It feels like ages since I last went to my favorite New Long Fest. These are the well-known hallucinations caused by the lockdowns and the very targeted measures to deal with the pandemic (enter laugh here). The joy I got when I turned at the traffic light for the Cultural and Sports Center of Nea Makri is indescribable. Where it was the classic inscription “Metal” again this year, which this time was designed in a very different way.
Since the last time, there have been changes. At least as far as I remember. The stage had come a bit to the left and its setting was much nicer. As a result, it created an ideal shaded spot in front of it for the few who came early to see all the bands (and good for them). Many banners in the area from the sponsors and a canteen for food and cocktails complemented the classic merch stand and the beer counter.
The first day started with Khirki, who came out full of energy and appetite despite the heat at the time. It may not have been the inferno of our capital, but it couldn’t affect you nevertheless. Very good performance from the Athenian heavy/thrash/stoner metallers who have so far released the full-length “Ktinodia” in 2021. Interesting fact that quite a few people were wearing t-shirts with their logo.
Next up on stage was Adam, who had opened for Clutch at Release Athens. The alternative rockers played well and made a lot of heads shake from the crowd that was starting to grow larger. They chose songs from their first album entitled “Sun” (2020) and two more from the next one they are preparing, one of which is still untitled, and passed on the torch to Calyces.
At this point let me clarify something that should go without saying but unfortunately it doesn’t always happen. The schedule was kept to the minute (with one exception, I’ll mention it below) and all the bands had from very good to excellent sound. Great job for the guys who worked at NLF. Calyces for me won first day impressions. Their post/progressive metal is very interesting, their members had the best technique of all, fronted by Manthos Stergiou (Tardive Dyskinesia, Lunatic Medlar). Lukas was awesome on the bass, who even used an electric double bass for a while in one song. People responded to their music and were constantly grooving to their quirky rhythms. Very good show, catch them live at the first opportunity.
Follow up with heavy rockers Void Droid, who also had some fans below judging by the mouths I saw singing their lyrics. The sun was hidden behind the mountains when they started, so it made the situation better for everyone and brought more people both in front of the stage and in the stands. A very good performance from them as well, which got more intense as time went on. Towards the end they got the crowd really excited, the first pit of the day opened as well as the first hand flare from the classic orcs who don’t respect anyone around them but let’s put the grumbling aside and stay in the festive atmosphere of the night.
I was very curious to see the experimental doomsters Universe217 again. I may not listen to their records but in concert it’s a different experience. It helped a lot that the night had settled in and brought with it a well-accepted chill, the crystal-clear sound, the light show and the smoke machines on stage to build the necessary atmosphere. Of course, the attention was drawn once again by Tanya’s vocals. It’s awesome to see her living the concert in her own way, headbanging, feeling every verse, singing, screaming. The only bad thing was that they stopped abruptly as they must have had at least another fifteen minutes on stage, judging by the fact that the headliners came out earlier. Suddenly we saw them gathering their equipment, without understanding what had happened and they left so unexpectedly. I believe it was the only bad moment of the evening as it left a feeling of unfinished business.
Finally, the closing belonged to Nightstalker, who understandably had a lot of fans judging by the many first-day-only wristbands and the fact that everywhere you looked you’d find a t-shirt with their logo. The heavy rockers did what they know best and threw their own unique party. A special day, since their singer Argy had birthday, people sang him happy birthday and at the end he said it was his best so far. They played one song after another without pauses or speeches, including the legendary “Just A Burn” and “Line”. Towards the end they also stirred up their fans even more, performing the classics “Baby, God Is Dead”, “Dead Rock Commandos” and “Children Of The Sun” resulting in continuous pits, stagediving, hand flares (orcs, I said it before) and of course the disgusting smell of burning weed. In general, it’s hard to catch Nightstalker on a bad night and not have a good time at a show of them.
End of the first day, with six bands that I believe satisfied the attendees (they did with me anyway). Now it’s time for rest, sleep and get ready for the second day. Unfortunately we were unlucky as the historic Sacred Reich cancelled their show, who if I’m not mistaken would be the first band out of Greece to play at NLF. A great proof on how much this particular festival has grown over the years.