Katie’s review of this year’s Tons of Rock is, like the festival itself, massive – so we’re splitting it into three bite-size chunks. Even then, they’re still bite-size to a large, scary Viking. Here’s the third serving, covering June 23rd at Fredrikstern Fortress, Halden, Norway. Missed Part One? Clickety-here, while Part Two is also now available.
I started the day with a boat trip on the fjord organised by the press team which was glorious; sunny weather, beautiful scenic views and a nice cold can of Tons of Rock Black Pit IPA brewed especially for the festival by Oslo craft brewery Siste Sang.
I arrived back to the festival site just in time to catch Beaten To Death take to the Tent Stage. Their performance was raw and brutal and vocalist Anders bounced and jumped around the stage in entertainingly skimpy green shorts.
When I returned to the press room I learned that all performances scheduled to take place on the Huth Stage (which sits on top of the fortress) were cancelled due to high winds. Unfortunately this meant that Sibiir and FØSS were unable to perform, but the festival organisers were able to re-jig the schedule to allow the other bands scheduled to play on the Huth Stage to play the Tent Stage.
My next band for the day were hard rock band Black Star Riders on the main stage. The band was formed in 2012 by members of Thin Lizzy who wanted to release new music but under a different band name. As seasoned musicians, the band pulled out all the classic rock-star moves, which is always a pleasure for photographers! They closed their set with Thin Lizzy classic “Whiskey In The Jar”, which rang out across the fortress as I headed over to the Tent Stage to watch Delain from The Netherlands. The tent was heaving with bodies, many of whom were clad in Delain band shirts, and a group of people at the barrier had a Norwegian flag with “Delain Norway” emblazoned on it. The symphonic, gothic rock/metal band clearly had a huge fan-base and I could see why as they put on a great set and had fantastic lighting!
Airbourne brought a ton of fun to the main stage on a sunny afternoon; frontman Joel O’Keeffe surfed into the crowd to perform his infamous ‘smash a beer can on his head until it spurts beer everywhere’ trick. He also encouraged fans to get on top of each other’s shoulders, and rewarded them by lobbing open cans of lager at them, which they were told to down in one. I wasn’t sure how the fun-loving, energetic Aussies and their sometimes quite silly music would be received amongst a festival largely dominated by Scandi-metal, but everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy their set, myself included!
The next band I saw on the main stage were Norwegian black metal masters Satyricon. Core members Satyr (vocals) and Frost (drums) were accompanied by their three live band members on bass, keys and guitar. Satyr was adorned in face-paint and had a pitchfork-shaped mic stand which he waved triumphantly in the air at various points during their set.
I caught Horisont by accident as I made my way to get some food after photographing Satyricon and was so engaged by their performance that I stuck around to watch their whole set, whilst eating my elk kebab. The band are from Gothenberg and describe their music as “classic hard rock” but it also had a interesting twist, with jazzy drum beats, keys and catchy guitar riffs.
Another ridiculously entertaining band to hit the main stage were Five Finger Death Punch. All day I had seen men, women and children adorned with the famous ‘bloody handprint’ on their faces, and when the time came for the LA heavy metal band to take to the stage the crowd was heaving. To be perfectly honest my only knowledge of FFDP was “Hard To See” which featured on one of the Guitar Hero games, but it turns out that they have a whole set full of great songs and I really enjoyed their performance.
Following Ivan Moody’s announcement on stage in Amsterdam at the beginning of the month that he would be leaving the band, Bad Wolves’ vocalist Tommy Vext stepped up on vocals, and I think he did a great job. Bassist Chris, with a dreadlocked beard reminiscent of a character from Pirates of the Caribbean, threw plectrums towards the young children in the front row whilst pulling a whole range of peculiar facial expressions. Zoltan melted the faces of the crowd with his guitar solos and the whole band were great fun to watch.
After finishing their set the band’s version of “House Of The Rising Sun” was played out over the main stage speakers as the band bowed to their adoring fans. Perhaps the song was a nod to the plight of their former vocalist (who admitted that he had fallen off the wagon once again)… or perhaps I am reading too much into it.
Upon a recommendation from a fellow photographer I headed to the tent stage to check out Amaranthe. They describe their sound as “modern melodic metal” and for me it was a bit like dance metal, but the band seemed incredibly popular with the wide range of people in the crowd – the tent was the most packed I had seen it all weekend! Amaranthe had three very different vocalists, one of whom – Elize – strutted around the stage posing in a very high-cut leotard. I can’t say they were really my cup of tea, but a tent-full of people begged to differ.
Closing proceedings on the main stage were Sabaton, who performed their album Carolus Rex in its entirety. We had been warned by security to expect a lot of pyro during their set, but I jumped out of my skin as it started to go off less than a meter from my face – very embarrassing! However, I managed to hold it together to get some shots of the band, some of which I am very pleased with, as flames can be very tricky to capture. Later on in their performance a battle re-enactment took place on the stage, featuring soldiers dressed in the Swedish uniform, firing guns. Carolus Rex was written about a battle that took place at the very same fortress in which the festival is set, and by all accounts Sabaton put on an incredible performance.
And so ended another fantastic year at the wonderful Tons of Rock festival. Thanks to all the team for putting on another great festival – I will be back in 2018.
All photos by Katie Frost Photography