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mono3Castle Broich, Mülheim, Germany
6th and 7th July 2012
Castle Rock Day 1: Schwarzer Engel, The Beauty of Gemina, Tanzwut, Mono Inc.

Castle Rock - the music festival from fans for fans in Mülheim’s Castle Broich - gained a constantly rising popularity and reputation as familial, but always top-billed festival within the thirteen years it is taking place now. As it was sold-out once again in 2012 and had an excellent line-up, as usual, this was reason enough for me to take the 350km travel to Mülheim and have a closer look on the festival personally.


On arrival on Friday, I was first astonished by the location itself - being from Rhineland-Palatinate, I was accustomed to castles at the countryside, but Castle Broich is located in the middle of the city, complete with bus stops right in front of the castle. Definitely a "pro" for accessibility.

The role of the festival opener fell to SCHWARZER ENGEL on Friday. The project of singer Dave Jason started on 17:30 with about 30 minutes delay. Having seen & heard the band already on last Hexentanz Festival two months ago, I was first not too impressed by them (although the band had no influence on the technical problems they had experienced then). But for this time, with a cleaner sound and no technical breakdowns, my impression of the band soon went more positive. Still being no band for a sunny afternoon, SCHWARZER ENGEL did a quite nice job in getting the crowd into the right mood for the things waiting for them.


But I still feel a certain compassion for Dave Jason for absolving all his gigs in this heavy leather armour... I guess he was quite grateful that the temperatures weren’t that high on this day... however, having been lucky with the selection of songs - all their popular songs from ‘Apocalypse’ to ‘Königin der Nacht’, I hereby certify Dave Jason and his band qualities as opener for festivals. By the way, it was funny to watch all the photographers switch from stage side to stage side during this performance as Dave’s face was covered by either his hair or his microphone for most of the time... really a band for luck-shots. // Rating: 5 / 10 //


After SCHWARZER ENGEL left the stage, the crowd was first greeted by the festival promoter before the program went on with THE BEAUTY OF GEMINA from Switzerland. Their not too catchy style, somewhere between Rock, Gothic and Electro, with some elements of Neue Deutsche Härte, and their singer Michael Sele (with his sunglasses and chequered jacket visually somewhere between David Bowie and Heino...) first only earned spare applause, but with time, the ice between the band and the crowd began to thaw, breaking up finally with the little soccer gag that the ‘Shadowland’ Switzerland is never allowed to play in the European Championship. From then on, everything went better, and after the performance was over, TBOG were bid good-bye with quite some clapping. // Rating: 6 / 10 //


Concerning the next band, it was never in question whether they could or could not fascinate the visitors of Castle Rock: the stage now belonged to TANZWUT! Even with the first songs (‘Ihr wolltet Spaß’ and ‘Phönix aus der Asche’) they had the crowd thoroughly in their hands, and the audience soon started head banging and dancing like crazy. What fans of the band noticed quite fast was the fact that Ardor was not with his fellow band members - because of health’s reasons he had to stay away from the festival and was thus replaced by Pyro. Not that this was any real downside to the band’s performance, because the front singer of TANZWUT, Teufel (on stage a man for whom the German word "Rampensau" seems to have been invented), definitely knows how to rock the masses from the beginning to the end.


The crowd rocked together with the band to songs like ‘Ekstase’, ‘Merseburger Zaubersprüche’ or ‘Gift’, and one had the feeling this performance could go on forever. But all too soon the concert reached the point where Teufel presented ‘Rückgratreißer’, while pulling a wooden frame with skeletal backbones to the stage - a point where fans know that the end of the performance is soon reached. And indeed, after ‘Rückgratreißer’, TANZWUT only had three songs left in their set: The cover ‘Bitte bitte’ (originally by DIE ÄRZTE), ‘Folge deinem Herzen’ and, last but not least ‘Lügner’, which marked the end for this genuinely great gig. But there was little time to regret the fact that TANZWUT left the stage, as for now was headliner-time! // Rating: 9 / 10 //


And this role fell to MONO INC. this year. The band from Hamburg rose to the top of popularity , festival line-ups and straight into the hearts of their fans like a comet within the last few years, and it indeed seems a long, long time ago that they were the festival openers themselves - whereas it’s just two or three years (in fact, one of their three performances at Castle Rock *was* opener in 2009). Their performance started with drummer Katha Mia entering the stage alone and asking for applause for the rest of the band, which then stormed onto the stage and began to rock. The monomaniacs soon made clear that they really deserved to get the headliner role, as they already warmed-up crowd now finally gave everything and went crazy with MONO INC. Even when the short shower rain (which everybody was afraid of all day long) kicked in, it had no chance to cool down the masses.


Martin Engler presented himself - as always - as very close to the audience and the photographers, and even insisted to rush onto the wheelchair-ramp to shake the hands of the MONO INC. fans there. Time for some tears of joy, I bet. As if the generally great performance was not enough, the band still had a surprise up their sleeves. They announced that they were asked by the promoter to present something really special, and so they presented their new single, ‘Arabia’, full two weeks before release! Martin did place emphasis on the special nature of this moment by his request to the audience to turn off all cell phone cameras or digi-cams in order to enjoy this special moment. What now followed can be easily described as an definite argument to buy the single when it’s released. Full stop.


The band also went emotional when they thanked the promoter for the third gig at Castle Rock, with the two preceding gigs as a clear reason for the growing popularity of the band. The next three songs were ‘Symphony of Pain’, ‘Revenge’ and ‘Voices of Doom’, three more songs that are a "must" for every MONO INC. performance... and speaking of "musts", princess Katha Mia of course once again got the chance to please the crowd with a drum solo and with this, why she is appreciated as a drummer so very much. Sadly, soon afterwards, the magic of this performance ended much too soon with an encore in form of the song ‘Get some sleep’, another very popular song of the band. // Rating: 9 / 10 //


Thus, the first day of Castle Rock 2012 ended for me and the other visitors with somewhat wet clothes and a sore throat, as well as aching back and feet... and the feeling of having had a ton of fun today.

Pictures by Kai Bimber


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