Pitfest 2018 (festival review)

Pitfest 2018 (festival review)

April 27-28, 2018 | Erica – Last year Pitfest was indoors and had a certain coziness to it. This year it would be bigger, larger ánd outdoors with bands like Vader, Zeke, Bloodbath, No Fun At All and 29 others. Bigger is not always better, so I was curious about the approach of the organization and went to Erica early. A miles drive from the habited world lays the Golf resort where Pitfest would be held. Yes you read it correctly: Golf resort. Now, if you think that it is a bold move to mix punk and metal, you’ll be flabbergasted when you mix Tartan pants and golf clubs in there too. But they did and it worked out amazingly.

Friday | April 27th

I was lucky to arrive early, because it was not clear to me where I had to be so I saw a lot of the compound before I got my press pass. The first thing that catches your eyes when entering through the port is the lush thick green grass. Not just any meadow, but golf-ready grass! I’ve been told by a connoisseur, that it is not the best grass, but due to it thickness I might survive a festival of this kind. The second thing to notice is: Almost every thing is in a tent with wooden flooring. Rain or shine, nothing is going to wet or burn the visitors. Great decision!

Mass Worship (SWE)
This band had the honor to kick Pitfest 2018 into gear and they do it with great enthusiasm. The whole band is going for it and the early visitors curiously gather in the larger of the two tents: Skullcrusher. The sound is great and near the end of the set, there is about 75-80 people present. Not bad considering the total amount of people present.

strong>Grade 2 (GB)
The smaller stage is called “Punkhol”, but the majority of the bands playing here are not truly punk, but Punk-ish or harcore-ish. Grade 2 does play punk rock and it is a quite melodic form of punk rock. These youngsters just released an other album and are really going for it. Drummer Jacob is ultra fast and the rest of the band is playing quite merciless on their instruments to keep up the fast tempo. At one moment I ask myself whether their instruments ever live to die of wear and old age or just break because of the relentless hammering they receive. Although fast and wild, it is all played super tight with serious faces. Loved every minute of this gig!

Implore (D)
The downside of a back-to-back-schedule is, that you have to run to make it in time to the next band and to have a good spot. Implore is grindcore and they play it fast and aggressive. There is not a lot of variation between the first few songs, but the band is hammering it home hard and fast. It takes just a few songs and the first pit of Pitfest 2018 is a fact. Around the pit there are dozens of raised fists and flying hair to be seen. The second leg of the set is much more varied and the spectators appreciate that a lot!. There are more and more people present, all bobbing their head.

Chain Reaction (B)
There is not much info to find about this relative new band. It is listed as hardcore, but there are some punk(-ish) influences too. This band is actually quite good! It is not very raw like hardcore or punk can be, but the lyrics are fairly understandable and tell about morals among other things. The lyrics are sung in a punk fashion, but the music keeps the middle of punk, metal and hardcore. This band is probably the embodiment of Pitfest by it style. There are no wild movements on the stage, but nevertheless I like it quite a bit.

I Against I (NL)
This Dutch band has gathered quite some fans in the larger of the two tents. Before they can start, there are some sound issues, which need to be resolved first. The band is around since 1994 and they call their music punk rock, but to me it is more rock than punk and with a popular tune to it too. There are a lot of spectators who know the songs and sing along and move to the rather dance-able beats. It seems I am one of the few who is not all that much impressed, so I decide to grab something to eat.

Bishops Green (CA)
Now this is some old skool punk! The main attraction of this band is the singer. Suited up in a denim suit and a checkered shirt he sings his lyrics angrily while walking around the stage manically. The punks in front of the stage sing along with the songs and slam dance around. At one time one of the punks decide to stage-dive, but there is a lack of audience to do so safely, so he gathers 3 of his friends and jumps on their hands and… is carried around the whole tent while being cheered on to by the rest of the crowd. Now that’s how to party!

Evil Invaders (B)
Sadly I left Bishops Green early to get a good spot at Evil Invaders. Old skool thrash has always been my first love and with the Dutch band Distillator, Evil Invaders are the Belgium masters of this genre. With Evil Invaders being the more wild, violent and explosive one. A pit is formed at almost the same time singer Joe hits the strings of his guitar and the band is all over the place. The set is insane fast and when you take in account that the guys run from left to right, it is even more amazing that the can play this tight. It is now very busy in the Skullcrusher tent and literally everybody is moving is head, arms or more. The only downside of this set is, the huge amounts of smoke on the stage at multiple points. It makes it impossible to see anything on the stage, but luckily the volume is not hindered by the smoke. Shell shocked of this performance I grab a beer and move over to the “Punkhol” tent where the next band is already playing.

Broken Teeth (GB)
The punk stage has now been cleared to make space for some real hardcore and Broken Teeth is the first of this genre this weekend. I guess the name of the band is the result of the way their fans mosh, because a few are hardcore dancing (kicking and swinging fists around). When my camera gets a near miss from flying foot, I conclude it is better to get the hell out of there and take a look from a bit of a distance. The band interacts with the crowd very much and although the tent is not full, the atmosphere is great even though some dislike the way some are hardcore dancing.

I have to take a break and grab a cup of coffee and a bite to eat and miss out on Rotten Sound. I hear them tell the Dutch are not the fastest on forming a pit, but as far I can see and hear he is served immediately.

Knuckledust (GB)
When I arrive at the set of Knuckle Dust, there is hardly any room for taking pictures because of the violent dancing, so I stand in the back for a while, but this genre is definitely not for me, So I take a few pictures and walk over to the Skullcrusher tent.

Zeke (USA)
I am front row when Zeke is still sound checking and stay and watch for a while. It is getting cold and the tent keeps a little of the warmth trapped so it is better here. Singer Marky is having some issues with his amp and when that seems to be solved, the mic shocks him on the mouth, so he is not happy to put it mildly. When the amp fails again, Marky gets triggered as the start time of their set is already passed. When two drunk kids keep yelling insults to him he snaps at them. They try to look tough but got a real good scare. When ultimately the shocking mic is switched for another one with no metal, Zeke can start their set and boy they do start! With all their frustration and anger they perform a marvelous set. It is loud it is fast and there are loud and fast guitars! There is a lot of action on the stage too, so it is quite entertaining too!

Blacklisted (USA)

Exhumed (USA)
I skip blacklisted to get my feet up at the stand of Raw Skull Recordz to get ready for Exhumed, because they are something else! With the singer of Gruesome on vocals, I know this is going to be good. Right from the start the band is kicking ass. Screaming guitars and ultra fast bass drums are the ingredients of Exhume and with a lot of variation this set is on of the best of the day, maybe even of the weekend!

The show is entertaining too, with a lot of position changes and interaction with the fans. Crowd surfers are not to be envied. When they reach the barrier, there is nothing there to catch them and the wooden floor is by far to most comfortable thing to hit. Some hit the metal barrier or even the stairs, but are to drunk to feel anything and dive right back into the crowd. At two times a mad surgeon is on the stage with a running chainsaw and covered in blood. It’s hilarious how he raises his chainsaw too as the guitars get raised and let the engine of his chainsaw spin, but the most funny thing is as he jumps in the crowd with his running chainsaw to crowd surf. Some spectators genuinely got scared the living daylights out of them, because of the running chainsaw. When Exhume ends their set with the cover of Kiss “Detroit Rock City” all the old farts like myself sing along. Just fucking awesome!

No Fun At All (S)
This band is not a band you would expect on a festival like this. Their logo is bright red with white, which makes them pop off from any poster with the dark complex logo’s of death and black metal bands. By the looks of the band members you would expect them to be the entertainment on your company party, but don’t let looks deceive you! No Fun At All is listed as punk, but I suspect to hear some ska-influences, which makes it quite nice varied. I really enjoy the well played set of these Swedes. It is melodic, but clearly punk-ish with some (in my opinion) ska influences. The only thing that bugged me a few times is the two-part singing in the chorus. This tends to get a bit humdrum/poppy but only at certain songs at the chorus.
The variety of tempo makes the set interesting and even dance-able when I observe the people in front of the stage.

Vader (PL)
When Vader is performing, you know you’ll get a solid performance. There is no wild running on stage or blood squirting around during a show of Vader. If there is a Polish variation of the saying “Deutsche gründlichkeit” it would surely spell “Vader”. No frills no gimmicks, just strait up metal in your face. Awesome! The set is performed to perfection and singer Piotr Wiwczarek keeping the merciless pace at a constant high. Heads banging hard and fists are in the air and hair is flying. What else is there to say, but Vader was just their usual awesomeness.

Saturday | April 28th

Uhgah Wugah (NL)
On a short notice Ugah Wugah was called as a replacement and that turned out quite nice! It is punk-ish guitar rock, but they call it metal/punk crossover. Whatever it may be, it is very catchy ad although there is not a real pit, there is a lot of movement and heads nodding. What a great way to start day 2 of Pitfest!

Black Decades (NL)

Disabuse (NL)
It’s Disabuse time again and that is a guaranteed party. It’s quite busy in front of the stage and singer Steven is going for it wholehearted. The sound is great and the hair of lot of guys in the front rows is getting thinner and more grey. That has no influence whatsoever! Grey hair can fly just as good and it’s flying everywhere. The band is on top of the game and Steven does his thing in his own way. To be honest, I think this was the best set of Disabuse I’ve ever seen.

Dead Loyalty (NL)
Although Dead Loyalty plays a nice set, the audience is a bit wait-and-see. Heads are bobbing, but that’s about it for the majority. A few try to start a pit, but that’s very limited. Maybe it had something to do with the rain that fell down or the booze kicked in, but the people were quite tame for a band like Dead Loyalty.

Dead Head (NL)
Over at the Skullcrusher tent it is much more busy when Dead Head is playing. The sun is shining again and the band kicks in gear and takes the audience with them. 40 minutes for this band is not that long and when I see the sweaty faces behind my, it is obvious this band gave the audience en pretty nice workout.

Manu Armata (NL)
I skip the larger part of the set of Manu Armata to grab a bite to eat and after taking a few pictures, I head over to the Skullcrusher stage for Dust Bolt.

Dust Bolt (D)
These young Germans look tense before they start and when the guitar of singer Lenny malfunctions during the second song, the nerves hit home. With shaking hands the cable is replaced and when it works, the tension is flowing away and the set is getting loud and wild. When singer Lenny calls for a circle pit around one of the tent poles, the audience obliges happily and a large group runs around the tent pole. Technically this is probably not the most tight played set, but damn… this is loud and fast and a load of fun!

Corrupt Moral Altar (UK)
What the fuck is this?! An insane singer who almost drops of the stage before the first song even starts, a very young and slender bass player who is jumping and skipping around and all this while producing a wall of sound with screaming vocals!
At one point I’m taking pictures but I see nothing, When I look up to see where singer Chris went, he’s just inches away right in front and above me screaming… oh well… Musically it is not really my cup of tea, but damn! This is entertaining as hell… never a dull moment.

Tankard (D)
It is 36 years ago when this band started and they are still going strong. Singer Gerre is especially proud of the fact they never took a break and had no line-up change in all those years. From second number one of this set, it is more than obvious that Gerre wants to have some fun. He is strutting the stage while singing and his eyes sparkle wickedly. It doesn’t take long for him to put his face up my lens and grab my lens hood and “shake” it a little. Luckily I had my camera ready and got him very close-up. Gerre is laughing audible while singing as we high-five. The other photographers get their shots too and it is getting quite cheerful.

At times Gerry lifts his shirt to reveal his luscious body to the world and the crowd goes wild. Especially the women I presume, but I cannot take a look behind me, because of all of the action what is going on at the stage. It’s not long after that, that Gerre finds me again and crouches in front of me and putting his hair on my head. I guess he was feeling sorry for me, as I have not that much hair on my head. Again I snap some really close-up pictures. Bass player Frank is getting into the fun too. After almost tapping me on the head with his bass he steps down the stairs of the stage and plays his bass against the barrier amidst his fans. The tent is full and everybody is moving, if they want it or not. Tankard knows how to throw a party! To Gerr I want to say: “bedaank”! What a show and what a performer and owyeah… great music too!

Just Before Dawn (S)
This is a band I was looking out for. The renowned Bolt Thrower singer Dave Ingram is fronting this band and that alone is a reason to get a front row position. Before their gig, they did a singing session at the booth of Raw Skull Recordz and a lot of Bolt Thrower and Benedict fans came to get stuff signed by Dave. Some with piles of CD booklets. With Dave Ingram Just Before Dawn got a kick in the butt and Dave and the band are killing it on the stage at Pitfest. The show is awesome and Dave is really getting into this old skool war death metal. The gentle and polite guys are merciless on the stage and the audience came in large numbers. There wasn’t a person in the whole tent who wasn’t enjoying him or her selves with this great and impressive performance. For a large part of the visitors Just Before Dawn was the best band of the festival, but Pitfest is not over yet!

Altar (NL)
Pitfest is going to be the place for the short(?) revival of the Youth Against Christ line-up of Altar. The news spread fast, because nearly everybody present at Pitfest was cramped into the tent to witness this spectacle. And a spectacle it was!
It was said that a part of the reason ticket sales went really well for this day, because of Altar. Singer Edwin is going berserk and moving around the stage like a madman. Making faces and wild gestures to the crowd and the love every bit of it. They are going insane and responds loudly and wildly to every request of Edwin. The rest of the band is taking it a bit easier physically, but musically it’s like a thundering freight train… not stoppable! Altar in this line-up is by far the most popular band of Pitfest. When the last tunes die out, a guy next to me slammed me on the back and screamed to me “That was fucking awesome, wasn’t it?!”. I guess that sums it up for the majority of the people in the tent.

Diagnosis? Bastard! (GB/S)
It is getting a bit colder again, so I grab a cup of coffee before going to see the next band. When I enter the Punkhol tent, I see a very wild and aggressive pit going on so I decide to walk around the back to the other side of the tent and take position next to the large speaker on the right. At this corner there are less people so it should be save. After snapping 2 pictures I got torpedoed from behind and smash my right knee on a steel hook of a barrier and slam my chest on the edge of the stage. So much for comradely, because the perpetrators are gone when I lift myself up and check-out my gear. Luckily nothing is broken, but sadly it is the end of Pitfest for me as it turns out later I have a bruised kneecap and rib.

I hate it to miss out on Bloodbath, because the photographic opportunities with this band are great, but it has no point in trying, so after another cup of coffee I get in my car and drive home. At least my wife will be happy I’m home early!

Conclusion
The step from a festival in the backroom of a cafe to an outdoor festival in a meadow is quite a big one and often there seem to be quite some hurdles which had to be taken, but were forgotten. Pitfest did it quite well I must say. The points of attention are mostly details and I am sure they get addressed next year. The layout was spacious and there was plenty of room for everybody everywhere. Hardly any lines, no mud even though there were some showers and a super friendly crew. A good move was the invitation of the inhabitants of the village of Erica. They could get in for free and check out what lunatics camped on the outskirts of their village. From elderly people to youngsters and from posh to working class… all walks of live came by to see what kind of people listened to that racket that they heard. Even people who played a round of golf came by to see what was going on and got an explanation of a metal head. Sadly I had my camera in my bag at that point, because that was a great sight. Up to next year with Asphyx and Wolfbrigade, who are already confirmed.

About the author

Marc is concert/festival photographer and reporter for PitKings in the northern and eastern part of The Netherlands. On occasion he's also writing album reviews. Besides PitKings he also has his own photography company called Loud Images.

View all articles by Marc van Kollenburg