Hellfest (France) 2016 Review – Day 2 of 3

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After a short night, we’re back at it again, and while there is more than one hour of wait to get in the festival, we are on time to see the beginning of August Burns Red‘s concert. It’s the third time at Hellfest for the Pennsylvanian band and the audience is always growing bigger each time, despite their early timing (12:50). Compared to most of the rest of the scene, August Burns Red is a metalcore band which is well appreciated by the Hellfest audience, and the band seems to be in the best mood today. Jake (vocals) won’t stop dancing, smiling, and telling people how happy he is to be here this noon, while the rest of the band also seems to enjoy this concert. The sound is massive as it can be, each instrument well integrated to the mix, maybe one of the best this weekend, which adds to the powerfulness of ABR‘s songs. Almost every song -they played ten of them, which is a good amount for a 40 minutes set- has the right to get at least one wall of death and/or circle pit, and you can notice a lot of fans in the front rows, which is quite unusual for such an early show.

StrifeRight after, we’re heading back to The Warzone to see Strife, a.k.a. our daily dose of hardcore, and the 25 years old crew is playing in front of a large audience, as they’ve managed to create a large fanbase throughout the years, and this is their first french show outside of Paris. The band’s performance is a very solid one, the sound is very clear for a hardcore show, and the singer’s ability to sing in a large range adds much to thhe band’s set. The crowd is strongly moshing and Strife‘s set is clearly effective, as their blending of hardcore, metal and punk belongs nowhere else but here. Seeing the audience’s reaction, the band clearly gave an excellent show today, and let’s hope that their first at Hellfest won’t be the last !

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Now let’s go back to the Main Stages for Atreyu‘s concert. First statement, the sound isn’t as good as during the previous show on this stage, which was August Burns Red‘s, which makes the whole thing less powerful, which is a shame for a metalcore band. Despite this, the band’s energy manages to compensate the lack of powerfulness, as the guitarists seem to have the time of their lives, as the bassist imitates the crowd by doing a circle pit running around the drumkit. During the whole show you’ll see the guitarists on their knees, lying on the ground, singing their hearts out, etc…

Vocally, both singers are perfectly on point, even the backing screams are very well executed, which is a very good point for the band, who would deserve a better recognition in Europe, but as they said, it’s their second show in France. The band doesn’t communicate a lot with the audience, which it might be due to their short set length (40 minutes), but it doesn’t prevent them from being really active, and we can bet that they might be back in a further Hellfest edition.

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Right after this, on Main Stage 1 are playing Sixx AM, Mötley Crüe’s former bass player Nikki Sixx’s solo band. As their latest record name indicates –Modern Vintage-, the band’s sound is a mix between modern sounds and more vintage vibes (think of Papa Roach meets classic rock). The compositions are solid, without being ground breaking. The show is well oiled, musicians are having fun on stage and they know how to use it for sure ! But sadly they come to be a bit of a cliché -at the image of the singer- and despite giving a solid performance, the show ends up being a bit repetitive, and unoriginal.

Next show we’re seeing is Foreigner, celebrating their 40 years of career in 2016 and the least we can say is that the guys still have it ! Some might say that such bands don’t belong at Hellfest, but when you see the energy that these guys still have 40 years later (even if the only original member left is guitarist and keyboardist Mick Jones) and the pleasure that they are giving to this massive crowd, you can’t question their place here no more. This is a real rock show, and you can’t really expect more than this from such an old band ! The singer won’t stop playing with the crowd, coming to sing at the barrier, posting pictures of the crowd on snapchat during the concert, taking a camera to film his bandmates, dancing during the whole show to the audience’s delight. The short set list won’t allow the band to play a great range of songs, but the likes of I Want To Know What Love Is and particularly Jukebox Hero are making the crowd go wild this evening, thanks to outstanding performances from the musicians. This kind of show show you the beauty of such a festival, because you can see the diversity of the spectators, and a beautiful communion between all of them.

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After this, on the Main Stage 2 are playing Sick Of It All. This concert is part of the 30th year anniversary tour, for which they had their fans deciding of their setlist online. The band is a regular one in France (the fourth time in Hellfest) but the audience never gets enough of them, as this year is their first appearance on the Main Stages, and a lot of people gathered to see them. The hardcore band have never weakened their sound and this year is no exception to the rule. Massive moshing, huge circle pits hit the Main Stage, which became, for less than an hour, an XXL Warzone. This year is a good one in terms of a hardcore lineup, and SOIA represent this so damn well ! You can tell that everyone, might it be on the stage or in the pit, is having a hell of a good time. The extended set list (16 songs), packed with fan favorites, rare songs and recent ones will please any Sick Of It All out there, as the band gave a gold performance under this beautiful blue sky.

Next we will see the end of Joe Satriani‘s concert. This is the first time ever that Hellfest sees a fully instrumental, guitar hero show, and whereas I am clearly not the target of such a type of music, the crowd has gathered largely to see Satch’s guitar skills today. He really is gifted, and you cannot be left unimpressed by his talent.

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We will skip the end of this concert to go to the Main Stage 2 and wait for Disturbed to go on stage. Five years after they cancelled at the last minute their show here, the band is about to give their third French concert, it’s the least to say that this one is really anticipated ! And I was far from being wrong, as the crowd went wild during this one ! The amount of slams is uncomparable to other bands, and the mosh pit becomes one of the biggest that you will see this weekend in front of a main stage. The band knows that they are good entertainers, and that is why they will invite Glenn Hughes and Sixx AM on stage to perform stunning covers of The Who and Mötley Crüe, followed by a song that we’ve heard a thousand times before, played by a thousand different bands, Killing In The Name. But this one makes the crowd even more mental, which was already not an easy task ! The down side to that is that for their first show in ages in France, those three covers didn’t leave much time for songs from Disturbed‘s catalog, which will leave the diehard fans of the band wanting for more. But this is a biased choice, and a nice festival set by the way.

Onstage, the atmosphere is quite relaxed, as the band is in good shape, but you can see that they are aging, as their relatively static attitude is indicating. But people are enjoying this hour of alt metal, this is what Disturbed came for, this is what Disturbed got.

Next are playing Within Temptation on the Main Stage 1, for the third time at Hellfest, and when you see the amount of people that has come to see them, you can tell that this one won’t be the last. The band kicks off with Our Solemn Hour, from the album The Heart Of Everything, which made them famous in the entire world. And once the show has begun you easily understand why Within Temptation isn’t just another metal band with a female singer, but a good metal band. One than can fill arenas in Europe, which isn’t an easy task. During the eleven songs of the set, the band will deliver anthems and huge choruses, and the reception is as good as the execution. We even had a featuring with Tarja, which came like the cherry on top of the tastiest pie. The thousands of fans present tonight saw a really good show, and ending with Mother Earth, a live indispensable by the band, the concert ends as well as it began.

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After ten good minutes of delay -due to medical issues, we’ll learn later- Bring Me The Horizon are coming on stage, and having missed them earlier this year in Paris, I couldn’t wait more for this show, and I wasn’t disappointed. Sure, Oli Syke’s voice isn’t as perfect as on record, sure they only played ten songs in an hour, but the energy expended by the frontman compensates easily. The band obviously wants to become the next big thing in the rock/metal scene, and in Europe they are on the way to achieve this goal, as their rise in the next few years is quite phenomenal, as they are now co-headlining festivals such as Reading/Leeds. The fans are singing along during the whole concert, composed only of songs from their two latest albums (goodbye Chelsea Smile !), and Jordan Fish’s backing vocals (to everyone, no these aren’t playback tracks) really do the job. The latest releases from the band may lean towards mainstream, but such a performance clearly shows that the band has stayed true to their metalcore roots, as you will hear throatkilling screams, and pig squeals coming from Sykes, and see more walls of death than in another concert from the main stages today. The show ends on the power ballad Drown, on which Oli invites the fans to crowd surf to the stage so that he could high five them, while he sings the entire song from the photograph pit, one of the strong moments of the weekend !

The next band playing is Twisted Sister, on the Main Stage 1, celebrating their final French show, here at Hellfest. After decades of pure and fun rock’n roll, the band’s career comes to an end, and they wanted this end to be a giant party. With Mike Portnoy on drums, and Motörhead‘s Phil Campbell joining them for a couple of songs, Dee Snider’s gang gave it all one last time, and the audience -made of people from every age- went crazy to rock’n roll anthems like We’re Not Gonna Take It or I Wanna Rock, and the headliners status that the band got this year was clearly deserved. Twisted Sister wanted to make us celebrate like it’s the end of times, and that’s what they managed to do. This show closes what was a real rock party today on the Main Stage 1, as Hellfest manages to do since a handful of years, which is why the festival’s crew are now defining the event as a rock and metal festival, and not a fest about extreme music as they used to call it.

And for tonight, the last show we’ll see is not only a concert, as Gutterdämmerung is many things at the same time. During the press conference that took place this saturday afternoon, the project’s director Björn Tagemose, told us more about this project, at the crossroads of a concert, a movie, and a show. Gutterdämmerung is a silent movie, in which the score is played live by a band that’s located behing the silver screen. One of the main characters is portrayed by punk hardcore legend Henry Rollins – who also wrote the screenplay-, present on stage, and who explained us before the concert that in terms of technics, this project was really nerve-wrecking, as he had to practise to lip sync with himself on the screen. This ephemeral concept is touring through the biggest festivals in Europe this summer (Download festival, Isle of Wight, …), and that risky bet became a huge success, so that they will tour in arenas in UK in september. More concretely, the movie is about a struggle between the Church and the evil side of rock music, and includes an impressive amount of stars of the rock scene (Iggy Pop, Henry Rollins, Lemmy Kilmister, Tom Araya, Mark Lanegan, Volbeat, Josh Homme, Nina Hagen and Slash) . The film is, as said by the director, a tribute to David Lynch and Federico Fellini, and to the scandinavian cinema. Once you managed to find a place where to sit in the Warzone -a perfect place for this screening-, the hour long movie begins. The beginning of the movie seemed a bit long, but when the plot really begins, you’re hooked by this experience that you won’t be able to find anywhere else. The tracklist is an ode to rock music (War Pigs, Ace of Spades, Rammstein, Sad Man’s Tongue, My Own Summer (Shove It), Battery, Raining Blood, Dazed and Confused, I Put a Spell on You, Ace of Spades, Territorial Pissings, …), and the band is really good, which creates the perfect atmosphere to end this second day of the weekend in. Sure, there may have been some overlong parts, and not everyone will be hooked into this particular atmosphere (moreover with no subtitles on, for a French audience), but this exceptional concept is worth the try, and we hope that director Björn Tagemose will surprise us with something else in the next few years, once the Gutterdämmerung cycle is over.

With this is ending this day 2 at Hellfest, and a short night of sleep is waiting for us as today is the last day, and as always, a busy one.