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The Aachen Open Air Pop Festival was a rock festival held at Hauptstadion in Aachen, West Germany, on 10–12 July 1970. The Hauptstadion is located in the Sport Park Soers in Aachen. It was more usually used for equestrian and show jumping and had a capacity of 40,000.
This was an early German rock festival and like many of the era, it drew heavily on the emerging British progressive bands for its line-up of performers.
The "Soersfestival", as it is commonly called, was the initiative of three local students: Golo Goldschmitt, Walter Reiff, and Karl-August Hohmann. The gig faced the usual problems trying to get off the ground, not least because local authorities feared an invading army of hippies and hairy freaks rolling into West Germany from surrounding countries
It’s worth bearing in mind that in 1970, the hunger for festivals was at an all time high. Not just to listen to this emerging thing called rock music, but to commune with like minds, or presumed like minds, at least. So it wasn’t unreasonable to think Aachen would be magnet to anyone and everyone who was of the freako persuasion. There hadn’t been many festivals in West Germany featuring such bands. This was one of the first.
In the end, these fears were not realised as only 30-40,000 visitors attended. The Festival was as well-organised as you'd expect a German festival to be, the weather was fine and no real problems were reported. There was a heavy and large police presence to make sure no-one got out of line, though.
This is also a significant festival because it was put on with the help of sponsorship money from Coca Cola. Given Coke were, to many in the counterculture “the man” this was quite a departure and flagged up a direction that music sponsorship would soon begin to travel, much to most people's disappointment.
Some bands were invited to appear but didn't play. I notice that Canned Heat - who were touring Europe at the time - were even added to the poster, but they never showed up either. Ginger Baker's Air Force, Canned Heat, Donovan, Fat Mattress, John Lennon & the Plastic Ono Band, John Mayall, Rhinoceros, The Rolling Stones and Soft Machine all failed to show, which is a heavy roster on no-shows.
I have Deep Purple’s set from this show via the DPAS releases about 15 years ago. It’s excellent. Keef Hartley’s hour-long set is also available as a bootleg. I’d be amazed if Pink Floyd’s set isn’t out there somewhere too.
Tickets cost DM 15 for a day and DM 40 for three days
Traffic (advertised, but didn't appear)
Principal Edwards Magic Theatre
Cuby + Blizzards (advertised, but didn't appear. Pity who didn't want to see Cuby?!)
Spencer Davis & Alun Davies
Edgar Broughton Band
Kevin Ayers and the Whole World
Fairport Convention (advertised, but didn't appear)
Van der Graaf Generator (cancelled for finishing time)
Hardin & York
Amon Düül II
Champion Jack DupreeThe crowd didn't look so scary did they? Hard to imagine now just how twitchy the authorities were at the time by people who looked like this.