Tuesday 21 November 2017

Helldorado festival

After Dutch rock band Peter Pan Speedrock disbanded, they also stopped organizing the Speedfest festival in their home town Eindhoven. I attended the last edition two years back and it's a shame the festival will no longer take place, since in the overcrowded festival landscape there aren't many of these kind of rock festivals, focusing on heavy rock. Fortunately co-organizer Paaspop wanted an alternative and now there's Helldorado in the same weekend in November and on the same location, the Klokgebouw Eindhoven.

According to the organizers it won't be a Speedfest 2.0, but when you look at the music line-up it's not that far off. Focusing on heavy rock in the broadest sense of the word, ranging from rock 'n roll to stoner and everything in between, it does have a large overlap. When entering the big old factory building, it immediately feels familiar and it seems to have the same kind of visitors. It does have other "freaky" acts like a haunted house, a comedy club, metal wrestling and a knife thrower but you still get a similar vibe as Speedfest. But who cares if it is or isn't anything like it, it's the music, good friends and the beers that count. We can only catch the last couple of songs of Komatsu's set, so not much to say about that, but we're in time for the next band on our program.

Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown

Hailing from Nashville with Aerosmith's Bad Whitford's son Graham on guitar, you kind of get the picture of this band. Indeed it's classic hardrock and southern rock in the style of AC/DC, The Black Crowes and indeed, Aerosmith. Singer Tyler Bryant apparently needs to warm up his vocal chords as his voice isn't great in the beginning but gets a lot better during the show. We get treated to plenty of guitar shredding, drum rolls and loud howls, followed by a few blues songs in between. Of course there are many bands like this and it's far from original, but these guys do it very well. After their show we wander around a bit, watch Dead Elvis for a minute, which of course is nothing but a cheesy gimmick and isn't really entertaining. To the bar!

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La Muerte

I did see this band before and was a bit disappointed, since I read good things about them. Musically it packs plenty of fun with heavy riffs and a very tight band that knows how to handle the Motörhead inspired rock. But I just can't really get into the grunting vocals of singer Marc Du Marais, that are just impossible to understand and sound too much alike. Together with Marais "jute bag” mask, the band has got their dark and mysterious act down with candles and little altars on stage, but once again it simply doesn't work for me.

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Tigre Blanco

At the other stage Dutch gypsy rockers Tigre Blanco are getting ready for their set. It's an acoustic performance with a few acoustic guitars and a cajon. All the ingredients for a hot gypsy party you'd think, but it doesn't really get the crowd going. It doesn't really get my blood boiling either. According to the band themselves it is "Tarantino music", but I don't think that is entirely right as it misses the tension. The band looks skilled enough but fails to energize the crowd and drag them into their performance. This way the party never gets started and kind of dies out in the end.

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I've been dying to see Dutch psych rockers for a long time, since I really like their long heavy and spacy jams. There's a new guitar player in the line-up, Boudewijn Bonebakker, but that doesn't change much to their sound. It's an amazing trip that takes you through stoner and krautrock, that will make you slip in a trance. You forget where one song ends and the other one starts, it could be one or ten (they played three by the way). The band plays a very focused and convincing set and it sucks you right into their music. Together with the beers that are starting to do their work, this trip is perfect.

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Birth of Joy

It's time for a band that keeps it going and Birth of Joy are here to do exactly that. Of course I know what to expect from them as I've seen them play several times. The threesome doesn't disappoint at all. Once again they impress with great sounding rock music and incredible handling of their instruments. With big rock riffs, stunning drum grooves and dazzling organ solo's combined with a lot of heart and effort, this one of a kind band shows how it's done. A new album is underway and I'm looking forward a lot to hearing it and see them play again.

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Lords of Altamont

After returning back to earth we are having fun with Lords of Altamont, who play a mix of punk, sixties garage and glam rock. The band do a great job with guitars and an organ going wild on gritty sleazy rock music. It is not missing its effect and it is the right band to keep this party going.

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Orange Goblin

The heavy stoner rock of Orange Goblin is totally different. The impressive stature and voice of singer Ben Ward go well with the slow and deep grooves of their songs. When the music slides into doom metal, it's not really my cup of tea, but this band plays a very solid and tight show altogether.

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Red Fang

I really want to see Red Fang, which means I have to skip Fifty Foot Combo, the surf rock band from Belgium that I like so much. Hopefully I can catch them again some next time. Fortunately Red Fang doesn't disappoint for a bit. The stoner metal songs are sharp and filled with hooks, so they sound heavy and catchy at the same time. It gives the songs a lighter touch and a sense of urgency. Vocals alternate between grunt style and clean singing, which works very well. There's a nice tempo in their set, because of the speedy grooves in their songs. It is a good slap in the face for anyone that may have been dozing off.

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Belgian rock band Triggerfinger are no strangers to this place and are back with a new album Colossus. The trio have expanded into a quartet live on stage, to be able to expand on their sound. It s the direction they have taken on their solid new LP, adding extra layers to their sound. Although the grooves are still heavy, it does seem to make them less deep though. I'm not sure if it has improved their live set, but there could be some beers in the way to hear it properly. I will have to listen more closely when I see them again in a few weeks time.

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This has been a fun day with lots of rock music, beers and dear friends. Although not all music was that interesting, there were plenty of bands that I like and especially the combination of good company made it great. The "freaky" edge of this festival, with the non-musical acts, give it a loose vibe and plenty of tongue in cheek. Together with some well chosen bands, that don't take it all too seriously, it adds the roll to the rock and that simply is a lot of fun.

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