Open Ohr 2019 – four festival favorites

Foto: Sara Günter

It’s always a bit hard to find your way back into your daily routine after being at a festival for four days straight – especially when it’s a festival like the Open Ohr in Mainz. The festival took place for the 45th time this past weekend, which makes it one if the oldest and most established youth culture festivals in Germany.

I’ve been to a lot of festivals in the past few years, but no other is quite as nice and relaxed as the Open Ohr. There are people of every age, happy families, hippies and overall smiling people, wherever you look. Set at the Zitadelle in Mainz, visitors can experience bands, theatre groups, movies, panel discussions and cabaret acts. Or they can just chill on lawns or under trees on their picknick blankets. When it comes to bands, the Open Ohr is the perfect place to discover some fresh and new music. The festival rarely features huge, mainstream acts but instead, picks smaller, underground or local musicians – which is really nice and also another aspect, why it’s so special. To contemplate the festival just a little bit more, here’s a list of my personal festival favorites, when it comes to bands and musical acts.

Foto: Cassia Press

The band from Manchester brought the sun into all of our hearts on Saturday evening. Being super sympathetic, Cassia made the crowd move their feet to their very special sound. The three-man band mixes many different styles (from Indie to American folk and African rhythms) to create songs, that are perfect for nice and warm summer evenings. If you can, pack your dancing shoes and catch them over the summer, up until mid-September, as they play a handful of festivals and headline shows all over Europe.

The Sheepdogs
The Sheepdogs were invited to play the Open Ohr pretty much last minute as a replacement for the jazz singer Erna Rot, who unfortunately had to cancel her show. When the five band members from Saskatchewan, Canada, entered the stage, it felt a little bit like a time travel to their home country in the 1970s: long, wavy hair, leather jackets with fringes, sunglasses and cowboy hats. The Sheepdogs, who have already played festivals like Coachella or Lollapalooza and opened for Kings of Leon, then took the audience on a musical trip to the Canadian prairie. With their classic, retro guitar sound and their multi-voiced-singing, they created an unexpected, yet awesome experience for everyone in the audience at Saturday’s high noon.

Mr. Žarko
If I had to use just one word to describe the show of Mr. Žarko on Sunday afternoon, it would be “Kolo”. Don’t know, what that is? Well, let me try to explain. The “Kolo” is a traditional Balkan dance. You basically take turns in making two steps to the left and the right side, while moving your shoulders up and down and holding hands with the people next to you. I hope that this description comes anywhere close to what the dance is really about. But anyway, that’s what the crowd (or at least I) did to the beat produced by Mr. Žarko and his bandmates. Their style is probably best described by the title of their first album: “Electric Gypsy Disco Noise”. Or to put it a little simpler: super fun.

If any band managed to exactly capture the Open Ohr spirit, it would be RasgaRasga. As soon as their show started, everyone in the audience was up on their feet, dancing, clapping and singing along – they spread such a happy, hippie vibe, it was absolutely charming. The band, consisting of six members, plays no less then twelve instruments and sings in five languages. Their songs transported lots and lots of emotions and made the crowd feel like one big family. And good news – you got the chance to experience their show again, as they play a couple more festivals and shows in Germany this year.

Of course, the Open Ohr festival had many more awesome bands and musicians to offer this year – the bands mentioned above were just my personal favorites. So, here’s a big shout out to everyone, who played shows and who organized the whole thing: you’re great, please keep doing your thing. And also – see you next year!

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