Report: Party San Open Air 2019

Schlotheim/Obermehler, Germany
August 8th-10th 2019

Report and pictures by: Ingrid, Omer, Rosa

This year the Party San Open Air festival celebrates its 25th year of existence. With a great line up and a good weather forecast this was guaranteed to be a success. Metal-exposure has been present at about ten of the previous editions and couldn’t be left out during this anniversary. We of course are very objective when we say that this certainly is one of the better festivals there is for us. The lineup always fits very well with the personal taste of many of our reporters, so we sent a whole bunch of them to the airport in Obermehler (Germany) to report to you about this year’s Party San Open Air.

First of all we were glad with the weather (forecast). All of us remember the sandstorm we had last year and destroyed many tents on the camping, as well as the festival area, and led to the evacuation of the infield. This year we had some windy days as well, which are no exception on Party San, but fortunately we mainly had a comfortable sun in our faces that wasn’t all too bright, but very enjoyable, and only a tiny whiny bit of rain.
Tradition-wise we arrived on Wednesday already, because that’s when the party secretly starts. After being led to our camping spot (Party San offers the very welcome opportunity to make a reservation on the camp ground if you come over with a big group) and building up the camp, it was time to join in one of Germany’s favorite activities: beer drinking!
Since there are no bands playing yet on Wednesday ‘camp drinking’ is the headliner this day, that is, until the party tents opens. Metalheads who arrive on Wednesday have the opportunity to pre-party in the party tent and earn a desirable straw hat at the Cuba Libre bar.

Thursday
In the afternoon we heard the shots of Esmiralda (the canon, mind you. Yes, they named a Canon. Because… why not?) being fired and the festival officially has started! Before the first band even entered the stage, the very first hangovers already have been spotted. Luckily Party San isn’t your typical packed-to-the-mass-festival and it’s easy to find a spot on the grass and just lay there until you don’t feel entirely miserable anymore. We also couldn’t help but notice the cleanliness of the festival ground this year, well done organization and fans to keep the area nice and clean.

I got to know these Copenhagen-based bunch by name of Slaegt with their 2015 “Beautiful and Damned” EP, that showcased a rather raw but very interesting mix between different styles. I was hooked right away, and ever since then if I have the option to watch these fellas live, I tend not to miss out on it. The festival’s playlist consisted mostly of the band’s stellar latest full length, and even though the group was the one that opened the festival, they can show to countless others how it’s done and how to properly handle Metal music on stage.

Next to watch was the Swedish band Runemagick and I was going to let them surprise me. It was the first time for me seeing them live, but not their first time rocking the Party San stage. Many years ago they also played the festival, and we’re grateful they made a comeback as well as a band, as on the stage. The band played a steady show and even though the crowd wasn’t massive, a lot of people took their opportunity to get a glimpse of their performance since those are pretty rare, and banged their heads.

Skyforger have been around for many years, and throughout those years and through their special blend of music and concept, to acquire a loyal following. On stage these guys also don’t disappoint – from the historical attire and stage equipment that leave no doubt about the band’s sense of historical themes originating in their home country, to the little explanations between the angry-toned songs that helped the crowd understand what it’s about.

I don’t think there’s a person out there who listens to Death Metal on a regular basis and does not know the name Incantation. The American gang have been ripping people’s organs since the end of the 80’s and are still doing it by this day. Songs like “Devoured Death”, “Carrion Prophecy”, “Unholy Massacre” and good few others have sent the crowd flying to every direction. A performance by Incantation is always good and always a welcome treat for anyone that likes his violent songs as bloody as possible.

To be honest I don’t find Soilwork very fitting in the Party San line up, but since they are touring with Hypocrisy, who are headlining today, they obviously have their own show here as well. It seemed that not many people shared my opinion because it was surprisingly crowded during their show, and I have to confess: they did very well. It’s no secret that mister Strid is a great vocalist and performer and he ruled today’s show as well. The band obviously played quite some songs from their recent release Verkligheten, but also a few older songs couldn’t be missed on the setlist.

Sharing the above stated opinion on Soilwork, I was ready for some old school black metal. And that was presented in the form of Craft! I wasn’t expecting much since their live performance isn’t always that good but hell yes, this was fucking cool! Yes he is getting older, which you can hear in his voice and see in his movements but Craft always sounds a bit creaky, so it didn’t matter to me. Playing a variety of older and newer songs and 3 of my favourites, I was a happy gal.

Ascension was one of the four bands at Party San I absolutely had to see. It was the first time for me to witness them live and man, I was siked! Captivated by the acte de presence from the vocalist, his movements and his voice I stood in awe as they played song after song. For a moment the singer left the stage doing god knows what and we were ,almost in a spiritual way, introduced to the familiar intro of ‘Grant me Light’. There was a dedicated group of people who enjoyed every bit of it and there were definitely a lot of people pleasantly surprised by this dark, rumbling wave that is called Ascension.

If you were in for a treat, you certainly were standing at the right spot if you were watching Belphegor their show. Not only were their pyro’s very impressive (and warm), the whole stage was build up to impress. And impress us is what they did. Now there is already no doubt about the band their the quality of their live performances but today they were on fire! They played a very tight but short set with mainly newer songs but also the two unreleased songs Sanctus Diaboli Confidimus and Virtus Asinaria. Will they appear on the new album the band is writing? Who knows, but if they will, we can’t wait for it!

One of the reasons I was hyped about the festival was Hellhammer. When I saw the logo on the flyer I was kind amazed because, well, Hellhammer have not been around since 1984 and because one of the pioneers of the band’s old sound, Martin. E Ain, have been dead since 2017. However, armed with a talented bass player and someone to smash some drums, Hellhammer’s performance was good. I will not say I’m disappointed because I’m not, but perhaps I expected a bit too much out of Hellhammer-2019-edition. It was raw as it should’ve been, it was crawling and evil sounding as it should’ve sounded, but something was amiss.

Headliner of the first day was the well known Hypocrisy. People were waiting patiently for them and when they hit the stage the party was on. As expected they played a tight ass straightforward blowing the audience away show. The setlist was pretty much what you would expect with classics as End Of Disclosure, Fire In The Sky and Eraser. One of the best shows of the festival!

Friday
Traditionally the Friday of Party San starts with some nice Grindcore/Brutal Death Metal and some Slam! Not unfamiliar to open up the Friday of Party San is Gutalax and this year the honor went to them as well. The waiting line to enter the infield was huge and everybody in line already was in a party mood. Leeches and a lot of inflatable accessories could be seen everywhere and the party mood continued in front of the stage. Half an hour of pig squeals and songs with lyrics that are unrecognizable, is what followed. To repeat vocalist ‘Maty’ his words: ‘this is a new song, but you probably won’t notice that since they all sound the same’. The circle pit was never ending, all the stuff flying through the air neither, and even the security guards in front of the stage were wearing their party hats, a great start of the second day!

After this party a lot of people left and only a few stayed to watch Defeated Sanity. A real shame because I would expect more people to hang around since the genre isn’t that different than Gutalax. Another half an hour of Brutal Death Metal was slammed into our ears, but this time a little more serious and a little less ‘just party’-wise. It’s a shame not more people stick around to see them because it was pure craftsmanship what they showed us.

Another name that’s known throughout the editions of PartySan and that pops up once in a while is Krisiun. The angry Brazilian three-piece are no stranger to the German crowd and are always welcomed in the warmest way possible. Although the band had Scourge of the Enthroned put out last year and made most of the ears out there bleed, Krisiun on stage have been going over material from all years and not only with that, including the anger-filled “Combustion Inferno”, “Blood Of Lions” that sent the crowd into a frenzy with its ferocious speed.
When it’s all been said and done, the band continued with a personal homage to Lemmy, by covering the almighty “Ace Of Spades” to the sounds of roars, in a much heavier, much angrier version of the song, that sounded just right.

One could argue that Arkona, one of the more well-known names in the world of Folk Metal, have been placed in a rather awkward situation. In a festival that’s centered mostly around harsh guitar works, shrieks, growls and heavy-as-heck musical tones, having a flute all of a sudden seems quite odd. However, Arkona have showed everyone over the years that the combination between the heavier side of things to the folk instruments works on the albums and is also transferrable when doing a live show. Add to that the fact that Masha (vocalist) manages to make the songs go alive in an almost-ritualistic way, and you got yourself a proper Folk/Black Metal performance that the only downside of it was that it was during the daylight.

Had enough of America? No? Good, because Night Demon are up! To those of you who don’t know these guys, these Californians are making some of the more higher tier Heavy Metal out there. In recent years we all see a resurgence of the style and Night Demon don’t differ in that sense.
They’re wild on stage, they bring the music forward, they walk the walk and with two full lengths under their belt, this young group are aiming high. Tracks that were played in front of a (very) supportive crowd like “Welcome to the Night”, “Full Speed Ahead”, and “Heavy Metal Heat” all sound like they came out straight out of the early 80’s and I guess that’s the purpose. The energies on stage have been so high up there that sometimes one’s focus would stick to one band member or another and stay there.

Greek Metallers Rotting Christ were glad to be back on the stage of Party San. I agree with front man Sakis that it had been too long since they last stood on this stage. When he traditionally asked the crowd ‘if they were having good time?’, the response seemed to be as if they audience agrees that they were glad as well that they were back as well.
The band recently brought out a new album and had a lineup change, so this was the first time to see some fresh meat and music on stage for us. Not that I expected something else, but both of those rocked! The energy (and testosterone…) on stage was high, and they treated us with a lot of songs from the new album Rituals. Unfortunately it started to rain during their performance and as great as it was, many people left to find a dry place to stand.

Lots of them fled into the Party tent, where immediately after Rotting Christ had finished, Firtan started their set. At least for them they could profit from the rain because they had quite an audience. Although their set was short and it felt to me that they had to warm up a bit, they managed to rock that tent. For the occasion they brought a violin player with them on stage which gave it just that extra touch.

Static, mesmerizing and never failing to blow me off my feet. Mgla, nihilism at its finest. The familiar riffs that are shrouded in bleakness, the voice of M. and the eerie (yet comforting) feeling that nothing has meaning. Rain poured down as they played their set and whilst trying to take some photos, most of the time I just stood with my eyes closed as if there was nothing or no one around me. I don’t think there is a band I love more than Mgla.

The death metal legends of Deicide, playing a brutal show in front of a drenched crowd who obviously weren’t bothered by the pouring rain. As death metal is definitely not my cup of tea I found shelter from the rain in the party tent to watch the show from distance. A tight, technical performance in the name of anti-christianity.

As if it were meant by the gods, when headliner of the day, Testament, started playing, the rain stopped pouring from the skies and everybody crawled out of their shelters onwards to the main stage. The field was fully filled again and everybody seemed happy that the rain was over. When the ultimate classic ‘Into The Pit’ set in, people took it quite literally and a huge pit emerged. As you would expect from Testament, their show was a very tight and straightforward one, and they were without a doubt the true headliner of the day. The setlist was very varied with barely some newer songs, and mainly the all-time classics as the mentioned Into The Pit and Practice What You Preach.

SATURDAY

We from metal-exposure have seen many Svartidaudi shows the past months but have to admit: this was by far the best of them. What extraordinary musicians these guys are. Filled with amazement we have been watching the craftsmanship of mainly the guitarists of the band, but obviously the others as well. Playing at full daytime stole a little of the magic of this band but still they were one of the highlights of the festival. The present crowd also went headbanging and wild, we even saw some sick dance moves around us.

Jungle Rot, hailing from the almighty United States, is another veteran name that had me excited about. I really liked their latest work and their earlier work, while never actually seeing them perform, so suffice to say I was pumped. I wasn’t disappointed, as Dave’s guttural tones with songs such as “Doomsday” and “Worst Case Scenario” punched me in the stomach, as the rhythm section took care of my already-broken neck. I mean, let’s be honest here, there’s no way to listen to the classic “Strangulation Mutilation” or to the recent “Pumped Full of Lead” without bursting into moments that may or may not depict one as insane. These Wisconsin folks are as tight on stage as they are tight on their albums and I’ll happily admit that it was one of the best performances throughout the festival.

Probably they ‘oldest’ band and the festival, and yet I never managed to see them play live before now, is Satan. I was quite curious about them and must admit that at first, I felt a little disappointed. Even though it seems like they tried, I didn’t feel any energy coming from them at all and they looked more like they were playing ‘because they had to’. When I heard about all their struggles and engagement with Murphy’s Law to even get to the festival in time and with (without) all of their stuff, I could somehow relate to them, and they were forgiven. Nevertheless not the finest show of the day unfortunately.

Certainly one of the highlights this festival was the show of Naglfar. With eyes popping out of his skull, vocalist Kristoffer Olivius, supported by one huge wall of sound, mesmerized the audience from start till end. Everywhere we looked we saw heads banging as hard as they could, yours truly included. They announced a new album coming out this fall which was received by lots of cheering from the audience. Nevertheless they didn’t play any new song but mainly all the ‘classics’ such as The Darkest Road, I Am Vengeance, A Swarm Of Plague and Feeding Moloch. The moment their set was supposed to end they decided to play a very last song, resulting on more cheering from the audience but a not so happy face from the stage manager 😉

From relentless black metal to the thrashers of Legion of the Damned. Hailing from the Netherlands and rocking it since 1992 (having their name changed to Legion of the Damned in 2005) you know what you will get! It’s fast, it’s loud and your head will bang! Raging through 45 minutes it was definitely a nice change from all the black- and death metal.

After being a bit disappointed in some of their shows over the last couple of years I was more than pleasantly surprised by the performance of Solstafir. What a show! A very smooth show with some minor interruptions in which the band members shook hands with the public. Playing both old and new songs, it was a diverse show which I enjoyed very much. Still not sure about the hipsteresque presence, but it’s all about the music and that’s definitely worth it!

The band that closes the festival this year is the one and only Bloodbath. The Swedish bunch that have long after Mikael’s departure have gone on their own specific path, have developed themselves to an almost-different entity with music that not only equalizes with the earlier days, but even manages to surpass it. However, because the majority of the class-sicks of the band are from the earlier days, one could find a good mix between everything. “Fleischmann” from the new album alongside “So You Die”, next to “Let The Stillborn Come To Me” and infamous “Eaten” was there too, when everything has been executed with brilliant sound, horror-filled lightning work, and great sound. The amount of blood on the stage and on the band members was appropriate for the band’s name and as Nick Holmes was yelling his preaching words of doom to the microphone and the music was cutting into my flesh, I’ve understood that unfortunately, another PartySan has come to a glorious, gory end.