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KorpiklaaniMoravsky Krumlov Castle, Moravsky Krumlov, Czech Republic
19th to 21st August 2021
Rock Castle Festival 2021 Day 1 with Dragony, Chris Bay, Turmion Kätilöt and Korpiklaani

Rock Castle festival is a new festival on the roster of Pragokoncert Bohemia in the Czech Republic. Pragokoncert is well known among the fans of Rock and Metal music in the Czech Republic, Germany and Austria for the Metalfest in Pilsen and the famous Masters Of Rock in Zlin as well as for organizing concerts at Masters Of Rock Café in Zlin or at Major venues in Prague and other cities across the country.

The festival was held in the park of Moravsky Krumlov’s castle, a very unique and intriguing setting. Due to heavy traffic, construction sites on the roads and of course border checks due to these special times, I only arrived late in the afternoon, though I had left early in the morning for South Moravia. The festival was perfectly organized, there were no long lines at the wristband exchange or the box office, where you could change foreign currency to Czech Crowns. I brought my stuff to the locker that you could rent in advance but also last minute on-site and the friendly guy at the desk also offered mobile-charging services that had plenty of customers over the weekend. The security at the entrance was friendly and welcoming and the field was well organized.

Near the entrance you could find the Merchandise tent, the place where you could buy out your reusable cups (I love these cups with a hook, so you can fix them to your clothes, if you need free hands) several tents that sold beverages (beer and liquor in cups and alcohol-free beverages in bottles) and a bit further down the Dixies). There were stands with hand-sanitizers close by a s well as sinks where you could wash your hands. On the other side of the Infield were all kinds of food stands like Bramborá, Belgian Fries, Potato Chips, various grilled meat dishes, Burger, Kebab, Crepes, Donuts, Popcorn and many more. A bit further from the infield a small bridge led to the arear where several market stands offered jewellery, shirts and other Merchandise items and a further tent offered hot coffee, tea and chocolate as well as plenty of seats, so you could take a seat and warm up, for the nights already were cold and humid.

The only thing that I missed were the flush-toilets you had to pay for at Metalfest in Pilsen, but maybe the organizers will get us that kind of extra luxury next year. There were various types of accommodation offered by the organizers. The whole thing was built as a 3 steps system. The first step was the festival ticket, the second one accommodation and the third one the parking. I must admit that it was a bit confusing, because you could only buy a parking, if you bought camping as well. Those who stayed in hotels or drove from their hometowns day by day faced a problem. The camping was offered in 3 classes: VIP close by the infield, Camp Sparrow a good foot march away and guarded and unguarded camping even further away that was unguarded and free.

Only the Thursday before the festival started, the organizers started to sell parking spots far from the venue and with pick up of the tickets at the box office (so where did you want to leave the car meanwhile?) of DHL shipping (that might become tricky if you only had 4 working days to receive it, before you leave for the festival). Maybe the parking thing can be organized a bit differently next year. I found a convenient solution for my “Bat-Mobile” nor too far from the venue, but if this works if the festival will be held with full capacity is a different thing. The stage was built up in front of the castle building, that is currently undergoing reconstruction and renovation. The castle museum currently presents the ‘Slavic Epos’ by painter ALFONS MUCHA and the festival  had organized guided tours for those who were interested to see it.

The capacity of the festival was limited to 7,000 people due to the current situation and since the park is rising a bit you could simply stand further up the slope or sit on a blanket if you wanted to avoid the crowd in front of the stage. Whenever I’m at a festival organized by Pragokoncert, I marvel at the fact that the organizers somehow manage to make the bands to keep the schedule and the techs to work fast enough to build up the set just in time for there were no significant delays in the schedule during the whole festival.

The atmosphere was fantastic, everyone was relaxed and the whole thing an understanding between nations. I met people from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The locals were always ready to help, since some of the staff spoke neither German nor English and I really appreciated that no matter what problem occurred, there was always someone to give a hand. The security really was the politest I ever met at a festival, although they did their job properly, you never had to wait long to get access to the venue. I also liked the fact that the paramedics offered earplugs to the people in the front-rows, if they spotted people without them. The fire-fighters were there as well, ready to step in, for some of the shows would come with fire effects.

The overall feeling was perfectly harmonious and safe, everybody seemed just to be happy, that they could have a festival during these special times. This does not only apply to the fans in the pit, but to the artists on stage and all the techs and stage-hands around as well, you could only see happy faces and most of the artists repeatedly thanked the crowd for being there and told us how happy they were to play for a live audience again. A thing highly appreciated by the fans was, that nearly all the bands had agreed to come to a signing session, the longest line was for SABATON and to see that shining in the fans eyes when they got their stuff signed by their favourite bands was a wonderful thing to see. After this long preface, let’s start to talk about the most important things: music and performances. If you go to a festival in the Czech Republic, keep in mind, that the loudness is a lot higher, so do yourself a favour and bring your earplugs, just in case.


Dragony

I arrived on a sunny afternoon at the venue and the first show I got to see was DRAGONY a band from Austria I had seen a few weeks ago at a concert at SZENE in Vienna. DRAGONY had brought Maria Nesh as a guest singer and played a set of 10 songs that consisted of classics a mong the fans as well as songs from their latest album like ‘Legends Never Die, ‘If It Bleeds We Can Kill It’ and ‘Made Of Metal’ among them. The band thanked the fans for coming several times and put on an energetic show with plenty of interaction with the fans.

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Chris Bay

Then the setup for CHRIS BAY’s acoustic show was built up and while Chris checked his stuff on stage, he distributed spare bottles of water to the thirsty fans in the crowd, who were waiting for the show to begin. I must admit that I was a bit sceptic, if an acoustic show would be a good choice for a festival that is for the masses, for acoustic shows usually work fine in a more intimate atmosphere, like a small club. A few songs later I was convinced that this would work fine and decided to stay and watch the whole performance and so I hear how Chris told the fans, that he had been extremely nervous before he came on stage with his “Heavy Metal Acoustic Guitar” but that the fans positive and welcoming attitude helped him a lot. CHRIS BAY performed a versatile set of songs with Rock and Metal Classics and songs by his main band FREEDOM CALL. When he performed a song in “Oktoberfest Style” some people in the crowd really danced like people on the Oktoberfest and it was fun to observe the show. My personal highlight was his cover of METALLICA’s ‘Nothing Else Matters’, a song that requires some skill to play on acoustic guitar and a good voice to deliver the vocals. The version Chris Bay delivered was a blast, on the one hand he made the song his own while performing the vocals, on the other hand he put so much dedication to the performance, that he absolutely respected the songs legacy. So just in case he announces an acoustic show again, make sure, you grab a ticket.

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Tuomion Kätilöt

Then the stagehands became quite busy to build up everything for the bands I had been looking most forward listening to on Thursday: TUOMION KÄTILÖT, a band from Finland who had a new album out on NUCLEAR BLAST in 2020 called ‘Global Warning’. I had seen the band playing as support for other bands touring in Germany several times as well as playing headliner gigs in Finland and so I was braced for an energetic show that would rock the pit for sure. TUMION KATILÖT perform mainly in Finnish but they have a few songs in English as well. Although the band seemed not to be so widely known in Finland they won over the crowd pretty fast and the circle pit opened soon. The bands mix or Metal and Techno Elements are a perfect choice for a festival crowd and vocalists MC Raaka Pee and Shaq-U entertained us with stories and announcements in Finnish and English. There was plenty of interaction with the crowd and we were asked to raise our hands or shout upon requests and the crowd very willingly became part of the whole party. The light effects and the fog added to the energetic atmosphere and way to soon, it was time for KORPIKLAANI.

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Korpiklaani

I had seen KORPIKLAANI several times and I must admit that their music is not really my cup of tea, but they always had delivered a good show and knew how to entertain the masses. But tonight, was a mere disaster. The sound was awful, the microphone often dead and sometimes it seemed that we were listening to a kind of playback show. Many people left the venue earlier than halfway to the show and I only stayed because I had a job to do and so I saw Chris Bay as special guest, but even this could not save the show.  The only place where the sound became bearable was the coffee tent. The fact that the band had just released a new album added even more to the impression, that they were not a worthy headliner for tonight. The fact that I had to get up so early and drive so long took its toll and so I left the venue after this performance.

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