27.4.2024 Summer Breeze Festival Brazil – Day 2 @ Memorial da América Latina, São Paulo

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The last weekend of April was one of the most anticipated of the year for Brazilian metalheads. It was on the 26th, 27th, and 28th of April that São Paulo hosted the second edition of the Summer Breeze Festival in the country, and the result of these three days is the certainty that the event has arrived in Brazil to stay.

The festival’s first edition last year raised the bar in the continent’s metal festival structure and production to a very high level, setting an example of how to do things the right way. The most notable change in this year’s edition was adding one more day to make it a three-day festival instead of two. This allowed the organization to highlight more Brazilian and some other South American countries’ metal bands on the small stage, where we discovered many interesting small bands deserving more attention.

Exploring different subgenres of rock and metal, the Brazilian version of the German festival has once again established itself with shows as hot as the temperature on those days – and the biggest proof of it is precisely the fact that the heat seemed to bother the fans little, as they were banging and singing like there’s no tomorrow. On the festival’s second day on April 27th, 2024, bands like GAMMA RAY, JELUSICK, LACUNA COIL, THE NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA, and HAMMERFALL were scheduled.

Tired from yesterday’s amazing shows and the heat, we managed to arrive at the festival just in time to catch GAMMA RAY on the Sun Stage. Here, I must note that the name of the stage matched the weather perfectly, as the sun blazed in the sky, especially at 13:10 when the band started to play.

A reference to power metal, the band delivered exactly what the audience wanted: a nostalgic setlist based on their first albums. They couldn’t have been more spot-on. The German band took to the Ice Stage, performing a sequence of three of their biggest hits: “Land of the Free” and “Rebellion in Dreamland,” from the album “Land of the Free” (1995), and “Last Before the Storm” from “Insanity and Genius” (1993). It was more than enough to leave the audience in the hands of GAMMA RAY’s maestro and founder, guitarist Kai Hansen. And we still can’t believe they played “Dethrone Tyranny.”

Playing the other guitar was Finn Kasperi Heikkinen, also a member of the band BEAST IN BLACK, which performed at the first edition of the festival last year. He did an excellent job replacing Henjo Richter, who is recovering from a car accident.

Right after GAMMA RAY, on the same stage, it was time for the Croatian Hard Rock band JELUSICK to perform, led by the fantastic singer Dino Jelusick, whose vocal range spans from Peter Steele (TYPE O NEGATIVE) to Geoff Tate (QUEENSRŸCHE), with a touch of Ritchie Kotzen. His interpretative capacity rivals those of other renowned vocalists. I discovered the band shortly before the festival, while listening to the new bands playing there. As a heavy/hard rock fan myself, I was amazed by Dino’s voice and excited to watch them live. JELUSICK, with the young and talented musicians Ivan Keller (guitar), Luka Brodaric (bass), and Mario Lepoglavec (drums), delivered a compact but impressive show. The set mainly featured songs from their latest album “Follow the Blind Man,” and they performed the powerful “Acid Rain” and “Fly High Again,” with a monstrous chorus and a sharp sound. There was also time for Dino to debut his new song, “Groove Central,” which he described as “a meeting between Chris Cornell and funk.” The audience was really into it, singing along. Those guys have a brilliant future ahead!

Due to a technical problem with the band ANGRA, the Italians from LACUNA COIL started their show late. Despite that, frontwoman Cristina Scabbia and her band gave it their all. Dressed in heavy black clothes and makeup that could have melted during the performance under the blazing sun, each band member entered separately to a loud ovation until they started working with “Blood, Tears, Dust,” which had everyone singing as if they were one.

LACUNA COIL‘s setlist featured many tracks from their latest album, “Black Anima,” but the band didn’t leave out the classic songs, also playing “Our Truth,” “Heaven’s a Lie,” and “Swamped XX,” the latter in a 20th-anniversary version.

The band also had two surprises for the Brazilians. The first, the inaugural live performance, on any stage in the world, of the recently released song “In The Mean Time,” recorded alongside vocalist Ash Costello. The second was the long-awaited version of “Enjoy The Silence,” by DEPECHE MODE, which captivated the audience. I wish they had played “The Secret…,” which is still my favorite, but well, we can’t always have it all!

Cristina was the sweetest and kindest with the Brazilian crowd, the band was sparkling with joy, and many fans were in tears at such an incredible show.

Next up for us was THE NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA. This amazing band from Sweden is led by the talented and versatile vocalist Björn “Speed” Strid (frontman of SOILWORK) and creates a captivating sound that mixes elements of hard rock and AOR. In other words, they create music with a strong taste of classic pop rock from the ’70s and ’80s, and they do it so well that you don’t feel like you know every song of the band. Each song brings together notes, chords, and grooves that are already part of almost everyone’s emotional memory.

A good crowd gathered to watch the talented group, and they had a lot of fun dancing to the wonderful “Gemini,” “Sometimes The World Ain’t Enough,” “Something Mysterious,” “Satellite,” “White Jeans,” and “West Ruth Ave.” The band was very sharp and competent, performing each song with precision but without losing the fun. Björn engaged the audience between songs, and the backing vocal duo Anna Brygård and Åsa Lundman were a spectacle of charisma and talent, delivering a flashy and vibrant show. In fact, during the last song, the crowd was so excited that they formed a little train, showing how happy they were with the impeccable performance.

HAMMERFALL arrived on the Hot Stage as the sun was setting, at 17:10, opening with “Brotherhood” from their most recent work, “Hammer Of Dawn” (2022). I confess that I was excited for this show, as I hadn’t seen them live since 2006, when I was a real big fan and used to follow them to some shows in Europe. But at that time, the lineup was different, so it was the first time I saw them live with the actual lineup.

The Swedes incorporate all the clichés associated with heavy metal as a genre, such as the exaltation of metal and metal brothers, the guitarists’ moves, the vocalist’s commanding phrases, and the choruses that are very easy to sing along to. Plus, Oscar Dronjak‘s Hammer-Guitar is a spectacle in itself!

The band delivered a powerful show, with the crowd screaming and banging with raised fists to anthems like “Any Means Necessary,” “Heeding The Call,” “Blood Bound,” “The Last Man Standing,” “Renegade,” and “Let The Hammer Fall.” All the musicians gave a performance loaded with energy, and frontman Joacim Cans was very charismatic, interacting a lot with the fans. Yep, these metal dads are still in good shape!

They also played the unreleased “Hail To The King,” which arrived on platforms a few days ago and will be on their new album, “Avenge The Fallen,” to be released on August 9th. To close the show, “Hearts on Fire” got the crowd singing in unison and longing for more.

Written by Fernanda Nunes and Jules Näveri
Photos by Jules Näveri, Fernanda Nunes, and Sara Nunes