HOA Day 1 @ Brande-Hörnerkirchen (GER)

BARON ROJO / TOKYO BLADE / BON SCOTT / STRIKER / CRYSTAL VIPER

'Headbangers Open Air Festival, Day 1'

Date: 28th July, 2011
Venue: Der Garten
Tickets: €45 3-days ($60)
Promoter: n/a
Photos: Erika "Mean Streak" Wallberg


So it finally came the time for the world’s best and biggest garden party, ‘Headbangers Open Air’, once more. As always the anticipation was really high and I really don’t get the comments about the line up not being as strong as the previous ones.

CRYSTAL VIPER was first out of the festival and they draw quite a crowd. I’ve seen CRYSTAL VIPER a few times before and they have never really made any kind of impression on me. They absolutely sound good but it’s just that the music don’t get stuck on me. So, even if my anticipations were high on the festival, I didn’t expect much from CRYSTAL VIPER. To my surprise they actually sounded very good, more dynamic and edgy than I remembered. And then of course, Martha Gabriel’s ability to sing and play guitar at the same time is rather impressive. They have become a well oiled live machine compared to the few times I’ve seen them before. But why add a drum solo in the middle of this already short set? It takes a lot from a drummer to keep a drum solo interesting and this wasn’t one of them. Still, the good impressions took overhand so I really must re-evaluate CRYSTAL VIPER since I’ve counted them off for plain Heavy/Power without edge but they really proved something different that evening. I especially liked “Shadow Of The Horizon” and “Sleeping Swords”; of course, these are from their first release but “Night Of Sin” also qualified in the same batch as the first two, so it’s not only the old school CRYSTAL VIPER material that is worth checking out I guess.

CRYSTAL VIPER setlist:

01. “Man Of Time”
02. “Legions Of Truth”
03. “Shadows Of The Horizon”
04. “Sleeping Swords”
05. “Metal Nation”
06. “Greed Is Blind”
07. “The Wolf And The Witch”
08. “Night Of The Sin”
09. “The Last Axeman”

CRYSTAL VIPER

Der Garten @ Brande-Hörnerkirchen (GER) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Der Garten @ Brande-Hörnerkirchen (GER) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Der Garten @ Brande-Hörnerkirchen (GER) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Der Garten @ Brande-Hörnerkirchen (GER) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Der Garten @ Brande-Hörnerkirchen (GER) (photos by Erika Wallberg)

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Canada’s STRIKER didn’t save any energy at all. They were full on power from the first second. Ok, it’s not unique for STRIKER to be utterly energetic onstage. A lot of the newcomers are very frantic onstage but what the special thing with STRIKER was that they spread so much joy and that’s not as common. Their energy was really contagious and I loved the mix of Classic Heavy Metal and Thrash in their music. Actually, I would rather say speed Heavy Metal about STRIKER. Vocalist Dan Cleary’s voice is very melodic with an overall feeling close to Thrash. STRIKER surely have gained a good reputation on a very short time. With only the “Road Warrior” EP and last year’s full length “Eyes In The Night” in the bag, they drew a huge crowd this afternoon. Of course, at ‘Headbangers Open Air’ bands do get the attention they deserve but still I was kind of surprised by the audience’s reaction. Another thing that makes STRIKER better than most of the new bands is that they have catchy songs with a lot of substance and interesting passages, taking for instance the set openers “Full Speed Or No Speed” and “Eyes In The Night” that are amazing songs and at the same time very easy to dig in to. “Never Ending Nights” was dedicated to all girls in the crowd but I’m not sure anyone really caught that. Most people around me just looked confused. STRIKER were really great, fun to watch and really full of energy! Amazing really!

STRIKER setlist:

01. “Full Speed Or No Speed”
02. “Eyes In The Night”
03. “Lord Of The Sword”
04. “Fire”
05. “Terrorizer”
06. “Never Ending Nights”
07. “Ice Cold”
08. “The White Knight”
09. “Road Warrior”
10. “Fuck The Volcano”

STRIKER

Der Garten @ Brande-Hörnerkirchen (GER) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Der Garten @ Brande-Hörnerkirchen (GER) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Der Garten @ Brande-Hörnerkirchen (GER) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Der Garten @ Brande-Hörnerkirchen (GER) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Der Garten @ Brande-Hörnerkirchen (GER) (photos by Erika Wallberg)

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The Aussies of PEGASUS had to cancel their appearance in a short notice so a AC/DC tribute band named BON SCOTT took their spot. First, I would much rather have had a band playing originals but ok, it’s always nice to have classics served together with the last few beams of sun. And the line-up, with members from various German successful bands, including Mattias Lange (METALIUM), Jens Becker (GRAVE DIGGER, who actually didn’t play this gig) and Yenz Leonhardt (STORWARRIOR) was really cool. And yes, it sure as hell served its purpose, songs like “Sin City”, “Bad Boy Boogie” and “Highway To Hell” are bound to get the crowd going. No exception there. And AC/DC songs sure will kick-start any party. Even if it was a great fun hour or so with BON SCOTT, I can’t say I was as impressed with the result as I thought I would be; musically, it wasn’t at all as strong a performance as I thought. It lacked much of the raw drive AC/DC has, on occasion it even felt tired. Even if it was a fun hour of the festival, I would much rather have had a band playing originals instead of the BON SCOTT, AC/DC tribute band.

BON SCOTT setlist:

01. “Riff Raff”
02. “Problem Child”
03. “Sin City”
04. “Long Way To The Top”
05. “Bad Boy Boogie”
06. “If You Want Blood”
07. “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”
08. “Highway To Hell”
09. “Ride On”
10. “Hells Bells”
11. “Whole Lotta Rosie”
12. “Let There Be Rock”

BON SCOTT

Der Garten @ Brande-Hörnerkirchen (GER) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Der Garten @ Brande-Hörnerkirchen (GER) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Der Garten @ Brande-Hörnerkirchen (GER) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Der Garten @ Brande-Hörnerkirchen (GER) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Der Garten @ Brande-Hörnerkirchen (GER) (photos by Erika Wallberg)

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Last time I had the chance to see TOKYO BLADE was a blast; I didn’t know if I dared to expect the same from this gig. But of course, the response bands get on festivals like this is a great boost. Not that TOKYO BLADE needed to get started though. The only downside I can consider is that they started the set with “Night Of The Blade” since I was stuck in the photo-pit and couldn’t really rock out the way I wanted. And what has been a common factor for almost all old school bands lately is they’ve seemed more hungry than ever to play live. TOKYO BLADE had a very good reason to be happy this time. Their latest release “Thousand Men Strong” is really amazing and could easily be a candidate for album of the year. The songs played from that album “Lunch-Case”, “Forged In Hell’s Fire” and the title track, “Thousand Men Strong” sounded just as good live as on album. TOKYO BLADE’s gig was one of those that spread a lot of joy. They seemed to have a really good time on stage and it was absolutely great to watch them play. Even if Nicolaj Ruhnow don’t really have the same high pitched voice as Alan Marsh, the old songs sounded amazing with Nicolaj. But of course, with material as “Lightning Strikes” and “Love Struck” and a performance as the one TOKYO BLADE put on original, doesn’t really matter. This was great!

TOKYO BLADE setlist:

01. “Night Of The Blade”
02. “Break The Chains”
03. “Dead Of The Night”
04. “Lunch-Case”
05. “Forged In Hell's Fire”
06. “Mean Streak”
07. “Thousand Men Strong”
08. “Lightning Strikes (Straight Through The Heart)”
09. “Love Struck”
10. “Unleash The Beast”
11. “If Heaven Is Hell”
12. “Midnight Rendezvous”

TOKYO BLADE

Der Garten @ Brande-Hörnerkirchen (GER) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Der Garten @ Brande-Hörnerkirchen (GER) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Der Garten @ Brande-Hörnerkirchen (GER) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Der Garten @ Brande-Hörnerkirchen (GER) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Der Garten @ Brande-Hörnerkirchen (GER) (photos by Erika Wallberg)

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I was a bit surprised when I learned that BARON ROJO was going to headline the first day of the festival. It’s actually quite hard to get for me, here up in the north how huge they actually was (are) in their home country of Spain. All of that became clear very fast even if BARON ROJO had a very different way of working the stage. There is a special attitude with the massive arena bands, especially the ones from the 80’s, in how they handle a stage. BARON ROJO had just that and also got the same frantic support from the front rows. I think there were mainly Spanish people in the absolute front though. The language is one thing that makes BARON ROJO a little harder to take in but for me they did an impressive gig. “Flowers Of Evil (Las Flores Del Mal)” was the one I, along with a lot of others, really recognized. A little bit embarrassing perhaps but BARON ROJO have a very extensive career and it’s hard to keep up with everything. Afterwards I fully understood why BARON ROJO were the headliners of this evening. Even if I didn’t expect a thing from them, the impression just grew bigger and bigger. It’s still very hard to take in the Spanish lyrics but the dynamics, the drive and overall sound were really great. That’s so strange with some bands, STRIKER were really frantic, BARON ROJO didn’t do too much on, but still they distributed the same feeling, almost the same intensity. Just like the big arena bands. I love it when bands surprise me like BARON ROJO did. They served a very nice ending of the first night.

BARON ROJO setlist:

01. “Baron Rojo”
02. “Isolation Ward”
03. “Al Final Perderan”
04. “Vampiros Y Baqueros”
05. “Flowers Of Evil”
06. “El Enemigo A Abatir”
07. “Se Escapa El Tiempo”
08. “Cueste Lo Que Cueste”
09. “You’re Telling Me”
10. “Concert For Them”
11. “Cuerdas De Acero”
12. “Con Botas Sucias”
13. “Stand Up”
14. “Someone Is Loving You”
15. “Rockers Go To Hell”

BARON ROJO

Der Garten @ Brande-Hörnerkirchen (GER) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Der Garten @ Brande-Hörnerkirchen (GER) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Der Garten @ Brande-Hörnerkirchen (GER) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Der Garten @ Brande-Hörnerkirchen (GER) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Der Garten @ Brande-Hörnerkirchen (GER) (photos by Erika Wallberg)

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It was a hell of massive first day! All bands did really fantastic gigs and the atmosphere was great! The only concern was, if this was the result of half a day, how the hell would the rest of the festival be? I’ve never experienced a line-up on a festival where I basically want to see all bands. But this sure was one! It’s hard but fun to be a rocker, that’s for sure.