Franz Ferdinand Goes Home

A British band named after an Austrian archduke whose assassination sparked the first World War will be headlining this summer’s Frequency Festival.

“If an English band was called Prince Charles it would obviously attract a lot of attention but the main reason Franz Ferdinand has taken off here is because it’s a great band,” said Paul Debnam from Nova Music, dismissing the idea that the band’s Austrian success is because of its name.

“The first show I did with them had 3,000 and just before Christmas the act put 6,000 in the Vienne Stadthalle and that was nearly as good as the attendances at some of their British shows,” Debnam said. He has promoted all the act’s Austrian dates.

The announcement that the act will play the August 18 and 19 event at the Salzburg Ring came at a February 21 press conference at Vienna’s Wuk Club. The band won the European Talent Exchange Programme and the U.K.’s Mercury Music Prize a couple years ago.

Ewald Tatar from Nova and Harry Jenner from Musicnet, whose companies are both part-owned by Folkert Koopmans’ Hamburg-based FKP Scorpio, unveiled Austria’s summer festival programme.

Apart from the Vienna outdoors on the 8,000-capacity Wiesen site, the demise of the 3-year-old Aerodrome means Nova, Musicnet and FKP now have the regular open-air market.

First up is Novarock on the Pannonia Fields near Nickelsdorf, which has already confirmed Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, Placebo, Queens of The Stone Age, Massive Attack, Tool, Motorhead, Sportfreunde Stiller, Seeed, and Alice In Chains for the June 15-17 bill.

For acts that didn’t make that lineup for one reason or another, there will be a Novarock Encore at Vienna Stadthalle June 28 with Korn, Deftones, and Soulfly.

Nuke Festival, which Jenner and Koopmans reinvented in 2004 by turning it into a dance and reggae event, will have Manu Chao, Sinead O’Connor with Sly and Robbie, Gentleman, Alpha Blondy, Stereo MCs Mattafix, and Third World at St. Poelten July 14-15.

A week later, the same site stages the new Lovely Days Festival, which has already been dubbed “Tatar’s Nova Woodstock.” With the inclusion of The Who, 10 Years After, and Country Joe McDonald on the first year’s bill, that title might be appropriate.

It also has Donovan and Iron Butterfly, but Tatar said the festival will feature more modern acts as well.

He has already booked Roxy Music and further confirmations are expected to establish it as a platform for classic acts that appeal to a variety of age groups.

Although the Austrian summer market is blooming, it has all happened very quickly and the 6-year-old Frequency Festival is the oldest kid on the block.

Jenner started his partnership with FM4 Frequency Radio in 2000, pulling 4,000 people to Vienna Arena for what was basically a dance event.

Since then, it has moved to an 8,000-capacity site at Salzburg Arena and gone on to broaden its scope to the point that it now gets between 35,000 and 45,000 at the old motor racing circuit.

Apart from Franz Ferdinand, Jenner has already inked Kaiser Chiefs, Mando Diao, and Wir Sind Helden for the August 18-19 lineup.

–John Gammon