Festival Report 2015

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

Sitting here in the debris of my body, hung over and with a sore neck, I will try to gather as much as possible of my mind, memory, and feelings to tell of the experience that was Copenhell, 2015 A.D.

At the office, there was some debate around the line-up of the year, much the same way that the discussion goes every year in the social medias as band after band is presented by the festival. Some love it, others hate it. The bands aren’t true enough, while at the same time being bashed for not thinking in new directions and only re-using names that have been around for ages. You know the story, heck, you’ve probably even been involved in the story in some capacity at one point or the other!
Going by my own thoughts on this, there were quite a few bands that didn’t interest me all that much, how could it not with a line-up of more than 40 artists, but Copenhell had also managed to bring in some bands that’s been on my to-watch list since my teenager years, some of which I still listen to, and others not so much, but all bands that I hadn’t actually seen live yet. Here, I mainly think about that lovely, gloomy New York quartet known as Life Of Agony, the everything yet nothing still completely their own trio Primus, and one of the pioneers of mixing the rap/hip hop scene with metal, Body motherfucking Count.
One main complaint about this years’ line-up is also relevant to bring up at this point, and that is the fact that several bands playing the festival this year had already played their own shows in Denmark within the last year, the most obvious one being headliner Slipknot. While it is true that several acts were reused, others were new to our island kingdom, or had not visited for a long while – I was personally looking very much forward to Primordial, which incidentally was one of the bands getting the most buzz on the running order.
What we could agree on at the office however, was that so far the Copenhell festival has treated us very well, and has been a great place to spend a few days knocking down beers and damaging our hearing while enjoying the Danish summer, and we were more than ready for another round!

So, off we went to Refshaleøen, the delightful harbour setting which begins to feel like home (not too far) away from home each year in June. This year, the small backdrop decorating the huge factory wall had been replaced by a gigantic wolf's face, following the Richey Beckett created mascot of the year, Fenrir, but other than that we were pretty familiar with the place by now – big kudos to the designers and creators of the large wickerwolf that sprung straight from hell itself, it looked wicked!
In a way most familiar, the weather outcast looked pretty darn wet for the entire festival, and as someone said; “It wouldn’t be Copenhell without rain”, but thankfully the metal gods once again looked favourably in our direction, and good weather prevailed, leaving only a few select shows drenched. This, as well, is becoming a habit, and a habit we like!

A habit I skipped out on this year however, was the Smadreland fun park, which this year even had a contest going on, simply called Danish Championship in Destruction. Actually, a lot of the extra-curricular activities at the festival, such as headbanging contest and the growl-o-meter to name but a few, had to be skipped this year, simply because we were busy most of the time on the music department, which I suppose says good things about that at least.
We did however have time for a nice chill in the company of the INC, Insane(ly tired) Næstved Crew, on the hill while Rise Against was jumping about on the Helvíti stage. The (ly tired) part wasn’t yet present when we ran into the same group of fine gentlemen earlier in the day, while visiting the biergarten to have a look at the sideshow artist Morten TheManiac. He turned out to be a great performer, being immensely entertaining to watch, and I wouldn’t mind a visit from him again, a visit we didn’t have to cut short to be able to make it to the next concert.

But concerts are still the backbone of any festival, and concerts we would watch.
Our very first show of the festival was none less than the aforementioned Life Of Agony, who were the first to play on the Hades stage the first day of the festival. Oh man, did they ever know how to open?! That show kicked so much ass, the soreness of my neck and throat from this single show was felt for the entire festival, and beyond! Yes, Life Of Agony was the first show we saw, and for me it didn’t get any better than this – this does of course not mean that others didn’t try, Copenhell 2015 was filled with great shows, big and small!
We were a bit confused in the big department though – Slipknot as a headliner was easy enough to follow, but Primus and Ghost? Nothing bad against Primus, remember that it was one of the acts I was looking the most forward to, but I wouldn’t consider them a headliner, and while I realize that Ghost is pretty popular right now, they’re still not bigger than having played the smaller Hades stage in broad daylight no more than two years prior; they simply didn’t seem to have the seniority to pick such a place over some of the other bands visiting. On the other side, proper headlining acts are becoming harder and harder to come by, and the spot had to be filled by someone.

It was in the small to mid-sized concerts I would find most relief and entertainment though, where a band like Huldre to name one, proved early Saturday that they were clearly ready to handle the responsibility of opening a festival day on the Hades stage, something that the large audience seemed to agree with wholeheartedly!
Speaking of small, we didn’t have as much time to visit the Pandæmonium stage this year as we would have wanted, mainly due to running from stage to stage over at the large stages. One issue here needs to be addressed though, and that is the slightly confusing schedule making on Copenhell’s side. How does it seem like a good idea for instance, to place a band like Marduk at the same time as Bloodbath? Didn’t it occur to anyone that these two bands would cater to the same audience? I would slightly later have the same feeling when Ghost and Blues Pills were playing the same time. Why not make a switcheroo and have Marduk playing together with Ghost, and Blues Pills together with Bloodbath? Would that have been such a big problem?

While we’re in the corner of pointing things out that could have been done better, we, for the first time ever, noticed a problem with toilets – there were some rows of toilets close to the stage area, but apparently many of them were closed off for some reason, and waiting in line isn’t a fun task when you’d rather be out having a blast at a concert or downing some beers.
Some positive things never change however, and as Copenhell had brought back much of the same on site crew as in the previous years, organisation was running smoothly with an incredible close to zero amount of delays, and smiling and helpful guards (yep, them again, can’t praise them enough) had us feeling safe while at the same time at full liberty to have fun as we pleased. Heck, when Suicidal Tendencies asked the crowd to join the party on stage, the guards didn’t try to stop us, but rather gave us a leg up so that more could come up there quickly and easily! That’s the spirit all festivals should look for in the crew they hire!

Copenhell 2015 was a short pleasure though.
No, it wasn’t shorter in length than the previous years, but it felt like it was over almost before it really had time to begin, and this was most likely due to the filled to the brim programme. Not bad for a festival that had taken so many beatings for the line-up beforehand I suppose. It almost felt like we were constantly going from one show to the next, and only the final day of the festival saw a bit more relaxation for us. Not much though, not much at all.
I’m not complaining though, I wouldn’t want to change any of the things I did, saw, and heard for anything, but Copenhell is simply such a cornucopia of experiences that it’s simply not possible to sample all. If you try it, you will likely end up feeling like your body is in debris, hung over and with a sore neck, trying to gather as much as possible of your mind, memory, and feelings from the experience.

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