Semi reluctantly we dragged ourselves away from our fan-cooled apartment and headed back to Nova Rock for the first band of the day, Our Last Night. However, before we begin day 2, I am going to reiterate my previous statement about us English folk not coping with heat too well. Until way later into the evening, there was no shade at all near any of the stages, so we went and hid… I mean, researched, in the press area halfway through some sets. I blame Poundland’s dodgy handheld fans as they nearly blew up in my bag!
I have been an Our Last Night fan for many years and was lucky enough to get a ticket for my birthday to see them in Manchester a couple of years ago. I was just as impressed seeing them again today as I was the first time. When we arrived at the blue stage, there were loads of people running into the wave breaker despite the temperature. Their classics such as “Same Old War” and “Sunrise” were definite crowd pleasers along with their newer music, especially “Demons”. I think there were chants of “One more song” when the band left the stage… however, I could be completely wrong as I don’t speak German!
We headed over to the red stage for Starset, another band that we were really looking forward to having seen them supporting Shinedown in London last year. The theatricality of their act was as impressive as ever with them all dressed in Jedi-like outfits. Every song of the set was a hit with the crowd with lots singing along to the entire set, however “Monster”, “Carnivore” and “My Demons” definitely scored the biggest reaction. Lead vocalist Dustin Bates has a personality and stage presence that really fits with the band’s fictional backstory of being part of a public outreach initiative by The Starset Society, whose aim is to alert the public about the contents of “the Message” that the society obtained from a mysterious signal from space. Despite taking off the outer layers of their outfits during the set due to the heat, the band remained in character for the whole set, which only added to the performance.
Heading back up to the Red Bull stage, it was time for Like A Storm from Auckland, New Zealand. Opening the set with a didgeridoo, lead vocalist, guitarist, keyboard player (do I need to go on?) Chris Brooks woke up the wavering crowd and motivated them for what was to come. Opening the set with “Pure Evil”, the band had hands and heads banging non-stop. A quick pause for Brooks to ask the crowd “I just wanna know one thing, did you guys come here for a good f*cking time?!” which achieved a huge cheer from the crowd that was still forming. We didn’t stick around for the entire set as our bellies were crying “feed me”, however, we did hear a lovely tribute to the late Chester Bennington as Like A Storm shared the stage with them two years ago. “Crawling” was sung by Matt Brooks in a slightly haunting manor making the hairs on our arms stick up.
Up next on the agenda was Beartooth on the red stage. “We Will Rock You” was blasting from the speakers when we got to the stage and the crowd were having a sing-a-long. The band had confetti cannons and fire on the stage which were soon released during their opening song “Bad Listener”. The band definitely had a huge following as there were constant mosh pits that everyone was really getting into. Caleb Shomo on lead vocals was very interactive with the crowd, asking questions about how many had heard of and seen Beartooth before and there were a lot of hands shooting up for the first time seeing them. I missed what happened prior to seeing this as I was moving back a little, but before “Disease” began, it seemed the crowd started a rowing pit (?) in the centre of the wave breaker. This is probably another one of those things that longtime fans will understand!
We always try to see at least one band that we have never heard of when we go to festivals, and this year that was Idles, an English punk rock band formed in Bristol. The day was definitely starting to cool off slightly and people were slowly making their way from the small shaded areas that they had found. Now, don’t get me wrong, but I’m sure you’re meant to wear clothes over boxer shorts when not in the comfort of your own home/hotel room… however lead guitarist Mark Bowen seemed to not get the memo. Putting on a rather eccentric set, you could not fault the energy on the stage.
Back to the red stage for Behemoth. When we were researching bands that we hadn’t heard of before Nova Rock, I loved how dramatic this band sounded, and they didn’t disappoint live either. I was excited for the fourth song of the set “Bartzabel” as it had definitely caught my attention when listening to them. The dramatic makeup and outfits really emphasize the blackened death metal genre. By the time they began their fifth song, the crowd had almost doubled in size and people seemed to have a lot more energy.
Moving back to the blue stage (lots of back and forth this day) it was Dropkick Murphys‘ time to take the stage. They had a large gathering ready for them to start, even if there were lots of groups sitting facing the stage. After only one small prompt from lead singer Al Barr, it felt like the whole audience was clapping along. I have never really heard much by Dropkick Murphys but as soon as “Rose Tattoo” began, I had goosebumps. We were walking through the crowd to head towards the food court and had to stop as everyone was singing along, word for word. Instruments such as bagpipes, a mandolin and the accordion definitely set the band apart from lots of others.
By this point, there were hundreds of midges flying around and I’d noticed my ankle starting to swell (I have a severe reaction when I get bitten) so we headed back to the press area to cover ourselves with insect repellent… although this was too late!
It was time for Trivium who we had been seeing a lot of t-shirts of throughout the day. They received a huge cheer as they took to the stage and opened with the title track of their eighth studio album, “The Sin and the Sentence”. Throughout the songs that we saw, lead singer Matt Heafy was constantly sticking his tongue out to the crowd. Before the second song of the set, Heafy said “It’s time to f*cking move my friends! Let’s do this shit!” to which the crowd did not disappoint. There were tons of crowd surfers and during “Sever the Hand”, guitarist Corey Beaulieu displayed some impressive headbanging.
Now it was time for the headline on the Red Bull stage, Puddle of Mudd. I think they underestimated the following that the band still has, as the crowd that had already formed when we got there was massive. The stage needed screens as there were a lot having to stand to the side and beyond the sound desk, but they still got to hear, even if they couldn’t see the stage too well. As I tend to stay towards the back at festivals, during “Control” and “She Hates Me” I could hear the crowd singing the choruses over the band it was that loud. Not leaving much time to talk at all throughout the set, the band played their most popular songs and the crowd did not seem disappointed at all. I’d lost track of song numbers, but at some point in the set, the band performed a cover of “TNT” by AC/DC which saw lots of fists raised into the air.
So, we had a similar situation to Thursday night as to trying to decide which band to go and see for the main headliner of the festival, and we decided to try to do a little of both again. Starting with The Cure, the crowd that had formed were very eager, clapping before any sign of the band coming onto the stage. We just about had enough time to see the first two songs of the set “Shake Dog Shake” and “Burn” before having to run across to the other stage for Slayer. I would have liked to have seen “Boys Don’t Cry” and “Friday I’m in Love” but from looking at the setlist, they were saved for their encore.
There was probably an even crowd at both stages and another cheer roared as Slayer’s intro began. They were the first band of the festival that we saw that had a banner across the front of the stage before they appeared with a projection of their logo and name. Bounding straight into “Repentless”, you could tell the band were ready for an energetic show. It has to be said, guitarist Kerry King has one impressive beard! A quick break for lead singer and bass player Tom Araya to ask “You guys having a good time?” and stating that “It’s been a long fucking day!” before they began “Postmortem”. During “War Ensemble” there was what I can only describe as a wall of fire on each side of the stage which was very impressive. As we aren’t huge Slayer fans, we decided to sneak out, which wasn’t so easy with the masses that were crowded to watch the show.
As mentioned in the day one review of the festival, we teased that there would be another mention of the Austrian police later in the weekend. This came just after leaving the festival site and driving through the peaceful town of Nickelsdorf, when we were signaled to pull over by a waiting police car. Thankfully both police officers were very friendly and after a quick check of our photographer’s driving licence and insurance documents as well as a blow into a breathalyser, we were on our way.
Photos by Jack Barker Photography