On Saturday August 27th 2011, the town of Rijssen, in the east of the Netherlands, was the place to be if you’re into metal. For the sixth year in a row Elsrock festival took place here, a small but very cozy one-day fest. Approximately 2.000 metalheads attended this year’s edition. Compared to only one stage last year, Elsrock had two stages this year: one inside a large marquee and one outside stage.
Since this fest was only a week after the Pukkelpop drama (where 5 people died in a short storm that wrecked some of the stages and marquees and wrecked havoc on the camping grounds), we were surprised that the Marquee at Elsrock was one of the remaining tents that survived the Pukkelpop nightmare.
Having said that, time for some positive sides: the weather at Elsrock was very good and sunny with only a few raindrops during the day (though it was fairly chilly in the evening). Besides this, the day remained sunny while there was lots of rain predicted.
In total 16 bands were playing today, including Marduk, Legion of the Damned, Nuclear Assault and Grave. Since Elsrock had to end the fest at twelve o’clock (due to the permit they got this year) they had a very tight schedule. But, kudos to the organizers, everything went well and almost every band started at their designated time. When one band was playing, on the other stage the next band would prepare their show so they could kick off the moment the other band ended their gig.
Unfortunately, the sound wasn’t all that well this year contrary to last year’s edition. It kind of ruined the show of Hollenthon in the marquee for me and same goes for most of the bands playing on the outside stage. So it was a bit of a downer but on the other hand you can’t expect acoustics of a club show (and even at club shows the sound tech can fuck things up) at an open air fest. Though you can always hope for better sound. Hopefully they’ll fix this for next year’s edition!
The entrance fee for Elsrock was not bad at all with €35,- in presale and slightly higher door prices (€39,50). Food and drinks were payed with tokens, which cost €2,20 each. Beer, cola and the likes were all one token, and large beer (0,4) for two tokens. There were different kinds of food this year, but the quality wasn’t that good unfortunately. I’m still hoping for the day that organizers (in general) will understand that metalheads also like food and organizers will put some more quality in this section.
There was a fairly large beer-garden at the terrain, and because of this (and because of the Dutch public being really spoiled) some bands didn’t attract a large crowd to the stage. Most of the visitors stayed hanging and talking and drinking in the back during some of the bands. It’s a bit of a shame for good bands like Grand Magus and Hollenthon. On the other hand, the festival terrain was quite small so you could watch all bands playing from the beer garden.
The atmosphere was really great at Elsrock. Festivals are also about having a good time and today everybody was having fun. Everybody was having a good time, refreshing old acquaintances and making new friends.
First band of the day was a local act called Skaldgrim. They kicked off at the outside stage. Since we arrived at the fest during their gig we couldn’t give them (I only heard their last song, a cover of Neil Young’s “Keep on Rockin in a free world”).
The first band in the Marquee was Cirrha Niva. I liked their performance better than at the Dokk’em Open Air fest earlier this year. The band was having a good time, and they made a small birthday party for their guitarist. Also quite nice that there was a guest performance by the singer of Chiraw (which were scheduled playing later that day) as this singer is the brother of Cirrha Niva’s vocalist.
Back to the outside stage, where Watch me Bleed gave a solid performance. The singer climbed high in the stage poles and the band gave overall a solid performance overall.
Chiraw did their thing afterwards in the Marquee. Nice to see and hear these guys again though their style (though maybe it’s not 100% metalcore, but still some –core) isn’t exactly my thing.
Next band on the outside stage was The Kandidate. This band, featuring the singer from Hatesphere, put up a good show.
Then it was time for Hollenthon in the marquee. Since the last time I’ve seen them was already two or three years ago (and that was a solid performance back then) I had my hopes high for the first band which I really looked forward seeing today. But even with earplugs in the sound was abysmal in the marquee, so I decided to watch the rest of the show from outside, where the sound was (a bit) better. But then you miss the whole live-experience, standing too far away, looking from outside inside. So unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy the show as much as the last time I’ve seen them.
Since I was standing already near the outside stage, I could stay where I already stood for the show of Melechesh. This was a band where I didn’t have my hopes too high, but I was really surprised by their music and show today. They kicked ass!
After Melechesh it was straight back into the marquee (followed by my walking straight outside again – the sound was still not that good) for a show of re-united Asphyx. Singer Martin van Drunen was playing a homegame (the same goes for last year’s performance of Hail of Bullets, where he’s also the singer) and they gave a good show.
Grand Magus was the next on the line-up. It was really nice but something was missing. Maybe a second guitar player?
Grave played their entire album “Into the Grave” in the marquee. Cool to see this band live.
Symphorce, well I missed this band since at festivals you also have to socialize. Too bad, since later I later heard it was their last show before they called it quits.
In the marquee for a change the sound was starting to sound ok, and I was having a really good time seeing Nuclear Assault live. Good ol’ trash band. The singer from Melechesh came on stage to sing along during a song (I didn’t know which song it was though).
Legion of the Damned on the outside stage after Nuclear Assault. We’ve seen them play many times, also this year I think 3 times already and when you see a band this often playing you hear small faults and other shit more easy. Don’t get me wrong, Legion of the Damned gave a solid performance but for some reason or the other singer Maurice didn’t seem to have a good voice today. There were also some minor technical issues but overall: great show!
Unleashed was the next band to kick some ass. This was the surprise of the day for me (and from what I’ve heard, also for other people at the fest). They were really kicking the shit today, everything sounded cool, they were having so much fun on stage, got a really good participation of the crowd and it was just solid. The show had a vibe going today, really nice to watch.
Since we were walking around all day trying to see as much bands as possible and it was starting to get really chilly (or freakin’ cold) we decided to leave after or during Marduk’s gig. As expected, the sound was not that good the first 15 minutes of their show so we decided to call it a day. We missed only one band, Samael. I’m not sure if that’s a shame or not since I’m still not sure if I dig their music nowadays (for instance, where’s the drummer?).
Overall, we had a really good time at Elsrock. Only a few points of criticism: please consider doing something about the sound next year, the food could be better and last but not least: considering the size of the drinks the tokens could be somewhat cheaper next year. Then we will be even happier!
Organizers, thank you for once again for organizing Elsrock and I hope you will organizing this great fest (or social metal gathering – since I think most of this year’ attendees went to Elsrock for the fun rather than for this or that band) for many many years!
Daniël Verbiest / Photos: Lukas Bergman