Maximum Rock Fest 2022

whoa! Maximum Rock Festival 2022 finished on Satursday night and honestly I don’t even know where to start from. This is gonna be a tough one to review.

Let me start by stating that I don’t think any of us understand just how hard it is to still organize a fest during these conditions, after the pandemic, with all the touring being delayed and cancelled, with everything going wrong and prices going up. The schedule suffered changes because of that and unforeseen events such as Blue Air defaulting on their payments and cancelling flights. That was so last moment and so out of the control of the promoter who did try their best and brought another act or gave longer sets to the bands already playing. However…

The biggest issue people have had with the fest was that back in 2019 they announced 250 lei tickets for Devin Townsend and Katatonia. I have friends who bought the tickets then to support the festival and get theirs ahead. Obviously, the pandemic happened so there was no 2020 fest. We did get a 2021 festival with Epica among others, but 2020 tickets remained valid for 2022 as well since it was a different line-up. People were excited to see what was gonna be announced for 2022, since it’s wide open and finally the pandemic is over. And the first thing that was announced was the price… 99 lei in pre-sale. Which is great to encourage people to buy a ticket not (for a less than stellar line-up). But it sure left a bitter taste to those people who still hang on to their ticket bought in 2019 that was 2.5x more expensive and couldn’t be refunded. Bummer. I saw a lot of people trying desperately to resell their tickets for a fraction of their price but to no luck.

That no luck brings us to the other harsh reality of the festival: the crowd was in low hundreds and it was definitely not enough to fill Arenele Romane. I don’t remember ever seeing the venue so empty… I feel bad for the promoter because this was a big loss. Out of the few people who were there, I imagine many had older tickets or had bought from people who were selling theirs, plus some guest passes … so overall this was bad. It’s always a bit bad for atmosphere when you look around and see empty space. However, I do feel bad for the bands bc it’s tough and a disappointment to play an empty venue.

Now let’s talk about the schedule. I see no reason why the headliner would start at 22:45. That’s when a normal festival would end. I get that if the first band would have started at 17:00 instead of 19:00 they would have probably only played for the people at the bad… but still. Especially when on both days there had been cancellations, there was some leeway with the hours. And on both day there ended up being delays.

Day One:

18.00 / Acces public
19.00 / Reverse The Moment
19.40 / Breathelast.
20.50 / TAINE
22.00 / Infected Rain

This was a day dedicated to romanian music so respect for that, with Moldovans from Infected Rain ending the night with an incredible show. Worth mentioning that it had started to rain just before Infected Rain (get it?) were supposed to get on stage, but it soon enough stopped and the show went on.

Infected Rain really put on a masterclass of energy and dedication, as they always do. They are a success story of what it means to work, work, persevere and work again. It was a show you couldn’t help but enjoy, even if you are not the biggest fan of their music or genre.

Day Two:

17.30 / Acces Public
18.30 / Aeon Blank
19.10 / Lupu’ cel Rau
20.15 / Subterranean Masquerade
21.25 / Týr
22.45 / MYRATH

Lupu’ cel Rau are always fun to see. I specifically told my US friend and photographer to go check them out because he might like them and apparently I was right. After all, who can resist a metal cover of Aha’s Take on Me?

Subterranean Masquerade were a very nice surprise for me, great show, pumping up the public. There was one moment where the singer really got close to the public to give that personal touch (pun intended) to the front rows. Really made for a special moment. They took it even further and went into the middle of the crowd (there are definitely perks when the audience is limited). Everyone was entertained and they put on a hell of a show! Probably the highlight of the festival.

Tyr took us to valhalla and back and it was nice to see the people in the front rows really be there for them and sing along.

Finally, Myrath came on stage well after 23:00. This was the biggest stage I was seeing them on and I expected big things from them. Which only came in the second part of the show. They had nice stage setting, and as usual something special in their outfits, invited a belly dancer on stage and a fire acrobat. However, something was lacking a bit in the beginning. I had seen them 4 times before and every time it was a banger but this time they didn’t feel hungry. For the first part of the show there was little to no interraction between the members (except for Zaher and Kevin who seemed to be discussing more technical things). But in the end the show picked up, the energy was there, smiles all around, closed the show with some bangers: No Holding Back, Believer, Endure the Silence. I guess that worked and everyone was hyped. so much so that zaher quickly came back to thank the crowd and say they would do one more song. That felt like a very organic encore where they asked for the promoter’s permission first and then discussed among themselves what to sing. Almost the whole band was back on stage, with Zaher announcing “Anis is probably in the toilet now, let’s wait for him some more” and a minute later joking “Oh it’s probably a big shit he’s taking” :)) That sure made it a memorable ending to the show and the festival

All in all, disappointment turnout in a not that exciting lineup amidst a sea of big events in this summer season. But kudos to the promoter for persevering against all odds and still holding the event. And fingers crossed there will be a Maximum Rock Fest 2023, bigger and better.

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