Say it with us now: BRUUUUUUUUUUCEEEEE!! It’s Day Two of the 2012 Hard Rock Calling music festival, and though we had a fantastic roaster of rock ‘n’ rollers on the bill today, there’s one name that shines over the rest. No offense Lady Antebellum, John Fogerty, Tom Morello, Dawes, Gary Clark Jr and the rest of the twenty-three acts who got loud in London – but there was something special in the air tonight. And it smelled like the swamps of Jersey. Bruce Springsteen turned rock performance into an Olympic event, offering up one of his frenzied three hour music marathons. We laughed, we cried, we rocked.
Arriving to Hyde Park in the afternoon, we got the impression that the already-massive festival site had somehow grown even bigger! At first we thought it was just in our heads, but apparently it was true. Organizers have reportedly sold 80 thousands tickets, so many that the gates had to be moved farther back to accommodate the influx of international fans wanting to be honorary Garden State-ers for the night.
We got there just in time to see The Nightwatchman, better known as Tom Morello, take to the stage. Never one to hold back, the former Rage Against The Machine guitarist is still raging, offering a passionately political set in which he touched on everything from the worldwide financial crisis to a British fireman’s strike. In honor of what would have been musical protest pioneer Woody Guthrie’s 100th birthday, Morello did a fiery rendition of the late singer’s “Ease My Revolutionary Mind,” fitting in shoutouts to Springsteen, Fogerty and other acts on the bill. “If he were alive today, he would be on the front lines of Occupy movement,” Morello said of Guthrie, who passed away in 1967.
What Olympics? The Hard Rock Calling music festival is on every Londoner’s lips this weekend, as organizers turned the legendary Hyde Park into a not-so-small city within a city. One shop keeper warned us that it was going to “piss down with rain,” but that didn’t stop thousands of music lovers who turned up in their wellies yesterday for a chance to hear Soundgarden, Iggy and the Stooges and more! No fair weather fans here, folks.
While the festival is (and should be) all about the music, the first thing that hits you as your enter that site is the sheer size. This site is a sight, man. A whopping four stages lay within the rock compound, and depending on where you stand at any given moment, the experience can be like listening to a radio jammed between two frequencies. Wall-to-wall food stands offer any kind of fare you could possibly imagine, but the backstage realm is pure fantasy. Located literally right behind the main pavilion, this miniature resort boasts a full sized pool, a vintage double decker bus with an open air cafe on top, a spa, a DJ booth, a full bar and a separate bar specializing in Red Bull concoctions, a bakery, a photo booth, a smaller stage for intimate performances, and a candy cart. Rock and roll!
Before things got moving at full speed, we caught a band called Cold Chisel on the main stage. We weren’t familiar ourselves, but if you imagine a musical love child of The Who and Guns & Roses raised in the outback of Australia, you’ll have a decent approximation of these burly blokes. Despite knowing very little (ok, none) of their songs, they were actually incredibly fun and delivered some pretty sweet pub rock from lead singer Jimmy Barnes. Any band who greets the crowd with a “How the f–k are ya!? This is a song about pies and chicks!” gets our seal of approval!