Wacken Open Air Festival
Thursday 2nd August
Let us start with the journey from our beloved (and dry) motherland of Britannia. I had booked The metal travel coach transfer tickets from a Berlin record shop to the site almost two weeks before I was due to leave. I had decided upon extending my travels, (“When in Rome!”) so I purchased a National Express 15 day coach pass. It will have been a far more pleasurable experience than that of your logic induced Eurolines sufferage.
So we arrived in Berlin, and made our way to the nearest alcohol merchant, and less importantly the train station to Itzehoe. There were no coaches running from Berlin to Wacken this year (or so we were told) so we hopped onboard the overpriced train with our newly acquired aperitifs and proceeded to get in the ‘spirit’ of things.
Anyway, the connecting bus from the station to the festival grounds took roughly 30 mins which was whittled down to about ten minutes on hard liquor perceptiveness and the people travelling on it were just as excited as us. When we arrived, we set up camp approximately 20 staggers from the main entrance, and was immediately drawn to the sound of carnage!
We entered the main arena and headed straight to the front via a quick 30 minute pit stop at the bar to introduce ourselves to the local refreshments. ‘The Blood Bag’ quickly became a favourite of mine… a litre of thick red vodka in a medical pouch connected to a catheter which in turn delivers its glorious contents to your liver.
The bands we saw today were Sepultura & Les Tambours Du Bronx and they were ace!
I heard Sepultura played the year before, but this time it was with a twist, they had 16 additional drummers on stage with them. It really added the kick to the ass of their existing stuff and what the two bands wrote together ‘felt’ truly awesome. The two bands need to release a collaboration album together.
Volbeat were the headliners that night, and boy did they headline… it was like being at school assembly and instead of having the head teacher address you, it was a raged tattooed Dane inciting you to go apeshit. They played a long set full of both new and old material and kept up the momentum throughout. I really needed this as this was my first night at Wacken and for me they were the best performance of the festival.
The vocals really pick you up and get you not giving a damn, it was a real good times atmosphere and everybody seemed to be getting in to it. Including me! So much so, that I had lost my partner in crime and managed to find myself in one of many Bavarian beer tents with three of the festival stewards all buying me drinks…what a great start to the festival!
Friday 3rd August
I did manage to walk the ten mile journey back to the comfort of my by now half destroyed/trampled on abode by 9am, and I was quite impressed with myself the next day as I couldn’t count to ten. I’m 6ft 5, so the 20 quid Argos tent I bought the day before coming didn’t really cut it for me! The sun was coming up, so I decided to sleep outside, and get burnt.
I’ve been to a few festivals, but never one in Germany but I really enjoyed the sun and atmosphere here, but this was the last we were to see of the good weather!
The festival Wacken is not just a festival site alone, it swallows the whole of the town. The second best performance I was to see during my stay at Wacken was an old bearded hobo playing guitar and singing when he wasn’t playing his harmonica. This dude ROCKED… I don’t know if he knew what day it was but I know he had serious soul. I was really impressed, he’s the kind of guy you see perform when you’re a kid at a Western (it happened to me at least) and think maaan I wanna be like that when I grow up. I sat mesmerised with a bottle of cheap German whisky for over 45 minutes while he knocked out the classics in the sun… I was dragged away, as we had more important things to do…
It took us a DAY AND A HALF to manage to find someone who A – knew anything about anything about anything that was going on about anything, or B – understood English, or my award winning charades manoeuvres.
I had high expectations from Red Fang today and was looking forward to seeing them! I’ve been a fan for ages and having missed them in London a few weeks before I made damn sure I saw them tonight. I don’t know if it was the rain that forced people into the indoor stage but considering the fact the band weren’t playing in the rain I would have thought they would have put more effort into it. ‘Hank Is Dead’ and ‘Wires’ were great if you knew the songs before but I couldn’t help feeling that they played a really half arsed gig that night.
Three quarters of the way through we turned our back on them and headed out back into the rain.
Saturday 4th August
Beer is good, and in this situation it was as good as ever, relieving me from the thoughts, stresses and strains of what I had done/given up to get to this point in time.
The pricing for food and drinks at Wacken were not too bad!
We walked back an hour and a half to our tent and regrouped and braved the elements (and the mud) to get to the beast that is Machine Head!
I was raised on this band since Burning Red and they didn’t disappoint me in the slightest.
They had a really dramatic opening sequence lasting about ten minutes that fell from choirs and chords so hard and heavy metal, and again they played a huge set and it was pretty blistering throughout, after that everyone was f**king destroyed!
Sick Of It All killed it too, they battled through the bad weather for over an hour with ‘Scratch The Surface’ causing the most devastation. I did manage to catch Scorpions too, they’d been so hyped up to me that I made sure I saw them, the performance was good but I couldn’t help feel that they’d done their dance.
Germany really embraces metal…more so than rock I think… all you could hear during day and night was drunken germ-maniacs chanting Vack…En….Vack…En. and by the end of the third day in hell itself, I had lost almost everything including my firm grasp on reality!
My precious 20 quid tent was buried two feet deep in mud and I was caked in it myself!
Wacken was definitely an experience for me… it was hard, it was heavy, the crowd loved it, even through the bad weather… if I could have taken one picture of it, I would have! [
Hopefully next year we will require a photo-pass?!]
Wacken is an amazing festival really is a metal religion, not just for the festival goers but the townspeople alike! For that week in August it was the most metal city on earth!