With Elbriot 2019 a successful era of a festival in the city of Hamburg comes to an end, at least when it’s about location. Due to construction activities in the area and a permanent Harry Potter theater production at Mehr Theater! the area isn’t available anymore from 2020 onwards. However, the plan is to continue with Elbriot at a new location in 2020.
Another bad news reaches Hamburg’s metalheads a couple of hours prior to showtime of the festival. Swedish Avatar has to cancel their show at Elbriot due to a car accident in the which Avatar’s equipment van was involved. Luckily no one was hurt, but fans can’t welcome the king today at the Elbe riverside.
With a slightly adjusted time planning Sh>pes are the first act that enters the stage at noon. It’s not the easiest thing for band to be the first one on a festival line-up. The quintet, hailing from Birmingham, UK, gives their best, playing in front of quite some ‘early bird fans’. Sh>pes is fronted by Bruce Dickinson’s son Griffin Dickinson and being the ‘son of’ is blessing and curse in one. It helps to give the band some spotlight, but it’s up to the guys to show their own band identity. Sh>pes does this very well today, with the mix of melodies, Metalcore and Alternative Metal that brings some first riffs to the Grossmarkt in Hamburg and brings everybody into the right mood for the rest of the day.
Jinjer is a band that slowly grew over the last months and in the meantime the guys from Ukraine are more than just an insider tip. Tatiana Shmaylyuk and band mates are on the road this summer, being part of many festival line-ups and Elbriot is one of them. While many metalheads still lining-up at the merchandise stand it’s the Jinjer’s that pulls over more and more fans to the stage. Life means making decisions and watching Jinjer was certainly a good one. Even a heavy rain shower during the set of the Ukraine five-piece can’t limit the positive impression.
Next on the running order is Zeal & Ardor. The band, being the brainchild of singer/guitarist Manuel Gagneux, is another rising star. After a modern and metalcore focussed festival start, Zeal & Ardor breaks the pattern. Dressed in black the band and staffed with three singers, the sextett brings a fusion of Gospel and Black Metal to the Hansestadt in Germany’s North. Zeal & Ardor is for sure an enrichment for Heavy Metal and their show at Elbriot impresses. However, it feels like Zeal &Ardor’s music works better in a smaller club venue with their music spreading intensity much more than at a big festival.
After a 30 minutes stage reset Dragonforce brings another Metal genre to the table. The band can count on a huge fanbase in Germany and Hamburg many of them visit Elbriot and are right in front of the stage. Band and fans started a Metal party, which was the first real highlight of the day. Even before the band enters the stage the scenery promises something different than what fans could experience so far. Two huge gaming machines frame the Elbriot stage with Dragonforce guitarists Herman Li and Sam Totman firing some first riff into the crowd from right there. Fast and furious Heavy Metal is what the London-based band delivers, supported by a colourful shows that includes with fire, smoke and confetti all fans can ask for. What makes the show very special too is a he fact of longtime band member Frédéric Leclercq disembarking. The gig at Elbriot is his final show with Dragonforce, a fabulous goodbye party for the bassist.
Some rising starts were on stage already earlier today and another one is next on the running order, Of Mice & Men. The band that started ten years ago in California build-up a rock solid fanbase in no time. After having enjoyed the colourful Metal party with Dragonforce it’s Of Mice & Men’s that brings aggressive Metalcore to the table (although Phil Manansalafits’ shirt fits more the Dragonforce party) . Of Mice & Men was already part of the line-up in 2014, but had to cancel due to sickness. Five years later things turn out well and the guys deliver a smashing show at Elbriot with their frontman Aaron Pauley being the centrepiece. Gestures, mimic and vocals are one and it’s the aggressive stage acting that makes this gig to an intense one. Of Mice & men are a well-chosen act for this festival and lay down Grossmarkt into ashes.
The moment Jamey Jasta and mates enters the stage the crowd goes wild. Hatebreed and Jasta are regular guests at Hamburg’s Metal feast number one. Jasta played a show last year and Hatebreed themselves performed at 2017 for the first time at Grossmarkt, Hamburg. Hardcore, Metal and a lot of groove makes Hatebreed’s concert to an intense one and circle pits are an obligation. The band is recently on their 25 year anniversary tour and the Elbriot show is part of this jubilee event. Fans appreciate a well-built setlist that gives a great idea about Hatebreed’s musical highlights, all being a sonic wrecking ball and the brutal groove of Hatebreed’s music probabaly caused some extra waves on the nearby Elbe river. Hatebreed and Dragonforce, the Elbriot festival highlights so far.
We’re getting closer to the grande final, but before In Flames round off Elbriot 2019 it’s up to Australian Hard Rock maniacs Airbourne to ignite a Rock’n’Roll fireworks. Airbourne, another ‘homecomer’ when it comes to Elbriot, doesn’t play Hard Rock, they live it everyday. These four guys from Down Under must have Rock’n’Roll in their veins and that’s what makes them to such a great (live) band. Regardless if in small venue or a big festival, Airbourne wins over the crowd in a second and it’s certainly not a surprise that songs like ‘Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast’ leads to fan chants. ‘Ready to Rock’, that’s more than solely a song. Airbourne and their fans, that’s one and even a big festival stage can’t stop this lasting connection. ‘Ready to Rock’, that”s the overarching banner of Airbourne tonight, something that’s deeply included in the DNA of the quartet and Elbriot 2019 is another moment to unleash the ‘Rock’n’Roll beast.
Elbriot 2019 doesn’t face a lot of traditional Heavy Metal this year. Metalcore and Modern Metal is the focus and the latter is also what the final act delivers in the here and now. Gothenburg’s In Flames went through a transition over the last years and today’s setlist reflects this very well. Songs from the ‘I, the Mask’ album are the base for the show. The last two albums were divisive and leaves some unclarity on whereto the band’s heading. Live shows though are still another ball game. Supported by a well-designed light show and a well-crafted sound the Swedes deliver to expectation and it’s especially the classics from the early days, ‘Colony’ and ‘Pinball Map’ belonging to the highlights of the show. The remaining question stays, quo vadis In Flames? Band veterans Anders Fridén and Björn Gelotte get literally most of the spotlight, while the rest of the band visually disappears on stage, covered with some low light level. However, fans love what they get served at Elbriot and gives in return a big hand to the headliner. It’s the final track on In Flame’s setlist that couldn’t finish this festival in a much better way. ‘The End’ are the last notes of the In Flames show, the last riffs of Elbriot 2019 and the song that closes the books on Elbriot as we know it since 2013. ‘The End’ ends an era of this festival in this specific shape and form, with even heaven crying at the end.
But an end is also the beginning of something new. The promoters of Elbriot plan a new series of events under the header of ‘Open Air am Volkspark’, which also should include a Rock- and Metal festival. Stay tuned …..
Location: Grossmarkt, Hamburg, Germany
Date: August 17th, 2019
Some side notes:
- Elbriot 2019 was sold out, which means that around 10.000 metalheads appreciated the eight bands featuring line-up.
- Food stands and beer stands offered food and beverages for a fair price. However, queues were rather long and it took some time to get especially food.
- Free drinking water was available at the festival entrance.
- It looks like there was a good amount of toilets.
- Elbriot was the last festival at Grossmarkt, Hamburg and the organizers of the festival are looking for a new site for 2020.
Photos: Markus Wiedenmann Photography