Durbuy Rock Fest 2017

By Rudi Marina Wauters

This year we were lucky, DRF takes place the first weeken of the Easter holidays.  So, no stress, enough time to get there, and have the joy of a long weekend at Durbuy. Looking back it was a good decision to leave the house early for the almost 2 hour drive, cause Belgium honored its reputation of being the land of traffic jams.

After setteling at the cottage, its time to get the party started. DRF, here we come!!

First thing i notice is the long cue at the photopass registration!! What a difference whit last year!! There's at least three times as much photographers. I guess having Delain, Arch Enemy and Lacuna Coil attracts photographers as flowers attract bees.

There's also a lot more crowd waiting to enter the venue! This looks to be a good edition!! A lot of Belgian bands will appear on stage, and the first one is InnerFire.  They got a good day to start the fest, because they already have a decent crowd to perform to. The dark/death metal sound awakes the crowd and the first signs of a party are seen. A good warm -up for the day.

Next up is Masters Of Rebellions. The heavy metal band starts really well. The singer does a great job in getting the crowd into the vibe. At first this seems to work. After a while though, boredom is sneaking in. The sound of every song is about the same. The crowd is waiting for something that stands out. But it never comes.  You can also see it at the crowd. All movement is gone, and it seems to have lost the connection with the band.  Being such young people, the band will certainly find a solution and grow at what they do.

The Haunted,a Swedish thrashcore band, doesn't give the crowd a chance to fall asleep and starts of at full force. The crowd is really appreciating this, and shows respect by returing the energy to the band. Even the first "wall of death" takes place!! An absolute needed wake-up call. The singer gets so aroused by the crowd, that he bashes his own head with his microphone!! Great performance.

As next band, the in Belgium better known band Evil Invaders climbs on stage. This trash/speedcore band is known already a few years and has been on the bigger Belgian festivals as Graspop and Alcatraz. But even at the Slovenian Metaldays they got to take the stage.  Most of the crowd, which are mainly Belgian people, have seen the band and know how to party. They sing along, shout their longs out, moshpits, crowdsurfers, everything was there. And the band deserved it!!

And then it's time for one of the band that i came for, the Dutch band Delain. It's been a while since i last saw the band. What immediately strikes the eye is that the band has developed a lot. They've gotten a lot more professional look and sound. It is the first band that gets a full crowded venue, and also the first band that gets all of the crowd on their hands. In my opinion Merel Bechtold, the female guitarplayer is an absolute asset to the band. Not only a visual plus for the photographer's eye, but definitely musicwise.  The public , and myself enjoyed this gig a lot.

Sodom has a difficult spot on the bandlist. It's never a gift to play after a band that was really good. The German trash metalband has a hard time to keep the crowd, that is still feeling the Delain vibes, interested in their set. On top of that, the crowd is already looking forward to the next band, being Arch Enemy.  Sodom can't convince the metalheads, and the energy is melting like ice on a hot summer day. Soon everything sounds the same. Early in the set you see the people leaving outside to get a good spot to see AE. Not a succes story!!

Alissa,who was not feeling that well, was next with her band Arch Enemy. Nevertheless, the band meets the high expectations of the crowd. The amount of energy this band sends out to the crowd is in such a big contrast with the band before. In no time the public is set on fire!! At no time during the show, its to see or hear that Alissa is a little ill. She runs back and forth on the stage, getting the people into the energystream. This is the second time i see the band with Alissa as frontlady, since Angela Gossow left. It's also the second time the band was able to convince me. And the crowd.....they fully agree.

The last but certainly not least band of this Friday, is the Italian Lacuna Coil. I was surprised the band was not performing on the main stage inside, but on the outside stage. It was cold, and the band didn't like to perform outside. They were disapointed to have to stand up to the cold. But , just as i know LC to be, once on stage they go full throttle.  A very nice setlist made sure that even the "die hard" fans could still have a party. Interaction with the crowd is natural for the band, and certainly Cristina has a way to get peoples attention. The strong words against bullies and people being afraid of chasing their dreams , always touches the crowd. Dispite the cold(about 3 degrees) and the late hour, the band gave it their all, and ofcourse the got the returning amount of respect from the crowd.  This is a band that always delivers what is expected.....and more.

Metal /deathcore band Prelude to Disaster starts of on saturday. The band has two male leadsingers, with an equally devided singing part. The sometimes spasmodic movements of one of them were a great attraction to the ladies in the crowd. The rolling sixpack took their attention. Musicwise not bad at all for a starter.

A lot of very young faces form the band Down To Insanity. Their music had a lot of resemblance with the first band. The crowd seemed to like it though, and the singer interacted very well with them. The bunch of " Two Steppers" were the prove of that.

Aktarum brought us troll metal.  The Belgian folk/metal band was a good alternative between the core bands. This kind of music always makes a pleasant mood. They also played with a lot of more known bands, such as Eluveitie, Arkona and Korpiklaani. This is how they got a lot of experience, and that is well noticed.  A very appreciated performance.

Next up is the French metalcoreband. DRF takes place in the French part of Belgium, so most op the public is French speaking. The band is well known and certainly here. The good mix of clean voice and grunt had it's impact on the enthousiastic people. As usually Tank is able to get the crowd on their hand. It got to a climax when the singer climbed the crush barriers and rouse the metalheads. 

Surge Of Fury, this band has a good reputation and makes music for about 20years. Yet it seems that today they had a lesser day. Even the crowd felt it. The impact of the band was almost not existing. Maybe the fact that they were a longtime away from the scene, had part in that. The die hard fans didn't care about it and partied away. Notice the "flykick" of one of them.

Shoot The Girl First, and no, that is no advice!!! This hardcore metalband with electronic influences has two singers. Crystal, the female singer does the screaming parts. While Alex Sayti does the grunt parts. It took a while for Crystal to get the screams up to level. During the first 2 or 3 songs, the normal voice seemed to get the upperhand. But as the performance developed, so did the screams of the lady. And even though Crystal also played the synth, she never stood still for more then a moment. Lots of movement on stage, and that's  a gift to a photographer. This band was surprising. At moments their music made me think about "Bedroom Sessions" the first album of Bring Me The Horizon. Not a bad reference if you ask me.

And then it was time for a little bit of French Rock, brought to us by the band "No One Is Innocent".

The lyrics of the band often have a message in them, and sometimes politically inspired. A good example is de song that is meant to be a middle finger to the Front National.  This song was very much appreciated by the crowd. They yelled and sang with all their heart. The band also has an unusual placing of its members. Instead of having the singer in the middle, the drums are central on the stage. The singer starts on the left of the stage. Coincidence or again a political statement? The band has an great impact on the crowd. And when the singer(Kemar), goes over the crush barrier, and joins the crowd in a moshpit, the party is complete.

Dalriada is a Hungarian band, of which i had the pleasure to have seen on stage before at Metal Female Voices Fest. The band has a reputation of being able to bring a real party. It was no difference this time. The band did where they are good at, and brought a rather good variation of songs. Pagan metal mostly gets everybody moving. On stage it's crowded with the seven people that form the band. On top of that they move quite a lot, so there's a lot to see. The camera's love that!! Despite the sometimes lack of accuracy of the voice, it was again a pleasure to be part of this.

The French  Tagada Jones, which is an alternative/punk metal band, with rock &roll influences  was up next.  They had all the reason to give their best performance, cause this was the final day of their ten day tour with Sick Of It All. It seemed not difficult to move the crowd, that still had the party feeling of the Dalriada performance.  Not that they played for a full house, but the people that were there had a great time. And if the you can energize the crowd, it must be good.  The leadsinger/guitarplayer made me think about Angus Young.  But that was probably due to his clothing style.

Another French band is due. L' esprit Du Clan. This hardcore  metalband, with a very symphatic looking singer, immediately gets the attention op the people in fron of the stage. And mostly from the women, although i doubt it had something to do with the music.  You could see that musicwise the band was not the best we got to see at the festival. Lots of space between the crowd always says enough. But the once who took the trouble of seeing this band, had a blast. And that's what is most important.

Next on the playlist is the trollband Fintroll. From the first sounds the crowd is moving.  Striking to see that there is much more people then with any band before. At least this day. Also the crowdsurfing gets different proportions. One after the other is surfing the crowd. It's a fact, this band is an attraction to both eyes and ears. Yes, in that order. A very nice performance with lots of ambiance.

The since 2008 existing The Black Tartan Clan is Celtic inspired. They play metal/rock and sound a lot like Dropkick Murphy's. They make the already large variety of music at DRF even better. Ofcourse everybody's taste is different, but i found it an absolute must to see/hear.The sound of the bagpipes is probably one of the reasons. The good voice of Mac Touche and the Celtic sound also inspired the people to sing and dance along with the band. The band has, during the performance, a good interaction between the bandmembers and more important with the crowd. To me, one of the better bands on saturday.

And then a usual in the evening, you can expect the best bands. So, Sick Of It All, an American hardcore/punk metal band is ready to own the stage. Also this time the band didn't disappoint.  At first the vocal parts didn't really work, but i think it had something to do with the equipment. But soon it got fixed, and the crowd didn't mind and just partied on. Pete Koller, who plays the guitar is a real energy bomb. Too bad the light wasn't that good and making pictures was not that easy. Really kick ass performance.

The next band is difficult to review. Why, cause i didn't think New Model Army fitted the festival. Was it because i still was in a SOIA mood?  But looking around i saw that the area in front of the stage had very few people listening. When the third song started, most of the people already headed inside to find a spot for the next band. The band never could make a stand.

Last band on saturday, was the long awaited Ensiferum. This Finnish band turned around the mood, and got the people to party once more.  When  you looked into the crowd, you saw the make up of the band on almost everyone in the crowd. Even some of the reviewers  had the facial stripes on. There was a guy that went through the crowd all day long, and tried to make up as many people as possible.  The very enthousiastic band, brought the feeling over to the public, and that is how it is supposed to be. A band like this is a great choice to end a festival of this kind. The crowd couldn't get enough of it and tried to put even more energy in the band. The front rows were full of headbanging people , and countless crowdsurfers  got the security people of their butts.

We enjoyed the festival a lot, and already hope to be able to attend next years edition.

Rudi Marina Wauters