A Fuzzy Festival in the middle of the Austrian Mountains and a Lake…
It’s not rare to see, nowadays, festivals with a nice environment (you know, DunaJam, SonicBlast, and the most recent of them, PALP, for example). Lake On Fire is one of these. The landscape is incredible, the Lake is beautiful, you can even bathe (at your own risk), the food is nice, people are kind. With a really small audience (let’s say, 2000 guests maybe ?), this is a complete breakup with events that tend to be bigger and bigger, as HellFest for example. I (Mr. Bear) used to be a HellFest goer, but the audience got so big, everything got so huge there that it made me stop going, even when the line-up is crazy as this year.
So, we traveled from France through Switzerland and Germany, and arrived by night, along the supposed blue Danube. We climbed tiny roads snaking in the forest and through small villages to arrive in Waldhausen.
After checking the map, not being sure to be in the right place, we found the campsite in the dark. (it was almost midnight). Upon arrival, we decided to set up our tent under the unique tree of the camp, next to two adorable guys from Slovakia.
In the morning, we had the pleasure to discover the Green organization, a great initiative for a small festival like this one. Anything was to be recycled, and LoF even made a post a few weeks after the event took place claiming that no piece of trash was left on the campsite. This was looking like something “normal” for everyone there.
Under nice and shiny weather, we went to the lake (five minutes away from the campsite) to get our bracelets and getting access to the site, greeted by smiling volunteers.
We also discovered the amazing food stand, with a lot of vegan and vegetarian options. The bar was a big question when getting in, as we are, in addition of being music fans, craft beer amateurs. We had the pleasure to find local cider with hops, which was tasting amazing. No beers for us during these two days !
After having a quick look, we turned ourselves to see the majestic floating scene.
Due to some lack of organization and a nice camping brunch, we arrive on-site too late for the opener of the day, Austrian band Vu Garde. We hop on for the first of our concerts with also a local band, Ozymandias from Linz, only a few dozens of kilometers away.
The trio presents an interesting kind of fuzzy hard-rock, with the nice addition of an organ, doing both riffs and bass lines (you know, organ stuff).
Coming from Israel, a country not so renown in the fuzzy universe, Ouzo Bazooka brought their oriental sounds to Nepomuk Lake. It was indeed a pleasure because the weather condition turned out not to be optimal during these two days. Though it is not that fuzzy, Ouzo Bazooka’s music convinced the crowd, dancing and cheering at the sound of the mixed hard rock, garage rock and a bit of psychedelic music. It was a nice introduction for the next bands to come in the evening, much more in the fuzz genre !
The German duo is surely one hell of a thing. Being able to bring so much energy being only two onstage is quite an incredible performance. We arrived a few minutes after the beginning of the show and we surely do regret this, still a few weeks after the festival ! And, as the shy sun commenced to go down, The Picturebooks played an epic hour, with their homemade drums and their unique sound. Even though it was raining a bit, the Lake was really On Fire ! An unforgettable experience !
With the dark falling and the pouring rain, Naxatras hopped on stage. The Greeks stoner scene is full of really wonderful bands, and the trio is part of them. Their psychedelic fuzzy rock is always bringing you to another dimension, and it did not fail this time either. The crowd was navigating through space and haze (and also rain, still, tbh), and the atmosphere coming from the scene was warmer than the air temperature. This helped to set the stage for the next two bands.
The Vintage Caravan
We arrived on site around 3 pm, and our Icelandic stoner rock friends arrived only a few moments afterward. Being born ready is what must qualify them : they started perambulating and playing battery on their lap hours before their show. Yet, they did not tire during the evening, and when getting on stage, they released an incredible energy, always smiling as usual. Their show, though Oskar, Alexander and Stefan are from a place of cold and winters, was hot as hell, and brought warmth once again to the cold and rainy atmosphere of the day.
Going through the setlist was one happy hour of moving your head and body, singing loudly to the sound of “Babylone” or “Midnight Meditation”. 4th time seeing these dudes for me, and still a great pleasure to experience the experience.
Ah, Colour Haze. Being such an iconic formation might be quite hard to bear. But these guys arrived on stage as they always do : quiet, calm and smiling. Their bassist kinda look like he just left a meeting and that he was getting back to it after the show, this being just an interlude during a regular workday.
The psychedelia of the band sound is so unique that it kept the fuzzy and comfortable bubble set by the previous acts of the evening. The haze was indeed present : we still can’t confirm that it came from the crowd or the Nepomuk Lake because of the rain. They gave the Lake a nice hour and a half performance, mixing both oldies and more recent songs.
We left the shores this evening with a nice smile on our faces, despite knowing that we would sleep in our tent with the pouring rain and the quite cold temperatures of the Austrian night.
After a short night, we were pulled from our sleep by loud noises, sounding like repeated gunfires. We got out of the tent and try to know what the fuck it was, but nobody seems to be reacting to these noises, and this lasted during a few hours, like maybe four or five. Everybody was acting like everything was normal, and as we write down these lines we still don’t have a clue. The sun was here to welcome us in this early morning and help us to begin this second day of floating sound.
Being the opener of the day is one of the most difficult thing, as a band, to experience in a festival. You are yet one small band, almost nobody knows you, but you have to start the day the right way by giving the crowd a show that will get them on a nice track for the rest of the afternoon/evening. Thus, Tentacula from the nearby city of Linz had this mission for the second day of the fuzz celebration taking place at Nepomuk Lake.
And they managed to do it nicely and smoothly, with nice female vocals atop catchy riffs.
The day was set : it was going to be nice and smooth also, in spite of the rain doing a comeback a few minutes after the first show.
Witchrider is also an Austrian band, and this gave them the opportunity to play their psychedelic-ish occult-desert rock “at home”. Though the performance was enjoyable, they had to stop it quite early because of an incoming thunderstorm that emptied the shores of the lake of any audience. The festival technicians covered all the gear under a few tarpaulins, and we let the storm fly away.
With the sun not deciding to come back, Iah from Argentina brought the heat with their psychedelic instrumental stoner rock done very nicely. El trio de Cordoba traveled a long way across the ocean for this performance and they received a nice welcome. Playing music live is one thing, but doing it in such a way is another one.
Their performance reminded us about the one given by Naxatras the day before, and it gave us back our smile, which disappeared with the previously evoked thunderstorm (“Oh my god, no, not again, we will get stuck under this rain all day long”). Anyway, it almost rained all day long.
It’s definitely worth listening to their music and seeing them live !
Minus Green was the only Austrian band not being an opener, and it was well deserved. After giving them a listen on Bandcamp, I really wanted to see them live, because their sound quite caught my ears. Mixing psychedelia, stoner rock riffs and some post-rock-ish moments is what could define it. And the result, sounding awesome on the album, is even better live.
I wanted to bring back a nice souvenir from Austria : a Minus Green disc it was.
“Hammering down” is what it was all about. You know, as in “Dopelord’s drummer been hammering down his kit as a Polish lumberjack”. When Dopelord is on stage, you can feel the heaviness and the grease dripping from every bit of sound. And then, after one hour of being shaken in a giant washing machine, your body full of pain due to headbanging, you will remember it as one of the best show of the festival.
The Polish doom lords brought their massive sound to the calm waters of the Lake, and their performance will sure be remembered for a few years, even though the continuous rain was being quite boring at that time of the day.
And voilà ! Appearing like wizards and switching instantly the vibes of the festival came Hällas, from Sweden. Both five members wearing shiny Lycra outfits and wearing make-up was quite surprising, but in the end, this doesn’t matter, as Hällas gave the soaked crowd one really cool experience.
Their unique sound, mixing together prog-rock coming directly from the seventies, and a bit of a more modern sound is the perfect blend for the late afternoon, or the start of the evening, depending on your way to see things. Catchy clothes mean catchy tunes, in the world of Hällas. They describe themselves as being an “adventure rock” band. Of course it is ! All hail Hällas !
Tides From Nebula
Tides From Nebula was the second Polish act on the same evening, and the style was quite different from the heavy doom brought by Dopelord. The band was introducing a few new song, as they have an album coming in the next few weeks, and we must admit that, even giving their sound a much more electronic way than it used to sound, these tunes were really convincing. Mixing these new songs with some oldies made the show a really enjoyable moment.
The sky finally cleared itself, offering us a nice view from the stage, though it was about not to last very long. The night finally replaced this short moment of peace, and Tides From Nebula went off stage, making the way for the last two acts of the weekend.
You know, there are some memes about Dave Grohl being in a legendary rock band, twice. Well, I guess you could make them for the mighty Mr. Cisneros. Om arrived on stage with the rain coming back. The show was an hour and a half. Something between America’s Natives trance, and an oriental ritual. Yet, we could not take any pictures of the show, as the band forbade it. Sorry ‘bout that, you will have to believe us on parole : the show was great, not as great as it could be (the drummer lost the rythm for a while during the first two songs), but still great.
It was my first time seeing one of Cisneros bands (finally seeing Sleep in October !), and it will be reminded.
There are, these days, many “new” doom bands, and also many female-fronted doom bands. Not all of them are great. But Windhand is quite interesting, as if Electric Wizard and Acid King had a baby, let’s say. On stage, you can feel the energy from the band, even when separated from them with the Lake and its shore. The drummer is crushing down his battery, and the bassist is constantly headbanging. Toping that, Dorthia Cottrell vocals were really moving.
Windhand offered us a show as we would like a festival to end : making us want to come back next year to Nepomuk Lake !