PitFest 2017 (festival review)

PitFest 2017 (festival review)

April 8, 2017 | Cafe De Spot, Erica – In what must be the smallest town in the province of Drenthe, there is a metal & punk festival at a local pub “The Spot”, which is gaining notoriety by being a relaxed festival with a more than decent line-up. For me an extra reason to go and check it out, since I am a former punker, who embraced metal years ago, but still appreciate punk music. PitFest segregated punk and metal in two adjacent venues. On the terrace in front of the bar there was no segregation whatsoever. Punks, metalheads, hell… even disco-lovers and R&B-aficionados were present. Not only for the music, but for the atmosphere and that’s how we like it!

In this corner of Drenthe traffic jams are hardly present, so before the gates were formally open, we were allowed in and with a cup of coffee I went to check-out the venue. It’s not the most fancy venue, but it’s perfect for a festival like this. The road in front of The Spot is fenced of, to make a square for eating, drinking and shopping at the small but nice metal market. The weather is great too, so it’s quite busy once the first band is about to kick this day into gear.

Sledgehammer Nosejob (NL)
The Dutch death metal band Sledgehammer Nosejob is the band to do precisely that on the “Skullbreaker Stage”. With a record released in January this year, which got a nice review on Pitkings, I was curious how they would perform live. I must say it did sound quite well. The ZZ Top cover in grunts was something different, but fun.

Bad Attitude (NL)
Right after Sledgehammer Nosejob it was Bad Attitude to kick off on the punk stage, named “Punkhol Stage” and they did. It was good to hear that Punk music didn’t change much since I was younger. Bad Attitude had the fire, but the real angry young men look wasn’t omnipresent and that was a bit pity, because it sounded great.

Camp High Gain (NL)
It’s back at the “Skullbreaker Stage” with Camp High Gain. To be honest this band isn’t really metal or punk. It is more like a bit of Greenday-ish sounding rock. It isn’t bad at all, but it just doesn’t do it for me. Luckily there are quite some people who enjoy this a lot. You can’t like ‘m all, now do you?

Lifespite (NL)
With Lifespite it’s back to the “Punkhol Stage” again and what a blast is that! Very aggressive but melodic punk with a front man who’s very expressive. The first mosh pit is starting a bit slow, but the longer Lifespite is playing, the more movement there is. Although it is a bit static for punk, musically it is more than worthy to check them out.

No Gods No Masters (NL)
Next up on the “Skullbreaker Stage” is No Gods No Masters. The first of three band with ‘god’ in its name. He must be a popular guy! I was surprised by the well performed music and the fact that there were no pauses in between songs. The music continued constantly which gave it a great feeling of wanting to play. A bit more action on stage, could take it a step forward.

Reproach (BE)
In the venue-next-door the Belgium punk band Reproach is more than ready to kick some ass. Now this is what punk should sound and look like! Fierce spitting of words, aggressive music and a singer who brings his message across. He even manages to perform pretty high jumps on the small and full stage! It seems the audience have to get used to this intense way, but slowly they loosen up. Great show!

Bombs of Hades (SWE)
Bombs of Hades are the most experienced on the “Skullbreaker Stage” until now and that’s audible. Even though the sound quality is not very good on this day, Bombes of Hades are overcoming that mishap, by playing an incredibly tight set, and at times it seems to me that they play a bluesy kind of death metal. Very nice indeed!

Antillectual (NL)
When I grab a bite to eat, the punk band Antillectual is playing and therefore I miss the biggest part of their performance. Pity, because the last two songs I did hear sounded quite good.

Lifeless (DE)
The saddest part of the performance of Lifeless is the sound quality. There’s almost no moment in their set the sound is acceptable, although the band is working their asses of to give a good performance. It is clear this band is talented and has good songs and a good stage presence. At the end of their set the sound is getting a wee bit better, but it still doesn’t do any justice to the band. Luckily the audience is going berserk anyway and that is what the band deserves.

Black Rodeo (NL)
Black Rodeo is getting ready, but on the “Punkhol Stage” there are audio problems too and it takes quite some time to get them fixed. Obviously frustrated, the band is getting pissed, but when they begin calling out “sieg heil” after almost every sentence, there are quite a few who raise some brows. Probably this is some kind of like knows like ‘humor’, but on a stage this can be easily misunderstood. When the sound is repaired, dikke Dennis announces Black Rodeo and later on he even joins Black Rodeo on vocals with them. The stage is already quite full with the 5 band members and with dikke Dennis joining them, it is filled to the max, but what a party it is!

God Macabre (SWE)
The Swedish metal ban God Macabre has some sound issues too and maybe that is why their performance is a bit stoic. That and a day and a half without sleep I am told later. Even though their monitors aren’t sounding the way they want, they start to play anyway. That’s professionalism! and hats off for these guys! They play a pretty decent set and it is getting very busy now.
When I stand outside enjoying the sun and God Macabre in the background, there are a lot of people inside and outside of the venues. Pitfest is sold out, but it is never overcrowded and the atmosphere is very good, with the occasional weirdo in the mosh pit. Hurting people deliberately in the moshpit and not help them up when they fall, should result in a ban of the festival, but it is good to see the self-cleaning capacity of the metal/punk community.

God Dethroned (NL)
Sadly, I have to leave Toxic Shock (B) for what it is, to get a good spot at God Dethroned. The sound checking of God Dethroned is meticulously and that is paying off. The sound is half decent… the best until now anyway. With a new album to be released in May and being one of the bigger names in the Dutch metal scene, God Dethroned is killing it right from the start. The mosh pit is brutal and at sometimes violent, but that gets contained in the end. Beer is flying through the air and yours truly catches a full glass in the chest. Refreshing! The remainder of the bands now know at what level the bar is at… the (almost) ever serious looking Henri Sattler has put it pretty high! If you were present during the last song, there is a change you’ve made it in to the video clip of God Dethroned! There were camera’s recording the last song, so check it out!

Angel Crew (NL/B)
It is still very busy in the “Skullbreaker Stage” venue and when I arrive at the “Punkhol Stage” to witness Angel Crew, it is just too busy in front of the stage and there is to much movement to make any decent pictures in a safe way. So, I just stood in the back to enjoy the quite energetic show. Again, the good ol’ punk sound still does it for lots of people and Angel Crew did master it this night.

Crowbar (USA)
Due to the amount of people already in front of the stage before Crowbar is going to unleash their mayhem, I am allowed into the backstage area to get in front of the crowd to take pictures (thnx guys!). Front man Kirk is quite a character. He has a Crowbar tattoo in his neck and next to it a Twisted Sister tattoo. His long beard and corpulent build is just a kind of disguise for the power in his voice and eyes. Their coarse mix of various metal genres makes it very interesting and entertaining to listen. There are not that many physical outbreaks on the stage, but the eyes of Kirk are spitting fire in the good sense of the word. I think it is fantastic to see the fire still alive in the eyes of a performer who is doing it for decades. That is passion!

Napalm Death (UK)
With a bit of a heavy heart I decide to skip No Turning Back (NL) on the “Punkhol stage” and stay to watch Napalm Death get their gear ready. I hope a rain check will be possible in the near future. In the last 15 minutes before the show starts, front man Mark “Barney” Greenway enters the backstage area to prepare for the show. I can observe him preparing and I see how nervous he is in the last couple of minutes… still after all these years! But after one step on the stage, al the nervousness is gone and concentration takes over. The show starts off in an almost intimate way, but not much later it explodes into a violent set which is extremely contagious judging by the enormous pit which develops. About half way through this fantastic set I decide to go home. It had been a long day and I have to drive for more than an hour.

With Napalm Death in the background I grab a cup of coffee and walk around one last time and I contemplate on this festival. The sound must be better next year, that’s not up for discussion. From a photographers view I hope Pitfest brings the IKEA ceiling lights pointed at the stage to the open air version next year, because they were great to take pictures with! Maybe it is an idea for some other venues too! The line-up was great and I had a blast visiting this festival hidden in a small town in the northern part of The Netherlands. Maybe more important: I heard not one complaint. Looking forward for the open air variant next year (April 27-28) with Vader already on the list. It’s going to be awesome again!

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About the author

Marc is concert/festival photographer and reporter for PitKings. On occasion he's also writing album reviews. Besides PitKings he also has his own photography company called LOUDimages and has his own event-solutions company: LOUDservices.

View all articles by Marc van Kollenburg