9th June 2019
Rock im Park Day 3 with Reviews of Halestorm, Alice In Chains and Tool
Day 3 promised to be another hot day with lots of sun and an uncertain end, as some forecasts showed thunderstorms towards the evening.
The first highlight on day 3 was the hard rock band HALESTORM around front singer “Lzzy” Hale from Red Lion, Pennsylvania. The quartet have earned a reputation for their energetic rock shows, which draw their ferocity from Lzzy’s captivating stage persona. That day was no different when the four members of HALESTORM went onstage and started their set with their neck-breaking hit single ‘Black Vultures’ from their newest album ‘Vicious’. Vocalist Lzzy Hale commanded the attention of the audience from the first moment and delivered an impressive performance on her sleek custom gold-black Gibson Explorer guitar, all while singing in her trademark voice with just the right amount of hoarseness. In the introduction of ‘Do not Disturb’, Lzzy confessed especially to her German fans that she loved their accent, which earned her a lot of yells and quite a few incredulous looks. Towards the end of the main part of the set, it was Lzzy’s little brother Arejay’s turn to shine during a drum solo.
What some see as a moment to head for the beer stand, was in this case something to watch and behold. Arejay not only had visibly tons of fun while being at it, but he also created a hilarious moment when he pulled out two giant-sized sticks, which he impressively put to good use – seemingly defying the law of physics. I am sure this will be much searched for moment on YouTube, as it was just unbelievable to watch. After the fan favourite ‘I miss the Misery’, HALESTORM left the stage after 50 minutes of playtime, which the band spent well making new fans. // www.halestormrocks.com or https://www.facebook.com/halestormrocks // Setlist: 01. Black Vultures / 02. Freak Like Me / 03. Love Bites (So do I) / 04. Do not Disturb / 05. Pois Amen / 06. I Get Off / 07. Chemicals / 08. Uncomfortable / 09. I Miss the Misery.
Alice In Chains
The iconic co-founders of Grunge Rock, ALICE IN CHAINS, were scheduled to appear on the large Zeppelin stage right after HALESTORM. The crowd was already warmed up and plenty, so the band around founding guitarist Jerry Cattrell and (not so) new singer William DuVall found a nicely prepared audience. ALICE IN CHAINS opened their set with a double whammy of two songs from their iconic sophomore album ‘Dirt’ from 1992 in the form of ‘Them Bones’ and ‘Dam that River’. Then ‘Again’ from the band’s third (and self-titled) album paved the way for some newer stuff A clear highlight in the setlist was the ballad ‘Down in a hole’, during which William grabbed an acoustic guitar to perform the song in such an intimate way, which sent shivers down the spines of the audience, despite the sweating temperatures.
In general, it was a pleasure to see and hear how the two singers, William and Jerry, were splitting the vocal duties, and by that, bringing back to life those iconic songs from the long-gone Grunge days. However, a look at the audience revealed that ALICE IN CHAINS have not only drawn fans from the 90ies to their concert, but a lot of younger ones, too, which proves Grunge ain’t dead yet. This became extremely evident when tens of thousands of fans screamed “If I would, could you?” in unison. ALICE IN CHAINS closed off their one-hour set with the song ‘Rooster’, which definitely was an excellent choice, as it was bound to keep ringing in the audience’s ears for an extended time period. // https://www.aliceinchains.com or https://www.facebook.com/Aliceinchains // Setlist: 01. Them Bones / 02. Dam That River / 03. Again / 04. Check my Brain / 05. Rainier Fog / 06. Down in A Hole / 07. Stone / 08. We Die Young / 09. Angry Chair / 10. Man in the Box / 11. The One You Know / 12. Would? / 13. Rooster
Then finally on the third day, it was time for another highlight on the billing. The TOOL gig was very high on the bucket list for the prog rock faction of the festival crowd, as the band have only recently come out of their 10-year hiatus, and the last European gigs from the ‘10,000 Days’ tour date back to 2007. It turned out that TOOL have developed such a huge attraction that the area in front of the Zeppelin stage was seemingly filled to the max, and only very few of the 72,000 people could have been at the other two stages (poor THE 1975 and BEARTOOTH). Who would have thought that the TOOL army would have grown so large during these times of neglect? Initially, the stage set-up did not look spectacular. The musicians took their places in the familiar half circle, with singer Maynard James Kennan in his new cyberpunk-look taking his place next to drummer Danny Carey towards the back of the stage, above them hanging the band’s giant steel septagram. With the opener ‘Aenima’, also the visual part of the stage came to life with an enormous impact.
The visual screens taking up the back of the stage corresponded with the ones left and right of the stage to display a mesmerizing array of mixture of horror comic sequences and lava-like geometric forms, which were at times supported by a huge array of lights and seemingly countless lasers, creating an visually and acoustically immersive and encapsulating experience unrivalled by any other band. The podium of Maynard was - as usual - kept mostly in the dark, with his characteristic Iroquois haircut silhouette appearing only occasionally against the back light. The setlist featured the two yet to be released songs ‘Descending’ and ‘Invincible’, and they differed to the older songs in that regard that they take the concept of psychedelic parts and off-beat rhythm patterns even further than before (if anyone thought that’s even possible). This became evident every time the people in the audience were trying to pump their fists into the air, an endeavour designed to fail from the start thanks to the protracted rhythm patterns. So most people were just standing there wide-eyed in what was also breath-taking to watch were the three instrument-playing band members working in perfect unison to create the acoustic foundation for the show.
Besides the two new songs, the setlist featured a pretty good representation of the band’s back catalogue. With ‘Intolerance’ the band even featured a song from the 1993 debut ‘Undertow’. But those who were hoping to see live manifestations of the earlier hits such as ‘Hush’, ‘Sober’, or ‘Prison Sex’ were mistaken. As for some consolation, at the end of the 90-minute set, the band played the fan favourite ‘Stinkfist’, and the gig ended in a sea of applause. Three out of four band members (guess who was missing) even went as far as taking a photo with the crowd after the gig ended. Five minutes after the show’s end, launched impressive ‘farewell’ fireworks, which were really beautiful to look at. However, it felt slightly out of context as it was so detached from the end of the gig. // https://www.facebook.com/ToolMusic/ or www.toolband.com // Setlist: 01. Aenima / 02. The Pot / 03. Parabola / 04. Descending / 05. Schism / 06. Invincible / 07. Part of Me / 08. Jambi / 09. Forty Six + 2 / 10. Sweat / 11. Stinkfist
Sunday was a memorable farewell day in the Park. The weather once again was very warm, and it held up, as the forecast thunderstorms luckily did not materialize. What was sobering though was the staggering amount of garbage scattered all around the festival grounds. It seems like the festival operators had given up on cleaning and distributing litter cans, so most people simply were dropping their trash all over the place. A sincere focus on waste reduction and recycling efforts for the next rendition of ROCK AM RING & ROCK IM PARK in 2020 would be advisable, not only because it is the 35th / 25th anniversary, but for the sake of everyone.
All pictures by Elena Arens from Rock am Ring