Rock' Em All Festival @ Technopolis - Gazi

\r\nJuly 20th 2008 Tehnopoli, RockEmAll Festival
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\r\nTruth is that choosing a date in mid summer to organize a festival in a country such as Greece is like lingering between success and failure. However for the particular festival, Iron Maiden’s upcoming appearance on August 2nd has kept most of the metal fans from leaving Athens for summer holidays. July 20th was truly a hot day, and Tehnopolis, the park where it took place, is in the middle of Athens in one of the most industrial territories of Attika. All these factors- heat, cement, black clothes, long hair - compiling a situation sweaty, hot and
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\r\nHowever I am ready and willing to support every new promoter organizing a festival in downtown Athens, where I can go by bus or metro, where I don’t need to park my car miles away from the festival site, and where ticket costs 60 euro for six bands which if seen individually would probably cost more than 180euro. So I choose to suve nagging up my neck and put on my biggest smile, sunscreen, sunglasses and light clothes and go downtown to the hot Tehnopolis. There was almost no stalling into getting started. Poster of the fest wrote five thirty and Pain Of Salvation hit the stage almost twenty minutes to six.
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\r\nPAIN OF SALVATION
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\r\nHow hot could it have been on July 20th? And how unprepared was the site of Tehnopolis to host a metal festival which began while the sun was still burning our faces? I’ve been in the site before for concerts of other musical styles which began after 21.00 and were ment for a different target group of fans. Because its common sense now- metal fans need beer! Nevertheless, I can’t even begin to imagine how it would all look in Likabetus theater where it was meant to be held in the first place. Anyway let’s proceed to Pain Of Salvation who opened the festival and Moonspell who followed. \r\n

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\r\nIt was almost 17.30 when I got into the festival site and I was already nagging about having paid 1 euro for a small bottle of water. It wasn’t even 17.40 when the intro of Ashes began playing, but there was no one on stage. A couple of minutes later all the familiar figures came on stage and one more show of Pain Of Salvation in Greece had started. They made some well expected comments about the heat and then they began playing America from their latest release Scarsick. The new drummer seemed to be bonding good enough with the rest of the band up to the point he did backing vocals in the end! Next song was Used, and even though some guitar parts were lost since Daniel couldn’t put the plug right, a truly unique version! Having watched many live appearances in Tehnopolis, I could tell the sound wasn’t the best it could be. \r\n

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\r\nIn fact it was just bearable throughout the festival and Pain Of Salvation were no exception to that. It’s obvious the site isn’t suitable for live appearances, with the huge column in the middle and the glass buildings around but still, in other events I’ve been in there all these didn’t matter. And I am pretty sure it has to do with the speaker system chosen. It didn’t seem to be properly set. In any case the band carried on, chords were broken, the sun kept burning, and the crowd couldn’t wait for the rest of the bands. A very vibrant jamming showed the really good chemistry between the members of the band, and the skill they all have as musicians and after that the closing track Disco Queen. A song ideal for the circumstances only it was then when the sound decided to take a break! I always thought that the first band to play in festival is somehow mistreated in terms of sound but in this particular case it seemed to be so throughout the festival. In total PoS showed us what they can do, and that they love Greece too bad the heat and the sun illuminated all the atmosphere their music and kept the crowd from coming to the festival early.
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\r\nSETLIST : Ashes/ America/ Used/ Undertow/ Handful of Nothing/ jamming/ Disco Queen
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\r\nPhilippos Stavrogiannopoulos

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\r\nMOONSPELL
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\r\nAfter that it was time for the Portuguese dark enchanters. The red Backdrop seemed so inappropriate that hot afternoon. And it seemed like it took forever for them to make the stage and it was 19.00 when they finally did. When is anyone going to realize this genre isn’t meant for daylight? They started off with In Memoriam and shortly after that Finisterra, as if they were playing right after the release of Memorial! The crowd gets warmer but this time not because of the sun! One thing is for sure the two guitarists were breezing on stage wit the huge fans giving a videoclipish style to their appearance and making their long hair breeze. I don’t know about the rest but it made me laugh. And since I am into my bitter mood- why was the base player in such a cranky face? But lets get back to the essence of things. Night eternal came next from their latest album and Opium to get a flash back to the best era of the band. A few water bottles were crowd surfing god knows why. \r\n

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\r\nThe sound was better and if you were lucky enough to stand in the right spot you would get exactly what you were meant to. Fernando – the dark prince of metal with the gothic aesthetics- calls on stage Maxi Nil the singer of Greek gothic metallers Elysion to sing together with him the parts of Aneke in Scorpion Flower. Having watched Elysion in Underworld last week I knew her voice was really good and so it fit perfectly into the song proving their choice was the best possible. All these led to the ultimate moment in their set Alma Mater! There were mistakes; it was a little more polished than I would have wanted it to be but still an epic. What was meant to be a surprise to my ears was the last song. I would have expected Everything Invaded or something close to that but they chose Full Moon Madness. Fernando Ribeiro in an absolute crescendo of his theatrical, inspirational and passionate performance. They thanked the crowd, Septic Flesh, Rotting Christ, it is well known that they are close friends and left the stage concluding a brief yet powerful stroll from Greece. \r\n

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\r\nSETLIST : In Memoriam/ Finisterra/ Night Eternal/ Opium/ Scorpio Flower/ Alma Mater/ Full Moon Madness\r\n

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\r\nPhilippos Stavrogiannopoulos
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\r\nMESHUGGAH
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\r\nWhen the drummer of a band starts palying in 4/4 and the guitarist in 5/4 and they meet at 20 then it’s for sure math metal. I have to admit Metalzone crew was missing that day and no one in the site is a fan of Meshuggah which leads me into writing the report. I know the best math after all and we are talking about a band which is the most talked upon lately.Unbeleivable how trendy this band has become over the last year and the number of the fans who gathered to see them was quite big. However, judging by the people I talked to, most of them gathered to watch them cause they were very curious to see them perform live. And I have to admit, I was curious too. Did they quench their curiosity? I am still wondering. \r\n

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\r\nTo my ears they sound extremely cold blood and technical, which is probably the reason why I can’t really get their greatness but like a colleague confessor says, «They’ve been around for so many years, why do we act like we just discovered Meshugah?» I am not going to pretend I sublime to their greatness, and nor am I going to act in awe cause I watched the best drummer for 2008 according to reader’s Poll in Modern Drummer. And what probably expresses my feelings the most is a line a friend of mine said when they finished their set and when he commented on the fact they didn’t thank the crowd «That’s the way to go, dry like Slayer before thay became commercial and started to say thank you to the crowd»
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\r\nSET LIST: Perpetual Black Second/ Bleed/ Electric Red/ Straws Pulled At Random/ Rational Gaze/ Future Breed Machine (if I missed something sorry maybe it got lost in the equation!)
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\r\nHellena Mihailidou
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\r\nLACUNA COIL
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\r\nTime strikes 21.00 and after Meshuggah have finished their set and the sun has set the crowd awaits for the Lacuna Coil. A few minutes later the Italians hit the stage and so it begins. They played very well bonded whereas their sound was bad, even from the beginning. \r\n

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\r\nEveryone was commenting on Cristina’s and Andrea’s look which stirred memories of Angus Young in the good old days. Black shorts, white shirt, tie and tight pony tail for Cristina. Everyone was expecting a more seductive look from Cristina but then again we didn’t come to watch Pamela Anderson, so we dropped the funny act and got back to what matters most and that is the music. \r\n

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\r\nHer vocals were pretty good even though some pre recorded parts in keys and backing vocals were making the final effect loose much of its essence. Their set was basically based on their latest release “Karmacode”. Setting of with “To The Edge” which was hard for everyone to recognize because of the bad sound. After that there came Fragments of Faith , Swamped , Fragile , Enjoy The Silence , Daylight Dancer , Heaven’s A Lie and they said goodbye with Our Truth. \r\n

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\r\nTheir cover on Depeche Mode was probably the most sang song among the crowd but amazingly the bad sound and the small duration of the set (almost 40 minutes) were huge set backs! Doomed by the curse of every atmospheric band, I think a closed venue would do them more justice.
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\r\nSET LIST: To The Edge / Fragments of Faith / Swamped / Fragile / Enjoy The Silence / Daylight Dancer / Heaven’s A Lie / Our Truth
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\r\nDimitris Karadounias

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\r\nICED EARTH
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\r\nObviously rejuvenated and with a breezing fresh attitude after Mat Barlow’s return Iced Earth came on stage in front of an audience thirsty to welcome them even from the time Lacuna Coil were on stage. I admit I thought back to the time when we were watching the same guy on stage wit the long hair and the long beard, which was miles away from what was in front of us today. Not bad, just different and some images encrypt in our memory what can we say. Under the melodies of “Dark Saga” and “Vengeance is Mine”, the long awaited mosh pit since for Greece Iced Earth are as good as Metallica. The sound however was still stacked like it was throughout the fest and I could barely listen to the rhythm guitars. \r\n

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\r\n“The burning times”, while I am still trying to decipher the rhythm section and then “Declaration Day”, when all focus stayed on the vocals. I think Barlow not only brought the song to his size but he totally conquered it. Which is obviously hard, since he has to rise up to the comparison with a singer like Tim Ripper Owens. Each one of them has a different style, and they emphasise on different parts. On “Violate” I started to move to the front rows of the crowd as it was getting warmer. The band seemed to be enjoying the warm welcome and was giving an outstanding performance. \r\n

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\r\nAfter that “Pure Evil” and “10.000 strong” followed and the whole mood was so enthusiastic, you couldn’t be carried away. With the leading march of Mat Barlow who was in a very good day. The crowd is in a delirium under the sounds of “The coming curse” ,“Travel In Stygian” , and “Melancholy”, the ultimate moment of their appearance. Thinking about it I still have shivers up my spine. They concluded their set with “My own Savior” and “Iced Earth”, leaving the crowd howling for an encore. But they didn’t, because as Schaffer said they thought they were doing a headlining show and realized they were in a festival appearance just a few days before the show, which kind of pissed him off. However he promised to be back for a proper headlining show. \r\n

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\r\nOn a personal level I admit Iced Earth satisfied all my expectations risen by the news of Mat’s return and I feel that along with Moonspell’s performance they were the highlights of the Festival. Even though all bands played rather good but the sound was rough throughout the event.
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\r\nBy the way, cheers to the dj who included Nevermore and Kamelot in the set we listened to in the breaks between the bands.
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\r\nSET LIST: Dark Saga / Vengeance Is Mine / Burning Times / Declaration Day / Violate / Pure Evil / Ten Thousand Strong / Coming Curse / Travel In Stygian / Melancholy / My Own Savior (Holy Martyr) / Iced Earth\r\n

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\r\nNikoleta Sarantou
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\r\nVENOM
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\r\n36 cabs, fireworks and δυναμιτάκια for a blasphemous, edgy, rotten band, exactly the way we loved it, taking the stage and producing shivering vibes to everyone in sight. Here we are ladies and gents, in front of our bare eyes unfolds the history of Metal and is arising in the form of one man… Cronos is on stage and even from the first notes we are descending to the very depths of Black Metal where everything began. The birthing place of all the bands who came after them and created what we call today black metal. \r\n

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\r\nVenom haven’t been in Greece for 11 years and the previous time they were here is one of the most treasured moments in the history of the Greek metal community. I haven’t watched them back then and what we watched on July 20th was surely not what they watched back then when Venom appeared with their original lineup. However that might be the exact reason why they were playing so good. Maybe what hit our ears sounded quite rotten with the drums and the vocals peeking and the guitars in the background but the emotional state we were under left no choice but to be ecstatic. \r\n

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\r\nYou can’t be a sound engineering wise guy who watches out for the guitars who couldn’t be heard, the high notes scratching, or whatever else when you have a historic band like Venom on stage. Cronos himself was extremely fit and passionate lokking like the devil himself on stage spitting out shamelessly blasphemous metal to the crowd who would respond as if totally enchanted by his presence. \r\n

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\r\nIt is by no coincidence that Sakis- Rotting Christ mainman- was a few steps by sharing the pure enthusiasm of a fan or that on the side of the stage Fernando Ribeiro of Moonspell was watching closely, head banging, singing, enjoying the history tell its tale in front of him. Funny thing is that probably the fans of Moonspell would probably have left the fest. I don’t wish to be an heretic but maybe because public transport ends at midnight or because most of the crowd came to see Iced Earth during Venom’s set we were surely less in Tehnopolis. \r\n

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\r\nVenom came on stage near midnight and left it 20 minutes before the clock strikes 01.00 am after they ripped everyone in sight. In fact just before they encore they did an all time classic heavy metal sacrifice of a guitar and a base. I have never watched something like that before and I have to admit it’s breathtaking.
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\r\nSET LIST: Black Metal / Straight To Hell / Welcome To Hell / Bloodlust / The 7 Gates Of Hell / Don’t Burn The Witch / Countess Bathory / Antechrist / Buried Alive / Warhead/ Encore: Witching Hour
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\r\nHellena Mihailidou

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\r\nAnd now it’s time to get to the conclusion. Let’s take it from the tickets. By the time Meshuggah were getting ready to appear if you would pay for one ticket two people could get in. While some friend who came in later after Lacuna Coil’s set they got in the festival for free. I really don’t know what to say to this.
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\r\nI found it very refreshing that throughout the festival there were people keeping the place clean.
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\r\nThe site of Tehnopolis is set with stone bricks and there were big spaces of well retained grass where you could sit or even lie down. This way you could deal with the stones who locked your feet if you would stand for long let’s say for the huge sound checks.
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\r\nBut speaking of sound checks lets talk about sound. The wait between the bands were huge, at least half hour long. However no band had satisfying effect, except maybe Iced Earth and Moonspell.
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\r\nAnd for closure my biggest complaint. Thirst! And the only way to fight it was to wait in one of the three bars where there was no row just a bunch of people making the two clerks who were struggling to serve the thirsty and enraged metal heads who never seemed to end. I don’t even want to think about how everything would have been in Likabetus theater where there’s only one bar.
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\r\nAnd what was the deal with these coupons you had to buy in order to get something from the bar. You waited for 20 minutes at least to get them and when you got to the bar you could also buy things with money!
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\r\nIn total, it was a pretty decent first try. Especially if you’re fed up with the exclusiveness of Rockwave festival and the promotion agency of DIDI music, like I am and you want to help bring more agencies in this so as to end the dictatorship. You support even if you didn’t have as much fun as you would have expected. Cause every festival includes factors like, lots of metal, leveling friendly faces of your friends, people who you wish you wouldn’t see and you avoid behind your sunglasses and then finally in a slip of luck you bump onto them and lie “Oh gosh, you’re here? How come I didn’t see you before?”, a little strain, a little nagging, a little philosophy of where is metal today and what lives you want to see, and those posers who casually refer to the festivals they’ve been to abroad and were soooo much better of than the one you are in at the moment. I feel that tha promotion agency of Music Box organizing RockEmAll is like a first timer cook, who tried to make it’s first chocolate cake, and even though it did make a cake it looks a little bad, tastes good but looks bad. So all the factors I mention above become the chocolate syrup covering the flaws and you get away with the innocent look and the smile that promises you’ll do it better next time. And we’ll be there to taste it again!
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\r\nHellena Mihailidou
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\r\nTranslation Hellena Mihailidou
\r\nPhotos : Jim Hatzimoisis
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