The previous reviews concerning the “Cry Me A River Warm-up show" and the first day of the festival have already been written, or at least started, yet still not posted due to yours truly being extremely busy in the last days. At the moment it is around 7:30 AM on July 11 and the girl and me are on a plane to Budapest where we are going to grab a “Rosetta” show, which will also be reviewed of course. I’m currently facing an annoying writer’s block, due to being quite tired and insanely excited about the upcoming trip with my life companion, so I’m basically trying to write and edit the reviews here and there, so pardon me if they end up being too hectic. (I left this unedited just for the fun factor, yes, I am lame)
To be absolutely honest, I have no idea what I was doing between waking up and the beginning of the shows, so I’ll just present you the timetable for the second day of the festival. Bands performed in the following order:
15:45 Hungry Lungs
16:30 The Gentle Art of Chokin
17:15 Grinding Halt
21:15 Battle of Wolf 359
22:00 June Paik
22:45 Loma Prieta
23:30 Graf Orlock
If you read my review of the ”Cry Me A River Warm-up” show, found here by the way, you already know how much I was amazed by “Autarkeia” and I was definitely looking forward to seeing them again. Unfortunately, though at the same time quite fortunate for me, the moment they started to play my phone began to ring and I realized that my better half finally arrived to Versmold along with “Loma Prieta”. Many hugs, kisses and smiles afterwords, we ended up missing both the quartet from Florida and “Panzram”. I really had no luck grabbing the latter band.
“Hungry Lungs” was the first band that we managed to catch that day. Although the band kicked it off rather nicely, they faced some serious technical difficulty and it entirely ruined their performance. If memory serves me well, the guitar player had problems with his equipment and also the microphone was somewhat buggy. It all just boiled to the point where the band had to cut it short. What little was heard from them was intriguing and it really sucks that they couldn’t have a normal, full set.
Now comes the section of the review where I have to admit that my laziness succeedes in ruining things, since I remember seeing “The Gentle Art of Chokin”, but details about their performance in my head are really scarce. I do recall being quite entranced by their act and that the band was interesting to watch on stage, since they were moving around a lot. At the moment I do not have access to their recordings in hopes of refreshing my memory, so I’ll sadly keep this part of the write-up short. Forgetting a particular performance definitely makes me feel old. This is sad.
After a short break it was time to see “Grinding Halt”, this occasion being my third. There really isn’t much to say here since I think the previous two reviews covered all the important details, enough at least so that the readers realize how much I’m infatuated with their work. All those things that impressed me during their previous performances were present and combined during this set as well. They just keep showing, again and again, that they are getting better with each gig, always having an ace up their sleeve and never failing to impress. And sincerely, each time I see them live I feel sadness that I never saw “Shikari” play, so I guess that speaks a lot about this band on its own.
“Keitzer” followed after the Dutch quartet and I have to say that this is the band I heard nothing about, aside of seeing a lot of people wearing their shirts. I got to admit that attending their show out of the blue, so to speak, was really awesome due to the fact that I didn’t expect to hear anything similar. The five-piece from Germany blasted out with a really techical form of metalized hardcore, throwing at the audience rending melodies which were extremely precise and somehow seeming to be without pause. It was a real whirlwind of an act and I’m sorry that I didn’t listen to them before, so that I could tell you more specific details about their gig.
Next up, “Planks”. Sadly there is not much to say here. I absolutely adore this band on recordings at home due to the fact that I enjoy the truly grim atmosphere they create with their music. Despite my huge excitement to see them perform live in concert, they just failed to impress. The tunes remained dark and moving, but the overall mood was somewhat broken by the vocals, which in my opinion sounded rather off. Throat duties seemed to be completely unmelded with the rest of the band, so much in fact that I thought that the band changed their vocalist. I talked to other people about this later, since I went out of the venue in the middle of their set, but in the end everyone seemed to be positively stunned by the band. All in all, this remained a big question mark above my head.
Now comes the part of the review where I was truly surprised in the most pleasant of ways. I always loved “Trainwreck” and seeing them last year on “Fluff Fest” was great. Although I really enjoyed their performance, I remember that the crowd was rather dead and it made their act kinda static. This time the exact opposite happened. The band just got on stage and ignited the entire crowd in flames. Everything went nuts and it was an absolute enjoyment to see how the band and the audience managed to connect with constant movement, screaming and clapping. My favorite song, “Piano Gigante”, was played and it made me quite happy in the same way as it did last year. Overall, this was an excellent set and definitely a band worth seeing live at any cost, since it seems that it never fails to impress. I hope I get to see them play again, this was awesome.
Oh my, here we come to the absolute pinnacle of the second day, none other than “Battle Of Wolf 359”. When the festival line-up was initially revealed I just knew that this band will be one of the highlights of the entire event and my expectations were building up until that very moment when they climbed on stage. Seeing as how it was also announced that this will be their last ever show, it was simply sensed in the air that the performance will be epic beyond words. And to be honest, I am at a complete loss of words when it comes to writing about their show. The sound was perfect, the execution of their songs flawless. Not only that, but for the third time now this band proved to me that they are a true monster live, exploding on stage and blasting away the audience in the process. The entire mass of people in front of the band has detonated with movement in the same moment when music was created and the eruption of body motions didn't cease until the very last second. I was standing there uneasy for the first few songs until “Cyberdine” was dropped. Usually just a calm listener and observer, I was so moved by that piece that I engaged in a crowd surfing maneuver which, believe it or not, lasted for the entire duration of the song. It was so unbelievable screaming the lyrics and flying over the hands of the crowd to one of my favorite tracks. Absolutely epic. Additionally, as it is almost a tradition on “Battle Of Wolf 359“ shows, a human pyramid was performed twice, once unsuccessful and the second one a complete ace. Yours truly participated in the latter one and nearly on top, after which more crowd surfing followed! This write-up seems more like a list of things I did than an actual review of the musicians, but I have simply never been inspired and driven by a band in concert as much as then. This band doesn’t leave anyone standing and doing nothing, it entirely ripples through the room and leaves everyone shaking. With the last bits of energy making the bodies shiver and a truly cataclysmic ovation, “Battle Of Wolf 359“ was over after an astonishing gig. And after everything has been written, I sincerely don’t know how to end this part of the review and kinda give a closing word for the band, since they truly manage to invoke a lot of emotions in me, and I presume in many of you as well. The show was magnificent, the band legendary and it should never be forgotten.
Due to the enormous excitement and fatigue by virtue of the previous band, I completely forgot that there is one more performance that was bound to splatter my brains over the entire venue. “June Paik” is just one of those bands which I extremely craved to see live ever since I first heard about it. I was still shaking after “Battle Of Wolf 359“ and then this band came to just deliver the death blow. I have to be honest, I had extremely high expectations for their performance since I heard numerous stories regarding them live, of people trembling, shivering and even crying during a particular set. I was always attracted to this band and there was no reason not to believe in those experiences, but I waited to judge them only once I saw them live and now was my chance. To be honest, it is really tough explaining their set due to the amount of positive impressions it managed to leave on me. In essence, the band took the stage and explained how to proprely blow away everyone in the venue. “June Paik” is a project that always excelled at making eerie, brooding melodies with epic crescendos and it is stunning beyond belief how much all those positive things about the band increased during a concert. Slow song sections are a thousand times more melancholic, succesfully raising all the hairs on your skin. The outbursts of violence and chaos are overwhelming, making me feel as thought the very sounds can shatter entire worlds. Hearing “I” being played was enough to push me overboard and get me into a trance until the end of their set. The atmospehere they managed to create in a single swipe was truly unbelievable and it held its ground until the sounds they made died. Taking my time now to reflect back on the show really makes me mute, since this was a stunning part of “Cry Me A River” which I will always cherish and definitely one of my top three performances of the fest... and in general.
Time for yet another occasion to see “Loma Prieta” and I have to say that this performance made me want more. Initially, I was annoyed by the amount of noise that was somewhat crippling the entire experience of watching them live and it left me rather unpleased. But at the moment I am listening to their recordings at home and comparing those to their live manifestation managed to show me how actually awesome they are in concert. Although they are overdoing it with noise at times, their sets end up being extremely wild and fused with energy as a result. Their entire performance is a huge ball of chaos which you have to take in as a single swallow and the amount of audio pummeling you receive is truly a choking sensation. Seeing the band create so much noise is something astounding, a thing I didn’t pay attention to when I first saw them live. Their speed and precise playing is really a thing worth envying. It took me two of their concerts to realize how great the band is and thus I wish I could summon them whenever I want to so they could play in my living room. Two down, two to go.
Last band for that evening and of the festival entirely was “Graf Orlock”, the well known cinema grind from Los Angeles. I was aware that I would be seeing them multiple times this summer, but frankly I wasn’t really overexcited about the fact. This band always had my liking, though for some reason I was not that much looking forward to hearing them live and a couple of times I even forgot that I would. Then they came on stage and punished me severely for thinking like that. Damn it, their performance was a maddening rollercoaster! “Game Time”, “A Waste Of Ammo” and “A Shocking Interrogation” are just some of the songs that made everyone in the room go insane. If people weren’t already fatigued by the previous bands then I guess the venue would be demolished to the ground. When the crowd was lacking energy then the band was bursting with it, being perfectly angry and violent as much as the tunes are. Their songs sounded amazing and exactly as on recordings, though with additional awesomeness live in concert. The movie samples managed to draw even more smiles than usual during their gig, while the actual music seemed more destructive than ever. “Graf Orlock” finished their set with the dying melody of “The Dream Left Behind” and their singer crowd surfing to the end of the venue and back, after which an encore song ensued.
And this wraps up my time spent on “Cry Me A River”, finally attending the festival after years of trying. Both my girlfriend and me were seriously trying for several years back to get to Versmold and always failed, so going together at last was quite wonderful. Personally, every bit of the event was perfect for me, from an amazing list of bands and the venue to the “during the gig” experiences and shopping for merch. In the end I would just like to thank Lars for keeping such an awesome tradition alive and strong, as well as all other people and bands involved with the festival. Definitely see you again next year!