Already for the second time the urban festival Rockavaria took place at the Olympiapark in Munich. As it was the case the year before the northern part of Munich was drenched in metal sounds during the last days of May. The promoters learned their lesson and this year the Olympiahalle wasn't used as concert location anymore. Instead of its place the Olympiastadion featured a double stage to garantee on the fly concert changes. The Seebühne (lake-stage) was the third stage, just as it was the year before. Cullinary services were also provided: A lot of drink and food stands were available and offered various - if partly overpriced - goods.
DAY 1 – FRIDAY
The first day of the festival started in the afternoon despite the mixed weather. Just in time for sunshine the second round of the Rockavaria-Festival began. The first day's lineup featured a varied mix of bands: Kanzler & Söhne, J.B.O., Powerwolf, Dust Bolt, Suicidal Tendencies, To the Rats & Wolves, Apocalyptica, tuXedoo, In Extremo, Dog Eat Dog and Nightwish.
The Urban-festival Rockavaria started around 4 PM at Olympiapark Munich with a lot of ridicule into the weekend. Waring bright pink the Frankonian band spread fun and mischief onto the doublestage at Olympiastadion. Despite the blinding sunshine Vait, Hannes, Wolfram, Ralph, Holmer and Thomas rocked the stage with "Bolle", "Vier Finger für ein Halleluja", "Ein guter Tag zum Sterben" or "Dr Met" (among others) and showed in an impressive way that J.B.O.'s time is far from over! A more than worthy opener at 25 degrees celcius in the state's capital.
Afterwards it was time for the very successfull German Power-Metal crew Powerwolf. As usual the guys around Atilla Dorn took to the double stage in the stadium in dark and sacral attires. With a mix of old and new songs they rocked all over the stage and brought the crowd up to a festival mood. The constant good live-performances the band delivers for years now is impressive every time and was ideal for the late afternoon.
With clearly harder sounds and a seemless transition of stages Suicidal Tendencies from Southern California continued at 5:45 PM. To the dismay of the band a lot of people from the crowd left the stadium around the time the hardcore band started playing. The number of people in the crowd however was by no means in relation to the quality of the performance, since the band played stellar Hardcore with classical Trash influences - which is the special appeal of the band. A nice contrast to the previous band Powerwolf and the overall lineup of the day. Definitely a highlight of the day!
After Suicidal Tendencies Apocalyptica continued the day's lineup at 6:45 PM with a way more melodic sound. The band performed an impressive concert with their typical Metal meets Classic sound, which was greeted with tons of cheers form the crowd. The band was vocally supported by Frankie perez, who lend a special flair to some of the songs. Special highlights would be the cover versions of Metallica's "Master of Puppets" and "Seek and Destroy". But also original songs like "I Don't Care" connected with deep emotions. Apocalyptica still knows how to thrill their audience.
At the same time as the melodic Finnish band the Seebühne was featuring a smaller crowd and the Austrian guys from Mattighofen. Last year the nice alp-core band won the Newcomer-Contest at Rockavaria-Festival and secured this year's performance. A good thing - as they proofed this year. Their special and at the same time unique sound created a joyfull atmosphere at the Seebühne. Next to their unique sound - which they themselves call Alpencore - the guys around Hons and Mök take note with their very special attire. Lederhosen, woolen vests and a lot of folklore-accessoires are part of the Austrian band's standard attire. A secret tip for everyone who wants to go beyond the standard Metalcore.
At the same time the German Medieval-Metal combo In Extremo took to the stage at the second main stage. Matching their current record the stage was decorated with a giant "Quid pro quo" banner. The last unicorn and his men presented a mix of new and old songs which connected with the crowd immediately. "Erdbeermund" and "Küss mich" were only two of a lot of catchy tunes the band played. Alltogether there was nothing wrong with the band's performance but they do lose part of their charm over the years. Definitely only for hardcore or new fans.
The first festival day was closed with the Finnish Symphonic-Metal crew of Nightwish on the first main stage. With an epic intro the show started with fire and smoke pillars and everything a pyrotechnician could dream of.
Incomplete combustion was the word of the evening. Already during In Extremo's performance attendees had complained about "hot pieces" which apparently singed T-Shirts. Facebook featured posts about burning/singed hair. Adding to that in the front stage area the non consumed firestarters rained down on the crowd. Surprisingly the photographers had to wait - due to the pyro- till the fifth song before they wear allowed to work and even then a lot of flames shot over heads and cameras alike. But nobody really cared, quite the opposite: the more fire the "hotter" the crowd got. Til the end at around 11 PM Nightwish - as usual - went all out and showed tons of fun on stage and transfered this to approx. 30.000 fans at Munich's Olympiastadion.
A perfect closer for a sunny and comfortable day with tons of high-class shows and a variety line-up.
DAY 2 – SATURDAY
The second festival day started already around noon under clear sky and sunshine. Entering the Olympiastadion however you wouldn't have known if the festival was already open since the crowd was few and far between. Some hardcore attendees with sunglasses however were already waiting in front of the main stages. As the day before Saturday's lineup was a variety mix: Mother's Cake, Beyond The Black, Resist The Ocean, Prime Circle, The Charm The Fury, Sodom, Raglangs, Garbage, Gotthard, Agent Fresco, Mando Diao, Serum 114, Gutterdämmerung, Solstafir, Betontod and Iggy Pop.
Starting off the sunny (at least for now) Saturday around noon were the Austrian Prog-Rockers of Mother's Cake. Always a really unapprechiated part to open a festival day but someone has to do it. In front of a view people the band started at 2 PM. The start is always a frickle thing - if the crowd is in a good mood, the band sores etc. Despite the surrounding factors not being in their favor, Mother's Cake performed and convinced with their own unique sound. Forceful progressive tones with just a bit Psychedelic created an ideal warm-up for the day.
Beyond The Black
The next performance were the hyped newcomers of Beyond The Black. The crowd grew noticable while Mother's Cake played their last few songs. Clearly there were more than just a few diehard fans of Beyond The Black who where anticipating their heroes. At 2:40 PM it finally happened: The band took to the stage and as beautiful frontwoman Jenny appeared on stage, the crowd cheered. With a little different lineup than usual (Michael and Erwin weren't there) the band went all out. With a thought-through setlist featuring old and new songs they satisfied their cheering fans. Songs like "In The Shadows", "Written In Blood", "Songs Of Love And Death" or "Lost In Forever" did their magic. As usual the powerhouse of a frontwoman with her incredible voice created goosebumps more than once. Lead guitarist Nils also created awe-moments and nailed one sick solo after the next. A incredible gig - unfortunately a couple of hours too early for my taste. Here's to hoping that Beyond The Black get a later place in the line-up next year.
After the German sensation Prime Circle - a South African band founded in 2000 - took to the stage. With their slick and rocky sound they performed for a clearly shrunken crowd. One will never know if it was the music or the clouds in the sky which slowly came closer. Intriguing in the beginning - later on clearly tiring the band performed song by song on the first main stage. A little variety was introduced as the frontman used an accoustic guitar for a song or two. All in all a nice little performance, more of a filler really which had a tough place, since afterwards the Symphonic Metal band and Thrashers of Sodom were scheduled.
In time for the German genre-classic the first raindrops fell out of the sky and cooled down the audience ever growing audience - no wonders here, the Afternoon was already getting late - a bit. No matter if hard- or softcore the crowd in front of the stage didn't let a couple of harmless raindrops and clouds interfere with their fun. The atmosphere for the old Thrashers of Sodom was euphoric. Sodom thrased the stage with their wellknown attitude. Songs like "Agent Orange", "Napalm In The Morning" or "Remember The Fallen" made a lot of heads bang in the crowd. After decades of experience they know how to entrance their audience anew. Not the best performance but definitely among the best. Saturday should have had a lot more than that really.
More variety wouldn't have been possible for the promoters of Rockavaria: After the hard sound of Sodom the Alternative Rock combo of Garbage performed. Thrilled the audience waited who was behind the pink flag with the leopard on it. The riddle was solved at 4:55 PM - in time with a clearing sky. Shirley Manson - frontwoman of the band - and her colleagues took to the steage - the frontwoman featuring leopard dress and fishnet stockings, the hair short and with a hint of pink. Musically the American band was a bit too unique. With a forceful voice Shirley performed one song after the other not really caring at times to hit her notes. Whoever likes very abrupt changes of style would have been fine with the band's performance. Everyone else questioned the band's place in the line-up. The concert was more on the weak side inbetween several greats of the harder genres of music.
"Maybe the best Hard-Rock band in the world" as Rock Antenne announced, took to the stage and was greeted with a lot of cheers from the crowd - as it is only right for the greats. Gotthard were the exact opposite to their leopard-clad predecessors. Nic Maeder knows how to realize the typical Gotthard style vocally. Rockavaria was just yet another occasion for him to prove that he didn't take over after the death of Steve Lee in 2010 for nothing. With cool moves and an awesome show the guys created the perfect storm in the Olympiastadion and created for a good atmosphere among young and old fans alike. A really good performance in the middle of the Bavarian metropolis during the early hours of the evening.
A short trip into the wilds had me going to the Seebühne which was rocked by Agent Fresco. Without any expectations I stayed and listened, eager to see what I was in for. The band from Iceland was already going all out and entertained their crowd - which was mostly sitting on the lawn. With a very unique but pleasing sound the guys around frontman Arnór Dan Arnarson played the Theatron. It is hard to categorize the band since their sound features a variety of influences. The Prog-Rock band isn't satisfied with simple music and use aspects of other genres to their advantage. They take influences from Pop, Math-Rock and a lot of Post-Rock and create a unique experience. A special note to the incredible voice of the frontman - no matter if soft, high or hard notes - he is always on point. Exactly the right music for the comfortable setting of the Seebühne, despite the band deserving a stay on the main stages. A really awesome and unique act.
Back to the main stages and with a little delay the Swedish staple of Mando Diao continued. With red flares they greeted the rest of the crowd (the end of the Gotthard gig marked the beginning of a true flood of people leaving the main stages). The band was in a tough spot - as a couple of other bands had been that day - playing between Gotthard and Gutterdämmerung. They weren't intimidated by that though and did their thing. With classic Alternative Rock sound they performed and thrilled their fans. The rest of the attendees took their performance more as a pleasant filler which could have been skipped altogether.
After the Swedish band the programm stayed Skandinavian: On the Seebühne everyone was preparing for the Icelandic band of Sólstafir. They already had pleased their crowd a couple of days earlier in a special show in Wörgl (report will follow). At 8:15 PM they took to the Seebühne and opened their concert with the beginning of their current record. They used their typical charm to jinx the clearly grown audience. Every time the perform you can feel the passion the Icelandic band has for their music. A true highlight was the use of a banjo as a part of the song "Otta". Which might sound weird to beginn with truely matches and pulls the listener into dreamy spheres. One can only dream of their interpretation of Post-Rock. The only downside to the show was the time of day since the typical Sólstafir feeling can best be experienced in the dark. Alltogether though a truly great show by the Icelandic crew!
The end of Saturday marked the appearance of Rock legend Iggy Pop. His performance marks the greatest crowd in the Olympiastadion on that day. As one would expect the music legend started out strong and jumped all over the place, bear-chested and slightly mad. Respect for the dedication to his fans despite his age. Despite the big crowd it felt like only a few were truly feeling it. A completely different picture were the stands: People standing and cheering their hearts out. The quality of the gig however was a matter of taste: Some think it to be a memorable performance of a Rock legend, other experienced an average concert which needn't be revisited. Understandable given the variety in the crowd, however as a headliner you are supposed to exite even the non-fans in one way or another. Here's to hoping that Iron Maiden would do that job beter on Sunday.
DAY 3 – SUNDAY
The third and final festival day in the state's capital started - as did Saturday - at 2:00 PM. Apparently the attendees had slept better on Sunday since the stadium was featuring a lot more people compared to the day before. Only the weather was already acting up since it was already cloudy around noon and weather-apps promised worse. For the start of the day however, this proved to be irrelevant. Sunday's line-up was as follows: Wild Lies, Black Vulpine, The Raven Age, Iron Walrus, Gojira, Tremonti, Eversun, Anthrax, Mantar, Ghost, Slayer, The Shrine, Sabaton, John Garcia, Kadaver and Iron Maiden.
Starting out our Sunday were the Death-Metall crew of Gojira. With hard riffs and a good portion of motivation the Frenchmen went all out. By accident or on purpose, Rockavaria's Sunday - just as last year - featured a lot more hard acts. Which might get a couple more Metal fans to get to Olympiapark on Sunday. It clearly felt like the crowd was a lot more motivated and easy-going as the days before. No wonder since Gojira shook up the stadium and shredded one awesome song after the next. They established a high level for the last festival day. Thanks guys for this gig!
Marking a true contrast the Hard Rock crew of Tremonti continued on the second double stage. The band - named after their frontman Mark Tremonti (know from the band Creed), didn't exactly have the easiest spot on the line-up between Gojira and Anthrax. They didn't care however. The Americans started immediately with harder tunes to win over the crowd ... successfully. Classic but despite that not really boring riffs entertained the Rockavaria crowd during the Afternoon. It felt like Tremonti was especially connecting with the younger crowd which populated the front part of the stage in surprisingly high numbers. Not the best performance but one to remember.
After Tremonti the excitement in the crowd grew noticable as everyone was waiting for Thrash legend Anthrax. They opened their gig with tons of noise - how it is supposed to be for a good band - performing one of their best songs: "Caught In A Mosh". Hair was flying, hands were flying, nothing was save from the guys around Joey Belladonna. The American band knows how to go all out and win over the crowd after years on stage. As usual a really strong performance from the band which had the honor of being part of the so-called "Big Four". Memorable was that the crowd went more crazy with Anthrax as with the previous day's headliner Iggy Pop. A thing to think about for the festival. That aside, Anthrax performed an amazingly incredible show start to finish which showed why Thrash Metal is one of the greats.
While Anthrax was playing the first storm-warning was released and the Seebühne was closed for the time being. A part of the attendees fled to stadium places with a roof which were open to all now thanks to the bad weather. A biger part however wasn't bothered that easily and stayed in place to witness the dark mess of the Swedish band Ghost up close. Papa Emeritus III: and his nameless ghouls took to the stage clad in robes and were greated with big cheers and a couple of rain drops. The band carries around a big hype for some time now which can only be understood in parts. The Swedish crew performed a solid Heavy Metal show from beginning to end which was supported by their classic posing. Nothing extraordinary however and no re-invention of Heavy metal. The visuals of Ghost is a nice change of pace for once, it doesn't change the quality of the music however. A pleasant performance which added a bit variety to the festival day but wasn't something memorable at the same time.
Despite pouring rain the standing area of the Olympiastadium got crowded again. Nothing else is to be expected with the next candidate of the Big Four about to begin. The crowd was rewarded instantly with the title track to the current record "Repentless" which almost tore your festival band off your arm. Old age contentness? Not with the Thrash legend! Kerry King and his men rocked and thrashed und went all out on stage and created a lot of movement in the crowd in front of the first main stage. Who initially had his doubst, because you'd already seen Slayer live once or twice was immediately converted since Slayer showed an incredible presence on stage. If it reads Slayer, it IS Slayer - meaning pure Thrash force of nature. Next to new songs the band thrashed classics like "Raining Blood" which thematically matched the day and the wet crowd. One can truly tip one's immaginary hat to the guys which after 35 years of Slayer still managed to pull of awesome concerts.
Since the rain showed no signs of easing up and truely hard metalheads don't falter the crowd stood in place despite the pouring rain for Sabaton, who took to the second main stage and got comfortable. They tried to heat up the chilly and cheering masses with hard tunes. Songs like "Ghost Division" or "Carolus Rex" made it easy for the band since the crowd celebrated the Swedish highflyers. Sabaton should be used to it by now (one would thing) but despite all showed their apprechiation for the hard and happy crowd. The Power Metal crew knows how to create a mezmerizing live performance which surprisingly convinces every time anew since their records, despite being bestsellers, grow stale quickly. But who wants to talk about CDs when it is all about live music? Sabaton showed once more a continuous good showing on stage which had only one gripe, the visual staleness. But we don't want to be nitpicky, thus: Great opener for Iron Maiden!
After Sabaton exitement in the Olympiastadion grew. The rafters were filled to the brim, the space in front of the stage was packed, the rain eased up slowly and everyone was looking at the covered left main stage which in a couple of minutes would feature one of THE Metal greats of all time. The weather god, Odin or maybe a deity unknown to me blessed the end of Rockavaria and the rain eased up slowly - matching the start of the Brits concert. Fifteen minutes late the guys around Bruce Dickinson took finally took to the stage. The covers were drawn from the stage and they started with the first track of their new record "If Eternity Should Fail". Deafening cheers surprised no-one, since the old men didn't show their age at all and created a stage presence which could make a James Hetfield green with envy. As expected of the Brits the stage set was clad with a creepy manifestation of everyone's favorite Eddie. this evening featured two incarnations: as a figure running around the stage as well as a giant figure which went up and down in the background. No matter how often you've seen Iron Maiden live, Eddie makes it worth it every god-damn-time. Musically the Brits pleased the Munich crowd not only with tracks from their new record "The Book Of Souls" but also performed a lot of classics. If it had been the band's goal to shake Munich musically, they definitely succeeded! Truely memorable if you remember their performance at Olympiahalle in 2011. 2016 marks the creation of a new level of musical excellence in Munich by the members of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. The band closed out the Rockavaria festival - like Metallica the year prior - in style and with a lot of passion and left behind a truely joyful crowd which wouldn't have minded the last concert to go on for another hour or two.
The Rockavaria Festival was held for the second time in the Olympiapark in Munich. Compared to last year the festival had less visitors and a lot more bad luck weatherwise (hopefully the weather god shows more mercy next year). The festival's line-up also shrank a bit which was partly due to the changed setup of the stages and trying to create as little overlay as possible. A closer look at the line-up shows that the promoters copied a bit of Rock im Park when it comes to the mixture of the bands. The problem with this however is the small part of bands who push the genre variety too far. But who cares, the promoters probably only had the best in mind. As already mentioned a lot was offered musically: Starting with Prog and Post Rock, to Symphonic and Power Metal up to Thrash and Death Metal. The stage plan this year was a great improvement over last year's setup and there was a lot less running and switching between stages. Despite that it would have been nice to have a couple of minutes more of a break between a couple of the bands on the main stages to prepare for the change of genre. Also the toilet situation in the stadium still offers a lot of room for improvement. Repeatedly cups with liquids which weren't supposed to be drinkable were seen standing on the floor, flying through the air or splashing directly onto people. Here's to hoping that the promoters find a solution to this disgusting problem in 2017. Cullinary there was a lot of variety both for food and drinks. The cocktail prices (0,25 l for 8 €, 0,4 l for 11 €) had one's heart dropping and one's wallet crying. Unfortunately all you have to say for that is: Welome to Munich! All in all this year's Rockavaria festival was a clear improvement to last year - but still offers lots of room for improvements for the years to come. The previous two rounds of the festival - despite the odd burnt T-Shirt and singed hair during In Extremo - went surprisingly well. Here's to hoping that the festival turns out to be a main stay in Bavaria's captial and starts developing its own, unique style!
Text: Conny Pläsken / Manuel Miksche
Translation: Rich Winterstetter
Bilder: Manuel Miksche