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    HELLFEST 2023 |15TH – 18TH JUNE- CLISSON, FRANCE

    Photography and review by Mark Stevens

    Hell what? Hellfest? If you have never heard of it or not been before, simply put Hellfest is without a doubt the absolute next level off the planet music festival event of a lifetime. An extravaganza of hard-core musical fantasy that many could only dream of awaits all Hellfestians who enter beyond the gates of ‘Hell’ into this gothic metal and fire breathing wonderland. Six major stages, 160-bands with headline acts to include KISS, Generations Sex, Hollywood Vampires, Slipknot, Iron Maiden, Def Leppard and Motley Crue are at the centre of a realm beyond the world that which we live in. I could go on. I’d be travelling 17000km from my home in Australia to devour the delights inside the gates of Hell for the first time. Within the massive 160 band superstar bill, I’ll also be seeing 3 of Australia’s own incredible exports Metalcore masters Parkway Drive, the urgent and aggressive sound of The Amity Affliction and The Chats.
    I was asked if i was interested in covering a festival- not just any festival but Hellfest, The world famous 4-day metal festival now in its 17th year after being founded in 2006. Hellfest is nothing short of a fun park on a scale bigger than Disneyland on steroids for metalheads and music lovers of all ages – that’s if you were lucky enough to get a ticket which once on sale sell out in minutes.

    The day before the main event begins.
    Day 0 – It’s a blistering hot,  summer day with blue sky with temperature already 28C / 83F and three hours before the gates of Hell open to let in the tens of thousands of Hellfestians already eagerly waiting to set up camp sites before the main event begins. Rehydrating myself with a cool beer at the only table, I could find free in the shade on a Rue that leads to the event, my table soon swells to 3, and then quickly fills to 12 metalheads and music fans.

    Gigi and Bernie

    A visual spectacular of hair colours and style, tattoos and piercings as old friends, new friends and lovers, share tales of past Hellfest seasons and plan what bands they will see, that no one can seem to agree on. Gigi and Bernie from France via Google Translate, tell me its taken them 10 years to get tickets – it’s their first Hellfest as it is mine. Camil wearing a merchandise singlet from the Swedish melodic death metal  band Dark Tranquillity, tells me shes a Veterinary Surgeon from Columbia and proudly shows me her half sleeve of abstract ink on her arm of her first veterinary surgery completed– a ‘C’ section on a cat to save one of four kittens. For Camil she says, “Metal is life. It is my way of life.” It seems to be the way of all heading for this event. Access roads leading to the gates of Hell gradually begin to overflow until a human gridlock occurs as Hellfestians under a hot and blazing sun struggle with backpacks and all sorts of camping gear as they                                                           hustle for positions close to the entry gates.
    Towering above the gathering hoards, a massive landmark of a huge emblazoned Hellfest guitar reaches to the sky directly above a roundabout which connects all roads guiding Hellfestians to this epic event. Nestled close by, Giant Foot pedals stand erect and clearly visible for all, hosting information staff located next to helpful and informative site maps. Just beyond an enormous yellow banner with the Hellfest logo seems to beckon a call from the Gods and Goddesses of Metal Music Hell and draws people towards entry gates that at the strike of 2pm will finally open. For now, the clock has ticked, a silent bell has rung. It’s time to leave the world as I know it for 4 days for my first Hellfest experience.
    After a seamless and easy pick up of my wristband and a thorough security bag check its time to enter into ‘Hell City Square’ the central area and nucleus of the Hellfest metropolis.  Exploring for the first-time down Hell City Street, a complete sensory overload overwhelms. I am weak at the knees like a kid in a lolly shop amidst what seems to be an endless assortment of bars, food stalls and merchandise outlets as big as warehouses. Entwined amongst various outdoor areas, they then connect by Metal-Corner to the massive coloured coded camping ground which is the main option for an admission ticket. Explosive pounding on drums and a screeching lead riff that sends shivers up the back of my spine can be heard coming from inside the Hellfest Cult pavilion, which has an exclusive criterion for membership which I am not part of, and I move on. I take a minute for a break in the middle of the chaos that surrounds me at one of Hellfests many minor event stages ‘Hell Stage.’ A preliminary event, the Air Guitar Grand Final is about to begin. Beyond the Hellfestian Hordes packed into the Hell City Square, I notice a few tall gates. Beyond the gates, at the end of a wide walkway and corridor, towering tens of meters towards the perfectly blue skies above, I see the Gates of Hell into the main band and arena areas, but they won’t open until tomorrow. Competitors young and old apply final touches of makeup and to costume after being chosen from a tough selection from all over France. Eagerly each competitor conducts their own ritual to prepare for the Air Guitar Grand final as Hellfestians pack the minor Hell Stage area that will also host a variety of events over the 4 days to come. In a very competitive round of an elimination battle, Thomas proudly wearing a set of Viking horns and outfit, uncontrollably throws his arms and legs into the air as he drops to his knees for a ripper of an imaginary guitar solo before thrusting himself into and onto the crowd.

    After a series of duelling battles to the end, there can only be one champion after all who takes the title for 2023 with an all-inspiring gymnastic defying air guitar performance to the sounds of KISS and ethereal applause from the tens of thousands of the Hellfestians gathered.  It’s been a hugely satisfying and surreal day and full of music and metal surprises beyond my imagination, but time to retreat to get ready for the main event on the next day.
    DAY 1- HELLFEST BEGINS….
    Today I enter the gates of Hell for the first time and cannot believe what is slowly unfolding in front of me. Am I in a theme park or on the set of Max Max or the Terminator? Nothing is spared to enhance the dimensions of goth and steam punk experience to completely wrap around total Hellfest immersion and experience. In complete awe of my Gothic surroundings, my immediate attention is drawn towards The Sanctuary which is the warehouse sized epicentre of licensed Hellfest Merchandise available to purchase if your patient enough to line up for 3 hours in long queues. In the distance I see the larger than life itself huge 2 Main Stages adjacent to each other that Headliners will alternate between. To my right 2 massive White Hangers – the Altar and Temple also adjacent to each other will be home for some of the Heavier bands during the festival.  A quick scan around the main area reveals a well-placed scattering of smaller but elaborately crafted steam punk buildings and random sculptures that mask the presence of the bar or food available within. Everything seems to fit, to blend into this fantasy sculpted wonderland… and I have only just walked through the front gate!
    With such a huge bill of International and predominantly European Music, as an Australian and also Hellfest first-timer, I remain unfamiliar with many bands for the most part. Unless you’re a Hellfest Veteran of this enormous event, it’s a task and a half to plan and best navigate your day. Fortunately, the easy to obtain pocket sized Hellfest Program provides a handy reference and timetable for each day. It’s also well backed up by a Phone App that includes a short bio of all bands and other helpful information.  Luckily the Gods and Goddesses of the underworld must have been looking down on me as I was fortunate enough to meet some Americans who persuaded me for my first band to check out  Blackbraid from the Northeast of New York. Headed up by Jon Krieger, Blackbraid tells Native American stories through compelling black metal. Feeling like I was just about to have an out of body experience, smoke fills and initially obscures all lines of sight to the stage which was something I get used to in the Temple and Altar Arenas.   Suddenly, outlines of tribal clothed and face painted silhouettes seem to morph into Blackbraid arriving on stage to a perfectly choregraphed array of lighting.

    Thousands crammed into The Temple belch an ethereal roar and Hellfest 2023 has begun.  If it’s not clear by now, Hellfest is an epic event. Choosing, then planning all the bands you’d like to see is a serious consideration. Being real, fitting in everything you’d like to see and do is genuinely not much more than wishful thinking.  In a jam packed 4-day timetable, the 160 bands alternate start times across 3 different stage areas in 3 separate areas of the massive Hellfest Metropolis. Distances between stages, the time and effort to manoeuvre between them is like being in the front row of a rugby scrum navigating through the frenzied but always cooperative Hellfestian metal fans to get to your next destination.  A skill that needs to be mastered for success at the event. With so much Metal Extravaganza to choose from, I began to understand the many discussions and arguments I’d been entertained by over the beers I’d had with Veteran Hellfestians from the previous day. Using Day 1 as my own self-induction into Hell, my objective plan of unknown is to take in and explore as much as I could to understand how to maximise the days ahead.
    Bouncing between the 2 Main Stages, I continued to squeeze in several of the many bands I was not familiar with and was far from disappointed.  Notably and amongst over 25 new bands I was introduced to at Hellfest.
    Coheed and Cambria, Imperial Triumphant and In Flames set the bar and standard which seemed to just get higher as the days went on.

    With this in mind, I could write a glowing lengthy review on nearly every band I was privileged enough to see. Taking time to pause and plan which needed constant revision, for the remainder of Day 1, I locked in Generation Sex, Hollywood Vampires, The Architects, KISS and then to be right up front for Australia’s own Parkway Drive. In what seemed an instant, the centre of the Hellfest Metropolis filled in at the presence of Generation Sex front man and global superstar

    BILLY IDOL- GENERATION SEX

    Billy Idol alongside Steven Jones and Paul Cook of Sex Pistols fame. With a set list ripped from the heart of the Punk Explosion of the 70’s,Billy Idol roared onto stage in his signature leather jacket, curled lip, upturned collar and blonde spikey hair with every bit of his rock’n’roll charisma. Of course, this magical set had to end with huge anticipation mounting as it seemed thousands of more people squeezed onto every square millimetre of available turf. It’s time for powerhouse rock supergroup Hollywood Vampires hit the stage.
    Opening to the solid guitar riffs and driving drumbeat of ‘I want my now,’ Hellfestians were pumped, set and ready for a commanding Hollywood Vampires performance.  I don’t think anyone expected the spoken words “You don’t often see Vampires come out into the Sunlight’ from Alice Cooper was like a flashing siren that we were in for a commanding and dominating performance, and dominate the crowd he certainly did. With fellow band members and legends who need no introduction, Johnny Depp and Joe Perry, Hollywood Vampires delivered an impressive seamless blend of classic rock covers and original material keeping the crowd begging for more. Standout moments occurred with a tribute to fallen rock legends and as a devoted David Bowie fan, a Hellfest Gold Medal event for me was Johnny Depp’s cover of ‘Heroes.’ Again, all good things must come to end as Alice Cooper and the band guided the tens of thousands through singing lyrics of ‘Schools Out‘ in an eternally memorable moment just as the sun began to make its way over the horizon.

    Hell finally awakens…

    I was not ready for what was taking place before my eyes. Just as I thought every sense in my body was becoming accustomed to the Hellfest spectacular, day turned into night, light into darkness and the whole Hellfest Metropolis took on a life of its own as flames burst into the air and kaleidoscope of light and colour seemed to consume the whole of the Hellfest Metropolis. A timely transformation for a sonic assault from British Metalcore Band The Architects convincingly bringing on stage their A-Game opening with their explosive anthem ‘Death is not defeat.’ Front man Sam Carters’ passionate vocals combined with the bands tight musicianship created an atmosphere of raw emotion and aggression aptly consumed and enjoyed by all. Drawing the set towards an end, crushing riffs from ‘Hereafter’ and the anthemic lyrics of ‘Doomsday’ is testament to their status as an important and influential band in the metalcore genre. What a warm up for the next headline event. Bring on KISS.

    Total darkness on stage and then a gentle humming noise was the first indication the main event of Day 1 was about to begin. It was time for a band of legendary status and one of the greatest rock’n’roll bands of all time to hit the stage – the one and only KISS. The iconic make-up clad rockers as expected owned the Hellfest Main Stage with their trademark larger than life presence. Kicking off the set with ‘Detroit Rock City’ spun the crowd into a virtual frenzy which only continued as they delivered popular and classic hits including ‘I Was Made For Loving You‘ and ‘Shout It Out Loud.’ As expected, the stage production was nothing short of spectacular with choreographed and elaborate pyrotechnics, next level light show and KISS’s own larger than life props. KISS once again proved they are one of the greatest live acts in history also announcing that they will be retiring in late 2023. Let’s all see about that.

    For a moment, I stopped to take in what was going on around me. A total transformation was taking place. Absence of daylight had brought the Hellfest Metropolis to life.  I’d seen the Ferris Wheel earlier in the day without taking much notice until its bright lights signalled its majestic presence as it towered tens of meters into to air.  Again, a sensory overload caught me in a never experienced dimension of sound and colour I’d never experienced before, having to pinch myself to be sure I was not in midst of a hallucinogenic dream. Adding to the surrealness of the moment, I had just seen a plethora of musical legends and been introduced to and fallen in love with so many new bands from all around the world. – in less than half a day. I still do not believe ‘I am here’ and it’s now time for one of Australia’s greatest musical exports to hit the stage. Bring on Parkway Drive.

    Let the crowd surfing begin! From the first of raw and ferocious riff of ‘Vice Grip‘ the audience frenzied into a whirlwind of mosh pits and crowd surfing. Parkway Drive are more than well known for their powerful and commanding performances that always whip up quite a stir. Vocalist, Winston McCall delivered his powerful guttural scream with his usual precision and passion every time he opened his mouth. Adding a few setlist favourites including ‘Wild‘, ‘Karma‘ and ‘Carry On,’ Parkway Drive maintained the solid intensity they are renowned for through-out the whole time on stage – a true and well-deserved testament as to why they are one of Metalcore’s most formidable and popular live acts. It’s been a big day and again, and the best and biggest days are yet to come.

     

    Day 2 – Hang on, I missed Warzone and the Valley…
    I thought I had done a good job the day before until I realised, I’d completely missed a huge chunk of the Hellfest Metropolis. Sheltered by healthy clusters of trees at the end of a long pathway to the left after entering the gates of Hell, you will find The Valley and Warzone areas. One cannot miss the 15m metal statue towering into the air in the middle of the arenas of the late Motorhead front man Lemmy unveiled in previous year to replace a smaller statue. Both outdoor and smaller in sized areas than the Main Stages, but bigger than the hangered Temple and Alter stages, Warzone became my sweet spot over the next 3 days.  Surrounded by tall rustic walls and with attached bar wire fences atop, what seems to be strategically positioned guard towers and scattered battle remains created an illusion that I am in some sort of ‘Mad Max‘ movie.
    For now, I’m keen to be up close for second of the three Australian Bands at Hellfest, The Chats, a Punk Rock outfit that formed surprisingly in their mate’s bong shed. With their characteristic raw gritty sound pulling from a combination of punk, garage and pub rock, The Chats as all eagerly anticipated, delivered an electrifying set that had Hellfestians tightly packed into the Warzone in a frenzy.  Quite a feat from this young Aussie band amongst a line-up that included some of the biggest names in rock and metal from every corner of the globe. From the moment they hit the stage in front of their ‘Get Fucked’  banner, it was clear the three Aussie larikins in the band were on a mission to deliver an unforgettable and riotous experience. Riotous being the case with some of the most outrageous crowd surfing and wildest mosh pit seen so far.

    The Chats and their cover of AC/DC’s ‘Highway to Hell completely captivated Hordes responding in hysteria with banter truly creating a camaraderie making everyone feel they were part of something special. The Chats without a doubt would have made every Australian proud with this epic international performance.
    As the previous day, and as for the next 3 days of Hellfest, I am introduced for the first time to so many incredible bands from all over the globe. 1349 from Norway with name derived from the year black death arrived in Norway, deliver an ominous and intense performance in The Temple.

    Immediately afterwards in the adjacent Alter, Bloodbath from Sweden stacked with a band of some of the greatest figures in the European extreme music scene, unleash a set of chilling black metal. As I hustle through the hordes on another stingy hot summer’s day, water cannons spew out tens of thousands of litres of water in attempt to bring body temperatures down on another tough day of choices of what to fit in within the smorgasbord of talent at Hellfest.  The days journey into Hell cannot go without at least a glimpse of the many superstar acts on the bill including Def Leppard, Machine Kelly and of course Motley Crue which for me limited mostly to

    larger-than-life video screens. Hellfestians in the tens of thousands have jammed themselves forward with not a strand of hair to fit between them, seemingly glued to the punter barriers for hours and hours for a close glimpse of these epic headline acts on the main stages.  Not to say that many of the bands on other stages are any lesser and to avoid masses I opt for heading back to Warzone and Valley.

    This will be good. Hailing from California, USA, Rancid have been a prominent figure in the punk rock world of music since the early 1990’s. Blending influences from ska, reggae and punk across many genres of hardcore music sets Rancid apart from other punk bands. With lyrics often touching on social and political issues, Rancid are not backwards coming forwards to a commitment for speaking out about injustice. Ploughing through a full set to include 19 of their crowd-pleasing favourites, Rancid in an electric atmosphere delivered ‘Tomorrow Never Comes,’ ‘Side Kick‘, ‘Rejected’ to close with ‘Ruby Soho‘ in a fast-paced, politically charged and rebellious music atmosphere that seem to finish before it started.

    On a day for me that ends with 22,000 steps and having walked just under 17kms, somehow, I have feasted on seeing 12 bands to be perfectly placed for my last and 13th of the day, another veteran of punk, Canada’s SUM41.
    Landing on stage with explosion of flames and pyrotechnics, with the pop-infused punk sound they are adored for, SUM41 immediately took control of all those who remained in the main stage areas. The bands lyrical music and infectious hooks easily managed to keep Hellfestians singing and jumping in unison. As usual, Deryck Whibley showcased his dominance and versatility as he effortlessly transitioned from powerful choruses to melodic versus. Deryck’s raw and emotive vocals brought an authentic last day burst of energy connecting directly to hearts of the Hellfestians filling the area.

    DAY 3 – The midpoint.

    With the Hellfestian Metropolis ablaze with heat and fire from the cockles of hell from the first 2 days of this epic event, the heavens opened up in the morning to mid-afternoon on day 3 to a steady downpour of rain turning grassy areas into bath of mushy mud. Fortunately, most areas in front of stages were sealed, with the Temple and Alter covered by their huge awnings. It was only the walking in-between where feet were covered up to the ankles in mud. Like many I opted for a later start to the day and embarked on the late afternoon train from Nantes to Clisson. A good move that payed off with skies clearing for the remainder of the event. My daily return trips from the beautiful town of Nantes 30km from Hellfest had been quite uneventful until today. As well as taking time to recharge batteries with a sleep in, many Hellfestians took on the same strategy as mine to hope the rain would ease and clear which it did.  It was quite the treat to be jammed into a train like sardines with so many hardcore Hellfest Veterans for the 30-minute trip and listen to tales and banter of old and of course a few arguments about what the best bands to see would be.  A family of 6, both young and old from London, share they have all attended Hellfest for 10 years in a row. A German lady devouring bourbon and coke from a bottle tells me she has been to every Hellfest event and is about to head to Glastonbury.  A solo female French traveller who is not into camping at Hellfest phones her boyfriend for me to get the pick of bands for the day. Finally arriving in Clisson, we are met by the presence of a powerful force and strong number of machine gun wielding Gendarme with a sniffer dog is introduced to everyone walking out of the train station gates. My pulse rate automatic doubles even though there is nothing at all I need worry about.
    Numbers of metal heads kept swelling as the clock each day ticked towards the late European Summer Sunset which marked the arrival of the Headline bands on stage each day. With a few hours of sunlight ahead of me, born somewhere in the Arizona Desert, Puscifier clad in their black suits with tie, pristine white shirts and black sunglasses unleashed a sonic experimental journey with their enigmatic and experimenting sound with a captivating performance.  Maynard James Keenan’s haunting otherworld style of vocals created a hypnotic ambience that kept Hellfestians completely enchanted throughout the performance.

    Early into the set, I am greeted with a big pat on the back and ear to ear smile from a French Photographer I had bumped into a few times who in his best fluent French and my comprehension of about 3 words, excitedly gave me a tip to follow him to the Altar for Born of Osiris – and I am sure glad I did. This band needs no introduction to the metalcore community who wasted no time to unleash their ferocious melodic deathcore sound upon all crammed into the Altar. Opening with blistering track ‘Bow Down,’ Born Of Osiris blasted relentless energy completely showcasing the

    technical mastery they are known for. The Altar convulsively erupted into a frenzy as band members McKinney and Rossi flawlessly executed the intricate guitar work and hooks of ‘Follow the signs.’ As final notes of the set rung out, Born of Osiris had left an indelible mark on the Hellfest crowd. A gaze to the adjacent Temple stage I can’t help but notice intricate lighting adjustments by stage crew under a kaleidoscopic blend of colour in preparation for ‘Faun’ joining Hellfest from the forests of Bavaria who delivered a mesmerising performance of folk and medieval music. Faun’s unique blend of traditional instruments, ethereal vocals and captivating melodies transported Hellfestians to a different time and place. Complete washes of blue, then blends yellow and red light eerily in a dense smoke haze created a magical and unforgettable experience for all.

    With a clock ticking away that I wish would slow down so I could devour more of what Hellfest offers, at the far end of another capacity filled Main Stage arena, I see EddieIron Maidens mascot. It’s just a glimpse from a far over the heads and in between a sea of Iron Maiden fans that as on previous days for the headline events, had glued themselves together in tightly packed rows that compacted tighter the closer you got to the stage. Thousand’s not moving since the gates of Hell opened much earlier in the day.
    My focus shifts from the enormous mascot ‘Eddie’ on stage and occasional sightings of Iron Maidens band members through the tightly packed heads of the crowd, and from the corner of my eye I see on the adjacent main stage behind a huge draping black curtain, an elaborate onstage set coming together. Deciding to relocate for the adjacent Main Stage for the final band of the day, I manoeuvrer to get a good glimpse of Dutch symphonic metal outfit ‘Within Temptation,’ who delivered an incredibly captivating and powerful performance that left Hellfestians in awe.  The visual aspect of Within Temptations performance was spectacular with elaborate stage set up to include stunning lighting effects and mesmerising visuals enhancing the atmosphere of the band’s music. Costume and stage presence added an extra layer of theatricality. Overall, Within Temptations performance at Hellfest was definite highlight of the festival and introduction of a new band that has made to the top of my current playlist.

    Consistent rumblings and anticipation from many at Hellfest this year seemed to be for the Mongolian metal folk visionaries The Hu as something not to be missed. A tidal wave of fans flocked toward The Altar after the last note sounded from Iron Maiden to join those who had been waiting for hours for a jaw-dropping display of musical talent and fusion from this Mongolian band. Mastery of traditional instruments such as the Morin Khuur and Tovshuur were truly impressive. For many Hellfestians, it was the first time to ever experience the mesmerising vocals showcasing the incredible rage of traditional Mongolian throat singing. Without a doubt, the biggest numbers of the 4-day event crammed inside The Altar with hordes fused to each other for tens of meters outside every opening of the hangar to get a glimpse of The HU proving that music has no boundaries and can transcend cultural barriers. The Hu’s draw of the horde was certainly something that would have been better placed on a main stage.  Giving up on the battle to get a glimpse, a wise decision was to retreat to the final act on the Main Stage – Carpenter Brut.

    Hellfest certainly is full of surprises in every corner and for a Metal event, still manages to provide for a variety of musical genre. A truer word cannot be said for Carpenter Brut who were an absolute tour de force of electronic music and intense live energy to finish off Day 3. From the first pulsating synth notes hit, hordes were transported into a dystopian, retro-futuristic world. A complete and visually stunning performance, with intense strobe lighting, smoke machines and dynamic light show perfectly complemented their synthwave performance. With Day 3 at an end, heartache begins knowing that my first Hellfest Festival experience will soon be over, but not before…..the mighty Iron Maiden….

    Day 4 – All good things come to an end.
    I feel I have had an out of body experience for the last 3 days immersed in this spectacle of music ‘n’ metal fantasy wonderland. Arriving and setting set on a mission to see as many bands as I could, by the end of the day 4 I would notch up seeing over 40 different bands most of which I had never heard of before.  Quite an epic feat especially for a first timer who feels incredibly privileged just to be here.
    My new music addiction continued and as with every other day I indulged to be spoilt with so many musical goodies. Launching my last day from Turkey, She Past Away with their dark-wave

    reworked 80’s sound. Next up, German trash metal outfit Holy Moses with front woman Sabina Classen’s charismatic voice. Finally, the band I had been most waiting for, Australia’s ‘The Amity Affliction.’  From the moment they hit the stage, The Amity Affliction stirred an utter riot calling

    for Hellfestians to get mobile with 100 crowd surfers who frenzied into a sea of fury with bodies, arms and legs thrashing all over the place as the band smashed through a perfect blend of their most beloved hits to include ‘Deaths Hand,’ ‘Shine On,’ ‘I See Dead People’  and ‘Not Within My Ghosts.’ Proving to be one of the most intense and electrifying performances of the whole festival, I too got caught up in edging to the rim of circle of death before venturing in and out of the frenzied mosh pit with camera in hand to shoot some of my best shots taken at the event.
    With a beast of a crowd that just seemed to grow as Hellfest was nearing an end with epic performances to come from Pantera and Slipknot, a much-anticipated appearance of the one and only Jack Black and Tenacious D had Hellfestians clambering on top of anything they could to get a glimpse of the man.  High above on buildings clambering on fences and rooftops, with not

     a bees hair of space between the hordes packed in front of the Main Stage area, Jack Black hit the stage delivering a break from the metal madness with a riot of rock and comedy. As excepted from Black, his infectious energy and larger than life personality had Hellfestians in stitches of laughter completely enthralled with every song finally to go completely nuts as Tenacious D ended the set with the ballad ‘Fuck her gently.’

    A very late cancelation by Incubus left the crowd stunned and not moving a millimetre to give up their piece of real estate they had claimed many hours beforehand for final headliners Pantera
    and Slipknot. Choosing my battles and sensibly, I once again gave up any foolish idea of attempting to wedge myself forward into the crowd and retreated to enjoy the first beer since the gates of Hell opened. I had seen over 40 bands and my tummy was full so to speak. With tired feet and beer in hand, I joined a small group at a table which ironically was one of the best locations to watch the fireworks display to come – a fireworks display I had not been known about.
    From the first explosion of fireworks taking off and burst of colour into the air, the Hellfest finale was nothing short of spectacular and one of the best fireworks displays I’d ever seen. Anticipation had wound up for the whole 4 days and as Slipknot played their final note to signal the start of this thunderous event, an unforgettable display of pyrotechnics launched to a perfectly choreographed symphony selection of powerful and epic music. Echoes of heavy guitar riffs from the Australian Band AC/DC and thunderbolts in the 2024 Hellfest logo can only have one asking questions if we will see this legendary AC/DC at Hellfest in the year to come.
    The days after – back to reality, or is it?
    A brief short stay to recover in the town of Nantes and then its 17000kms back home to Australia. It took me days to come back to planet earth and the only humans that will ever understand what happened after entering the gates of Hell are the 240000 that attended the event with me over the four days. At my quite beachside home I make a coffee in the absence of the chaos and metal insanity that I left behind in Clisson, that is now replaced is by the stillness of gentle waves hitting the shore and the footsteps of a small group of runners as they jog past me. I know what I would prefer and where I’d rather be right now, but I guess I have to wait for just a while.

    Hellfest, I want to thank you , the organisers, the security and all involved for making this one of if not the most memorable events I’ve had the pleasure of attending….

    and of course, all those who attended…. have a peek and see if you can spot yourselves in the gallery….

                                   HELLFEST.. I will see you in 2024.

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