Metal Cid: Memoirs of Wacken Open air 2000
starts on a cold Monday night in Mexico city. He boards the plane and
tries to sit still with memories from other years still haunting his mind.
He knows where he's going. He knows what to expect. He knows it will be
better this year, as it's always the case.
After landing in Hamburg he meets up with an old friend with whom he's
shared much. They hug, they smile and they get moving. Train takes a long
time, no German currency in their pockets since all exchange bureaus where
closed at that time. They risk it and get on a train to a small village
some 40 km from Hamburg. They arrive late at night and start drinking. The
night goes away fast. It's Wednesday morning and they know it's starting.
They walk to the train station from where the shuttles leave every hour or
so. At the bus stop the tension is obvious. Leather, spikes, boots, black
clothing and long hair everywhere. They are almost there. As they board
the bus car, they are joined by a legion of minds very much like their
own, metalheads. They are on the final stretch to their destination:
Wacken. Metal Heaven.
They ride the bus for what seems an eternity and finally they
disembark in muddy, grass covered path from where, in the distance you can
hear the pounding of drums and the striking of the chords. They are there.
It's late at night now, and the only open place in the festival area is
a large white tent from which the music comes. As they walk in, the song
changes and one of the most descriptive metal hymns in the world plays.
Manowar's Heart of Steel courses through the air, sending shivers down
their spines. They look around to an all too familiar scene, metalheads
headbanging with beer filled cups in their hands. Everyone knows the song,
everyone knows the meaning of it, everyone is a part of it. It has begun.
They drink and meet up with some new friends who invite them to their
tents to carry on when the music stops and the beer runs dry in the
Headbagner's ballroom for that night.
Mathias and Andreas offer them as much beer as they can swallow just
because they are there. Just because they know they are there for the same
reasons. They came to enjoy the feeling you can't find anywhere else. The
feeling of having thousands of brothers and sisters walking next to you in
high spirits. Everyone awaiting that magic moment in which the concerts
will start and another edition of Wacken Open Air festival will reach its
As the morning draws near and the bus shuttles are about to start
running again, they head back to their home for the next few days.
Sleeping all morning to be ready for the next night. As he wakes up he
leaves his friend at the hotel and heads to Hamburg to meet up with some
other friends that will join them in their adventure this year.
He gets to the airport in time and looks around. There she is. Ice
Maiden has come all the way from Portland. Along with her stand Michael de
los Muertos, Brad and Dave. Everyone is ready. They made the long and
arduous journey here to enjoy the bounties of the festival. Their first
meeting is a jovial one, they are glad to be there and they are glad to
have new people with them.
The newly formed group now proceeds to get into a rented car that would
be their means of transportation for the duration of their stay in German
land. They run into a little trouble with a German parking barrier. It
just won't open... He has doubts, not about Dave's driving capability but
about Michael's sense of direction. This could be a bad idea. Luckily he
isn't the only one with that thought in mind and so Ice Maiden is
appointed the official navigator. After quite a long drive, the group of
newly found friends finally finds their second hotel and checks in. After
an eventful night in which they were stared upon by the very cows they
were eating in an Argentinean restaurant, they finally turn in for the
As they woke up on that fateful day, they all share a common feeling,
excitement. It's Friday morning and they're heading to Wacken at last.
They pick up the remaining member of the new crew and they drive off to
cover that last piece of land between them and their goal.
Upon their arrival upon festival grounds, a familiar figure walks past
the car, one of the missing members of the original crew, Cameron. Shortly
after they encounter Nick, the absolute last member of the group, and so
they are now all there: Ice Maiden, Michael, Cid, Jäger, Nick, Cameron
Dave and Brad are finally walking the threshold to metal Heaven.
They settle all ticket issues first. They walk up to a man wearing a
backstage access pass around his neck in order to ask him where he got it
and where they can get theirs. Ice Maiden gets a funny look and an answer:
"I play in a band" Jäger chuckles. After asking again Ice
Maiden specifies she wants to know the physical location. The man just
vaguely points in the general direction of the press booth. As they all
walk away, Michael, Jäger and Cid ask Ice Maiden if she knows who that
was... She had just treated Peter Tägtren like a staff member. ONLY at
Wacken. They walk for a long time and get to the press booth, then acquire
those wonderful backstage passes so gracefully secured by EvilG. He thinks
about how much this is going to spice up an already great event.
An enormous crowd cheers on as Mighty Vader takes the black stage and
the concerts begin. They can feel it in the air, raw power, so intense
they can't help but disband for a while as each takes a place among their
fellow metalheads. Some in front, some in the back some in the press area,
they all enjoy one of the best concerts of the entire festival.
They move on to the True Metal stage to catch up Samson. In spite of
their now advanced age, the show appears quite good and the crowd just
makes it all the better.
Dark funeral is up next, the show is brutal, fast paced and marked by
one of those mosh pits you really think twice before invading. He looks
over his shoulders to see mops of hair all over the place moving wildly as
bodies slam against each other in the midst of sweat and sheer adrenaline,
what a great show. Running over to the true metal stage again, Ice Maiden
and him enjoy Royal Hunt's show more than they would have expected,
"this band is absolutely worth checking out sometime really
soon" she says. He can't help but to agree.
What is very likely to be the worst show in the whole festival comes up
next. Umbra et Imago would at first make him smile, but a short while
after he felt a little uncomfortable listening to such crap and watching
the goth wannabe holding his flaming inverted crucifix as he
"sings". Pathetic he thinks.
October 31 is next, Ice Maiden had spent some time with these guys at
the airport before coming here. Great band, great concert, great music but
above all great people!
He leaves to get a front spot for the next concert, Marduk is expected,
yet, much to his surprise and delight, mighty Abbath comes out saying
"OK Wacken, We are back" and thus Immortal takes the stage. This
is definitely one of the best concerts in the bill this year. A powerful
set consisting of mainly songs from At the Heart of Winter, Damned in
black and Pure Holocaust. Withstand the fall of time makes the crow go
wild as they headbang and mosh against each other amidst a pool of sweat.
Abbath crowns the set with Blashyrkh: Mighty Ravendark to make the crowd
scream in that low pitched guttural tone characteristic of black metal.
Definitely one of the best sets he has seen this year.
One of the most expected shows of the whole festival comes up next.
Rhapsody takes the stage to the sounds of "Emerald Sword". The
crowd is electrified as the concert rolls on. The 3 summits of this show
are Emerald sword, Land of Immortals and Eternal glory, Lucca Turilli's
Guitar work impeccable, he doesn't remember seeing someone play this fast
and precisely since Yngwie Malmsteem a couple of years ago.
Marduk is up next, the sheer brutality of this show is enough to make
it rank high among the best performances of the festival.
As Stratovarius Takes the stage he thinks about their albums, a bit
monotonous and boring to his taste... The live show absolutely blows him
away. Impressive. Fast paced, skill filled, emotion ridden. Impressive
altogether is what he thinks. His favorite show after Immortal so far. He
turns around and walks away as the horde of metalheads swarm around the
stage for the next show, Iced Earth is coming up and he knows this will be
a show to remember. He walks away into the backstage area to cool his
throat down a little bit with a few beers while glancing around at all the
celebrities there. Rhapsody walks by, Kai Hansen drinks a beer on the next
table, Stratovarius cools down after their amazing performance. This is
the life he thinks, this is what it's all about. And it's all thanks to
the Gman. Long live Metal-rules.com. He smiles to himself and washes down
the remains of his beer since Iced Earth is already playing. He walks up
to the middle of the crowd to hear everyone singing Watching Over Me at
the top of their lungs. It's just the beginning. Iced Earth's set includes
Black Sabbath's Electric Funeral from their Melancholy EP and also to the
crowd's amazement and delight, Iron Maiden's The Trooper. This is another
huge show he thinks to himself, if only it was a little longer... songs
like Pure Evil and A question of Heaven are sorely missed, but then again,
every minute of their show represents a fantastic display of the very
meaning of the word metal so there's nothing to complain about.
Hypocrisy's show is up next, and one of the moments that will forever
stay in his memories. This is everything he hoped it would be, intense and
brutal and yet deeply heartfelt so that the crowd identifies with every
note from Tägtren's band.
Finally the show all his travel companions have been waiting for comes
up. Kai Hansen and company take the stage as Gamma Ray's performance
begins. The set is a little bit disappointing but there are some great
moments blended into it. The highlight of this concert is Gamma Ray's
version of Helloween's I want Out, another one of the metal hymns with
which most everyone in the area identifies with.
As the music subsides late in this night, they turn back and slowly
walk to their car, ready for a night of sleep and a huge day at Wacken
tomorrow. Everybody's mind is swarmed with dozens of mental images of
idols, and gods playing on stage for them. Only at Wacken he thinks. They
get in the car again, more like cram in it. A long, long drive from the
beginning, they are tired and worn, but it is everything they dreamed it
The drive is about 3 times as long as it should be, neither Michael nor
anyone else really knows the way back so by the time they're back to the
hotel it's almost time to get up again.
They wake up, not even tired, just ready to continue their experience.
Time to drive again, but with the road now fresh in their minds, for a
much shorter time than the day before. On the ride back to Wacken they all
plan their day ahead. So many things to do, so little time. They come into
the festival grounds through the VIP access and again they all think about
that screen name; EvilG. The festival itself is great, but this is a whole
new level. They split up for a while. Some go eat, some go to see Blaze's
show, he goes to have a beer. As Michael, Ice Maiden, Jäger and Cid walk
towards the VIP area access, they notice a very familiar figure standing
in front of them with a beer can in his hand. Maybe seeming a little
smaller than he does on stage and his hair tied back in a ponytail, but
Iced Earth's Matt Barlow gladly stands with them for a couple of pictures.
They still linger on the thought of it when they turn around and every
member of Labyrinth walks by them, as does Lucca Turilli. So many of them,
not enough time... Everything seems like a dream, it seems like it can't
be happening, but it is. And they love every second of it.
They walk past the black stage while Ancient's show roars on. They
don't stop this time. They have to see the metal market. They have to see
the one place in the world where you could actually find anything you
craved for (except apparently Arch Enemy's Black Earth). It's the same all
over again, overwhelmed by sheer variety. He wants to reach out and walk
out of there with as much as he can carry. Well, spending every remaining
cent he has should do for this year.
They hurry back to the black stage to catch Sentenced's show. A fairly
good one, but he's disappointed. He misses a lot of the old stuff in their
Lizzy Borden is up next in the true metal stage and he just stares half
smiling, half wondering. Their show is hilarious, extremely entertaining,
but the time is closer now, he is eager to see her so he walks to the
backstage area again and has some more beer until Entombed's set kicks in.
This is another great show, he thinks. The waves of headbanging metalheads
swallow him as he tries to move a little bit to the right side of the
festival grounds, starting to head over to the true metal stage to await
the next show there. She is next.
Finally he stands in the middle of hundreds of metalheads just looking
at the stage. Tuomas is the first to come out, he stands in front of the
keyboards and starts playing along with the rest of Nightwish. She is my
sin is the first song in their set. The long intro is beautifully done but
he's impatient, he searches every inch of the stage for her and finally
smiles as she appears. Tarja walks out clad in black and starts singing,
finally making most of the people there close their eyes for a second. Her
voice is beautiful he thinks. He enjoys every second of this show up until
the quintet bows for the audience in recognition for their support. He
ponders a moment and runs to the backstage area hoping he can run into
It is time to leave, they have to. Everyone stands for a group picture
right in front of the huge black/true metal stages. This will be burned
into their memories forever he thinks. All of them walk slowly back to the
car, none of them really wants to leave, but most of them have to. Most of
them. He doesn't...
Ice Maiden and Cid watch as the car drives away, on its way back to
Hamburg for a long night of sleep and an early rise in the morning. They
turn around wondering what's next. They decide to go eat. As they're
sitting, Cid is feeling impatient with all the waiting. She's so close and
yet so far away. They move to the backstage area and sit next to the
entrance to the only restricted area of the whole festival grounds. He
sees her, Tarja... Ice Maiden leaves as Cid talks to Ancient's bass
player. They have a friendly chat but Cid wonders where she has gone off
to. He waits for a long time and finally sees her walking to him. She
leads him to the entrance and they wait. He almost faints as Tarja comes
out to meet them. He can't believe it. This crowns Wacken. They hang out
backstage for the longest of times, it's getting late. He despises the
thought of leaving. All these persons. Everyone of them is a God in his or
her own right, they have that look in their eyes. The look that tells they
are happy with what they do and who they are. They are part of the feeling
in his heart. And he hates to leave them.
In spite of all, he feels content as they walk off to take the taxi
that will take them back to the small village from where the train to
Hamburg leaves. As it has been the rule of the past few days, one of the
members of the staff offers them a hand in the form of a ride to the taxi
stand. They all know what it means to be here. They know that even though
they don't know each other, they all share a common point inside their
souls. They stare at the long hair, at the leather and the spikes. They
stare at the sweat covered faces and at the black boots. It's coming to
It's the last glimpse they will get of this camp for a long time. And
as they leave their oh so loved Haven behind, not to see it again (for an
entire year) they go comforted only by the thought that there is no better
way to go than beside good friends. And that's what the spirit of Wacken
Open Air is all about. It's not only a place where people with the same
taste in music get together to enjoy their favorite bands. Wacken Open Air
festival is a place in which once a year, soul brothers and sisters from
all over the world gather to remind the world that the thing that makes
Metal the unrelenting force it has always been, is the fact that they
stand together. We Stand together. So as the sun sets and Darkness covers
the land, every soul that leaves the festival site does it in contempt,
grinning down at the last pages of their program and running order flyer:
THANKS TO ALL YOU METALHEADS
ticket sale starts at 01.09.2000
And thus Ends the millennium edition of Wacken open Air festival. But
it doesn't really end, it just sets a sign pointing at the horizon.
Pointing at next summer's bash. And for those of you who wonder what the
FASTER : HARDER : LOUDER
In Metal we trust.