Bang Your Head Festival 2015 @ Balingen, Germany

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For this year’s 20th special anniversary edition, BYH had been extended from a two day to a three day edition lasting from Thursday ‘til Saturday.

Thursday night saw Sonata Arctica, Finntroll, Orden Ogan, W.A.S.P. and Sabaton. Considering that BYH is a festival with the majority being an older (+40 +50) crowd, the choice of presenting Sabaton as headliner might not have been too popular. It wasn’t really a surprise when the festival chief Horst Franz entered the stage and publicly wondered why some people disliked Sabaton. But I guess the mere fact that he realized that Sabaton serves a much younger crowd proves that it wasn’t a match for the hardrock oriented adult crowd. I’ve asked around and did not run into one single person who enjoyed the show. I know, I know…you can’t argue about taste. But this was simply not Sabaton’s target audience.

BYH PrimalFear
I do understand it is difficult finding worthy affordable headliners. After all, BYH is a small festival of around 20.000, so it is common sense that they don’t have the financial support like huge editions of Wacken, Rock am Ring or Graspop in Belgium. The personal atmosphere mixed with friendly relaxed people is what people appreciate year after year –  many regulars drive and fly in from all over the world.

 

BYH YandT
On Friday afternoon we were being served Primal Fear from Germany and Loudness from Japan, which was a nice exotic addition to the hardrock style 80s menu many were looking forward to. Poor Arch Enemy was the festival’s innocent losers as they’ve experienced the only severe thunderstorm of the entire weekend. With hot temperatures for many days, a cool down shower could be nice; but a lot of water came down in a short period of time, so many people raced to find shelter from the pour (yes, pun intended…because – it was time for…drummroll….Queensryche!)

BYH Loudness
On Friday afternoon we were being served Primal Fear from Germany and Loudness from Japan, which was a nice exotic addition to the hardrock style 80s menu many were looking forward to. Poor Arch Enemy was the festival’s innocent losers as they’ve experienced the only severe thunderstorm of the entire weekend. With hot temperatures for many days, a cool down shower could be nice; but a lot of water came down in a short period of time, so many people raced to find shelter from the pour (yes, pun intended…because – it was time for…drummroll….Queensryche!) While the band from Seattle had rocked Balingen twice before (last time in 2010 with Geoff Tate), it was now time for the Todd La Torre edition. To our surprise, bass player Eddie Jackson was missing and his part got mixed in from tape. It was unfortunate that this special circumstance provided extra stress and tension that you could sense on the stage. But then again, kudos to the band for not cancelling the show. Sources told me Edbass showed up the very next day for the Munich show, so all is well!

BYH Queensryche
Kreator were the headliners for the night and this prog gal wished it had been the other way around as only the headliners get the full lisght show and special effects. It was laso unfortunate to have poor Anvil play indoors, parallel to Kreator.

BYH KreatorFlying high on the progressive cloud, Saturday had another fine highlight in store with no other than Dream Theater! James LaBrie had been suffering from a cold for awhile and you could hear him struggle at times, but not to a point where it was uncomfortable. The sound was crystal clear and we’ve enjoyed a rare performance of the fabulous “The Spirit Carries on” (which they had not played in Germany in years!). They did not deliver the popular “Pull Me Under”, but nevertheless, the crowd was very pleased with the professionalism. Even Mike Mangini seemed to be in a good mood (and we have all witnessed his bad temper) and Petrucci’s teeth were shining bright as always (yes, I am a fangirl! ;-).

BYH DreamTheater

 With performances of oldschool Y&T, Pretty Maids (Future World) and Accept (Heidi Heido Heida) headlining with their classic tunes, twenty years of Bang Your Head found a worthy end.

Unused drinking and food coupons could even be returned, a service you won’t find with many other festivals. The only thing our group of veggies missed was quality (!) vegetarian food as given the small portions, it was overpriced – and not very tasty. It should not be a challenge to eat at a festival for several days. Management already announced that the new concept of three days plus warm up show turned out to be successful and will continue in 2016. Ticket sale started already and the first bands will be announced soon!

Äfa Angelhardt

BYH shot