Also in 2017, there should be another Impericon Festival series again. The last stop was on April 30th in the Bavarian state capital with a well-mixed, sometimes surprising line-up and various highlights distributed throughout the entire day.
Just like in the previous year, there were different food and beer stands, with something for every taste: pizza, burgers, oven potatoes, chili - even a food truck with vegetarian and vegan food was there. However, the organizers should clearly think about the prices again when it comes to this. For 4 €, the pizzas were quite small and sparse and burgers for 7-9 €, for real? At least the food was not already sold out at 5pm this time, so everyone had the chance to be satisfied. The organizers had obviously learned from the previous year. Also like last year, Ibanez, one of the sponsors, had a booth at which you could play guitar and pick up small gimmicks. In addition, there was a Monster Energy-sponsored area for video games, followed by the tables for the signing sessions. Also, the merch stand was huge again and left nothing to be desired. Only the hairdresser that had been there last time, was not present this year.
Despite the great weather, which invited the visitors to relax in the sun and made waiting for the bands more pleasant, only a few people handed in their jackets at the cloakroom inside. It was just way too chilly, especially at the beginning and if you did not jump directly into the mosh pit. Also, one did not unfortunately come around to find that the Impericon Festival in Munich was by no means sold out. The Zenith was, with an estimated number of about 1500 people, maximum half full. Unfortunate for some of the bands which clearly had to notice this during their performances.
Due to the cancellation of Astroid Boys, who apparently had problems with their passports at the airport, everything was rescheduled. The festival started half an hour later than planned with AYS. The first band we saw was the second act of the day, Trade Wind.
If he's already there, Jesse Barnett, singer from Stick to Your Guns, of course also had to perform with his second band at the Impericon Festival. However, since Trade Wind was only founded by him and Stray From the Path guitarist Tom Williams in 2014 and is less well-known, the guys played at the beginning of the event. This was also apparent from the number of people in the audience, which was still very limited. In the meantime, however, half of the music fans who were already there, were sitting outside in the sun.
Musically, Trade Wind is somewhat quieter than the main projects of the two founders. Solid, slightly atmospheric post-hardcore, but unfortunately also not really captivating.
In Hearts Wake
Next, In Hearts Wake, an Australian metalcore band with slightly harder riffs than their predecessors played. The growls of front man Jake Taylor were pretty good, the clean vocals sounded to me here and there a bit too scratchy. The inflatable crocodile, which was introduced by the band into the performance, provided for a little bit of fun during the band’s performance. At least the crocodile was super motivated when it comes to crowdsurfing, the listeners were still not quite warm and somewhat restrained.
We went on with Wolf Down. The five guys from Germany joined musically seamlessly there, where their predecessors had stopped: with circle pits and good breakdowns, Wolf Down, who have already made a name for themselves in the European hardcore scene over the past few years, provided a bit more atmosphere.
Swiss + Die Andern
The first surprise of the day followed up. Swiss + Die Andern did not fit into the line-up of the festival at first glance, even though their DJ Da Wizard opened the band’s set with "Killing In The Name Of" from Rage Against the Machine. Also on second view it was difficult to connect the punk rockers from St. Pauli with the other acts. The band around rapper Swiss, however, played a fun and captivating show, with their music as well as their political attitude, which of course were also reflected in their lyrics on songs like "Wir gegen die!". Even if not everyone was amazed by their music, the boys from Hamburg were undoubtedly fun, and at the latest with their middle finger selfies against racism, all festival visitors joined in and were enthralled. Only the reggae song in the end was more than unnecessary.
Miss May I
With the next band, Miss May I from Ohio, we went back to metalcore. The band around singer Levi Benton, which is already celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, perfromed quite well. Fans of the band were certainly enthusiastic. Personally, I must say that the performance for me was rather average. Not outstanding but also not too bad.
Afterwards, we went on with the first deathcore band of the day. Carnifex were clearly more what the headbangers among the present music fans enjoyed. And they were not only gloomier than many of the previous bands, but their lyrics also reflected that impression. With songs like "Slow Death" from their current album or the Slipknot cover "The Heretic Anthem" they clearly enthused all deathcore fans. At the same time, there were still many people outside the forecourt who missed a little melody in the band’s songs. But who expects everybody to like all the bands of a festival?
Thy Art Is Murder
Thy Art Is Murder had already given an autograph session before their show - certainly not the only reason for their popularity. Musically, the Australians linked up seamlessly to Carnifex. With their gloomy sound, they also spoke to the deathcore fans in the venue. With songs such as "Reign of Darkness," "The Purest Strain of Hate," and "Holy War," the guys around front man and vocalist Chris McMahon, whose gloomy growls are definitely something, delivered a great performance.
Being As An Ocean
One of my personal highlights of the day. After all the guitar shredding of the two previous bands, it got a bit quieter and more emotional. The change between the clean vocals of Michael McGough, the shouts and talks of Joel Quartuccio, as well as the ambient passages almost invited you to dream. The set of Being As An Ocean was well mixed with some older and brand new songs from the album, which will be released in June. Fortunately for the fans, shouter Joel Quartuccio not only spent some part of the performance in the audience, but was also at the Merch for small talk and pictures after the performance. At the end of the band’s show, he also promised that Being As An Ocean would come back again this November. The anticipation of the fans is already great.
Also the punk rockers of Anti-Flag from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, were among the highlights of the day. Especially as far as the mood is concerned, they were at the forefront. And those who did not yet know the political attitude of the four guys around singer and lead guitarist Justin Sane was quickly enlightened about how they think about Trump or rascism. With songs like "The Press Corpse" or "Die For Your Government", the guys showed what they have in the repertoire and inspired almost everyone in the hall. Anyone who stood still at such a grand show with powerful political punk rock is to be self-blamed. Anti-Flag were amazing. Nothing more to add.
Stick to Your Guns
And immediately the next highlight followed up - in this case not quite unexpected. After all, the fans had voted weeks before the Impericon Festival for their favorite songs from Stick to Your Guns and thus determined the setlist of this evening. So, at least when it came to the song selection, no complaints were allowed. At the beginning of the set, front man Jesse Barnett stood alone with his guitar on stage and caused an amazing goose bump moment with the acoustic version of "Left You Behind". Afterwards, the four guys from Orange County, California, literally kicked off the stage. Here, too, almost nobody stood still. No surprise that one circle pit after another was started during songs like "The Crown", "We Still Believe" or "Tolerance". The guys know how to rock a stage and have fun!
Eagerly anticipated from many people in the audience, Emil Bulls finally came on stage. Not unexpected, it was easy for the Munich band to make use of their home advantage and stir up the mood in the venue. It didn’t matter if Christoph "Christ" von Freydorf and his guys played older songs such as "Worlds Apart" and "Here Comes the Fire", or new tunes like "The Age of Revolution" and "Hearteater", the party was at its peak. With strong guitar riffs and a voice that you will remember, the metal heads played an outstanding show from beginning to end. Also, huge respect at this point to guitarist Moik, who played the complete set after a knee surgery while sitting on a stool.
As the headliner of the evening entered the stage, it was also time for the surprise of the evening: the venue became emptier. The band was surely not to blame. Caliban delivered a great show, which was musically definitely one of the highlights of the evening. Yet, it seemed that quite some Munich inhabitants were on the way home after the performance of the Bulls. The circle pit looked almost sad from the outside. But coming back to the performance of the metalcore band from Hattingen: Caliban had as headliners, of course, the best set-up on the stage and used this well for their show. Their performance was a hit, with the songs like "Memorial", "Walk Alone", "Sun" or "King", they showed a lot of their musical repertoire from over 20 years of band history. A worthy last performance of the evening which the guys around singer Andreas Dörner played.
Despite the fact that the line-up in other cities such as Leipzig or Oberhausen was considered better by many visitors, this year’s show in Munich will be remembered as a super relaxed, well-organized hardcore festival with great food (despite the prices), amazing weather and cool people. Hopefully more fans of good music will find their way to the Impericon Festival next year - the organizers as well as the bands would deserve it!
Text: Tanja Frank