Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Rock Fest Barcelona - Friday 24 July, 2015

Rock Fest Barcelona was held for the second time this year. Building a line up around bands who were big in the eighties, with some seventies and nineties around it an interesting set-up for the metal fan of the time. For me it was a good combination with holidays, were we drove a Brazilian cousin through France and Spain on short trip through Europe. As "coincidentally" we hit Barcelona during the first two days of the festival I had to choose between Thursday night with Dream Theater, Scorpions, Wasp and Saxon or the Friday with Some heavier bands, plus Helloween, Europe, Angeles del Infierno and the band that made me choose the Friday Twisted Sister. Actually my favorite band of that day would close between 02:00-03:00 hours and as I had to drive up into France the next morning I decided to leave before the end. Annihilator I hope to see later this year when they tour Holland as well. Almost I decided to go the evening only as Tiago showed an interest in the double Twisted Sister-Europe. Unfortunately showing the time-schedule had the same effect on him  as Annihilator's slot had on me, so alone I went.

Arriving slightly late I missed spanish band Hamlet, entering the heat with the pleasant Death Metal tones of Entombed A.D. Missing their set some years ago at Stonehenge festival I now did see Left Hand Path performed live and the show was good. At the same time I got very worried that Barcelona Rock Fest would come to an end before reaching it's third edition as there basically hardly was anyone around at two o clock. Maybe 1000-1500 people uncrowded the fairly large area and with two bars still closed and everyone hiding in the shade gave a macabre impression at first. France has Hell Fest and Dubai had Desert Rock, but these names would be very apt for the heat hitting us in Barcelona, well over thirty degrees on a windy sandy underground made life of a metal fan a tough one.

This brings me to the organization which was pretty good. Water bottles were available at a fair 1 Euro for half a liter, avoiding accidents of sunstroke. Beer was also priced normally and the food options were a delight. Never before did I have an Argentinian Chorizo  for dinner after a Iberico ham sandwich for lunch at a festival. Next to many other options the food and beverage obviously scored a big plus.

Continuing the festival I watched from the shade a cheesy show by german Power Metallers Axxis, which was OK, followed by (Mexican??) extreme metalleros/rap/core band Brujeria. They managed to get a great response by the slowly increasing crowd, but it was not my cup of Tequila. Then came the biggest surprise of the festival to me in Nuclear Assault. Representing no-Nonsense on an overly Power Metal day was one plus and their songs, not known to me, impressed a lot. In the end Dan Lilker announced they would play some crazy short stuff from years ago and their hit passed by. Ridiculously fast sung I did love the Hang the Pope, hang him by a fucking Rope Lines, which are classic lyrics in metal and another box I ticked off. Definitely I will explore more music of this band and keep an eye on festival appearances nearer to home.

Hereafter came Destruction, one of the Teutonic 4 giving us plain German Thrash Metal. No worries there, but that soon would change. Recently Powerwolf made it to the cover of Aardschok already and I noticed that also in Spain they are becoming big. So probably this band shall be touring European festivals for years to come, which is a pity as it easily was the worst show I saw in years. Completely over the top, silly image, cliche after cliche and every song contained either Hallelujah or Ave Maria in a gothic way of metal. Love them or hate them, probably so hate them it is to me, realizing they had some succes with the ever increasing crowd. Next up were a home country band in Angeles del Infierno. I listened on the internet before to them and quiet liked their eighties melodic metal in Spanish. At FNAC I got a best of CD the day before and live I saw many Spaniards singing along to their old songs. Probably a similar feeling I had seeing Vandale last year. Classic songs in your own language always stay in your mind for longer times. A good show and a warm up for the bigger names of the day.

First on were Helloween, who started with Eagle Fly Free and sounded right. Their show was actually not that different from the last times I saw them in the second half of the eighties and nostalgy factor helped in making this a great show to see. Especially when they played the start of the seven Keys Epic Halloween.  Ending with I want Out was also nice and suddenly I noticed that while I was digging for the words in my memory, many young visitors who were not born at the time of release shouted every word along.

During the Helloween show I was walking to different spots, as now it had turned really busy (20,000 one band mentyioned) and I decided that I wanted to be somewhat closer to the stage for Twisted Sister to particiate on the show in full. Today's show commemorated the live of A.J. Pero their drummer who sadly passed away this March by a Heart Attack. His substitute on one of the last shows ever for Twisted Sister was noone less than Mike Portnoy. Both the fact that Twisted Sister retire next year and that I never saw them live before made me choose for this day. I can easily say that TS paid off for my choice as this was one impressive show. Dee Snider is mad on stage and gets the audience going by all means. Diving on stage, swearing every second word, looking like 30 years ago, threatening Europe's crew for screwing up the show tuning guitars, taking the piss on Scorpions retirement and asking for many shouts and clapping hands. The band itself is further still the same as it has always been and the songs just ROCK.
Highlights their biggest hits We're Not Gonna Take It and I  wanna Rock. But special mention the emotional drum solo on Video by A.J. Pero and ballad the Price. Twisted Sister got the longest set and they deserved every minute of it. Entertainment at the highest level.

And then Europe had to follow this up. Maybe I was too tired, as I definitely like their new work as well. Maybe they lacked the humor we just got overdosed on, maybe they were a bit too sunburned and white teethed, but I decided halfway to call it a day and leave for home. I would like to see Europe when fitter one day though as War of Kings sounded great and Screaam of Anger relived their eighties best. So while only seeing bigger part of one day of this three day festival I can highly recommend Rock Fest Barcelona. If at the Costa Brava or in Barcelona itself for holidays this festival is just a very nice alternative from Beach or musea. If they manage to continue filling their line-up with bands from the past  this formula might work for years. I would suggest to advertise more in magazins abroad as many Dutch, Germans, Brits, Belgians pass Catalunya in July I did feel that while obviously present more foreigners can be attracted. While saying that the chant of Ole sung by mainly Spaniards as it was meant to be has its charm as well.

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