From our two trips to Nova Rock Festival there seems to be two common themes. The first being that Cory Taylor will inevitably be on one of the stages at some point over the weekend with either Slipknot or Stone Sour and the second being that the Austrians will be up early on the final day of the festival for some free beer and a surreal party with Wendi’s Böhmische Blasmusik, a traditional Austrian brass band. Yes, you read that right, a brass band, at a rock festival. Arriving at the red stage just as the tap was hammered into the ceremonial barrel of beer on stage, the party was instantly underway.
I’m not entirely sure what was going on as every word spoken on stage was in German, however there were conga lines snaking their way through the crowd and as many crowd surfers as there had been for many of the heaviest bands throughout the weekend. But instead of a mosh pit, everyone was sat on the floor doing some kind of rowing action. To top the weirdness off, there was even one festival goer waving a plunger in the air while dancing and a couple of people wearing mankinis. This really is a unique way to start a Sunday and something you wouldn’t see at a UK festival, however, the madness was dampened slightly by something that you most definitely do see at a UK festival, a quick sudden downpour, which was needed as it was very humid.
Fortunately, by the time Bad Wolves took to the stage the rain had passed and the sun had returned, albeit accompanied by a rather strong breeze, which, while making the heat a little more manageable, was starting to whip up some of the dust from the still very dry ground. With the rest of the band in position, lead vocalist Tommy Vext bounced onto the red stage in his usual energetic style and dived straight into “Learn to Live”, one of the heavier tracks from their debut album Disobey. Having first seen Bad Wolves in Manchester last year when they supported Three Days Grace, we had been looking forward to this set for the whole weekend and early indications were that it was not going to disappoint. With “No Masters” and “Jesus Slaves” back to back, this was becoming more of a workout for the people in the pit that had formed. Things were slowed a little when Vext asked the crowd to hug the person you came with and then to hug a stranger who hadn’t received a hug. He then spoke about the power of music and the fact that he is a suicide attempt survivor before beginning “Hear Me Now”, giving us the first lot of goosebumps of the set.
With a little extra time in the set than they had planned for it was time to throw in a covers medley and Vext asked the crowd for some suggestions, with someone suggesting “Baby Shark” the band jokingly played a snippet before reverting to the planned covers by Queens of the Stone Age, System of a Down, Nirvana and Rage Against The Machine. “Officer Down” almost became ‘photographer down’, when Vext announced it was time for a wall of death to recreate the final scenes of Game of Thrones, only better, it was a photo opportunity our photographer couldn’t miss. The final song of the set was, of course, The Cranberries’ track “Zombie”, which has helped propel Bad Wolves to fame. Vext dedicated the track to the late Dolores O’Riordan and to anyone in the audience who had lost someone, and it was time for the goosebumps again and to maybe shed a tear or two during the emotional track.
With a quick trip over to the blue stage for Antilopen Gang, a German hip hop group. We then decided to take the time between bands we knew to explore the festival site a little, having a look in some of the shops selling merch and taking the opportunity to add the Moshville Times name to the Nova Rock chalkboard wall. Someone also nearly gave Jack a heart attack at this point as he was taking a photo of the Nova Rock sign, a man jumped straight in front of the camera, although it was worth it as it did make for a good photo. With the wind now blowing up another dust cloud, we headed back to the main area just in time for the next band.
With their unique brand of punk rock covers, it was time for Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. With covers ranging from Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” to Culture Club’s “Karma Chameleon”, this was a very eclectic set. With the band’s matching shiny blue shirts and vocalist Spike Slawson’s questionable dance moves it was an interesting set to watch and was fun to sing along to a few guilty pleasures.
After a ride on the Ferris wheel and a wander over to watch some of the Underground Wrestling act, it was time for our final act of Nova Rock Festival 2019, which was Rob Zombie. With epic hair and an interesting dress sense, Zombie took to the stage alongside his somewhat creepy looking band, kicking the set off with “Meet the Creeper”. We only stuck around for around four songs as, by this point, we were struggling to see through the ever-growing dust cloud that was engulfing the festival site. We did stay long enough to see “Living Dead Girl” performed with some impressive visuals and the lyrics projected on the screens attached to the risers that the band were stood on.
We then made our way back to the hire car which, by this point, was in as much need of a good wash as were we and headed back to our apartment for a well-earned shower and a few cans of cider.
I would like to end the review with once again saying a big thank you to the organisers and the security teams at Nova Rock for all the hard work they put into making the festival as seamless as it was.
On the drive back to our apartment we put together our top 11 bands of the festival. Why 11? Because apparently, we can’t count to ten and couldn’t decide who to take off the list.
- Papa Roach
- Bad Wolves
- I Prevail
- Our Last Night
- As It Is
- Beyond the Black
- Puddle of Mudd
- Reel Big Fish
Photos by Jack Barker Photography