Report: Dong Open Air 2019

July 11-13, 2019
Dong Hill Neukirchen-Vluyn, Germany
Report and pictures by: Ingrid and Rosa

Back on the almighty hill that is called Dong! Arriving at a sold out Dong Open Air, with this year’s slogan ‘Holiday in the Sun’ , although the weather didn’t quite agree with that as you will read later on. Do not ask us how we got up that dang hill, but we did. Reminder for the next time; it’s better to walk up the hill twice instead of packing everything you brought and struggle through the climb one time. We regret everything.

Once we’d put up our tent it was time for a beer and embrace the special atmosphere that only Dong can deliver. The view from the hill, the horrible music from your neighbours and flunkyball! Every year it’s a pleasure to be back and meet old friends, make new friends and have a great time! But there was work to be done, so on we went to see some bands.

Elvellon was the first band we watched, and isn’t an unfamiliar face on the Dong hill. Besides having played here a couple of times before, some of the members also hang around as visitors on the hill each year, since the band only lives a few blocks away. This year it was time for them to put up a show again, and they brought quite the audience with them it seemed, which isn’t that surprisingly. The show they played was nice and even though it was pretty warm this today, the audience wasn’t bothered to move their heads.

One of the highlights this festival for us were the Greek men from Septic Flesh. Septic Flesh is such a professional band, I don’t think they have ever let me down during a live show. Today this bunch of testosterone rocked the tent as well, and from the first tune till the last, a huge wall of sound was sent into the audience. They played a various set-list with quite some songs from their latest album Codex Omega, but of course hits as Anubis weren’t left out either. Great performance!

Battle Beast, albeit absolutely not my taste I can understand why the tent almost burst out of it’s seams when they started playing. The raw grunts and the smokey voiced high notes of Noora Louhimo, her Finnish queen of war outfit and catchy tunes make it easy to listen to. The horned front-woman seemed to be enjoying the show a lot and had great interaction with the crowd. All in all a great show for fans of heavy metal!

Headliner of the first day was Kataklysm. Their show today was their only German festival show this year, which singer Maurizio proudly announced to the audience. Opening their show with in-your-face song Shadows and Dust, the tent exploded immediately. Famous for their ‘security stress test’ the band didn’t have to ask for crowd-surfers, they already came surfing by themselves from the start of the show till the end. The band played a few newer songs, but mainly stuck to the old classics, which was well received by the audience. Many heads were banging including our own.

Friday
Today was marked by some weatherly surprises, that didn’t fit this year’s slogan ‘holiday in the sun’. But since there’s nothing team metal-exposure can’t handle, we stood strong (mainly inside our tent to save it from floating away) and conquered the weather, even though saving our tent meant unfortunately missing out on a few bands.

Craving, what a nice surprise that was! A melting pot of black- , folk- and melodic death metal that actually sounds good! I thought it was quite cool that they played that folky parts on guitar instead of a keyboard. Playing at 14.00 can be quite tricky but these dudes managed to pull in quite a few people with their eclectic sound. Despite enjoying their show musically it was a bit overshadowed by their, in my opinion, slightly boring stage presence.

Hell to the yeah, Deathcode Society. Never heard of them before Dong but I was not disappointed! Relentless basslines, gurgly grunts and symphonic passages make the dead rise from their graves, or at least made themselves rise from the grave with their outfits that look like the Grim Reaper and a Satanic monk’s lovebaby (which I thought looked quite cool actually). Sometimes they reminded us a bit of old Cradle of Filth, which is not a bad thing. I’m not a fan of clean vocals, so that was a bit of a bummer for me but I enjoyed the show a lot.

What do you get when you combine flamenco with brutal metal? You get Impureza. With lyrics grunted in Spanish (although based in Orléans, France) this band gave away quite a show. With the gurgling vocals of Esteband Martin, the acoustic flamenco guitar intervals, continuous blastbeats they gave away an excellent show. Needless to say, we were just a teensy bit jealous of the vocalist’s hair.

Storm Seeker is nicely said, not really my cup of tea. Nevertheless I understand why so many others do like them, because they sound like the love child of Eluveitie and Alestorm, both very popular bands here on the hill (as we would notice again later this day). Their music is catchy, easy going and hard to stand still on, so that’s exactly what happened.

You are in the dog house tonight! Dog Eat Dog comes to break it down! What a show, what a vibe! Part of the scene for over 25 years and they haven’t lost one bit of energy. Everybody jumped, everybody yelled along with the lyrics. Whilst unnecessary, but very much part of their act, front man John Connor made sure the crowd didn’t get a second of rest. Hardcore punkrock hiphop at Mount Moshmore, does it get any better than that? Definitely one of my favourites of this festival!

Seeing Insomnium live was a great pleasure. With their typical Finnish Melodic Metal they know how to enchant an audience not only on record, but also during a live show. I haven’t seen them live that much so I was looking forward to this show a lot; I did not get disappointed. Their performance was truly mystical. Even though moshpitting wouldn’t be my first reaction to it, it seemed some other disagreed with me and the crowd went crazy…. Or maybe they were just warming up for later that evening. The band played a nice mixture of songs including Into The Woods, a song they only played live once before!

If you say Alestorm, you say party! Well, that’s exactly whap happened during their headlining show on Friday. The band barely started playing and the entire tent went totally crazy. From start till end the security guys at the front were kept busy by catching the many many crowdsurfers that were coming in their direction. Also an Alestorm party wouldn’t be complete without a bunch of inflatable objects, so occasionally we saw a few of those flying around as well, including their own giant duck. The band played a nice mixture of new and old songs including Nancy the Tavern Wench, Keelhauled and The Sunken Norwegian.

Saturday
We kicked off the day with Hideous Divinity. Coming from Italy, this crew comes to ruin your eardrums. Merciless brutal death metal, as technical as it can get fires from the stage into the tent. I was very much looking forward to seeing them, since I am quite picky when it comes to death metal. Although very impressed by the vocals of Enrico Di Lorenzo and his devilish stare, it wasn’t exactly what I expected it to be. While I can understand the appeal of this genre, the technical aspect of it is just a little bit too much for my black metal heart 😉. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed their show.

One of the most spectacular and extraordinary shows this weekend was the show of Bloodywood. This band from India is working hard to rise to fame all over the world, and even though I only heard from them a few weeks before the festival, they had quite a fan base already on the festival. Their music is a nice combination of metal and some traditional sounds and they bring a traditional drum with them on stage as well. It made it by far the most unique show on the festival. Also the enthusiasm of these guys is immense, both on stage as off stage.

Dust Bolt on the other hand is quite a familiar face on the Dong stage. We have seen them play before and they were one of the biggest surprises for us back then. This year they kept their reputation high. Not only by their very tight and energetic performance, but also by the fact that they stopped their show in the middle of one of their songs because they saw someone in the moshpit going K.O. and immediately asked for First Aid through the microphone, to only start playing again after the person (who turned out to be pretty okay later on, fortunately) was taking care of. Much respect for these guys!

One of the most straightforward shows was the show Deserted Fear brought us. One big wall of sound was sent into the audience from the start till the end. The tent went wild, moshing, headbanging and people going crazy. The band members themselves did exactly the same thing which resulted into a nice interaction between band and audience.

Headliner of the festival, and by the look of all the people suddenly walking around in ‘Hair Metal’ clothing, highlight of the festival for them as well, was Steel Panther. This band need no introduction and neither does the fact that they couldn’t stop making jokes about finally being on the Dong festival. Luckily the festival organization doesn’t mind joking them back as well and created a nice ‘gloryhole’ comparison for them. While the front row was filled with way too young girls the band started their first tunes and also spotted their favorite object already: boobies. The show was what you would expect from Steel Panther: the jokes didn’t stop, neither did the comments about boobies. Of course they got some girls on stage during Seventeen Girls in a Row (although we doubt that they were even seventeen years old 😉). Besides that song, the setlist included a lot of classics as Eyes of a Panther, Asian Hooker and Death to All but Metal. Their cover of Crazy Train was memorable, especially since Michael Starr dressed up as Ozzy Osbourne and did a pretty accurate imitation.

Last band of the festival was Gloryhammer. They played on the hill only two years ago as well but were warmly welcomed back. Even though the people that had the energy to rock one last time were a bit less than during Steel Panther, they weren’t less enthusiastic and a lot of HOOTS was heard before the band started playing. Gloryhammer recently released a new album, so Angus McFife was able to take us on a new journey. This may not entirely be my kind of metal, yet I can’t stop smiling and enjoying Gloryhammer their show. They’re true craftsmen and very entertaining, yet also good musicians. A nice ending of a great festival.

Or at least, that was almost the end. As always Dj Benne entertains us each evening with an after party, and the last evening is always the best. The entire Dong crew parties on the stage, Stephan Liehr thanks all the fans, bands and crew, and the entire tent parties like never before … at least, when the power doesn’t goes out, causing Dj Benne to slightly panic 😉 .
All in all, we had a blast. Again the festival was bigger than last year, there were uni-sex toilets (which we applaud), the token system improved quite a bit although it would be great if everyone can buy them with their debit card, and not just German cards.

Full photo report will follow soon