Ysselsteyn. Friday 23 June. We are back in a small town than no one knows except the fans of metalcore, punk and hardcore in Western Europe. But what a place! Every year, Jera On Air delivers a sick line-up and this 2023’s edition proves it again. After the horrible weather – but awesome shows – on the first day, we expected to have awesome weather and awesome shows on this second day. Spoiler alert: that’s what we got!
This second day was the most packed of the weekend. Starting at noon with Slope on the Buzzard and the crazy Japanese Paledusk on the Eagle Jupiler Stage: no warm-up! We started with Paledusk, leader of this new generation of kinda metalcore atcs coming from Japan after Crossfaith and Crystal Lake. Like their compatriots, they’re fuckin’ crazy live! During 30 minutes, they destroyed the Main Stage in front of thousand of people ready to move. Was it a show that could finish in our top 10 even if the festival got almost 80? Get your answer in our Top 10 shows of Jera On Air 2023 now online!
No time to rest. It was a day to eat a huge breakfast before going on the field. It’s 1pm and Ghostkid have already started on the second stage. We saw the German band a couple of times earlier this year opening for Architects at the Headbanger’s Parade or for Bad Omens (Antwerp, Paris, Eindhoven). Sometimes really good, sometimes not really. What about this time? More than decent. Sound is good, the audience is motivated so is the band (leaded by former singer of Electric Callboy). Their metalcore with some cool electro vibes is perfect on festival even if you don’t know the band.
During the next hours, we’ll jump from one stage to another without any breaks. The quality and density of the line-up don’t allow us to do so. Right after Ghostkid, the new band leaded by Counterparts‘s singer, End, was already on stage. During 30 minutes, we received a huge hardcore slap in our face, even heavier and stronger than the Canadian hardcore band. Just after them, back on the Vulture Eastpack Stage, for our first frustration of the day with Attila… not because of the band’s show on stage who looked promising but because of the many technical issues during the whole set that finished 5 minutes earlier due to an electricity cut on stage. What a shame! But there’s only one way to let our frustration go away: a mosh-pit. Luckily for us, Jera got exactly what we needed next with Kublai Khan Tx. And to make sure there aren’t any warm-up, they started with The Hammer. If you know, you know. Heavy as f*ck, their single released already 6 years ago when opened the Never Say Die! Tour (better line-up than 2023 by the way) is known by everyone in the marquee. Once again, a powerful 40-45 minutes of pure hardcore.
While some people decided to hear the German metalcore heroes Any Given Day on the Buzzard, we made our way back to the Vulture for some more melody and the lovely Touche Amore. The emotion is strong but hit obviously differently than Kublai Khan Tx‘s music. Not coming from the head but from the heart. A beautiful moment of communion between the fans and the band in way better conditions than during their show at Trix a couple of months ago when they toured with Thrice and Coheed And Cambria!
Last year, they destroyed the second stage so it was obvious to see them on the Main Stage this time: hardcore band from Los Angeles Lionheart are next! Stronger. Heavier. Bigger. That’s how we could resume their show in 2023. Some small stage productions added too and some captivating speeches. One thing was missing. Well, it was there but we hoped it wasn’t: barrier between the band and the fans. The communication was real but it would have been even better with a full physical connection between. Maybe on their next European tour early 2024?
The first break of the year is upon us but we have one more show before. Well, 2 shows. On the same time, Pup (Vulture) and Loathe (Buzzard) were playing. Two stages, two ambiances but two bands to see. We’ve started with half of Pup because of the sick show they made at the Ancienne Belgique last October. But the mood wasn’t the same. We made our way to the Buzzard to see the last 15 minutes of Loathe and damn we hope we saw the whole set! The sound is really good (rare for this small stage) and every songs hit us perfectly. When we discovered the band in 2016 opening for For Today on their Farewell Tour, we thought the band was going to become big quickly. Sadly, they have stagnated a little, especially outside of UK. But this show conviced us they’re on the right way again!
It’s 5:45pm and after more than 5 hours and 9 shows, it’s time for a break. The Jera On Air is always a marathon and you need to force you to take some breaks if you wanna be able to keep it up during the whole weekend! The prices of the token has increased this year but the festival sadly followed the inflation. But the food they’re selling is still good with many veggie and vegan options!
Back on track for a busy trio: Stray From The Path – Sleep Token – Fever 333. Starting with the hardcore band from New York, SFTP confirmed as always their reputation of awesome live performers despite some technical issues for Tom (guitarist) and his pedalboard. But Graig is such a machine behind the kit and Drew is an amazing front-man. They last releases may not be their best, their live shows are always awesome. And the final on First World Problem confirmed it! What an epic anthem! Sadly, if you wanna see them the band again, you’ll need to go back to Netherlands or to France because they skip Belgium… Right after them, it’s time for an OVNI, for the band with biggest hype of the year – or almost : Sleep Token. The British act got only 45 minutes right before the sunset to make their proofs. It would have been better a slot later to have less light but it was hard to move one of the (almost) headliners. Anyway, in the darkness or in the light, the music stays the most important and on that, damn, they know their shit. Influenced by so many genres, from some touch of gospel to all the sub-genres of metal you want (maybe not deathcore), Vessel and his teammates hypnotized us and brought us in their mad world from the very first to the last song. A set that felt so short but only because it was intense and powerful as much as possible! We can’t wait to see them playing a club-show again. At the Ancienne Belgique next Fall? A few weeks after that, another band will play at the AB for sure: Fever 333 will be a very special guest on the next Enter Shikari tour. Who knows if the famous venue from Brussels will still be alive on February 20th… because Jason confirmed he’s still as crazy as before even with the whole new line-up of his band. Goodbye Aric (drums). Goodbye Stephen (guitar). Welcome April (bass), Brandon (guitar) and Thomas (drums). They were 3, now they are 4. Should they change their name to Fever 444? Some people encouraged them to change the name to Fever 111 as Jason is the only former member left in the band so why not… Jokes aside, we were curious to see this new form of the band. The people who saw them before knows how crazy and insane their shows were. The 3 musicians found themselves perfectly and their energy on stage had no limits. Their show at Jera On Air 2019 was one of the best from the festivals. Their shows at Rock Werchter, Lollapalooza or in Lyon opening for BMTH were insane too. What about 2023? Well, really good but not that good. Starting 5 minutes late with a way too long intro, they basically played 35 minutes when we had the feeling the new musicians forced themselves to move everywhere, trying to be as crazy as Jason has always been but it doesn’t seem natural. More like a cover-band of Fever 333 than the real Fever 333… We jumped. We sang. We moshed. We enjoyed. But we gonna forget this show after the festival for sure.
This end of this second day is near but what an ending: Papa Roach – Hatebreed – Rancid, with Trash Boat and Fleddy Melculy on the secondary stages! We were surprized when Jera On Air announced Papa Roach last Fall. Obviously, lot of festival-goers from JOA should love them but it’s just not what we were used too. And what kind of show could we expect from them? A kinda rock-show with many new songs from the disappointing albums they’ve released the last couple of years? No thanks. Luckily it wasn’t their plan! Tons of old-school stuff, a huge stage production (first time we see the band with pyro on stage), some nice rap meddley, a Jacoby on fire and an audience living their best life! In the middle of the set, we got Blood Brothers, Dead Cell, Broken Home, Firestarter (The Prodigy cover), To Be Loved and Scars, all in a row. Massive! And with such as great set-list and performance, the couple of new songs they played didn’t bother us at all. Obviously, they finished their awesome set with an awesome version of Last Resort that 100% of the festival were singing, helped by a guest on stage with Mister Jason Butler from Fever 333! No doubt, it’s one of the best show Papa Roach did during the last decade and one of the best from this weekend!
Set-list: Kill The Noise, Getting Away With Murder, Help, Blood Brothers, Dead Cell, Broken Home, Firestarter (cover), To Be Loved, Scars, Swerve, Between Angels And Insects, Born For Greatness, Last Resort.
The last time we saw Hatebreed was at the same place, Jera On Air, 2019. For the first time since we’ve known the band, they were tired and didn’t give us a great powerful show as usual. It was time for them to rest after many years of intense tour. At that time, we were thinking about a few months… not 3 years of pandemic and lockdowns. But they were finally back, stronger than ever, with a beautiful set-list! It’s so bad that they started 15 minutes before Papa Roach ends. Usually, at Jera On Air, you can watch all the bands on the 2 biggest stages without missing any of them. It was a first here and not a good one. Hopefully they’ll find a solution to not do it again! Other sad part: the Hatebreed show was at the exact same time as Trash Boat headlining the Buzzard. As we’ve seen the British band many times recently (opening for The Offspring last month, opening for Trash Boat 3 months ago, playing with Enter Shikari a few weeks before, etc.), we decided to catch Hatebreed who were back after 4 years in Europe. We are sure that the Trash Boat was great but so was Hatebreed! Hearing the many old-school classics like Live For This, This Is Now, Tear It Down, etc. felt so good!
We ended this second intense day of festival between the Eagle Stage for the main headliner Rancid and the very small Hawk for our local heroes Fleddy Melculy. Sadly, we didn’t see their full set because this tent felt more like a sauna than a show. But it was so great to see our Belgian compatriots killing it outside of our country – even if singing in Dutch obviously helps in Netherlands. So we made our way back to the Eagle to hear the classics from Rancid. A tent full of nostalgics of curious. Anyway, a lovely way to end this before a well deserved night!
Jera On Air brought us in one day a legend of punk-rock (Rancid), a legend of hardcore (Hatebreed), a mainstream legend (Papa Roach), one of the biggest prospect of the metal scene in 2023 (Sleep Token) and a tons of sick bands all around them from punk-rock to hardcore. The sun was there this time. What more do you need? Another day like this? Lucky you: there’s one more day to cover at Jera On Air!