After a rainy festival summer, we were still hoping for a sunny ending to the season at this year’s Summer Breeze festival in the south of Germany. The first day was very promising and it seemed the organiser, Achim Ostertag, managed to make a deal with Peter once again to guarantee that the festival would do its name credit. The good thing about cold and wet summers is that you enjoy every minute of sunshine thoroughly and on Thursday and the first half of Friday there was plenty of opportunity to do just that.
Unfortunately we only got to see the last quarter of the Newcomer gig, which kicked off Summer Breeze at 1.00 pm, due to some bad traffic on the way to the festival. But our first impression was very good.
MIDNATTSOL - MAIN STAGE
There weren’t a lot of visitors yet, but all those present were very moved by singer Carmen Elise Espanaes, who was dressed in a white tunic. Too bad that this German/Norwegian band (only Carmen is Norwegian and she’s been living in Germany for ages) advertises with the fact that Carmen is Liv Kristine’s little sister. Why should we care about that? Does Carmen sound exactly like her big sister and is the band just a bad rip-off? Badly chosen promotion, my dears. Even though the physical resemblance between Carmen and Liv is undeniable, you can’t compare Carmen’s vocal reach to Liv’s, but she does have a very own sound, that makes you eager for some more. You could tell that the band was quite nervous to be on stage, since their stage presence came across as very insecure. Despite their nerves and with a lot of dedication, Carmen and guitarist Christian Hector (Orkus Magazin & Ex-Penetralia), the founders of the band, did manage to capture the attention of the constantly growing audience with their melancholy gothic metal with Norwegian folk influences.
THE BONES - MAIN STAGE
The Bones were pure fun and the audience had increased in size by now. With their punk ‘n’ roll and songs like „Screwed Blued & Tattooed“, „Do You Wanna“ and „Memphis 77“ there wasn’t a frown to be found in the audience. In this exuberant atmosphere the sympathetic Swedes in their eye-straining outfits were forgiven their big fat blunder of yelling: „Good to be back in Bavaria!“ to the audience.
PINK CREAM 69 - MAIN STAGE
Pink Cream 69 are almost regulars in the metal circus, but here at Summer Breeze they were quite the outsiders. Nobody really took this formation seriously, but people still chilled out in the sun to the sounds of the old days.
Singer David was quite happy to show off his knowledge of German during the song anouncements and he tried to involve the audience as often as possible. A truly enjoyable and entertaining performance. With their cover of Bob Marley’s „No Women No Cry“ they really got a good response. (Although Anathema’s karaoke version at the STALKER anniversary party in January remains unequalled.)
SCHANDMAUL - MAIN STAGE
As usual, Schandmaul played their good spirited Middle Ages party rock with great ease and without big surpises. One of my dear colleagues described Schandmaul very fittingly: „Schandmaul are like pure Middle Ages.“ (quote: Gunnar Sauermann). The willing audience responded to every attempt from band leader Thomas to get the crowd going with great enthusiasm. Schandmaul completely ignored the nice A4 memo in marker attached to the stage and addressed to the musicians: „We don’t know when you start your show, but we know exactly when it’s over!“ The audience savoured the three encores and with „Walpurgisnacht“ the good mood among the audience reached its peak.
GOD DETHRONED - PAIN STAGE
These death metal veterans from The Netherlands tore up the Pain Stage in their usual spirited fashion. The evil and snotty voice of Henri supported by a band that left nothing to be desired technically, was the first band of the day to get a proper mosh pit going and with a little help from the sun during songs like „Boiling Blood“, „Art Of Immolation“ and „Salt In Your Wounds“ the first cases of “toohotandtoomuchbeer” occurred.
EKTOMORF - PAIN STAGE
The journalists swarming Summer Breeze rarely agree on anything, but in this case there was a general consensus about the highlight of the first day of the festival. There was a huge mosh pit in the packed audience and constant crowd-surfing, the likes of which the bands that had performed so far could only dream of. Ektomorf heated up the crowd and even the people who were trying to get a good spot at the main stage for Amon Amarth couldn’t help but jump along whenever singer Zoltan Fargas would yell: “Jump!”. The singer’s notorious song anouncements, which contain the word “fuck” in every possible form at least three times per sentence, weren’t lacking. Brilliant!
AMON AMARTH - MAIN STAGE
Experienced and solid is perhaps the best way to describe Amon Amarth. They delivered a good, flawless show as usual, but it lacked highlights and compared to the gigs they played at the various festivals in the spring, this gig will not be especially remembered. The audience loved it, though! They were still excited from the Ektomorf gig and all the plastic axes, forks and arm guards were pulled out and held up and the audience sang along to every song. Excellent! It was amazing how many Johan Hegg lookalikes there were in the audience. After the concert a journalist (not one of ours!) asked a young man if he could possibly do an interview with him. Unfortunately the young man in question wasn’t Johan Hegg, but simply a fan. That would have been an interesting interview indeed.
A SMALL STALKER DRAMA
Somewhere between „An Ancient Sign Of Coming Storm“ and „Fate Of Norns“ a small STALKER drama took place when our photographer, Diana Nitschke, trod in a hole in the photographers’ pit and badly tore a ligament. More about that later, since insane as she is, she stayed in the pit and photographed the show until the end.
HAGGARD - PAIN STAGE
The host people that form Haggard got on stage in full get-up to conclude the first day of the festival. Classic meets metal is nothing new and not very original, but the sight of this band alone is fascinating. The show was good and it would have been the perfect ending of the day if they hadn’t, like they seem to do every year at this festival (we have never experienced something like this at any other festival) cut off the power. I mean, really dear stage manager… In our opinion it’s not too much to ask to either: tell the band that there really isn’t enough time for another song, or put up with the extra 2 minutes it would have taken to play one more song. It would have saved you a lot of long faces on and off stage.
LATE REALISATION & EERIE ENCOUNTERS IN THE ER
After the Haggard show our photographer noticed that her anckle was painfully swollen and she was persuaded to let a doctor take a look at it. She was sent to the Abtsgmünder hospital where white halls filled with people dressed in black, who in their drunken state were under the impression that they could give the Jackass guys a run for their money, were awaiting our Diana. The amazingly calm nurses kept answering politely to the same questions: ”No, I don’t have any cigarettes”, “there’s no beer in the soda machine” and “the crucifix is not for sale.” Diana managed to catch the last shuttle from the hospital back to the Summer Breeze with a nice splint on her anckle and the rest of the crew tried to get her to sit down and take it easy (which has never worked before with this workaholic). Since collegiality is very important among most magazines and photographers, Caroline Traitler helped out and was a worthy replacement for Diana. Thanks again, Caro! The next day Diana did an interview with me for this year’s DVD. So like last year there will be some covert STALKER advertising on the DVD. Thanks for the free publicity guys!
And so an emotional day came to an end and we went to get some rest. Also a big thank you to the guys from Laut.de for offering us a ride.
The hot sun gave us a warm wake up and after some to and fro, who, how and why we had already missed Powerwolf and Maroon and we finally managed to make it to Kopiklaani’s second song.
KORPIKLAANI - MAIN STAGE
It was pretty hot by the time the Finn-polka metals got on stage. Nordic rednecks, just like in the pictures, dressed in leather and animal skins and complete with jeans and a hat. The band was sweating heavily, but the audience, which was remarkably enthusiastic for the time of the day, got a chance to cool down when the organiser switched on the water hose. That went down quite well indeed. Unfortunately the Finns had considerable sound problems. The fiddle and the accordeon were barely audible. By the time they played „Hunting Song“ the problems had been solved.
KRISIUN - MAIN STAGE
The trio from Brazil unleashed their clangour on the crowd. They dashed over their instruments and the main goal was to make sure they would be heard in all corners of the universe. Perfect playing, but the communication with the audience was not this band's strong side. Their attempts to get the crowd going ufortunately sounded a bit stiff and repetitive. The crowd remained a bit restrained and soon the first rain drops fell on the metalheads.
EMIL BULLS - MAIN STAGE
The small crowd standing in front of the stage wasn't really impressed by the sound of these five guys. The audience didn't get into the mood until halfway through the set. The rain had gotten a bit worse by then. The more groovy tracks were obviously more popular among the crowd. When „Symphony of Destruction“ was announced with the words: "One of the best metal songs ever" the Bulls overplayed their hand a bit, since the level of humour is still quite low in Germany at 4.30pm. It would be hard to score some more points with the audience after this. There was a certain reluctance from both sides that couldn't be mended. Too bad.
NORTHER - PAIN STAGE
They looked completely hungover and it wasn't at all surprising that Petri Lindroos asked the audience right at the beginning of the Norther set: „Is somebody having a worse hangover?“ When nobody held up their hand, he asked indignantly: „Don’t you guys know how to use alcohol?“, since something like that would never ever happen to a Finn on the second day of a festival. Musically, their hangover didn't seem to bother them and after two songs the audience had multiplied, due to all the people who had been watching the previous band and they all stuck around until the end. A female crowd surfer with a big Finland flag was almost a part of the show. One of the security guys was quite sweet: after he had pulled this female fan out of the mosh pit about six times, he kept her on his arm for the rest of the song so she could watch and wave from there. Headbanger’s heaven!
DIE APOKALYPTISCHEN REITER - MAIN STAGE
Somehow you get the impression that Die Apokalyptischen Reiter want to deflect attention from something. Usually there's a lot of hoopla on stage to deflect attention from their lack of capability. This time they had an oversized bouncy castle on stage and they had handed out passes to some girls, who were allowed to go on stage shortly before the beginning of the show. About halfway through the set they were allowed to get their freak on, some of them a bit restrained, others excessively, but they all seemed to have a lot of fun. It all became a bit too much for me when one of the Riders came up with the brilliant idea to pull down his pants and stick his finger up his bum. Who knows what he did with that hand afterwards? Eeeeeek! All I can say about the music is that it sounded the same as ever and that all the nonsense around it did its job and deflected the attention completely.
BEHEMOTH - PAIN STAGE
After Nergal’s announcement that they would take over the Pain Stage, they kicked off and without taking prisoners they took over the entire audience. Complete with corpse-paint make up, streaming rain and a good deal of hate they almost tear the stage down. A truly evil highlight of the Summer Breeze.
DARK TRANQUILLITY - MAIN STAGE
Frontman Mikael Stanne with his blazing red head of curls was busy animating the fans and after a few songs he was very successful with it. With mainly killer tracks from their latest album “Character” and also a few evergreens like “The Treason Wall” or “Punish My Heaven” the band played its set with good sound and they obviously enjoyed it although for most people in the crowd it was way too short.
ATROCITY - PAIN STAGE
With “Gods Of Nation” Atrocity kicked it off and managed it to carry the audience from the first song on. Besides the permanent dialogue with the crowd it´s just a nice sight to see Alex Krull bang with his knee-length hair as if there would be no tomorrow and this just animates to do the same. For the Tears For Fears cover “Shout” Krull was supported by his wife Liv Kristine who played her part perfect as usual. A great show despite the lame sound that the band had to struggle with and emerging symptoms of fatigue caused by the ongoing rainstorms.
OPETH - MAIN STAGE
To see this band live is a rare opportunity and it has so far always been something special. Correspondingly, the expectations were very high for this band and this although you can´t really party to their music but instead they often manage it to put you in a quite unique mood. Aggressive death parts paired with heavy dark metal parts and atmospheric keyboard passages topped off with psychedelic elements, in short: Opeth sound which enchanted the attendant crowd. The stage show, light and sound was a perfect complement to it. The song selection was a mix from the last three albums but the main focus was on the latest album “Ghost Reveries”.
THE EXPLOITED - PAIN STAGE
This was the low of the second festival day. Not that the sound or the song selection was bad but what´s so rock´n´roll or punk about it when singer Wattie commits violence to a fan? A fan had secretly sneaked onto the stage to simply pogo or bang with him. At first most people (including us) thought this was a planned show act until Wattie came out as a total party pooper and a complete and utter idiot and pushed the fan with brute force (before the security could intervene) off the stage. He first landed on a box and then on a photographer in the media pit. Both got hurt but the band played on as if nothing had happened. I really liked the reactions of parts of the crowd who thereupon turned their backs to the stage. Unfortunately, some retards in the crowd thought the whole thing was cool. C´mon use your brains! Jerks who got stuck on some bad trip – the whole day he had walked around in the backstage area like he was about to explode – are uncool! Don´t you get it?
IN EXTREMO - MAIN STAGE
It was crammed when the medieval bards kicked off. With their odd stage outfits and self-made, reproduced instruments they, like no other band in that genre, know how to mix original medieval pieces with rock without making complete fools of themselves. Admittedly, it´s a rather strange sight to see Dr. Pymonte with his about 1,90m, maybe 120 kg (sorry André when we, for the purpose of illustration, made you possibly a bit bulkier than you maybe are!) and his tattoos picking the harp. With this instrument one expects something completely different… Besides the funny between-song banter of singer Micha aka Das Letzte Einhorn [The Last Unicorn] the show was again spiced up with fire breathers and a weird bagpipe ballet. It was fun and the best thing after that Exploited shit.
WINTERSUN - PAIN STAGE
Treated as an insider´s tip we were very excited to see what we would get to hear from Wintersun. The band which was at first a side project of former Ensiferum singer and guitarist Jari Mäenpää but has become his main band after he was kicked out, had the only doubly occupied musician of the day amongst them because Jukka Koskinen was already at work with his bass in the early afternoon performing with Norther. After the show he was the only Finn who had to stay sober for the next performance, poor guy! It was the first time that this band was playing live in Germany.
It was late and if you have ever tried to keep an elephant in your back garden then you know how it was like to get Nergal and Thomas from Behemoth, Frederik from Amon Amarth, Niklas from Dark Tranquillity and Chris from Samael to sit down and have them make a Gibberish for you with the aid of Jägermeister, Jack Daniels and Grand Reserva.
I had just found Frederik and then Nergal was gone. When I had Nergal and Chris then Frederik was missing until I ordered Caroline Traitler and Liesbeth Harmsen to look after the ones who were already there. I don´t know how they did it but hats off! When I arrived with Frederik and Mikael everyone sat together and what we got out of this nice mix you can read in the next STALKER.
The last day began and the mood of the Summer Breeze goers was caught between the super line up and the nasty rain. At some point you just had enough of the rain – no coffee or morning beer could change that. Well, we wanted to try that coffee thing anyway and were shaken up by the loud sounds from the main stage next to the coffee stand and thus decided for being in good mood.
BARCODE - MAIN STAGE
Hardcore in the morning to get awake is rough but effective. The Danes whose guitarist is none other than Jacob Brendal (Hatesphere) kicked it off without further ado. Frontman Butch (no, not the French Bulldog from STALKER. That´s how he really calls himself) made the first crapulous faces smile with his announcements spoken in cute German/Danish. Apart from Jacob and their roots Barcode have nothing in common with Hatesphere but those who like hardcore à la New York should check Barcode out.
SUIDAKRA - PAIN STAGE
Suidakra played mainly melodic sounds and even though you remembered the Southern Germans to be more folky with “Dead Man´s Reel” they finally packed out the bagpipe. There was a lot of understanding from the crowd when guitarist Mathias Kupka apologized for having partied too much in the Jack Daniels tent and was therefore banished from it.
LACRIMAS PROFUNDERE - MAIN STAGE
The goth rockers from Lacrimas Profundere spread, despite the worst rain, a damn relaxed mood. Singer Christopher Schmid appreciated the steadfastness of the fans and ranted towards St. Peter: “Respect for being here in this fucking gothic weather” and “asshole-weather” which really expressed what the crowd was thinking. A damn simple rock afternoon in which especially “Sarah Lu” controlled the crowd perfectly! The fun and the insults of the weather miraculously made the rain cease shortly at the end of the gig.
ENDSTILLE - PAIN STAGE
Black metal made in Kiel that either provokes absolute enthusiasm or total rejection – that´s Endstille. Some colleagues call this band the best German black metal band these days and were completely thrilled by the performance of the band. Others, like myself, thought the show was a rather monotonous massacre. I guess I´m more of a melodic black metal fan and can´t do anything with, what its aficionados call, absolutely pure and evil old school black metal. But to stay as objective as possible I can only say that all got what they expected and no one had to change his mind and was disappointed. For me and some others it was as bad as expected and for the others it was the highlight of the day so far. But even I had to smile when at the beginning Endstille threw a “Jesus Christ lives and will return” at us.
ORPHANED LAND - MAIN STAGE
Metal from Israel… against singer Kobi Farhi´s assumption this is not new to us, at the latest since Betzefer, but only knowing one band is not enough to get a whole picture. Betzefer are heavy, very good but not that eclectic. Orphaned Land were a real surprise and even the secret highlight. Kobi Farhi wore an oriental tunic and blue jeans which fitted perfectly to the music. The band, especially the singer, showed real entertainment qualities and had the crowd quickly on their side. After taking off his frock it was pleasure without sorrow. Just some nice metallers from next door who delivered very melodic, eclectic, Hebrew dark/death metal. Perfectly played, great songs – only singing along was impossible –a good and fantastic show. The guys will go on tour soon, so don´t miss them! Just great!
DISBELIEF - PAIN STAGE
Brutely the voice of frontman Karsten Jäger got hammered into our auditory canals, supported by heavy guitar walls. Disbelief withstood the pressure to perform which was caused by their latest album and delivered a really good show. Unfortunately they played only a few old hits because only with those the crowd was really in it!
THE VISION BLEAK - PAIN STAGE
Dark and tragic – that´s how it should get. Dark and tragic – that´s how it was when The Vision Bleak entered the stage and spread a pleasant scariness with their gothic/death metal. The Summer Breeze experienced a flawless gig in which both old and new songs from the next album were performed live. Atmosphere, playing together, interaction with the crowd – nothing to nag about!
SUCH A SURGE - MAIN STAGE
The continuous rain had softened the mood of even the staunchest metaller and thus it took a while until the crowd went crazy. The crossover oldies from Braunschweig surprised with a new heaviness, fat riffs, awesome grooves and fortunately only a little rap. The integrated “Pain In The Ass” tracks were well-received but also all hits of the old stagers were sung along by astoundingly many people on a festival like the Summer Breeze. The band was super motivated and appeared very content with themselves and their crowd. A funny detail was the corpse paint of bassist Axel Horn and rapper Michel Begeame.
MEET & GREET with PAIN
Sadly we had to skip Symphorce because it was time to grab the winners of the STALKER/ metal.de/ Focusion raffle, in which a meet & greet with Pain could be won, free Peter from the interviews and photo sessions and get something to eat.
Easier said then done because Peter Tägtgren and band were on time at the metal.de stand at which we had agreed to meet but the winners, Melanie Kaiser and Caro Hauka were stuck at the entrance. After some back and forth we eventually managed it to get everyone to sit at one table and eat unhurriedly. The two girls were a bit shy at the beginning and the band partly had table talk monologues…
…but at some point the ladies got more brave, had their STALKERs signed and enjoyed their beer while small talking with Pain.
In the end the time was up way too fast and band and winners would have liked to knock back a couple of more beers…
Once again a big thank you to Pain, Iris from Focusion and Norman from metal.de
SUBWAY TO SALLY - MAIN STAGE
Has there ever been a Summer Breeze without Subway To Sally or is it only me who thinks that they are always here and always do the same? Like yesterday with In Extremo there was some pyro here and there but besides some love confessions onstage there were hardly any surprises and we could´ve even done without those. But what always works with Subway To Sally is the singing along of their hits, which are nice and catchy, but they get a little annoying after a while. The new song “7” was already almost celebrated like an old classic … which is no surprise because it just sounds like a continuation of the well known stuff.
END OF GREEN - PAIN STAGE
Is there anything comparable with End of Green? I can´t think of anybody! The peculiar mix of rock and played melancholy won´t let you get into it or get a grip of it but you can´t really turn away either because it grabs you still. Mainly, End Of Green played songs from their latest album “Dead End Dreaming” which was produces by Alex Krull but a few older songs were also put on the setlist. A weird but not bad performance!
TRISTANIA - PAIN STAGE
Too bad because like at the Wacken Open Air Tristania just didn´t get in it. Somehow nothing really fitted. The crowd, who was in the meantime soaked through to the bones, was because of the rain already in a melancholic mood and so hardly noticed the rain break during the performance of Tristania and just nodded on.
LACUNA COIL - MAIN STAGE
She´s sweet, Christina, and no diva at all. It´s very pleasant to get to hear a female voice that doesn´t have the goal to burst glasses with her voice. At the beginning Lacuna Coil still had to struggle with sound problems but luckily those problems got solved quickly. Besides mainly songs from the new album “Unleashed Memories” like “Senzafine” which is sung completely in Italian and “When A Dead Man Walks” the gothic metallers played a new song whose title I didn´t understand - it sounded a bit heavier, though but still unmistakably Lacuna Coil. You can look forward to the new offering. A brilliant performance!
PAIN - PAIN STAGE
Awesome! One hit songs after another and an energetic Peter Tägtgren, who framed by the two eye candies Alla and Andrea who banged really sexily, jumped around and raged like a berserker. The singles of the new album “Same Old Song” were sung along especially loud and old hits like “Shut Your Mouth”, “On And On” and “Stay Away”, together with great sound and light left nothing to be desired. Way too early the performance was over and the Summer Breeze had finished.
MUD PACK INCLUDED
In the next morning not only our bus had some difficulties to get out of the mud and the most often seen scenes of the morning were tired metallers who got “mudded” by their nice cars. Somewhere else a lot of money is paid for that…
In general, the Summer Breeze is, from our point of view, one of the most cosy and stress-free festivals. Two stages, no overlaps and quite relaxed securities who were even nicer this year because here was no professional “no hair, brawny and grimly looking” delegation from a security company at work but fans who were found through an advertisement. The result was that they were not only relaxed but also friendly, helpful and good mood spreading guys that we like to see more often on festivals.
Regarding the quality of the sanitary facilities, the Summer Breeze has slackened. Last year there were toilets with washbasins and flushing next to the Pain Stage but this year this was abandoned and only a few more portaloos were put in place. Would be nice if this could be reinstalled again and one or the other washing or showering facility more wouldn´t hurt either.
*REVISION: we were credibly assured that the above mentioned toilets did indeed exist next to the stage. Probably, caffeine deprivation led to overlooking the loo despite a full bladder. When it comes to the toilet situation on the camping site, the missing toilets with flushing were replaced by more portaloos. A cold comfort for portaloo haters but anyhow. *
The prices for food and drinks were kept within bounds; the same was true also for the taste of the food but you have to bear it! But where did the great coffee and croissant stand for the metallic early birds at the festival site go? We caffeine addicts missed it dearly. Otherwise; keep at it! It was a nice festival that could do without big names and it had one of the most diverse line ups.