Live Coverage || Summer Breeze Open Air 2019

Summer Breeze Open Air took place on August 14-17 2019. With a lineup sporting about 130 bands, ranging from black metal to thrash metal to hardcore punk, it was something to look forward to.
I was only able to reach Dinkelsbuehl in the afternoon of the 15th but it was still a very rewarding experience. 

All pictures courtesy of Dearohwell photography

Thursday August 15

I got in the infield while Clawfinger was still playing. After roaming a little, exploring my surroundings, I settled in the crowd for the final couple of songs. The Swedish outfit managed to engage the crowd that had gathered to the main stage when they asked them to sing along to the lyrics "when I grow up/there will be a day/when everybody has to do what I say", which eventually stuck and the audience kept singing loudly even after the band had left the stage. When Kvelertak got on, under a solo moment of guitarist Vidar Landa, it was a pure party. I hadn't seen these folks since 2013(ish?) and I was curious as to how the new vocalist, Ivar Nicolaisen, would do in the old songs. Boy, was I in for a big surprise. The guy didn't stop moving at all, eventually jumping off the stage and onto the barricade. I still don't understand how anyone cannot like Kvelertak... Unfortunately the Norwegians were clashing with Lionheart so, since I didn't have the heart to ditch them again at a festival, I decided to skip a part of Kvelertak's performance to move to the T stage for the California hardcore powerhouse. And they didn't disappoint. When I arrived, vocalist Rob Watson had the kids in the crowd spinning their shirts over their heads as the band got back to business. Whoever has enjoyed even a second of Lionheart's music and say they didn't miss them, they are blatantly lying. First visit to the Wera Tool Rebel stage for Get The Shot and the energy was intense. The Canadians played an insane show, much less dangerous than the one at Impericon festival and I can honestly understand why people are vibing so hard on them. The vocalist kept going back to the barrier, inviting stagedivers over and over. Back to the main stage to catch Testament and my excitement has peaked at that point. The thrash titans were an unstoppable force; Chuck Billy and co. hit us straight in the feels with nostalgia and tracks like "More Than Meets The Eye", "DNR" and "Practice What You Preach". I dare you to show me a band half their age that's killing it as well as Testament does. 
Another clashing here, and I missed a good part of Unearth's set so I grabbed lunch and a beer and headed out to the T stage. They delivered solid lessons on why they still are the masters of their scene. In all honesty, can we take a minute to appreciate the OGs?
Next up I caught In Flames. To be honest, I stopped following many years ago but I decided to catch them for old times sake and I wasn't disappointed. The Swedes are were tight and instense as they needed, no excess at all. Of Mice & Men on the other hand didn't really meet my expectations. Sure, the way Aaron Pauley was built into a frontman is truly remarkable. Furthermore the band didn't seem to have a lot of communication on stage. They did close the set with "The Depth", so that was a bonus. I caught Avantasia from the distance towards the end of the set and they were quite amusing. I then got to see Downfall Of Gaia, who were immaculate. I fell in love with the intensity of their music. My friends insisted I should also catch Meshuggah and I did; they didn't win me over with the studio albums and they certainly didn't win me with the set, despite the music being concrete and very professional. Cradle Of Filth raised hell and I was super excited to get to catch them again. Dani Filth did sound a little off at times but, in general, the band was very impressive. I decided to call it a night there and was serenaded to sleep by some probably drunken singing of Alestorm's "Drink".



Get The Shot

Downfall Of Gaia

Friday August 16

I kicked off my day with Dust Bolt at the T stage and it was one of the best decisions I made during the festival. The German thrashers were erratically moving up and down the stage, but the show stopper was the guy filling in on bass guitar, who eventually ran into the crowd and finished the set while people were moshing around him or just casually taking selfies in the pit. Deserted Fear walked on stage with huge smiles that they weren't able to hide throughout the performance (proof follows). I wasn't familiar with the band prior to seeing them but they were a very entertaining sight and definitely kept up with their predecessors. I also watched a little of Queensryche's show, which was in my checklist, after watching the original vocalist, Geoff Tate, earlier this year.
Rotting Christ performed what I consider THE BEST show I've seen them play to this day. The setlist and use of pyros didn't vary from the last time in July, but everything felt different; the band's attitude, their sound, their involvement with the crowd were brilliant. No regrets for missing Airbourne. I then caught King Diamond, whose stage production was incredible. The King himself was on point, continuing the tradition of his horror-themed performances. And there was something oddly satisfying when he stabbed "Abigail" during the "Funeral" before playing "Arrival"... I returned to the main stage for Parkway Drive's spectacular performance. Needless to say, the crowd was so thick I had trouble even seeing the stage from where I stood. The band made the traditional entrance with a group of masked men holding torches escorting vocalist Winston McCall to the stage. Getting to see that show really exceeded any expectations I had (I stopped following PWD after "Deep Blue" and every time I saw them afterwards only validated why), but I can't deny that they have pushed live shows to a whole new level. Sure, the ground didn't shake during "Carrion"'s intro as I anticipated, but even when I had moved to another stage, I could still see the fires burning over the main stage and feel the vibes from the infield. Crippled Black Phoenix was pretty stunning; the band attracted quite the audience, who seemed to have a a great time with the band's post tunes. I chose to close the day with some Thy Art Is Murder. I secured a nice spot with a cocktail and watched as the other Aussies ripped Summer Breeze a new one. The band was tight as always, with their every move calculated -except maybe CJ McMahon's jokes. The absence of drummer Lee Stanton was noticeable but his replacement did a great job filling his shoes.

Dust Bolt

Deserted Fear

King Diamond

Saturday August 17

I made my way to the infield in high anticipation to see Evergreen Terrace opening the main stage. The few drops of rain didn't discourage the crowd from puling up, nor the band from having a good time despite some technical problems. Craig Chainey sounded exactly like on record, while Alex Varian was aiding with backing clean vocals amidst his split jumps. Also, the set, revolved around "Wolfbiker", which gave them extra points of awesomeness. I ran to the smaller stage to catch a glimpse of Higher Power and I am just a bit mad with this clashing but I had my priorities straight.
Up next was Van Canto, the German a capella metal band which features multiple vocalists and a percussionist. I was really impressed by their job, especially when they ended their set with a shortened version of Iron Maiden's "Fear Of The Dark" and got the audience to sing along. I remained at the main stage for Bury Tomorrow. My favorite Brits did a terrific job as always, with vocalist Dani Winter-Bates keeping security busy with constant flows of crowdsurfers -as always. The band performed all their fan favorite hits, including "No Less Violent", "Earthbound", "Lionheart", and choosing to close the set with "Black Flame", and dozens of kids landing into the barricade while singing their hearts out. Dani invited fans to an impromptu meet and greet by the exit next to the stage and remained there for a good hour. Between BT and Equilibrium, we also witnessed a beautiful marriage proposal. I stuck around for Equilibrium out of curiosity and didn't regret it. The band blew me away with their sound and their vivid performance. Quick run to the T stage and our good old friends Nasty were about to kill it. The bois got on stage with "At War With Love" and their trademark stomping sound resounded in the arena. Vocalsit Mathias Tarnath was in his element, pulling gimmicks and making faces before unleashing hell. The band also invited a friend on stage to perform a song.
The absolute revelation of the day however was Eluveitie. Although I never followed them consistently, I liked a lot their latest album, "Ategnatos". Their performance was definitely one of the highlights of the day; the band and their celtic tunes amused the audience, all while pyros took our breaths away. Oh and Fabienne Erni has lungs of steel, that's for sure! The weather seemed to worsen as the evening progressed but when the rain stopped after a while, I went out to grab dinner and stayed at the main stage for a bit where Bullet For My Valentine was playing old songs to an enchanted audience. It was amusing, not gonna lie. After that, I went on to catch Gaahls WYRD. The former Gorgoroth frontman was haunting; he dominated the stage inspiring fear and awe, all while the atmosphere at the Wera Tool Rebel stage became steadily heavier. Final band of the day for me was Dimmu Borgir, whom I had never seen before and my teenage self was ecstatic. I squeezed in a nice spot and patiently waited for the Norwegians to come up. The band took the stage by storm, cleverly mixing material from their latest album and fan favorite tracks. It certainly felt weird when a choir recplaced the clean vocals that ICS Vortex would usually do but I've got to admit, it gave the band extra points of grandeur. The crowd responded wantonly to Shagrath's commands, and when "Progenies Of The Great Apocalypse" and "Mournign Palace" sounded, the old school fans sang along while vigorously headbanging.



Gaahls WYRD

Overall my first Summer Breeze was a unique experience and the lineups ticked many boxes, and allowed me to witness some of my all time favorite bands. Thank you Summer Breeze, see you next year!

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