It was a long way up… And of course, we did not take the shuttle bus at the foot of the “Mount Dong” as not to break the festival initiation rite of climbing the hill by your own strength. Fortunately, the climb was in good company and our spirits were raised by the infamous CANTINA CAMPING GROUND BAND that steadily supply the DONG community with their gorgeous hit: The Cantina Theme from Star Wars Episode IV! After laughing and dancing, the rest of the path was almost easy and we arrived at the top of the festival ground and were rewarded with the view over the “Ruhrpott” – the area around the Ruhr river in North-West Germany – and a beautiful sunset in the evening.
After working our way through the various camps – some resembled small fortresses – we found the stage in the center, shielded from the burning sun by a huge tent to spare the sensitive metalhead-skin. Short ways to the campground and all needed facilities made navigating the ground a pleasant and hassle-free experience. This, together with the focus on just one big stage, gives the festival a really nice family-meeting vibe. It is a remarkable feat that they manage to set this festival here since there is basically no infrastructure and it’s a logistical challenge to bring all the stuff needed up there. This great location and vibe are surely the reasons for the DONG FESTIVAL to have taken place here for the 18th year in a row – making the DONG attain full age this year! For this special birthday, 28 bands from 11 countries were invited, covering almost the entire spectrum of Metal music and providing great variety.
July 12th – DONG OPEN AIR Thursday:
After some breakfast beer – wait, what, already 2:00 pm?! – we managed to find the stage again and discovered some great artists. One of the first acts was the band SCARDUST that actually had their first gig outside of their homeland Israel. Welcome to Europe, guys! We are glad that they made that long journey since the pack of professionally trained musicians provided a diverse and powerful set. Lead singer Noa’s voice is a force to reckon with and carries many of their songs. We were very happy that we got the chance to do an interview with them after their performance (which you can find here).
One of the next bands was KOPRIKLAANI, folk metal straight out of the Finnish forests. They presented their mix of have-fun-and-drink-songs and atmospheric folk metal in a magical way. The headliner of the day were DIE APOKALYPTISCHEN REITER. I feel very lucky that they came back after a long break, with a strong album “Der Rote Reiter”. Brutal, critical, ironic and winsome as always.
July 13th – DONG OPEN AIR Friday:
We were very happy that we brought some water supplies since the (free) water supply for filling up your bottles was empty for quite some time and we were #blessed with lots of hot sunrays that day. Fortunately, the fire brigade paid the DONG a visit – BRING ON THE WATER! They provided precious cooling showers and even set up a well used water slide between the tents.
Back to the bands: props to the guys from ANTLLIS! They jumped in ultra spontaneously for the band IMPUREZA, which had to cancel their show due to baby-birth-related reasons – congratulations to the brand-new father! Late in the evening, we were really anxious about ELUVEITIE – will they perform? The band posted photos of their frontman Chrigel in a hospital bed right before the festival. Luckily, he got healthy and it seemed that they had a strong determination to please the DONG-crowd again after they were here a few years ago. So they played their first gig after Chrigel left the hospital, powering through the one hour plus show.
July 13th – DONG OPEN AIR Saturday:
The Saturday was full of interesting (and crazy) bands I wanted to see: starting with DIRTY D’SIRE. These guys play fun music which they call popcore and incorporate wacky covers of 90s songs. Later that day, JINJER from Ukraine came up. I already saw them live last year and at DONG OPEN AIR, I was once again impressed by Tatiana‘s live show. After some screams and hardcore (and I don’t like Hardcore, but I do like JINJER), back to another fun show: GRAILKNIGHTS – the most heroic show of the weekend, presented the ultimate Hero Metal!! If you have the chance to see them live – do it!
But my personal highlight of this festival was definitely SKINDRED!! With their mix of Reggae, Hip-Hop, Punk and Metal and a powerful live show, the tent almost gets burnt!
And what else? Like a good German festival the DONG brews its own festival beers every year. This years was the craft beer “Rinderwahn” mad cow disease, which was an interesting mix between a wheat beer and an IPA. In all honesty, we had enough after sampling one. Let’s try again next year! 😀 See you next year, Mount Dong!