Friday August 5, 2005
I woke at 09:00. After the lovely weather most of the day and night before, Friday?s weather outlook was bleak?it was grey. It ended up raining for most of the day. It took me ages to get out of my sleeping bag. When I did, I tried to follow my usual routine of going to a clean toilet and then topping up my elixir of life?coffee.
When I arrived at the toilets I was confronted with evidence to back up my suspicions?men are as bad as women when it comes to giving up the comforts in life. There were four containers of toilets?two for men and two for women. But, when I walked in, it seemed the men had commandeered one of the women?s containers. They couldn?t all have been experiencing gender crisis.
When I got back to my tent I was interrupted with catching up with one of the guys from the Wacken forum and finding the Russian couple I met in 2002, camped two tents away. It?s funny how there are some people you can never find each year at the festival, while others cross your path constantly.
I finally managed to grab my kidney cup (part of an old American army kidney flask I?ve had since I started camping aged 7) and headed to the breakfast caravan before I hurt myself again or someone else?I?d love to explain, but I live by the motto of “whatever happens at Wacken stays at Wacken”. Well, at least to a point. After two days the guys serving at the breakfast caravan no longer laughed when I?d hand them my cup and ask in German: “Two large coffees, please”. I?ve got my language skills prioritised!
With half my coffee drunk, and no longer a danger to anyone, it was time to get out of my sleeping clothes. My jeans were pretty damp from the day before and the weather was cold, so I decided to christen a pair of leather pants I purchased during my shopping trip in Ulm earlier that week. While I dressed and applied my war paint, MERCENARY took to the Party stage sounding quite interesting until NAGLFAR hit the Black stage and totally drowned them out.
When I first started getting into European metal, a friend of mine lent me the whole MORGANA LEFAY/LEFAY back catalogue, but no matter how much I listened to the CDs nothing seemed to grab me. Seven years later, with my metal tastes broadened, I was ready to see MORGANA LEFAY live?maybe a great live show would finally make me a fan. Unfortunately, I just couldn?t get moving early enough so only got to hear them, which is a bit disappointing, as they sounded great. For those interested, the set list was something like: The Chamber Of Confession (intro), The Source Of Pain, Master Of The Masquerade, When Gargoyles Fly (what a cool name), Hollow, Angels Deceit, The Boon He Gives, In The Court of The Crimson King, Maleficium and I Roam.
As I left the campground, I had a brainstorm (no, not the band). Yesterday, I kept seeing this woman in the press area I could have sworn was Cristina Scabbia from Lacuna Coil. Could they be the other surprise act for 2005? Quickly I took off my new hoody and checked for the name?nothing.
Walking past the Party stage, MARKY RAMONE band started with Marky Ramone dedicating the show to his “dearly departed brothers”, renaming the festival “Wackenroll high school”.
It wasn?t until I saw the familiar face of Dan Swan? during the BLOODBATH signing session that I remember which band he was actually playing in this Wacken. I really wanted to see him play, but became too engrossed in the band that was playing at the same time.
Straight after the BLOODBATH signing was the first of the surprise acts? signing session?the recently reformed STRATOVARIUS.
After I took a few photos my stomach started to rumble and I had a craving for the buffalo wings I?d spotted the previous day. Walking to the grill I glanced over to the True stage and saw the SONATA ARCTICA backdrop hanging. What the?! Frantically, I scanned my running order, then looked at my watch. I had about 15 minutes before they went on stage, but I knew I?d have to sacrifice a good position for food otherwise I?d have a hunger headache by the end of their set and be useless for the rest of the day, so I grabbed my wings, went undercover to sit and scoff them before hurrying back to the stage.
The last time SONATA ARCTICA played at Wacken, they pulled the unfortunate graveyard shift on the Party stage, so after a full day of festivalling I had to watch one of my favourite bands with my eyes hanging out of my head. I was so happy when they got a relatively early spot on the True stage this year.
The crowd was getting restless with the delay and clapped them onto the stage before the intro music had even started. They started with Misplaced, then Blinded No More. For a band that seems to not get as much attention as other power metal bands, I was surprised and delighted to see so many people watching the show. Looks like there were a lot of complaints after their 2003 placing.
It?s not often that a b-side gains such popularity that it?s included in a live set, but it was great to hear Dream Thieves?a song worthy of being a title CD track. During Victoria’s Secret I paid particular attention to the sound, which unfortunately wasn?t as good as the previous night, but that?s always something bands battle with at festivals unless they?re a headlining act. An old favourite, My Land, followed.
While introducing Don’t Say A Word, singer Tony Kakko was a little out of sorts with the time of day. He kept saying “tonight” and then correcting himself after checking his watch, laughing?it was only about 14:00. The “tonight/today” routine continued until he finally gave up shaking his head and said: “It?s too fucking early!”
The Cage ended their set and they walked off stage after their final bow to the intro of Smoke On The Water. Can?t say it?s the best I?ve seen them play, but I think that had more to do with my state of mind and frustration at not having a good spot. One day, I?ll get to see this band headline?one day.
Also, the things we do for our favourite bands! Whose idea was it to put piss troughs at the side of the stage? Many times when I tried to get a shot I was in fear of losing my hasty, tasty breakfast. The stench was so bad; I couldn?t even wait to watch the bow.
Looks like Tony could smell the stench as well.
By Sandra www.metalpix.info
Next on my “to do” list was Finnish band ENSIFERUM. I?d only heard of these guys because I?d walked into a metal store playing Wintersun. When I asked the owner what band was playing he started on a long description of who Wintersun was and its mutation from ENSIFERUM drawing nothing but a blank stare from me until he mentioned “Finland”. With my current Finnish fetish, I had to ruin his listening experience and buy his only copy.
Many festivallers felt there was a saturation of Finnish bands this year, but I wasn?t complaining. ENSIFERUM played against BLOODBATH?a tough spot?but the crowd watching them by no means looked thin. I only recognised Lai Lai Hei and Token Of Time because I have them on magazine samplers. They sounded great and were entertaining to watch.
Between ENSIFERUM and the SONATA ARCTICA signing session, I took some time out to capture my thoughts and quench my thirst and was forced to drink soda water because there was no water in the press area and it was too early for me to start drinking.
With my festival running order covered in highlighting, I realised my ambition to cover so many bands was unrealistic and that I needed to pace myself otherwise risk remembering absolutely nothing, plus, with the rain coming down every time I ventured out in front of a stage, I was beginning to feel like the Pink Panther in the episode where he?s stalked by a cloud.
The temperature was also dropping, so I decided to buy another warm Wacken souvenir?this time a zip front track top which, if need be, could be worn over my hoody.
On stage, Sonata Arctica?s keyboardist, Henrik Klingenberg put away a good part of a bottle (if not all) of J?germeister while playing, so it was no wonder he was off his dial when I tried to speak to him. I have no idea how musicians can drink so heavily on stage and still manage to play half decently.
This year W:O:A also displayed the talents of a non-musical artist, who created visual masterpieces of carved timber using mostly a chainsaw. If I lived in Germany, one of those pieces would have been mine.
While eating my meal for the day (a barbeque steak with a plate of chips) I met some really cool Norwegian guys and proceeded to make them cringe by telling them which bands I liked. I couldn?t quite make out what language they were speaking at first and guessed at Danish, Swedish, until my friend suggested Norwegian as she said it sounded like a weird dialect of Swedish, which she speaks. While she spoke with one of them in Swedish, I continued my conversation with someone who said his best friend was the guitarist of Dimmu Borgir, and for all I know, could have been a member of Dimmu Borgir (I feel so embarrassed for not even asking their names). Later my friend told me the guy she was speaking to said I was sweet. Well, metal-brothers and ?sisters, that should be enough to prove I was not myself this year. Me? Sweet?
By now you may have noticed, when it comes to signing sessions, I like to watch! I don?t have the patience to line up and miss seeing bands play, just to get something signed and then have it damaged on the way home. I walk around, listen the utter crap spewing forth from the mouths of babes, and watch the signing session while venturing to the Party or True stage and back.
After the SONATA ARCTICA signing, I checked out old school band, METAL CHURCH who began in an era when I was part of the new romantic scene?1981. For a bunch of old guys, they sounded great. But, once again, the rain poured so I took my camera gear and myself back to the safety of the undercover press area.
Next stop was Australian band DOOMFOXX. I was looking forward to this band because I?ve been meaning to check them out in Sydney, but their shows were either mid-week or clashed with metal gigs.
One day, I?ll be at Wacken Open Air with a current running order. I printed the latest version the day before I left Australia (27 July) and must have just missed the last update. According to my version, they were scheduled to play the Wet stage against OOMPH! and twice on the Jim Bean stage. As luck would have it, they also got to fill the Hanoi Rocks spot and also ended up being the third surprise act for Wacken playing the True stage just before ONKEL TOM AND THE W:O:A FIREFIGHTERS.
By this time, however, it became a running joke with many Wackenese that DOOMFOXX was the only band playing at Wacken this year. Every festival inquiry seemed to be answered with “Doomfoxx”: “Who?s on next?”, “Doomfoxx” (laughter). “Where are you going?”, “To see Doomfoxx” (laughter). “Has anyone been announced for next year yet?”, “Yes, Doomfoxx” (laughter). Wacken organisers usually avoid having a band performing two years in a row. There have been a few exceptions, but by my calculations, Wacken won?t be seeing DOOMFOXX again until 2011.
As I was watching DOOMFOXX and taking photos in the rain, my regular metal festival companions, Spot and Joey, were having a drink backstage with UDO and his family and making new friends.
During the course of the festival days I return to my tent frequently, whether to put away a purchase, to restock on supplies of tissues or chewing gum, or to grab something I?d forgotten like a lip balm. During one of these returns earlier in the day, the sky had cleared and, oblivious to my Pink Panther syndrome, I naively believed there?d be no more rain so left my Drizabone in the tent.
As the minutes ticked approaching to EDGUY taking to the True stage, dark clouds swiftly drew over Wacken again. EDGUY were running late, so I made a dash for my tent (luckily, extremely close) for my Drizabone. On the way, I ran into my tent neighbour who could have sworn, he?d seen a helicopter fly over with “Edguy” as its ID number. Then, doubting himself, said it must have been the cold, the beer or the exhaustion playing with his eyes.
Just as I was about to walk past the market area, I heard a helicopter fly over extremely low. My head shot up while my hands frantically worked my camera to get a better view. Sure enough, as I witnessed the Edchopper, an announcement was made about EDGUY being ten to fifteen minutes late because the traffic was so bad from Hamburg, they needed to come in my helicopter.
I?d already seen the cover for their upcoming EP release, Superheroes and uttered a “No fucking way!” to myself as I followed the helicopter with my lens and imagined EDGUY running on stage in their superhero costumes.
When I reached my tent I heard the introduction to EDGUY: “Ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the freak show!” By the time I returned to the True stage, Under the Moon was finished and Navigator was halfway through. I?d missed Tobias Sammet?s impression of a wet t-shirt competition?actually, he announced that EDGUY have always been labelled as a “boy band” by Rock Hard magazine, so to prove them wrong, and to suffer as the crowd in front of them was suffering, he poured bottles of water over himself until he was as wet as everyone else.
During the first few songs Tobias moved to the edge of the stage and grabbed the rigging, checked it out and gave it a bit of a shake. You?re kidding me? I thought. There?s no way he?s going to climb that in this weather!
Sure enough, during the set he climbed the rigging on both sides of the stage. When I saw him take his first few steps, I shook my head, laughed and said to myself “you little monkey”.
After Land of the Miracle, Tobias split the crowd for a cheering competition before launching into Lavatory Love Machine. My German comprehension is coming along nicely, as I managed to understand almost everything Tobias spoke about (except for the time some stupid woman dared break my concentration by asking me for a light while he was speaking), including information about the release of Superheroes EP and DVD on 15 September. He also mentioned (in German) that “one song was with Kiske, but the next one is without”.
Babylon was finished with a sing-along where Tobias led the crowd in singing on the same note “F?nfzehn September, neuer CD, Superheroes” before singing the final word “Baaa-by-loooooooooooooon”.
Always a favourite with EDGUY fans, Vain Glory Opera shook everyone out of their discomfort and the crowd moved in unison to the rhythm of the song. I couldn?t believe how many people needed to be pulled out from the front by security until I realised the same faces were running past me time after time. Crowd surfers were making the most of the density of people watching EDGUY, but there always has to be one person (who should have been beaten to a pulp, and I came close to doing the beating).
What is it about Wacken that brings out the violent me? Last year I almost rendered some crazed Raunchy fan (fighting for a drum stick thrown at my head which I didn?t even want) incapable of ever having children, but lucky clarity fought its way to the top of my rage, leaving me satisfied with just leaving my teeth impressions in his bicep. This year, that “one person” took it upon himself to annoy everyone.
Being my fourth Wacken, I have become familiar with the faces of the security guards who return year after year looking after the crowd being crushed, keeping them cool during heatwaves and even providing some conversation for the bored waiting in the front row for their band to come on. It?s not an easy job?the hours are long and the conditions uncomfortable.
This “one person” was so drunk/drugged, he had that vacant, glazed stare, but somehow still managed to stay on his feet. First, he decided to cover one the security guards with the coffees he was carrying in a tray for his colleagues?nice to know wet weather gear comes in handy for other things. Next, I notice he?s somehow managing to make his way to the nucleus of the crowd and surf his way to the front, each time become more unruly and difficult with the security guards, until finally he turns his (what do I call these actions, fuckwittedness?) to me, who just happened to be standing near the security entrance/exit. He grabs my Drizabone, as a couple of security guards are trying to escort him away from that area, and holds it in a death grip. I?m punching his arm, twisting his fingers, screaming “Let go c**t!”, looking for other places to inflict hurt so he?d let go. Just when I?d spotted his temple, he was pried from me by three security guards, who no longer wished to send him on his way into the festival, but intended on removing him from the festival area to the cheers and claps of most people standing around me. He came so close to having one hand dressed in many chunky rings, meeting the side of his head.
You?re probably wondering why I?m spending so much energy writing about people who aren?t worthy. Maybe it?s my way of warning you, if you?re ever beside me at a gig, especially in front of one of my favourite bands, no matter how times I?ve seen them, don?t piss me off, otherwise you will walk away with something to remember me by.
And as my EDGUY show was interrupted, so was your reading of this report.
Once again, the rain poured heavily and Tobias jumped off stage and ran to the crowd, running along the front row, hitting expectant hands and dodging hopeful grips. Hey, haven?t I seen Bon Jovi do this? I watched him run the line and was worried he?d slip on the extremely slippery makeshift wooden gangplank.
During the epic, Piper Never Dies, it finally hit me that I was at Wacken. Every now and then, I?m brought to tears in a moment of female weakness. Well, this was one of those times, albeit a delayed reaction.
Tobias also welcomed MACHINE HEAD to Germany, who filled the slot of the original surprise act who couldn?t get to Wacken (see official website for statement) and had the crowd cheer them a “hello”.
You?re probably wondering why I haven?t mentioned Dirk Sauer, Tobias “Eggi” Exxel, Felix Bohnke, nor Jens Ludwig. They were definitely on stage with Tobias Sammet?EDGUY is no one-man show, but I couldn?t really see them most of the time and I never saw Felix (the drummer). In fact, I was shattered when I found out the (I believe) ten thousand euro gargoyle from the Mandrake tour was on stage and I didn?t get to see it with my naked eyes.
Source: By Sandra www.metalpix.info
There seemed to be a war raging between EDGUY and Thor. The more rain poured, the more EDGUY gave to the crowd. The more the crowd moved to the music and cheered EDGUY, the more it rained. This continued through Mysteria and King Of Fools as EDGUY played with 110% effort at 11.
Source: By Miele www.yetiprod.com
I was going to watch a bit of WITHIN TEMPTATION (even though when I saw them in 2003 they did nothing for me) and MACHINE HEAD after EDGUY, but the rain continued, so I made my way to shelter.
APOCALYPTICA was having a signing session as I walked past. Eicca Toppinen seemed warm and talkative, standing alongside the people getting things signed, while the other members seemed less interested to the point where Perttu Kivilaakso sat looking broody and almost bored. And as my luck continued this festival, the signing table had been pushed back on the stage and fans were now climbing up onto the stage rather than being forced to stand in the pit?great, how the hell was I to get any decent photos with everyone?s arses in my face?
A few weeks before the festival, organisers held a competition to guess who one of the surprise acts would be, however, they put the band?s name on the Meet & Greet schedule, giving it away. It was on long enough for people to read, so I already knew the identity of the first surprise act before it was announced.
Yes, the re-formed STRATOVARIUS hit the Black stage for a very short set, proving they?re still in form. Hunting High And Low and Black Diamond, two of the band?s popular singles warmed the fans who had not abandoned them during their rocky time. Yes, they were really back. They sounded great and from what little I saw from the swamp (formerly known and the area in front of the Black stage), everyone on stage looked comfortable.
The last song in the short set was the debut performance of their new single, Mania Dance?rawer and much heavier than STRATOVARIUS are known for, during which singer Timo Kotipelto displayed another singing style, but just as appreciated and praised by the loyal fans witnessing its birth.
Source: By Sandra www.metalpix.info
The last band on my schedule for this evening was Finnish neoclassical sensation, APOCALYPTICA. I jumped for joy when I saw their addition to 2005; they don?t tend to travel the metal festival circuit, sticking mostly to Finnish or gothic festivals.
Unlike most people who know this band because of their Plays Metallica By Four Cellos, I?d never heard of them until I heard them play at M?era Luna in 2003. I was lying in my tent attempting to escape the rising heat of an airport tarmac when their haunting melodies drifted along the soft breeze from their stringed instruments. It sounded wonderful and perfect for the relaxed half-dazed mood I was in then.
This year, I was ready for an invigorating listening experience and a visual feast. I decided to wait out the twenty minutes between bands. Problem was, I couldn?t see anything except the screen.
After the first piece, Path, I tried to make my way to the other side of the stage. Fighting my way through six inches of mud my boots sunk in every time I took a step through/around/on top of/under the throngs watching the stringed masters and singing along with Master Of Puppets, my willpower weakened.
I was so glad I had the soles reinforced with glue before I left home, otherwise I would?ve ended up with two boots and no soles. I was semi-blind because of the muted stage lighting, damp and uncomfortable. I couldn?t even tell if they had Dave Lombardo drumming for them.
Absorbing as much heat as I could from the people I passed, I slowly felt my body shrinking from the cold to the point my body had contracted so much, my pants were falling down. Lucky the stiffness of the leather held them up somewhat, but I still had to make the final steps to my destination holding up the back of them with my hand. Just as I positioned myself, I realised my favourite gold ring had fallen off my thumb and frantically searched for it with a lighter in the mud and straw batter under my feet. A girl with a key ring bluelight also help me, but without success. I was shattered. The next second someone tapped me on the shoulder from behind and as I swung around a metal-brother was holding my ring in front of my face. I was so ecstatic, I squealed with joy, grabbed and kissed him. Whoever you are, may the fortunes of metal shine upon you.
My view no better and completely frustrated at not being able to see the band, no matter where I stood, I admitted defeat and struggled away thoroughly depressed that I couldn?t watch a band I may never see live again, listening to people humming along to Somewhere Around Nothing. If you can?t see a band and are forced to watch them on a screen, you might as well be sitting in the comfort of your home watching the DVD and a couple thousand dollars richer. With tears of anger stinging my eyes I headed for the press area to console myself with Mojitos.
Playing against Apocalyptica on the Wet stage, was a power metal band, which has long paid its dues in the German metal scene?METALIUM. And, now I bring you to the blonde segment of this report.
I only made it once to the Wet stage this year due to the ever-increasing swamp leading to its entry, only to end up seeing the same band that was playing in the campground yesterday?H?ngerband. Well, at least it was the same singer. I didn?t stay for long?I think I preferred them when they were entertaining the campsite.
As bands are announced throughout the year, I try and keep up with the additions and listen to samples if I haven?t heard of them. This year as so many bands were finalised in the last few months, work, university and making travel arrangements gave me less time to investigate the line-up fully. Damn shame, too, because I missed a few good acts.
In 2003 I got to see METALIUM play W:O:A. I was impressed. Far more impressed than I had been when I heard their CDs.
The whole package was there: songs sounded great live; the audience appreciated them; they played the True stage early afternoon; and their stage set up was spectacular, including custom microphone stands. When I got home, I eventually bought their latest CD. I listened to it a few times, but then it was relegated to the bottom of the pile as new releases kept being added and haven?t listened to it since.
This year when I saw METALIUM was added to the list I clicked on the link, looked at the photo, but didn?t recognise the band against my memory from 2003. Thinking it was another band and that the Metalium I saw spelt its name with two Ls instead of one, I didn?t highlight them on my schedule.
And here, Your Honour, is my defence. I (mostly) don?t pay attention to band members anymore?I?m too old to engage in school-girl fantasies of a rock star falling in love with me and taking me on the road with him happily ever after.
So, when I was confronted with a photo of this:
Against the memory of this:
I should be forgiven for thinking this wasn?t the same band.
How did I come to this realisation then, you may be wondering? If I hadn?t spoken to a representative of Armageddon Music on the last night, who also happens to be the bass player of METALIUM, I would have been none the wiser. Damn! If only I?d had that conversation 24 hours earlier, this night wouldn?t have been such a tragedy.
When I was finally consoled enough to make my way to my tent, I walked passed CORCUS CORAX AND ORCHESTRA performing on their weird and wonderful instruments, wearing unusual costumes surrounded by about fifty singers dressed in white robes.
By the time I got back to my tent, after having a hot shower, it was 03:30, although I don?t know why I bothered. I got almost no sleep thanks to my paranoia that some drunk would come and steal my mud-encrusted boots from inside my tent awning, to a neighbour snoring so loud, not even 29-decibel rated earplugs muffled the regular eruptions, to another drunk tripping over my fully lit under campground lighting, fully visible tent almost collapsing it. The joys of festivalling!