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On August 19 2010, with the help of some Austrian hospitality, myself and a friend arrived in St Pölten on the morning of FM4 Frequency; a festival brought to us by T-Mobile. The festival was established as a small event in Vienna in 2001 and since, its popularity has risen. Today it stands as Austria’s second biggest festival, featuring top bands such as Nine Inch Nails to LCD Sound System, with audiences of over 120,000 people.
The campsite had opened the day previous, and the air (and toilets) hung thick with a stench of a good night’s party. We searched for over half an hour to find a small spot to pitch our tent in amongst the beer cans, and introduced ourselves to our neighbours. We shared some beers and some of Austria’s famous ‘Stroh’, before the festival was kicked off by Pulled apart by horses.
We entered the arena for the second main stage act The Cribs to find a relatively small crowd in support. They were playing their 2005 hit ‘Hey Scenesters’ at this point, and performed brilliantly their set with ex-Smiths guitarist, and newest addition Johnny Marr. However, the bands lesser reputation in Austria found them a slightly unresponsive crowd, their final song ‘Men’s Needs’ was applauded only by few whistles from a small group in the centre.
The mellow attitude of the crowd was promptly abolished by the next act who in my opinion, was the highlight of the festival; Mumford & Sons. Huge crowds gathered, though divided almost equally between followers of the fantastic performer ‘Peaches’ who played at the same time. Lyrics were sung in chorus by almost everyone along the path from the main stage, with people dancing and laughing as they huddled in tight in front of the stage.
Sound check seemed to last forever, and the buildup elevated into an explosion of applause as the four band members took up the stage. They performed with such energy, and with absolute quality. Songs such as ‘But My Heart Told My Head’ and ‘Little Lion Man’ prompted excitement in the crowd to match the wildness of Gogol Bordello.
The acts continued to satisfy throughout the day, with White Lies and The Gaslight Anthem. Gogol Bordello performed as brilliantly as ever, with avid fans dancing wildly; a gig that resulted in many injuries. We left the arena with blood on our shirts and bruises on our shoeless feet. As bands continued to play; La Roux, Skunk Anansie and the Specials, we took a break for beers and to meet some more people. We found great apprehension at the campsite for the night’s headliner, Muse and we buzzed as we sipped beers with our feet in the river.
The opening song ‘MK Ultra’ stunned everyone, and set the benchmark for the excellence of the rest of the show, which lasted just shy of two hours. However a small percentage of the attendees, didn’t actually know who Muse was, and some even mistook them for Black Rebel Motor Cycle Club. As a result, the back section (inconveniently where we were stuck) was filled with people standing almost motionless.
The non-volatility of the majority resulted in hard feelings at the beginning, as disappointed fans unable to get to the front jumped around violently. As the set progressed, the mood eased and everybody unified in the excitement. They finished with massive 2001 hit ‘Plug in Baby’, but it was not enough. The encore was deafening, and they returned proudly to perform ‘Hysteria’ and ‘Knights of Cydonia’ leaving the crowd in sweaty tattered ruins.
From here onwards the festival goers, more riled than ever, made their way back to the tents for quick drinks before the ‘second festival’ began at the Night Park. Just a short bus ride away, the Night Park consisted of three stages where electronic acts performed until 6:00am. Inside the confinement of the bus we found a night club of partygoers dancing and shouting, the bus driver was swerving around in the road as people cheered.
The best acts of the night when we arrived were Diplo, whose warehouse stage on the UAF Floor was almost burst at the seams with young people, and Oliver Huntemann on the Electro Tank floor. Many people barely made it to the last acts, and the floor outside was filled with people sleeping and eating bagels. We joined the rest as they made their way back to the tents to get a few hours sleep before the party started again in the morning.