FESTIVAL REVIEW: ROCKHARZ OPEN AIR 2019 Live at Ballenstedt, Germany – Day 1 (Thursday)
Rockharz, a festival at Ballenstedt, Germany, directly at the mountain area Harz started its big party on July 3rd with a big handful of good bands, which should inspire about 20000 visitors for 4 days.
The first day of the festival, Wednesday was a warm-up event with one instead of two stages. I arrived quite late in the day, so I missed the warm-up, unfortunately. However, I was told that the festival started awesome with the highlights Vader, Combichrist and U.D.O.
My first day started on Thursday with the thrash metal band Nervosa. The three girls are harder and faster than some other “manly and hard” representatives of the genre. I was surprised about the bigger crowd of people in front of the stage and how much they celebrated it with moshpits and headbanging. Their performance was outstanding as usual and also the setlist inspired with some well-known tracks like for example “into moshpit”. This was a very worthy start in my festival visit.
Next stop was Lacrimas Profundere. I don’t know the long-known dark rockers too well, but at least so far that I wanted to see them, just because I never saw them live. The mixture of hard riffs, melancholy and the sun in the background resulted in a very special atmosphere, which not only I seemed to like when I looked at the people around me. The new singer Julian Larre has only been there since last year and did a very good job here. All in all, it was a very entertaining show.
Then the time had come for something special: Van Vanto. If you don’t know this band yet, just listen to it. Apart from a drum set, there is no other instrument on stage because there is a lot of Accapella singing here. They became known (or according to my feeling) by Accapella covers of “Wishmaster” or “Master of Puppets”. The performance was a mixture of very cool and very funny as well as strange parts but in a good way. The band played a mixture of self-composed tracks as well as known covers, as mentioned above. The number of fans in front of the stage was surprisingly high and so the mood came up, so the band and the audience had a good time together which I also enjoyed.
After that, there was enough time for me personally to explore the various culinary possibilities as well as the flea market until Lordi stepped on stage. The Eurovision Song Contest winners from 2006 performed as usual in their horror outfits and delivered a really great show. The wide mixture of the setlist over the years of the band history gave something to every taste. Also, the bass solo in between was cool and announced the last third of the gig. Classics like “Who’s your Daddy?” and “Devil is a Loser” really heated up before Lordi played their winning song at the end and sang together with the audience: “Hard Rock Hallelujah”. Of course, front monster Mr. Lordi opened his wings again for the crowning finale supported by a nice light show. It was a very entertaining show with lots of attention to detail and a cool musical performance.
Even though I’m not the biggest fan of these bands, Wintersun and Cradle of Filth were also represented at the festival and the audience seemed to like listening to the music of these bigger and better-known bands. But what was striking was the very well done light show, which finally really came into its own when it got darker in the evening.
Finally, the first headliner of the festival started to play: Amon Amarth. The band didn’t do things by halves right from the start and started with the smash hit “The Pursuit of Vikings”. Immediately the whole audience agreed to sing the lead melody and the guys on stage celebrated it noticeably. In general Amon Amarth just broke off and the audience joined in. A mixture of maybe eight to ten albums came to the audience’s ears and I have to honestly say that I celebrated that the band played quite a lot of old songs. But also the performance of their new songs of the latest album ‘Berserker’ as well as other newer songs were very convincing. The stage made a really good impression together with the decoration, various disguised people, as well as the well, thought out light show. You could tell from the cheers of the audience how well it all went down. This show left a really great impression with all the details on the performance.
The only and also quite big point of criticism of the day: The sound. Except for the beginning and end of the day, the sound was very, very unbalanced. I don’t know if it was because of the wind, but the drums were always much too loud and the vocals much too quiet. From time to time the sound was generally too quiet. That was really bad except at the show of Amon Amarth.
So the first day of the festival came to an end and the people went back to their tents or stayed at one or the other aftershow party. I was very happy overall and it was a good day. All the bands gave their best and the audience showed a lot of fun and power to enjoy the festival.