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WACKEN OPEN AIR 2009 BY FLORIAN


Festival : Wacken Open Air[/urlb]
Place: Wacken (Germany)
Date: 2009-07-30 / 2009-08-01
Audience: 80 000 people over 3 days


Wacken 2009: here we go !

We were meant to leave for Wacken on the 29th of July (Wednesday) afternoon from the Munchen railway. But our big road trip will last in fact the whole day: it took me over 7 hours to do the 170 km from my hometown to Munchen! I got every single weird thing on the way: suicide under my train, police control, hitchhiking in the car of a weird looking guy, accidents and trafic jams on the highway, having the impression to be on the wrong way while in a casino of a squalid highway motel… Even before the festival starts, it’s already rock’n’roll, baby! I still got the bus by a hair’s breadth… well as for the rest, it’s a 12 hours trip with an Indian chum from whom I got the ticket to Heaven, a drunk teenage gang shouting at the Devil, our extremely comely Bock-Tours hostess (the bus company) and a young damsel giving us a lecture on the benefit of Hello Kitty when flirting… This point having me unconvinced to say the least, but being a huge fan and an expert on this Japanese pink cat, I’ll leave the point open for Metallo’s reactions.

Finally we get to the small town of Wacken at around 4:30 am. Time for our busdriver to find the camping site (let’s say 30 minutes since he got lost 4 times…), it’s pouring rain. Some hearsays about Doro doing her soundcheck just some time before end up running around. The main consequence of this morning rain: the camp site is a swamp and thus we can’t install our tent, brought by my Indian chum. The one tent we have is no Quechua 2″ that all the Frenchies on the camp proudly install. No sir, it is a relic, a tent probably dating from the English colionalist area and who is bloody hell to put up. Apart from that, believe me or not, the guy went under a tarpaulin, began to sing for 30 minutes in Hindi and the rain stopped…. to start again smack when we were finished burying our last tent peg in the ground! Three hours’ sleep later, we get rolling for serious things.


An ocean of tents…

After a difficult wake-up call, time for us to get accustomed to our surroundings. The entrance is done with a huge Metal Market where I’ll spend most of my day. Actually, the first low point I’ll get will be there: the major part of this area is free to access, but you have to pay to get under the biggest tent where all the record dealers are. Seeing the price we pay for the fest, I’m not happy with having to pay again to get to another part of the Market (even if the fee is real low).

For the rest of it (the free part of the Market), the stands are mainly dedicated to the clothes shops: black T-Shirts, babies bibs (also black), goth clothes, stands that are almost totally dedicated to horns and leather paraphernalia, leather rock jacket and patches, military paraphernalia, etc. In short, the ideal area to redo the Doc’s wardrobe. Lost amidst this small world, a very odd stand attracts a whole bunch of onlookers. This stand, a kind of earthly paradise for Fucktoy, offers a large range of wooden sextoys (!!!), or vibrating, pearled, XXL, studded toys… Everyone could find something fittting. Hey reader, I feel I got your attention here. If you have an eagle eye, you might be able to read the address on the picture.


Welcome to Fucktoy’s paradise.

After various purchases on the Market, it is time to go and see the rest. We’re not going to dress a list of all the offered services, as often when speaking of German events, but we have to pay tribute to the organization. I never had any troubles finding anything, the information check points have always given me the right answer (no line, on top of that!), ATM machines installed specially on the festival grounds, the toilet blocks being ever-present and cleaned many times a day, the catering and refreshment areas were all over the site, and even during rush hours, you never had to wait longer than three minutes to have your beer or your pizza at an affordable price.

Only the merchandising stands suffer from a huge line whereas there’s a bunch of them all over. I counted over ten of them. It comes from the fact that the Germans are all fanatics of the Wacken and that they are willing to pay huge amounts for a T-shirt, a mug or a camping chair with the logo on it. A welcome enterprise on these stands: they sold pocket raincoat for a token 1€ . Seeing the weather forecast over the three days of the festival, it was great. Last but not the least, the « Wacken Super Market » ever present on the site as well as on the camp grounds. Actually they’re like the 7/11 of the festival: open late at night, with not too fresh veggies at the front, and prices quite high compared to a normal supermarket… But always useful when you are in dire need of a bottle of white wine at 4 am. All the more so as they also had half liter cans of beer specially done for the Wacken who will come only for the tidy sum of 1,5€. A good option from the draft beers when the thickness of your wallet reminds you more of a Somali in summer than a Bavarian after two weeks of Oktoberfest.


Beer over the world!

At the end, we will only enter the concerts site by the end of the afternoon, as Der W is on the stage and spill their German rock… very German. Those of you who have already crossed the Rhenan border for a few weeks (or more) certainly know what I mean. Our Teuton neighbors are deeply attached to their rock scene and they don’t hesitate to show it off as much as possible. The problem being that it is totally beyond understanding for the non-Germans… They do their best to explain that this is the new band of the Böhse Onkelz singer, it is not worth trying and we retreat to the Party Stage to discover the devious Thursday « Secret Show ». We were expecting a big thing with the organization creating this event and especially since the name of the band has been kept under cover till the last minute… And, here it was at it again, German rock. The band is called J.B.O. and the audience seems to be pretty happy with it. But if the « Pink Attitude » of the band and their sense of self-mockery are fun for five minutes, we go away quite quickly from the concert site and take advantage of this musical void to go and empty our bags at the camp site. On a personal note, I’m wondering nevertheless the place of these bands in a metal festival as famous as the Wacken is. Especially on the bigger stages. Very well, their lyrics are funny and sounds like our favorite music but with the sound they get on stage, there’s no way for the amateur to appreciate the lyrics unless you understand German…

Back to the camp site which has greatly filled in since the morning. Our prehistoric tent, still alone this morning, is surrounded on all sides… Mainly Frenchies. We even get to have people from Clisson as our direct neighbors! Enough time to do a round trip to the camping and to get lost at least three times and I’m back on the concert site for the beginning of the Running Wild show, a famous band doing speed/heavy. But the crowd is already queuing for Heaven & Hell, the huge headliner of the festival. Besides, the almost identical layout of this stage and the Black Stage (where Running Wild is playing) means we almost don’t miss a thing of the savage runners’ show, and above all, we are getting the atmosphere. In fact, the band plays at home tonight to celebrate their 30-year-long carreer, the band having released their first album in 1981. The crowd is already acquired to the cause and sing along every title of the band. Rolf Kasparek appears to be in great shape and speaks a lot with his fans. The show ends after an hour on the anthems of « Under Jolly Roger » and « Raise Your Fist », during which the crowd became a huge ocean of raised fists where the privateer of our pirates would have loved to sail. Meanwhile, my Indian chum and some other unconscious people are enjoying the show of Lacuna Coil since their time slot was overlaping the show of Running Wild and the beginning of Heaven & Hell…


Metal, it’s also all that

After an half hour’s wait dedicated to fruitless discussion with our neighbors (so is H&H Black Sabbath or not?), the quartet enter the stage and start up front with « Mob Rules » to get everybody on the same line. Tonight’s setlist is mainly taken from Deshumanizer. As for the rest, we get the now classical « Bible Black » and solis from almost all the musicians, even Vinny Appice. The strange setting of his drums (with toms also above his head) gives a peculiar look to his solo. Apart from Vinny, Dio has quite a voice and manages to be everywhere on the huge stage. His charisma even gets through to us thanks to the big screens who overflow us with close-ups of the guy singing. On the opposite, Geezer Butler is really discreet. You can hear his bass real well (my hat off to the sound ingeneer who managed a quality mix) but the guy is almost invisible, outshined by the duet Dio / Iommi. Iommi’s solos really went way beyond for the audience. The show ends on the epic « Heaven & Hell ». As is customary when you play live this summer, the version offered in Wacken lasts for almost twenty minutes with a humongous solo from Iommi with mind-expanding backgrounds. Same for the light show on this last song which goes far in the details, you can only imagine the work behind, so that the atmosphere can reach a peak. The show ends at midnight on a standing ovation and a wild curtain call from the audience. The after-effects of the trip and a night way too short, we go back to the camp grounds to have a well-deserved rest. The outcome of this first day is very upbeat. The only big disappointment will be that the organization planned Grand Magus at the same time as Heaven & Hell. All these overlappings are frustrating, and on this one, the two bands have the same kind of audience. So we didn’t get the chance to see the Swedish show.

The second day strats at 10, when the morning sun turns our tent into a sauna. Having nothing planned this morning, we decide to take a stroll into the Metal Market and then to go and do some shopping into town. It is impressive to see how the villagers have gotten used to the festivalgoers in these last twenty years. Now they’ve all turned their gardens into mini bars or terrasses for breakfast. Little girls are trying to get some change by selling bits of cakes at 50 cents a piece, whereas the elders have installed their seats in the streets and watch with an amused look the horde of festivalgoers going by with their packs of freshly bought beers. There are even some villagers that rent the access to their shower for 4€ in case some false metalheads would like to wash (take out my filth? you’re kidding! Metal spirit is the smell of perspiration and hairs under your armpits). The minimarket is always full with metalheads who came to get their beers even cheaper than on site (let’s say 60 cents half a liter for the fest beer, and 25 cents for the cheapest) and the line at the cash register is unbelievable. Even more since a TV crew is trying to interview the market teller at the same time…

So it is with our bags filled with various drinks that I go back to the camp site. After a mainly sunny day, the rain seems to be coming back a bit before leaving again. We end up going back to the festival site at the end of the afternoon to see the end of the set of Nevermore. A gang of streakers covered in mud take the opportunity to show us their genital parts and one of them thinks it’s funny to hug me real close thus sharing all his mud with my brand new T-shirt. I still manage to get to the concert site in one piece. Seeing that my Indian chum has weird musical tastes and that I discovered this fact last night and having nothing better to do, I get with him to see Dragonforce on the Party Stage.


Wacken: metal land… with some businesses!

And frankly, it was a surprise but I had a great time! The dudes are doing quite a show, and seem to be conscious of the somewaht ridiculous side of their music. So they outdo themselves. The musicians run all over the place and jump everywhere (trampolines have been set up on stage), pose as often as they can, etc. A huge special note for the keyboard player with his yellow cock-tight pants, his bright red hair and his pink portable keyboards. They really seem to enjoy themselves on stage and their energy is infectious. The crowd, a bit slow at the beginning (let it be said that it is only 6 pm), gets progressively in the mood. Most of the big hits are played, and the drummer actually gives us a nice show of his velocity on « Fury Of The Storm ». The show ends with the hit that became cult thanks to Guitar Hero: « Thought The Fire And Flames », with the intro revisited with an accoustic guitar this time.The crowd sing along all they can on the chorus for the grand final. Nice concert despite a small daint in the pretty picture: the guitars are a bit under mixed and so the solos are blurry. Too bad, for a bit more volume would have done the trick.

My friend then goes to the True Metal Stage to see Hammerfall and Bullet For My Valentine one after the other. As for me, I chose to see the shows from the beer garten perspective, while enjoying some liters of beer. The Wacken is the only place I know where the Germans are allowed to serve Heffe Weizen in a Maß. In Bavaria, such a crime would have been punished in the harshest way… I meet there a metalhead dad and his lucky son: the daddy wanted to go to the Wacken with his friends, and he took his son and one of his friends with them in the road trip. We talked about everything and nothing during an hour and he confirmed what I thought about the drinks: even for a German festival, the prices are really low. Having been at the Rock Am Ring this year, he told me that the prices were twice as high. The festival spirit is funny: some encounters, some talks, some exchanges.


Another metal warrior !

Well, it’s 9.30 pm when I get back in the concerts arena to see the concert announced as Motörhead feat. Fuel Girls. It was my first Motörhead concert and I think the last. I understood with this show what the journalists mean with the old saying « a band on autopilot ». The spirit is not there. The band doesn’t move on stage, Lemmy getting out every four songs, leaving his musicians to do the show while he’s not there. We almost feel like they’re not having fun on stage, and the few trials at a joke done by Lemmy won’t change anything. As soon as the fourth song, boredom is my middle name (let’s say that being under the impression of hearing the same song over and over is not helping). I still stay a bit in the hope of having a good lookout at the bodies of the Fuel Girls. But after 45 minutes in the show, I’m left with no hopes at all and thus decide to go to the W.E.T. Stage.

I get there a bit after the start of the Insidious Disease show, the all-star-band featuring in no particular order Groo of Morgoth, Silenoz of Dimmu Borgir, Shane Embury of Napalm Death, Tony Laureano (ex-drummer of Nile, Dimmu Borgir) and Jadar of Old Man’s Child. By overseeing the experience of these members, we know that we won’t have to deal with jazz, or symphonic power. Truly, we get big bloody death. The sound is good, played at last at the metal volume (the volume on the outdoor stages is ridiculously low, even when Motörhead is playing) and the audience, even if not in number, is receptive. With Insidious Disease, we’re having a great time watching them tearing apart the ears of the first rows. What is nice with this band is getting back this atmosphere of a real concert that was lacking on the other stages. There’s a real reciprocation and a closeness with the audience that the other stages can’t have because of their layouts. I also understand at this moment why I came here, it’s not to see the concerts on big screens, even if they’re huge. To get that, I plug in my VCR at home. The show of Insidious Disease is very short (not even half an hour) and, once it’s over, I decide to get down and closer to the stage to see Eths.

I manage quite easily to get to the first ranks. Without any surprise, my neighbors are all French, except for one German who decided to do all the concerts of the evening against the security ramp. Once the band get on stage to do the sound check, a major part of the crowd on the front rows start to sing the French Anthem. They’ll be soon followed by the rest of the Frenchies in the whole crowd. The guitar player strats his check and I quickly understand that my ears are going to bleed. Reinforced feeling when the drummer starts: each bang on his bass drums is like a huge punch. For that matter, all my neighbors were quick to get their ear-plugs in. The more the check goes on, the more I wonder if it is really Eths and not Manowar coming on stage, given the power of the sound! The show starts right on time (23h35) with two of their hits: « Samantha » and « Crucifère ». The sound is really loud and heavy, but not at all untidy. Only the clear singing is a bit under-mixed. The band’s production sounds even better live than on CD! It’s more peppy, less linear and cold. And I was thinking that a neo band singing in French and playing at a German festival that was mostly hard rock / heavy metal was going to be all alone… On the contrary, their infectious energy gets the room to fill in and it gets crowded. Let’s say that their timing is not that easy since on the other stages In Flames, Epica and Mambo Kurt are playing. Candice has got a voice and is helped by a bass player as good as her to occupy the space. The concert ends after 45 minutes without any breaks. A convincing show.


Sarke

Once Eths out of the stage, I stay where I am since it is Sarke’s turn. Sarke is the name of a multi-instrument player having played in many well or not well-known black metal bands (Thullul, Khold, Valhall… ). It’s also the name that he gave to his band, in which he is helped by Nocturno Culto (do I really need to introduce him?) on vocals. Actually the audience knows more this band by his singer than by his creator, as proven by the « Darkthrone! Darkthrone! Darkthrone! » chanted by the crowd during the soundcheck. The WET Stage is beginning to be filled a bit before the beginning of the show. Let’s say that the only other choice to this concert is Doro and that every clever non-German needs to flee (my Indian chum has stayed… even he couldn’t last the whole concert. He ran when she tried her hand… I mean her voice at « Breaking The Law » of Judas Priest and was pissed off the rest of the week-end by what he saw as the « worst cover he ever heard »).

The band come up on stage a bit before 1 am for an hour of black/thrash old school. Sarke (the musician) is not an octopus, he only does the bass on stage, leaving the guitar to Cyrus (Susperia, Satyricon, Dimmu Borgir), the keyboards to Anders Hunstad (Tulus) and the drums to Asgeir Mickelson (Borknagar, Testament, Spiral Architect). I never heard this band before the Wacken, and I was really bewitched by their dark and slow music. Nocturno Culto, even if a bit drunk, really manages to create a filthy atmosphere with his voice. At the end, I was under the impression that the hour of the show had lasted only a few minutes. After having done their whole songbook, the band is met by another legend: Tom Gabriel Warrior of the deceased Celtic Frost. Nocturno Culto takes the second guitar and the show ends on « Dethroned Emperor ». It’s interesting to see how this song of Celtic Frost is well integrated in their playlist, the atmosphere being almost the same as Sarke’s. I get slowly out of my dreamy state on this last bit to shoot Tom G. a bit.

Once Sarke is out of stage, we stay in the front row for Pentagram, who are supposed to be on the WET Stage in thirty minutes. My departure for the Wacken having been decided at the last minute, I didn’t really have the time to prepare and to plan the bands I wanted to see. I expected to see a legend of American doom. I got in front of a death Band from Chili! On the moment I was as surprised as disappointed: how could I be mistaken on that band? Was I stubborn enough to keep on thinking it was the American Pentagram? Looking for an answer, I later opened the festival guide for the second time. The « apprentice » who did the job fucked up: if the description is the right one (Chili), the picture is the American Pentagram. Disappointed as I was, I didn’t give any chance to the Chilian band and went to the biergarten to have a maß while listening to Amon Amarth.


The dudes are out!

Once my beer finished, I go back to the concerts site to see the end of the Vikings’ show and meet my friend again. Following the above-mentioned events, he calls me to tell me that he left the fest during the Doro concert. I decide that I won’t go back at once on the camp site but want to get an idea of what nightlife on the fest is. While strolling around, I meet a Canadian that came a month in Europe for his vacation. He managed to have a stop over in Wacken after having done the Hellfest. I take this opportunity to have an outside view: « in between the French and the Germans, who’s got the biggest? ». The answer is straight, as you would have assumed, « we have the biggest ». Even if he recognizes the unique organization in Wacken, he finds this festival too big, even almost inhuman. The Hellfest, with its lower audience, manages to keep its soul. As for the program (I’ll come back on that later), he was more convinced by Clisson.

After this unbiased perspective, I go back to the WET Stage for the Metal Karaoke. After two songs, I ran with bleeding ears. Drunk Germans singing (with the accent please) Priest or Maiden, it’s too much for me. I will keep the details to myself and my shrink and I leave in search of some alcohol to forget. It’s almost 4 am when I realize that I haven’t been to the medieval village yet… But for sure, at 4 am, everything is closed down… Except for the drinking booths. The most impressive one, at the entrance, has the shape of a drakkar and serves viking blood in earthen cups. I get to the bar and order some. To my right, a band of Frenchies talks about balls ablation and videos where they open a penis with a scalpel. I then decide to start a conversation with my other neighbor, a German in his 40’s working in the building trade. Let’s say that we have a nice 2 hours’ chat like any drunken guys can have. I end up doing another tour of the deserted site and get to sleep at around 7 am, while the sun is already shining.

I wake up at 10 am on saturday morning after 3 long hours of sleep, for the last day of the festival. My Indian mate pleading with me for extra sleep, I go directly to the medieval village (in bright light this time). I get there when the battle is at the utmost between two gangs of knights. I watch the show before going to have black tea in a stall. Once the tea drunk, I walk the aisles of this part of the festival that time seems to have forgotten. The location, offset from the heart of the hostilities, is much calmer. It is easy to find a seat and unwind. Especially since unlike the previous two days, the weather this Saturday will show clemency in the morning. On the medieval market, you can find are sellers of medieval jewelry and clothing, toy weapons for role-sized games, carved horns, Nordic runes… And especially taverns. Actually, some of them also offer a service that surprised me: hot baths! at the same place where other people drink. Thus, it was possible to drink your beer splashing stark naked in a hot bath. Another feature of the medieval market is to have even lower prices than the festival. Thus, it is possible to find a Coke for only € 1.5 and a thick slice of quiche for 2.5 €. Having taken another cup of blood at the drakkar in order to give me strength for the day, I returned to see the Metal Market CDs until the show of Cathedral at 2.15.


Florian live!!!

What I didn’t know was that the Metal Market also housed an indoor arena, and that on this scene took place a morning strip show to wake up our brains, still foggy from the day before. I quickly leave my musical research to try and find a good spot near the stage. We will get two girls for the stripping this morning. The first plays it « flamenco-style”. She’s not bad, but really looks like a porn star. Not very glamorous or chic, with her three piercings on the Mount of Venus. She is, however, backed by an advantageous soundtrack : only in Wacken will the strippers get their moves on Manowar! She also has the merit of putting us in the mood for the second one, who really is a sex bomb! Glamorous in a black latex corset, I say yes. In addition, her eyes are beautifully perverse and thanks to them there’s a rise in the temperature. So when the lady needed a male partner, you will understand that out of pure journalistic interest, I dedicated myself to assist her. I’m on stage, she gets me to sit down and here we go for the rest of the show at the only right place to be. A little lapdance here, a helping hand in the stripping there, the show was another highlight of the fest! I guess a little less for the rest of the audience who cursed me for being where I was …


Cathedral

Following this epic show, I head for the Black Stage and for Cathedral. The strip-show made me slightly miss the start of the show from the Brits. I think I remeber that I arrived at the front of the stage while the introductory riff of Oro « The Manslayer » rang out. The pit is scarse (not to say that the concert is deserted … It seems that this is due to a concert given by Onkel Tom at the same time). This allows me, even arriving after the start of the show, to make my way to the security fence, slightly offset to the left of the stage. The band rock anyway… At least at the beginning of the concert. Following some quite heavy tracks, the band changed completely their set in the middle of their show to put forward their doomer side. Several seconds elapse between each keystroke by Brian Dixon, the guitars become hypnotic and Lee Dorian seems inhabited by his music. He does a few well-known and often ridiculous gimmicks (mimicking a hanging with the microphone, moving like a zombie with the mic stuck in his mouth). But the way he does it, supported by their most crooked music, really gives an unhealthy aura to his performance. In general, you cannot say that Lee Dorrian is the light of the party in this concert and seems almost possessed by his music. Even after this doomer than doom interlude, when the band re-gear on the heavier tracks (the stoner-pop joy of « Corpsecycle » that a band such as Torch would not deny), Lee seems to remain possessed. The concert ends after an hour of show. The outcome is not really clear: both the construction and the interpretation of the playlist are significant, but getting into the atmosphere of the show is tricky. This is probably due to the size of the stage and the perfect sunshine on this early afternoon that does not really suits the atmosphere developed by the band.

Right after that, I get back to the medieval village for a few fun activities but I misjudge my timing for I return to the concert site at the end of the set of Volbeat (that I wanted to see). And just before the cover of Slayer’s « Raining Blood », which closed their show that day. I still stay to listen to Machine Head who play right after. I was even more impatient to see them since I really liked their latest album, The Blackening. But from the beginning on, something does not work for me. I don’t know if it’s the sound or if I am too far from the stage or if I’m too tired, but I leave the crowd after the second song. Having some free time before Gwar, I want to try to negotiate a lift up the Jägermeister bar which is suspended over 50 feet above the crowd. The view from above is simply gorgeous and thus I enjoy the Saxon show from up in the sky.


Wacken from the sky!

I return to the concert site shortly before Gwar and select my point of view based on the giant screens and not really on the stage. We know the reputation of the band live… If their poop kind of sense of humor directed as a kind of ultra gore Celebrity Deathmatch is right on target, you can’t say the same for their music. Lucky for me, there are many shows on stage, because music wise I’ll be bored stiff. But the insolence with which they dismantle everyone (children, presenters, Hillary Clinton, Obama, themselves …) and the sheaves of monstrous blood flowing into the first row offset this lack of music. The sound is good, the musicians are in place, the compositions are interesting… The band, who were supposed to stop at 1.50 to make way for the organizers, announced that they’ll play two more songs. And what songs! One of them lasted more than ten minutes, and we saw coming on stage aliens that defied them and a giant T-Rex that they will eventually cleave with loads of blood. After this song, while Subway To Sally has already started their set, they flip on a final piece of bravery before leaving the stage. In the end, they sure have exceeded the time indicated on the plan, completely obscuring the acknowledgements of the organizers and delaying the concert of Subways on the True Metal Stage (???). My final word is that you should never trust ex-punks.

Subway To Sally invest the main stage at 2.10 to close the festival. I take this opportunity to escape (again) to the biergarten where I met a completely stuffed guy (very nice incidentally) who wished to talk to me about totally incoherent stuff (just like the old guy from the toilet scene in La Haine). I shut him down totally and realize what is happening (or rather not happening): Subway To Sally, the dregs of Folk-Rock are ending the twentieth edition of Wacken, the so-called biggest festival in the world! What is happening here? How is it that for such an important event as the twentieth anniversary of a festival as big as Wacken, they end up having such poor headliners?

We need to sum up all this, and how can I not make a comparison with the Hellfest, one of its direct and most important competitors. The Hellfest, after only four years of existence, offers on a silver tray headliners as important as Motley Crue, Heaven & Hell, Marilyn Manson, Dream Theater, Europe and Manowar (!!!). The Wacken, to celebrate its 20th anniversary gives us… almost nothing. Heaven & Hell were also there after the Hellfest, Motörhead and a farewell show of Running Wild. As for the rest, we almost only got youngsters that are making it happen (which is good, but they don’t have the shoulders to assume the top of the bill for a festival meant to be this size) and old guys refusing to admit that they have done, and let’s say outstretch their time. Even for the indiest of the bands, Wacken plays the easy deal by having not so many interesting bands, happy to have the « superbands » and the side projects of Mr X from the band Y. This program, which is as delicious as a Currywurst bought from the Turks in the early morning, really left us with a bad taste in our mouth. Everyone agrees that this is the worst programming we’ve ever seen in Wacken for a long time. The fact that it is for the twentieth anniversary of the fest portends the worst for the future. The saddest part of this story is that none of the Germans with whom I have discussed throughout the festival has heard of the Hellfest. Nevertheless, I say and repeat that the program this year was a disgrace.


Wacken’s flame!

Without talking about the programmation, it remains that the fest is a worthwhile experience for all metalheads. It’s a bit like a timeless village of indomitable beer drinkers. The atmosphere is awesome, and the extra concert activities are varied (so much so that despite the few concerts I attended, I was never bored). The experience, served by a great organization, remains very positive. I do not regret to have gone for a single moment. This huge audience (we’re talking 80 000 people) has a furious taste of come again. It is also well set in the calendar: the first week of August is the one that follows the end of exams in Germany (unlike the Hellfest which is during their exams).

The bus that is taking us back to Munich leaves at 8 am, I meet back my favorite Indian chum and we decide to do an all nighter before folding the tent at the first light of dawn. As one of the stupidest tradition in Wacken has it, some of our neighbors burn their tent before leaving the site. We strolled through the city where we met, around 6 am, foreigners who have difficulty in communicating with a German grocer. Speaking more or less fluent German, I helped them solve their problem of fish sandwich and we ended up having a nice long chat. The guy was actually Eyal Ben Shushan, the bassist of the Israeli band Ferium.


Ferium.

Extremely friendly, the bass player and his two mates explained to me that they were still astonished to be there. Indeed, for their first concert outside of Israel, the band played at Wacken! The bass player explains that they feel like they were living a fairy tale. Let’s hope that the future will continue to hold special favors for them (especially since their future is stretching ahead of them. I don’t want to make any risky assumptions, but the bassist seems to be 16 years old at the most. Treading the boards of Wacken at this age can really portend well for the result). I take my time in appreciating this morning out of time, where the festival is over but where the post-festival period has not started yet… so I leave it up to my mate to fold the tent while I watch the morning mist rise on the almost deserted site. 22 hours later I’ll be home with my head full of nice memories, painstakingly trying to put them on a sheet of paper. And, despite the problems in the programmation, a fierce desire to return remains…


We’ll be back!

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