Festival Report    Road Diary   


Festival : Hellfest 2009
Location : Clisson
Date : 19th to 21st June 2009
Audience : 60,000 people over 3 days.

For Radio Metal, the Hellfest started on 17th June 2009, two days before the actuel hostilities. As you all know, our studios are located in Lyon, and to go to the Hellfest, we have to cross France by train. ‘Cause we’re all cunning as foxes and booked our tickets centuries before the trip in order to travel cheap – Seb and myself being even meaner with money than dear old Uncle Scrooge.

Our friend Uncle Scrooge.

It’s around 6 pm when we (that’s Fucktoy, Seb and myself) meet at the Radio Metal studios. Our train leaves from Lyon Part-Dieu at 6.56 the next morning. Carrying his round-shaped tent on his back, Seb looks pretty scary. Fucktoy and I have the weird feeling we’re travelling with Shellman, a vertebrate monster coming from as distant a planet as Spaceman’s. The Hellfest hasn’t even started yet, and we’re already starting to understand what living together means!

This is not Spaceman…

Loaded down like mules, we wander in the streets of Lyon towards Fucktoy’s apartment. The guy let Seb and I spend the night at his place, which is close to the station. Ws a threesome involved, you’re wondering?! Well, not really. Fucktoy being busy on this Wednesday evening, I find myself alone with Seb – a situation every male in the team has always wished to avoid. I’ll admit I’m pretty scared, but luckily I manage to find the perfect subterfuge to avoid sexual excesses. Several films in Fucktoy (really nice) DVD collection seem pretty interesting, most notably the great “In The Mood For Love”. Faced with a tragic lack of enthusiasm on Seb’s side, we settle for “La Tour Montparnesse Infenale”, which, let’s face it, is closer to our intellectual capacities.

Ouch !

After this torture (still not as terrible as Manowar’s show a few days later, mind), it’s time for bed. Tomorrow we’ll have to get up early (5.30 am) to meet with Fucktoy at the Lyon Part-Dieu station. “There’s no way we’re gonna sleep in the same bed, that would suck!” Seb tells me Oh yes, we are… The night was pretty agitated, short but intense. Tuesday 19th June, 5.45 am. We once again stride along the streets of Lyon with our gear on our backs. On of the radio’s most famous legends claims that Seb is always the one to carry most of the stuff when we go to the Helfest. Fucktoy, who witnessed all this, could tell that this is pure fiction. As you may have guessed, your servant is obviously the one who carries most of the gear, thanks to his impressive muscular force. But let’s not go into details. With all our clutter, we attract the attention of passers-by, who are obviously not used to meeting toad-people like us. With his tent-shell, Seb has some difficulty getting on the subway, but we still manage to reach the station in due time. We meet Fucktoy a few minutes later, and off we go to Nantes.

Hellfest 2009, here we come!

We finally reach Nantes after a very uneventful journey, and it’s time for a well-deserved break because we take yet another train to Clisson. It’s going to be a busy day for us. Being on the spot the day before the actuel concerts start is a nice way to avoid the Friday morning rush and gives us the opportunity to organize ourselves better. It’s 1.45 pm when we finally reach the festival grounds (on foot, ‘cause no, we’re not going to pay €2 to use the van!). The VIP lounge is supposed to open in 15 minutes, so we can get our passes.

Who the hell is this guy in the bottom center of the picture?!

At the Hellfest 2009, the Radio Metal team is made up of six persons. On one side, you have Fucktoy, Spaceman, Seb, Claude and myself, committed to writing reports. On the other side, Olivier, our photographer in Paris, will take pictures along with Seb. We realize now that six is a substantial number, but it’s still barely enough to guarantee optimal work. We have a three-day currency to publish our report; the deadline is extremely hard to meet, and it all depends on our number. Wating three days to publish our report was a deliberate choice, since we don’t want to cover the event like VS webzine, for example, does. Highlighting our daily impressions has no journalistic interest, if you ask me. Hindsight is vital to analyze a concert. In short, in order to be interesting, you need to be objective, and I really want the team to keep this way of working.

Dragonforce should be forbidden, period.

It’s 2 .15, the organisation is a bit late but we finally manage to get our passes. That’s when the terrible question arises: “where should we go to sleep better than last year?!” There’s no VIP campsite, and we have to do everything in our power to spend the night as far as possible from the other festivalgoers. While we’re at it, we would like to thank the many colleagues who tried to help us in our quest. Unfortunatly, as was to be expected, we have to go back to the regular campsite and set up our tents next to yours, dear reader, who can become the worst enemy ever at night!

Yes, dear reader, it’s you we’re talking about!

I know some of you might be pretty shocked by these comments. You must be thinking that we are fuckin’ assholes, that we get passes and all that and we still manage to complain about details, that we’re privileged, that the Hellfest is giant party before all, etc. All this is true, and I understand my comments can be criticized, as they tend to create a gap between us and the average festivalgoers.

But all this simply comes from the fact that, for me and for Radio Metal, covering this type of event is not always pleasant. Of course it’s a privilege to be there, but we’re still here to work (deadline, deadline, I’m telling you). And I can assure that having to write reports on the spot, attending huge shows and sleeping two hours at night on top of that make it quite difficult to do quality work. That’s why I’m arguing with the organization in favour of better accomodation, so we wouldn’t have to mix up with the festivalgoers.

Claude becomes nasty when night comes…

Let’s go back to the point. When we finally understand that we won’t have one good night’s sleep during the festival, we ask Seb to keep our things. We haven’t even set up our tents yet, but we have to install our two banners. Spaceman (whom we met on the festival grounds), Fucktoy and I go out on a quest for the best spots. After a few very long minutes of procrastination, we end up installing the first banner on the left-hand-side of the second scene. It will be particularly visible to the fan when the crowd is compact on the first scene. Rock Hard have their own banner right beside us. As for our second banner, it could have ended up between two tarpaulins from Le Mouv’, had we have not realized that there are better spots all over the place… In the meantime, Seb is waiting. Alone. Poor guy. We try to hurry, and Spaceman suggests we install our second banner on the bridge that goes from the festival grounds to the campsite. A beautiful, high Radio Metal banner annoucing the festival – now that’s classy!

This is a dominatrix.

After two hours that Seb found quite hard to take (understandably, cause two hours on one’s own is a hall of a long time), we reach the campsite. We haven’t seen anything of Claude yet, so Fucktoy and Seb set up their own tent, leaving some space for Claude’s. A few minutes later, said Claude finally joins us. Now that the tents are set up, some of us go shopping while the others stay to watch over our things. After some time, our friends come back, and the evening goes by nicely after a very cool from Stoneburst, Spaceman’s band. We go to bed at 10 pm, ‘cause we have a big day in front of us tomorrow. Claude and I hear weird sounds coming from the other tent, but since we were asked “not to talk about it”, I won’t get into details. I can only tell you that, at some point, I heard: “hell, Fucktoy, that doesn’t hurt!”…

The shows finally start, and I witness a good concert from Gokan while my colleagues prefer to go and see Orakle and the other early bands. At the Hellfest, the shows start at 11 am every day and end at 2 am. This pace is far too hectic for me (are you calling me weakling? Well, maybe yes…) and I will therefore not attend the Mötley Crüe and Marilyn Manson shows, supposed to be the highlights of Friday and Tuesday. Too tired for this. A three-day festival is nice (and these three days went by very quickly), but from a personal point of view, I’m glad it only happens once a year. Doing the same work at Graspop, Metalcamp, Brutal Assault or Wacken woul be totally exhausting. I know I couldn’t survive it, but given the number of people in the team, making you live other European festival like we did for the Hellfest is a definite goal. Wouldn’t that be cool? In any case, we’re gonna do our best to reach this goal.

Hellfest is good, baby.

Concerts follow one another, and the 2009 organization is amazing. Strategically speaking, the Hellfest decided to broaden its horizon. Music-wise, eclecticism is the keyword, but the emphasis is also put on these « other things » people come for: the extreme market, the Fuel Girls’ stripteases… I think all this is extremely well thought of, and it allows the festival to be very different from every other one.

Wrestling – Crusty would have loved it!

We use the VIP space as we see fit. This place is a haven of peace where we can have a drink, sitting quietly, which is a privilege since the resting slots on such a festival are scarce for the regular festivalgoers. The grass is green, the bar is full, there are plenty of tables and a bus under the trees which provides Internet access. You also meet a lot of artists. In short, congratulations to the organization for offering such a warm, friendly place. You can also find some interesting info here. For example, Mötley Crüe demand that several girls tag along (…), a lot of sugar (…), and, last but not least (wait for it!)… 75 towels! That’s quite something – and what’s the point? And the craziest thing about this is, if the organisation don’t give them their towels, the guys could seize the opportunity to leave. Yupp, that’s the music business for you.

The police are never far away!

In the bus you can work more or less peacefully. At times you can even hear your colleagues say smart thing – or at times not. There are fools everywhere, but what’s annoying about it all is that you can really spot these people from a long distance. And sunglasses are probably the most unbearable thing ever. Let me explain: I’m sitting at a table, drinking beer and wearing sunglasses, and I’m happy because I’m here in the VIP quarter. This is enough for some of our “journalist” colleagues (I’m using quotation marks for us as well as for them; nobody here really is a journalist, even if our approach is quite close to journalism) to become too big for their boots. It’s both surprising and funny. So I’m starting to think: aren’t we also in this to live this kind of moments? I don’t know. It’s part of the job. The good thing would be to make a joke of it, and to avoid taking ourselves too seriously. As Fucktoy say: “we’re all pieces of shit, anyway…”.

God Seed: class before all…

Shows follow one another (no, we haven’t spent our days pissing aroun in the VIP quarter, you jerks!) as well as interviews. Since people are most interested in illustrated reports, that’s what we decided to focus on for the 2009 edition. Interviews were a nice bonus, for I had agreed with Roadrunner, for example, that our intervies should be huge. So we met with Robb Flynn from Machine Head, and we interviewed Brutal Truth with Season of Mist. Two interviews is not a lot, but we wanted to focus on something else. By posting a three-day report, a tour diary and a couple of interviews, we mananged to offer a rather varied report of the Hellfest 2009. And because you know us by now, you’ll guess that we’re already working on what we could improve for the next edition!

An overview.

Above is a panoramic view that we often used during the shows. This high platform is located right between to the two main scenes and makes it possible to have an overview of a band’s performance. It was, for example, very impressive to witness Gojira’s Mario’s drumming skills on a giant screen. Eyes closed, the guy delivered a performance made even more incredible thanks to the closeness of the camera. It’s nice to see that technology can sometimes highten the communion between a band and their audience. Quite unexplicably, access to the platform will be forbidden (very politely and nicely, mind you) to journalists. Technically, said platform is designed for the disabled – and of course, if disabled people cannot even see the show from there, it just won’t do, and that’s absolutely undertandable. But are there really people who would be dumb enough to stand in front of a disabled person and block the view? Well, apparently, yes. And as a result, everyone else is punished. Human stupidity knows no bound. I hope the organization will be able to find a good comprise next year.

Huge atmosphere

How could I talk about the Hellfest 2009 without mentioning those who make it what it is – the audience. The atmosphere was once again excellent, and we witnessed and/or took part in circle pits, stage divings and other tricks with the greatest pleasure. During our peregrinations, we also met several odd specimens (see our pictures) as well as very nice people. It was also a chance to meet several forumers and members of Radio Metal. On a side note, this year’s Hellfest was livened up by the incredible Pastor of Muppets, who offered several magical shows!

That’s the guy to blame!

This fourth edition of the Hellfest was, in short, a complete success – despite the theft of one of our banners! Ben Barbaud can therefore be very proud of the 2009 vintage, which made many festivalgoers really happy – the vast majority of which will be back next year. Speaking of which, 300 tickets to the 2010 edition have already been sold during over the three days of the festival. Not bad at all! A name has already been announced: Immortal. That’s going to be fun. And Radio Metal will be there, of course!

Hellfest 2010: Radio Metal will be there!

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