Dunaújváros, Hungary, 8.7.2016 – 17.7.2016
The longest rock festival ever has come to an end. 9+1 days of all kinds of rock music, mud, sleeping in tents and drinking beer are now over and we are going to tell you how such a real rock marathon can be survived. Of course, such a long and versatile festival has many good and bad sides, let us go through them.
Location and travelling
This was the second time that the festival was organised next to the middle sized city of Dunaújváros, in the camping on an island of the Danube, the picturesque Szalki-sziget. A part of the crowd was really disappointed last year, when the organisers announced that the festival won’t be at its old location (Malomvölgy at the city of Pécs) anymore. Folks loved that place because of the memories and the atmosphere, but we really have to say that it was about time to move. The new place is much bigger, offers great camping with trees and shade, hygiene facilities (flush toilets!), and electricity to charge your phone. There is enough room for the stages and the beach is a huge plus, too. The island lies a 30 minutes walk away from the city center, where you could travel by the special, assigned ’rocker-train’, and then ride a cheap taxi to the venue. The train was pretty full, but they made sure we fit. Unfortunately the city wasn’t prepared for us in the sense of taxis. Obviously, almost everybody wanted to hire a cab to get to the area, because we all had a lot of bags. 10 days of camping, go figure. This may sound like a luxurious way of travelling, but it wasn’t. The number of taxis may have been small, but kudos to the organisers for negotiating a really cheap price for the train station-festival route. Apart from the taxis, there was also a shuttle bus service, operated by the city, but those were rare and always full.
Upon arriving, we got our wristbands and had to go through the security check, which wasn’t that strict. Even though we don’t like that part of the process (nobody does), it isn’t that nice that basically we could have had absolutely anything in our bags, they probably wouldn’t have noticed. In these times, safety is a huge matter.
What did feel nice is that in the area between the camping and the stages there were always police cars and policemen, who were standing with calm faces. They were watching out for trouble, but as far as we know, didn’t find any. You know the stereotype about metalheads being the bad guys? Didn’t seem so. Seriously, there were all those people society despises (punks with coloured mohawks, people dressed in black leather, wearing skulls, metal wristbands with spikes, and huge steel boots), but everybody was just so friendly. (An unbelievable amount of people were smoking weed, though.) Apart from the police, there was also a medical tent prepared for all kinds of problems and injuries. The security guys were all polite and nice (this is always a huge matter to me, since I have way too much bad experience), but the patrolling, and guarding of the VIP and backstage areas was not constant.
The festival had 4 stages – 2 stages in tents and 2 open air main stages. It was a great idea from the organisers that the concerts alternated on the two big ones, so you never missed a headliner because of another headliner.
The beach was behind the stages, at the smaller branch of the river. It was a nice area with grass and a lot of place to sunbathe or just sit, but unfortunately it closed (there was a fence separating it) at 19.00 out of security reasons.
Of course, the water of the Danube wasn’t the only option for bathing, the organisers heard out the complaints of the people, and placed a good number of shower containers, which were cleaned regularly and with some luck, had warm water as well.
A great idea and a real trademark of the festival is the so called ’Off Rock Tanya’, the place for doing something else than… rock. It is a really cute area with a bigger tent and several smaller ones, lots of comfortable chairs (made out of used tyres), and a huge variety of activities. There were card games, all kinds of RPGs, other board games, books, tea and coffee, and the Sheriff office, where you could go ’facehunting’. There you get photographed and also you get the picture of someone else, and you can go out hunting for them. It is fun and also rewarding: 3 succesfully retrieved numbers from the other players means a beer coupon!
In the mornings you could watch a movie or cartoons, and in the afternoons you could check out middle age reenactments, shows, and staged battles. The Off Rock ’lair’ was run by volunteers, who did an unbelievably big and respectable amount of work.
Food and drink
What is more important for survival on a festival of this length, drinking or eating? I guess everybody has their own answer. But one thing is for sure, we didn’t lack either one. So called special ’crisis prices’ for the drinks and basical crowd-friendly prices for the meals made sure that nobody is hungry, or worse, thirsty. A pint of beer cost an unbelievable price of 250 forints (80 cents), a dl of wine 60 forints (20 cents), shots around a euro, all that, if you bought between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Apart from traditional festival fast food, more tents offered several warm meals with meat, cabbage, potatoes, or cheese and salad for the vegetarians. A nice hot bowl was around 3 €, and each day they offered something new. (I found the lack of soups disturbing, tho.)
As I already mentioned, the cheap booze offer was limited until 18.00, so you can imagine that the whole festival was standing in line from 17.40 already, which wasn’t the most pleasant thing. Otherwise, the queues weren’t disturbing, except on the day with 3 famous headliners (Megadeth, Amon Amarth and Airbourne attracted a crazy amount of people). Sure, we had to wait for our beers, and there could have been more beer taps, but at least there was time for getting to know new people. The beer was served in reusable cups, and a deposit of ~1€ meant a lot less garbage at the area. The quality of the print on the cups could have been better – holding a cup with sweaty palms for an hour meant that the writing became unreadable or completely came off.
Those who don’t like lángos (traditional fried oily dough with toppings) for breakfast could go to the Mini ABC that was made just for the festival. For the 130%-140% of the supermarket price you could buy bread, butter, cheese, and other basic food, basic hygiene items, and even painkillers and other drugs. This is a splendid idea from the organisers, since the nearest Tesco is a 40 minutes walk away, and even metalheads may have other needs then beer and kebab, sometimes napkins, matches or condoms are necessary, you know. Of course the little shop could have been better in several things, but I think we all are just very thankful for this opportunity.
Guys, don’t be disappointed, but even though it is two of us writing this report, it is impossible to cover 200+ bands, so we will tell you the highlights and the ones we enjoyed the most, or the ones that had something special to them. You will see the bands in their original order of appearance.
The first day was about local acts without any international bands performing, and the main stage was also closed, so it was more like a warm-up day. Watch My Dying performed on the second main stage, but didn’t really leave a big impression in me. They had many people watching them, but I think only the real fans enjoyed it, because the sound was not done well, so for those who don’t know the songs by heart, it wasn’t a big experience. Otherwise, a great opening in the spirit of (technical groove) metal.
The Hungarian heavy metal scene is a funny thing, because there is a lot of overlapping. Kalapács was the next performer, who is the ex singer of the famous Pokolgép. He began his solo career at the end of the 20th century and has ever since performed many Pokolgép songs, and also wrote many albumful of own ones. Still, the crowd is always the hungriest for those heavy classics. Therefore, a lot of people appeared in front of the stage and had fun, some of them honestly headbanging their hearts out but many of them just to smile upon the passing of old times, or to, you know, accompany their dads.
We went to see Magor on the smaller tent stage. Around the years of 2010 they were a big favourite of mine, as a beginner metalcore band, but since then they got their first studio album out under the name of the biggest Hungarian label and their sound went into a direction I don’t really like. The first songs had lots of potential and great ideas, but I can’t really say the same about the newer ones. Unfortunately, these days they don’t play their oldest hit, but rather focus on the new material. There were several kickass riffs, but the harsh vocal is mediocre and I dare to say that the clean singing is simply not good.
Akela is a huge favourite of the Rockmaraton crowd, especially of those around 30. They are an important band of their era, and their thrash metal carries a lot of meaningful thoughts for that generation, which resulted in a big partying crowd reliving their youth. The music for my melodic taste is really grey, but at least their stage appearance with wolfskins is cool.
For we were really lacking melodies, we went back to the Hammerworld Stage to see Demonlord. The almost 20 years old power metal band was playing one of its last concerts before the split-up, which is a bittersweet thing. I am sad that it is coming to an end, but we have to enjoy what we have. Demonlord never became a popular band and even after 20 years of music they are a small-stage-performer, but in my opinion it is much better to play for a crowd of 200 people, where the whole front row is clapping along, than for 2000, where some of the people even in the first rows are just standing there with dull faces. This was the example of the first situation; almost everybody was going crazy, jumping and singing along to the chorus.
Before we got too epic, we headed back to the main stage to see the joke punk band Rózsaszín Pitbull (’pink pitbull’), whose funny lyrical and musical themes attracted an uncountable number of viewers. Their songs are easy as childrens’ poems, but many times the songs performed to the melodies of traditional Hungarian songs talk about political matters and common stereotypes, but fortunately they visibly don’t take themselves too seriously. 10 years ago they were a perfect band to piss your parents off, and get music banned from school recess, so I believe this was one of the most nostalgic moshpit of the whole festival.
We got up to an incredible heat, so after getting some breakfast from the abovementioned Rock ABC, and quickly went to the beach to cool our bodies. The cooling process continued with some ciders and checking out the first band of the day, Swamp. They weren’t joking, those, who went to listen to their stoner metal, even got some whiskey. Seems like the band isn’t really trusting itself if they want to get the crowd drunk do enjoy their music. Of course I am joking, the music was not unbearable, as an opening band it was nice, but there is a great room for improvement.
The story of Leander/Rising/Kills is getting more and more complicated. First it was a solo project of Leander Köteles, covering Lady Gaga songs and the infamous Gloomy Sunday, then it evolved to a band doing own songs. Later it became a problem that the name is already copyrighted, so they became Leander Rising instead, played for a good couple of years like that and got signed with Sony Music. Then something broke, and Mr.Köteles began a new band with the creative name of Leander Kills, and took Máté Bodor (ex-Wisdom, now Alestorm) to himself. The style mostly remained the same, modern metal with many melodic and piano parts, emotional lyrics (imagine the number of teenage girls on the shows!), but rather heavy riffs. Years of constantly rising fame resulted in a pretty big crowd, a transition between the sensitive souls and the heavy core guys.
The first headliner the more feminine part of our duo was looking forward to was At the Gates, the newly re-formed Gothenburg death metal giant. We both awaited the concert with great expectations, but it was a bit of a disappointment, probably mostly because of the badly done sound, where not the right sounds and moments were highlighted. They played their hits from ,,Slaughter of the Soul’’ and ,,At War With Reality’’ which is a superb setlist, but the concert mostly left me the with the feeling that I need to see an own club concert of them.
After surviving the even hotter day we headed to the small, event tent because there was an organised fan-band-meeting-session with Dalriada. A couple of dozen people showed up, but most of them were really shy to ask questions, so it was mostly a dialogue between the moderator of the meeting and the leader of the band, with occasional questions from the fans. The meeting had a great, friendly atmosphere but was finished after an hour, because Nevergreen was about to play on the stage nearby. I thought their gloomy goth metal wouldn’t suit for this sunny weather but I was wrong. The sound was done very well, and they played very nice, atmospheric songs, and the whole thing was just really enjoyable. Just a couple of minutes after they had finished, Ektomorf started on the biggest stage. They are the Hungarian Sepultura, with a bigger career over the border than in Hungary (this may or may not be because of the Roma singer). Their performances are really energetic, but the crowd needed a bit of a warm up before they could really get going. At the beginning, there was just a handful of people at the stage, but after the intro taken from the Game of Thrones, people started appearing, and by the 3rd song, even moshing and jumping around.
Dalriada is a band that the two of us combined have been to more concerts than their latest addition to the band, the keyboard player, Gergely ‘Szög’ Szabó, so we know how stuff goes. I could not really complain much about the concert, but there is also nothing to highlight. They played 9-10 songs, their usual festival setlist (Ígéret, Hajdútánc, A Walesi Bárdok, Dudás, Amit ad az ég), made a wall of death on ,,Borivók éneke”, thanked us for being there and left.
Enslaved was the next to play on the main stage. Nowadays they vary two kinds of setlists, one from the old and one from the new era. I only got to like the band with the latest album, and my ears can’t really process the old songs from the albums that were released around or even before 2000. Such a disappointment, absolutely no songs from ,,In Times’’.
The whole concert was too dark so we quickly relocated ourselves to the 2nd main stage to see the Hungarian buccaneers, Paddy and the Rats. In contrary to the previous show, the rats played many of their new era almost-pop songs. This was not a problem, and especially to our big happiness, we could hear many old classics, and the whole crowd morphed into a huge Irish pub and a dancing party. The jumping on ,,Freedom”, as always, was just phenomenal.
Before we continued with another Irish party of the Jolly Jackers, we made a small detour to the small stage to see and hear the Nordic melodic metal of Agregator. The guys are a real active part of the Hungarian underground. They follow the steps of the Gothenburg metal scene, but write their songs in Hungarian. We missed the beginning of the concert but arrived in the perfect moment, when they started playing ,,A skorpió útja”, one of their big hits, almost instantly followed by another one, ,,Mint tűz és a jég”. They had a really long stage time, so it was a concert for the hardcore fans, with many less known songs and many cheerful chit-chats between the guys and the crowd.
Jolly Jackers was the local representation, they are the local guys from Dunaújváros, playing Irish punk music with flute and stuff like that, you know how it goes. A traditional melody here, a traditional jig there, Drunken Sailor, Tell Me Ma, yet it was somehow not good, sorry guys. They were somewhat off-beat, off-rhythm, off-melody, and maybe I am wrong and they simply each played a different concert or a different song at the same time… Maybe if this wasn’t happening at 2.a.m, we wouldn’t have been so tired that we leave, but we did.
The heat was seriously unbearable and we only dared to go back to the festival area around 18.00, to see Månegarm, but we had a pleasant surprise. While they were setting up the mainstage, a band called Dying Wish was playing in the Offline Pit nearby. They play melodic metal, and from what we have heard it was pretty pleasant for the ear, especially that I believe that the ’Wish’ part means some relation to Nightwish, atleast with the synth parts. I don’t know why I’ve never heard about this band before, but after this show I am looking forward to seeing them again! Månegarm’s latest, self-titled album came out last year, but they only got 55 minutes of stage time, so it was a big question whether they will play the new album, or rather a best of setlist. The concert in the end was only 50 minutes long, with three of the new songs (,,Odin Owns Ye All”, ,,Blodörn”, and ,,Tagen av Daga”), and the hits (,,Nattsjäl, Drömsjäl”, ,,Vedergällningens Tid”, ,,Sons of War”), but I can’t really understand how can you begin a festival set with such an ‘antyparty’ song as ,,Blodörn”. I enjoyed it because I am a fan, but I wouldn’t be surprised if many people said that they left because of such a lame start. We weren’t big in numbers anyway, but I still think we would have deserved those assigned 55 minutes and a bit better sound.
We parted ways to see both Prosectura and Bornholm. Prosectura is a more than 25 years old punk band, so they got the mainstage, while the more underground Bornholm was playing in the pit. The punk guys made a great atmosphere with their most popular songs, but when they played their most expected ’hit’, ,,Iszok’’ (’I drink’), it was played so disappointingly badly! Dani and I rejoined on Bornholm who represent a totally different style, they are the warriors of pagan black metal and played the whole show without a single smile, but this is how it’s done. This concert wasn’t about moshpits or dancing, but you could see many true faces headbanging.
After this, we broke the black atmosphere and instead of Sear Bliss chose the concert of Picsa. They are a punk band with a leftist ideology, but those who don’t mind politics can enjoy their concerts as well. In my opinion, musically they are probably the best punk band of Hungary, playing on trumpets and incorporating several musical styles into their songs. Hits like ,,Commandante” and ,,Ein, Zwei, Drei” could not be missed, and metalheads were dancing with the punk girls – the real evil guys were on Sear Bliss anyway.
There was a change in the line up and Belphegor performed instead of Shining. (This part of the organisation was weird anyway, since apparently the Swedish Shining was about to perform, but the line up stated Shining (NOR). Oops. Anyway, the black metallers still had a nice night, Belphegor and Behemoth is still an awesome combo. It was actually interesting, that the so called punk day later on was super obvious, since a triple amount of people with mohawks arrived, but no significant number of black metallers was seen that day. Just a few people were wearing panda, ehm, I mean, black metal make up. Behemoth didn’t just play songs and make a concert, but it was rather a whole black metal performance, a real show.
The day began with cider and Kylfingar. The Hungarian viking folk metal band became a huge favourite of the audience in the past few years.They follow the steps of bands like Ensiferum, and Wintersun. Their songs about battles and Norse mythology, accompanied by keytar and nice riffs were a great start to the day, their success was almost as big as last year, where they had a huge ass wall of death to ,,Sörtánc”. See the video from last year.
This years they had several problems, the sound guy didn’t arrive on time and he didn’t do his job properly, either. He had a hard time making the sound normally and it still wasn’t good. Although the quality problems weren’t his fault only, the band also made mistakes. It was especially awkward that at one point, we heard synths from the sampler, but the guy wasn’t even touching his keytar. Of course, when there are more melodies and he can’t play all, it is OK to have a sampler, but not this way…
The day continued in a punk/modern metal way. We stopped by to check out Cadaveres, because the last time I saw them, they made a nice performance, but somehow I never got to listen to them at home. Still, it was totally worth it to listen to half their set live again, and together with Blind Myself, we got our healthy dose of modern metal. Unfortunately, this was one of the very last concert of Blind Myself as well, so it wasn’t exactly a happy happening, especially with songs about the homeless, or a song based on very sad poem by the Hungarian poet, Miklós Radnóti.
We attended the concert of UK Subs, who are like the alpha (or one of those, formed in 1976 you see) of punk, and honestly, the British accent of the singer was the most interesting thing in the concert for me. It was fast and rhytmical, but not so melodic. Unlike The Casulties, who came back to Rockmaraton already for the 2nd or even the 3rd time, and always make huge crowds move. Every possible person was singing along to ,,Unknown Soldier” and ,,We Are All We Have”.
An old Hungarian punk band performed as well, Alvin és a Mókusok started shortly after on the smaller main stage. It is a rarity that a girl is in a punkband, but Viki was playing the bass guitar and singing at the same time. They involved the crowd in many actions, they announced two birthdays on the stage, and asked the crowd to help those two guys crowdsurf. They also played many sing along songs and made a huge party. They announced at the beginning of the concert that they don’t have much stage time, so they won’t talk much, but will try to play from all of the albums and from every era of the band, but actually they talked quite a bit but still managed to play the songs they wanted, so, all good, thank you.
Our next visit was to the HammerWorld stage to see the Hungarian Rumproof performing. They started off as an Alestorm/Paddy and the Rats cover band, and when they gathered a cool and rather loyal fanbase, started performing their newly written and pretty cool own songs, as well. This concert featured both the mega dancey-covers like ,,Vodka” from Korpiklaani, ,,Hangover” from Alestorm/Taio Cruz/you name it, ,,Wenches and Mead”, ,,The Sunk’n Norwegian” and ,,Shipwrecked” from Alestorm and their own best songs. I see a lot of potential in these six guys, looking forward to their first studio album.
The first act we saw was the side project of the singer of the thirty years old Hungarian thrash legend, Moby Dick, Tamás ‘Smici’ Schmiedl. Moby Dick is a typical old school thrash, and Bloody Roots on the contrary has a much more modern sound and is closer to speed metal and they enrich their thrash with some groove elements, even. They played songs from both of their albums, and those handful of people who showed up were really enthusiastic. Bloody Roots gave the stage to another Hungarian metal band, the internationally recognised Wisdom. The guys have toured with Sabaton and Battle Beast and now they are back to Hungary to present their latest album, ,,Rise of the Wise”. As it was a festival show, we wouldn’t have let them to leave the stage, without hits like the mega-old ,,Wisdom”, ,,Somewhere alone”, or ,,Take me to Neverland”. Nothing special, yet still a better show then the dull and badly sounding one last year.
It started to rain during the concert, and as we were making our way to the main stage to see Equilibrium, we heard some speech from both of the main stages and we quickly found out that a huge storm is incoming and we are to seek shelter until it passes. The organisers calmed everybody, that the concerts won’t be cancelled only delayed, so we ran to a beer tent for a good hour, and waited for the thunder and super heavy rain to pass. When we found ourselves brave enough to go out, they were already setting up the stage for the German heathens.
The weather became bearable again and soon Equilibrium came up to the stage and started to play… something. Seriously, the sound was so bad we didn’t even recognise the songs and the guys also seemed very nervous. The crowd on the other hand, was in great spirits, we were just happy that the storm passed and we are about to see our favourites. Since it is hard to pronounce the name of the band, and we were just really feeling upbeat, the crowd was chanting “Gruppensex! Gruppensex!”. Don’t ask. Equilibrium used to be a huge favourite of mine, but after the latest album, ,,Erdentempel”, I wasn’t that enthusiastic about this show, in contrary with Dani, since it was his first time to see Equi. Sure, we were both impressed to see the Germans onstage, but the sound was just really bad, sometimes it lacked vocals, guitars, and mostly samplers. Schade. Their latest song ,,Prey” from the coming album ,,Armageddon” was performed live for the first time ever, but the old songs, such as ,,Der Ewige Sieg”, ,,Unbesiegt”, and ,,Blut Im Auge” were the ones everybody was waiting for.
Pokolgép played after them, so the heavy metal guys who just woke up after the Kalapács concert could be really cheerful and enjoy the heroes of Hungarian heavy-power. Iron Inside followed, but the rain became heavy again, so we decided to head to our tent, to my big regret, since they are a superb Iron Maiden tribute band, with an excellent singer and fantastic performance. It seemed not to be any different that day, the concert was even enjoyable from the tent.
Omen played some of the heavy-power hymns again, but as we were really hungry for some change, we went to the main stage to hear Dog Eat Dog from the US. The band is around 30 years old, however, I only heard about them last year when they performed on Masters of Rock in Czechia and already then I knew that I want to see them again. They combine hip hop, nu metal, funk, and an unlistable amount of musical genres to make really unique music. They played in a rather early slot, yet many people went to see them, and when they asked who has seen them 10-20 years ago, many people raised their hands. They were probably the only artists performing also rap in their music, and I hoped nobody from the trve metalheads would hate on them, but I saw no problems. Everybody was singing and rapping, they asked their drummer and even their manager to rap in a song. It is hard to describe their concert, it was new, fresh, surprising, unexpected (well they even told us to ,,Expect the Unexpected”) and just a huge party. 55 minutes full of jumping, dancing, and funny moments, for example when ’Rocky’ appeared on the stage for the song… ,,Rocky”. I hope they return for a club concert.
Smici also played with his older band, Moby Dick. Songs like ,,Ugass kutya” and ,,Mennyből az angyal” are known to each Hungarian thrash-heart, and they gathered a real big crowd compared to such a subgenre of metal. For my big delight, they also played the more melodic power-speed metal song ,,Prometheus”, and as always, ,,Keresztes vitéz” as the encore.
Tonight was the night of the hardcore bands, so in this spirit, there were Hungarian bands of this genre accompanying the international acts. We saw the show of Don Gatto, who filled the Offline Pit in an undescribable way, there was a huge pit, and I was just hoping that the tent will remain standing. I only know the main hits of the guys, but enjoyed the show and the atmosphere. Madball was the first international headliner of the genre. Their songs were all great individually, but as I don’t know them properly, it was hard to tell apart one song from the other. Not like with Ignite! I didn’t mean to swear in this report, but holy shit, what an amazing concert! The singer is an American born Hungarian, both his parents emigrated (individually) to the US in the middle of the 20th century and Zoltán is really trying hard to preserve his Hungarian roots. Shame on me, but I never listened to Ignite and only now do I know what I missed out on. They are labeled melodic hardcore, but mostly they seemed punk rock to me, but who cares about the labels, the music is awesome, Zoltán has a great voice, and the songs are all super melodic and tell about important matters. Zoltán speaks somewhat broken, but very understandable and expressive Hungarian, and he spoke to the crowd almost exclusively in Hungarian, with occasional English words (by ’words’ I mean ’fuck’ mostly). He talked about the Hungarian team being good in the UEFA Euro championship, and made the crowd chant ’Ria-Ria-Hungária’! An American. He also talked about his love and connection to his grandmother and the Hungarian village, but also about the bad situation with armies and politicians. He took a stand next to the green ideology of not cutting out anymore trees in favor of buildings, and actually asked the crowd if anybody can help him save the trees in Veresegyháza his grandfather had planted, and then they played the song ,,How is this progress?”. They had a good friend of theirs, a tattoo artist girl in the front row (calling her „tattoo human”) and they gave her an inflatable rubber boat and asked the crowd to help her crowdsurf. It was really successful, which encouraged several other people to crowdsurf. I had fun and I will gladly go and see them anytime again. The night was many times closed by Hungarian tribute bands, this time with the Slipknot cover band, Slipchaos. Dani was awaiting them with great expectations, which they didn’t fulfil, except from their greatly done stage clothes, masks and the typical drums. Apart from that, the singing and the sound was rather bad. All the harsh vocals were really good, almost like Corey Taylor’s, but the clean singing lacked energy and so did the whole performance.
By these days we didn’t have any problems with the heat, the new disturbing factor was mostly the rain and the grey weather. When we started walking around on the festival ground, it was really visible that bands like Airbourne, Megadeth and Amon Amarth are playing that day. The number of the crowd already in the early afternoon was the double and then the triple of the regular Rockmaraton crowd. We were checking out the wristbands worn by the people, and it was obvious that a huge crowd of people bought a ticket especially for this day and for these artists. For us, on the contrary, the day was about the ’viking acts’, the German Varg and the Swedish Amon Amarth. Varg was a kind of a disappointment, I already dislike their latest album, when they drove away from folk-melodic death to a more core oriented music, but the concert wasn’t too impressive, either. They did play ,,Schwertzeit” tho, where even I participated in the circle pit. The crowd in this sense was actually very good, there were circle pits going on at all times, and on ,,Rotkäppchen” the band invited 5 fangirls to dance on the stage. Battle Beast could be but is not my type of music, I only enjoyed the song ,,Iron Hand”, but that one atleast I enjoyed a lot, the others are just like any other heavy metal song, sung by a woman.
For Amon Amarth a big crowd was gathering, we all were curious about the norsemen and about their latest album, ,,Jomsviking”. The concert was pretty good, full of energy, the setlist was good, albeit short. From the new album they only played ,,First Kill” and ,,Raise Your Horns”, it was mostly a best of set. The stage decorations were really impressive, the dragonheads were huge and pretty, but there was no smoke or fire coming out of them, not even before ,,Twilight of the Thundergod”. There was still some time before Megadeth, but the stages weren’t empty (unlike the backstage VIP area, which worked in a way more restricted order than on the other days, I guess because of Megadeth) so we headed to the pit to see Kovbojok. They got famous on Youtube singing about poo, let’s check them out! Lot of people were dancing and having fun and it was a good laugh, with easy songs and reciting funny poems onstage.
Megadeth was next in line and what happened blowed up the Hungarian internet completely. It is hard to say the story in its complete truth because everybody said something else. The Megadeth concert was cancelled last minute. Dave Mustaine came up to the stage to announce to the non-English speaking crowd that bass player David Ellefson broke his leg and is badly injured and they cannot perform, but the fans should keep their tickets. Then a Hungarian guy came up to say the same and after 10 minutes of the crowd booing, the main organiser came to the stage. He was really upset and said that the bass guitarist fell, broke his leg, wanted to play, but Mustaine said that he didn’t like the circumstances and the fact that the show wouldn’t be perfect this way, and decided to head back to the capital to their hotel immediately. All those people bought their tickets in vain (well, it is not a secret that it was Megadeth that attracted the most fans) and the festival organisers couldn’t do anything. Since then, everybody is writing articles about what happened, whether Mustaine was right to dislike the circumstances in backstage, if they are right to leave, if it’s okay or disrespecting the fans to cancel the show, or whether it was right for the main organiser to be this upset. The festival organisers said they are going to try to compensate the fans in some way, but first, they also lost a lot of money, second, who wants to see Megadeth after all this?
The rain got worse and we basically didn’t dare to go out of our tents until the afternoon (for real.), because you could get soaked in just a second. When the rain became a bit more calm, we took a taxi to the local hypermarket to buy rubber boots and trash bags as raincoats. It was a bit cold but wine always helps that case, so, you wouldn’t believe it, but the last, most wet and muddy day of the festival turned out to be the best day. It started with us watching Epica do their soundcheck. Like, not the tech guys, and not in a restricted area, but the actual Epica guys (lacking guitarist Mark Jansen), doing 2 songs on the stage, it was a really nice experience and boosted our spirits instantly! Tales of Evening were a real fitting opener before Sonata Arctica and Epica. It wasn’t their best concert ever, the sound was weird and not at all proportionate. They played a completely new song from their coming album, and they try to cheer up the wet and cold crowd with their older fairytaleish hits.
In Dani’s words, ’Sonata Arctica wins this round’. No doubt. We saw the show from the far left side of the front row, and even there the sound was perfect. We needed a bit of time to get warmed up and get into the Sonata mood, but with hits like ,,8th commandment”, the obligatory ,,Full Moon”, ,,I have a right” they couldn’t go wrong. And guess what! I am a bit of a fangirl here but They.Played.The.Cage!! This song used to be their encore around the years 2007-2008 and is one of my favourites, but thent the song almost completely disappeared from the setlist, except of the shows in their native Finland and South America. And guess what! In 2016 they brought it back and I was as happy as a teenage girl. That combined with ,,White Pearl, Black Oceans” meant a truly epic concert. Of course, there was some fun as well, Tony Kakko was in his good shape, sometimes he even hit the high notes he oftentimes omits on the live shows. Their ballad for this concert was the ,,Last Drop Falls” (to my sadness, I think they have many more amazing ballads, but this is a personal issue, I guess), and he ’informed’ the crowd that the next song is great so you can get to know the person standing next to you better and have a baby; and he even acted out a little scene that went something like:
-Hey, you also like Sonata?
-No, I’m here for Epica.
-Go f*ck yourself!.
The crowd was getting more dense even though it looked like it is going to rain again, but the Epica fans really didn’t mind at all. Some rainy Dutch weather for the Dutchies, you see. Nowaday’s Epica concerts are super theatrical and really rehearsed, which can be either a plus or a minus, depends how you look at it. They aim for perfection, they support the music with lots of samplers, which is understandable, since they can’t carry a whole orchestra on tour (wish they did, tho). Most of the concert (6 songs) was built on ,,The Quantum Enigma”, the rest was divided among the older ones. I think old classics like ,,Cry for the Moon”, ,,Sancta Terra” and especially ,,Consign to Oblivion” made everybody really happy. Coen, the keyboards player even played a very-very tiny bit of the coming album’s sounds. Simone sings amazingly and the guys are amazing too, but something somehow wasn’t the best. Sometimes it seemed that the sound is not proportionate at all, or that some of the guys are early or late, or just somehow ’away’ from each other, or was it different on purpose? Hard to say, but something was just weird. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed the concert, but really, I must say that even the ending of the concert with throwing in the towels and guitar picks was calculated perfectly second by second on the outro music. Whatever, still an enchanting, epic concert, even in the pouring rain! To put Epica play after Sonata Arctica was an idea and a lineup I cannot praise enough, it was a musical heaven!
With this the festival has come to an end, I managed to eat the very last lángos of the festival and join the people trying to give out all the energy they had left in the final rock disco until dawn’s first light.
What could I say as a conclusion? A really good festival despite the fact that unlike big festivals, they don’t get any money from the state, or don’t have big sponsors whose name they put on the stages and beer cups. It is organised better and better each year, and the organisers are really looking at what the crowd wants. Normally Rockmaraton is a week long, but with these 9 days they really made a new record, and they haven’t failed at it. A headliner getting cancelled couldn’t be taken as an issue, especially that it was the band’s decision. Apart from that, everything worked perfectly, the beer was good, affordable, and cold, the concerts started on time, only that the the sound could have been better, but the staff was friendly and we survived and can only hope to go there the following year as well.
Report: Vica Katona & Dani Vida[:]