Festival Review: Loud Park 2015 (Tokyo, Japan)

IMG_1633When I left England, I thought my days of hitting up summer festivals were over. America (my home) is not known for festivals though there are a few traveling ones here and there, but nothing on the scale of Europe’s legendary metal festivals. Now that I live in Japan, it’s great to see a three-stage major metal event called Loud Park. And, it’s in Tokyo! Lucky me! This year’s annual experience was the 10th anniversary and was well stocked with heavy-hitting brand names such as Slayer (day 1 headliner), Anthrax, Arch Enemy, Gojira, All That Remains, Testament, Children of Bodom, Metal Allegiance (featuring Big Four members and then some), Hammerfall, Royal Hunt, and Gamma Ray. Since I typically attend one day, I felt this lineup was the weaker of the two. Here is my review of day 2 featuring headliners Megadeth.

First things first though. Attire is important; at least the top half anyway. When going to a festival it makes choosing my tee more difficult. I have a general rule against wearing a shirt of a bands I am going to see. I think it is obvious I like the band if I am there. Therefore, I opted for a Machine Head shirt; one I hadn’t worn yet since I got it from their show in July.

IMG_1634After the roughly 90-minute train ride, we were first entertained by Tampa’s groove death metal icons, Obituary. What a way to kick things off at 11 am. They played the 3rd stage aptly named the “Extreme Stage.” Since there were only six bands on the extreme stage, they all played no less than about 40-45 minutes which makes for an ample festival set list. It beats the 25 minutes or so most early festival acts get based on my previous experience. I can’t recall ever seeing a circle pit before noon. Obituary nailed that. In fact, I was surprised to see that area of the stadium fairly close to max capacity so early in the morning. Things started off on a positive note; clean sound, Obituary firing on all cylinders, and an energetic crowd.

After Obituary it was black metal vs. power metal. I am sure the black metal fans would nail my coffin shut with me still alive for saying this, but we decided to see Kamelot over Abbath. I know nothing of Abbath, but would have loved to see the set anyway. However, I had several opportunities in the past to see Kamelot and missed them all, so I figured now was the time. The rumors I heard about them putting on a good set were true, except I never expected the crowd to start a pit. Seems wrong for Kamelot, but it happened right where I was, close to the front of the stage. Personally, I am all about letting people act naturally at a metal show, but I was quite annoyed…with a pit…during Kamelot. I thought it took away from the experience I think I was supposed to have. Alissa White-Gluz made an appearance for some growls and cleans which was cool. Is there supposed to be a circle pit at Kamelot?

IMG_1666While waiting for Kamelot we spent about 30 minutes listening to what I perceived to be a Japanese female rock icon. Sounded like Within Temptation; a little over dramatic for me, but the musicians were good. After Kamelot, it was back to the extreme stage for a double dose of Swedish metal in the form of Dark Tranquility and At The Gates, respectively.

This was a completely new experience for me as I knew little to nothing of these two bands. Both were quite good, inspired large circle pits, and energetic cheers from the crowd. Dark Tranquility vocalist Mikael Stanne seemed like he was indeed enjoying himself smiling the entire time…while not growling. At The Gates had a great set; unfortunately I couldn’t tell you what they played, but they seemed like crowd favorites. Stanne joined At The Gates vocalist Tomas Lindberg on stage for some dual growling which went over quite well. Looks like I will be digging for some change out of the couch cushions for some of Gothenburg’s finest melodic death metal albums to add to my library.

I once saw Napalm Death somewhere around 1996 in San Antonio, Texas. While extreme as they are, the one thing I remember most was Barney Greenway’s stage presence. I was hoping not much had changed in the last couple of decades as we get older and slower…he’s still up there belting out those intense growls accompanied by his psychotic stage presence. It was great…and brutal to hear Suffer the Children, Siege of Power, and When All is Said and Done…great live songs.

After Britain’s famed Napalm Death was sadly over, we took a glimpse of DragonForce on the main stage. Despite lengthy pause due technical difficulties, we managed to catch about a song and a half. In DragonForce terms, that was about 15 minutes. Can’t say I was super impressed. Their speed on CD didn’t seem to come off well on stage. So, we went back to the extreme stage where things were happening all day long and about to get better with the stage’s headliner, Carcass.

IMG_1899Carcass was another band I had never seen before. This was probably the single biggest reason I wanted to go to Loud Park to begin with. Carcass was a huge selling point for me and it paid off. Their set was over an hour with a healthy representation of Surgical Steel (my #2 album of 2013) plus their previous albums including songs I never heard because sadly I do not own every Carcass album. I’ll have to remedy that and ask for iTunes cards for an upcoming end of year gift-giving holiday. This set was the highlight of the day. My only complaint was the vocals seemed turned down, but it could have been because I was too far to one side of the stage. Their music comes off great live and loud. They ended the set with Heartwork…a great closer.

The other big draw for me was a chance to see Helloween and when I saw their entire set nearly matched Carcass, another decision had to be made and Carcass won out. No regrets. We did catch the last two songs of Helloween’s set which were Future World and I Want Out…two songs I wanted to hear the most anyway, so that worked out. I will have to catch them some other time on some other tour. From what I saw it looks like they are fun to watch.

Because the two main stages were side by side in the Saitama Super Arena main floor, there was barely a 5-minute break between bands alternating on these stages. A nice set up if you ask me…no lag time. While Helloween was finishing up we were trying to embed ourselves on the main stage for Megadeth. Once the lights cut out, the crowd surged forward and we found ourselves maybe 10 feet back from the front…close enough to grab one of David Ellefson’s thrown guitar picks. This was my 16th time seeing Megadeth…more than any other band I have seen live. The two new band members, Kiko Loureiro and Tony Loureano (still possibly a temp drummer) were on target playing a list of Megadeth classics and a few new ones. Seemed like a very smooth transition considering there was a 50% turnover in band members. But, that’s nothing new.

IMG_1982Megadeth Set List in order was Hangar 18, Kingmaker, Wake Up Dead, In My Darkest Hour, Sweating Bullets, She-Wolf, Public Enemy #1, Tornado of Souls, Trust, A Tout Le Monde, Cold Sweat (Thin Lizzy), Symphony of Destruction, Peace Sells, and Holy Wars.

Overall, it was a festival packed with bands I wanted to see from start to finish. I can’t say that has always happened in my festival-going experience. The Japanese crowd was very enthusiastic, further clarifying that metal is nowhere near dead as some would like to claim.

Below are a few clips of the day also featuring some bands from day 1.

Obituary

Slayer

Children of Bodom

At The Gates

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About Reggie

Just a dude writing a heavy metal blog and always on the prowl for a cool metal show. I am also a family man...first and foremost!

Posted on October 19, 2015, in Concert Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. How long have you been living in Tokyo?

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