The events at the Party Tent were much more interesting. Beginning the day was the competition for the New Blood Award. This is similar to Wacken’s Metal Battle, but on a much smaller scale. Bands who wanted to get on this had to be unsigned, and would submit a promo package to the festival organization. They would then select 20 finalists, of which would be voted on via the Summer Breeze forums on a 1-5 scale. The top six bands would get slots on Wednesday at the festival to compete for the award, where the winner would play the next morning on one of the two main stages.
Of the finalists, the main band that piqued my interest was Arsirius – a death metal band with a very huge sound to them. Unfortunately, the bus ride took a little longer than anticipated, and after setting up the tent and whatnot, I missed their performance (due to them being first). Unfortunately, they didn’t win. Obscure Sphinx ended up with the title. Two members of The Excrementory Grindfuckers were judges for this competition, which is just awesome. Unfortunately, they got it wrong!
So with that in mind, there was time to wander and see what was happening elsewhere. The first thought was to acquire my required festival shirt. They had a special stand set up for only Summer Breeze merchandise. It was so much easier to get your stuff here than at Wacken, where when you get there on Wednesday, half of the shirts are gone already and you’ll be lucky to get what you want in your size. That and you usually have to wait over an hour to even find out. Here, I got exactly what I wanted, and it took about 15 minutes. Very nice!
The food selections were good, with just about everything one could want available. The drink system is exactly the same as Wacken, with you getting a Summer Breeze themed cup with every drink. You could either keep them, or turn them in and receive 1 Euro for turning the cup back in.
The independent vendor area wasn’t open on this day; however, the Nuclear Blast tent was, with tons of goodies available.
The highlight event today was Nuclear Blast night, with a selection of bands from – you guessed it – Nuclear Blast performing on in the Party Tent. This is where it really begins!
Municipal Waste First up was Virginia-based crossover thrashers Municipal Waste. Their energetic performances are always a good time, and this was no exception. The band tore through their hour-long set with the usual Waste reckless abandon. Beginning with “Unleash the Bastards,” the band never let up. Other highlights included “Wolves of Chernobyl,” “The Fatal Feast,” and “Toxic Revolution.” Closing with “Born to Party” was very fitting, as well as singer Tony Foresta literally “surfing” the crowd on a giant inflatable that looked like a small mattress. Good times, dudes.
Rage A band that should be a rarity, but I’ve seen them many times in my ventures both in Europe and on the last 70,000 Tons of Metal. Rage is a very consistent band, where one knows what to expect, and the band always subsequently delivers. The band was all smiles during their show, and their enthusiasm after all these years (21 albums – wow!) is quite impressive. Peavy and co. played new and old alike, with the title track to their latest, Twenty One, opening the set and “Empty Hollow” from the album previous, with classics such as “Refuge” and “Higher than the Sky” also gracing the set list. A good mix from a band with a gigantic catalogue full of quality.
Tankard Coming on at exactly midnight, classic German thrashers/beer guzzlers Tankard blasted onto the stage with their usual alcohol and silliness-laden show. Always fun, and always very riff heavy, the guys put on a hard and heavy set in a style that only Tankard can. Vocalist Gerre – who is one of the hardest people to take a clear photo of in metal – was running around like a lunatic for their hour-long gallivant. The man is the drunken German equivalent to the Energizer Bunny, except much more fun. Of course during the song “Free Beer,” they gave out free beer to a bunch of ladies from the audience that they brought on stage. Silliness abound, yet very tight musically. Good show!
Graveworm Last of the evening – and by far the biggest deal of the night for this guy – was Graveworm. Being a fan ever since first hearing Scourge of Malice back in 2001, it’s been an 11-year wait to finally see this band live. Was the wait worth it? A definite yes! The only disappointments were the band not playing “Demonic Dreams,” (or any original song from “Scourge of Malice”) which is far and away this writer’s favorite Graveworm track, as well as nothing from “As Angels Reach their Beauty.” Alas, that’s what happens with 45-minute time slots. Nevertheless, the set was a great one, with brilliant tracks such as “Legions Unleashed” and “Abhorrence” being played perfectly, as well as “Awake,” which was from their first album. The band’s brilliant cover of Iron Maiden’s “Fear of the Dark” closed the set. Graveworm performed magnificently, inducing a thick atmosphere that carried from start to finish. They’re still one of the best symphonic black metal bands going, and their show here solidified that.
With the end of the Graveworm set, so did end my first night at Summer Breeze. A great, well-rounded – but tiring – start to the festival. It was back to the campsite for a quick snack and as much sleep as one can muster. Day two looms!
Part two and three of Barkasi's Summer Breeze review will be posted in the coming days...