The lines to the toilet stretch a mile, and despite the festival not officially starting, there’s still an air of general seediness permeating the scene. I’m sipping down a cup of putrid coffee after an ever-restful tent sleep in the camping grounds. Yep, this is the start of the first day alright.
Once passing through the mighty gates of the festival grounds, you are greeted with an assortment of themed artworks/set pieces. They’ve really put a lot of thought and work into this place. There are six stages that, besides the main stages, were somewhat themed both in appearance and artists.
Quite a few big old classic hardbands rocked the first day: Saxon, Europe, Twisted Sister, Def Leppard, etc. Another one of the big old classic bands for the day was Whitesnake. Like most, they stuck almost entirely to a “greatest hits” set list with just the exception of some breaks for musical masturbation (guitar solos and the like). They were super tight and actually one of the best performances of the night. All the choruses sung perfectly, everything sounded like it was straight off a well-produced record.
Twisted Sister was at the other end of the spectrum, a much rawer feeling, more rock and roll. To sum the oldies together I don’t think any of them are ready to pack it in quite yet (or need to). They still deliver the goods to the older fans and the new generation that want a taste of them live before they pack it in.
With a festival of 6 stages and over 50 bands a day, it’s impossible to cover everything going on, but I think it’s safe to say there was something for everyone.
Helloween gave me the most mixed feelings for the day. I don’t get them. They are a band that can be easily split into two completely different eras, and watching them live seems totally disjointed. They are great live, play well, and put on a hell of a show, but it feels like they are merely covering Helloween when they play anything that dates before 1991. Their sound changed so dramatically after the departure of Hansen that it hardly feels like the band from the ’80s that most people know them for. I think most people who have liked their stuff since would get a real kick out of seeing them, but those who know Helloween for “Keeper of the Seven Keys” or “Walls of Jericho” aren’t going to find the band they are looking for under this name (try Gamma Ray).
Overall it was impressive the way Hellfest was run, and the day seemed to go pretty smoothly. There was at least one change to the schedule, the latest one handed out on the day. I’m not sure exactly what the extent of it was but I was caught out awaiting Whitesnake to be greeted instead by Dee Snider, the two bands having swapped. Didn’t bother me, but I’m sure a few probably missed Twisted Sister because of this. Besides that, I didn’t notice any issues.
Check out our Hellfest Day One gallery for more photos.