For the past 10 years, a Melodic Rock/AOR festival has resided in the smaller German town of Ludwigsburg. Many fantastic acts have graced the stage there over this decade. After a few friends, namely Swiss Thomas, spoke persuasively and praising the event, it was time to check it out. In 2018 CGCM‘s Rich “The Meister” Dillon made his first trek from Toronto, Canada to the event. The festival goes by the name of HEAT (no relation to the Swedish band) and is an acronym of the organizer’s initials. Here is the CGCM coverage of Meister‘s second consecutive year at HEAT Festival 2019 in Ludwigsburg.
Listen to the podcast episode as he spins tracks and tells stories of the epic time there. Or read his blog story of the entire adventure, including short segments on a few of his top bands. It’s all here in this article! But, most of all…prepare to join him again in Ludwigsburg in 2020 through the ticket link!
H.E.A.T. Festival 2019 – Podcast
HEAT Festival 2019 – Festival Blog Story
HEAT Festival 2019 was, for me an adventure of epic proportions. In my second straight year at the event, I was possibly more excited about this event over any other this year. Here is my blog story of HEAT and a little extra about the rest of my journey. Enjoy…and see you at next year’s Festival!
A fair time ahead of HEAT Festival 2019, the 10th Anniversary, the news came down that the club housing it had troubles. The owner announced plans to close and sell the historic venue. We here at CGCM assisted in the petition circulating in attempts to keep the club alive. (H.E.A.T. Festival Club Faces Closure) With things undecided, HEAT forged ahead and secured a new location for 2020.
A Night in London and a Mishap…
Of course, my adventures included more than just the festival. That is a major factor in my excitement. My travel buddy Mike and I had such an awesome during last year’s HEAT and additional travels, I anticipated the same again. For 2019, I found a wicked cheap deal on a flight. But it would take some fancy footwork to achieve success. The flight landed in and returned to Toronto from London, UK. I then booked a short flight over to Stuttgart for the next day effectively giving me an evening in London.
After a wonderful evening, you know those totally random ones that feel great and never end? Well, it was one of those with two London based friends John and Georgina. Trouble is, it really never ended. After actually falling asleep in a pub circa 2:30am, John and I reached our hotel around 3am. Not so great when you have to be up by 4:30am to make your way to the airport for an early flight. So when my alarm went off at 8am, I knew I was in trouble. Like a total idiot in my drunkenness, I’d set the alarm for the actual departure time of the flight instead of what time to head to the airport! Crap! Well, quickly booking a new flight for later in the day it was back to sleep. There’s a cost I didn’t plan on!
My Eventual Arrival…
Catching the later flight with no issues, now sober and nursing a thunder in my brain. Touching down in Stuttgart, I handily navigated train ticket machines and trains themselves to arrive in Ludwigsburg about 7 hours behind schedule. Some of my best friends in the world, travel buddy Mike, UK mate Neil, and Swissman Thomas along with newcomer Kris all met me at the train station. They even paired off into two’s to divide and conquer in covering both platforms and exits. These pricks don’t trust me to not screw up🤣.
Delivering my gear at the hotel it was off to The Clansman. A small pub with a great atmosphere, The Clansman was a source of great times last year and here we started again with a big bang. Walking into the basement pub, cheers arose from the group of UK and German friends seated at tables. Yes, I made it! I’m here, where’s the beer? Catching up with these folks, most I have not seen since exactly one year ago made for a wonderful first evening in Ludwigsburg.
I also took the time to meet and chat with the owner of The Clansman. I congratulate him on such a great environment that I feel at home in and also dispelled the rumour going around that The Clansman was closing its doors. Great to hear and I’m already looking forward to returning next year!
Friday in Ludwigsburg
Friday morning rolled around in an ugly manner as I “was not right”. Reliving our coffee sessions from last year at Katz Backerei, we spent about 4hrs buying coffee rounds and chatting. The experience became more of a “Meet and Greet the Canadians”, as folks dropped in here and there. One thing is certain and that’s spirits were soaring. An indescribable feeling. And an integral part of these rock and roll adventures.
We made good use of the afternoon catching the train out to nearby Marbach where friends Torsten, Franzi and Gary live. Torsten once again led us on a short walking tour through the old parts of the town. A little culture to our rocking and drinking. Then it was off to a local farm for dinner, Swiss Thomas needs his Häxen (*sp)!
Catching the bus back to Ludwigsburg we found ourselves in the lobby of the NH Hotel waiting for more friends who were recently and/or soon due to arrive. Beers flowed freely as we gathered more and more friends new and old. A little local brewery and restaurant became the next stop for some who required food. And then returning to the scene of the crime, The Clansman kept our attention until somewhere around 3am. One of those nights where time and memory escapes you. The photos circulating Saturday morning provide the evidence.
HEAT Festival 2019 – Day One
Day one of the actual HEAT Festival began with our Katz Coffee M&G as per standard. Then to Rockfabrik for HEAT Festival! Upon entering the venue in the queue to receive my weekend wristband it was wonderful to see Birgit at the desk. The very first time I went to Sweden Rock Festival, it was Birgit that I hounded with so many stupid questions when she approved my press accredits. Quickly breezing into the upstairs VIP area to obtain a beer and say “Hi” to Tanja behind the bar (the Canadians were enamoured with her beer pouring skills last year). I presented myself at the front of the stage for Licence, the first band of the 2019 event.
LICENCE at HEAT Festival 2019
Podcast listeners and CGCM website readers are surely familiar with Licence as they’ve been featured on both a few times. Upon hearing the opening riffs belonging to track “Don’t Touch the Light” off the 2017 debut, I was hooked. The sophomore, this year’s N.2.O.2.R. is another great release I reviewed for CGCM. This first live experience did not let me down. The riffs ala Steam Theiss were larger than life. Jacky‘s gravel raked, whiskey-soaked vocals seemed harsher than ever. Bassist Pappe brought a low-end thunder and drummer Sammy Drove it all forward.
The setlist started out with “N.2.O.2.R” and the energy never subsided. I sang along with “Line of Fire” and “Turn On The Radio”. The first single off the sophomore release, “Hot4Ever” saw Maverick‘s Richie Diver joining for back up vocals. The track, to my understanding, is dedicated to a long-time supporter and fan of the band who is terminally ill, but don’t quote me on that.
“Loud and Proud” took us to my top Licence track, the gateway of “Don’t Touch the Light”. For some reason, Steam played approximately the first half of the song with his back to the crowd by the drum riser. But it all sounded great and had me bouncing and singing along. “Reflections”, “Rise Up” and “House of Pleasure” brought us home for a great start to HEAT 2019.
BLACK DIAMONDS at HEAT Festival 2019
The second band of HEAT 2019 was Black Diamonds. Out of Switzerland, I knew nothing of them until some internet research about a week prior to departure. Giving a quick cursory listen to both their 2013 Perfect Sin album as well as 2017’s Once Upon a Time perked my ears right up. While I preferred the 2013, both were great albums on a quick listen. They hit the stage with a throwback sunset strip glam look that really worked well. Leading off with “We Want to Party”, followed with “Judgement Day” and I was enthralled. “I’ll Be OK” saw drummer Manu out front for the group acapella portion to start. “Pieces of a Broken Dream” went down well before bassist Andi took lead vocals for “Thrillride”.
After that was a song that I didn’t recognize and couldn’t make out what it was, but it rocked just as much as the rest of Black Diamonds set. The setlist that Swiss Thomas nabbed after the gig provided the title as “Vampires of the Night”. Drummer Manu again vacated his stool behind the kit and joined his band out front for a drink! This time the song was “Not Going Home”….about time to leave the bar! Black Diamonds wrapped up an impressive and super fun set with “Hands of Destiny”. I’ll be listening to this band a lot more and watching for new music too! Also during any live set, I’ll be nabbing the setlist..they always print them over a background of scantily clad ladies I found out.
The Day Rolls On…
The rest of the day was jam-packed with music and more. Family. That’s the only way to describe it. From all around the world, so many of my friends/family gathered in one place. And so many more to be welcomed into the fold as well. It’s an indescribable feeling. Many of these events have an aura like this, but HEAT seems to be the forerunner. I can’t say enough good things about that atmosphere.
I watched a little of Blood Red Saints but TBH, I don’t take to them. While I loved the In Faith album when they went by that moniker with a little different membership, BRS doesn’t endear to me personally. I skipped Dark Sky in favour of food as I was getting quite hungry and someone has to suffer the casualty. Another band I “don’t get” is Cats in Space. Friends like Neil Ross rave about them, and folks that discovered them here, the same. Not sure what I’m missing but it’s just not for me. I did feature them in the podcast, however, based on how many friends speak so highly.
CRASHDIET and more…
However, Crashdiet is nearly always excellent. Their latest release, Rust, is a solid album and having seen them a few times recently, it was great to see new vocalist Gabriel really getting comfortable in his role fronting the band. Treat is another excellent band that I always enjoy live and here was no exception. Nearing the end of the night with only Stan Bush remaining, I was getting tired….and drunk. I don’t really recall seeing any of Stan Bush, but there are photos on my phone, so I saw a couple of songs at least! I would hazard a guess that I retreated to VIP for a seat and more drinks…maybe even a coffee?
Funny how I don’t recall Stan Bush, not that I even know who he is anyways. Remember, AOR music isn’t my bag. Yet I do remember heading to The Clansman with Mia to continue the late-night party sessions. Who knows what time we returned home to the hotel!
HEAT Festival 2019 – Day Two
Getting in super late, super drunk and nowhere near enough sleep made for a rough morning. After what couldn’t have been much more than an hour and a half’s rest, I set off on a lengthy walk across Ludwigsburg to a different hotel for my planned interview with Age of Reflection. After apologizing to them for my hungover (possibly still drunk) state we had our little chat. While I was certainly off my game, Lars and Carl were super nice and we had a great chat about the band. You can hear our talk in the podcast episode above.
After that, and the long walk back, it was time for food, a quick freshen up and off to day #2 of HEAT Festival. Today’s proceedings opened with Black Tiger. Quite a few folks remarked on their performance after the set, but I didn’t take to them myself. I retreated to VIP after a few Black Tiger songs. TBH, I don’t recall this part of the day and I’d hardly begun drinking by then. I don’t think I caught Devicious. But not sure why. Maybe just chatting and drinking in VIP I guess.
AGE OF REFLECTION at HEAT Festival 2019
But now we were at that point in the day for Age of Reflection! I’ve come to really appreciate this band…and AOR music is not really my bag so much. They just have a little bit of a different edge or punch to their music. And wow, does it ever come off well in concert! The Swedes led out with “Stay with Me” and then into a track off their debut release with “Evelyn”. My first time hearing anything off the band’s debut, but I quickly caught on and sang along. The whole atmosphere aided by Carl‘s moves as he danced across the stage in what seemed a great piece of choreography! Sticking with the debut for “Every Time” brought us to “Here I Stand”.
Bringing down the pace, next was the acoustic “What If I Break”. Drummer Urban vacated his stool behind the kit to come out front and film the audience and his bandmates performing! After that, we blasted into one of my top tracks from the A New Dawn album in “Go”. Also, Carl and Lars‘ favourite to play live as heard in the interview. Back to the debut, next served to the HEAT audience was “Blame it on My Heart”. Unfamiliar with this song, not having heard any Age of Reflection music aside from A New Dawn, I took time to study the band on stage. Watching Carl Berglund‘s expressions and cartoon character-like faces was a real treat. This entire band obviously loves performing on stage.
Age of Reflection wrapped up their impressive stage time with the title track to the new album, “A New Dawn”. What a great lighthearted and fun set that had me bouncing around and head bobbing the entire time! The only thing that could have gone better would be time for an extra song in the Cutting Crew cover of “I Just Died (In Your Arms)”. See you “kids” next at HRH AOR in March and then at Indoor Summer Festival in September. The Age of Reflection stalking is in full force apparently!
As the guys made fun of me shortly after the set, we mingled on the floor reeling from a great gig. Those that know that feeling know it. They chided me for seeing my head bobbing enthusiastically as I rocked out in the second row. “But you don’t like keyboards” seemed to be their jab of choice!
The Rest of Day #2 at HEAT Festival 2019…
Degreed was next and was quite decent. I’ve tried their recorded music but never really got into it. Live is always heavier and they came off great here. A few that I spoke with consider vocalist Robin one of the best in Sweden currently.
After them was Vega, who I wanted to catch. So we split after a few songs of Degreed for our VIP included meal and hustled back down for the final few of Vega. Eating was my downfall…well can’t be the beer right? I just became so tired and lethargic.
Maverick was a band I’d really looked forward to, but I literally couldn’t stay awake. I stood near the front on the right side, but the waves of exhaustion swept over me.
I caught myself several times falling asleep. You know that near collapse when you jolt awake as you feel yourself falling? That. Several times. So I had to retreat and rest in VIP. Someone (who will remain nameless, Mia) got me drinking Vodka and Redbulls to wake me up. Probably wasn’t supposed to have 4 of them I guess. Well, it served to bring me to a new state of alertness but was a downfall in a whole other way.
Drawing to a Close…
I saw a song or two of Robert Tepper, but then avoided Stage Dolls like the plague. My travel buddy Mike loves them and I’ve tried (seeing them live twice now before this), but I just can’t do it. The beauty of music is there’s something for everyone and I love the diversity we all share in our likes and dislikes. Makes great conversations over a few beers!
Do I really need to go back to The Clansman? Why yes, yes I do!
Sweden (Stockholm and Malmo) and London again…
From there, disappointed that it has reached the end of another great year, we departed Ludwigsburg Monday morning. En route to Stockholm, Sweden to catch up with good friends, travel buddy Mike, along with Kris and I were still in high spirits. Our days there were an extension of an already awesome time and included a walking tour of Stockholm courtesy of a tour guide friend of mine (Ryan). Also on the agenda was beers with my good friend and CGCM Podcast listener Anders.
But the crowning glory was my little “joke” on Mike. As he is a longtime fan of Pretty Maids and a friend of Chris Laney he was hoping to meet with Chris during our time there. Chris and I cooked it up that we would indeed meet, but to surprise Mike we played it like it was not possible. Right up until the last second when Mike saw Chris he was totally in the dark. It was awesome and there’s a video of his reactions even :).
After three days in Stockholm, it was on to Malmo for visiting with a large number of friends for the final two days (well, for Mike and Kris at least) of our trip. Some great times with Martin, Asa, Johan, Anders, Mia, Sara, and more. Throughout all of our five days in Sweden, there was only one that we didn’t have meatballs…lol.
Mike and Kris journeyed back home to Ottawa Canada, while I had another overnight stop in London. Finding myself solo after so many great moments with some of the best friends ever over the whole trip, I took myself for dinner.
In the Camden area of London, a vampire-themed pizza place was just the thing. The Lost Boys Pizza, a small restaurant, you guessed it, theme based on the 80s movie The Lost Boys. A great pizza and a great atmosphere laced with an awesome 80s soundtrack and very friendly staff, I will definitely return! As should you!
And that folks is my trip from Toronto to HEAT Festival in Ludwigsburg, Germany. I hope you enjoyed my blog story, feel free to comment or share and follow CGCM Podcast on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Soundcloud or wherever you find us! Who’s coming along in 2020? Grab your tickets below!