Aðalbjörn, Abra Kadavar, Alia O'Brien, Øresund Space Collective, Blood Ceremony, Bloody Hammers, Blues Pills, Christoph „Lupus“ Lindemann, Christoph „Tiger” Bartelt, Colour Haze, Dorian Sorriaux, Elder, Elin Larsson, Freak Valley Festival, Goddess Of Dawn, Goodbye Gemini, I’m Coming With You, Kadavar, Lee Dorrian, Live In Antwerp, Living With The Ancients, Lucas Gadke, Markus Kavka, Michael Carrillo, Motorpsycho, My Demon Brother, Papir, Radio Moscow, Rise Above Record, Rock Freaks, Samsara Blues Experiment, Sean Kennedy, Simon „Dragon” Bouteloup, Solstafir, Stubb, The Admiral Sir Cloudsley Shovell, The Eldritch Dark, The Midnight Ghost Train, Truckfighters, Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats, Wo Fat, Zack Anderson
Just to make it quick, Freak Valley Festival wasn’t all just mud, rain and rather low temperatures – but if you’ve been there right from the start, you’ve seen it all. And Psychorizon for one did.
Arriving in the rain covered outer part of Siegerland, Northrhine-Wesphalia, building up stages and setting up entrance fences is still an ongoing process, as my arrival from Donzdorf happens a lot earlier than expected. The other half of this years’ two person Festival coverage team shows up about two hours later and wouldn’t you know: It’s still raining by then. After a quick journey on sight, figuring out where to get our passes at and how to walk to the campground, we end up driving – with both cars – to the destined grounds uphill some 20 to 40 minutes walking distance from the actual Festival, depending on what corner your tent is and how bad your level of alcoholic consumption will slow your speed down. Anywho, plans of actually putting up a tent are out the door due to the severe condition and muddy state of ground, besides a car is at least a bit warmer at night, or so we thought.
With the set up entrance awaiting and rain finally disappearing we find ourselves on a surprisingly long and crowded cue to get in. Having moved the cars once to our final temporary home with part of the Cologne/Bonn crew, we’re right in time for doors and the opening act of Freak Valley Festival 2014.
After a first intense check of the Festival sight and the welcome discovery of flushable toilettes, we decide to return and hang out on top of that hill where we spend most of this first day after a big disappointment of the highly acclaimed BLOODY HAMMERS who turn out to be highly overrated – at least as far as our opinions are concerned and agreeing upon RADIO MOSCOW not being worth hiking all the way down again. (kp) After the disappointing HAMMERS, I anticipated PAPIR from Denmark. The three musicians made a great start, but after a while, the strictly instrumental jam-tracks seemed to repeat themselves over and over. In my opinion, the show would be much more intense at a club rather than an open air stage. The same applies to the first headliner of the festival: RADIO MOSCOW. However, I’m quite on my own with my opinion, as the band is very well received by the rest of the audience. The blues-influenced music set aside, I have to admit that the background projections are quite impressive on a stage of such dimensions. After the encore, the mediocre first festival day ends and a long and hard ascend to the camp site opens up…(ys)
Day two starts off pretty much the same day one ended: Its way to cold to be outdoors all the time and this time the entire gang is late for the first band of the day. After a half way decent breakfast/lunch or whatsoever, everyone is in a good mood and finally I find myself walking down again to the place where all the magic happens this extended weekend.Between a first inspection of the merch offerings, STUBB and THE MIDNIGHT GHOST TRAIN the sun also joins in. As of some serious busyness we miss both MOTHER OF GOD and most of MOTHERSHIP since we conducted an Interview with BLOOD CEREMONY bassplayer Lucas Gadke. The Canadian Doom masters are one of the first bands, Psychorizon met along the way and its a great feeling to be catching up at this uprising annual event. One private signing session and a few sips of booze later, we find ourselves witnessing this first true highlight of FVF ’14, which is of course BLOOD CEREMONY in all their enchanting appearance. The setlist covers songs from all three full-length releases: Their eponymous debut from 2008 (‘I’m Coming With You’), “Living With The Ancients” (‘My Demon Brother’) (2011) as well as the most current one “The Eldritch Dark” (‘Goodbye Gemini’) which was released last year via UK’s cult label Rise Above Record.
The Good Witch of the North-West
Though some of the magic of the Toronto-based foursome is hard to touch when delivered on brought daylight, the audience is turned into one celebrating ritual gathering by the songs, mainly focusing on Witchcraft, other realms and Horror. Not to mention vocalist, flutist, organist and frontlady Alia O’Brien is just one bewitching entity all herself and has everyone in front of the stage and her fellow band members, guitarist Sean Kennedy, the aforementioned bassist and newest addition to this sonic coven, drummer Michael Carrillo, under her spell. While the day is fading, I find myself slightly drunk and not fully capable of watching either WO FAT or SÓLSTAFIR in full and get a necessary break before the Saturday headliner gives a most amazing conclusion for the day. (kp) Iceland’s best kept secret, SÓLSTAFIR, were given the honour to perform at Friday’s sundown. The band’s ingredients cover Post-, Black and Doom Metal as well as atmospheric soundscapes. These Metal Dudes looked a bit out-of-place among all the other bands, but charismatic band leader Aðalbjörn managed to infatuate the audience right away. Definitely one of my personal highlights this year!
Damdamdamdamdamdamdamdam dadadaadaadaaa dadadaada: One of the most recognisable riffs in recent years heralds the coming of today’s co-headliner, TRUCKFIGHTERS from Sweden. These guys never seem to run out of fuel and deliver an energetic performance. Their blend of riff-driven Stoner Rock and psychedelic parts fits a festival stage quite well, something other bands seem to have more trouble with. The set is well received by the audience, but the aforementioned song Desert Cruiser still remains their very own „Ace of Spades“, no matter how much more acclaimed their recent albums are. (ys) Aspiring Blues Rock act BLUES PILLS might seem to be a little young to fill in the position, but not only do they prove to be worthy but are fully blowing away all doubts about this being the rightful place for the Sweden-based band with multi cultural origins. Furthermore they are putting aside the worn-out argument of age for all nay-sayers as they sound more mature than many so-called established acts. Elin Larsson with her dark and soulful voice in the vain of the great Janis Joplin, French guitarist Dorian Sorriaux is handling his fretboard like an elderly Rockgod while Zack Anderson becomes all one with his bass and the new sticksman is hitting his kit as if there is no tomorrow. And while the world is still waiting for BLUES PILLS to finally put out their debut album they easily manage to give a full set, including everyone’s favourite ‘Devil Man’ and the new mandatory sing-along tune ‘Highclass Woman’.
Not to make this a habit, but also on the final Festival day do we miss out on the opening bands – 11:30 on a Saturday just ain’t right! Mobilising forces takes even longer and the first act we get to see is the ØRESUND SPACE COLLECTIVE. (kp) After taking an exhausting trip through the quiet woods of the freakish valley in order to find a cash machine, I arrived just in time for ØRESUND SPACE COLLECTIVE. The group is famous for its completely improvised shows and manages to take off into the midday sun with yet another trippy performance, led by the one and only Dr. Space. (ys)
With yet another promising act on sight, Rise Above Records got Hastings trio THE ADMIRAL SIR CLOUDESLEY SHOVELL or simply THE SHOVELL with their first ever show on German ground well-placed at FVF ’14, that also presented the first ever Germany show of labelmates and fellow countrymen UNCLE ACID AND THE DEADBEATS in 2013. Not only does THE SHOVELL clearly deserve the award for best style but also for the coolest sideburns of the entire event. Playing songs from their two albums “Don’t Hear It…Fear It” and “Check ‘Em Before You Wreck ‘Em”, guitarist Johnny, drummer Billy and bassplayer Louis become my secret headliner for the day. This clearly calls for more or to say it with the giant pin they’re selling at there merch stand: “You’ve Been Shovelled”! (kp)
Johnny & Louis – “Best Bell-Bottoms” and “Best Sideburns”
SAMSARA BLUES EXPERIMENT were up next. Reduced to a three-piece due to personal reasons since April 2014, the German band put on a rock-solid show. Singer and guitar player Christian Peters seemed to be frantic about the fact that he had to play a JCM 800, the otherwise relaxed singer/guitar player even showed some real Rockstar attitude by kicking the full stack some time during the show. From my point of view (or should I say hearing?), the issues were not that dramatic, as the sound in front of the stage still kicked ass. SBE were followed by yet another promising trio: ELDER. Hailing from Boston, the band convinced with a heavy, Doom-laden approach to the Stoner genre: Sabbathian riffs clashing with psychedelic jams reminiscent of COLOUR HAZE, also featuring lots of headbanging action by guitar player/singer Nick DiSalvo. So far, the Saturday turned out to feature the strongest line-up, with the two major acts still to come!
„MOTORPSYCHO records are always something very special“ was my very first introduction to the co-headlining band of this year’s edition of Freak Valley. Ever since MTV host Markus Kavka spoke these words around 2001, I somehow missed each and every opportunity to see this band live. So my first encounter would be a two-hour headlining show with their very own stage set. Well, if Mr. Kavka would have talked about shows rather than records, he wouldn’t have lied either! A massive wall of sound, combined with an awesome light show carried me away right from the start and 120 minutes seemed to be over in a blink of an eye. (ys)
Featuring a German band on headlining position does not happen too often at German events, maybe cause people seem to shot off the greatness of their own country and the artists it provides. With Berlin-based Psychedelic Rockers KADAVAR the 2014 edition of Freak Valley festival not only has one hell of a headliner closing the final day with an extraordinary show, but also one of the most talked about and relentlessly touring acts we currently have at our fair scene. It only takes three men, subtle lights and two full-length records to create a kick-ass set and KADAVAR got it all. Proving to hold the title as a hardworking bunch that spends about every day en route, the trio just put out their first ever live record with the suitable title “Live In Antwerp”. A perfect blend of visual and acoustic live capture can be found at the lyric video for one of Psychorizon’s faves, ‘Goddess Of Dawn” – as seen below, enjoy! (kp)
Living In Your Head
(Aqua Nebula Oscillator cover)
Eye Of The Storm
All Our Thoughts
Come Back Life
Goddess Of Dawn
Creature Of The Demon