Travelers’ Tales: Southside Festival Warriors

For seven years now, I am visiting the Southside Festival close to the German Lake Constance. And every year there were some extremes weather-wise – really hot, really rainy, really windy. But this year just beat everything.

The first day, Thursday, we arrived around 3pm and the entrance area was packed – with the temperature being as high as around 30 degrees. We started standing in line but somehow, after the long way from the parking spot with a huge backpack and standing there for a bit, I realised that I’m close to fainting and I just barely made it to the side of the area to sit down. Finally, around 7 pm, we made it inside with everything set up and ready to go.

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The hugely long queue to get to the parking area

It was one of the most fun nights I had at Southside so far and I was super stoked to spend the whole weekend with our small but great group. (Spoiler: Didn’t happen.)

Well, as Friday came it was still super hot and we weren’t sure how to survive the day but with lots of beer and water and food it was super fun and made me excited for the bands to come. We saw Ryan Bingham and Bear’s Den and in the middle of Tom Odell (in case you’ve never seen him live, DO IT!!) it started lashing rain. Which is normal in my festival experience, so I didn’t really care. But soon, a thunderstorm started and after what happened at Rock am Ring (and a trauma I have from my childhood) I got shit scared and just wanted to go somewhere safer than our tent. Just when we decided to go to the car to be safe for a bit, the security came by and told us that the whole campsite will be evacuated (that was around 10pm). Well, at least I didn’t seem like a little pussy anymore because everyone left haha

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When the world still seemed okay but we were evacuated already

Trust me, though, it was one of the worst nights of my life. I’ve never seen anything like it and in the safe environment of my car, I kinda enjoyed watching the lightning and hearing the rain fall. But it got worse and our car started shaking from the storm and the hail made me feel like my mum’s car will definitely be dent after this (luckily it’s not). On top of that, I was sitting on the driver’s seat and no matter how I turned and twisted, I couldn’t find a minute of sleep.

At around 4:30am the storm had passed and we decided to go to the campsite to see how much has survived. Well, it wasn’t a lot. Pavilions were lying around everywhere, the smaller tents were smashed and lose pieces, like clothing and stuff, were lying around the whole ground. I never put my backpack inside the actual tent but always left it in the entrance area of the tent so it was soaking wet and definitely 10 kilos heavier than it already was. (Note to myself: Never do this again, always safely store your backpack.)

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Well, that used to be a pavilion

Around 5:30am or something, Southside’s Facebook page announced that everyone had to leave and the festival was cancelled. So that was it. We just packed up all our stuff, got to the car and drove home. Which took us around 9 hours because the way out of the parking spots was just one huge queue. But we made it and I am happy that we all got out of there safely.

I am super thankful to the whole organisation team for looking out for their visitors and not just thinking about the money. It is still a very unsatisfying feeling to go home, sitting on your couch, watching TV and realising that you were supposed to watch James Bay perform for the first time in your life right about now. Life’s not fair. And weather definitely isn’t either.

Why am I telling you this? First of all to show you that shit happens but that you should always look at the bright side of it. In our case, it’s that no one got hurt and all our really valuable belongings like IDs and phones were safe.
But also, without being a moralizer, tell you, that unfortunately most of this is our fault. Global warming is a real thing and even though people still try to deny it, there’s no way around it. I’ve been to so many outdoor events in my life, not only festivals but a lot of different things, and nothing like that has ever happened. But it already happened twice in 2016 and Southside’s sibling festival, Hurricane in the north of Germany, also had to cancel the whole Saturday because of the masses of water that came down from the sky.
So live consciously. I know I should try to do it more and maybe some of you will take that story as a little reminder that you might not prevent this from happening next year or at the next festival but that your way of living can be a step into the right direction. Just sayin’.

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