At this year's edition of the Austrian Nova Rock, a total of over 200,000 visitors can expect many highlights, both musical and culinary. If we have a look at the music, the organizers have been done a great job. This is the only way to explain how they managed to bring both Die Toten Hosen and Ärzte to one and the same festival - a true premiere! But also bands like The Cure, Slipknot, Slayer and many more delight the visitors. It is to be hoped, however, that the picture-book weather of an estimated 30-36°C won't leave any lasting health damage behind, because as nice as these temperatures are, they can be very exhausting at a multi-day festival. In addition to the musical delicacies, the organizers have also regained their culinary appeal and offer their visitors a range of delicacies that hardly any other festival can match. A special highlight here is the gourmet cuisine of none other than Max Stiegl, who even personally honours the festival with his presence and ensures culinary outpourings.
Day 1 – Thursday
It was a proud 31°C on this Thursday noon, when the official gates of the Nova Rock Festival 2019 were opened. A respectable number, because with continuing tendency bright red people with strongly increased sales volume of liquids were pre-programmed here. The highly motivated audience was not deterred by the blazing sun and headed straight for the first bands of the day. At the Blue Stage the Swedish guys from Amaranthe had the honour to open the festival in front of an amazingly full stage. Despite the relatively early hour, Elize Ryd and her colleagues did everything they could to satisfy their audience. She had also adapted herself to the high temperatures and gave 100 per cent despite the extra stress on stage. A not to be sneezed at performance under these circumstances!
Besides I Prevail and Three Days Grace we continued with the Hard Rockers from Godsmack during the afternoon. A change of style hasn't hurt anyone yet. The audience seemed to see it the same way, as they welcomed the Americans enthusiastically. With their groovy sound and full stage performance, they created a great atmosphere throughout the crowd. A fitting afternoon act, which could definitely convince with solid sound within this timeslot.
Lamb Of God
If you had enough of nice, cozy hard rock according to Godsmack and wanted to something in your face, then Lamb Of God was the right place for you. The Americans around Randy Blythe are known for being hard to grasp stylistically. Their music includes elements of classic Thrash Metal, Death Metal, Metalcores as well as Heavy Metal. So where are they located? The answer is quite simple: nowhere and everywhere. In their case it is not necessary to make a mark on themselves, which is why they describe themselves as Pure American Metal and live exactly that. With hard riffs and a lot of passion within their performance they were able to show who leads the stage.
In my opinion Amon Amarth have developed into real festival whores in the last years, because they can be found almost everywhere. However, this is not to be understood negatively in view of the high quality they still deliver on stage. It's interesting, however, that after a felt eternity they still rely on the same song at the opening of their show. Admittedly, "The Pursuit of Vikings" is basically the perfect start into a show, because besides drama there is also a lot of passion. Nevertheless, there was a short sag in the middle of the show, where the musical aspects felt more like mush than like an innovative show. But the Swedes wouldn't have been in show business for such a long time if they weren't able to survive such phases. At the latest with "Death in Fire" they had the audience back on their side and fired until the end with hard Swedish enthusiasm around them.
At the end of the first day on the Pannonia Fields II there was nobody less than the New Metallers from Slipknot on stage. Personally I was full of anticipation as it was the first time ever for me to finally see one of the most important bands of my youth live. But the anticipation was not only on my side, as all the visitors of the Nova Rock Festival felt themselves in front of the Blue Stage to pay homage to this true greatness. Accordingly they were rewarded with a breathtaking show, which included the whole performance within their roles, typical for Slipknot. Songs like "People = Shit", "Before I Forget", "Psychosocial", "The Devil in I" or "Duality" caused the crowd to tremble and made the whole one and a half hours pass so fast that one finally stood stunned in front of the stage that it should have been that by now. It was completely irrelevant whether they played older or newer songs, the crowd really raved to every single song, which they tore down despite various technical difficulties with success. For the encore they had - how else could it be - saved "Spit it Out" and "Surfacing" and let all those present squat down classically for the first song. It's fascinating again and again that everyone, but really everyone in the audience, followed Corey Taylor's instructions and thus provided an unforgettable conclusion to an ingenious first day of the festival.
Day 2 – Friday
After a sweaty first day on the Pannonia Fields II, the weather god is still well-disposed and sends his hottest sunrays into the beautiful Burgenland. The first sunburns have been sighted and dust lungs are already the order of the day. Nevertheless we don't want to complain about the nice weather, because nobody would be happy about rain. On day 2 there are again some big names on the to-do list that you can hardly miss: Mother's cake, Tesseract, Beartooth, Behemoth, Dropkick Murphys, Trivium, Anthrax, Slayer and The Cure are among others honoring the Austro-Festival
For us, the day started in a more relaxed manner and a good portion of psych-rock, namely with Mother's Cake. At the beginning of the show, the Austrians always checked a cheeky saying on the lip to see if everyone in the audience was already drunk. Makes sense, if you think about festivals in general. Apart from their verbal decorations, they mostly presented themselves as deeply relaxed musicians, whose psychedelic sound spread an ideal mood around this early time of day. Actually, their performance would have been a positive and relaxed experience if they hadn't asked who was sucking a cock today. There are things that are just funny with Steel Panther.
Meanwhile Beartooth was responsible for some changes of scenery on the Red Stage. The musicians from Ohio, who don't want to assign themselves to any direct genre, have managed to reach a broad mass in the last 7 years and build up a considerable fanbase. It's probably this mixture of metalcore and hardcore with punk as well as thrash influences that makes the band flash something out of the swamp of the same core bands. The Nova Rock community was very positive about them and they could contribute to a pleasant afternoon.
If you can identify yourself with dark sounds, Behemoth was the right place for you. Actually, the Poles around Nergal are a real exotic in the running order this year, but still a whole bunch of people enjoyed some variety. Despite the early hours, which didn't affect the atmosphere of their show, Behemoth managed to deliver a unique and thrilling show, which surely made one or the other a fan. Basically you're not used to anything else from the Blackened Death Metallers as they have perfected the play with fire and dramatic performances for themselves. Nevertheless, it's always a real pleasure to watch the band perform, as they paralyze their audience with passion and devotion in no time at all. A true masterpiece of black art, of which you simply can't (and won't) get enough.
As a prelude to the thrashy part on the Red Stage, Trivium had the honour of preparing the crowd accordingly. The Americans from Florida are now old hands in show business and know exactly how to create a good atmosphere. Apparently they had forgotten this for today, as they were able to perform their standard show, but didn't want to jump the spark at any moment. The growls were normal standard, the riffs classic metalcore, but there was no trace of thrash or passion. As soon as clear vocals started, the audience had to settle for thin vocals and relatively unemotional facial expressions. Absolute average at full house. The tuning up for the following program was accordingly bad, but it can be assumed that Anthrax will turn the tide here.
Let's stay in thrashy climes and turn to the older gentlemen of Anthrax, who have chosen "The Number oft he Beast" as a single player for their show. If you didn't know the Thrashers from the USA yet, you could expect something, because no time was wasted here. The setlist was full of lane hawkers, where no head should hold still. With "Caught in a Mosh" they laid the foundation for an outrageously huge hailstorm of ingenuity, which already years ago led to Anthrax being part of the Big Four of the Thrash Metal scene. Among them are none other than Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer, who were supposed to make the Red Stage uncertain after Anthrax. But let’s continue: The combination of songs like "Madhouse", "I am the Law", "A.I.R." or "Antisocial" and their incredible dynamics on stage provided a unique experience that unfortunately was over much too quickly.
A change of scenery was then announced for us on the Blue Stage, when the unique The Cure was on the programme. The fact that the area in front of the stage was full was self-evident, because you don't have to deal with such a legend every day. Atmospheric and relatively calm were the British, who were always keen to experiment stylistically. Besides classical pop and rock influences, their sound also contains gothic / darkwave elements that have almost iconised their music. If you could get involved with their music, this performance should be something very special for you. For all the others it was a nice gig, which didn't quite cover the rest of the day.
Hardcore Slayer fans certainly approached this performance of the band with a laughing and a crying eye, as the original titans of Thrash Metal are on their farewell tour and fortunately could also visit the Nova Rock festival. It's still unbelievable that Slayer decided to end the band relatively early, which is why one should enjoy the remaining possibilities to see the band live. However, as is so often the case, the biggest expectations can't be fulfilled in the end. Basically Gary Holt and his crew delivered a solid show, which you can't criticize, but nevertheless the spark didn't want to jump that evening. Especially surprising, as 2 years ago one of the most unbelievable shows of the Nova Rock had taken place, which should be remembered for a long time. Maybe it was the composition of the setlist, maybe their underpants pinched - you don't know. What's certain, though, is that on this Friday evening they only performed on average and left the audience somewhat unsatisfied behind.
Day 3 – Saturday
After 2 days full of scorching heat and not functioning showers, the mood and the morale partly sinks a bit, whereby this belongs to the natural phases of a festival. That's why you have to stay strong, plan 45 minutes for the shower itself and of course don't forget the sun cream! Because the third day at the Pannonia Fields II will also be very promising: Seek & Destroy, Beyond the Black, Infected Rain, Millencolin, Children of Bodom, Papa Roach, In Flames, Die Toten Hosen and many more are just waiting to heat up the festival people a bit more.
Seek & Destroy
If you wanted to start the day with little seriousness and a lot of fun, then the Austrians from Seek & Destroy were the right guys for you. For the ideal atmosphere, a few giant balls and inflatable crocodiles were thrown into the rather sparse crowd right at the beginning, which were greeted with joy. The ideal companion for a successful performance full of nonsense! In a good mood and full of verve the trio conquered the stage and jumped song after song cheerfully. The audience followed their example and quickly forgot how few people dared to take the plunge into the blazing sun at this time of day. But those who did were rewarded with a lot of entertainmant á la Trashcore.
Beyond the Black
For fans of more melodic sounds and shorter skirts there was a lot to do on the Red Stage: The German Symphonic Metallers from Beyond the Black were next on the agenda. Although the band was only founded in 2014, they were able to achieve various successes in the past years, but also had to put up with various sacrifices. Nevertheless, they were able to build up a wide fanbase a bit too fast, which is made up of different genres. Accordingly the interest in this hot afternoon was great. Beside classics like "In the Shadows" or "Lost in Forever" they also played some new songs, after their third album came out this year. Overall, Beyond the Black delivered a flawless show that was perfectly tailored to the masses. But exactly here was the problem, because it seemed almost rehearsed, when who should pose with whom and how front woman Jennifer had to move. It's easy to put a little woman with a great voice on a pedestal and give her pretty clothes, but it's another thing that a performance is authentic and spontaneous instead of structured and brain-bound.
The complete opposite, namely authentic devotion, could be experienced a little later at the Red Bull Stage with Infected Rain. For the musicians from Moldavia the performance here at the Nova Rock Festival was the opening of their festival season, so they were all the more motivated to give their fans a special experience. But actually Lena Scissorhands and her band colleagues don't need a reason to deliver an impressive and unique show, because the musicians are so passionate about their work that quality is always the order of the day. Infected Rain presented themselves with full physical commitment and very close to the audience, which are always somewhat difficult to classify stylistically. You can find influences of Nu Metal, Alternative Metal as well as Metalcore in their sound, which makes them so unique. There is really no other band that sounds like Infected Rain and has a growling / singing front woman as a secret weapon. If you don't know the band yet, you should definitely take a sample, because the danger of addiction is almost guaranteed here!
Children of Bodom
It became a bit more nordic on the Red Stage with the good old Children of Bodom. Despite their already remarkable history, the Finns had highs and lows in the last years, where especially the lows remained in the memory, after their last albums could show strong average and little character. One had actually asked oneself if this was maybe the end of an era? But luckily the Melodic Death Metaller were able in 2019 to turn the tide with their new album "Hexed". But can this transformation also be brought live on stage? The answer is still: yes, definitely! Because despite musical low blows, the musicians around Alexi Laiho never let themselves be defeated live and showed at the latest here that they still belong to the big ones.
A full infield, although no headliner plays yet, does not exist? Wrong thought, because now Papa Roach was next on the running order. The musicians from California are truly old hands and have been inspiring the masses for 26 years with their characteristic music, which has always been catchy and addictive. The audience shared this view, because they sang along loudly to every song and made the performance a real party. It goes without saying that the joy of classics like "Getting Away With Murder" or "Scars" was especially great. A real special feature was that the band planned to shoot a video live on Nova Rock in a One-Shot. The fans were quickly convinced by an extra portion of enthusiasm and jumped and cheered as much as they could. A really sympathetic action with which the musicians could definitely score with the festival visitors.
After the sun had set and the temperature finally became bearable, it was time for the headliners of the third festival day. On the Red Stage, In Flames had the honor, which has been a real crowd-puller at festivals and concert tours for over a decade now. But it never really gets quiet around the men from Sweden, who have had an interesting musical journey. Initially they were born out of Melodic Death Metal, but they have moved with the times and have brought more and more modern influences into their music. And today they are where they are: Hard to grasp, unique in sound and as successful as ever! And as a thank you they fired a mad show on stage that really freaked out the audience. Their involving show and the perfectly coordinated setlist worked to the point and left a completely satisfied audience.
Die Toten Hosen
Parallel to In Flames the Nova Rock audience at the Blue Stage could enjoy one of the big punk rock bands, the one and only Die Toten Hosen! Due to the health problems in the past year it came to the unique coincidence that Die Toten Hosen and Die Ärzte played together at one festival for the first time in the history of German punk rock. For their fans it was an unbelievable opportunity that could hardly be missed. The recovery phase had apparently done Campino good, as he, like the rest of the band, was full of energy on stage and able to express it. You could literally see the punk hearts in the audience beating faster, because what Die Toten Hosen delivered here was a real blast. It was celebrated, it was yelled at, it was basically one wild party in which hardly any fans could have taken part. An unbelievable conclusion for this sweaty day, which set the bar high for Die Ärzte on the following day.
Day 4 - Sunday
The fourth and last day of this year's Nova Rock actually started with a short rain shower and strong gusts of wind. The good news was that the rain showers were getting worse again. The bad news, however, was that the wind didn't want to say goodbye, but to the sorrow of the visitors only became stronger and the dust lung was now pre-programmed. But let's turn to the musical part: For the last day on the Pannonia Fields II it was planned that only the main stages would be used and the temporal sequence of the bands would end much earlier than on the last days. Practically for all who plan to go home that night. But before we get there, let's have a look at the bands that are on the schedule for today: Wendi's Böhmische Blasmusik, Kontrust, Cari Cari, Antilopen Gang, Testament, Ministry, Wolfmother, Rob Zombie, Slash, Die Ärzte and of course and of course some other artists.
Wendi's Böhmische Blasmusik
Meanwhile it has already become a tradition at metal and rock festivals that on a selected day the stage is opened by one of the local brass music clubs. Wendi's Böhmische Blasmusik is no exception and the musicians are almost old hands, because they were not allowed to perform on Nova Rock for the first time. Since this festival offers in comparison to many others also on Sunday still program, it is obvious that this programm is presented on a Sunday. As a small delicacy, there was free beer for the visitors as long as the stock lasted. At this point it's not clear if it was the unique performance or the free beer, which had already attracted crowds to the Red Stage at 11:15 a.m., but the musicians could enjoy more spectators than almost every first band of the day. The fact that the mood was good and headbanging was actually not necessary to mention, because real metalheads appreciate tradition.
After Wendi's Böhmische Blasmusik had already warmed up the masses, it should be easy for the artists of Kontrust to be able to tie into the mood. The somewhat more extensive band from Austria generally likes to dance something out of the ordinary, as they present themselves in Bavarian costume and are basically musically at home everywhere - classical crossover in other words. Nevertheless, they didn't manage to bring this special to the stage. The basic idea of the band is likeable and basically appeals to a large audience, but then it is the challenge to put this magic into practice on stage. And that's exactly where they failed, because you had the impression to be dealing with a garage band more than with artists who definitely don't do this for the first time.
The Bay Area Thrashers of Testament should provide some hard reefs afterwards. Actually, it's more than unusual that a caliber like Testament should play at a festival at 2:50 pm, but to be fair, Nova Rock is a basic platform for Thrash Metal, but the main target group of the festival is probably interested in other styles of music. Accordingly it was understandable that the crowds were rather small. But can old hands like Chuck Billy & Co. be irritated by something like that? Of course not! With a well mixed setlist, they were ready to stir up the audience. And they did indeed succeed, because with their very own, catchy sound, which is accompanied by poisonous riffs and solos, they brought movement into the crowd. Even hurricane-like gusts of wind, which completely took their sound apart, couldn't get them down and successfully pulled their show through. Cheers to this sovereignty, which was finally thanked by the audience loudly.
If you feel more comfortable in a more synthetic corner and don't mind harder sounds, you've come to the right place at Ministry. Founded in 1981, the band around Al Jourgensen counts as one of the pioneers of industrial metal, as the current style of the band had developed step by step from classic synth pop. Even a temporary dissolution of the band didn't have any lasting negative consequences, which is why they can be happy about a solid and loyal fanbase, which they also cheered here in Burgenland. Stage presence was already pre-programmed, as they like to pay attention to a scenically fitting appearance, which includes the styling of the band as well as the stage elements. This in combination with their metallic-electronic sound resulted in an interesting show of a different kind.
Since the afternoon had already progressed slowly, but one or two festival visitors could still use a break to relax, the Australians from Wolfmother were the ideal companions. Although they offered neither an exciting stage show nor extravagant elements that would draw special attention to them, they had one thing special, and that was their intense music. Stoner Rock with psychedelic influences always depends on the performance and authenticity of the artists, because if this is not the case, then the core of the music cannot be transported. But the musicians mastered it easily, because they created a very special atmosphere, which was symbolically full of flowers and peace. A wonderful opportunity to relax and recharge your batteries.
Deeply relaxed it could then actually continue directly with a little more in your face. At this point the notorious Rob Zombie + band, who is generally rather a rarity on stages in German-speaking countries, was responsible for this. Accordingly the rush was to personally experience the Master of Horror live. After Ministry was allowed to entertain the audience as a complete package a little earlier in the day, it remained exciting to see if this all-rounder talent could top this. But it wouldn't be Rob Zombie if he didn't provide an all-round package of horror. You shouldn't be deceived by his aging appearance, because every trace of old age was still missing: he was shaking across the stage, jumping around and hitting the strings as if there was no tomorrow. With this physical effort, musically flawless performances and of course with the eerily beautiful decoration, he enthused the audience in a very short time.
Slash feat. Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators
Another extremely rare guest and an icon of equal value in the music world is Slash, with whom the majority initially associate bands like Guns N' Roses or Velvet Revolver. Originally his solo career resulted from Guns N' Roses leaving the band, but at the beginning of the 2010s a reunion took place, which should not influence his successful solo project any further. As Slash is an incredible talent on guitar, but rather reserved in vocals, he is supported on his albums as well as live mainly by Myles Kennedy (Alter Bridge). This cooperation works very well in both cases, as Kennedy's pleasant voice blends in perfectly with the rocky sound and makes for a special experience. This was also the case at the festival, where they delivered an all-round harmonious performance and Slash was able to shine even with his extraordinary dexterity, which the dusty fans were quite taken with.
Last but not least, the best band in the world was honoured to headline Nova Rock 2019. It was predictable that every free inch from which you could catch a glimpse of the stage was filled. On top of that, it's now six years since the Berlin punk rockers visited the Pannonia Fields II. In order to increase the sing along from 0 to 100, they banged out "Unrockbar" right at the front, which turned out to be the perfect tuning for this two-hour party. But of course the list of songs was long, which didn't mean that Belafarinrod wouldn't take time for their fans, because they did it extensively and with exactly the humour and nonsense that you just have to love them for. Announcements like " Habt ihr noch Lust? Ohne Lust ist schlecht ficken!" (German translation necessary) or "We can't be so bad that we're not the best band in the world anymore." are just a few examples of the madness that took place in the foreground of an oversized "Ä". The three always knew how to have nice words for each other, when Bela B called Rod for example "the promise to the lower loaf dressed in silk" or the "Chilean phallus". Even if some of their sayings are certainly rehearsed, they win the hearts of their audience with their incredibly sympathetic nature and the spontaneous verbal aberrations that still exist. The fact that every one of the trios was sitting or standing at every instrument in between and that there was a lot of variety in singing was just the tip of the iceberg. In total it wasn't just songs like "Lasse redn", "Deine Schuld", "Schrei nach Liebe" or "Junge" that spurred the crowd on to roaring cheers, but exactly this whole package that Die Ärzte deliver like hardly any other band and yet make them the best band in the world.
The Nova Rock 2019 - a summary
Four days of the festival are now behind 220,000 people, who had made their way from all sides to Burgenland again in 2019. Once again, the organizers have managed to bring this year's edition, which was also the 15th anniversary of the festival, to a successful conclusion. Even if the weather has tollted its tributes and you will discover dust in the most diverse corners and cracks for weeks to come, the festival could of course have been worse hit. In addition to a legendary line-up that has been overshadowing the past years, Nova Rock was once again able to score with its broad culinary diversity. As a special highlight the two food stands of star chef Max Stiegl turned out to be, which were tarred on as "Haubenküche" and kept what they promised. Excellent cuisine, which made sure that a festival would not only be remembered musically, but also culinarily.
Exactly such details make this festival a special experience, which you can't get anywhere else on this level. Although the festival as a whole was very successful, it would be very desirable that from day 1 there are functioning showers everywhere on the different campgrounds, as with 35°C and a lot of dust, the necessity of a shower is quite given. Furthermore, the organizers should think about the security concept of the event, as if there are no bag checks or body scans at the entrance, it is no surprise that there are several people with full bottles of spirits walking around the festival area. Nevertheless, Nova Rock showed its best side and made you want more!
Text: Conny Pläsken