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Festival : Novarock[/urlb]
Place : Nickelsdorf (Autriche)
Date : 19/21-06-2009
Audience : 160 000 people over 3 days.

Novarock 2009 : let’s go!

Friday 19th of June. 4 am. The alarm clock goes off. Here we go, let’s go. Novarock 2009 operation has begun! Too early for a breakfast. We’re taking me to the airport Lyon-Saint-Exupéry where my flight Austrian takes off at 6h25. Landing in Vienna around 8h15. After trying to have myself explained how to go by bus or train to the Novarock site, 50 km east of teh Austrian capital, I’m giving up… when you’re French and you don’t speak a word of German, it’s too hard to male yourself understood! Let’s go for the turkish taxi who manages to bamboozle me: meaning I get in not knowing the price of the run. It will be 80 quids! expensive-oh. Well then, he gets me off at the entrance of the site. So it’s OK. It’s 9 and the weather is great. I’m setting off for the camp site hauling my huge wheely bag in the dust while listening to «Angel Dust» of Faith No More on my i-pod.

I manage to get an almost quiet place at the very back of the site since 90% of the festival-goers seem to be pretty well settled already. Once my tent is hitched, I wander around and discover te two stages: the Red stage and the main one, the Blue Stage. The Novarock settings are absolutly huge and it takes no less than ten minutes on foot to get from one stage to the other! It’s also the occasion to discover once again the gross austrian bretzels. Three years ago on the 2006 festival (Metallica already, Guns N’ Roses, Tool and Alice In Chains), the Doc’ and myself had been deluded: thinking we were having a nice sugary treat in the morning, we bited all teeth out in a sort of hard cookie with cheese! This year, no way you’re gonna get me fuckers!

Sonic Syndicate

12h15 : first concert of the festival. It’s a band called Rolo Tomassi. And how to say that? It’s probably the worst thing I’ve seen on stage in my whole entire life! Five musicians with an average of 17 years old. A singer wearing a mini skirt, of course with nice looks, but who vomits into her mic without any delicacy on knuckle-dragging bits lasting an average of two minutes. Pathetic. How can such a rotten band get his place on the festival running order? We start off the bad ffot. We go on with the Blue Stage. I get there in front of the first ranks and I am dubious in front of the 15 metal cylinders in front of me. And then 15 (!) guys turn up on stage: t-shirts and black pants, black shades, black caps and orange sticks. They are called the Drumatical Theatre. And here we go for half an hour of percussions on a techno-indus background. And well for myself I always get bored out of my mind whenever there’s a drum solo, but here I am awed by this band I’m discovering. Not only the music is captivating but also the stage presence of these 15 guys is ultra military with robotic like movements is great and all this is just amazing. In short a first clout. Then I get to the shows of Sonic Syndicate, apparently much expected and of Black Stone Cherry, for a huge classic and efficient hard US. I then start to watch the show of Disturbed with the culte entrance of the singer with a straitjacket. But it is time to leave the place since it is time to go to the Red Stage if I want to be up front for the return of the Masters: Faith No More !

Faith No More

So I get there at the end of the concert of Gogol Bordello : a kind of fascinating musical UFO, mixing rock with Russian music! With notably a violonist, a look-alike of Serj Tankian who sings and plays the guitar bare chested, a black bass player with a wig and galsses Polnareff-like, two dancers … Apparently, here they are stars since the pit looks like a real dance floor. The concert ended, I slide into the first ranks on the left and I await the Moment: to see again Faith No More, my favorite band with Metallica and Alice In Chains. And this eleven and a half year after the only concert I’ve seen from them at the Transbordeur of Lyon in December 1997 on their Album Of The Year Tour. The concert intro is huge: Roddy Bottum on the keyboards, Billy Gould on the bass, Mike Bordin on the drums and Jon Hudson on the guitar get there all dressed up and play a kind of terrible and corny US ballad «Easy» style soon accompanied by THE star, Mike Patton who comes up all dressed up in red and limping, his walking stick in hand, mimicking an arthritic old man. Let’s note that the said ballad was « Reunited », a rerun of the Peaches & Herb.

Hu-mon-gous ! The trip was worth it if only for that. The band, whose members have almost no show of ageing – unbelievable and surreal -, will then play almost all of their classics – except «We Care A Lot» – : «Introduce Yourself», «The Real Thing», «Epic», «Land Of Sunshine», «Caffeine», «Midlife Crisis», «Be Agressive», «Easy», «Evidence», «The Gentle Art Of Making Ennemies», «Just A Man» and the huge «Ashes To Ashes» and «Stripsearch» from the Album Of The Year. What else is there to say? Only that this band is bewitching. Patton splashes the concert with his charisma and his style. But also his sense of humor, especially in the middle of the grand final «Midlife Crisis» where he stops the song and addresses the audience to say that he forgot the lines of his song: « For the moment, I forget loads of things, I forgot the birthday of my dad and now I forget the lines on this freaking song! ». And the audience to chant o «You Perfect, Yes, It’s True ! But Without Me, You Are Only You». Grand.

Nine Inch Nails

I’m then expecting Nine Inch Nails, still in the first rows! But a great inner-discussion is taking me apart: the organizers have had the bad taste to have the concert of Nine Inch Nails and Metallica at the same time: Trent Reznor will start at 22h30 and play around 1h30. As for Metallica it will start at 23h30. Only conclusion it is not possible to see the two concerts in full. At the beginning, I decide to stay for the whole Nine Inch Nails that I really love and that I’ve never seen in concert. Whereas I’ve seen Metallica seven times over the last thirteen years, of which two in Bercy this year. But the more time runs by and the more I’m telling myself « Christ in a miniskirt, it is Fuckin’ Metallica, the best there is, I ca,,ot miss one note! ». So 4’ll leave before the end of the Nine Inch Nails concert. Irritating, even more when Reznor comes up almost fifteen minutes late. But in half an hour, I’ll get «Heresy», «March Of The Pigs», «Piggy»… And a beautiful light show. A great concert but time has come for me to go: the four horsemen of the apocalypse are coming… Small detour to my tent to get a hooded sweater cause it is strating to be cold. I then run towards the big stage so as not to miss the now traditional introduction of Ennio Morricone. A still magical moment. But on the way, what a surprise to cross hundreds of fans leaving the festival grounds. Well, no one is forced to be huge on Metallica, but this exodus is still weird… What can it mean?! Actually, while running, I don’t feel it that much but it started raining…

Well moreover, it is starting to get colder and colder, and many of the festivalgoers wearing only t-shirts or even bare-chested retreat to their tents. Well I say  » great, I won’t be too far from the stage ». Because getting there a few seconds from the concert beginning, it is normally almost impossible to get a kinda good place. But it is raining harder and harder so more and more people are leeing. And so I get closer and closer and… , it’s amazing. 3go on then, get lost, get all lost, go on! ». And I get to the first pit. For the Austrians have organized their site masterfully. « German fashion » you could say! In front of the stage, three pits are separated by two ditches widthwise. Which « break the crowd » and thus avoid the dangerous crowd waves. gAnd as for the first pit at the bottom of the stage, the most popular, once it is filled up, the security guys bar the access to anyone else. Only if a guy leaves can you get in. Which means that you can watch great bands ten leters from the stage without being squeezed like a lemon. Really ingenious this system is. I then manage to squeeze in and to reach the sacred Graal since the guys keep on leaving because of the rain. As a result, I am twenty meters from the stage, leaning on the gate. Fantastic and totally unexpected twenty minutes beforehand! Thank you Mother Nature!


The sono then spits «Heavy Metal Thunder» from Saxon, that is played as an intro by Metallica on this summer Tour. Then resounds «Ecstasy Of Gold». Fuckin’A, it’s gonna blast. And there, what do I hear? The first sampled notes of «Blackened». Oh great shit! My favorite title! It’s going to be a war! The four come up on stage. And here it goes : «Fire ! To Begin Whippin’ Dance Of The Dead ! Blackened is the End» Fantastic. Only it’s not only raining but it ispouring with rain. It’s getting worst and my sweater is starting to get wet. James will then repeat many times that they’re here with us to overcome the rain and to have a great evening. But with the cold, the rain, and now the wind, the conditions are becoming Dantean. And after six titles, but what great titles! – «Blackened», «Fuel», «Leper Messiah», «No Remorse», «One» and «Broken, Beat And Scarred» -, sick at heart, I really need to get going. I would have never thought thta one day I’ll do that at a concert of Metallica ! But honestly, I’m too cold and my clothes are soaking wet, stuffed with 10 liters of water. And we’ll be thousands just the same. But the grounds have become meanwhile a sea of mud and it’ll take me over 25 minutes to get back to my tent! Just enough time to listen on the way to «My Apocalypse» and «Sad But True». I then get to my tent and just crash to sleep, exhausted. In my comatose state, I hear Hetfields screaming a kilometer away , «Searchiiiiiiiiiiing, Seek and Destroy» ! Unreal. But my first night is OK: the German is more respectful of his « friends » sleeping time than some French on the Hellfest. I’ll just be awaken at 4 am by the moans of my tent neighbor while she’s having a ride…Funny.

Saturday 20th of June. Awake at 8am. Still bad weather. And my shorts and sweater are still soaked. What to do? for if I get them on, I’ll get a cold, thta’s for sure. I thus decide to wear only my long-johns and a t-shirt, covered by my huge k-way. The result being me all day in my johns among thousands of metal fans, but hardly anyone will know! Only the rain starts again at the end of the morning and so I stay in my tent and I read. I’m thus missing the first concerts of the day. Not so much important, nothing actually was on my list. I only hear Atrocity shouting their reruns from the 80’s: «Tainted Love», «Shout»… Then around 15h, I’m coming out. Towards the Blue Stage to see Lacuna Coil. It’s still raining. Lacuna Coil comes up on stage in front of a few hundred of valorous metal fans. Quite a shame for the Italians are playing all their hits, starting with the huge «To The Edge» then «Heaven’s A Lie», «Spellbound»… The musicians all wear black whereas Cristina Scabbia, in red, is still quite a look-out. And she’s great on stage, being perfectly completed by Andrea Ferro, the other singer of the band. Great show from Lacuna Coil.

Then, I’ll have to deal simultaneously with each stage to see Monster Magnet, Staind, Killswitch Engage and Chris Cornell. Fortunatly, the weather is clearing up and the rain stops. At 17h50, I’m getting to the Red Stage for the show of Monster Magnet. First observation: these last few years, Dave Windorf has visibly overindulged in the Big Mac ! Great concert for this hard-stoner band. I then run to see Staind. The US band is convincing on his over-known power-ballads («It’s A Been A While», «Outside»), much less on the agressive titles.

Killswitch Engage

New change of scenery to see Killswitch Engage. And what a blast my friends! KE is a fucking stage band. Special note for Howard Jones singing who replaces whithout too much problems Jesse Leach, the first frontman of the band and who was great. But it’s mainly Adam Dutkiewicz, the guitar player, who’ll have all the attention with his kind of lepard curtain on his back. He’s running everywhere and will do some great announcements on the mic, especially the one demanding all the festivalgoers of age to show him «His penis and balls !» Well no need to say that «Life To Lifeless» and «My Last Serenade» are hits that loads of bands would have loved to have created. New change of scenery to go and see Chris Cornell. And here is my fear, that he’ll only play his solo soft-rock songbooks but this fear goes away quite quickly. Indeedy Chris understood that he is playing a metal festival. So we get Soundgarden, Audioslave and Temple Of The Dog. «Outshined», «Let Me Drown», «Hunger Strike», «Black Hole Sun»… You could feel being back in the grunge years. And this, I like! The singer full of energy paces up and down the stage but without his guitar to concentrate more on the singing. Cornell :a very very good surprise. As for me the interesting concerts of the day are over. I get back to my tent to sleep after having seen the end of the set of Chickenfoot, the great band made of Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony (ex-Van Halen), Joe Satriani and Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers). No less! I absolutly don’t know anything about their music but you can see up front that they are professionnals and that everything is squared. Nice. Well up I go to bed. The headliners of the day, Placebo et In Extremo, that’ll be without me.

Sunday 21st of June. Already the last day. The sun is coming back and thus allows the ocean of mud that has been formed over the last 24 hours on the campgrounds to harden. Thanks, ô great Sun, it was about time! The first interesting concert of the day, it’s Duff McKagan’s Loaded at 15h15. Because it’s Duff, see! The Guns! But apparently the pit is really sparse, not everyone shares my enthusiasm… It is true that the rock made by Duff is unpretentious. And true also that the set really kicks in when it is the Guns’medley at the end of the show: «Welcome To The Jungle, Paradise City»… And the final on «It’s So Easy». Let it also be noted the version of «So Fine» without the keyboards. Memories, sweet memories… Anyway, it is decided, I won’t leave this « golden pit » until 21h15. Meaning six hours! Why? Because at this time, Limp Bizkit will be there and I will absolutly not miss this orgiastic bacchanal of rap-metal being ten meters from the stage. So ebe it and shame on me for missing Static-X or Trivium, who are playing on the other stage and that I would have liked to see. So, let’s get rolling for the local bands like Less Than Jake, Madsen or Guano Apes. It allows me to see that there really is a Germanic rock and metal scene totally unknown in France. Impressing to see how popular a band like Madsen is here where thousands of people sing along the lyrics.

Limp Bizkit

MBut here it is, after an endless show by Guano Apes – not that they were bad but I can’t stand the wait any longer ! – Limp Bizkit are here, with a huge back-drop where are drawn the five faces of the band members hip-hop style. I’m not an ultimate fan but this band has at least twelve bombs in stock. And what I’ve sensed, with their vids and DVDs, is confirmed at once: Bizkit does a music made for a stage show that gives you right away the need to jump like the mad-hatter with their syncopated rythm violence – calm – violence – calm – violence. Fred Durst is a great frontman who takes up the whole stage and even goes in the pit on the shoulders of his bodyguard to share one of his title with his fans. Huge. Wes Borland, in his usual outfit where you cannot even make out what is make-up and what is clothes for it is too stuffed, but it’s shinny! And above all the band is gonna play almost all of his hits: opening with «My Generation»then «Nookie», Break Stuff», «Rearranged», «Rollin’», the reruns «Faith» and «Behind Blue Eyes» and the final on «Take A Look Around». Great concert. Well, it’s over for me for the bands I was expecting, I then go back to the Red Stage to see Machine Head. Traumatized by «Burn My Eyes», I’ve neglected this band for a while, not really convinced by their «The Blackening» otherwise acclaimed. But it doesn’t make it for me. And, well, I’ve seen them already twice this year in April in Bercy before Metallica, not really happy by their 50 minutes set all committed to their latest album.

But here, Machine Head is a headliner and is gonna play for an 1h30. And after «Ten Ton Hammer», «Old» and «Nothing But My Own», I just have to shut the fuck up! Especially when the band starts on «Hallowed Be Thy Name» of Maiden. Great to see a « young » band ultra violent to take for himself a standrad in the heavy metal songbooks. Very good one. And amazing to see that Robb Flynn’s voice is not so distant from Bruce Dickinson’s one! Then I leave the place, towards the main stage for the last concert of the festival. It is the german band Die Toten Hosen. An iconic band across the border, for proof the hundreds of t-shirts with their name wore by the festivalgoers of the Novarock. Die Toten Hosen, what’s that? Some punk rock in German done by guys around 40-50 . Totally unapproachable and unlikely for a French guy. After two titles, I split and after a small detour to the disco tent, where a stereo blasts some music with a guy standing on a speaker and dancing straight naked, I’m going home to my tent.

Auf Wiedersen !

Outcome : one of the best festival I’ve ever seen. The best? Yeah for sure. Anyway, the four monsters for whom I’ve made the trip have gotten evrything topnotch with huge shows: Faith No More, Nine Inch Nails, Metallica and Limp Bizkit (in their running order).

So Auf Wiedersen and see you next year!

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