As you might know, I was at the Wacken-Festival 2018. I didn’t have time to write something about it until now.
Wait, what are you talking about? What is “Wacken”?
Well, Wacken is, if I remember correctly, the largest Heavy-Metal-Festival in Europe (maybe in the world?). Almost every Band in this genre was there. All ages, all ethnic groups and me and my best friend in the middle.
What are you doing there? Mainly listening to music and meeting people from all around the globe and of course drink lot’s of alcoholic drinks (not everyone!).
In the upcoming paragraphs, I want to give some insight on how it is to be there.
The whole trip started on a hot Sunday evening with a VW-T4 full of stuff and two rested people. We had about 1200 Kilometers to drive with a maximum speed of about 100 Kilometers per Hour. So, sticking to the numbers, it should have been only a 12-hour ride. Well, I don’t think I’ll have to explain that it took longer. :)
Sidenote: Christoph, the best friend I mentioned, had a serious ankle injury two weeks before we started.
So we took off to the north with lot’s of anticipation, as both of us weren’t there before, and a very hurting ankle. The best thing about the drive was that the whole time it had about 40 degrees C inside the Bus. Perfect for two, not so lightweight, guys. (Yes, irony, good catch.)
After hours of driving, we arrived in Hamburg where we collected some dry-ice to cool our drinks. Now we were only about 2 hours away from Wacken. You can’t imagine the feeling after 18 hours of driving and arriving in one piece.
There was only one downside. It was mid-day and the sun was ruthlessly burning down on our heads. We needed to get the tent up as fast as possible and we did. :)
At the Campground
Now, what are you doing two days before the festival starts? Well, you sit down and chat a whole lot. Even if you go to sleep at 4 am, you’re up again on 7 am. At least we were.
But there are also “things” happening around you
The day we arrived, we built our pavilion right beside the T4. As our pavilion wasn’t 100 percent water resistant we had to put a tarpaulin above the whole thing. Since we drove 18 hours I think our brains didn’t work 100 percent accurate anymore, so we lifted the whole thing bevor we put the tarpaulin on. Good thing our neighbor was two heads taller than one of us, so he helped us.
Later the same day I smelled some weed somewhere around us. No, we didn’t smoke some ourself and we also didn’t check out where the smell was coming from. (Oh, and before you ask, I know how weed is smelling, as I work as paramedic sometimes.)
A few days later some really strange thing happened in the middle of the night. Christopher was already sleeping and snoring like an old walrus. Great, good thing we had earbuds with us. Anyway, out of nowhere, I saw a shadow in one of the pavilions edges. The only thing I could notice was that he or she had a cowboy hat on. I didn’t see the person, only the shadow, but boy was I sure she or he was staring at our place. The next thing what happened was that the person got closer to our night’s lodging. And I mean really close.
After a few minutes or hours of sweating like a pig (does the metaphor exist in English?), the person turned again and walked away. I’m still curious what his or her thoughts were.
Neighbors and festival visitors
One thing I noticed the whole time is the friendliness of the people at this festival. Yes, there are drunk people but I didn’t see anything inappropriate the whole week.
Even families with their kids were there and they were treated very respectfully. Everybody was treated respectfully. And I think that’s a great statement, against almost all not-respectful. And if 80000 people can be respectful to each other, it should be possible everywhere!
Bands & Stages
Let’s get to next part. Bands and Stages. Wacken has three main stages. Faster, Harder and Louder. Faster and Harder right next to each other (only one of them is always in use) and Louder a bit further away. Normally Faster and Louder are in use at the same time as they are far enough away from each other so they don’t interfere.
There is also the Metal Church, which is according to my knowledge, only played once. In 2018 it was Doro who played there. And yes, it’s a real church. The church of the village. Interestingly enough there was also a religious service right before Doro’s concert. I think nobody knew about that. Well, at least we didn’t. :)
Let’s get into detail on some performances.
I thought about buying a ticket for their tour the year before, luckily they were at Wacken. I know they don’t really play metal but they performed some rock classics (ACDC, Guns’n’Roses, …). I was pretty impressed by them. Also, Christoph didn’t think that two guys playing on cellos could bring that much mood into the masses. Well, they did. And everybody sang along Highway to hell, even though they hadn’t a vocalist on stage.
A Band I think I heard the first time one or two weeks before the festival. Great to check them out. Especially interesting is their use of three “voices” on stage. One female and two male, where the female singer in the league of Nightwish (Symphonic Metal FTW!), one male clear and the other the typical growling. Pretty impressive.
Well, not much to say. Great show and great performance. It was crazy how high Rob Halford can go in his famous screams.
Again a band I would like to see a concert from them alone. We stood a little further back in the crowd but Floor Jansen did a great job. And I think she’s totally a benefit for the band. I mean there is now second Tarja Turunen but Floor is way better than Anette Olzon. At least on the albums. Sadly I can’t compare the live performances of all three.
Some say she’s the best, some hate her. I think I’m on the later. She did a pretty good performance in the church, but am I the only one who thinks all her songs sound the same? Anyway, on the main stage, she managed to get The Sweet up but I don’t know what happened there. Somehow she managed to completely wreck the Ballroom Blitz. I can’t even describe it. This year, The Sweet will be there at their own. We’ll see how it goes.
Last but not least, Ghost. A Swedish band behind Frontman and Mastermind Tobias Forge. I was at a concert from them in 2017 and from there on I fell in love with their music and stage performance. Christoph was a little bit skeptic first but I convinced him and we were at the second row in the crowd. It was a pretty long day if I remember correctly they started playing around 3 am and both of us were thinking we had bleeding feet (as you are always walking around the whole day). But for the concert, all was forgotten and we were thrilled by the experience. The Cardinal did a great job and even everybody knows who the cardinal is, there is still some “magic” around this band.
The last thing to say is that I can’t wait to be there again. It was such a great time. And the setlist is already very promising.
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Edit 2019–02–10: Corrected some spelling.