Since 2008 this hard rock and metal festival takes place in Kortrijk, Belgium. It changed its location a couple of times. This year was the first year at ‘Lange Munte’. It’s a very good location. The campsite is close to the festival so it’s easy to walk back and forth. Also the capacity of the festival is bigger. This year the festival had around 12000 visitors.
You can definitely compare Alcatraz to Graspop. Why? Yes, it is almost 6 times smaller than Graspop, but not less. It has an awesome line up, and signing sessions as well. Alcatraz works as a team to organize this festival. Every year, you can sign yourself up to be a volunteer for Alcatraz. This year was the first time I did that, and I actually got to be a volunteer for Alcatraz. When you sign up you can say what you would prefer to do. For example you can choose if you want to help at the camping, if you want to help to build the festival or to clean it up afterwards, backstage, frontstage, at the bar, …. I got the chance to help at the camping and clean the campsite after the festival. They give you all the information you need and if you have questions you can always ask it. So the Thursday before the festival there was a BBQ for the Alcatraz crew. I didn’t know anybody there, but I got to know a lot of people in a short time. Everybody was very nice and easy to talk to. So that’s how Alcatraz started for me, 2 days earlier than the festival itself and I was already having a good time.
Saturday 08/08 => Day 1
When I arrived at the festival, there was a huge line to get to the festival site. Also the line to get onto the camping wasn’t short either. So I was very happy I already had my festival bracelet. The first 2 bands were Wolf and Armored Saint. I heard them play, but I didn’t really watch it as I was checking out the festival site and getting my crew t-shirt.
Next up was Death Angel. Their trash metal was awesome and caused a small but heavy moshpit. Also a lot of crowdsurfers took their chance to get to the front. It was an awesome concert, even though it almost KO’d me. And then I didn’t even mention my friend took most of the hits I was supposed to receive. But no good metal festival without moshpits and crowdsurfers right?
Next up was Moonspell. I wasn’t able to stand after Death Angel so I was lying down while Moonspell was playing. The music didn’t really get me, but that could also be the fact that I was still trying to get myself together. After a Monster energy drink and after I checked out the merchandise and CD shops, I felt better and went to see Queensryche. At first it didn’t really get me, but the longer they played the more I started to get into it. While Temple of Rock was playing I headed back to the merchandise stands to look at it again. They had very nice merchandise for a good price. Also the CD’s where sharply priced. When I got back Temple of Rock was playing ‘Rock You Like A Hurricane’ from Scorpions. This warmed up the crowd for Over Kill. Over Kill was amazing. I was feeling tired, but they woke me up and got me headbanging the whole show. The crowd was a huge Over Kill fan as they were shouting the band’s name after almost every song.
W.A.S.P was at Alcatraz for the second time. They also played Alcatraz in 2014. They are already rocking since 1984, but they still sound very good. The performance was awesome and they got the crowd competing against each other while singing ‘I Want To Be Somebody’. It was left VS right and at the end everybody together. W.A.S.P finished the song and a long applause was followed.
Trivium had a super cool stage and a super performance. In the corners of the stage they had skulls with horns. The eyes lit up in different colors while they were playing. Lead singer Matt Heafy showed respect for the crowd as he stopped playing when he noticed that a fan passed out in the crowd and first aid was needed. The crowd really appreciated it and gave a big applause for Trivium. After playing old and new songs they ended the show with ‘In Waves’.
Headliner Nightwish told a whole story on stage. Lead singer Floor Jansen had a beautiful voice and bass guitarist Marco Hietala showed his skills with a double neck guitar with a 4 string base on top and a 6 string electric guitar at the bottom. They had lots of flamethrowers on stage in orange and red. In their story they included older songs like ‘Sleeping Sun’, but also songs from their new album like ‘Elan’. The last page of the story was the fireworks above the stage and the confetti cannon.
The first day was an awesome day. I couldn’t stop smiling anymore. I walked to my tent and went to bed. The DJ was still playing music when I went to bed, so I was smiling and head banging while lying in my tent. I couldn’t be happier.
Sunday 09/08 => Day 2
The second day I got up early after a good night of sleep. The band who got to say good morning to all the awesome people was D.A.D (Disneyland After Dark) They were real crowd entertainers. Even though it was the first band, they got everybody singing along with their music. Also, bass guitarist Stig Pedersen had the most awesome 2 string bass guitars I’ve ever seen. He played a reversed Strat and a rocket. Yes, you can take that literally. The head of the guitar was the body and the head was the body of a Strat. The rocket had a string cover and only the place where you strum the guitar was open.
Powerwolf played second. I’ve had never heard of them, but I heard it was a good band so I definitely went to check them out. And indeed, I wasn’t disappointed. They are really good live and even when you don’t really know them you were able to sing along. For a moment lead singer Atilla Dorn and keyboard player Falk Maria Schlegel madeit look like they were going to start a wall of death, but it turned out to be a contest between the left and right side of the crowd. At the end we all screamed together to the next song they were playing. Powerwolf played a lot of songs from their brand new album ‘Blessed & Possessed’ like ‘Army Of The Night’, ‘Armata Strigoi’ and ‘Santus Domenius’. They also played ‘Amen And Attack’. After their show I went to the CD stands and bought their latest album. They had a signing session a few hours later so I got a chance to get it signed and get a picture with them. They weren’t so loyal to their fans though. Compared with Like A Strom who I met at Graspop this year. Like A Storm was down to earth and they took the time to say something to their fans. Powerwolf was like ‘Hey, let me sign this, ok next person’. But yeah, I got some cool pictures and a signed album so I’m happy anyway.
While I was waiting in line for Powerwolf’s signing session Death (DTA) was playing. It was a good trash metal band, although I didn’t pay much attention to it as I was talking to other people who were waiting in line. After I got my album signed and pictures taken, I walked back to my tent to put it away safely. When I got to my tent, Annihilator started. They played 2 songs and then I heard that there was a technical difficulty. For about 10 minutes nothing happened and then somebody from the organization of Alcatraz brought the news that Annihilator had to cancel this show. Fans were angry of course, but to make up for it Carcass started a bit earlier. Though I don’t know if they actually got to play longer or just started earlier. Anyway, later I heard that the band was stressed out to get to Alcatraz on time and then on stage, the guitar of the lead guitarist wouldn’t tune right and his pedals didn’t work. So apparently it was going to take too long to fix everything so they cancelled the show.
So, Carcass started a bit earlier than planned. That caused some people who didn’t know that they started earlier being late. I didn’t see the whole show so I can’t really say much about it. I did see the end as I went to the front to watch Behemoth. They had an awesome show with fire and blood. When the guys came on stage, lead guitarist Patryk Dominik and bass player Tomasz Wroblewski stood in front of the black wings that were standing next to drummer Zbigniew Robert Prominski, so it looked like the wings were actually on them. After Behemoth I had to work so I didn’t see Accept and Venom. Because the camping was so close to the festival I was still able to hear them and see a little bit of it on the screen. It also gave me the opportunity to see today’s headliner Sabaton from up close and be back on time for work. Sabaton had a really cool stage with a tank in the middle. They started the show with ‘Ghost Division’ and ‘To Hell and Back’. During the show the tank shot pink fireworks. Also flamethrowers in front of the stage and on stage were there. I think we started a world record to f**k with Sabaton. Every second they weren’t playing, the crowd started singing ‘Swedish Pagans’. Lead singer Joakim Brodén had to laugh about it and told us they would play it later. So first they played another song. Then, of course, we started singing again. Joakim tried to deny it, but guitarists Chris Rörland and Thobbe Englund and drummer Hannes van Dahl were playing ‘Swedish Pagans’ along with the crowd. Joakim tried to put Thobbe ‘in the corner’ like they do when you get punished in preschool. So Thobbe went to the corner and Joakim showed us that he could play the guitar by playing a part form ‘Smoke On The Water’ from Deep Purple. Then Chris showed Joakim that he was playing that when he was like 5 years old and showed how to really play the guitar, then told Joakim to go to the corner as well. After making fun of each other, they played the next song. Then the crowd finally convinced them to play ‘Swedish Pagans’. After they played it, Joakim thought we would shut the hell up, but we Belgians didn’t. We just kept singing ‘Swedish Pagans’ and almost convinced Sabaton to play it for a second time. Belgium is the only country that keeps singing ‘Swedish Pagans’ without Sabaton announcing that they’re going to play the song. So that’s awesome. We have a statement to defend. Just before their show ended, I had to go back to work. So I could see the fireworks form a perfect angle. It was really awesome, though I heard from people who went to WACKEN this year that the show looked similar with 2 or 3 different songs.
Is Alcatraz worth going to?
Yes, it definitely is. It’s a festival that puts a goal for itself. It’s trying to be better and better every year and everybody who’s organizing it has that same goal in mind. It’s awesome that you actually get a chance to be part of that team as a volunteer. Every year they give you a chance to join their team. So be sure to like their Facebook page (the link is below) and you’ll see it on your newsfeed. Be ready to be part of an awesome team, an awesome festival and awesome new people to meet.
The only thing I have to mention is the lack of toilets on the camping itself. There were a lot of toilets for men, but not for women. There were only 2 toilets. So by the end of the first day, they were full and you had to walk to the festival entrance to use the toilets there. But that’s just a detail as it was only 2 minutes from the camping to the festival entrance. Another thing that could be better next year is the information about the tokens. A lot of people bought a lot of tokens and then found out that they could only be used for drinks and not for the food. You had to pay food with cash. So maybe more information about that at the place where you can buy the tokens would be a good idea for next year.
I recorded ‘To Hell And Back’ from Sabaton in Good Quality J