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Just about a month has passed since this years Rock Hard Festival turned the sight located somewhat outside the city of Gelsenkirchen into the centre of attention for an entire scene once again. It takes about a half hour bus ride from the central station to get to the beautiful and impressive area offering anything from red-painted bridges, park side in the green, industrial buildings and of course the waves of Rhine-Herne Chanel that makes the whole event so special. Along these important transportation waterway, the Amphitheater is situated with its stage giving straight view onto the splashing blue, furthermore the campground is generously build along it as well. It seems more like a resort offering daily concerts and with its informal and almost intimate atmosphere becomes so much more than just an odinary festival.

Still a day to go before the “real deal” gets going as we arrive in the sunny and unbelievably warm part of Germany on thursday. Good thing to show up at this point, cause it seems that half the population of the surrounding cities decided to attend Rock Hard Festival 2012 and getting an appropriate temporary home base for the next few days gets harder within the hour. One major change this year would be the option to reserve a campground area in advance, which is marked as a Fanclub for whatever name one would like to give it. And with the main act on friday night being Turbonegro of course it won’t take long to find their colourful fans.

After an intensive all over inspection and some soundchecking of the festival opener Deathfist – featuring one of the constantly growing number of female shouters – the first Highlight and only band I really wanted to watch plays second in row: Jex Thoth.

Jex Thoth on stage

Besides the fact that a rather small part of the audience hails them as much as we do on Psychorizon, there are some things that make their appearance not as overwhelming as the one at last years Stoned From The Underground Festival. First of all the sound at stage level is and let me point out for the first time EVER since I started attending RHF on a regular basis in 2004, pretty bad. Too loud, too undefined and actually all I can perceive is bass all over. On the ranks it is much better in fact but the choice is somewhere between a tonal disaster and getting roasted. Nevertheless the US-based band surely wins a bunch of new admires and as we get to know a few days later, this day turns out to be one of the most successful shows of their “Purify With Pyra” Tour. Another thing a true fan would have to miss is the notorious ritual burning of sandalwood, vocalist Jessica likes to perform, but it was hot enough anyway! The setlist includes a mixture of older and brand-new songs and my favourite “Warrior Woman”, well done.

Setlist Jex Thoth:

Stone Evil
Obsidian Night
Raven Nor The Spirit
Slow Rewind
Separated At Birth
Nothing Left To Die
Warrior Woman

After this first set of slow-mo onstage action time calles for a midday offering. Sorry to all you veggies and vegans out there, but for many visitors a campout almost mandatory barbecue serving meat in all kind of forms. Rocking all day long makes one hungry and while RAM and Krisiun are sweating just a few steps away, we do the same in front of our tent.

Even as the evening hits off the only refreshment besides cooled drinks seems to be diving into the water, which as we now know is restricted and will be paid penalty if one gets caught by the river police.

The night of the Norwegian vikings was heralded by one of the more exotic bands of this year’s RHF edition. Combining elements of Thrash, Black Metal and High Energy R’n’R in the style of The Hellacopters, Kvelertak entered the stage with a bang. Although the sound issues were still not really solved, the six Berserkers set sails to Helheim immediately. The show included all the songs from their self-titled debut record as well as “Spring”, a relatively new track that die-hards knew already from last year’s headlining tour.

With a three-guitar onslaught, Kvelertak (meaning “Stranglehold” in English) kept a tight grip on the audience: Singer Erlend Hjelvik rampaged from one side to the other and screamed, screeched and barked like there was no tomorrow, culminating in his obligatory stage dive and mingling with the front rows, while tattooed beat messiah Kjetil Gjermundrød clearly enjoyed the scenery around the drum-kit and hammered savagely on his drumheads throughout the set.

If you have a full stack or some lighting rigs on stage, chances are nearly 100% that a man called Marvin Nygaard will climb them in order to perform from a higher point of view. With Orange stacks around a plenty, the fierce bass player of course took the chance and boarded several of these amplifiers. Although Kvelertak’s lyrics are in Norwegian, a lot fans at least knew when to chant the keywords, so crowd participation was always at a very high level. Celebrated by Thrash Metal maniacs and Turbojugend members alike, the band finished its set with Utryd Dei Svake, leaving only scorched earth behind.

Setlist Kvelertak:

Sjøhyenar (Havets Herrer)
Sultans Of Satan
Ordsmedar av Rang

Turbonegro have gone through some very hard times during the last few years. After loosing iconic long-time singer Hank von Helvete, the handsome sailorband recruited Turbojugend London President, Dukes of Nothing singer and former PR officer Tony Sylvester. Founding member Rune Rebellion also left, but re-joined and keyboardist/overall entertainer Pål Pot Pamparius only serves as a part-time member nowadays.

A lot of Turbojugend members were present at the gig to witness if the new line-up could live up to the reputation of the band.

Opening the set with well-known “mainstream ingratiation” All My Friends Are Dead, the handsome sailors put on a very professional show right from the beginning. Tony definitely showed no signs of nervousness and blended perfectly into the show, featuring a Clockwork Orange inspired make up and dress.

After two classics (Dungaree High being the second song), it’s time for three new ones in a row. IMHO a great statement to show off Tony Silvester’s qualities. You Give Me Worms, first single from the upcoming album Sexual Harassment and sufficiently known thanks to youtube, clearly picks up the vibe of Party Animals era TRBNGR. The raspier and slightly lower voice compared to Hank adds a rough edge to hymns full of sexual innuendo, alcohol and other means of self-destruction.

If there would be an energy-level indicator installed in the front rows, it would be deeply in the reds all the way. Partying hard to every song, I literally got soaked up into the center of the Jugend and had a great time during all of the songs, no matter if it’s a new masterpiece or an old classic.

Bass player Happy Tom, known for his special sense of humor, made the crowd laugh with funny announcements in broken German (“Schüttel’ dein Scheiße-Apparatus!” for Shake your Shit Machine), while steadily pumping out his distinctive Turbo-basslines. Euroboy aka Prince of the Rodeo lived up to his name as usual, delivering his solos and fills with grace and power alike.

The encore featured the ultimate threesome: Age Of Pamparius, Prince Of The Rodeo and I Got Erection, showing once again that the band remains untamed and still is able to fuck the world after all the changes it has gone through.

If my body ever was a temple, re-born TRBNGR teared it down once more on this wild night!

Throughout the day even RockHard member “Heavenstone” could be seen wearing his Turbojugend Satanica jacket proudly alongside lots of Turbojugend member with day tickets.

Setlist Turbonegro:

All My Friends Are Dead
Back To Dungaree High
You Give Me Worms
I Got A Knife
T.N.A. (The Nihilistic Army)
Get It On
Denim Demon
Mister Sister
Shake Your Shit Machine
Hello Darkness
Do You Do You Dig Destruction
Wasted Again
Fuck The World (F.T.W.)
Turbonegro Must Be Destroyed
The Age Of Pamparius
The Prince Of Rodeo
I Got Erection