FESTIVAL REVIEW: SUMMER BREEZE OPEN AIR 2016 – Day 3 (Saturday)
If Days 1 and 2 of Summer Breeze Open Air were mental, then day three was the wind-down day. While there was no lack of talent on offer today, in comparison with the previous days which were filled to the brim, I didn’t find myself running around as much – which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Before I even got into the festival area for day 3, just by walking around the campsite you could tell one thing – it was obviously Steel Panther day! Leggings were everywhere in view, there was flamboyant hair (on guys) and the wigs – you could just tell. Panther wasn’t on until afternoon though, so there were a few bands to get through before they took the stage, and the first of those was Unearth.
I’ve always had a special place for the Massachusetts metalcore heroes since I first discovered them on a Nuclear Blast ‘Monsters of Metal’ DVD about 10 years ago, but up until late last year I had never seen the band live. I was awestruck by their performance in such a close/intimate venue, but unfortunately that energy didn’t translate the same way onto a larger stage for me this time around. Don’t get me wrong, the performance was still pretty damn good, and the energy was as high as what I remember it, but maybe it was the afternoon timeslot or something that just didn’t hit me as hard as most of the other bands had during the festival. I still thoroughly enjoyed the set though, which spanned through most of the band’s back catalog. Now I love Finnish bands, there’s just something about that northern sound that just really resonates with me, but after watching Korpiklaani live, I had an entirely new view on the matter.
Given ample space up on the main stage, the Finnish sextet absolutely grabbed the proverbial bull by the horns and ran home with the gold medal when performing their shamanistic brand of folk metal. With approximately 53 metal bands per 100,000 people (the highest in the world) rising to the top in Finland, an obviously a difficult thing to accomplish, Korpiklaani were definitely performing like they were on top of the world. It didn’t take the crowd long to join in the party, with crowd surfers hurling themselves atop the crowd one song in, and not relenting for their entire set. This was folk metal at its finest and will quite easily go down as one of the greatest parties this festival season. I loved every minute that this band was on stage for and I definitely wasn’t the only one.
Korpiklaani was great, but the highlight of my day was Pain. This was a band I had long reserved myself to never seeing live, and just being able to watch the band meant that they could do no wrong by me. The band’s use of space on stage was pretty damn impressive, and the way the set time occurring just as darkness began to fall heightened the use of smoke and lights that the band had on stage. There was verbosity about the band that mirrored the larger than life person that Peter Tägtgrenis is, and that just shone through with the performance and it was something that was great to witness. The crowd were loving it too, with the faithful gathered towards the front, but the remnants of the crowd sprawling all the way through the main arena. While it didn’t necessarily affect the performance, there were minor issues with Tägtgren’s vocals, and I’m not sure if that is because he was sick or just having an off day, but there was definitely something slightly amiss.
Having seen them two weeks prior, I can comfortably say that Steel Panther were much more exciting to watch at Summer Breeze than they were at Wacken. It almost seemed like the constraint of having been live streamed a few weeks prior restricted the band in what they could say/do as their set was easily more humorous, more energetic and filled with more of the expletives that fans have come to love and expect from the band. The energy of the band on stage is tremendous and it’s little difficult to see why they are endeared not only by the German festival crowds, but also by crowds worldwide because they do bring a complete package to the stage with nothing being compromised between more intimate shows and these big festivals.
After a brief intermission, Parkway Drive were up and easily took the crowd into the palm of their hands. Even with a steady downpour of rain crashing around the band still took charge, and while little was different from their performance two weeks prior at Wacken (apart from the inclusion of “Devils Calling” into the setlist), the band still managed to weave their magic across the crowd that had gathered for them. My uncertainty about whether or not they would finish with fireworks, as they had at Wacken, due to the rain was allayed when several shot into the sky, and with the picturesque scenery set all around, it just created such a magical moment.
Falling asleep with the soothing sounds of Katatonia’s melancholic progressive doom metal really epitomized my time at Summer Breeze impactful, ambient and exhausting. Katatonia know exactly how to do what they do so well, and from the chants I could hear from the comfort of my tent, the crowd knew that too. I heard that following them, Polish band Batushka eerily walked the Tent stage through their own sermon and won over some new fans, but I just couldn’t muster the energy to make it there myself.