After a first day that has kept all its promises, Hellfest opens up its gates for the 60.000 of us on this Saturday morning. And today, again, we have quite a big program, as we’re seeing acts such as Suicidal Tendencies, Comeback Kid, Soilwork, Frank Carter, and on the first Main Stage, we will have the honor to witness what could be described as a Hard Rock All-Star Game : The Dead Daisies, Phil Campbell and The Bastard Sons, Ugly Kid Joe, Steel Panther, Airbourne and Aerosmith.
So, once again, the Hellfest production crew wanted to surprise us by programming rock band Slydigs. Even though we’re getting used to watch hard rock bands on both main stages of the festival, it’s rare to have a straight-up rock’n roll band here in Clisson, but at breakfast time, this kind of music works out admiratively well. Given the relatively small popularity of the band in France, you can easily get why so few people were here to watch the band’s set, but the coolness of this band, and their easy-to-sing-along made this set very enjoyable.
Next on the Main Stage 1 begins our hard rock party with The Dead Daisies. The band consists of ex members from bands such as Whitesnake, Mötley Crüe, Thin Lizzy, …), and even though the guys have been around for a long time, this didn’t quite affect their energy nor their willing to deliver infectious tunes to their audience. The tempo barely slows down during the 30 minutes set, and you can tell that all of them are having fun on this stage, and that’s what rock’n roll is all about. Oh and they also covered Helter Skelter, which also is another thing that rock’s about, right ?
And now, let’s head to the Main Stage 2 to see one of the day’s most anticipated show, at least for us, French metalheads ! Ultra Vomit are set to play a 40 minutes long concert, to promote their latest album Panzer Surprise ! and to deliver the best of their parody-metal songs. 40 minutes is enough for the band to play 15 songs, and to mock/mimic Coal Chamber, Marilyn Manson, Gojira, Babymetal, Rammstein, Iron Maiden, and a lot of metal genres. It wasn’t even 1PM and the crowd was as huge as if a headlining band was playing. This really is the kind of band that deserves its place on every metal oriented festival, as it reaches a wide audience, and the band is technically impeccable. Writing funny music that’s really good is never easy, and these guys are proving that you can write funny music that’s musically better than a lot of serious albums, and that’s quite a big deal!
Right after this, Motörhead’s Phil Campbell, accompanied by The Bastard Sons, takes the stage to play some old school heavy rock’n roll. We didn’t really know much about this new formation and what to expect from them, and it turned out to be a good surprise ! With Neil Starr from Attack! Attack! (UK) handling vocals, Phil Campbell managed to keep bringing this flame alive, and it’s no surprise that the man wanted to come and play at this festival that honoured Lemmy Kilmister with a 15 meter high statue on the festival’s site since last year. The band played no less than 11 songs in 40 minutes, including five Motörhead covers, and even one from Hawkwind (Silver Machine) in memory of Sir Kilmister. The audience is very numerous and seems to have a hell of a time, so do we !
Next on our list is our first show of the day outside of the main stages, and our first one under The Altar, a tent dedicated to the most extreme bands you’ll see at Hellfest, such as Obituary and Autopsy. But right now are playing Chelsea Grin, the American deathcore band. Their presence on such a stage is a strong move from Hellfest, as it implies that this kind of band deserves its place among the death metal scene, and that it isn’t only a trend that’s suited for the main stages for a few years and that is meant to disappear. Musically, the crew from Utah delivers a solid performance, with a set list mainly composed of songs off their latest album, Self Inflicted. The audience is numerous and reactive, and the band has much to do with this ! The band is enjoying its time and Alex (vocals) is powerful and shows us a top notch execution. Being one of the biggest names in this scene, the band plays with no pressure and hits hard, very hard, as both technique and energy combine perfectly in Chelsea Grin’s sound.
Right after are playing Frank Carter And The Rattlesnakes on the Warzone, our place to be this week-end, as this is where our favorite shows took place (Rancid on Friday, Frank Carter and later today, Comeback Kid).
Former Gallows frontman’s new solo project just saw its second album Modern Ruin released earlier this year, and it shows us a new side of the British charismatic leader’s musical universe, after two records with Gallows, and one with Pure Love. This new project is some rock music at its finest, with rocking guitars, Carter’s particular voice, a lot of raw emotion, and pure energy. With all
these ingredients, what could you expect from such a show ? Gigantic circle pits, Frank Carter literally crowd surfing on us, guitarist Dean Richardson strumming each chord as if its life was at stakes, and a succession of hits, each one being more powerful than the previous one, and all
of this leading to a great ending, show closer I Hate You, an electric shock as few artists managed to do this weekend, as this song is the perfect illustration of the raw emotion I was talking about just before. This is what a punk-rock show sounds and looks like, and let’s hope that Carter’s career, which is already quite consistent, isn’t set to stop, because this is the kind of concert that we’re craving for !
Going to a festival with such a diverseand huge lineup has its inconvenient : at that time of the day (8PM) we’ve already missed Steel Panther, Dee Snider, Turisas, No Turning Back and many other excellent bands. But this is a rich guy’s problem, and we’ll be skipping Saxon’s concert in order to see Swedish melodic death metal band Soilwork.
The act is one of those you can often see on festivals bills, and when you see their solid performance, there’s no wondering why the band is a very respected one and has an incredible longevity (more than 20 years). A lot of fans are present under the tent and you don’t have to wait long to understand why the Swedish keep being successful : their sound is heavier than ever, the execution is perfectly on point, and their setlist covers a great range of their career, with an emphasis on heavy hitting tracks (Bastard Chain, Rise Above The Sentiment, …), mixed with those huge choruses that make the songs even catchier, as if they even had to ! Twelve songs in and the show comes to its end, and the band led by Björn Strid left their fans with a very positive impression, judging by their reaction !
Let’s head back to the Warzone for what turned out to be one of my best shows of this week-end at Hellfest ! The band in question is Comeback Kid, the Canadian hardcore crew. The four guys enter the stage with no form of pressure, and one only goal : make us destroy everything. With their new album, Outsider, out on September 8th on its way, the band is set to show to the world once again that they’re one of the bands that matter in the modern hardcore scene. As usually when it comes to punk/hardcore shows, setlists are well furnished, with 17 songs in an hour in Comeback Kid’s case for example. Their very good latest album Die Knowing is well represented with 7 songs, but the other ones have not been left behind, and the band will also give us a taste of their next record with the song Absolute, originally featuring Devin Townsend, and the least we can say is that the effort isn’t going to be lacking intensity. The rhythm of the concert isn’t going down at any minute during the show, and the amount of mosh pits, circle pits and hardcore dancers we’re seeing during this hour is impressive ! With almost two decades behind them, Comeback Kid know how to make an audience go crazy, and infectious tracks such as Should Know Better, Talk Is Cheap, Do Yourself a Favor, the show can’t be any bad, right ?
And one thing that’s great with this band is that even though they always stick to the hardcore genre, there’s a diversity that’s very welcome between their songs, from the heady gang vocals in Wasted Arrows to the anthemic Didn’t Even Mind, from the melodic Wake The Dead to the heavy hitting I Depend, I Control, this variety allows the show not to sound repetitive, which is the common mistake when it comes to hardcore bands.
After having witnessed one of the best concerts of the weekend, let’s head to the Main Stages and be a bit disappointed ! We’re right on time to catch the end of Airbourne’s set, and in a bit more than 20 minutes, we’ve been hearing… two songs. Okay, Joel O’Keeffe know how to open a bottle with his head, and how to climb the stage with his bare hands and play a guitar solo at his life’s risk. But is it really worth using a third of your set’s length (according to setlist.fm, the band played 8 songs during its 1h10 slot) instead of playing music ? Some will disagree with me, but this end of show was a huge letdown to me, comparable with the beginning of Apocalyptica’s concert. The band is touring Europe to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the release of Apocalyptica Plays Metallica by Four Cellos, but even though their set is only compound of Metallica hits so that any metalhead can relate, the sound of these cellos, with no distortion, no drums during the first half of the show, was not suited for this kind of slot, almost headlining a metal festival, between Airbourne and Aerosmith. This kind of concert would have be more suited for a closing spot, or earlier in the day, but in this case, we’ll be passing on the band, hopefully they’ll be playing their original songs next time !
So next on our list are Aerosmith, the headliners of the day. The hard rock band, that’s been around for almost half a century now (they were formed in 1970), has begun their final tour, which is set to last at least until next year, and maybe until 2021, if the fans are still demanding by then.
So the least we can say is that the band isn’t really motivated to end up their career, and when you see how good in shape they are, the only wish we have is for them to last until Hellfest asks them to come back again ! Despite being 69, Steven Tyler still has it, surprisingly hitting these high notes during Dream On ! This show is a great reminder of how attending a rock show during the 70s must have been an unforgettable experience ! You can feel that band members are having a hell of a time on stage, with Tyler teasing the audience, playing with his friends on stage with this genuine smile that makes you forget about any tiny imperfection. Everyone, from the crowd to the stage, to the backstage is having fun, and even if in an hour and a half you can’t cover Aerosmith’s career, the setlist contains enough hits to make you dance from the first to the last second of the show ! Cryin’, Livin’ on the Edge, Love in an Elevator, Walk This Way, and even some covers such as Come Together (The Beatles) or Mother Popcorn (James Brown) are making a perfect miss, and when the lights come out, you can’t even realize that there’s been an hour and a half that’s gone, as this was an outstanding concert, by a legendary band.
Mike Muir’s band, joined last year by Dave Lombardo, have released then their twelfth album, and are playing at Hellfest for the second time. After 37 years of career, the crew is still here, with Muir being present since the beginning (almost 30 members have been playing in the band since 1980), and the energy hasn’t gone, as the band’s anthems make the crowd go crazy. This is the last show of the day, many of the people present in the audience have grown with this band and tonight isn’t the time when they’re going to calm down. Freedumb sees the crowd chanting real loud, possessed to skate and its punk vibe brings everyone back to their teenage years, and almost every song had their circle pit, the biggest one being during Cyco Vision. It’s always a pleasure for us to see this kind of band (even if the lineup has changed a lot since the beginning) still rocking hard after almost 40 years of career, and it truly is an example to follow for a lot of musicians nowadays. Suicidal Tendencies have stayed true to their roots, they know where they came from and where they are now, and that’s what makes them keep on doing good music.
After 14 hours of loud music and pure rock’n roll, it’s time for us to go back to sleep to get a bit of rest before the last day here at Hellfest, which is set to be the most exhausting of all. Period.