Vainstream Rockfest 2014 one-day-festival
(5nd Jul 2014) The Vainstream Rockfest is one of the finest one-day-festivals in Germany. 2014 marks the ninth edition of the festival,
which started back in 2006. Once there was a big and a small stage, then there were two big stages next to each other. This
year there are four stages. The two big main stages as usual, there is a small stage and a club stage, which is basically the
Sputnik Halle that is next to the festival area.
A few days before the Vainstream kicks off the festival is completely sold out. There are about 10.000 attendees this year. Even though the whole area is packed with people, it is big enough that you can easily have a walk across it. If you do so, you can easily spot this year's hair trend: pink, blue or green hair for the girls. A few years ago this was something only punks would do, 2014 it's en vogue for all the underage girls. Even though not all of them have pink dyed hair, it is easy to spot that a huge part of the audience is likely to be under the age of 20 years old. I even doubt that most of these kids are at least 18. But that's part of the Vainstream Rockfest: It attracts everybody, who is interested ins punk, hardcore and metal. There are 16 year old scene kids and 40+ metalheads.
The first band I watch is BURY TOMORROW. The British metalcore outfit begins at 10.30 p.m., but despite the early stage time there is a bunch of people in front of the stage. The English five piece kicks in with 'Man on Fire'. Even though their sound is influenced by metal, the fans seem to like what they hear. The group plays a solid set and scores with the sympathetic manner of singer Daniel Winter-Bates. 'Lionheart', taken from the band's 2012 output "The Union of Crowns", is the highlight of BURY TOMORROW's set.
I highly anticipated the festival appearance of BLESSTHEFALL. The band's set at last year's AUGUST BURNS RED tour was awesome. And this year's Vainstream show will top that! 'Exodus' is a good way to start a show. Unfortunately there are sound problem during the first two minutes. The bass is far too loud, but the vocals and snare drum are far too quiet. After this is solved the performance is great in every aspect. The setlist draws from the band's three releases with Beau Bokan as a vocalist and ignores the awefull emo/screamo-debut "His Last Walk". It is Bokan who makes BLESSTHEFALL's show even more enjoyable, for he is very sympathetic and entertains the audience very well. After a great performance of 'You Wear A Crown, But You're No King' the group leaves the stage. This will be one of the five best performances of the day.
On the other stage STICK TO YOUR GUNS are up next. I never really was into the band's blend of hardcore, mosh parts and cathy chorusses. To be fair: The American's performance is more than solid. However, I think this band belongs into clubs and not on huge festival stages. This is the same problem as COMEBACK KID will face in two hours time. Highlight of STICK TO YOUR GUNS' set is 'Still Believe', a song that is very melodic with clean vocals all over. It reminds me of BOYSETSFIRE, which is no bad reference at all. After the band's half an hour slot it is clear to me that I will never be a fan of this outfit. It was quite okay, however.
I'm pretty sure that this will be the last time that OF MICE & MEN is going to play at 12 o'clock. BRING ME THE HORIZON will be the first band later on to attract so many fans. Shouter Austin Carlile enters the stage on his own and the girls in the front rows start to scream. The front man seems to enjoy this scenario, but after a few moments of teen-hysteria he screams the first words of 'Public Servive Announcement' and his fellow bandmates enter the stage. The set of the metalcore/nu metal-outfit is very enjoyable. The musicians seem to have a good time as well. Especially Carlile is the center of attention and has the time of his life. It is nice to see someone on stage, who has as much fun as he has. The setlist focuses on the group's latest effort "Restoring Force" and some favourites taken from "The Flood". After these 30 minutes it is clear, that this band is going to get a much later slot next festival season.
COMEBACK KID is one of hardcore's finest bands. They never released a bad record and it is easy for them to select a good setlist. Even though their third record "Broadcasting..." is only represented by its title track in today's setlist. The Canadians are able to play in front a good bunch of people - more than I have expected to show up, because COMEBACK KID's sound is far away from the metalcore bands of this line-up. As usual the tunes from "Wake The Dead" are fan favourites, nevertheless newer material is anticipated as well. 'Die Knowing' is a perfect way to begin a hardcore show due to its slow but angry tone. 'Wasted Arrows' can score due to its 80's bay area thrash metal riffs and 'The Concept Stays' is a melodic hardcore tune, that needs everybody to sing along. As I said before: Even though this gig is good, COMEBACK KID is better when playing in clubs.
After a break it is time for Brighton, England's ARCHITECTS to show up. After five great records, their sixth, "Lost Forever // Lost Together", finally was the band's break-through. So it is no surprise that the setlist focuses on that record. Only three songs from "Daybreaker" serve for a bit of variety. Alas there are no "Hollow Crown" (or even "Ruin") tracks included. But it doesn't matter that much, because the band's show is great. Vocalist Sam Carter is in peak form and is in motion for the whole 40 minutes of their gig time. There is only a small interruption during 'Naysayer' as a crowd surfer caused an electricity failure. The band just continues to play the song where they were forced to pause. ARCHITECTS slot was the third-best performance of the day.
After the technical metalcore things get more simple with EMMURE. This band focuses on breakdowns and this might be a reason why they attract so many fans. I wasn't too excited about the band's show, but I have to admit that it is more enjoyable than I thought it would be. Sadly the band does not play anything of their first two records. The other four ones are patchy. EMMURE's songs are close to be antisocial and far from great songwriting. They are live far better than on record and this goes for their Vainstream show as well.
Canadian emo/post-hardcore crew SILVERSTEIN is one of the few band's that got popular during the big emo-hype and survived it, too. Today the setlist is a perfect choice for a 45 minute festival slot. There are many classics such as 'My Sword Verses Your Dagger' (which also opens the band's set), 'Smashed Into Pieces' or 'Smile In Your Sleep', but there are also tracks taken from SILVERSTEIN's last three records. Singer Shane Todd cuts quite a dash, but the guitarists do even better. This revival might be caused by 2012's addition of Paul Marc Rousseau on the vacant guitar spot. He is younger than his bandmates and seems to enjoy every minute he is on stage. I have seen SILVERSTEIN a few times before, but I can't recall a show in the last years where the band had that much fun on stage.
After a break to get some lunch outside of the festival area I get to see the latter half of SEPULTURA's set. The thrash metal legend seems to have far more fans than I have expected to see in front of the stage. Singer Derrick Green, who replaced Max Cavalera in 1998, is a good frontman and seems to be such a nice guy. It is harsh to wish for a reunion with Max when he puts so much energy in his performance. It makes me regret that I did not see the entire show, but it was more important to have a good spot for the upcoming BRING ME THE HORIZON gig. Tunes as the thrash metal massacre 'Arise' or 'Roots Bloody Roots' are timeless classics. This show is a statement that this sunken ship is still something to watch out for.
I did not plan to watch the set of German rap trio K.I.Z., but like I said before it was important to me to have a great spot for BRING ME THE HORIZON. Nevertheless I seem to enjoy the show, but this is caused not by the songs. It is caused by what happens in between songs. The three dudes are funny and can entertain the crowd - even with their music. To be honest: There are a lot of rap acts who are less talented and more annoying.
Then it is finally time for BRING ME THE HORIZON. There are a lot of people in front of the stage, so next time they might be one of the headlining bands. The band enters the stage and then does vocalist Oliver Sykes and the girls just freak out, while the boys mosh to the opening breakdown of 'Shadow Moses'. The sextet is on top of its game at the moment. I have seen this band ten times before, but I have never seen (or heard) such a good performance of Sykes before. His voice is in a good shape and his overall performance is great. The days of hard partying and hungover shows of this band are finally over. The setlist consists mainly of "Sempiternal" material, as well as 'Diamonds Aren't Forever' and 'Chelsea Smile' taken from "Suicide Season". There could have been some songs of their debut "Count Your Blessings" or 2010's "There Is Hell, Believe Me I've Seen it. There Is A Heaven, Let's Keep It A Secret.", however the Brits only got a 45 minutes slot today, so they have to cut short. This is the performance of the day! Though, I am not quite sure if all the clean vocals are live or if the band uses some playback. Especially during the middle of 'Can You Feel My Heart' I get the impression that they use some backing samples. Nevertheless this was fun!
HATEBREED is one of the bands that played quite often at Vainstream Rockfest. I think only PARKWAY DRIVE attended more often than HATEBREED. I was a fun during "The Rise of Brutality" and "Supremacy", but I haven't heard these records in a while and I never listened to everything they released after it. So kicking in with 'To The Threshold' of "Supremacy" is fine with me. The band's set is solid, but HATEBREED became more and more of a big band. The musicians are introduced and there are 'deals' with the audience. This is not what hardcore is about, this is something you can expect when you go to a METALLICA concert. Don't get me wrong, the show itself is good, but it's not as rude as when I saw them back in the day on their 2004 tour with SLAYER.
German metalcore/melodic death metal band HEAVEN SHALL BURN is a band that I used to listen to a lot at the same time I listened to HATEBREED. The difference is that I don't enjoy their show that much. They have got more décor than IRON MAIDEN, which resembles WWII. I did not like any HEAVEN SHALL BURN record after 2006's "Deaf To Our Prayers", so it is nice that the record's opening song 'Counterweight' is the opener of their performance as well. After five songs I leave the concert to get something to eat and drink. This seems more important to me than watching HEAVEN SHALL BURN.
And I am far more interested in watching TRASH TALK destroy the club stage. The hardcore punks' shows are dangerous! You just don't know what is going to happen because singer Lee Spielman is unpredictable. After entering the stage too late (as usual) the mayhem begins. The band's 25 minute set is one hell of a wild experience. Several times the whole floor turns into a moshpit. Even though the songs are pure hatred and as raw as it gets, the band plays them very precise. Still they deliver one of the wildest shows you can attend to in modern hardcore. Tune such as the very short 'Dig', 'Waling Disease', 'Awake' or 'Slender' fuel the circle pits, while Spielman stand right in the middle of it shouting. Only BRING ME THE HORIZON put on a better show than TRASH TALK. Great!
After TRASH TALK I am quite happy about going home. These 12 hours of heavy music were kind of exhausting. But this year's festival organisation was better than usual. I remember the last time I have attended at Vainstream in 2010, there were problems all over. This time everything was handled good and without anything to complain about. I am pretty sure to comeback next year.
Text © by Sebastian Berning