Last week I returned to Norway’s biggest rock / metal festival Tons of Rock for the fifth year running. This year the festival was not located at the Fredriksten Fortress in Halden (as it has been in previous years), but instead took place in a large grassy space in the Ekeberg area of Oslo. The No.34 bus ferried droves of metalheads from the city centre up to the festival site, and although the buses were rammed, there was a great atmosphere as everyone was excited to be going to the festival. There was also camping on-site of course, but I was lucky enough to be offered the sofa at a friend’s place in the city centre. Unfortunately I wasn’t feeling very well on this particular day so only went to see / photograph five bands, but here is what I made of them.
First to take to the main stage and open the festival were comedic Norwegian “Heavy Politically Incorrect Humor Rock” band Black Debbath, who play the festival every year. Much of their humorous lyrical content and between-song-banter was lost on me, but their live performance is still incredibly entertaining. Dressed in denim hotpants, cowboy boots and covered in fake tattoos, they put on a great show. At one point lead vocalist / guitarist Lars Lønning brought out a pogo stick and bounced around the stage, attempting to drink a can of lager at the same time. No prizes for guessing how well that went!
The next band I went to see were Sheffield metalcore band While She Sleeps who played the scream stage (named after the famous Munch painting). I met the boys a few years ago when photographing an in-store signing event but had never seen them live before. I thought they were brilliant; Lawrence was a great frontman and all five of them were bursting with energy. The crowd were loving it and there were no shortage of crowd-surfers during their set.
Next up on the main stage were Polish blackened metalers Behemoth. On top of all the pyro and stage gubbins being stored in the photopit for KISS’ headline slot later in the evening, Behemoth had bought flames of their own and there was a fair bit of wind whipping around the photopit ahead of their set, so us photographers were split into two groups – one one each side of the photo pit. Behemoth always put on a great show but I have to say their theatrics are better suited to a dark room than in the blazing sun in the middle of the day. They were still excellent and they are always a pleasure to watch and photograph.
The next band I went to see were Massachusetts Celtic punk band Dropkick Murphys on the main stage. I saw them play live once before in Brixton Academy and they put on a great show in a festival setting as well. The crowd were really into their music and there was a brilliant atmosphere.
Headlining the first day of the festival as part of their End of the Road World Tour were hard rock legends KISS. They had a great stage set-up that featured moving platforms, large bits of moveable lighting, spikes adorning the edges of the stage, a mirrorball and a zip-wire which connected the stage to the sound desk. The band are famed as having one of the best live shows around, and they certainly did not disappoint!
Gene Simmons (who turns 70 next month!) pulled all the moves I was expecting – all of which involved him sticking his extraordinarily long tongue out at the crowd. There were flames. There was confetti, and there was a triumphant fireworks display at the end. Nothing short of spectacular! KISS play Birmingham, Manchester, London, Newcastle and Glasgow over the next couple of weeks and I would highly recommend going to check them out if you have never seen them before (and while you still have the chance!).
Photos by Katie Frost Photography