FESTIVAL REVIEW: ROCKHARZ OPEN AIR 2019 Live at Ballenstedt, Germany – Day 2 (Thursday)
The second day of the festival starts and there was a nice list of bands on my schedule.
It started very early with the music-making goats from Milking the Goatmaschine. This groovy deathgrind band inspired a bigger crowd than I thought to enter the festival area so early. With their grooves, hard guitar riffs and partly growls as well as pig squeals they inspired the first visitors, who already had the motivation to make a circle pit. That was a good start into the day.
My next appointment began with the end of Mr. Irish Bastard, who were very entertaining, but who would have been better suited to later hours and maybe higher alcohol levels of the visitors, haha. Nevertheless, the atmosphere was great.
Due to delays in flights the following two bands had to swap, so Omnium Gatherum came right after. I know the band because they played here two years ago. Even then they were a positive surprise and also this year they were full of enthusiasm again and also the audience seemed to like it very much like me. Catchy riffs with good grooves as well as a good singer made the whole package perfect.
But now to The Night Flight Orchestra, which I originally wanted to visit. To clarify briefly: Frontman Björn Strid from Soilwork and one of the current guitarists David Andersson had the idea to found this band. This is the classic rock from the 70s. Not everyone’s taste, but the amount of people in front of the stage speaks for the fact that people were in the mood for it! It was groovy, harmonious, had a special flair and seemed especially cool with the sunshine in the background. So cool that even a very fair, hippie-like circle pit appeared. I can definitely recommend this band on record as well as live for all fans of old-school rock or for all fans of generally very well done music.
After a break, I looked at Caliban indirectly and consciously to the end. I was a big fan of the band longer time ago. Currently, I just missed the moment to deal with new records from them. It’s a pity (for me personally) that I didn’t recognize a single song, because a lot of “new” songs were played. But that shouldn’t be the measure of their performance. The show was really good, the audience was really enthusiastic and for a change (unfortunately, you have to mention that again) the sound was really good.
So, a part of a certain band was already on stage today, so why not continue right away? Barely two hours later, the two guys from The Night Flight Orchestra were back on stage with the rest of the band from Soilwork. The festival area was full as never before that day and from the first second on they thrilled with a great performance on the song “Arrival” of the current album ‘Verkligheten’, which immediately floods the festival area with full power. In general, it was a great performance which was indistinguishable from the recordings and also a good job was done with the sound. The setlist always contained powerful tracks up to the year 2001. The focus was of course on their new album ‘Verkligheten’, which is an excellent record and also very convincing live. This was definitely the highlight at the current time.
This was followed by the visit of the death metal legend Hypocrisy. Starting with the epic, very awesome classic track “Fractured Millenium” is not only brave but also an announcement of what’s to come. The powerful guitar riffs, the pulverizing beats and the fine-nasty vocals of Peter Tägtgren made an incredibly great package. In general, there seemed to be no focus on certain albums, but they simply played outstanding hits from their 25 years of band history. The big area of headbangers and devil horns spoke for themselves. There‘s not much more to tell, because it was a very solid death metal gig without any frills, so just straight in the face. Super awesome!
The last show of the day for me was the dark metal legend Dimmu Borgir. After I was skeptical about their new album ‘Eonian’ for a long time and found it to be very good over time, I was very curious how the songs will look like live. I saw a surprising number of people in the audience with black metal jackets. So it seemed as if some of them could hardly wait to see Dimmu Borgir. It started with pure epicness: “The Unveiling” was a very worthy and epic beginning of the show, followed by a second track “Interdimensional Summit” of the new album. In general, I think that the song selection couldn’t have been better. From the album ‘Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia’ to ‘Abrahadabra’ and finally, the new one was all there. To my personal joy, they ended with a really old and great song: “Mourning Palace”. Also, the light show with fog and big, burning fire cups was always fitting to the current song‘s atmosphere and the guys on stage always performed well, which invited to headbang. It was a very special mood in the audience. It’s been years since I last saw Dimmu Borgir, but this was almost one of the best performance I’ve seen… only the live orchestra from Wacken was missing and then it would have been perfect. This was one of the best concerts I have ever seen on the Rockharz and I would always watch and recommend it to others.
Usually, after a headliner comes a party act to rob people‘s last energy to celebrate. It played Russkaja, a.… let‘s say a Slavic inspired ska rock band or something similar? I was interested in watching it live. In short: I have never seen so many people dancing in “Slavic-style” outside Slavic regions. The likely frontman Georgij Alexandrowitsch Makazaria motivated the audience to dance and to a good mood. They got everything and much more. The people lay in each other’s arms, danced in circles, made Russian squats and paid homage to the band on stage. Russkaja tore the place down and the people went with them. After the dance parade, I was just fucked up and ready for the tent. But happy and followed by offbeat earworms. Outstanding!
It was a very busy day – a day full of awesome bands who all did a great job. From cool ’70s, groovy and hard death metal to evil dark metal to ska-rock, everything was there. And not only did it pull my energy reserves, but others as well, and it was totally worth it. I was curious if the next day could keep this up.