UP FROM THE GROUND – FESTIVAL report
I was in a really good mood when I set out for this year’s “Up From The Ground” festival in Gemünden/Steinwiesen, because it was my very first time at this festival. But the German Railway system put a damper on things, because my ICE train was late (as is so often the case) and it made me miss all my connections. This meant that I only arrived in Gemünden after 2 pm and the first band was already billed for 2.30 pm. Luckily a very kind lady of the hotel, where I had booked a room, picked me up from the station and took me straight to the festival site (many thanx, Daniela!) so that I managed to see most of “The Crestfallen”s performance. But first of all I must just mention how impressed I was by the small and cosy feeling of the festival area (remember, this was my first time at this festival), which takes about 3000 visitors. It makes you feel at home straight away. There was exactly ONE sort of each stall = one for food, one for beer, one for soft drinks, etc., except for the merchandise salesmen, of where there was more choice (even some who were offering CDs between 3,- to 5,- Euro… what a bargain!). Apart from this the price of a CD was 13,- Euro at the most… and T-Shirts cost about the same. There was even a tattoist, who had plenty to do on the first day. I should also mention, that the festival site was right by the river, which means it is possible (if you`re in need of a change of scenery) to go along the “official” path through the bushes and then you end up at the water`s edge. If the weather`s nice it`s a lovely place to sit and watch the swans swim past. And you can do all this without leaving the fenced-off area, that means without any more security controls. I find that really pleasant.
(visitors in front of the really clean “portocabins”)
Let`s get back to the festival itself. So “The Crestfallen” from Nuremberg were Friday´s opening act at 2.30 pm. They played to almost a home crowd of about 300 or more people, and about 10 people who could hardly wait for the gig, got straight into serious headbanging. The band themselves with their progressive “deep-death” music seemed rather grim and did a good job as the opening act. The crowd was quite definitely awake by the end.
At 3.15 pm “Davidian” from the beautiful “Schwaben”-area came onto the stage and thrashed about to the very limit. Unfortunately it got a bit monotonous for my taste, but at least the band let you see, that they really enjoyed being on the stage. Actually the singer Chris doesn`t look strong enough to have such a deeply booming voice, but first impressions can be wrong.
As if the first 2 bands hadn`t played at all, at 4 o’clock “Runamok” (a thrash band of the Stormwitch-guitarist Fabian Schwarz) arrived on the stage and started off like this: “So! Good morning! We`re Runamok and the next half an hour we`re going to rock!” Unfortunately the first song indeed was too much of a rock song, but as the set continued it became more thrashier, to the satisfaction of the fans. (photos will follow) By the way… the lads from the band “Final Breath” were to be seen all over the place, because as the organisers of the festival, they worked really hard to make sure that everybody everywhere was satisfied.
But first of all things continued with “Schistosoma“, a death band from Rothenburg ob der Tauber, who did a lot of “Gwerch”, as the natives say (“gwerch” = the frankonian expression for a riot, if I understood it correctly). And they really were riots , which looked really good on the stage with all the dreadlocks, which were twirling around. But the crowd didn`t mosh as much as the shouter of the band would have liked it to. And as a result he commented: “Oi! What`s the matter with you!? You`re not here for fun!” Whether the crowd became more active after this joke no one really can say!
At 17.35 pm it was time for the first highlight of this day > the much beloved band “Cryptic Wintermoon” who provided an absolutely solid show with their symphonic metal. If I´m allowed to say it like this (from the view of a female metal fan) > a lot of beautiful hair was banged through the air… not only on stage of course, but as well among the fans. Whoever saw “Crypric Wintermoon” live before (which is actually a duty) surely knows what I mean when I say: the mood was brilliant. That`s what I call dedication to music!
And even more highlights were to come in a row: “DEW-SCENTED”! As everybody knows, this is thrash in its finest form! Variety and progressivity! The crowd indeed went crazy during their gig, and I´m not talking about the moshpit only! > After a few songs suddenly some fans started climbing over the barriers (as if it were an olympic competition) and tried to climb onto stage. 2 boys did reach it indeed and enjoyed the attention they got from everybody during those seconds. Of course the security staff escorted them off stage. And a third fan trying this was catched by the security still in the photopit while trying to get close to the stage. (photos will follow) Before this happened there`s been no need for security men being in the photopit all the time, but after this incident they stood there all the time then. Leif (the vocalist of Dew-Scented) was telling his opinion about this as well > telling that normally he`s not complaining about any stage divers etc., but this time he HAS to make a statement, as it would be very unfortunate if the Up From The Ground Festival would lose its uncomplicatedness, as it is a festival FROM fans FOR fans and that`s why everybody should behave in a normal way.
But anyway, I noticed that Leif likes to talk a lot between the songs, for instance he held a little “speech” about thrash metal actually being declared dead, and that there`s no thrash scene anymore at all, if you believe the content of the metal magazines. (Of course the Up From The Ground Festival proves the opposite. As nearly 90 % of all bands performing there are thrash bands it seems like the thrash scene is more alive and kicking than ever.) Of course some little sarcastic jokes of Leif weren`t missing either, just as for instance: “The next song will be one you`ve never heared before”, followed by “Soul Poison” which was released on almost every CD sampler of metal magazines back from that period of time. But to sum it up, the performance of Dew-Scented has been quality grade 1A as ever. This band just kicks major ass on stage.
After that Naglfar did an autograph session (just as almost all bands did , so every fan had reason to be satisfied), but I didn´t go there, as there were quite many fans and I already own some older autographs of Naglfar, so I let the other fans go first this time. That`s why you won`t find photos of that here now, sorry.
At treat followed at 7.30 pm in the form of the band “DISBELIEF”, who I personally really like, because their music is quite different to everything else. And live they`re simply great! After Jan-Dirk surprised us with his new short haircut (thank goodness this new state had no influence on his energy on stage), I could finally once more enjoy the wild stage presence of “Jagger” (of course you all know the typically surreal position of his tounge when he sang on the last video… you would think that nobody could possibly keep this up for such a long time, but… everyone… firstly Jagger does that live exactly as in the video, and secondly he manages to do so during the whole gig). If I´m not mistaken, the microphone wasn´t working right in the second song, and nobody really knew what to do about it (well, that´s why it´s called LIVE music). Jagger went on singing nevertheless, even if he could only be heared in the imagination, until towards the end of the song a sound technician got the idea to just swap the microphone. Jagger apologized and they went on with their progressive Death, which has no exact expression or name yet, and which fortunately doesn´t fit in any of the existing categories.
At 8.35 pm the dark metallos from “Agathodaimon” got on stage. Okay, it´s not exactly my taste, and Sathonys always reminds me of the advertisement with his picture on it, where he advertises for some sort of merchandising company. But the fans were completely bowled over. Styled Gothic Girls and Metallos were equally into headbanging, and inspite of the fact that my taste makes me prefer other types of music, you have to pay tribute to their musical abilities. They really do know their job. That`s why they`ve stayed so popular for so long.
then the moment had arrived! 9:40 pm!
Everything was ready, the 4 rolls of films which I was planning to use for “NAGLFAR” were ready and waiting (if you only get to see your favourite Deathers once a year, it`s okay to be a little bit wasteful) and I myself was more than ready to take some photos, the fans were ready to do headbanging… except Naglfar, they weren`t ready…. There were problems with Kris Olivius`s bass amplifier. So everything started 10 minutes to late (in the meantime the fans screamed their hearts out with chants of “Na-gel-far”), but this didn`t spoil the show, and all the planned songs from the setlist were played anyway.
The gentlemen from Sweden began with the ear-bashing “I am vengeance”, which came across just as sensationally (with the same very powerful sound effects) as are on the excisting video of this song. And the crowd rocked right from the start. Naglfar simply can`t do anything wrong when playing live, full stop! Then the sweat pours out and heads are tossed around… both among the fans as well as on stage.
(More photos in the pictures-section! > "Naglfar - Up from the Ground 2004"! Or click HERE !)
Marcus Norman and Kris Olivius are constantly “in competition” with each other to see who can make the grimmest face or the most evil gestures (particularly favourite: the gestures, when Marcus or now and again Jens or Kris as well pretend to cut their throats). Jens screamed his soul out of his body, and also a screeching “Weeee aaaare Naaaaaglefaaaar” was there as well, and the fans flipped completely out with every song. In any case the band has almost achieved musical perfection, right down to every little detail (and although the drummer was feeling a bit under the weather, he kept going and made almost no mistakes). All the bands biggest numbers followed, namely “When autumn storms come”, “As the twilight gave birth to the night”, “Wrath of the fallen”, “The Brimstone gate”, “Of Gorgons spawned through witchcraft”, “Blades”, “Emerging from her weepings” and of course they didn´t forget to finish with “Black God Aftermath” as their crowning glory. Of course I tried to take some acceptable photos, and at this point I´d like to say Thank-You to the person responsible for allowing me to stay right at the side of the stage during Naglfar`s performance (for as long as it rained, because the stage there didn`t have a shelter or anything, which means the camera gets wet in the rain and might give up the ghost), and I was even allowed to change places once for a moment to take more photos from the other side of the stage as well. In one way I felt a bit uncomfortable, because there I may have disturbed Andreas a bit, but I made a real effort to finish taking my photos in a few seconds and then back I went. The band left the stage to frantic applaus, after they had swept away “Up from the ground” like a force 10 gale with their musical wrath. And all that was left were impressed fans (although one or two people from the back rows said later, they could have been a bit louder).
Right after the performance Naglfar gave a sort of small private photo session backstage for 4 or 5 photographers, who had found their way here (more or less by coincidence). Just as expected the gentlemen from Sweden posed for the pictures as usual trying to look as grim as possible…. Only Andreas Nilsson managed to look a bit tamer than the others, which is always the case at the band`s photo shootings. Here`s an example of this:
Anyway for me Naglfar were the headliners of the evening, but the official top act (because they came from a long way away and are the favourites of many fans) followed on later at 10:55 pm > “MALEVOLENT CREATION”. What can I possibly say? There was a lot of cheering, sweating, groaning, banging, bashing, noise, shoving, moshing and the guitars were tortured unendlessly. That`s what I call really a super gig which leaves no wished open. The band met most expectations I would say. There were several other bandmembers standing at the side of the stage watching , who didn´t want to miss this gig (actually Malevolent Creation had to call off all their other current activities except for a second festival 3 days before, and for “Up from the Ground”). And so this Malevolent Creation set was a very pleasant ending to this live evening.
next band who were due to play at 0.15 a.m. I missed, because Naglfar
crossed my way and we sat and had a bit of a chat. Everything that was said, I
better keep to myself, because “everything you say now can be taken down and
used against you later”! ;- ) The
only thing I can say with a clear conscience, is that Andreas (guitarist)
thought that Up From The Ground is one of his favourite festivals because of
its cosy atmosphere, and if he was asked to come back in 2005 that he would
say “yes” as quick as a flash.
As Malevolent Creation stayed in the same hotel as I, they`ve been so kind to take me along with their shuttle van, as I anyway didn´t know the way to the hotel yet. It was actually Phil, who organized this for me, after he noticed that I have no other possibility to get there (exept walking for an hour). Many many thanx to you, Phil… you`re a great and open-hearted human being! So in the morning around 2.30 am we arrived at the hotel and I fell into my bed, falling asleep immediately
I woke up with a terrible headache this morning (even though I probably was the only one on the whole festival site who didn`t drink any alcohol). That`s why I decided to rather have 2 or 3 cups of coffee first before heading back to the festival. That`s why I missed the first band performing there this Saturday (“Lunatic Dictator”). But as a new fellow there told me, the band had been surprisingly good.
So the first band I saw that day at 11.50 am was “Gorilla Monsoon”. I have to make a compliment to Up From the Ground for the choice of the bands to perform in the mornings of the festival days. Probably those bands all aren´t famous, but therefor veeery good, all being able to awaken a tired crowd. I´d even say about “Gorilla Monsoon”, that they have much more potential for the future. They left a good impression with their immense shouting and growling, although they had a really tough job as the weather was extremely bad. It was raining cats and dogs. But anyway 20 die-hard fans did headbanging in the first row and another 300 people in the fields behind, enjoying the music.
The band “Death reality” was set to play at 12.40 pm, but they didn´t make it in time due to extreme traffic on the streets, so they couldn`t play at all, which was a real pity.
So after a break around 1.30 pm the band “Guerilla” conquered the stage. They wakened the tired visitors with a gigantic “Reeeevooooluuutioooon” –scream and then they rocked the place with their very critical and nerve-racking thrash.
At 2.20 pm our Dutch neighbours provided us with good stuff > “BLO.TORCH” introduced their aggressive death thrash to the people. Nice stuff of a band who surprisingly doesn´t have a record deal yet. Only the real deep voice of the singer would have fitted better into a BM band (or into “Dark Funeral”, hehe), but I´m not complaining, because this band was really entertaining even though the rain meanwhile was horrible (about 100 of the toughest fans anyway stayed in front of the stage, headbanging in the rain).
When the fellows of “UNDERTOW” at 3.10 pm climbed the stage they stated, they`d actually be a Doom band, but they had chosen some fast stuff extra for this festival… and so they did a good job.
4.00 pm the first more
well-known band proved their abilities: BURDEN OF GRIEF!
To be honest, I had expected much more of this band, judging by what I heared about this melodic death band before (probably that`s why my expectations have just been set too high). This music live just had been too distorted for my taste (but maybe that`s much better on CD, I´m gonna check that out). There had been problems with the drums in the beginning (which was commented by the band vocalist with words as “The drummer destroyes everything once more.”), but after that the band did their job and left a satisfied crowd.
Around 4.50 pm there´s been a surprise to me > the band “VENDETTA”. The mature gentlemen played some really old school rock (not really metal actually, although there`ve been some progressive metal-like and attentive drum- and bass- arrangements). The guitarist of Vendetta seems to love very tricky and polished guitar solos, and that`s why he was offering us a lot of those. Good stuff for fans of a clear, pure guitar sound without distortion a la Timo Tolkki. It was nice to listen to that gentle sound for a while.
At 5.40 pm the band “DESASTER” hit the stage with pure thrash. But definitely they showed us the best outfit of the day, a real treatment for my eyes. It was an outfit which would have fitted to every good Black Metal band > rivets and leather allover… really oldschool! Their music even became more deathy during their gig and the singer was really concentrated to the audience. There´s been good music and passionated gestures and the bass player (who owns the probably oldest bass in the world) created a lot of grim faces, and I´ve been afraid he would maybe destroy any amplifier in his rage by kicking towards it. The fans were infected by so much energy and moshed like hell.
At 6.50 pm it was time for “SUIDAKRA”, who you might know from lots of tours (for instance touring with Vintersorg, Graveworm, etc.). They did a wild show for their fans who celebrated them like heroes. But as I personally still suffered a bad headache I watched them only from far away (but due to a brilliant zoom of my camera I anyway could take photos for you).
tried to relax a bit to get better again soon, because around 8 pm the
organizers of “Up from the Ground” were scheduled to perform themselves
with their band “FINAL BREATH”. I´ve been very curious about this
, that`s why of course I wanted to take a closer look.
And I haven´t been dissapointed. FINAL BREATH gave ALL with their “Death- Thrash- Chaos” (as they themselves call it). It was a major rumpus on stage. Especially the vocalist (“Eumel”) was unstoppable. He ran across the stage like a wild tiger and cawed without end. But what I liked most in him is the way he communicates with the fans (no one else is doing it as excessive as him). There were comments about the moshpit, smiling satisfied towards the fans, many gestures etc.etc. So Final Breath were celebrated by the crowd like crazy and in the first row there have even been 2 fans who patiently jumped up and down the whole time during some songs (which looked quite nice with their dreadlocks). Additionally I wanna mention that I pay respect to Final Breath, because they don`t make themselves the headliners of the evening (would have been easy for them to do so, being the organizers), but they give the best playing times to the overseas-bands and the more famous bands! Respect!
9.10 pm it was time for one of the first headliners > “GRAVEWORM”. And for some reason there was tumult immediately around the stage. The crowd was excited and the photopit was extremely full of people (photographers and other band members). Unfortunately I couldn´t take a photo of the lady behind the keyboard for you, as we weren´t allowed anymore to get to the side of the stage (and from the front it was nearly impossible for me to spot her, as she stood very in the background ). But therefor I could see the other musicians of the band quite well and I must confess they made a lot of action on stage (more than I had expected). Probably anyway everybody has already seen the band live once and knows what`s going on during their gigs.
After that I took a look at the signing session of Kataklysm. I must say, it was like hell. I´m sure that no one had expected so many people wanting an autograph of them. Someone told me, there are five times as many people as it were 1 day ago at the Naglfar signing session. But all fans behaved excellent and there was not too much pushing around, so I guess it was okay. Here are some photos for you:
10.20 pm! Coming a band I had never seen live before (and on CD it wasn´t very special to me) > “ILLDISPOSED”! And what shall I tell you?! Unbelievable! They kicked ultimate ass! Gosh! Death metal from Denmark… I can tell ya’! Their sound is just so perfect for headbanging and is somewhat ass-cold cool (= a German expession)! I just have to see them live again near here, when they`re touring… and you`ll find me headbanging in first row there! The vocalist of ILLDISPOSED is in his own way very spectacular… one might guess he was on drugs because of his happy mood. So he started singing a German nonsense-chorus (“Der Meier, der Meier, der hat ja keine Eier.”) and of course all Germans kept on singing this with lots of beer in their veins. I don´t remember all the funny things he said in German language on stage with his funny dialect, but I can tell you that it was the ultimate fun. Regarding their performance Illdisposed left no wishes unfilled and 100 % for sure found lots of new fans here in Gemünden.
Last but not least at 11.45 pm it was time for the supreme headliner of the whole festival > “KATAKLYSM”, who already have cult-status in Germany. Do I really have to mention that the crowd totally freaked out? As KATAKLYSM were the very last band of the evening and the whole festival all visitors came to the stage area once again to have a look and a headbang. And as well all members of the staff and of other bands were in the photopit (never have I seen any photopit being so full of people) and I swear > there were moments when really EVERYBODY did headbang in the same tact, all musicians, all fans, all photographers, just everybody… like an ocean with waves going all in the same rhythm. How fantastic that looked liked!! THAT´s how a festival must be ending!
So after this I left the site with a heavy heart (=sad to be leaving), but not before taking some goodbye-photos with Phil of Malevolent Creation.
some stupid problems at the hotel again (like keys not fitting to the door
etc.) I spent my final night in Gemünden. To summarise: the organizers
deserve a lot of praise for their work, and for achieving
it to keep the ticket prices down (18,- Euros are not that much in
comparison to other festivals), price including great bands like Naglfar and
Kataklysm… just cool!
Looking forward to 2005!