At the Festival: Wacken

As the billing for next year becomes better and better by each passing day I’m kinda forced to finally write the post I’ve postponed since August and just like the title suggests: This post is about the Wacken Open Air or short Wacken or even shorter the W:O:A.

Wacken, is that something you can eat?

For those of you who really don’t know what Wacken is – it is said such people still exist: Wacken itself is a small village in Schleswig Holstein and each year, for 22 years now, the number of inhabitants multiplies several times throughout the first weekend of August (2011 it were 4.885,85% or 4,885.85% of the original population) during one of the major Heavy Metal festivals in the world (they even claim it’s the largest).
This year (2012) was my fourth time – and the third one in a row – at the Wacken Open Air and I’d like to review these past years and share some of my experiences.

Back in the day…

I don’t really remember when or how it was that I first heard about this festival, but I do remember that I would have liked to attend it way earlier than I really did. It sounded like fun and a lot of good music, but apparently my parents thought I was too young at that time, so hitting the age of majority my very first Wacken was in 2008.

That year a childhood friend of mine (Blackwolf), two guys from my class back then, one of their girlfriends and I went there together for our first festival ever. Though the other three just tagged along for the ride and had their own schedule. Originally, I think, we planned on meeting up with IceWolf, as he is a friend of Blackwolf, but he couldn’t make it that year – and by now is not interested in this kind of festival anymore.

When you experience something for the first time it is always fascinating. I remember being all hyper and exclaiming: “We’re in Wacken. We’re really in Wacken” all the way to the booth where we got our festival bracelets. Halfway through Blackwolf became pretty annoyed by it, but I can’t blame her for that, as it was quite annoying in my excitement…

The area: From U to the stage area

The area: From U to the stage area

We planned on seeing so many bands, but unfortunately BlackWolf felt sick (which is no surprise as it was hot as hell…) and couldn’t really participate in all of them. Besides that did we camp at the end of the camping area (U – if this letter means anything to you), so just going to a concert wasn’t that easy as it took us about 45 minutes to even get to the entrance of the stage area.

If “U” is just a letter to you: The camping area for the festival stretches over several fields owned by farmers from different villages. So “camping in Wacken” doesn’t necessarily mean you’re camping IN Wacken. It might as well mean you’re camping three villages further away and area U is one of the farthest off areas.

Anyway, before Blackwolf felt that bad, that she couldn’t accompany me anymore we managed to see some fun concerts together.

Our longest day was the Thursday, the Night to Remember – as they called it back then.
It started with Sturm & Drang and Leaves Eyes at the Party Stage and though we hadn’t really planned on seeing them, the concerts were good. Leaves Eyes even had a giant Viking boat on stage.
Instead of Icewolf one of his friends accompanied us and as he is quite a tall guy it was really helpful when we went to Iron Maiden that evening and he “rescued” us from all those annoying Crowd Surfers.

On Friday we wanted to see Avantasia and I felt so bad when I went there alone, when Blackwolf decided to stay at the camping side and I still hope I could at least tell her about the concert in a way as if she had been there herself.
But before that we managed to see Sonata Arctica together. Sitting by the side at the end of the stage area and simply enjoying the music.
We also tried to get an autograph of the Avantasia guys, but the queue was too long and a lot of people stood there that were already waiting for the band after them, so we didn’t manage to get one. 😦
When I later arrived at the stage area to see Avantasia, Van Canto just started with their show on the W.E.T. stage (a tent-stage), but as the other concert started just shortly afterwards I only could see some of their first songs before walking across the area for the main stages.
While waiting for Avantasia to start I even heard some of the last songs from Corvus Corax (Cantus Buranus). You can see that the main stages are quite huge, but if you see it packed with an orchestra, then you definitely know it’s enormous. And that’s what Corvus Corax did: One side of the stage was an orchestra, the other a choir and in the between the band itself, which are about ten people as well…so masses of people on the stage.
As Avantasia is a co-operational project with many different musicians, brought together by Edguy‘s Tobias Sammet, they had quite a bunch of people as well, but not that many. When the first chords began to play, I knew that this was what I’ve been waiting for. It was an amazing concert and I still wish that I could have shared this experience with Blackwolf.

The hole

The hole

I can’t really remember what we saw on Saturday. I remember that we wanted to see Lordi and we returned from the stage area when Nightwish started and decided that the new – by now again old – singer wasn’t able to perform the songs to our liking. But I can’t remember what we saw before that…(Note: Looking through the pictures it seemed as if we even where in the stage area for Nightwish, but departed from there, when she started singing XD)
What I remember is that we watched the Wacken FireFighters (the brass band of the village). Though I can’t remember whether it was Saturday or Sunday morning, guess it was Sunday. (Note: It was Friday by the date of the photos XD) But when we returned we met with quite an unpleasant sight: The tent I had borrowed from my dad had a hole in its side.
And by our assumption that was caused by the remaining ash of the small barbeque we had, which toppled over and hit the outer tent. Which only could have been done by the guys from school…(or someone else, but rationality isn’t a common thing in such moments, so that was simply my first clue). And they of course played innocent. I was in quite a fit about it – and I had any right to be, as my dad is still holding it against me whenever it comes to his mind.
Well, when we left I urged one of the guys to cut out a piece from one of the tents someone else had left behind, so I would be at least able to fix the hole again.
On our way back we/I picked up Nazgul in Elmshorn, to show him around in my part of Germany. Little did I know I would return to that place so many times afterwards.

A Gap before the hat-trick

2009 would have been the next, but no one had time to accompany me. So instead I visited Nazgul in Kassel (the week I mentioned in my travel journal) and DarkFairy at her home. I had a lot of fun that year and DarkFairy and I made quite some progress planning our Novel, but as Wacken only had like three to five bands I would have liked to see, this was a way better way of spending my last official Summer Holidays.

The next year was not just my first year of studying, but also a quite stressful Wacken as the 2010 edition was just at the beginning of my semester. Which meant for me: I had to depart each morning for studying and return at the evening. Luckily Nazgul and I had a secure place in the camp of one of his old friends. Well, at first it didn’t look like we would actually meet up with them as Nazgul had her phone number in a different phone, but coincidentally she and her boyfriend stood at the bracelets booths just when we arrived there to get ours and we just had to re-park.

This time we arrived at Wednesday and were able to see the shows of Fiddler’s Green and the Red Hot Chilli Pipers (mind the last word, it’s not Peppers 😉 They have way better Bagpipes than the Peppers could ever have 😀 )
Two great concerts that even managed to play the rain away. After the Fiddler’s concert I’ve met a Chilean woman, who also waited for an autograph. We exchanged mail addresses, so we could send each other the photos from the concert and as life is busy and I am forgetful I sent my part short before the next Wacken, where we met again.
But back to this one.

When I arrived on Thursday with a fellow student we just hurried to the stage area to see Alice Cooper and – again – Iron Maiden. As Icewolfs friend was at the festival as well I had asked him if I could accompany him to those concerts – to have Crowd Surfer protection again. Somehow Maiden wasn’t as good as they were 2008, even though it was still fascinating to see Bruce Dickinson (the singer) run from one side of the stage to the other and back every few minutes, but it was somehow slower…
Alice was quite fun and it was interesting to see him die every few songs in a different way. =D

The Dragon Boat in the Wackinger Village

The Dragon Boat in the Wackinger Village

On Friday I had several attempts at meeting up with Feuerflügel, who spontaneously came to the festival, and Nazgul at the Wackinger Village. I think it was even the first time they provided this attraction: A more or less medieval area shortly before the stage area, with a stage for medieval bands and a field for Knight tournaments (without horses), Bruchenball, Highland games, LARP fights and so forth.
It also includes the best place to meet: The Dragon Boat (Meat bar).
But before I turned to the village to meet up with Feuerflügel I watched Die Apokalyptischen Reiter on one of the main stages and The Other – as suggested by a colleague of mine – on the W.E.T. stage .

We had fun from the Schelmisch and til the Letzte Instanz concert and simply sat there and talked the time away or alternatively enjoying the concert itself. Her friends who tagged along were a bit…different…though: One of them was fascinated by my teeth, the other claimed me as her property… o.O
Anyway, at some point I went off to see Grave Digger, as it was said they would have Van Canto in their anniversary show and they had. =) They played “Rebellion” with them and Hansi Kürsch from Blind Guardian. The show wasn’t too bad and had some interesting guest appearances. Funny was that the women I stood next to was, like me, simply there for this one song. On the Powerwolf concert I mentioned in one of my last posts I met someone who said, that he liked the songs with the guest stars better than the original ones – as he doesn’t like Chris Brodendahl’s voice.

This was also the first evening where I could drink with the others, but somehow everyone was either celebrating somewhere else or just too tired to sit too long, but I had an interesting conversation with one of the guys regarding his work in Japan and his knowledge about the language and culture, thanks to his studies. As evenings always do, they end at some point, just as this one.

Yet, the next day held some of the concerts I was looking forward to the most.
It all started with W.A.S.P. on the True Metal Stage, but as I was quite tired I simply sat throughout the concert while Nazgul took care of standing through it.
Afterwards we went to see Stratovarious on the Party Stage. It was fun, especially when they played “Hunting High and Low”. I was later asked if they managed to capture the audience like the old frontman did, but I couldn’t tell the difference as I only knew this version. I enjoyed it and that’s what counts for me.

My last concert that day were Edguy. I wanted to see them live for as long as I know them – which is approximately since Icewolf introduced them to me in 2005 or 6 – and the show was great. Nazgul later told me, that I was more excited with each concert, which isn’t much surprising as they were in an order that would lead to such a phenomenon. The Avantasia concert in 2008 was great, but seeing Tobias Sammet with Edguy is different, in a good way. He has an amazing presence on stage, he simply knows how to play with his audience. And for some odd reason the Metal audience doesn’t mind being insulted. They just roar to everything the singer says to them…
Still the concert was fun, though I would have liked them to play some more of their old songs, but you can’t have everything.

Tent-Trouble

Beside some great concerts my tent (a different one, as the other hadn’t been fixed in time) and I, could again not be put into a positive context. Though this time it was more or less my fault. When we arrived on Wednesday I set up my tent and spend the first – freezing – night in it., but when I was at study the next day it was bucketing down and in the trunk of my car was the top of the tent. As a result my tent swam more or less, though Nazgul at least managed to dry some of it until I returned, but some of it was still wet. Therefore I put it in my car and turned up the heating to dry the rest, but when it was dry I didn’t felt like putting it into the tent again so I made myself comfortable in the back of my car – and did so ever since. It is quite comfortable and warm and quiet in it. So no tent needed. 😉
Besides it let to one of the weirdest conversations I had so far.
When he returned from drinking with some random people from another camp, one of the guys from our camp and I engaged into a conversation. Well, a quite uncomfortable one for him, as he set with me on my backseat-bed, but that cramped that his feet fell asleep and he wasn’t able to get out of the car that easily. XD But it was a fun and interesting conversation nonetheless.

And as this is already a long read, I decided to split the post as I have so much more to say about the follow up festivals. So these are my reviews for 2008 to 2010.
The missing ones will be added later.
So stay excited for the continuation. 😉

PoiSonPaiNter

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