Rabarock 2007 - Järvakandi, Estonia, 15-16.07.2007 by destroyah (36)
15th of June
Just two days ago I was sitting at home, drinking my morning coffee and rounding up equipment for this year's Rabarock festival. It was to be an amazing experience, offering both axing metal and good old rock'n'roll. Packing proved to be surprisingly easy. All I needed was my supersized tent, a six-pack for starters, a rebel flag and a pack of cigarette papers along with filters. Then I was set to go. Transport was an issue, since the organizers did little to get people to and away from the festival area, but I still managed to catch a ride with relative ease. As the milage grew, I became evermore restless, waiting to spring out of the car and pour in that sweet, sweet first beer. After just 40 minutes of road tripping, I was there. The gates of hell, the valhalla of the damned. In other words - paradise.
Although I had plenty of time to get my press affiliation and catch the first band of the day, alcohol proved to be a tough advesary, so I spent the next hour setting up my tent and caressing the cans. Sadly cans, instead of jugs, but still. Then it was business time - Poets of the Fall had the honors of opening on the main stage, and they did their job well. Frankly, you couldn't have expected anything else from them. The crowd was still scarce, but I could see it in their eyes that trouble was heading this way. The dragon had definately been unleashed.
I was gonna see Pedigree, but thirst got the best of me again, so I left for home base. After moderate consumption of various substances I decided I was in the perfect condition to get good coverage of the rest of the festival. Apoptygma Berzerk was next, playing a rocking set. I expected something more electro, but Apop had gotten the idea of a rock festival rather nicely. The performance was perhaps a bit monotone, but the music was anything but. Still I felt bad about missing out on Pedigree cause deep down inside I knew they put on a far better show than Apop did. It's not that I prefer their hardcore industrial take over Apop's more mellow sound, but having seen them live before, I knew they could deliver with deadly accuracy.
With testosterone now running strong, I opted to ditch my camera, hunt for more beer and get a pole-position for The Datsuns. In the meantime, Tanel Padar & the Sun took over the second stage. Unlike with Pedigree, I didn't regret missing out on them. Not that The Sun is an awful band, it really isn't, but I felt like I needed a break from the hordes of teenage girls, to whom Tanel Padar and The Sun obviously appealed much more. For me, greater things lied ahead.
Now if you haven't spotted The Datsuns on MTV ("Motherfucker from Hell" and "System Overload" surf the telewaves quite often) then this group from New Zealand represents the school of rock revival, pretty much in the vein of White Stripes and Franz Ferdinand. Little did I know, that by entering their devilish moshpit I was about to experience one of the three great evils in the festival. Dust - all-covering, suffocating dust. After an awesome set I found myself standing in the middle of a fucking desert with dirt and conspiculous blood stains covering my shirt, and a muddy camouflage on my face even Schwarzennegger would envy. There was dust in my throat and nose, but luckily I solved that problem with increased alcohol consumption. Beer, however, seemed not to work. I decided it was time to pay a visit to the camp and consult the other members of the party about further options and resupply. That of course meant that I didn't see Dagö perform. Then again that wasn't really a big problem as I've always found their take on poprock a bit too boring. Their live shows probably have slightly greater entertainment value but I couldn't have cared less at that moment - i needed a break. Besides, we had to regroup for Clawfinger.
I knew they were gonna be good, but they really exceeded my expectations. With Rabarock being their fourth appearance in this country, it became clear why the band loved to perform here. From the first riff, the crowd went berzerk. Clawfinger know how to get the party going, and the communication was mutual. The band's appeal for fans to respect each other in the whirlwinds of the pit was grotesque in the key, perhaps even corny, but genuine and inspiring. After many crowdpleasers like "The Truth", "Two Sides", "Biggest & The Best" and a fistful of encore's the band reluctantly bid the people farewell and headed off, leaving the entire festival area, along with our strategically positioned camp in the wake of a huge sandstorm, the result of an army ten thousand strong, stomping away on a ground more volatile than southern Afghanistan. And this is also when another big problem became painfully evident. The second the sun went down, the temperatures hit critical point. The hot summer day was replaced by a cold night. Though I must admit that unlike with the dust issue, the organizers were powerless against the treacherous nordic summer. The danger of all night time activities being smothered became very real. Only thirty minutes after Clawfinger, I was fast asleep.
16th of June
I woke up early. Clearly the nuclear winter had failed to kill some of the party animals and by eight in the morning they were louder than anything else, forcing me to leave the comfort of my tent. I was fortunate enough to discover that fate hadn't teased me with a massive hangover. I took some aspirin though, just to be safe. Then I constructed a flagpole, following an ingenious design involving MacGyver tape and rallied the troops for a shopping spree. The only two functional shops were closed, but fortunately some good people had stashed enough booze to last us til the gates opened again. Still feeling too tired to get my hands dirty, I caught the opportune moment to carry on with my photo duties. First off I went to see Agent M, an Estonian punkrock/grunge band who, while really great on CD, failed to impress me live. Metsatöll however, hit my brain and
crushed any remaining pockets of headache. It had actually been a while since I had listened to their folk driven heavy metal, let alone see them in concert, so Rabarock was a great reunion. Metsatöll was one of the few bands during which I felt the creepy little chills crawling down my spine once again.
I was now extatic. The next band was gonna flip me out. Peer Günt - old school heavy-rockers from Finland, taking the best of the 80's and pouring it down on us. Think ZZ Top on speed or the stoned Motörhead. Despite the fact that someone tried to set my trusty rebel flag on fire (evidently rocking out is a big no-no these days...) I managed to get my first supernatural high of the day. Who could stand still while greeted by a hail of licks. Poor fools need a reappraisal of the whole concept of the moshpit. Not that I enjoy people shoving each other like a band of killer whales on acid, but you definately can't help going with the flow. I admit my improvised flagstaff may have been too short, causing the banner to graze the man's face every now and then but that isn't enough of a reason to torch everything in sight. Just graze it back, reach for the sky and shoot in the colors.
There was one more thing that got my mind going ballistic. Earlier that day, as I was returning from my failed crusade for alcohol, some teenage trend rockers yelled me to "burn my fucking racist flag", from the safety of their fourth storey balcony, of course. Not that it had bothered me all that much, but it felt sad to see once again what this world has come to. The days when the Stars and Stripes and the rebel flag flew side by side are fading from our collective memory. The days when one desperately cried out for the original meaning of "and justice for all", the other urging for people to fight the man, pull his sleeve and say "hey, is this the right way? Is violence and war our true calling?" The ellusive days, when so many stood together asking for their young to be brought home from that distant land in South-East Asia. I guess that's what I expected from this weekend, a higher sense of right and wrong and an universal appeal for reason and the essential good in men. Unfortunately I saw blind hate and prejudice towards everything and everyone. It is what wars still feed upon today. It is the conformist counterculture of this new millenium. Consume, kill, buy, sell - but oppose.
After my somewhat melancholic pondering over the subject of imminent doom upon mankind, I discovered I had missed Nick Oliveri and the Mondo Generator. I felt it was time to shake the shroud of darkness and make most of the rest of the festival. Besides, all the people I met and saw, aside from these angst fueled youngsters were immensley joyous and peaceful - definately friendlies. It seemed that apocalypse would wait for a few years more. But one thing that really got to me was the harmful nature of UV-radiation, the only downside of the hot day. this is why I only caught a glimpse of Tharaphita, a folk black metal group. Although I was never a big fan of them, their latest album had turned out to be somewhat of a masterpiece, and the new songs, the few I witnessed that day, sounded fantastic live. Nevertheless, I couldn't concentrate on Tharaphita for long. The chariots of fire were on the attack, panic and disorientation set in. I was lurking in the shadows, leaping from shade to shade, hoping to get to my jacket to avoid flesh falling off my bones. I was truly the Lizard King.
With a superior shirt now giving me protection from the subnuclear, yet scorching solar winds, I was ready for Pain. Peter Tägtgren - half-man, half-god. They wasted no time and jumpstarted the crowd early on with hits like "Same Old Song" and "Zombie Slam". The next hour was theirs. Fast-paced industrial to the core, accompanied by Tägtgren's menacing bass voice.
When the last metal act of the festival left the stage, I decided not to go and see the Estonian Kosmikud further away. Instead I stood my ground and stood by for Electric Six, a group that would surely be in a madhouse if they weren't so awesome. In a word - my kind of people. The disco-rockers defined the day with some of the best humor rhytms available today. It's amazing that despite their satirical take on music, they are actually very, very good. After a massive bomb run, loads of improper dance moves, and the sending of George W. into the vortex, Electric Six took their Scandinavian drummer and left for space. What a sight - weird enough to be a gift from god.
As the end drew nearer, I rushed to see the reunion gig of Mr. Lawrence. Truth be told, I got a little sidetracked by certain friends who shall remain nameless, but I still made it to see them take the stage. Quality british pop rock for sure, one of those bands that don't sound "Estonian". You see we here can easily differentiate between local and foreign bands, although the line has faded over the recent years. Mr. Lawrence however showed class already in the early 90's, an era where 20-dollar keyboard disco plagued this part of the world. Why they disbanded? Beats me. As I stood there, staring at the stage, I could feel my eyelids turning into stone. Regardless of what I said before, Mr. Lawrence was not my bestest and dearest band in the whole wide world. So to keep those synapses in the brain snapping I went to see "Heavy Karaoke", a devilish invention of the great people of Finland. Quite possibly the noblest discovery since toast. After about forty minutes I was entertained and alive again. I was ready for Laibach.
I was warned earlier that Laibach were gonna concentrate on their interpretations of various national anthemns, otherwise known as the "Volk" album, leaving little if any time for their older songs. It was exactly what they did. The people however were desperate for some action, turbulent movement and an all out dance fever, instead of a serious dramatization. On it's own, the show was surely an interesting nebulae of shapes, sounds and colors, but I was too tired, too cold to keep on going. I didn't have anything strong enough to take this trip. Wondering about the fantastic experiences and combinations possible with the show, I wandered off, homing for anything that smelled stronger than thirty degrees. Yea - the heatseeker supreme.
With Laibach playing in the distance I went through any remaining bottles or cans, checking the strength of their now consumed former inhabitants, calculating where had the good stuff gone, as it hadn't been the head. Soberity is truly a foul disease. But with necessities come opportunities and soon we were fully armed again. We played "Marco Polo" and made plans to raid the security booth. After a failed attempt to gather an army of massive proportions to overthrow the tyrannic regime of united law enforcement agencies and robots, I finally crashed.
Just this morning I was sitting in what by that time must've been mostly a mix of alcohol and the earthly remains of tens of thousands of popular consumer products. The devastation was impressive. Amidst this chaos and apocalyptic rainfall, I was trying to focus and summarize what I had been through. Mixed emotions were racing like Swedish Fireballs on the Mint 400. I remembered enjoying the bands. I was aching all over, so I had to have done something right. I was also weary and had come to accept the lack of further drinking options. Still, I quickly had a few more beers so I'd find tentpacking more amusing.
Rabarock had definately been awesome, but my dedication to maximize the live experience had gotten to me. I guess the only shortcoming of the festival, if you will, was the abundance of excellent bands, as no man should be asked to stand up for twelve consecutive hours, two days in a row. But in the end it was worth it, the feeling of total freedom in the cool morning breeze, when that first wall of sound hits you and takes you away. The empowering sensation of absolute ecstasy and zero gravity - no fear. This is what makes everything else worth while. Perhaps one day Rabarock will become the new Woodstock, along with many others all around the globe. Sex, drugs and rock'n'roll have accompanied previous attempts for world peace, and we certainly live in desperate times. Maybe it'll all snap again. The door is open - step up, step in.
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