For the third time in a row ROCKFEST managed to attract some pretty big bands to the grounds of Hyvinkää Lentokenttä, SLIPKNOT, DISTURBED, DEF LEPPARD, and KISS were scheduled as the festival's headliners. Even though organization-wise the festival had been a struggle the two previous editions, we decided to not say no to such a great roster, and as a result we packed our bags to start the festival season with 4 days (if you include RAINBOW) of heavy metal extravaganza!
We arrived right on time to experience the last song of DON HUONOT, by the looks of it, it was an energetic show, and they kicked off the festival smoothly.We marched our ways to the Perkele stage for the first time, to witness SANTA CRUZ' first show in Finland with the new lineup. For me that seemed to be reason enough to go check out the band, even though I personally didn't quite enjoy the new songs that much.Not clouded by my own judgement, I wanted to check out the band nevertheless, to see whether some of their other new songs might do the trick for me.Personally for me these songs are perfectly produced, and well-put together, but they just miss a hook or a punchline in my opinion, making them kind of generic? It makes me look forward to the second album with this new album, which hopefully might be a collaborative effort. The performance itself was good, although it's clear that the band still lacks some experience, as apart from the occasional hair flip, they were pretty much still focused on their instruments, not allowing themselves to lose themselves in the moment. Nonetheless the band performed a solid and dynamic set, and more importantly the fans seemed to like it!
The great thing about festivals is that even though you try to prepare, you can't possibly know all the bands that are going to play there, which usually leads into discovering music you never thought you'd get to know, such as the Estonian death metal act GORESOERD. GORESOERD is a death metal band from Estonia that was formed in 2004. In a short span of time, they became known for its onstage energy, and that's something I was able to witness during ROCKFEST. The band managed to convince me with their in-your-face music, and their great and energetic attitude on stage. With a real punch, the band definitely showed us their worth. AMARANTHE was the next one to perform their set at the Radio Rock Stage. The Swedish band is known for their poppy, electronic form of metal music. With "Maximize" they opened their energetic set. The previous times that I had seen AMARANTHE live, they have struggled with the same issues... Backing tracks that overpower their music, and make the performance at times sloppy. Musically now this show was totally on point, the backing track did its job, wasn't too loud, and didn't cause any noticeable issues. The band seemed less energetic as usual, but who can blame them with the weather being so hot, even I had issues to keep going. The band played an awful lot of songs, of which most of them came from their newest studio effort "Helix", and of course played some older classics such as "The Nexus".
Finally time for one of the bands I really wanted to come to ROCKFEST for, POWERWOLF. The power metal band from Germany is known for their catchy songs, and for having dark themes and images, both musically and lyrically, both contradictions to traditional power metal music. By including usage of corpse paint, gothic-tinged compositions and songs about Transylvanian werewolfs and vampire legends, as well as dark religious tales, they take their performances usually to the next level. The band was meant to start their performance at 21:15, but most likely were experiencing some technical difficulties. The audience, impatiently, started cheering for them, and eventually the band made it to the stage almost 10 minutes later. Nevermind them being late, the show, once again, was fantastic! The band played a great selection of songs, coming from their newest album "The Sacrament of Sin", but also some older material. It definitely made a great mix of songs, and the audience's reaction to the power metal act was immense. The band ended their set with the energetic "We Drink Your Blood". I must say that I think for me POWERWOLF definitely was a highlight of the first day of the festival.
Most people in the audience, however, had come for only one reason: SLIPKNOT. The band hadn't played for two and a half years so. I personally never got into SLIPKNOT's music all that much, and therefore also don't know that much about the band. As the curtain dropped, the band started playing "People = Shit", which immediately got the audience screaming very loudly. It's clear that, except for me, everyone seemed to know this song, and enjoyed it a lot. After getting used to everything that was going on on stage, I was able to focus a little bit more on the music and the performance. What surprised me was that the audience was relatively calm, coming from Belgium and being used to those kind of audiences, I would have expected that the photo pit would be raided by crowdsurfers and moshpits that started to form, but no such thing happened. However, I eventually noticed there were a couple of moshpits going on, but all-in-all people seemed to respect one another, and not bother each other with bullshit. SLIPKNOT served to whip the crowd into a frenzy with their setlist, song after song it felt as if the audience became louder and louder. Even though after seeing SLIPKNOT live, I can definitely say their music is 100% not my thing, the show was very impressing. A lot of things were happening at the same time, and at times it was hard to follow what was going on. The two percussionists were placed on either side of the stage with hydraulic drum sets that were raised. All nine members seemed to have a lot of fun, and discovered every inch of the stage. Front man Corey Taylor showed us his worth by delivering a strong vocal performance that had the crowd singing along at all times.
All-in-all the first festival day was a success, the bands that played was a nice mash of genres, and all the bands had great shows planned. The first day went by without all too much issues, but it would have been nice if there would have been more water points in general, during a heatwave, this is in my opinion a bit of a necessity...