Highlights from this year’s Rock al Parque

By Oli Pritchard August 22, 2018

Parque Bolívar shook and shuddered to the grooves of crushing riffs and waves of sheer sonic terror as the Mother of all ‘Parque’ Festivals returned yet again. We’ve picked out our highlights from this year’s mayhem.

Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, Photos: Claudia Canizales Saldaña

The brothers ‘Dark’

Dark Tranquility and Dark Funeral both ripped out awesome sets on Saturday night as the festival got off on the front foot. Both incredibly heavy, but in different ways, this is where one finds the soul of RaP. First come Tranquility, who were anything but as they strafed the crowd with lightning-fast death metal blitzes. After that is the slower, but no less intense black metal onslaught of Funeral, relentless in their march. Mikael Stanne of DT hit the nail on the head: “We’ve been hearing a lot about Bogotá […] you guys are so fucking dedicated to metal.”


The third stage isn’t an insult this year: the slot before Pussy Riot is a big deal. Like their Russian stagemates, HMLTD have been dismissed as more art than substance, but they turn in a riveting performance. Like a young Suede, they are at once sublime and raw, evoking the tragic, fragile transcendence of a Hackney crack den filled with beautiful wasters.

Walls of Jericho and Candace

Every year there’s at least one brutal female voice that inverts the idea of how masculine and feminine ‘should’ sound. This year it was the incredible Candace Kucsulain from Walls of Jericho on Sunday evening. She’s every bit as strong as any of the male vocalists on Sunday, with a roar stronger than Typhoon Jebi. Guitarist Chris Rawson is just pleased to be in Colombia, “We’ve been trying to get on the bill for years,” he confides backstage.

Related: These amazing photos tell the story of Rock al Parque 2018


Big hairy Germans playing Sabbath style stoner riffs? Sign us up immediately, please! Also, Lupus is a thoroughly nice guy and hands out hugs to everyone (including our swooning photographer).

 Suffocation (the band not the act)

NY legends Suffocation are still intense and show no signs of slowing down. In fact, they’re more likely to pick those signs up and smack you in the head with them. They shred through songs at a devilish pace and give a much-needed dose of respectability to the overlooked second stage. Derek Boyer made it clear backstage, “Bogotá is such an important place for us to play. We fucking love it down here.”

Suffocation (the act not the band)

With tens of thousands of rock fans in one place and wearing a LOT of leather, it’s not always easy to breathe at Rock al Parque.


The bands hailed from shores as varied as the DRC and Japan, not to mention various parts of Colombia, LatAm and Europe. Although Saturday was pretty much pure metal, the other two days saw genres such as ska, jazz, afrobeat and electronica get a whirl around the stage. RaP may be many things, but it’s never predictable and always has a Glasto-style curveball for you.

Dark Tranquillity, Photos: Claudia Canizales Saldaña

The festival itself

Before the festival started, there were reasonable complaints about the state of the lineup. After all, just thirteen bands played during the whole of Saturday. However, it’s worth remembering that band after band say every year that they love to play the fest, and 2018 was no exception.

Pussy Riot before the festival

Before Pussy Riot played, everyone was hyped. Fresh from World Cup disruption, this was a rare example of a foreign band playing RaP at the peak of their fame. Only thing is, they just aren’t that good. They haemorrhaged audience members – around a thousand departing per song. Their political messages between songs were spot-on, but the dreary by-the-numbers electronic whatever was like listening to elevator muzak. Put-in more effort next time, please!

By Señor Vikingo