Festival Review: Nova Rock 2019 Day 1

Nova Rock 2019 was definitely an experience to be remembered! Last year we had heavy rain showers on the first day. This year we had blistering 35°C heat! For us English folk this was a challenge, but it was absolutely worth it! Thursday was a very good day for us as a lot of the bands we wanted to see were on the line-up.

I Prevail (c) Jack Barker

The first band on our agenda was I Prevail, a band we have been wanting to see for a while now. It’s Sod’s Law that when they were in Manchester, we weren’t in the UK, but at least we didn’t miss out on seeing them! The first thing that struck me was that clean vocalist Brian Burkheiser bounced onto the stage with a cast on this leg. I hadn’t seen their post on Facebook about him fracturing his foot at their hometown show until after their set, however this didn’t stop him putting on a hell of a good show with the rest of the band. Opening with the heavy “Bow Down” off their latest album. it had the crowd warmed up nicely for the rest of their set. When asked “Should we come back and play a longer set?” the large crowd that had gathered definitely let them know they wanted them to.

Staying at the blue stage, Three Days Grace were next after a Bon Jovi sing-along. Last time I saw them in Manchester I was really not very well so I was excited for their set. Opening with “The Mountain” and ending with “Riot”, their entire setlist included all of their biggest hits, new and old. How lead guitarist Barry Stock managed to wear a coat on stage I have no idea! Lead vocalist Matt Walst made a comment saying “We’re up here in the shade and you guys are down there in the blistering sun. Way more hard core than us!”. The audience were singing along to every song, especially “I Hate Everything About You”, which will always be a crowd favourite.

Godsmack (c) Jack Barker

Sticking with the blue stage again, it was time for Godsmack. The crowd was constantly growing around the stage and as soon as they started their new song “When Legends Rise” everyone was singing along. After the third song lead vocalist Sully Erna asked “Are we awake yet?” which received a huge cheer from the crowd. We went for a wander around the festival site shortly afterwards, however the stage caught our eye again. Erna was sat at a second drum kit on the stage and they were performing “La Batalla de los Tambores” on revolving platforms. Towards the end of the set, the band left the stage, however this wasn’t intentional. They thought they had run out of time although they were soon back on apologising as they still had time left, just enough time to perform one more track, “I Stand Alone”.

We took some time to explore the food court area and try to find some shade as we were melting and it was on the way to the Red Bull stage for As It Is. We didn’t make too much time for the Red Bull stage last year, but with an impressive lineup this year on the smaller of the three stages we decided to venture to this stage a lot more.

A decent crowd had formed for As It Is considering they were competing with the likes of Lamb of God and they were definitely a popular choice. The title track for their new album The Great Depression was a huge hit with the crowd with most singing along. Lead singer Patty Walters was born to be on stage with the ease with which he commanded the audience. Joking that “We are a band called My Chemical Romance” before announcing that it was their first time at the festival, he welcomed the new fans to their family. You could tell it was roasting hot as, like Walst from Three Days Grace, Walters commented “Holy shit it’s hot up here! We have a nice cool dressing room so make some noise for yourselves!”. “The Stigma (Boys Don’t Cry)” had a lot of the crowd singing along and gave me goose bumps after Walter’s speech beforehand. When we turned around to head to the Red Bull stage, there were a few members of the Austrian police force stood behind us who had stopped for the show. We’d be seeing more of them later in the weekend, but more about that soon…

Ska-P (c) Jack Barker

Up next were Ska-P, a band that we knew would be very different to what we had seen so far. I honestly think that the band could win a competition of facial expressions, they were pretty impressive. When we were doing our research for Nova Rock, we had heard “Jaque al Rey” and seen the video and couldn’t resist going to see these guys. As we don’t speak Spanish, we didn’t stay for too many songs however many other people were definitely enjoying the set. A Spanish ska-punk band in Austria… Whatever next!

Next we had a very difficult decision to make… Sum 41 or Slipknot. We decided to do the photos and first 3 songs for Sum 41 and then head over to see Slipknot. A huge cheer erupted as soon as the lights went down and “Black Betty” blasted through the speakers. Opening their set with “Motivation” which is now 18 years old, it showed just how many long-time fans were in the crowd. Lead singer/ guitarist Deryck Whibley stated “We came to get f*cking crazy tonight” before moving into “The Hell Song”. Whibley paused before continuing to bring some people from the front up to the stage to watch their entire show. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see the big hits “In Too Deep” or “Fatlip” as they were later in the set, but from the videos I’ve seen, they were awesome!

We headed over to the blue stage very quickly to see Slipknot and found a spot at the side to watch as there were already lots of circle pits. We were very happy not to have missed “Before I Forget” and “Psychosocial”. The staging was impressive with screens everywhere and two extra drummers on either side of the stage. I noticed it first in “The Devil In I” that one of these guys kept jumping up on their drums with a mic. I was slightly confused at the guy running around the stage with a cape, however hardcore fans might understand this more than me. Towards the end of the set, arguably one of their most popular songs “Duality” had the whole site bouncing. Despite a few issues throughout the set with the sound dropping, Slipknot put on an amazing show.

Sabaton (c) Jack Barker

Last but not least for day one were Sabaton, after a short delay as Slipknot’s set ran over slightly partly due to those continuing sound issues. The stage setup was very impressive with a tank that drummer Hannes van Dahl was positioned in. The crowd had shrunk a bit since Slipknot but I think that was more to do with the heat of the day as people were dropping like flies and there was a lot of very pink skin around.

The intro to the opening song “Ghost Division” was definitely impressive. The fireworks on the stage scared our photographer half to death! Again, this is probably one for those long time fans but there were chants and jokes on stage from lead singer Joakim Brodén about giving him beer (I bet Iain our editor in chief can explain this to me!). The Swedish power metal band definitely command the stage and the crowd. Because we are British and therefore not used to these temperatures, we felt it was time to call it a day and head back to our nice apartment with a big fan to cool down a little.

Photos by Jack Barker Photography

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