Review: Nova Rock 2016 – Part Two

Day 3

The saturday that feels like a sunday. However, the hangover is quickly cured with Attila (★★★) and Slaves (★★★★) who both already encourage the first crowdsurfers. Especially Slaves, the duo from Kent, make the ground shake with their heavy drums and guitar riffs. It’s punk at its finest and purest and definitely one of the early highlights of the day.

Next up, Periphery (★★★) start their fast-paced set with Psychosphere, and later play the live debut of The Price Is Wrong. The band draw an impressive crowd, providing them with their complex sound that’s more sophisticated than what the casual headbanger might be used to. Those who missed out will most likely regret it later.

On the Red Stage, Tom Odell (★★★) and his piano look a little lost. He admits it himself, in an interview before his set that he might be slightly out of place at a festival like Nova Rock but that he will play any show he’s offered, especially in Austria which he loves. Even though the space in front of the stage is scarcely filled, he has a smile on his face, seemingly not bothered as he belts out songs from his new album Wrong Crowd (what a fitting title!) as well as well-known singles like Another Love.

Finish Country band Steve ‘n’ Seagulls (★★) encourage the crowd to put on their dancing shoes as they cover rock and metal songs. It’s an easy sing-a-long for the intoxicated crowd, the performance is fun but still gets a little boring after a while. E for effort.

August Burns Red (★★★★) present the Nova Rock crowd with a more unique sound, distinguishing themselves from other metalcore bands. Five songs from the new album Found in Far Away Places replace classics like Internal Cannon or Carpe Diem but the band shows a willingness to step out of their comfort zone and develop. And even though the vocals lack strength from time to time, especially on the new songs, it’s a positive change.

The biggest crowd so far are drawn by Dropkick Murphys (★★★★★). Being the sensational live band that they are, singer Al Barr & Co have absolutely no trouble hyping up the crowd. They step on stage and everyone goes wild. There’s dancing, crowdsurfing, and of course, singing along from the moment they start with The Boys Are Back to the second they close their set with I’m Shipping Up to Boston. Band and audience alike are in great spirits.

68 year old Alice Cooper (★★★★★) might be the oldest artist of this year’s Nova Rock but he has no trouble keeping up with his younger colleagues. His stage show is more entertaining than shocking these days but there is no doubt that he still has what it takes after 40 years. Poison, Feed My Frankenstein, No More Mr Nice Guy are of course among the highlights, but Cooper also performs The Who, Hendrix, Bowie and Motörhead covers with which he pays tribute to the great ones we’ve lost. He’s still here though, and after giving his all once more for School’s Out and the encore Elected the throwback ends way too soon.

For all the Hip Hop lovers, Cypress Hill (★★★★) was a real treat over on the Red Stage. No big stage show needed, Sen Dog and B-Real let their songs speak for themselves. Despite the worsening weather, they have the crowd in the palm of their hands, making them jump until the sweat is mixing with the pouring rain. After the grand finale with (Rock) Superstar they leave the stage without an encore, leaving the crowd satisfied but at the same time craving more.

Headlining Day 3 of Nova Rock are crowd favorites Volbeat (★★★★). Despite a 25-minute delay, they are greeted by their roaring fans as they open their set with The Devil’s Bleeding Crown from their new album Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie. What follows can only be described as the ‘Best of Volbeat‘ and even though the rain is getting heavier by the minute, no one seems to care as Michael Poulsen and his band perform hits such as Radio Girl, Sad Man’s Tongue, Lonesome Rider, Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood or Fallen. A brilliant end to a brilliant Nova Rock Day 3!

Day 4

It’s the last day of Nova Rock and everyone is celebrating the special announcement for 2017 that was made after Volbeat had left the stage the night before. THE HOFF IS COMING BACK! Yes, David Hasselhoff will return to Nova Rock as a Special Late Night Guest in 2017. Purchase your red swim trunks now!

Back to this year’s Nova Rock, it’s not over yet! The sun is out again for now and over at the Red Stage, The Amity Affliction (★★★) and We Came As Romans (★★★) are blowing up dust. Meanwhile Gary Clark Jr. (★★★★) is hypnotizing the crowd over at the Blue Stage. Even though slightly misplaced at Nova Rock, the performance convinces with a mix of soul, country, blues and rock’n’roll.

In stark contrast, polish black metal band Behemoth (★★★★) are summoning dark storm clouds above Pannonia Fields. Even though the performance doesn’t have the dramatic effect it would have had at an later hour, it works surprisingly well, even at 4.30pm. The crowd reveres with devout nods and raised fists, no moshpits necessary.

Killswitch Engage (★★★★★) give a lesson in how to combine beautiful melodies and vocals with powerful metalcore, and making it work. After the departure of frontman Howard Jones, Jesse Leach continues what he started in 1999 without trouble. Introducing the Nova Rock crowd to songs from their new album Incarnate, the band plays a solid set, a highlight on this last day of the festival.

Simultaneously, NOFX (★★★★) are joking with the crowd between songs from their huge repertoire, little jams, and the odd cover. They’re at home on stage, they don’t take anything too seriously, and that’s what makes it good. It’s charming, funny punk rock, a nice change. If Fat Mike says ‘Party!‘ you party, without hesitation. And to songs like Leave It Alone, Stickin’ In My Eye, Linoleum and Kill All the White Man, it’s impossible not to anyway.

The ever so mighty Deftones (★★★★★) surprise with a performance that’s worthy of the headliner spot. Moreno seems to notice, he can’t stop smiling, and him and bassist Sergio Vega are prancing around on stage almost as though they are competing with each other. Although the band doesn’t play a lot of new songs, the classics are celebrated even more. My Own Summer (Shove It), Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away), Rosemary and Diamond Eyes are crowd favorites, and more than once Moreno jumps down into the photo pit to high-five the lucky folks in the front row to hype them up more and more. Their set is over way too soon, after only 70 minutes, and the encore of Engine No. 9 combined with How I Could Just Kill A Man by Cypress Hill, makes their departure from stage even more bittersweet.

That The Fire Still Burns prove Twisted Sister (★★★★) as headliner over on the Red Stage. Frontman Dee Snider runs, jumps, dances, crawls around on stage like a 20 year old rock god, and it’s hard to accept the fact that this is the band’s final goodbye tour. There’s nostalgia in the air as Burn In Hell, We’re Not Gonna Take It and The Fire Still Burns are belted out into the night, accompanied by crazy pyro effects, smoke and dramatic stage lights. Snider not only knows how to perform though, more than once throughout the set he pays tribute to late drummer AJ Pero and mentions the terrible attack in Orlando.

And last but not least, Red Hot Chili Peppers (★★★) close Nova Rock 2016 on the Blue Stage. It wasn’t the highlight everyone wants and expects at the end but it was a performance that definitely brought the crowd together for one last celebration before leaving Pannonia Fields. Despite Anthony Kiedis’ slight problems to memorize lyrics, as well as technical difficulties that sadly make the sound suffer, the set is solid, and one hit follows the previous. There are no surprises, and a good portion of the crowd has no problem leaving early to avoid the big traffic jam on their way home. Even if it means missing the big fireworks to celebrate the end of Nova Rock 2016.

At least the Hoff is coming back next year!

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