= Bang Your Head - Balingen, Germany 2019


Bang Your Head - Balingen, Germany 2019

Bang Your Head!!! - Messegelände Balingen, Germany
11-13 July, 2019

   One of the hottest summers in the history of weather recording – this is what people expected when June brought record temperatures in the high 30s °C. But after a decent few years, Balingen was running out of luck, bringing rain and thunder to the nearby Swabian Alps. The indoor warm-up show on Wednesday started out perfectly with sunshine and blue skies, featuring Grave Digger, War Kings, Endlevel and Battle Beast at the indoor arena. But by Thursday the weather gods had a different mindset, bringing rain and cloudy skies to the family-organized festival with the friendliest security.
   Sorcerer from Sweden, referring to themselves as an „epic doom band“, were the early surprise of the festival, as singer Anders Engberg’s powerful yet angelic timbre reminded of the late Ronnie James Dio. The most controversial (also Swedish) band turned out to be retro AOR The Night Flight Orchestra by Soilwork’s Björn Strid, with the musicians dressed in white suits and backup singers in pink stewardess outfits.

   As Sepultura had been performing Bang Your Head in 2017, it was time to invite the original co-founder Max Cavalera with Soulfly, including his son Zyon on drums. Their set included rather long guitar and berimbau solos (Fun fact: a single string percussion instrument from Brazil), obviously due to technical problems. Although they didn’t play the popular „Roots“, Soulfly got a circle pit going - quite impressive for the mostly relaxed BYH crowd!
   Michael Schenker managed what no other musician had accomplished: Within 30 seconds and without playing a single tune, he discredited himself and turned the crowd against him – at least those who could keep up with his ADD like high-speed babbling. He came on stage and without losing a second, started insulting the Scorpions ("poor him... had done so much for them and they never gave him any credit"), while narcissistically showing off how well he had done for his other bands (MSG, UFO). No clue if he had relapsed into what was once described as „drug-fueled madness“ - Doctor Doctor, please....
   Anticipated Hardcore Superstar’s airline had lost their equipment, so promoters moved them from the main stage to indoor, as it seemed easier for them to play on the smaller stage with hired equipment. Yet, after trying to go through with the show, the sleaze Rockers from Gothenburg (yes, Sweden! ;) realized the could not deliver the quality they are accustomed to - and aborted their gig. However, to make up for the loss, Hardcore Superstar have already been added to the 2020 billing!
   L.A. based Steel Panther were an awesome choice to charm the glam fans on Friday night. Presenting their newest song “All I wanna Do is Fuck (Myself)“ from their upcoming album „Heavy Metal rules“. Of course it helps to have English skills to be able to enjoy their hilarious profane sex talks. But even without the dirty minds, it is fun to watch Lexxi Fox checking his makeup with his pink mirror or the band inviting girls on stage for their hit „17 Girls in a Row“. Fun fact: Did you know all - but singer Michael Starr - wear wigs? 
   Switzerland’s working horse Krokus have been around since 1975s, listing 30 former band members on Wikipedia. The current lineup has been featuring sympathetic Maltese singer Marc Storace on lead vocals for the past 17 years. As usual, they managed to deliver a solid rock show pleasing the crowd.
   Wait a minute - another Swedish band? Damn right! Evergrey, being the progressive metal band of the hour, successfully rocked the indoor venue with their latest album „The Atlantic.“ Skid Row called for mixed feelings as Sebastian Bach’s previous BYH vocal interpretation of his classic hits was hard to bear. Back in 2017 Skid Row had hired Dragonforce’s former singer ZP Theart, which turned out to be a fruitful decision for Saturday night. His energetic moves and voice are a great match for the bands‘ 80s and 90s tunes. He delivered hit after hit with the crowd happily singing along. It was a sucessful performance, but it also felt like listening to a (very good) Skid Row cover band.
   It’s been 20 years since The Metal Opera came alive in Tobias Sammet’s head. As he stated himself, he was lucky enough to be able to invite his favorite vocalists to join his Avantasia project. His Moonglow World Tour has already been traveling around the globe, so it was a special honor for fans of choreographed synchronized headbanging to have the show in Balingen. With Michael Kiske no longer on tour and Ronnie Atkins missing that night (as he was playing elsewhere with Pretty Maids), there were enough high class singers to fill in. Geoff Tate (funny fact: Tobi taught the German crowd how to pronounce Geoff Tate – it’s „Jeff“, not „Joff“ ;), Norway’s finest Jorn Lande as well as the regulars Eric Martin, Bob Catley sang alongside three background vocalists. The 2,5 hour powerful show’ included a stage design illuminating the band in a bit of pinkish romantic goth. 
   When it was time for festival founder Horst Franz to say goodbye to Saturday’s final outdoor band Avantasia and his „Little Tobi“, the crowd did not leave the infield but respectfully stayed to listen to his traditional announcement and watch the fireworks. 
   The night ended with Ross the Boss playing a crowded indoor show – while everyone agreed that popular Manowar tunes are made for the main stage (hint hint!).
   Next year’s edition celebrates the 25th anniversary of Bang Your Head!!! The billing includes Tankard, Kissin Dynamite, Unleashed, Heathen, Rage, Memoriam, Winterstorm, Space Chaser, Leather Wolf, Skull Fist and takes place from July 16-July 2020 at Messe Balingen. Check out HERE for more information regarding upcoming bands and ticketing.
Afa Angelhardt
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