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reportaža

12. 6. 2014  Reportaža: Zadar Rock City - A Tale From The Underwall  (5. 6. 2014, Zadar Hrvatska)
It doesn't happen often that out of such ruins and chaos something positive results.

This report was written by a great metal brother, fellow underground enthusiast and a pleasant German metalhead with a true mullet, if I remember correctly, mr. Sigfrith Lionhart. He's also ''das Boss'' of Barbarian Wrath (a record label from Germany, working the outer fringe of extreme Metal for 20 years). I met him last year in Zadar, at a great underground festival Underwall, where I played with my band Eruption and partied like hell to Xentrix!

This year the festival happened again. And it was quite an interesting event, if we can trust the words of mr. Lionheart. It is unedited and in English, so everybody would understand how obviously a one man (The Organizer) can ass-rape bunch of great bands and metal public in Croatia and beyond.

Take note, metal brethren, that Croatian metal scene is still great, full of great people and do not judge it through stupid acts of an ignorant person who dares to call himself a metalhead.

And now - to mr. Lionhart's report:

Last week my sweet darling wife and I went to Zadar to attend the 2nd edition of the Underwall Festival. Born from a last minute festival cancellation (Burning Sea) last year we both had been impressed with all the local bands in 2013 so we were hoping for a re-run. We got that and so much more...

It started fairly easy with a "Metal Battle" for best Croatian band in a local club called Maraschino which was won by POST-COITAL SILENCE from Zagreb. 2 beer sips in we already met the first friendly people who turned out to be Andreas from Norway and Mihovil, the bass player of the winning band. It was a very entertaining night apart from me being pulled over by the cops 200 meters off the lot but even they were very nice

The next night it was Maraschino time again for yet another Metal battle, this time featuring all the winners of a row of events for all former Yugoslawian states. POST-COITAL SILENCE from Croatia, SHUTDOWN from Slovenia, AGNI KAI from Macedonia, MUD FACTORY from Serbia and BENEFIT from Bosnia And Herzegovina. I guess there are no Metal bands in Montenegro ? We met our new friends from the night before and several new ones and the whole night ended with a rather big surprise because the wife and I clearly saw SHUTDOWN in the winning position but the jury went with AGNI KAI. Good luck in Wacken to the winners \,,/
Before a winner was announced we were all treated with a rather vicious VICIOUS RUMOURS surprise gig. I have to honestly say that I never was a big fan of the band but that show, holy crap ! Count me as a fan now
I didn't even get pulled over this time, hehehe.

Finally, on Thursday the first festival day had arrived. It had been rather warm (at least for us wimpy Central Europeans) in Zadar but Thursday was positively hot and the fact that unlike last year there were no trees or any shade whatsoever. Sadly, the festival grounds had been moved from the old battlements behind the university to a parking lot so this year it was blaring sun burning down on a concrete ground. The best conditions for a festival, if you're going for a heat stroke anyways... As a result people were mostly crowding near the wall and on the far side of the parking lot, outside the actual festival ground and only a pitiful few were brave enough to brave the sun in front of the stage. We made a point of watching at least one song of each band in front of the stage but I have to admit that I spend a great deal of time under my trusty canopy festival chair. Thankfully, as the day progressed the sun wandered west, behind the city walls and after 18:00 most of the ground was in the shade.

Bands I recall playing were WITHIN DESTRUCTION (Slovenian Death Metal), THE DOOMSAYER (Italian Hardcore), INCEPTOR (Melodic Death Metal from Croatia), MAKE ME A DONUT (Mathcore from Switzerland) , HYPOCRAS (Pagan Metal from Switzerland), DIENAMIC (Death Thrash from Norway) and FUEL FOR DISASTER (POWERWOLF clone band from Norway). Besides INCEPTOR (who also played the Croatian day of the Wacken Metal Battle 2 days earlier) I had never heard of any of these and those knowing my taste in Metal can imagine that I'm not particularly fond of Hardcore or Mathcore but within the realms of a bigger festival I can handle even that. After all, variety is important and there's always the beer stall when bands are on that one doesn't like
Unfortunately it took SEPULTURA and then again VICIOUS RUMOURS over an hour each to get their shit set up so VICIOUS RUMOURS finished at around 2 am under gentle pressure of the local police force. There were 3 more bands sheduled, including GUARDIANS OF TIME who I really wanted to see. Oh well...

The 2nd day we were there pretty early, restocked the cooler with ice and Ožujsko and met up with Aleks again. It was even hotter than the day before so I didn't see much of FREE RIDE. I did make a special point to catch CELTIIBEERIAN, just based on the name and ended up enjoying myself enormously and buying their 2 CDs right after the show. Next up were PRIMITAI who had not gotten to play last night. Very nice NWOBHM from London. I later heard that they literally ran from stage to their plane to catch their flight home. At this point there were (vicious) rumours starting to make the rounds about ACCU§ER and ONSLAUGHT having been cancelled and all sorts of other issues. The running order we had brought along was replaced by a hand written one taped to the entry wall and even that seemed rather fluid as during the day several bands were cancelled and / or replaced by others. A sense of chaos was noticable at that point. Still fun was to be had and we went for an early dinner at a small restaurant in listening distance from stage. NERVOCHAOS came and went and the playlist changed again and INNER GATE, a band from Zagreb who Cheryl and I both had fallen in love with at last years Underwall were cancelled. Major bummer there for me. I tracked down Maria Tangar to inquire and heard that the organiser was so broke by now that he couldn't afford the 1000 Kuna (roughly 135 EUR) the band needed to come from Zagreb to Zadar. I really wanted to see them so I offered to cover that but events developed much faster than I thought... Next up (or rather, while the above unfolded) were MANHEIM from Croatia who played pretty cool mid-tempo Black Metal followed by KUGA, a really cool Thrash band from Serbia. At around that time I was informed that BOMBARDER (who were set to play the next day) were also cancelled and the "news" of cancellation kept coming in an ever faster pace. The following SAWHILL SACRIFICE from Finland didn't have their best day I think. They probably had drunk at the usual Finnish pace and 35° C in the shade had done them in. The vocalist at least could hardly stand...
Dutch SINISTER seemed to be a highlight for many as the place filled up considerably but that may also have been caused by the fact that the Sun was finally down and one could step on the concrete without spontanously combusting immediately. Not being a big fan of gurgly Death Metal we were scanning the VIP area for the festival organiser but there was no sign of him anywhere. Not good. From up there we could see the BENEDICTION banner hoisted and then lowered again and a sense of impending doom filled me. This kind of confusion usually leads to no happy end... People in the square started getting restless and then the big surprise (music-wise) of the festival erupted on stage. HERESY from Costa Rica. I have never even heard of these guys and they kicked our ass so hard their boot straps were coming out of our nostrils. All the pent up frustration about cancellations were successfully channeled into pure Thrash Metal fun and after their set I saw nothing but smiling faces. A good thing considering the news BENEDICTION had for us. Even before they went on stage, the security personal checking the entrance was suddenly gone and the fabric on the fence was torn down by stage personal.

After the first song the announcement... The organiser had fled the field. The rest of the festival (2 more days) was cancelled.

BENEDICTION were stranded without a place to sleep but decided to play anyways in true UK Crust fashion. And what a set they delivered. I was especially happy about the songs from "Subconscious Terror" which after all is one of my favourite European Death Metal albums ever. After BENEDICTION were done things fell apart completely. Even though (surprisingly) yet another band, ZONARIA entered the stage, the security in front of the stage left, followed by the ladies who had been selling beer and food coupons. At that point I summoned Aleks and the Witch and pooled all our remaining coupons and turned them into beer. A wise move on my part because 20 minutes later the beer stall stopped accepting the damn things.
I don't recall much of ZONARIA to be honest because everyone was wildly discussing and speculating what would happen now and there was an entire fleet of police cars on the parking lot and they were clearly expecting trouble.
And then the most amazing thing happened. Nothing.
The last band finished, people went on the parking lot or to the camping area and there was not even a hint of a riot, despite the fact that many of these guys had paid a (relative) shitload of money for their tickets and didn't get to see the bands they paid for and had been drinking all day long.
We were still talking on the parking lot until the Sun came up again since nobody wanted to leave and many didn't know what to leave for anyways. It felt like the downfall of civilisation but keeping each other company through the night somehow helped.

The next noon, after we had crawled out of bed we both decided that we wanted to see what was going on at the festival grounds so we quickly restocked (beer and ice, our morning ritual) and went back. They were still working on taking the stage down and it looked rather desolate. Yet, the organiser was back and told us he was trying to put together a show at night for all those bands who had come from afar and who had not had a chance to play yet. Good news at last although many were sceptical. There was already a PA organized and a stage being built but there was no money for the truck to bring up the PA from Split. It required 200 Kuna (= 27 EUR) and we would most definitely not let everything fail because of that. By the time we had made our offer they had already found a free ride though so we turned our attention to the matter of beer. All that was left from the nights was 3 1.5 liter bottles of beer (and several fridges full of energy drinks that the "Monster chicks" had abandoned in their haste to save their trucks...) and they still had to convince TANKARD to play that night. Not a good thing... So, we fixed that problem and all was well
Besides TANKARD, that night also DRAKUM, CRUSHING CASPARS, THE HATE COLONY, CAPILLARY and last, at 3 am TANELORN from Georgia played. At least I think so as I spent a lot of time out on the parking talking to many new friends, drinking beer and adopting young Croatians The only band I made a special point of watching was TANELORN who had come all the way from Georgia to crush us with a 1 hour set.

I know that many people are very angry with the organizer who clearly bit off more than he could handle. I'm sure he is well aware of his mistakes and he'll be paying for them for quite a while.
But, besides all the chaos I feel this festival will be legendary in years to come and I am glad I was part of it. It doesn't happen often that out of such ruins and chaos something positive results. We've made many new friends and we'll most definitely will be back to Zadar Rock City \,,/

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