Hypocrisy, Napalm Death, Pestilence, Agnostic Front, Lizzy Borden, Onslaught, Dream Evil, Hail of Bullets, The Lucifer Principle, Toxocara, State: Chaos.
Elsrock has been taken place since 2006 near the town of Rijssen. It has not been easy all these years, and almost every year they made it to the national (and even international) press. Why? Well, the town of Rijssen sits on the Dutch “Bible Belt” and is very religious. For all these years, the inhabitants of Rijssen were not amused with a metal festival on the edge of their town.
The inhabitants even pleaded to the highest court of justice in the Netherlands to forbid this event to take place, and one year the local government tried to enforce a local “forbidden-to-curse-law” in which the mayor and police scoured the terrain in the hope to find someone cursing so they could stop the festival.
What can we say, I always thought that religion is also about open-mindedness and “live and let live”. Too bad that’s not always the case.
Anyway, that was all in previous years, and nothing could stop Elsrock happening this year, so no law-suits or other restraints on the festival. Well, no restraints is not entirely true. On the Thursday before Elsrock there were such torrential rains in the area (over 100mm in one day) that the festival terrain looked like a swimming pool. Luckily the organizers were already putting up a large Marquee but that couldn’t stop the terrain from flooding.
All day and night the many volunteers and local Fire Brigade tried to get the terrain as dry as they could and they put a lot of woodchips in the Marquee to prevent a major mud-bath. Elsrock was in no way being stopped by the rain though they had to decrease the size of the terrain.
On Saturday morning we drove to Rijssen, and while we first planned to pitch our tents on a local campsite, we decided to drive back home after the festival since there was more rain on the way.
Somewhere between 12 and 12.30 we got to the festival site. Yes, it was muddy but doable. Which made us think how it would look like after 1700 metalheads had been partying here all day.
First thing inside: buy tokens. One token was 2 euro, and for one token you could get 1 glass of beer / soda / water / orange juice / coffee etcetera. Energy or mix drinks would cost you more tokens.
The same tokens were being used for the food. There was only one food-stall, but they sold a lot: Pommes Frites, Hamburger, Dutch snacks like kroketten and frikadellen, shoarma, sandwiches etcetera. All for fair prices.
The first band of the day was already playing, State: Chaos. In fact, they almost finished their set when we entered the festival site so we headed to the stage to see the last two songs. They’re from the Netherlands and play a nice style of melodic death metal. We saw them too short though to say anything more but it’s always nice that the Dutch local scene is being supported by letting them play on festivals.
It’s about the same for the next two bands, Toxocara and The Lucifer Principle. Last-minute replacements for Dew-Scented who had to cancel their show on Elsrock due to a drummer with a broken finger, Toxocara (also from the Netherlands) made up for a good death-metal show. And then… the marquee was getting full and the drink stands / beer garden empty. Ah, more rain! Only cool for Toxocara who suddenly where playing for a lot of metalheads ;-).
At the end of the set of Toxocara the rain stopped again, and luckily that was the only real downpour of the day. Rest of the day stayed dry and fairly sunny, though a bit chilly.
The Lucifer Principle was next on stage. Again, from the Netherlands but also these guys do make some good metal. The local scene is growing, and that’s always good news!
Next band (and I know, it’s getting boring, but also from the Netherlands) was Hail of Bullets. Too be short: best show of the day. Damn, this old school death metal kicks ass after ass after ass. The lead singer Martin van Drunen (ex Pestilence, Asphyx, Bolt Thrower) has one of the best voices in the death metal scene. The rest of the band was playing very tight and good. This band is going places… As a surprise Hail of Bullets played a new song (“Operation Z”) from their upcoming album “On Divine Winds”. Nice! I will say it again: Kick ass show.
The last time we were at Elsrock was in 2007, and boy we had a lot of fun with a band called Dream Evil. Their power metal is so wrong and gay but one way or the other it just sounds very good. Now, in 2010, Dream Evil returns to Rijssen to preach again from their “Book of Heavy Metal”. The singer was apparently enjoying the Grolsch beer a little too much before the show, but still his singing was not bad at all. Again, we had a lot of fun, and the band was also clearly enjoying the show. Of course songs as “Bang your head”, “The book of heavy metal” and “The chosen ones” were played and a lot of metalheads were singing along.
I spotted some people I knew from other festivals and had a few beers with them. It was fun but due to this I missed the first few songs of Onslaught, so I saw only half of their show. They were really good today, and the crowd reacted very enthusiastic. Old school British Thrash metal. Nice!
Next band on the bill was Lizzy Borden. Since I think their music is not that special, I decided to stroll down the metal market and bought two shirts and a hoodie. After this, I headed to the stage to see Lizzy Borden perform a few songs. Still, nothing special in my eyes. After the gig Lukas showed me his pics and I saw I missed the only interesting thing about this band: the go-go-dancers. Damn!
Agnostic Front was the only Hardcore band this year on Elsrock. For over 25 years they’re trashing the place everywhere they go, and today Elsrock had to go down. They played a nice set, the pit was also fairly energetic and way too soon they started to play “gotta gotta go”, which marked the end of their set. These guys almost never disappoint, and today was no exception. Good gig!
Neurotic Deathfest this year was the first gig for the reunited Pestilence (without Martin van Drunen though). During their gig on the Neurotic Deathfest their presentation was a bit lame, but we had hopes this was because it was their first gig in a long time. Unfortunately, at Elsrock the presentation on stage was the same, quite boring. Nothing against their music but it was just a boring gig. Sorry guys, do something on your stage presentation and I’m sure you’ll kick ass again.
Two more bands to go today. I was getting tired and sober (the last thing was very good since I had to drive home later that night) so I decided to see Napalm Death from a distance. I lost track how many times I’ve seen these guys play over the past two years, but still I don’t complain when they’re on the bill.
And then the headliners of the evening, Hypocrisy. Last time we saw Peter Tätgren was with his other band Pain on Metalcamp in 2008 I think? It was nice to finally see him play with Hypocrisy. Since it was getting late and we had to drive a long way back home, we decided to leave halfway through the set.
After bringing Lukas home, it was only one hour more driving for me. Then I got stuck in a major traffic jam (in the middle of the night!) for over two hours, so I was completely wasted when I finally got home somewhere near four o’clock in the morning. Anyway, that didn’t spoil anything, because we had a great day.
According to the organizers, approximately 1.700 metalheads showed up at Elsrock 2010, and despite the rain and mud they organized everything very well. Unfortunately some attractions like a special stage-dive-stage were cancelled but we didn’t miss it anyway. For a festival of this size everything was perfectly organized and it’s fests like these that make me to never ever go to the big metal festivals again. Good atmosphere, interesting bands, perfect organization etcetera and everything for a fair price. As I promised to one of the volunteers / organizers, we skipped two editions of Elsrock in 2008 and 2009 but we will never skip an edition again.
Daniël Verbiest / Photos: Lukas Bergman