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Summer Breeze Open Air 2015 @ Flugplatzstr., Dinkelsbühl, Germany

Various Artists
in Tuesday, 11 August 2015 at Flugplatzstr
by Erika Kuenstler

It has been a wild festival season in Germany this year, and the perfect way of slowly winding things down is at Summer Breeze, Germany’s second biggest metal festival. This year’s Summer Breeze saw 120 bands play on three open air stages and one indoor stage over a four day festival, to crowds tens of thousands strong. Celebrating its tenth birthday at its current location near the small town of Dinkelsbühl, Summer Breeze this year ran from Wednesday 12 to Saturday 15 August, attracting metal fans from a whole host of countries, ranging from the nearby ones such as Switzerland, Finnland, and France, all the way to those from the distant shores of countries such as Brazil, New Zealand, America, and even South Africa.
 
  
In previous years, many festival-goers had arrived on the Tuesday of the festival, camping outside the as-yet unopened festival, eagerly waiting in line for the next morning when the gates would open. This year however, impatient fans for the first time had the option of officially being able to enter the festival grounds on Tuesday, albeit at a slight mark-up in price, with a few really dedicated fans even arriving as early as Monday night. Already on Tuesday morning, the festival atmosphere wafted infectiously through the air, with the campsites already being considerably packed. As the temperatures soared, the beer flowed freely, and many car batteries were drained as metal anthems mingled through the air. Nevertheless, the campsites were well equipped with portaloos that were in surprisingly good condition for most of the festival. In addition to this, the campsites themselves were furnished with other facilities such as supermarket tents, first aid tents, refreshment stands, as well as the very much appreciated water stations. These were indeed a saving grace in the heat of the festival, with many campers heading to these stations and completely drenching themselves in an effort to stay cool.
 
  
In stark contrast to the incessant rain that sporadically fell on each day of the festival last year, this year’s Summer Breeze turned into a real scorcher, with temperatures well into the mid-thirties and above for most of the festival. A brief electrical storm on Friday evening played havoc with the festival however, with the festival grounds having to be evacuated for the duration of the storm in case of lightning strikes. I was at the tented stage at the time, and remember the staunch fans of GLORYHAMMER steadfastly refusing to move in the hopes that the band would play despite the evacuation. Police forces were eventually called in to help the evacuation process, and it was an amusing site to see the resolute GLORYHAMMER fans waving their blow-up swords at the police in defiance. Nevertheless, the tide of the battle soon turned, with police managing to send the crowd out of the infield and back to the campsites. Luckily the storm cleared up in a short while, with the festival picking up where it left off after an hour’s delay.
 
  
Wednesday, the official warm-up party day, saw two of the stages open and showcasing bands, whilst last-minute constructions still took place on the two main stages which opened a day later. After a leisurely time to find friends, set up base camp, and take a gander through the multitude of stands and food stalls, the music officially started at 2pm, running until 3am the next morning. As in previous years, the festival was kicked off by BLASMUSIK ILLENSCHWANG, the brass-band from the tiny village across from the festival grounds. The remainder of the lineup featured a whole host of bands catering to every taste, with everything from the all-female Thrashers NERVOSA, to the new side project of Dani Filth, namely DEVILMENT. And ending off the night with a bit of comedy was the hilarious hillbilly band STEVE ‘N SEAGULLS, who played a variety of well-known metal anthems with a blue-grass twist. There really could not be a more fitting band than these dungaree-clad, banjo-toting Finns to really get the party going!
 
  
The official first day of the festival began on Thursday, as witnessed by the massive influx of people joining the festival. This was definitely a day for the Thrashers, with all four of the so-called German Teutonic Four, namely KREATOR, TANKARD, SODOM, and DESTRUCTION all taking to the stage on the same day, leaving behind some truly monumental memories. With other headliners such as OPETH and AMORPHIS also enchanting the crowds with their captivating and infectious music, this was an amazing way to kick off the first day of festivities. My personal favourites of the day were the Symphonic Black Metal masters CARACH ANGREN. Many fans have long been anticipating a show in Germany for ages now, and this was finally the chance to catch them live. Needless to say, this had fans showing up in droves despite the late slot, with many even going as far as to paint their faces with the archetypal Tim Burton-esque corpsepaint style adopted by CARACH ANGREN.
 
  
The penultimate day of the festival was even more raucous than the last. However, with the sweltering heat, everything had completely dried up, resulting in massive clouds of dust being kicked up. Despite everyone coughing as a result of the dry, dust-filled air, fans nevertheless had a slew of amazing bands to look forward to. Headlined by leviathan bands such as POWERWOLF, TRIVIUM, BLOODBATH, and CRADLE OF FILTH, this day definitely went off with a bang. One of my personal highlights was HOUR OF PENANCE, an Italian Death Metal band who have a veritable machine of a drummer. Thanks to the evacuation that happened, every band from the evening onwards was delayed by an hour, meaning that the bands went on until an epic 4am. Nevertheless, the upside of the storm was that the dust had at least been dampened down.
 

  
And with stunning rapidity, it was already time for the final day of the festival. This day’s lineup saw bands like HATEBREED, DARK TRANQUILITY, and NIGHTWISH headlining, with the forefathers of the Black Metal genre, the almighty VENOM topping everything off. Other outstanding performances also included RECTAL SMEGMA and TROLDHAUGEN. RECTAL SMEGMA had by far the most insane assortment of crowd surfers, with a veritable tornado of items flying through the air above the audience, ranging from toilet brushes, to confetti, inflatable crocodiles and palm trees, a crowd-surfer in an inflatable penis costume, and even a Santa Claus in a blow-up dingy.  TROLDAUGEN, Australia’s trollish answer to America’s NECROGOBLIKON, on the other hand went all out, with this being their first international festival appearance. Starting off big with the singer spectacularly falling off the stage whilst attempting to throw colourful Hawaiian leis into the crowd, the show could only get more raucous from thereon out. Fiendish grimaces combined with hilariously delivered inane songs make this band a must-see. And of course, what better way for this all to end than with a power cut during the last song? If you have a weird sense of humour and enjoy a bit of fun, you seriously have to check out this band!
 
  
Nevertheless, organising a festival of such magnitude is no mean feat, and the fact that everything else ran so smoothly stands testament to how much solid work went into making it all possible. A big horns up to the Summer Breeze team and all those whose work went into making such an event possible!
 

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Edited 22 September 2017
 

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