Another Wacken Open Air Festival has come and gone. We’ve been fortunate that our publicist buddy Jon Freeman from Freeman Promotions has been guest blogging for us from the festival. We’ve enjoyed his beer fueled coverage of Day 1 and Day 2. Now, without further ado, here’s Jon’s final wrap up of the 2011 Wacken Festival.
They say there’s no rest for the wicked, but whoever said that never went to Wacken. But even the most hardcore needed a bit of a break. Not to worry though, the Movie Night Truck offered a semi- break from the madness, showing footage from other festivals and giving several showings throughout the weekend of the newly released Lemmy Movie. Also sprinkled throughout the festivities were the less typical, fun for all novelty acts, such as acoustic AC/DC cover band Hayseed Dixie, flamboyantly costumed metal marching band Blaas of Glory complete with tuba and xylophone, and Mambo Kurt, a Wacken installment cranking out tunes on the organ. The people watching those are just unreal, as everyone from metal babies to Satan worshipping Grandmas is welcome. There are areas for kids, photo op stations, a Nintendo booth, and just about anything you might desire. The collection of t-shirts walking around was pretty mind blowing, I even met an Italian guy proudly representing Jersey’s God Forbid. Crazy.
Maybe the sound guys were just really hung over, but it seemed that a lot of the sound quality was less than ideal for a good part of the day Friday. Sodom played a killer set full of old favorites, and I’m crossing my fingers that they’ll actually get over to this side of the pond sometime this year. In the past, I wasn’t exactly Trivium’s biggest fan, but I’ve gotta hand it to them that they’re stepping up their game with a really great, clean, and fucking bombastic sound and presence. Judas Priest played a super long set as part of their “Epitaph” tour. Am I the only one that thinks that this won’t be their last tour?
Anyway, they were solid as always. They were followed up by the always entertaining Airbourne or AC/DC Junior (whatever name works best for you). Their performance was great and the crowd definitely ate it up. The locals told me that I needed to check out Van Canto, but a cappella heavy metal just didn’t sound like my thing…so I politely passed.
It’s awesome that there’s SO much different music to check out going on at any given time (literally- the running order is filled until 3AM most days, one night Metal Hammer’s party was scheduled between 3 and 6AM), but sometimes you’ve gotta pick and choose… it’s impossible to see everything. I did get the chance to check out Kyuss Lives! and they were fucking incredible. Probably one of the better sets of the festival. Also on Friday I got to check out my friends in Germany’s Celtic inspired death metal outfit Suidakra (check it out: Suidakra backwards = Arkadius, the lead singer’s name) playing The W.E.T. Stage, they crushed. The W.E.T. Stage stands Wacken Evolution Tent and features up and coming bands that may not be quite as high profile as some of the others, but may give a little peek into the future of metal and the direction that things are going. They even managed to squeeze in a cover version of AC/DC’s “Let Me Put My Love Into You.” It would be great to see these guys back in the states again soon.
Interesting side note, I spent a fair amount of my evening with and had dinner while talking to the guitar legend Uli Jon Roth. What a great guy, interesting company, and without saying, out of this world musician. Hint: Keep your eye out this year,USA, for him alongside another two of our favorite legends, one also from Germany and one from our own backyard.
Fast forward through more ‘met’ und ‘blut’ (viking fare= mead and blood), T&A (compliments of the wrestling stage’s ever popular wet t shirt contests and oil wrestling), endless partying, sweat, and blurred vision and judgement. For the more ambitious (not myself), the morning at Wacken kicks off with reenactments including viking weaponry and battles, a few hours of Highland games, role playing, and even a fire show at the “Wackinger Village.” Sounded cool, but again, you just can’t see everything. More-rockin-than-your-Mom Girlschool woke us up at noon with a solid performance. Even though I was across the festival grounds during Dir En Grey (no small journey- remember that we’re talking about a cow field that holds 80,000+ metalheads), I STILL could hear their seriously bone chilling sounds. It seemed like they knew that everyone was getting stoked for Motorhead later on in the day and wanted to make sure the loudest band ever would have a run for their money. We had to do some hustling so that we could catch a little of everything, jumping around between Iced Earth and Avantasia. Mayhem was… well… Mayhem. These guys didn’t skip a beat, kept it brutal, and the fans didn’t let the sunshine at 4 in the afternoon get in the way of their corpse paint.
After getting my ass kicked in foosball by the fiancee of Sepultura frontman/facemelter Derek, we settled into a nice spot to hear their mind blowing set. In my opinion, these guys were one of the best hours of the entire weekend. The band’s energy is just insane, completely wild and raw, and when it’s unleashed there is absolutely no escaping, even in a giant field that stretches forever. Do yourself a huge favor and get your ass to see them, whatever it may take. Motorhead gave us the loud, fast, and hard show that we all know and love featuring mostly classics with a few new badass songs mixed in. Watching them never gets old, which kind of makes sense since Lemmy doesn’t seem to get old himself. We should all take a lesson and switch from beer to Jack and Coke, see what happens.
Kind of annoying that Danko Jones was playing the same exact time as Kreator, but I was able to see a little of both. Danko rocked, though I think it would have suited the band better to a) be in a smaller space where everyone could appreciate them better and b) NOT be against Kreator. Seeing Kreator in Germany, like many of their counterparts that shared the lineup, is a completely different ballgame than seeing them on the Best Buy Stage in New York. Not much to say, other than they killed. Children of Bodom was all fired up and put on a significantly cleaner, better set than I’ve seen from them in recent years which was refreshing. We wrapped up the music portion of our Wacken experience with Ghost, newcomers to the scene that should not be overlooked and will totally spin you off into a different dimension with their spacey experimental death music, if that’s the kind of thing you’re into.
With the shuttle out at 4AM shared with our buddies from Sodom (might sound fun, but holy shit, completely not who you want to share a bus with if you’re trying to get some sleep), we were in it for the long haul. A sleepless night in the pouring rain carrying giant backpacks normally wouldn’t be my idea of fun, but hey, it’s part of the Wacken experience, and I wouldn’t have traded it for the world. At first glance, Wacken is the metal mecca, the top of the top in music and ultimate party, but to actually be there and see it is something words can’t describe. People from everywhere and every walk of life coming together and having a great time, helping each other out, and just being excited to support each other and the greatest music in the world is totally priceless. Even our Norwegian friends, in the midst of what’s going on, came and hung out as a testament to the metal brotherhood that just can’t be touched no matter what’s going on in this crazy world. Hopefully I’ve convinced you to get out there next year (fuck yeah Ministry!!!!) and have a beer with me, I promise it’ll be one of the best decisions of your life!
Peace and metal,
A (mostly) recovered Freeman