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PartySan Metal Open Air 2023 Review and Photos

Our crew is determined not to spend this summer idle... Murat and Idil Partysan were at Partysan Metal Open-Air... Let's see what they experienced from Murat's perspective...

And here, after a two-month break, a new festival article takes place on this page.

Our destination this time was PartySan Metal Open Air Fest in Germany, which started as a mini festival in 1996 and lasted for three days in 2023, with more than fifty bands taking the stage.

After a two-month break from Mystic Fest in Gdańsk, Poland (I had just written a review of the festival on the way there and hadn’t finished the photo edits yet), I made my way to PartySan, which had been in my plans for a few months. While some of my friends preferred Brutal Assault in Czechia and others preferred Wacken, I preferred PartySan because I had attended Brutal Assault before (see Brutal Assault 2019) and I wanted to see something different. Especially after this year’s “Wacken Disaster”, I realized how right I made the right decision thanks to the photos and news shared.

First of all, a little bit about PartySan; as I mentioned above, it is one of the most important festivals in Germany and Europe, which has been organized continuously since 1996. This year a total of 58 bands took the stage on two stages and the festival lasted for three days. It was a big plus that the area where the festival was organized was a former military airport, most of it was covered with asphalt and concrete, and although it rained a little bit on the last day, we didn’t have to struggle with mud like Wacken. The fact that the area was quite large, the distance between the stages was short, and the food and beverage options were plentiful and relatively affordable were also details that made us happy.

Partysan-Metal-Open-Air-2023
Partysan-Metal-Open-Air-2023

Hit the Road Again

The town of Schlotheim (I guess we can also call it a village) where PartySan takes place is located in a bit of a bad spot for those who will be attending from our country. It is right in the middle of Frankfurt, Berlin, Hanover, and Leipzig, where there are direct flights from our country…

My preference was to take a connecting flight via Frankfurt because of the time and price (I will leave it to you to guess how convenient it will be since it is the last two months and the middle of the summer season). At the airport, unfortunately, there are a lot of precautions and inspections against the increasing number of asylum cases in recent years. Therefore, it is useful to have a printout of your accommodation information, return ticket, and festival ticket with you (there is a high chance that the passport police will ask you). Assuming that you have passed the questions at this stage without any problems and without getting angry, let’s talk about how to get to the city center.

The answer to the above question is of course by train or metro. However, before coming to Germany, it is vital to buy a one-month Deutschland ticket for 49 Euros from this page. The next step is to download the Deutsche Bahn app and type in the station you want to go to. It is not known how long the Deutschland ticket will continue, but I can say that it is a service that deserves many times more than its price. Normally I would have to spend more than 300 Euros for transportation within Germany, but it was pleasing to overcome this for 49 Euros. The only downside is that there has been an explosion in the number of people like you who want to travel more cheaply. In most of the trains, you may encounter a crowd like a morning Metrobus on the Beylikdüzü-Zincirlikuyu line, and now that I have said that there will be that many flaws in a woman’s life, I will come to the subject of what you can visit and see during your stay in Frankfurt.

Romerberg Center
Romerberg Center

I wish I could write in paragraphs, but unfortunately, Frankfurt is a city of plazas and business centers. There are only a handful of historical and touristic places to visit. Since most of the city was destroyed in the Second World War, many of the buildings have been restored to their original state. Some of them are; Römerberg Square, which is one of the old towns in every European city (I think it is a small square for a big city like Frankfurt), Frankfurt Cathedral, which I did not have the opportunity to visit inside but is one of the beautiful examples of gothic architecture, and the restored museum house of German writer, politician, poet, playwright, naturalist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Alte Oper (Old Opera House), Eiserner Steg (Old Bridge) and the park with a beautiful walking track next to it are among the places to visit and see…

Old Bridge Frankfurt
Old Bridge Frankfurt

How is Transportation to PartySan?

As I mentioned above, Schlotheim Military Airport, where the festival is held, is located far from the big cities but at a point where transportation is very convenient. Thanks to your Deutschland-Ticket, if you don’t have a time limit, you can travel with unlimited transfers between trains and reach Mühlhausen station, which is our last stop before Schlotheim (as a warning note, unfortunately, there is no Deutschland-Ticket application on trains with the ICE logo, similar to YHT in our country). Assuming there are no cancellations or delays from Frankfurt, you have a journey of about four hours. Unfortunately, the town is a limited area in terms of accommodation options, so music lovers who are fond of comfort should make reservations months in advance. For us, the tent option dominated until the last moment, but it was a bit of great luck that we found a place to stay on Airbnb in a short time. Unlike the festivals that I usually attend alone, this time we watched, took notes and critiqued the bands together with İdil from Extreminal, whose articles, album reviews, interviews, and live broadcasts you are familiar with.

1. Gün (Yol Yorgunları)

İdil ile istasyonda buluşmamızdan sonra, konaklayacağımız yere vardığımızda saat öğleden sonra 2’yi geçiyordu. Benim iptal olan tren seferi, her istasyonda yoğunluk yüzünden kaybedilen dakikalar, Almanların “bir sürü insan dışarıda kaldı, iki adım yana atayım da onlar da binebilsinler” diye düşünmeyip, tuhaf tuhaf kapıda olan biteni izlemeleri yüzünden, dört saat kadar görünen yolculuk beş saati geçti. Bunca saat yolculuk ve öğle sıcağının etkisini atlatmak için mola vermek şarttı. İlk gruplar kaçacaktı ama gecenin sonunu görmek daha önemliydi.

Transportation to the Festival Area was not Free!

PartySan’s app had information such as stage times of the bands, information about the bands, frequently asked questions about the festival, as well as the departure and return times of the shuttles from Mühlhausen train station to the festival site (I can’t say that this was followed especially during the return hours). We paid 15 Euros for the transfer, which we expected to be free of charge under normal conditions, and which took about 30-40 minutes, round trip for each day.

On the first day, it was as if the whole universe had united and agreed “How long can we make you two be late”. A few kilometers from the festival grounds, smoke started to rise from the shuttle bus. I guess the bus, which couldn’t withstand the heavy number of trips for two days, was saying “I’m done”. Based on my limited mechanical knowledge (I could be wrong, of course), the bus had run out of brake pads and we had set off with the team’s understanding that “it is enough if it takes us as far as it goes”.

After covering the remaining little distance with our bus saying “Scheiße” at every bend, we managed to reach the area.

Nile
Nile

Unfortunately, we had some problems with the entrance procedures, and our plans to catch Tribulation fell through. This was the second Tribulation concert that I missed by the skin of my teeth. The first concert of the day was Nile on the main stage. Nile’s concert, which was going to be held with Morbid Angel and Kreator while festivals were being organized in our country, was canceled hours before, and after years of this disappointment, I took my place in the section in front of the stage reserved for photographers. Nile made a thunderous entrance with Sacrifice Unto Sebek, continued with my favorite Kafir, and in the one hour allotted to them, they put the attendees in a good mood before the next two legends Deicide and Obituary.

Now that the evening darkness had fallen, it was time to take advantage of the tubes stacked in front of the stage. Deicide, the second band of the day, gave perhaps the best performance of the day with their flaming show. After Nile, Deicide was the second band that I had the chance to see here after not being able to see them years ago due to misfortune. They played the Legion album from start to finish added three songs from Once Upon A Cross album and gave their fans a nice nostalgia night. The last band of the night for us (but Tentstage was turning into Metal Disco after 1 am. The music continued until the late hours of the night. I will talk about this separately) It was an Obituary.

Obituary
Obituary

While I was thinking that it was an interesting statistic that almost all of the death metal bands participating in the festival were from the USA and that more US bands took the stage than local bands, Obituary took the stage to intense cheers. This was the most crowded concert of the day. I think the Obituary was the concert where I and the security had the most difficulty. In front of the stage, it was hard to even find a place for a lens to fit in the area reserved for photographers, while in the security section, crowd surfers were coming and going. In the middle, the mosh pit was ending and the wall of was starting, the wall of death was ending and the mosh pit was starting. Obituary played fifteen songs in total, six from their latest album Dying Of Everything, and left the stage.

At the end of the night, hundreds of people, who I still don’t know where they got so much energy from, made their way to Tentstage. The setlist of the DJ on the stage was really great, we have to admit, but the energy we had ended with the Obituary concert. As we left the festival grounds thinking that maybe we would stay a little longer tomorrow, we waited for our smoky bus in the cold of the night.

Day 2 (And that’s just the beginning…)

Before moving on to the second day, let me talk a bit about the festival environment. As I mentioned above, the festival area is 30-40 minutes away from Mühlhausen train station and the shuttle times are set at two-hour intervals during the day, with a return time of 1:30 am after the last concert at night. Of course, for those who speak German, the driver makes an announcement if there is any change in departure times. The festival area is quite large, most of it is covered with concrete and asphalt. For those who will attend, it is not possible to see places that turn into a swamp after the rain. There are quite a lot of merchandise stands, in fact, PartySan had the most stands in all the festivals I have attended so far. T-shirts are around 20-25 Euros on average, it is possible to find merch from even the most underdogs, where only the family members of those in the band know the names of their family members. Rings, necklaces, patches, records, CDs, cassettes, souvenirs, you name it… Our only misfortune was that we were late in buying the official PartySan t-shirt, which was completely sold out on the first day.

Although there was an announcement before the festival that “payment by card, no cash”, I guess due to some problems, shopping was done in cash. The food and drink were better than most of the festivals I’ve been to (though a bit more expensive). In addition to the classics like pizza, burgers, wraps, and breadsticks, there was Far Eastern cuisine, Indian cuisine, and even examples of Afghan cuisine. Average prices ranged between 5 and 10 Euros, drinks between 3-4 Euros. The good thing about the second day for us was that we found the VIP area. After a little research, we discovered the VIP area, which we had missed during the hustle and bustle of the previous day. It was a treasure to be able to relax between concerts, not wait in line for drinks and toilets, and be protected from the sun, which was showing its face a little more.

We started the second day when the smoky bus we had set off on announced in the middle of the road that it could no longer continue with us. Fortunately, we were able to reach the venue without much delay with one of the spare buses. The first concert of the day was by Be’lakor, a melodic death band from Australia that I had been hoping to see for a long time. Interestingly, they have been producing great albums for years (I still listen to Stone’s Reach and Vessels from time to time) but they have never been able to catch the desired breakthrough. I don’t think it was the right decision for them to play so early in the day, but they played in a “let’s just do our job and go” style without much dialog with the audience and left the stage. Meanwhile, other bands’ concerts were going on at Tentstage, but the sound system was too bad to be expected from this organization, and the fact that it overlapped with most of the concerts on the main stage, albeit for a short time, made us stay around the main stage.

After Be’lakor, the death metal band Endseeker from Germany took the stage. After listening to death metal non-stop for two days and the heat exceeding 30°C, I decided that it would be a better idea to just take photos, drink my beer in a shady place, and listen to the band, but I can say this; Endseeker is very popular in Germany, even though we don’t hear their name much, and they responded to this love by chatting with the audience a lot between songs.

After Endseeker, it was the turn of Yoth Iria from Greece. While our alcohol and food break was still going on, they were playing and singing on stage. With their logo and sound, they are quite reminiscent of their fellow countrymen Rotting Christ. I guess the theatrical vocal on stage and their dancing are the things that differentiate the band from Rotting Christ. After completing their 45-minute show, they gave way to Kanonenfieber, who I had seen only two months ago.

Kanonenfieber, as I had seen them in Poland before, took the stage with barbed wire, sandbags, and German sentences coming from the scratchy turntable. Again, the vocalist tried to reflect the psychology of the soldier who participated in the world war with very fast songs, and the stage show, which was partly about the firing of the audience and partly about the situation of the soldier who was on the verge of going crazy at the front, was accompanied by flames as well as plenty of cannon and rifle sounds. Kanonenfieber managed to make a big crowd watch them this time too.

Another black metal band of the day was Urgehal, who will soon play their first concert in Turkey. In 2012, they stopped by PartySan as part of their ongoing tour in honor of Nefas, the founder of the band who died in 2012. The vocalist who sang the first two tracks was replaced by a different vocalist in the following tracks. This was the first time I saw the “shift vocal” situation, but I must admit that I liked the first one on stage more (“M. Sorgar” Metallum note)

Yoth Iria
Yoth Iria
Midnight
Midnight

Illdisposed, an old Danish death metal band from Denmark was next. The vocalist of the band shouted that they were Danish from their logo and spoke a lot of German, but according to İdil, it was a bad German with a heavy accent. Since they were a band I didn’t follow, I only took their photos and listened to a few of their songs.

The band I was really waiting for today was Midnight. I missed Midnight at Brutal Assault at 1 a.m. when I was exhausted and went to sleep in my tent with sighs and wails, but years later I was going to see them in Czechia’s neighbor Germany. As it has been popular lately, they jumped on stage wearing only black masks and leather jackets over their naked bodies and showed us how beautiful black’n roll is. I think it was one of the wrong choices of the day in terms of time. Dying Feus and Hypocrisy could have come out before Dying Feus and Hypocrisy, but they took the stage at an early hour. As a matter of fact, I and thousands of viewers found the 45 minutes allocated to them insufficient.

At this very moment, the notification that the Mushroom concert on the main stage was canceled due to the band’s health problems was shared with the attendees via the app and Instagram account. Grave Miasma was scheduled to take the stage as the last band at Tentstage. For us, Decapitated was one of the bands we just watched and passed by due to our exhaustion (we should have saved our energy until Dying Fetus and Hypocrisy). We spent about an hour resting in the VIP section until the Grave Miasma concert. I think Grave Miasma played the most crowded concert of their career at PartySan. It was a different experience to watch the band, which I had seen in Istanbul before the Pandemic with a crowd of 200-300 people, among thousands of people. Under the red stage lights and accompanied by the echoed voice of the vocalist, they performed a beautiful one-hour stage performance.

The last band before Hypocrisy was Dying Fetus, a band that we once hosted in Istanbul but which was a disappointing concert for most of us due to the bad sound system. Before they took the stage, they played The Boys In Back Town by Thin Lizzy, one of my favorite bands, as an intro, which is not expected from a death metal band. They opened with One Shot One Kill and played one or two songs from each of their albums flawlessly (with the occasional mention of how happy they are to be here again and what a great audience we are) and left the stage. The band saved the real bomb in the end. The closing song was Celebration by 70’s and 80’s funk legends Kool And The Gang. It was a great sight to see the people who headbanged five minutes ago dancing

Hypocrisy
Hypocrisy

The most anticipated concert of the day for me was Hypocrisy. I had seen the band once before and admired them, and I couldn’t wait to see them again years later, and this time I took photos of them from the front of the stage. They opened with Fractured Millennium’s thunderous keyboard intro.

Peter Tagtgren, on the other hand, sounded like a young metalhead at the beginning of his journey, not a musician over fifty years old. I must say that I admired his energy. They stayed on stage for more than an hour, playing classics like Eraser, Roswell 47, and War-Path. I can say that it was the best concert of the day (we can also give Midnight the second place)

After the concert, when we went to the bus stop to wait for our bus back to Mühlhausen, we saw that the first bus was full and about to leave (in fact, the Germans said “I’m on the bus, I don’t care about the rest” again, the bus was getting ready to leave with some empty seats). So we took advantage of the one-hour gap until the next time by listening to the DJ’s selection of Emperor, Dissection, and Watain, and sipping our beers at Metal Disco as we had decided yesterday.

Day 3 (The End of All Good Things)

On the last day of the festival, according to the weather forecast on my phone, it was predicting showers and thunderstorms, and according to PartySan’s app, it was predicting light rain. Instead of taking any chances to see which one of the forecasts would be right, we took precautions against the worst-case scenario. I packed a raincoat, boots, a waterproof case for my camera, and a change of clothes in my backpack and set off. When we arrived at the site, we were able to catch the last three pieces of Spectral Wound. Five hours of sleep, humid weather, and the fatigue of two days were becoming more and more palpable as the hours passed.

Another band I saw for the first time was Ellende, a post-black metal band from Austria. The band, whose melancholy albums I still love to listen to, took the stage under dark clouds and rain, just in line with their theme. However, to tell the truth, their live performance didn’t satisfy me much, I guess my expectations were much higher than the albums I listened to. Let’s finish and sip our beers.

Ellende
Ellende

When we checked the app, we learned that the next band was Impiety, a black/death metal band from Singapore. The band, which we also learned that they have been active since the early 90s, put on a very good performance with a lot of flames.

It was Immolation’s turn to take the stage, it a band that I really wanted to see and even said “I would go to this festival just for them” but then sadly canceled and replaced the gothic rock-metal band Unto Others, who are PartySan’s guests every three or four years. Like their fellow countrymen Deicide, Obituary, and Dying Fetus, they stayed on stage for 45 minutes with a flawless performance. I think they should have lasted longer, but we said it was the discretion of the organization.

Immolation
Immolation

I didn’t follow the black metal band Endstille, so I only took some photos of them and watched one or two of their songs.

Next up was Borknagar, a band we crossed paths with at least twice every year. Although their first Istanbul concert fell short of my expectations, the concerts I saw in Hungary the same year were much, much better. As I mentioned above, when the fatigue became palpable as the hours passed, we watched Borknagar sitting on the grassy part of the field. They played almost the same setlist I saw in Hungary, it was a nice encore concert for me.

Kataklysm, where we photographed ourselves in front of the tour buses during the day, played the first day’s Obituary concert to a very crowded audience. Again there were a lot of circle pits and crowd surfing. Kataklysm spent an hour in a state of energy explosion for both themselves and the audience and I think they gave the best performance of the day. As one of the legendary death metal bands that came to our country recently, maybe we will have the chance to see them again. I hope so.

Enslaved
Enslaved

The last concert before saying goodbye to PartySan was the Viking metal legend Enslaved. Enslaved took the stage in front of glittering runic letter decorations and played their classic album Vikingligr Veldi in its entirety, and although their songs, each longer than ten minutes, got boring at times, it was one of the concerts I enjoyed the most. I must also say that I found the vocal and stage performance of Grutle Kjellson, who is almost 50 years old, amazing. We added two songs from the 90’s to Vikingligr Veldi and closed PartySan 2023 with a total of six songs. Of course, those who couldn’t get enough of the music took their breath away at the Metal Disco at Tentstage. With a closing speech by the organization (in German of course), a mini fireworks show, and a loud cannon shell fired from the tanks next to the stage, we said goodbye to PartySan, probably to see each other again next year.

To sum it up; PartySan was an organization that I left happily except for a few minor mishaps and I think it will take its place in my memories of 2023 as the last festival I attended this season. Although it is a bit troublesome in terms of transportation, with the widespread railway network and Deutschland-Ticket, which is a great application, you can get there without too many problems. I can also say that the festival team is as helpful as they can be.

If I score as a result;

Transportation: 7/10 (Although there were problems such as disrupted service hours, especially during the return hours, and a malfunctioning shuttle bus, the organization team that acted quickly in solving the problems still deserved appreciation)

Festival Grounds/Ambiance: 9/10 (Large festival grounds, small distance between stages. The only negative was the bad sound system of Tent stage)

Bands on Stage: 8/10 (Especially death and black metal bands were too many, I hope next year there will be more bands from different genres)

Food & Beverage: 10/10 (It was nice to have plenty of options and relatively affordable food and beverage options, and it was also satisfactory in terms of hygiene and taste)

Prices: 9/10 (Prices were not what we feared due to the wave of inflation affecting the world. Only the food prices in the VIP section were above average. I can say that Merchler was offered for sale at average prices)

As a final word for those who have read this far without getting bored; I would like to thank Extreminal for giving me this opportunity and İdil for her great support in writing this article with the notes she took, for her accompaniment for three days and especially for her translation and guidance. See you in the next festival critique…

This blog was originally written in Turkish. Some ambiguities may occur due to translation.

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