Rocking hard at Rockfest | Sunday Observer

Rocking hard at Rockfest


When the Sri Lankan heavy metal gods - Stigmata - opened the much anticipated Rockfest at the Sri Lanka Exhibition & Convention Centre (SLECC) last week, most fans were a little surprised."They should have gone last. They could have ended the show with a bang," they said.

Nonetheless their presence was met with a raucous response from the crowd, and as expected the band delivered a brilliant performance as they kicked off their set with a cover of the Game of Thrones theme song followed immediately with the cover of the Mortal Combat theme song.

The band was paying tribute to Dialog Play Expo 2018 which Rockfest tied hands with this year. The concert trailed a wowing cosplay fashion show that saw a drunken Captain Jack Sparrow stumbling across the ramp and Hela giving the creeps with her ghostly eyes along with other cosplayers.

“We wanted to expand Rockfest. Make it bigger and wilder so we tied up with the Play Expo guys thus time,” said Shafeek Shuail, founder of Rockfest and Strider7 Productions, and also the guitarist of Stigmata.

This is the fifth year Rockfest rocked the stage, and was quite an experience for Shafeek and co-founder Natasha Soysa as the crowd was different this time.

“Rockfest, this time, is not just playing for heavy rockers but for the gaming community too. It is a great blend,” Shafeek told us.

The pivotal moment of Stigmata’s performance was when the ladies of Thuryaa joined the heavy metal band on stage to entertain the super charged fans. Frontman and vocalist of Stigmata Suresh de Silva called the ladies saying “Bring your bera and come hither.” I marvelled at his talent to come up with a spontaneous rhyme.

The sounds of the traditional drums with the backdrop of metal drum and guitar beat blended well to create a masterpiece.

Stigmata preceded an edgy and highly eclectic presentation by the Stringfield, a newcomer to the gig. Stringfield stood-out due to their Sinhala lyrics an odd ode to the Sinhala rock scene.

When Salvage took the stage they had to warm up the crowd, witch was thinning as the cosplayers and gamers had exited the venue leaving the venerating rock fans who are usually seen in rock and metal concerts.

Singer/songwriter Asela Perera joined Salvage to deliver an enthusiastic performance that left the crowd roaring for more.

The epitome of the band’s performance was when fans chimed in with ‘Just Rock Off’- tag of Salvage- in unison.

Though the rock and metal fans were worried that Stigmata did not end the show, the bang they expected was delivered by the band Mass Damnation.

This final act at Rockfest saw fans head-banging and involving in a brief mosh creating an underground metal atmosphere. Vocalist Ryan Johnson welcomed the mosh excitedly and asked the crowd not to worry as the mosh pit members were simply giving each other harmless pushes and slams.

Mass Damnation wreaked havoc with an impressive performance.

They wrapped the gig hitting the needed marks- crazy crowd, head-banging, head-banging and head-banging, with heavy metal’s deep screams.

When asked if Play Expo and Rockfest would tie hands next year, CEO of Ingame Entertainment Raveen Wijayatilake who organises Play Expo said, “Why not? Both events deliver to a young crowd. It is simply a great blend.”