, but you better not.

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