24 & 25 July 2009
Regulars of my reports will remember me as a dedicated Wacken Open Air fan who loves the atmosphere, the metal friends I have made, the diversity of bands performing and the whole experience of ‘Metal Mecca’. Over the years I have been able to cope with the discomforts of survival style camping and weather extremes, but last year I broke off my love affair when Wacken reached record crowd numbers making it mostly impossible to see what was happening on stage clearly without the help of screens and time consuming to move from one stage to another. The introduction of an outdoor movie theatre outside the festival area to cope with the increased crowd was a joke.
The thought of spending another three expensive days carrying around six kilograms worth of camera equipment, writing notes and trying to take photos of bands I couldn’t see anyway had me vowing not to return to Wacken for the 20th anniversary.
Being an obsessive compulsive list writer, I started compiling a calendar of European metal festivals when I returned to Australia and as line-ups were announced this year I started sorting through the festivals with either my favourite bands or bands on my live wish list. As it turned out, this year was mostly about seeing bands on my live wish list and those bands were playing Finnish festivals–perfect. I was traveling alone this year so I was happy that I was going to a country where I feel 100% safe and at home even though the language is quite beyond this tri-lingual girl.
I was on the train to Oulu a couple of days after flying into Helsinki. The 5-hour trip was made enjoyable by picturesque Finland. There’s isn’t a part of this country that isn’t a shade of green and coming from Australia it was a nice change to the shades of browns and reds associated with our landscape. For most of the journey I had my face pressed hoping for my first glimpse of the local fauna on this trip–the roadkill squirrel outside my Helsinki hostel didn’t count.