Open season – Loud Festival 2012

Every year around April I start thinking about the coming summer. Many questions bother me and most of them are about music festivals and all the stupid things you have to think of while preparing for them. This festival season was different than these in the recent years because it started in early June with my hometown’s Loud Festival – probably the next big metal festival in Bulgaria.

Loud Festival Poster

The line-up

One of the things that are common for Bulgaria’s scene is the high average age of the artists we see on festivals. Usually it’s ok to have Slayer and W.A.S.P. for the headliners’ slots, as in the case with Loud Festival, but when the youngest band on the festival are Soulfly (formed in 1997) things are getting kinda old-school. But don’t worry we’ve seen worse.

Aside from the age the line-up of the first day was really strange because of the mix of symphonic/gothic metal bands Tristania and Lacuna Coil followed by Behemoth with their blackened death metal and Symphony X in the progressive side. Add the shock rock of W.A.S.P. for headliner and you’ll have, as we love to say in Bulgaria, a meal with grapes.

Day two had more consistent artists with five extreme bands in the face of Asphyx, Meshuggah, Soulfly, Annihilator and Slayer. As I’m a bit of thrash fan I was really exited for the second day while went on day one because of my friends. I think now is the confession moment – I would never pay for such a lousy and old line-up, although I had fun. God bless media passes!

The organisation

Loud Festival

I’m absolutely certain the only things done well on Loud Festival was the access control, the wristband exchange on the entrance and the fun zones. No lines, no waiting and mostly polite security people on the entrance which is something significant around. While not having fun on the only stage of the festival people were able to do karaoke on specially designated stage, jump with bungee or just do some shopping on the souvenir and merchandise stands.

However anything else was horrible – expensive food and drinks, extremely huge lines for beer and food, shitty sound and little sea of mud in front of the stage. Considering the fact these are the guys who made the 2010 and 2011 editions of Kavarna Rock Festival and some of the best metal concerts in Sofia in the past few years i was disappointed.

The bands

Fans During Meshuggah

Fans during Meshuggah. Photo by Georgi

Day one started with the Norse symphony crap Tristania, who may sound good if they change the singer and have better sound. Lacuna Coil made the show, but it was damaged by even worse sound. However, I really liked the singer Cristina Scabbia and her Lady Gaga jokes, also Andrea Ferro’s energy, but I doubt I’ll ever play song of theirs. The personal highlight of the evening were Behemoth, who got on stage with their usual make up and all the satanic feel and look. While looking like some retarded teenagers they sound really awesome live, even better than on record. May be I had to leave after their set, but I decided to try and listen Symphony X – big mistake. Those guys had so many solos and boring things in their so called show that they’ll make at least a dozen of dragons kill themselves before the end. W.A.S.P., who I watched few years ago, were really sad view. The energy I remember from Blackie Lawless was gone and the show was amazingly stupid. Few tracks before the encore me and couple of friends were going home, for which I don’t regret.

Fans in the mud during Soulfly

Although I skipped the performance of Asphyx, day two was far better. For me it started with the Swedish titans Meshuggah. On the records they sound really unpolished, but live they are smashing metal machine. Add the crazy looks of singer Jens Kidman and some pouring rain during really hot summer day and you’ll get the perfect metal afternoon combination. Because of the pouring rain just in front of the stage there was not-so-little sea of mud which became moshpit arena during Soulfly’s performance. That was my second Soulfly concert and it was just like the first – really raw energy, extremely good Max Cavalera and engulfing moshpits. Canadian thrash legends Annihilator had the difficult task to enjoy the crowd between two legends Soulfly and Slayer and I can say they did their job pretty well. With a setlist full of hits, classics and some of the best songs from the new album they made even the most sceptic people shaking their heads. However, the night actually started in the moment when Tom Araya went on stage. Bulgarians love Slayer and the crowd showed that love with really good moshpits in the mud and too much singing for a thrash concert. In one moment everybody started singing “Happy Birthday” for Dave Lombardo, who happened to have birthday on that day. On the other hand the band played all the favourite songs – Raining Blood, South of Heaven, Die by the Sword, World Painted Blood, etc., of course without too much politenesses or encore.

Wrap up

Considering that was the first edition, Loud Festival was good. But when gets on mind it wasn’t the first festival organized by those people, I’m not so excited. The line up was horrible and I hope next year they’ll have some younger bands. The good part is that in Bulgaria you can have fun on almost every concert because the crowd is always awesome. That was the case with Loud Festival 2012, too. Last but not least, thanks to my friends I had more than just fun, so I’ll just pick the right company again when I go to Loud Festival 2013.


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