After surviving the first day of Rockfest with dignity, most of us were ready for the second day, which in my opinion had the best lineup in store for us, so it was also going to be a very very busy day with a full schedule.
While we arrived pretty early so we could see the debut performance of Alessandro Conti as part of Twilight Force, we had some issues again with the wristbands, or at least I did. Eventually this resulted in me being handed a new wristband that – you guess it – still didn’t work, but hey! At least loading money on it worked and I could actually buy some food and drinks. Taking photos of Twilight Force unfortunately wasn’t part of the plan anymore, but at least we managed to catch part of their show. I have seen them before as the support act of Sabaton with their previous singer. Conti, however is a perfect match for Twilight Force and even adds a little something to the magic. What I like about Twilight Force is that their entire band is evolved around a story and they keep in character even during the show. This story is also quite humorous, for those who haven’t seen the band before. Twilight Force opening up the festival, meant that of course not everyone was present yet, but however, the people who showed up, had a blast.
Unlike the first day, a third stage called “Kivi Stage” was opened, so that meant a lot more bands were added to the schedule with as a direct result that there were some overlaps. I could have chosen to go for adventure and pick out Von Hertzen Brothers, which I have heard about that they are really good. But, I chose to stick with Shiraz Lane, who I have been following a bit since their new release “Carnival Days”, it’s always nice to follow up on bands and see them evolve after a new album, so that’s ultimately why I decided to go to their show. Apparently I was a bit late though, I guess the journey from Radio Rock stage to Kivi Stage took me a bit longer than expected. I had missed the very first two songs, which meant I only had one song left to take photos of. So forgive me if I can’t seem to quite remember what the beginning of the show was like or even what song they were playing – Was it “Tidal Wave”? However, after my job was done and I was able to enjoy the show to its full potential, I realized that this band will always manage to surprise me. I had only seen them in clubs. One big venue, a more intimate show and truthfully Shiraz Lane definitely is one of those bands who rock even harder on festivals! Within five years, these guys will probably play on main stages, entertaining the audience and getting them super hyped up, I’m sure of it. This is only the beginning.
With less than half an hour in between, I decided that Von Hertzen Brothers wasn’t going to be part of my schedule anymore. But from a distance I heard insanely beautiful harmonies and it triggered me to look up this band after the festival and hopefully in the future attending one of their shows. Next up was Beast In Black however. Again, after doing an interview with the band, reviewing their album and seeing one of their first shows in Finland, I have to say that I was really excited to see how the band has grown since. It was hard to top their show at Nosturi, because that truly was one of the greatest shows of 2018 so far, but Kabanen and co, can obviously live up to those expectations and they tripled my already high expectations for next time. Yannis Papadopoulos, is such a charismatic and great singer. Some of the greatest moments for instance was Yannis thinking “Blood Of A Lion” was next in line, when it actually was “Go To Hell”. Wearing Mario and Luigi masks during “Crazy, Mad, Insane” and encouraging Anton Kabanen to next time wear a Princess Peach mask, shows that the band not only have great musical skills, but also possess a decent amount of humor. This time the band only played Beast In Black songs and the audience seemed to already have memorized all the lyrics with such ease. Definitely one of the best performances during the day.
After Beast In Black, it was time for a little retreat. After all, going to festivals is not only about watching gigs, but also has a lot to do with atmosphere, food and once in a while hold back on the shows to get more energy for the coming shows. With that in mind, I was totally recharged to see Children of Bodom, one of Finland’s all-time favorites. Alexi Laiho had a slight exhausted impression, but that didn’t stop them from delivering a solid set with a lot of classics such as “Are You Dead Yet?”, “Needled 24/7”, “Everytime I Die” and “Hate Crew Deathroll”. Two times during the festival I was left with confusion and the question of “Is it really over yet?” this was the first time. One hour for Children of Bodom is not nearly enough!
After Children of Bodom, we were guided by the mass of people to Perkele Stage to go see Sonata Arctica. Their setlist was quite a contrast to the concert at The Circus a little while ago. Filled with a lot of newer material, I’m sure that present day Sonata Arctica fans got what they wanted to hear. Oldskool fans like myself, were left with a craving for some older material. It’s all about the balance isn’t it? Nevertheless, even though I did miss the old songs, their performance was better than in The Circus, as Tony Kakko for one wasn’t struggling with vocal issues because of health. Watching the band play live is always a pleasure as they radiate so much positive energy.
If you’d think the night would be over there, then you clearly haven’t met the person who came up with the schedule of Rockfest. After Sonata Arctica, it was time for the most anticipated performance of the day: Judas Priest. Holy hell. What can I even say about this performance. First of all, their recent release “Firepower” has left me so emotional about Priest. I can safely admit that it is now officially one of my favorite Priest albums ever. And… I’ve been basically a fan whole of my life. I don’t understand how they were able to do this so late in their career, after already have announced a farewell tour previously to this tour. “Firepower” by far is one of the best albums that 2018 had to offer us. So yes… I was excited by their appearance at Rockfest. The new songs “Fire Power”, “Lightning Strikes” and “Rising from Ruins” were amazing live. I would have liked to see “Evil Never Dies” though live, but I take what I can get. Of course we were also treated with the classics such as “Turbo Lover”, “Another Thing Comin'” , “Painkiller” and “Breaking The Law”. Rob Halford’s voice was in better shape than I have ever experienced. The show lasted quite a while, we got 18 full-on Priest songs. But let’s just say it how it is, it’s never enough. I did miss some songs I would have enjoyed to hear again, but there’s always the next time for those! Judas Priest left the stage with the promised that the Priest would be back. I’m looking forward.
Last but not least, there were still two bands scheduled for the night: Lost Society and Klamydia. I chose to go and check out Lost Society as I have seen Samy Elbanna perform in everything but his own band and was always very surprised by his energy. When I thought that he was highly energized then, I was clearly misaken. In Lost Society it’s of an even higher level, which I had never assumed to be possible. What a performance. These guys totally destroyed it. Not even the band, also the audience nailed it. Circle pits, wall of death, a lot of shoes and lost objects on the ground later, I still can’t believe I’m still standing to live the tale. The audience was insane, they had a lot of fun. And truthfully, this is the most crazy audience I have ever experienced in Finland. This put me straight back to how it usually is at Belgian festivals, which is pretty much not a custom here. Samy at some point requested everyone to sit down, to jump up. Normally when this happens, there’s always a bunch of people who are too lazy to get their ass to the floor, in this case the whole Perkele Stage was squatting for Lost Society. This was definitely one of the highlights of the show, together with the super groovy end of day 2 song “I Am The Antidote”, which takes contemporary thrash metal to a whole new level. The song marked the official end of the second day at Rockfest.