Munich’s music heritage is undoubtedly rich: Donna Summer recorded ‘I Feel Love’ in the heart of the city, Queen’s Freddie Mercury celebrated his 39th birthday at the Gärtnerplatzviertel, its Olympic Stadium has hosted Depeche Mode, Michael Jackson, Rihanna and The Rolling Stones, and the first Pacha club in Germany opened in Munich in the year 2000. It’s surprising, then, that the Bavarian capital isn’t more widely recognised for its pop cultural history. Instead, likely the first things that come to mind when people think of Germany and its connection with music are either Oktoberfest (the beer-swigging knees-up), Berghain (the uber-cool underground club in Berlin), or heavy metal (bands like Rammstein and the 2015 festival Rockaveria, which hosted Metallica).
That’s all about to change thanks to SUPERBLOOM, Munich’s newest festival. A family-friendly two-dayer which held its second edition on the weekend of September 2nd/3rd, the pop-leaning event offers something vastly different to such stereotyped perceptions. Taking over the city’s 50,000-capacity Olympiapark and the vast grounds that surround it, the picturesque lakeside location is immediately striking. Not only is it one of the cleanest festivals HUNGER has experienced (there’s minimal litter on the ground), the postcard-picture grassy hills in the distance coupled with tall, colourful flower decorations conjure a hippie version of Teletubbieland. It’s impossible not to feel immediately uplifted, and somewhat like a kid again.
With attendees going all out when it comes to their outfits, jazzing them up with glitter and face paint, it’s easy to see why some are already hailing SUPERBLOOM as the German Coachella. It’s cool but not too cool, though; for every fashion-forward outfit (the gender split of attendees is predominantly female), there’s a bright yellow bucket hat straight from the merch stand, and a surprising number of hen parties. The vibe on the large site is extremely friendly and inclusive, too, ensuring that there is something for festival-goers of all ages to enjoy.
SUPERBLOOM’s impressively wide range of activities varies from the MiniBloom area (with its own circus tents, sandpit, trampoline, merry go round and painting area for kids) to the weird and wonderful District 4 area which is full of hidden treasures… from a roller skating rink to a wall of mirrors, artisan market, hair parlour, tattoo studio and even a sex toy rodeo because, why the hell not? Add to that swan pedalo rides and a London Eye-style ferris wheel that offers stunning views of the entire park. For those who want to shade from the beaming sun, there’s even a designated comfort area with phone charging stations and shaded under-tree seating.
It’s testament to the festival team’s ambition to offer fun beyond the music that, up to this point, we’ve not even mentioned the top-tier line-up. Focusing predominantly on mainstream pop and all its different flavours, this year’s line-up had no shortage of chart-topping megastars and stadium-sized EDM (though Martin Garrix’s pyro-heavy headline set was rather by the numbers). While international names including pop-rockers Imagine Dragons, a topless Jason Derulo, vocally-flawless Ellie Goulding, pop princesses Ava Max and Zara Larsson, and soul-bearing singers Olivia Dean and Raye lead the bill, the organisers place equal emphasis on domestic talent – and it really pays off.
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“SUPERBLOOM occupies a special niche, as the festival is not just a pure music festival. It is so much more than that because visitors can experience art, culture, sports, and music; from podcasters, comedians, and acrobats to speeches by human rights activists, everything is on offer…" — Fruzsina Szép, festival director
Although the country’s club scene is world-renowned (despite not allowing phone cameras inside, the aforementioned Berghain recently went viral on TikTok), this rave culture hasn’t previously been reflected in Bavarian festival line-ups; the closest is the underground techno of non-stop party Melt, which takes place on industrial open-air museum Ferropolis near Gräfenhainichen. However, thanks to SUPERBLOOM spotlighting a new wave of German producers, rappers and singers, it quickly becomes clear that a new generation of Euro-rave is about to explode onto the global scene.
Despite playing before lunch time each day, a handful of scene favourites pack some of the festival’s biggest stages during their opening slots. TikTok breakout Baby B3ns ensures everyone is well awake with her hyperpop-meets-hard-dance hybrid DJ-live set; it’s only 11am on Saturday and the Berlin singer, producer and DJ is signing t-shirts for dedicated fans down front – an impressive achievement for an artist with just four songs released. If the adoring response to this performance is anything to go by, global fame could be on the cards. Hours later and Brandenburg rapper badmómzjay is making light work of the huge Olympic Stadium, the pulsing beat of her track ‘Auf die Party’s ramping up the pace for an impressively large audience. Similarly ascending and exciting are moshpit-starting rave-rappers $OHO BANI and Ski Aggu, the latter who, sporting mirrored ski glasses, a mullet and rolling onto the stage, fills the Olympic Stadium standing area at 11.30am on Sunday. Elsewhere, fast-rising German electronic DJ/producer BUNT. brings his mum onstage to share the moment of ‘Cloud’s viral success translating into IRL fans – a touching moment for everyone there.
Dotted around the site are many simple yet witty one-liner posters, such as Put On Your Positive Pants’. However, there’s one that really stands out: a simple message that many other British and international festivals could learn from: “the Munich way of festival life”. Having got practically everything right, SUPERBLOOM could very quickly make Munich a frontrunner in the European festival circuit.
Logistically, the festival’s scheduling is a win-win, too. With most sets being either 45 minutes or an hour long, the artists get the chance to build a rapport with the crowd and delve into their discography; it’s far from a turn-up-and-play-the-hits scenario. Brilliant for the musicians as they can showcase the different sides of their artistry and, of course, great value for money for ticket-holders. Also helpful is the fact that the action starts before lunchtime and ends just shy of 11pm each night due to the city’s strict curfew. This means it’s entirely possible to see all your favourite pop-stars, and make plenty of new discoveries, in just two afternoons and evenings. And, while the distance between main stages keeps step counts to a healthy number, clashes are, thankfully, minimal.