Wacken Open Air 2005

Sunday August 7, 2005

A metal-sister who lives in a nearby town invited me to stay at her place the night after Wacken. She wanted to leave by 11:30. I managed to wake up in time to pack my stuff.

Wacken Tip No 3: No matter how much you intend not to buy, always come to Wacken with an extra empty bag. There?s something in the ground that makes the contents of your tent multiply.

I packed my belongings and waited for breaks in the rain to take my stuff to the car in a couple of loads. I also managed to pack the tent while there was no rain. Traffic leaving the festival was directed in every direction to ease congestion on the roads as (the rumoured) 30,000 people made their ways to their destinations. To make matters worse, I believe this was also the end of the summer holiday period for schools in Schleswig-Holstein, so holidayers returning home also burdened the roads.

What would have normally been a 20-minute drive took almost one and a half hours, including a ferry ride, in 12?C temperatures (55F) according to my Eddie Bauer? thermometer. “Don?t pay the ferryman, don?t even fix a price?” We were showing our age. I managed to have a nap and when I woke, I reached for a bottle of water. It was so cold in the car, the water felt like it had been taken out of an Australian refrigerator (the temperatures set in German refrigerators are warm by our standards and might as well be storage cabinets). Anyway, it was bloody cold; I don?t think the thermometer was very accurate unless the water managed to freeze overnight.

Leading up to this year?s festival, I was saying we were due for a wet one, but I?ve been saying that for the last couple of years. This year when the wet weather hit, I was reminded of how uncomfortable it is to camp in such bad conditions. I?d never felt so out of sorts there since my first acclimatisation shock day four years ago. I left winter in Sydney to come to summer weather at Wacken that was colder, but without any mod-cons.

It was nice to be back in civilisation. I hanged out all my clothing, which had become damp regardless of wear. We ordered pizza, filled our bellies with hot food, showered and crashed at about 1600. At least I was spared from having to clean my leathers straight away?the mud had to dry first. (They were finally dry two days later.)

People from all over the world come to Wacken year after year, surprisingly, for different reasons?to go hard and watch as many bands as possible; to hunt for autographs; to see a few bands and bond with friends; to accompany partners; to see a couple of bands and remain drunk the whole time; and this year I realised some come for the sheer purpose of drinking other people?s alcohol and then pissing in their ears ad nauseam about politics, religion and the like, all without stepping out of the campgrounds for the entire festival.

I tried to get official ticket sale numbers for festival and day passes, but it seems this is a national security top secret.

With the majority of people able to see most of the bands on Wacken line-ups during individual tours, and many European bands making efforts to conquer the new frontiers of Australia and America, I think it?s time the organisers had a few more bands of the same style clashing to ease crowds in front of each stage (I think 2002 was the last year this happened). Sure, some of us will be forced to miss bands or see half sets, but it would at least be a better view of what we chose to see. Also, over the years I have attended the area in front of the True and Black stages has degenerated sloping down away from the stage. This year that sloping was even more obvious?some ground levelling is in order.

What have I learnt this year: 1. As much as I?m a purest, I think it?s time I invested in a digital SLR for festivals so I can just stick it in the air when I can?t see anything. 2. Experiencing Wacken on a cocktail of cold & flu medication, painkillers and muscle relaxants can be an uplifting experience. 3. I really should eat more than one meal a day. 4. Still not having visited the Metal Market “Workshop” tent after four years, I can?t be missing much. 5. I need to buy a holiday house in the village.

Festival highs and lows

Biggest disappointment apart from the obvious

: Missing out of slugging down a couple of Wacken meads, listening to the MACHINE MAN promo CD I received at the festival when I returned home and realising they played on the Wet stage this year and coming home with a full box of condoms again. Most enjoyable performance: AXEL RUDI PELL band. Favourite new discovery: ENSIFERUM. Most innovative promotional item for W:O:A 2005: EDGUY helicopter. Lunatic of W:O:A 2005: Tobias Sammet, EDGUY. Most unattainable item at W:O:A 2005 apart from Johnny Gioeli (I know I?m sounding like a broken record): Purple Sonata Arctica floorball (no, that?s not a typo) shirt as worn by Henrik Klingenberg.

Special thanks

Covering a festival of this magnitude alone is impossible, so I begged favours from my European metal-brothers and -sisters to provide you with more photos. Thank you to Yeti and Miele www.yetiprod.com, Sandra www.metalpix.info and Alex and Tommy www.alexundtommy.de for helping me fill the visual blanks in this report.

The mud pit that is the Wacken festival area is clearly
visible against the surrounding green fields

Wacken Open Air 2005 was like a tragic accident?so bad, you were horrified, but yet, couldn?t tear yourself away from it. Not since 2002 have I loved the line-up so much. If only the weather hadn?t let us all down. So, even with all my disappointments, will I go again? Does a kangaroo shit in the bush? Is the Pope catholic? Does Raggedy Anne have cotton tits?

Official Site: www.wacken.com




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