Hellfest – Clisson France
17-18-19 June 2011
Hellfest arrives for its 5th edition. The French festival has been growing incredibly huge and very fast. This year it traditional location in the sport facilities of Clisson couldn’t take anymore of the mass of metalheads coming to this small part of France from all over the world.
This year’s crowd-moving, main acts where none less than Rob Zombie, Scorpions, Ozzy, and Judas Priest, with tons of other goodies in between. An excellent line-up as usual, as it’s part of the winning formula that gave success to the organizers of this event, nowadays already one of the biggest metal fests in the European summer.
The weather won’t be the most pleasant ever, but on the other hand it could have been way worse than just some strong wind and rain here and there, and the sun has been lighting the fields from time to time, still giving the impression to be in summer, after all. But as this festival is amazingly fun if you are among the beer-drinking hellraisers in the audience, you can somehow understand the “hell” part when you have to keep up with the insanely long queues to get into the photo pit, along with running all over the festival area from stage to stage, trying not to fall over some boozer laying on the ground. Oh well… running is good for your health!
Article and pics by Marco Manzi
DAY 1 (The 17th of June)
The first day for me starts with a brief look at Svart Crown, preferred to Valient Thorr who performs on the main stage. The French acts is a good warm-up act for the day, especially after that “hint of breakfast” is swallowed quickly before entering the festival area.
Still at the Rock Hard tent awaits after a break Malevolent Creation, maybe a bit under-estimated since they play at lunchtime, but fortunately there’s at least a decent bunch of deathsters attending the show, “Living In Fear” and “Malevolent Creation” ends this part of a nice show, that still was lacking a bit of involvement from the people there. Pity.
One interesting act at the smallest stage, the Terrorizer tent, was the Swedish act In Solitude, with the singer wearing as usual a fox fur around his neck, and incense sticks to set the atmosphere. The crowd seemed to enjoy the gig, “Demons” and “Witches Sabbath” being some of the highest points of this short set. These young guys show attitude, and mixed with good music is something you want to keep an eye on.
Next for me after a deserved quick lunch break, is Dodheimsgard. I saw DMG already in the winter, and I hadn’t paid much attention to them really, as that sort of “avantgarde black metal” is not really my thing. It is though quite interesting to watch these guys which singer reminds me somehow of the Lord of Sith in Star Wars I, and their songs are still entertaining in small doses even for someone more “old-school-ish” like me.
I was really looking forward instead to the show of Church of Misery, since I had to skip that one during their latest tour. These Japanese guys kicks ass! The singer Yoshiaki Negishi with his wild haircut and beard, wearing just a pair of jeans, seems like possessed on this small stage, jumping often down in the pit to get directly to the audience. That’s one hell of a show from this stoner-doom metal band, which concludes the set with the awesome “I, Motherfucker”.
After all this tour-de-force, I really need a bit of a break. Sorry for that guys of Krisiun and Co., but my interest lays then on the Irish guys lead by the eccentric A.A. Nemtheanga, Primordial. This guy knows how to capture the attention of his fans, running around the Rock Hard stage with his usual face-paint and bloody middle/low-class-Irish-worker clothes. And a bottle of Jack Daniels, of course. This black metal with a strong celtic component is always very interesting both to see and to hear, you just can’t avoid to get sucked into the atmosphere of a Primordial show. Which makes me completely forget that I was supposed to check out EyeHateGod at the same time.
On the other hand, I get the chance to check out for the first time a live show of Karma To Burn, this strange stoner instrumental trio is quite involving and almost hypnotic in their compositions, which really set up a good atmosphere making the small tent packed with people even hotter. Their songs gets the rhythm flowing, and the crowd is just captured by that. That, and the guys performing in that darkened, smokey stage. I’m glad I didn’t miss it.
Now is when my schedule starts messing up, because I try to divide myself between Down and Vader, still having in mind that Meshuggah is playing soon after. Well, in the end it turns out I can’t really manage to follow any of the three properly, and I just try to enjoy Phil Anselmo’s band – ending with “Bury Me In Smoke” together with their fellow friends from EyeHateGod and Corrosion of Conformity – and some bits of the other two here and there. There is simply too much to see here!
But one thing I’d never miss is Iggy And The Stooges. Mr. Iggy Pop must be watched properly. From the audience. In the front row. And it’s among that mass of people from where it was impossible to move that I finally got to hear live songs such as “L.A. Blues”, “Penetration” and “I Wanna Be Your Dog”. Pure and simple awesomeness enhanced by the restless fans who keep shouting along with Iggy and pressing toward the stage. This is a piece of history people! Surely one of the highlights of the day, especially considering how empty and dull was the following Morbid Angel performance.
Maybe I’m just very very disappointed on the latest record (like many other people), and that made me lose interest also on the live side of the band, but really, there’s nothing noteworthy that got stuck in my mind from that show, and that must account for something.
I would have liked to see Possessed playing live, but the unfortunate matching with Rob Zombie didn’t allow me to do so. Luckily enough, this was the best show of the day, and it turned out to be one of the most interesting of the festival as a whole. It’s incredible how you can get really into the show, not to mention the curious stage props and costumes of the guys. This made my mind turn back a bit to Alice Cooper. I think that in their own ways Alice and Rob are two showman of their kind. The real deal. But you don’t realize it until you actually see it with your own eyes!The setlist itself is very catching, with songs such as “Superbeast”, “Living Dead Girl”, and the White Zombie cover “More Human Than Human” already one after the others in the early part of the show. Rob really knows how to get his fans (especially the female kind) go crazy, and it doesn’t really take so much of an effort anyway. A great concert this one, and I couldn’t get those songs out of my head for days. Still a good side-effect. “Super-Charger Heaven” and the conclusive “Dragula” do nothing more than add to the amazing experience that was this gig. Something I’ll make sure to see again.
The night is still not finished yet, and since Alter Bridge was moved to the party tent in the camping area, there’s 4 shows at the same time. I don’t really care about In Flames having to pick among these, since their direction in the last few records has been more and more diverging from my taste. I opt for Mayhem, with Attila wearing a black sort of cloak rather than the usual priest clothing, and drinking from a skull while standing in some kind of a bone-altar. Flames add to the infernal setting, really eye-catching I’d say. And after all some good old black metal is what I’ve been missing pretty much the whole day. Mayhem fill this void with “Freezing Moon”, “Deathcrush” and the conclusive (always awesome) “Pure Fucking Armageddon”.
In between I can still sneak to the nearby tent to check part of Monster Magnet’s show, enough to hear the goodies, even though I’d have liked to see more of it since it looked like a damn good show compared to what I saw last autumn. Next time maybe…
With this the first day, at least concert-wise is ending. And now it’s time to party! Just enough to come back and discover part of my tent nearly flew away because of the wind and inside it’s all wet from the rain. But luckly I was tired enough not to care, and got at least a few hours of sleep before the beginning of the next day.