The first edition of the rock and metal festival The Rock Circus 2023 is over. With both a line-up and decoration that are reminiscent of a circus, the festival is certainly unique. After three days of headbanging, we put everything in order. Is The Rock Circus here to stay?
Especially for The Rock Circus 2023, the Brabanthallen have been transformed into a circus tent for an entire weekend. As dark as Lorna Shore’s lyrics on the one hand, the decoration of the circus is as cheerful on the other. It is only the first edition of The Rock Circus. The ideal moment to take stock.
Every festival stands or falls with a solid line-up. In this case, the organization chooses to appeal to a broad metal audience with a varied line-up. Three cover bands will open the festival on Friday, bringing hits from Iron Maiden, Metallica and a load of nu-metal bands through the Brabanthallen. Saturday and Sunday it is the turn of the bands with their own work. The broad line-up provides a mix of sickly sweet disco metal with Beast in Black, as well as black metal and deathcore with Finntroll and Lorna Shore. Something for everyone.
Absolute standouts on stage are the headliners Powerwolf and Electric Callboy. Followed by the top performers Epica, Lorna Shore and Finntroll. Each of the bands knows how to captivate the audience with tight sets and a lot of interaction. Below you can read more about the most memorable performances.
The first memorable performance comes from Powerwolf. The band makes it inclusive with a gigantic show pyro, and a converted stage, it is immediately clear that they are the headliner of Saturday. The audience knows how to enjoy it and is therefore not difficult to persuade to be part of the performance for the entire performance. There is joyful clapping, singing and jumping. Truly a headliner and all in all ready for a comparable spot at a larger festival.
On Sunday, co-headliner Electric Callboy still manages to top it. The Germans have a popular concept with an energetic mix of pop and metalcore. The hall is very full when the ‘Tekkno Train’, a song by the band, leaves. The audience is involved throughout the entire set. The front men barely have to make a gesture before the audience follows suit. Also with the ‘Everytime We Touch’ cover and later with the acoustic renditions of ‘Let It Go’ and ‘I Want It That Way’. Songs you wouldn’t expect at a metal festival, but also the old school metalheads know how to sing along to everything.
A little earlier in the evening, Epica can play for its own audience. They do that with verve. While the Dutch-language parts between the songs take some getting used to for frontwoman Simone Simons, delivering a very tight show is anything but. The symphonic metal greats bring a beautiful production, including a lot of fire, which is on par with Powerwolf and Electric Callboy. And then there is Simons’ beautiful singing, which is on a completely different level than almost every frontman/woman in the Rock Circus.
As enchantingly beautiful as Simons’ vocals are, Will Ramos’ grunts are just as gruesome. The frontman of Lorna Shore is a phenomenon and proves that in Den Bosch. With the arrival of Ramos, Lorna Shore has made a breakthrough in the past year. Although a headline spot may still be a bit early, the room is full from front to back. The mosh pit is huge and continues to grow throughout the performance. There is barely any room at the front to headbang and as soon as the photographers are safely away, an endless stream of crowd surfers follows. Whether the band will ever achieve headline status is questionable given the deathcore genre. Here, however, the men seem to answer the question yes.
There is no festival without a good location. With the Brabanthallen, the circus has a location that makes it possible to organize a multi-day festival in the autumn or winter. Originally it was even possible to camp indoors, until this option disappeared from the site for unclear reasons. What remains is a gigantic complex divided into several halls.
The gigantic halls ensure a spacious festival where there are never really long lines for the catering industry and toilets. There are also relatively many seats and the option to retreat to a hall without music. To make it all even more beautiful, a… indoor metal market. The ideal place for you battle vest to supplement or even have a piercing done.
As soon as you enter you will be welcomed by fire eaters and other circus artists. After all, the circus is not just in the name. A real metal clown announces the bands, the food trucks look like they belong in the circus and the ceiling has been transformed into a circus canvas. There are lights everywhere and the whole thing is finished with white and red cloths.
Various circus acts will be walking around the festival grounds throughout the day. Ideal when you have a gap in your timetable. Although rock/metal and the circus have little to do with each other, the combination in the Rock Circus still feels logical and not forced. Some visitors also think the same way and have smashed clown noses at the local party store beforehand. In short, the circus theme and the festival feeling reinforce each other.
Visiting a festival costs money. But how much does a weekend at The Rock Circus cost? The weekend ticket is reasonably priced at €99.90. For this you get two and a half days of festival fun. Three cover bands on Friday, two full days on Saturday and Sunday. Next year the festival will last two days, but it is not yet known what this will do to the price.
The food is a bit cheaper compared to larger festivals such as Graspop. Yet you quickly spend as much on food and drinks as on your weekend ticket. The festival beer index gives the Rock Circus a place in the middle bracket. €3.50 is charged for 25cl beer. You get a satay sandwich for €7.50. Do you want a vegan variant? Then it costs €9.50. You can get a fries for €4.75 and a sandwich for €6.50. You can count on approximately €30 per day for food and drinks, so approximately €75 for the entire weekend.
Everything at the festival is paid by card, so there are no coins. A parking space costs €36 for the 3 days. A medium locker for a weekend costs €19.14. This leads to the following final settlement:
|To eat||€75 (30 euros per full day)|
|Medium locker weekend||€19.14|
|Total||€230.04 (€92.02 per full day)|
As far as we’re concerned, The Rock Circus is here to stay. The line-up appeals to a broad metal audience and the location is ideal. Everything else is well organised, as can be expected from organizer Mojo. Mojo also thinks the festival is worth repeating and announces that the festival will take place on November 1 and 2 next year. The line-up is already being worked on. Sepultura, Jinjer, Obituary and the winner of the Rock Circus Talent Tour 2023 Nephylim are the first names on the bill for The Rock Circus 2024. Registration for ticket sales is already possible.
The Rock Circus 2023
Den Bosch, Netherlands
November 3-5, 2023
Not available anymore.