The first official day of ROCKFEST turned out to be a lot more exhausting than expected because of the hot weather, nevertheless we made it to the festival grounds right on time for the first act to begin their show.
RAVE THE REQVIEM kicked off the festival with their form of industrial metal. About half a year ago I wrote a review about the band, and ever since it was announced that they would play a show at ROCKFEST, I knew I had to see the Swedish metal act. They didn't let me down, they played an energetic set, and deemed to be an excellent opener for the festival. My personal highlight of the show was the uplifting "Are you happy now, Fidelio?", which immediately made me forget how exhausted I was from the day before. Unfortunately, since WITHIN TEMPTATION would start soon, I had to leave a bit earlier so I would make it to their show. I heard RAVE THE REQVIEM is coming back in July as a support act for COMBICHRIST. I'll definitely try to make it there.
WITHIN TEMPTATION is a band close to my heart. During the nineties and early 2000s in Belgium, this band became really huge because of their hit "Ice Queen". It was one of the first metal songs I had ever heard, and will always be one of those songs that I just can't get bored of. I lost track of the band after "The Heart of Everything", since they changed their direction a bit, and my taste became more progressive, but I would never say no to a WITHIN TEMPTATION show, so I decided to see what the band had in store for us, and what kinds of songs they would play, keeping in mind that they recently released a new album.
The band opened with a couple of new tracks like "Raise Your Banner", and "The Reckoning", of which the latter the original track features Jacoby Shaddix of PAPA ROACH. I was happ to see that the band decided not to have Shaddix' voice on a backing track, like so many other bands do with duets. The band played a tight set altogether, and also included some old classics during their show such as "Stand My Ground", "The Heart of Everything", "Mother Earth", and even an acoustic version of "Ice Queen". I was maybe hoping for a guest appearance of Tarja Turunen on "What About Us?", but no such thing happened, hopefully someday. The band closed down with the energetic "What Have You Done".
After the great performance of WITHIN TEMPTATION, it was time to go see ONE MORNING LEFT, a metalcore band from Finland. I'm really not the biggest fan of hardcore and metalcore, so I am perhaps not the best person judging this. The band started off with an 8bit-styled intro, and kicked off a dynamic performance, as is usually the case with metalcore bands. Even not my cup of tea, I have to admit that the guys were very entertaining to watch, all of the musicians kept jumping around, moshing, and the drummer kept on doing tricks with his sticks.
Quite unexpected, as a turn of events, I wanted to go see the next band that was scheduled, however, I ended up interviewing RAVE THE REQVIEM spontaneously, so I missed the next act. But I was right on time for DREAM THEATER, a band that I have been wanting to see play live forever. An intro, inspired by the new album, took over and the band soon came on stage playing one of their latest songs "Untethered Angel". While their show was kept minimal, and the musicians are so focused on their instruments, it's fun to be able to see these complex songs played live.
Even though there were some technical issues, and LaBrie wasn't always on point, it was still one of the better acts on the festival that day. As "Pull Me Under" started playing to finish off their show, I felt an immediate smile on my face. DREAM THEATER might be only a fraction of what they used to be in the nineties, but it's still DREAM THEATER, and I simply love that song.
After DREAM THEATER it was time for a little break for food. The day beforehand I hadn't had the possibility to discover the festival food yet, but time to change that. There seemed to be a lot of possibilities and options. Since I was craving for some fries, and it was slim pickings, I ended up going for a burger and fries offer including a soda. Overpriced if you ask me, but it still seemed the cheapest option. The burger unfortunately was cold, and kind of burned, the fries were relatively okay. In general, I do have the feeling that even though the options were overabundant, the food kind of was in a similar style, except for burritos and here and there an Asian stand, you didn't have all too much choice, and there certainly didn't seemed to be any healthier choices, or like a simple pasta bar.
After food, it was time for IN FLAMES. I have to admit that I've never really gotten into their music, up until I got the opportunity to interview the band. I got to know the band a little bit better through this interview, and even though I still would say that I'm not the biggest fan of their music, I did enjoy their show a lot. First of all, it was nice that I finally recognized some of the songs.
It is clear to me that the guys are a great live band, who know how to deliver a solid, tight and energetic show. I was especially surprised by front man Anders, as he seemed to be a bit reserved in person, so I never would have expected him to be the life of the party. However, he proved me wrong, and it was beautiful to see that he was really immersed in whatever he was singing. He was experiencing it. He was in the zone. What a show! After a couple of songs Anders congratulated Finland on the hockey championship, and I swear I have never heard people shout so loud in Finland. I left to relax a little bit after "I Am Above", my personal highlight of the show.
After my tiny break I went to see BLIND CHANNEL at the Perkele stage. What I remember from the band from last year's Tuska Festival, is that I didn't get to enjoy the show all too much because of a lot of screaming fans on the front row, almost deafening me. This time, I came prepared with better earplugs, but the audience seemed to be a bit less fanatic this time around, and I even got to hear their songs. The band put all their efforts into charming the crowd with songs like "Alone Against All", "Bullet (with Your Name on It)" and many more.
With very little time at hand, I rushed my way to the photo pit for DISTURBED. The alternative metal band has been around since the nineties, but this is the first time I had the opportunity to watch them play a show, it's also one of the few alternative metal acts that I can enjoy listening to. Before the set really begun and the band started playing, a large montage of nostalgic footage showing their career, the beginning of the band, and how they blew up. This is perhaps one of the best intros I have ever seen from a band, it was very interesting, and had a powerful message. With "Are You Ready", the band kicked off their set.
It may be the exhaustion that was playing its parts, but I couldn't help somehow being reminded of Phil Collins while I listened to David Draiman's voice, something that I never heard in their songs while I listened to them. "A Reason To Fight" was dedicated to those who have battled with mental health, a very universal subject amongst the metal community, and therefore it caused a rollercoaster of emotions for the audience. This was perhaps one of the highlights of the set.
The band continued with the haunting cover of "The Sound of Silence", which takes the Simon & Garfunkel classic to a whole new level. DISTURBED came back later for more encores, performing "The Light", "Stricken", and of course "Down With The Sickness" showcased of a powerful set. It was definitely worth to wait this long to have the opportunity to see this band play live, and they really deserved the headlining spot!
And thus ended a successful second festival day. Again, there were a lot of great bands, and lots to chose from for everyone. The great thing about ROCKFEST is the variety of bands, there's prog, there's metalcore, alternative metal, heavy metal, and all that. With pain in my feet, I left the festival grounds and traded Hyvinkää for Helsinki. After all, I deserved a night's rest.