I wish I could say this was the first time I’d woken up in a car at Tons of Rock, but I guess it was the first time I’d woken up in a car that wasn’t mine, alone and fully clothed, did I break into someone’s car? Back to the cabin to wash the taste of death out of my mouth and it was pouring rain so at least I didn’t have to wash my hair. Unfortunately the rain was a major deterrent for most this year and I heard there was a dismal turnout for the first few bands of the day.
Seeking shelter in the sanctuary of the tent stage, we made it to the front for some symphonic death metal with Dutch horror fiends, Carach Angren. A smoke filled stage with toy piano tunes playing in the background set a good introduction for this band. They appeared, smothered in corpse paint, fishnet shirts and shiny PVC pants that left nothing to the imagination. The eerie keyboards and orchestral backing tracks added extra depth to their performance as they invited us into their gruesome world. The lyrics in Charlie from their latest 2017 Album, Dance And Laugh Amongst The Rotten, unfold a charming group croon, “Bitch! Slut! Whore! Cunt!” Naturally this was my favourite song. Vocalist/guitarist Dennis ‘Seregor’ Droomers has varying vocal techniques, he was a pleasure to watch. When he wasn’t cutting symbols into, licking or assaulting the mannequin side of stage, he was breathing smoke like a dragon. Towards the end he returns to the stage with his crown of thorns and ghoul mask, thrusting his crutch as they finish with Bloodstains on the Captains Log.
Norway’s answer to Rammstein was up next, Gothminister played when it was smashing down with rain so lucky for them, they played to a full tent. Although they’ve been around since the late 90’s, I wasn’t that familiar with them, a lot of their songs are in German and they play a lot of German festivals so maybe that’s why. I knew one of their songs Ich Will Alles, which they played first and for some reason the rest of the set kind of blended together. Again, probably because I didn’t know them well enough. Vocalist Bjørn Alexander Brem is standing on a ladder covered in a Gothminister flag for most of the set, commanding his audience. We took this time to head to the delicious beer at the Siste Sang brewery and eat some overpriced burgers.
Taking it down a notch it was time for Swedish hard rockers, Witchcraft. Magnus Pelander had originally created the band as a tribute to the band Pentagram and being a lover of both groups, Witchcraft were a band I had personally waited to see for a really long time. Magnus’ vocals are clean and beautiful, they give complete chills down my spine through Its Not Because Of You and No Angel or Demon. The band have such a chemistry together that there is no need for bells or whistles. The real magic shines through in the opening chords for Witchcraft, by this time we are lost in a daze and I’ve completely forgotten that I’m at a festival. A set to lose yourself in and I’m sure that even the likes of Bobby Liebling would’ve been impressed.
There are always weird outfits during festivals, this year I enjoyed the typical Scandinavian Christmas style sweaters worn under battle vests, I thought this to be both original and practical. But the winner had to be this larger man, who I remember seeing last year in the same outfit, wearing a shirt that’s reads “Gratis (Free) Protein Shake” with an arrow pointed to his junk. If I see him again, I’m going to buy him a new shirt!
The next band has a special place in a lot of our hearts, Alice in Chains. Jerry Cantrell introduces the band members and declares “This one is for Layne and Mike”, making a dedication to their fallen members, Layne Stayley (previous vocals) and Mike Starr (previous bass) as they kick off with Rain, When I Die.
New vocalist since 2006, William DuVall is captivating, while emulating Layne’s vocals with such poise and confidence, he also brings a husky undertone to the party. It’s astonishing how similar their voices are, although Jerry’s harmonies and backup vocals, play a big part, seeing them live proves that he was always there creating that overall Alice in Chains sound from the beginning. They exhibit an act rich in rock history, playing Them Bones, Nutshell and closed the curtains with Rooster. If it wasn’t too inappropriate to list every song they played, because every song was impeccable, I Would. I even got to take home a Mike Inez bass pick that my friend gave me, score!
For a late night feast , W.A.S.P. showed up to make sure we were awake. We were watching from down the front tonight so we could be amongst the party and because it was a lot warmer down there between all of the bodies. The sirens wailed and dramatic helicopter sounds blasted through the speakers as they stung us with an animated set full of interaction. L.O.V.E Machine and Wild Child were crowd pleaser’s, but when infamous front man Blackie Lawless splits the crowd for I Wanna Be Somebody, this was the most entertaining. This carried on for a long time and I swear I heard a teenage boy’s voice break somewhere behind me.
As we made our way back to the cabin, a pit stop was made by the tent stage for the last band of the evening and what a wild card! Gåte are a Norwegian folk band, who also incorporate electronica, a mix of metal styles and what a stage presence. Yodeling, violin, and a crowned princess dancing exoticly in a flowing white gown. This performance was so energetic and completely enchanting, singer Gunnhild Sundli looks as though she just stepped out of The Never-ending Story while one of the guitarists climbs a lighting rig and throws his guitar into the crowd. What a way to end the night. That’s always been something I love about Tons of Rock, you can see all of your favourite bands and discover new ones.