When we entered the Pannonia Fields for the third day, there were definitely less people around than the previous days. I think the heat, mixed with lots of alcohol was finally taking its toll on the festival-goers.
Our first stop was at the Red stage for To the Rats and Wolves. Opening with “Cheap Love” they showed their trance-core genre with the dancey beat along with heavy vocals from Dixi Wu. This theme continued throughout the entire set, with “Blvckout” with the majority of the crowd dancing along. I’ll admit, it definitely woke me up (in a good way!). With a few technical difficulties with the mics which the band handled seamlessly, they left plenty of time to talk between songs which encouraged plenty of participation. Our photographer had seen them supporting Hollywood Undead last year and was excited to see them again and they did not disappoint.
Next up was a trip to the Blue stage for Reel Big Fish. I had seen this band perform years ago and they are always just such good fun! Every shaded spot in the vicinity of the stage had been taken however there were plenty of groups dancing along as soon as the band started playing. Their first song of the set “Everyone Else is an Arse Hole” had the crowd laughing and clapping along. During “S.R” they covered many versions as usual including Ska, Punk, Blues, Country and Metal. The audience participation was amazing when they were shouting requests such as “Shake that booty” and “Square Dance”. Lead vocalist Aaron Barrett ended the song with a comment on how good everyone’s dancing which had everyone laughing once again. On our way back to the press area, we heard them begin a cover of “Take On Me” by A-Ha and we could hear the crowd singing the chorus louder than the band.
I was very excited for Beyond the Black. I had started listening to them while doing our research for Nova Rock and really liked what I heard. “In the Shadows” was the first song I head and their opening song of the set. Instantly there were what looked like hundreds of phones recording what was obviously a very popular song. All it took for Lead singer Jennifer Haben to get the crowd participating was to raise her fist and everyone followed her lead. I could see similarities between Beyond the Black and Nightwish, another one of my favourite bands.
We headed up to the Red Bull stage for the first time that day to go and see Infected Rain. Now that is one powerful woman! I had heard of the band before but not listened to any of their music, so I was taking a little by surprise. Elena “Lena Scissorhands” Cataraga’s vocals were a collaboration of high-pitched screams and death growling to clean singing in an impressively quick turnaround. The band had a good following at the festival as a decent crowd had formed and they were all head banging along and formed a massive circle pit in the third song of the set “Serendipity”.
All Faces Down were next up on the Red Bull stage and they definitely started with a bang… literally… from a confetti cannon in the first song of the set “Grit”. The five piece post-hardcore band from Vienna have played at Nova Rock many times now and have gathered a lot of dedicated fans by the looks of it. “Sink or Swim” saw a huge amount of crowd surfers and it looked like the majority of the audience were singing along.
Two years ago, to this day we were buying ticket to go and see this band in Glasgow, and we’ve been wanting to see them again ever since. Papa Roach could honestly have been a headline act with the size of the audience that had formed to see them. Opening with the title track from their new album Who Do You Trust?, the crowd were instantly alive and energised for what would be an awesome set. “Blood Brothers” was dedicated to the old school fans and on lead singer Jacoby Shaddix’s request, a massive mosh pit opened… well multiple pits. After a couple more songs, Shaddix took a moment to welcome all the new fans to the family and thank those who had been with them since the start. Playing a even mix of new and old, the crowd seemed to enjoy each and every song, ranging from an old school hit “Getting Away With Murder” to their newest single “Elevate”. I was thinking the entire way through the set that if I had as much energy as Shaddix when I’m his age I’ll be happy, but who am I kidding, I couldn’t keep up now! By this point in the set I wanted to be up the front getting stuck in, but my dodgy ankle kept me leaning at the edge. One thing that struck me with their setup was how simple it was. No fire. No banner. Basic lights. All Papa Roach need for a good show is themselves and their music.
Before “Not the Only One”, Shaddix took a moment to thank the audience for “giving me a reason so get out of bed today” and to explain the meaning of the song before lightening the mood again with “Dance with your demons!”. While getting a wall of death organised before “Traumatic”, Shaddix seemed to get a little distracted by someone in the sea of people in front of him. “Look at that ass” were the exact words he said, and I think pretty much the whole audience were laughing. Now, as soon as “Scars” began, the band could have literally taken a break and let the audience sing, but Shaddix got up close and personal with the crowd on a barrier platform. He made this more special for a few fans at the front by taking their phones and recording himself and the audience and handed a drumstick to a fan with a sign.
The next surprise was that the band were going to film a one shot, one take music video for “Feel Like Home”, which will probably be released by the time I finish this review. This was pretty epic. Towards the end of the set, they performed “Fire Starter” as a tribute to the late Keith Flint of The Prodigy. It felt like this touched a lot of people as The Prodigy performed at Nova Rock last year. Ending the set with “Born for Greatness” he concluded that this is a statement that we all need to tell ourselves more often, himself included. Chats of “Papa Roach, Papa Roach” lasted long after the band left the stage.
I know I have rambled a lot during this part, however I conclude this section of the review by stating that “Mother F*cker” is Jacoby Shaddix’s favourite phrase”.
So, we hobbled our way through the crowd back up to the Red Bull stage for While She Sleeps. A large gathering had already formed, whether that had anything to do with Shaddix telling everyone to make sure they went to see them or not, we will never know. There was instant fire when the band took the stage and opened with “You Are We”, title track of their 2017 album. Before “Empire of Silence”, lead singer Lawrence Taylor said, “If you know how this song goes, I need to hear you sing it from the top of your lungs” and the crowd definitely didn’t disappoint.
This would be the part where I talk about how great Die Toten Hosen were as we missed them last year due to a last-minute unfortunate cancellation. However, this year it is our fault that we missed their set as I was struggling to stay standing at this point. I have seen a lot of videos of their set and I am sorry that we missed it as it looks amazing. Our favourite song “Tage wie diese” was saved for the encore so it would have been a long, painful wait!
Photos by Jack Barker Photography