SUMMER TALES | Germany/Sweden 2017
Words: TK Smith
Summer is made for outdoor festivals and no one does it better than Europe. This year had us visiting Krach am Bach in Beelen, Germany, Nynäskalaset Fest in Nynäshamn, Sweden, AquaMaria Fest in Plattenburg Germany and a night under the stars with Die Toten Hosen in Wiesen, Austria. The whirlwind couple of weeks still gave us time to wander the Alps, dine at a Viking lodge and mote castle and spend days flipping through crates of vinyl records. A few of the vinyl hot spots will be mentioned below. Norwegian band Brutus has been one we’ve wanted to see for ages. Imagine the excitement when notice came they were touring in late August and hitting two of our tagged festivals. The five-piece recently released Wandering Blind their third outing since forming in 2010. It was their laid-back ‘Big Fat Boogie’ that got us hooked and motivated a plane ticket to check them out live.
August 4, 2017 | Krach am Bach, Germany
The nineteen-hour travel time to get to Beelen was worth it once Brutus took the stage at Krach am Bach. The band kick-started the evening lineup with a wooly set jam-packed with heavy hitters from their three albums. Title track from their recent opus Wondering Blind got the crowd grooving but it was ‘Drowning’ and ‘Big Fat Boogie’ that scored the tribal dance. The thundering ‘Blue Pills’, the open riff of ‘Personal Riot’ and ‘Hypnotized’ took it to another level and the feedback nearly blew the roof off. The band were incredibly well rehearsed bringing swagger and confidence to their brand of boogie rock. Both Wight and Death Alley made notable appearances, but it was instrumental three-piece, Mother Engine that left an indelible impression. Of course, most of the audience was there to see legendary headliner Motorpsycho who rolled out all the stops including a cover of Moondog’s “All Is Loneliness’, Grand Funk’s ‘Into the Sun’ and Terry Callier’s ‘Spin, Spin, Spin’. The power trio did a stellar job introducing new tracks ‘In Every Dream Home’, ‘Intrepid Explorer’, ‘The Cuckoo’ and ‘Bratok of the Universe’ off their new platter The Tower.
Closing the evening, coming all the way from Melbourne Australia, was electric blues giant Child who thrilled with an hour of fuzzed-out, plodding feedback into the wee hours of the morning. Basking under the blue and green spotlights the trio oozed sex appeal with a throbbing rhythm section (bassist Danny J Smith, drummer Michael Lowe) and charismatic singer/guitarist Mathias Northway. Pulling most of their set from second album Blueside, the band left the crowd begging with ‘Dirty Woman’, ‘Nailed to the Ceiling’ and ‘It’s Cruel to be Kind’ echoing into the night. The Krach am Bach festival was organized, friendly and focused on a homogenous relationship between band and audience. The beautiful surroundings made it a stellar place for music and summer to meet especially when the full moon rose.
August 5, 2017 | Nynäskalaset Fest, Sweden
After a quick flight to Stockholm and a short train ride south to Nynäshamn, Sweden we joined the Nynäskalaset Fest well underway. The staff was incredibly polite and accommodating and though the weather had turned cool, the evening glow was radiant as groups Pain and Farsta burned bright. Pop star Miss Li electrified the younger crowd and even converted a few old geezers. Satan Takes a Holiday showcased their modern mix of rock and roll, sixties’ garage and punk with a hit-filled set proving their status as P3 Guild winners. Though relatively unknown in the US, they are a sensation in Sweden especially with songs ‘The Beat’, ‘Ladder to Climb’ and ‘Radio’. We were on site to see our friends, Sweden’s premier metal band, Mustasch. Fans of our site are familiar with the Gothenburg quartet and when we get together it’s like a family reunion. Two years have passed since the release of their ninth studio album Testosterone so the night’s set was more of a greatest hits package including stunning versions of ‘Double Nature’, ‘Black City’ and ‘Thank You for the Demon’. Precise and power-packed, the band accelerated with ‘Speed Metal’, ‘Dogwash’ and ‘Parasite’ whipping the crowd into a crazed frenzy. Current hit Änglahund led to a fist-pumping choir while ‘I Hunt Alone’ was introduced with a cover of ‘Black Sabbath’. Funniest bit of the night was when the band returned to give and impromptu karaoke version of AC/DC’s ‘For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)’.
Three days in Stockholm had us hitting all the best record stores. The city really is a mecca for scoring great finds at reasonable prices. Recommendations include Record Mania, Nostalgipalatset and Sound Pollution. Mid-week we were back in Düsseldorf to see SoCal mates Night Demon tear through a set of classic metal at a biker bar. Touring behind their new Darkness Remains album had the band running through a 20-song set including ‘Welcome to the Night’, ‘Maiden’ and ‘Life on the Run’. Old school songs ‘The Chalice’ and ‘Ritual’ gave rise to the past while ‘Satan’ featured a roadie dressed as the reaper stalking the audience. The band’s love for Iron Maiden was not lost when they ended the night with a cover of ‘Wasted Years’. Guitarist Armand Anthony is a wonder to behold as he seemingly plays three guitar parts by himself. The following night we were guests of Brutus as they played the Cave, one of the coolest clubs in Frankfurt. Reminiscent of the Cavern club in Liverpool, the arched doorways and faintly lit interior was the perfect setting as Brutus stormed the stage. More at home in a club element, the Norwegian Vikings treated the audience to a rich set tailor-made for the setting. They were on top of their game playing an extended show of strutting boogie rock at its finest.
August 11-12 | AquaMaria Festival, Germany
The following weekend found us across the country in Plattenburg just northwest of Berlin. The AquaMaria festival is in one of the most romantic settings we’ve ever seen. A moat castle surrounded by lush green forests in the middle of farm country. The festival takes place in the inner courtyard (ward) just past the gate house with amazing views of the fortress wall, towers, chapel and great hall. First night (Friday) featured female led four-piece Travelin’ Jack. Part glitter, part metal, the band brought the rock with platform shoes, amped up guitar and chest-beating rhythm. It was our third time seeing this outstanding band and we recommend checking out their new album Commencing Countdown with standout tracks ‘Journey to The Moon’, ‘Galactic Blue’, ‘Fire’ and ‘Cold Blood’. Psychedelic Blues Rockers Taming the Shrew (Regensburg) were up next casting a spell over the crowd with a bedazzling array of ‘70s inspired keyboard driven heart beat poetry (name of their current LP). We encourage a dedicated listen to ‘Unpacked’, ‘Puppet Blues’ and ‘Mr. Evil’. Long-time friends Siena Root headlined with a complex mixture of their 13-year history with their original hard/psych/blues rock. New vocalist Samuel Björö put his stamp on classics ‘Little Man’, ‘The Break of Dawn’ and ‘Above the Trees’ while converting the masses with set opener ‘Tales of Independence’ and newbies ‘No Filter’, ‘Sundown’, ‘The Piper Won’t Let You Stay’ and mind-blowing jams “Duel’ and ‘Imaginarium’. Siena Root is easily one of the great bands to see live. Their dexterity and seasoned musicianship is as good as it gets!
Rain delayed our entrance to the festival on Saturday missing Rising Dao and The Strayin Sparrows, however Johnny Rockskin was worth getting wet as they hit the stage with a load of high energy rock’n’roll. On the eve of releasing their debut Five Stoned Hookers, the German quartet spotlighted album favorites including ‘King of the Road’, ‘Kill Destroy! Motorcycle’ and title cut ‘Five Stoned Hookers’. Aside from being an ace guitarist, Martin Gertz easily won the best mustache/beard compo of the night. The rain didn’t stop Mother Engine from putting on a hell of a show while, for the third time in a week, Brutus cranked out a sensational boogie set ripe with sonic landmines. The humorous banter of vocalist Joakim Stenby kept the crowd in good spirits as the weather eventually cleared. Stockholm-based Abramis Brama was billed as the headliner but traded places with Dead Lord as they were running late. The legendary Swedes held their position as star professionals setting ablaze 18 years of outstanding heavy rock all sung in their native tongue. Master axe-slinger Peo Andersson was a wonder sewing together earthshaking riff and blazing solos. The rhythm section of drummer Fredrik “Trisse” Liefvendahl, and seasoned bassist Mats Rydström defined the bottom end while vocalist Ulf Torkelsson stomped, swirled and danced to classics ‘Mamma Talar’, ‘Enkel Biljett’, ‘Smakar Söndag’ and the cover to an old Ashbury tune. Dead Lord were Thin Lizzy reborn with hair, riffs, attitude and grande bigotes to spare.
August 14 | Wiesen, Austria
Our final stop put us in Wiesen, Austria to see the mighty Die Toten Hosen, Germany’s premiere punk rockers. With plenty of ammunition from their new album Laune der Natur the Dusseldorf quintet featured seven songs from the disc in a set that was an incredible 29 songs long. The war cry came with the all-out assault ‘Urknall’ and plowed through, ‘Wie viele Jahre (Hasta La Muerte)’ and title track ‘Laune der Natur’. Current hits ‘Uter den Wolken’ and ‘Wannsee’ with ballad ‘Alles passiert’ proved that the band of 35 years had plenty of gas in the tank. Guitarist Breiti (Michael Breitkopf) and Kuddel (Andreas von Holst) tag team off each other like pro wrestler moving from riff to solos then twin guitar harmonies. Drummer Vom (Stephen George Ritchie) and bassist Andi (Andreas Meurer) locked in the pocket with power beats and bassline grooves. Celebrating their heroes with covers of Iggy Pop’s ‘The Passenger’, Cock Sparrer’s ‘Where Are They Now?’ and the Ramones ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ had them playing to their basic punk roots. Then came the classics ‘Auswärtsspiel’, ‘Hier kommt Alex’ and ‘Steh auf, wenn du am Boden bist’ that had vocalist Campino (Andreas Frege), as an electrifying presence, conducting the throng of nearly 20,000 in a drunken sing-a-long. The night ended with ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ as black, red and white spotlights lit up the sky and confetti cannons showered the crowd in a scattered spray.