Вакен – дотам и обратно

Как видях пътуването до Вакен и обратно в далечната 2007-ма… Вероятно ще го преведа някой ден, засега го публикувам в оригинал просто за да си го имам и тук.
So there goes yet another Wacken Open Air 2007 journal.. But not only. Where to start, let’s see..

Early March 2007

Two girls are sitting in a pub sighing. One says “I wanna go to Wacken.” *another sigh*. The other replies “I wanna go to Wacken too.” *sighs as well*. First says “Let’s go then!”. The second replies “OK, let’s go!”.. and both purchased their tickets in a week.

July 30th, 2007

Time to go. Everything is packed – rucksacks, tents, sleeping bags, clothes, food.. And, most importantly, The Tickets. Everything one would need for such journey.
By that time others had joined our humble party so in the end there were eight of us at the Sofia Central train station where our 40-hour journey began by boarding the night train to Belgrade.

July 31st, 2007

We arrived in the Serbian capital two hours later than expected, at about 7 AM, which was good actually because this way we only had to wait for another 30 minutes to catch the next train to Wien.
I guess this is the time to mention that I left my country for the first time ever because of W:O:A. A good reason to do it, as a friend of mine once said. So my first impressions of the foreign lands were that.. the Earth is flat! Just kidding.. Or am I? Actually, from Belgrade almost all the way to Wien the land was indeed flat. No hills, no nothing, just endless (corn)fields.
Anyway, at the Wien train station a very rude employee told us that there were no seats for our train without any further explanation. Some of the more sensitive members of our group almost had a heart attack at that point. We ran to the train which was to leave in 10 minutes and found another employee there – a very nice lady which told us that there are plenty of seats, they just stop selling them some time before departure. Some of the more sensitive members of our group took a deep breath of relief at that point.
Immediately after that signs of the upcoming event started emerging – metalheads screaming “Wacken!” and compartments loaded with as much beer as other luggage made me finally realize what I was up to..

August 1st, 2007

Early morning on the train to Hamburg. Very early. About 1 or 2 AM. The train stops in the middle of nowhere. Horrible smell fills the air. People in uniforms run back and forth in the passage. Some carry fire-extinguishers. Others are out and look under the coach next to ours. It appeared that its breaks burst in fire.
Fortunately, within less then an hour everything was back to normal (only the smell remained for a while to remind us that it wasn’t just a nightmare) and we were heading to Hamburg at full speed. So full that we got there right on time despite the ordeals that night.
While getting near the train station I noticed the most beautiful bell tower I’ve ever seen (not that I’ve seen many though but still..) It was in Gothic style which immediately took my attention and didn’t leave my thoughts till we got in the city for the second time on our way back. I just knew I had to take a closer look before getting home. But as I said, this is a story from the return journey.
Now back to present. Morning. Hamburg train station. Bad news – no early trains back to Wien, we’ll have to spend over 12 hours in town on the 5th. Did I say “bad news”? Well, bad for some, good for me and my tower.. But it’s still 1st so.. Supermarket. Food, beer and Pepsi (yeah, I’m the Pepsi freak), then hop on the Itzehoe train. Metalheads everywhere. Shuttle-bus to Wacken. Half-full of people, half-full of luggage. One could hardly turn around. All kinds of languages reached my ears from all directions.
And there we are – on Wacken land at noon. A sign over the road greeted us: “Welcome Metalheads!” We got our festival bracelets and full metal bags and headed for the camping grounds.
First impressions: mud everywhere, smell of cattle and swamp.. Later we heard that it had rained for a whole week just prior to our arrival. They played a video between the concerts showing the preparations for the festival, the whole process of building the stages, placing layers of dirt, wood chops and straw on the festival area so that they are all ready for us. In my humble opinion, these people are heroes *bows*.
We decided to camp in sector A, near the main entrance, put up our tents and left on a reconnaissance mission. While walking around we found another Bulgarian camp but its inhabitants obviously had the same mission as ours so only the national flag was waving at us. Later we found them and I met a friend there whom I haven’t seen for six years.. Nice place for such events, over 2000 km away from home.
We spent the rest of the day walking around the village. A beautiful one I must say, very tidy and stuff.. when there are no metalheads around. And at this time there were thousands of them walking and talking and shopping and drinking, and much more were still coming by cars and busses, and there were even more to come on the next day.
In the evening some of us went to the metal disco and karaoke, and others like me decided to have some sleep. Impossible task. I could hear the music from the disco as if I were there myself, some guys nearby were playing something different, others were screaming “Spiderschwein!” and “Helga!”, every now and then someone would trip on our tent’s ropes so I kept wondering which of them would leave us homeless for the rest of the festival by falling over the tent. Anyway, nothing bad happened except that it was so damn cold that night..

August 2nd, 2007

Early wake up in the morning sun, quick breakfast and another tour through the village and to the supermarket.
And finally at 5 PM it was time for the first band to play. It was Blitzkrieg on the Black Metal (BM) stage. Don’t really remember much of them though, I was just way too excited at that time. Then we moved to the Party stage for some Narziss and Neaera impressions. Both of them were new to me but I liked them a lot. And during their performance I learned what “a wall of death” means.. And saw the largest circle pit ever. And kept hearing “Spiderschwein!” from all over the place, including from the bands on stage.
Slowly moving to the WET stage (which was literally wet, most of it was a muddy puddle and a lot of the people stayed outside thus not being able to hear anything; I was one of those brave who ventured to wade through to find some good spot inside) we watched people stuck to their knees in the mud, struggling to get out, others lying on the straw like sardines, still others walking around dressed in any possible way one can imagine.. There was even this huge pink Easter bunny caring a large cross on his shoulders. Nice pictures everywhere you look.
We got there right on time for TYR. Surprisingly, I quite liked their performance. And I say “surprisingly” (even though I like their music in general) just because I heard too many negative comments about them playing live that I started believing this would be a poor one as well. They stood well on stage, played with joy and the audience reacted in a respective way.
Next came the greatest surprise for me – Letzte Instanz. I’ll repeat myself by saying that I like their music from before and was eager to see them live. But what I saw exceeded all my expectations. Their songs sounded so lively, all band members too – none of them stood at one place for more than a minute, even the guy with the cello (which was also amazing in form).. I had so much fun during these 45 minutes, it was an incredible performance.
After that I joined a friend for Hatesphere on the Party stage but couldn’t get much of what they were playing – I was still enjoying the earlier experience in my head so didn’t pay much attention to what was happening on this stage.

August 3rd, 2007

That night I slept like a baby. No drunk people tripping around were able to disturb me till about 7 AM when it was already too hot in the tent so I had to crawl out.
At 11 SuidAkrA opened this day’s performances on the BM stage. Haven’t heard of them before (shame on me) but liked their style very much (I’m quite into this kind of music actually so that makes one more band to enter my playlist these days).
And then there was fire. Literally. Some stupid careless kids lit the straw in front of the True Metal (TM) stage. From our position we could only see the thick smoke coming from that direction. Interesting thing was how calm everyone was. No screaming, no panic at all. At one point the people on the TM stage asked us to move in front of the BM stage so that we make room for the firefighters to come. Slowly the whole crowd gathered there, and soon it was all over. Only a very muddy area reminded of the fire that took place earlier.
Right after they announced that Amorphis will play an hour later then scheduled I ran to the store for some refreshments because the sun was getting more and more aggressive that day and (as one of the guys in our group predicted) got back for Napalm Death‘s Scum. Good thing I didn’t return earlier, I knew they aren’t my cup of tea but live they are almost unbearable.
When Amorphis got on stage they simply blew our heads out. It was all just awesome, no other words to describe it (I guess I should stop using all those superlatives but seriously doubt I can do so having in mind all the bands that were still to come).
Good decision was to take places right in front of the screen between BM stage and TM stage so that we only had to turn a little to watch the next band playing. Which in this case was Therion. Another great show, with the corresponding costumes, theatrical sets and reading from sacred books.
Then a quick jump to the Party stage let me relax a little with Volbeat – very nice band, I enjoyed them a lot. After them I got back to the TM stage to get a glimpse of Grave Digger who unfortunately couldn’t make a great impression on me – they are too.. how to put it.. classically heavy for my taste. Dinosaurs of some sort, no offence meant. Falconer on the Party stage got my good mood back, and then it was time for a break..
At 8 PM Lacuna Coil blew up the crowd in front of the BM Stage with a magnificent performance, as expected, followed by the headliners – Blind Guardian (which were the only band I watched live for the second time) on the TM stage. To be honest, I liked their Sofia gig way better although the sound in Wacken was beyond comparison. Even so, the Bard’s Song crowd singing sounded much poorer on W:O:A than in Bulgaria. A major plus was that the set lists of the two gigs were different. Since they played almost one and same thing during their Europe tour in spring, it would’ve been a huge mistake not to change it. Also (not that it has any connection) I personally helped at least five crowdsurfers to make their way towards the stage.
After that I again ran to the Party stage for the Schandmaul show. In the beginning I felt somewhat sad I had to miss Dimmu Borgir but during the second or third song this feeling disappeared completely. For this hour and 15 minutes of pure joy I would gladly miss quite a lot of other bands. In the pause between two songs they mentioned this “Spiderschwein” thing again but sadly it was still in German context.. So I decided it’s high time that I ask someone. I chose this cute kid standing right in front of me and he readily explained this word’s origin in such theatrical manner that I wished I had my camera on to record it. Hey kid, if you read this, I really want you to know how grateful I am to you for enlightening me on what I was wondering at during the last three days thus putting me out of my non-Simpsons-fan misery. Not that I’m a Simpsons fan now but still.. Thanks again.
That night I also wanted to see Die Apokalyptischen Reiter on the BM stage but unfortunately there were still Iced Earth to play before that and there was nothing better on the other stages. So I slowly made my way through the crowd in front of the TM stage to the screen in the middle. I still don’t understand why there are always people that would try to push you back even though there is no way that I prevent them from seeing the stage – quite understandable since guys are usually taller than me. And I also always find a way around such people. I wonder if they’d try to push or hit someone bigger then them.
Anyway, it took me about 15 minutes to get where I wanted to but since Iced Earth weren’t doing any better live then on CD, I started freezing. Finally, after an hour and a half, Die Apokalyptischen Reiter came out but by that time I was so cold and tired that I only managed to watch three songs and left for the warmth of my sleeping bag. On the way I dropped at the WET stage for a Kampfar song but soon hurried back to our tent.
And so the longest festival day was over at about 2:30 AM.

August 4th, 2007

I was the only one who managed to sleep till 11 despite the heat in the tent. I just had to get some rest because of what was to come from this afternoon on..
At about 1 PM we left for the Moonspell gig on the BM stage. I was waiting to see them live for ages, they were among these bands that made me dream of going to Wacken in the first place. And here comes the only fault of the whole festival organization – how is it possible to place a band like Moonspell to play right after noon? Imagine listening to Fullmoon Madness under the melting sun.. This fact ruined it all for me, and as I hear and read – for quite a lot of others as well. I hope one day I’ll get the chance to attend one of their gigs and get the real feeling of watching and listening to them live.
I was feeling so badly because of the heat and the recent disappointment that I left the festival area right away. On my way out I heard a couple of songs by Stratovarius whose performance I decided to exchange for a long quiet walk to the supermarket. Later I got back to the camp and since most of the guys were already packing I started getting my own stuff ready for a quick leave that night.
Then my 7-hour stay on the WET stage began with The Vision Bleak followed by Swallow the Sun. Both bands performed a lot better than I expected and quickly managed to make me forget about Moonspell and get back to enjoying the festival.
When they finished, somewhere in the back a few guys started a mud fight. The crowd immediately gathered around them while they were throwing inflatable beer trays at each other and trying to get as dirty as possible. Fans started gathering around the stage at about the same time – fans with coloured faces and furry outfits so it was quite obvious whose turn it was to get on stage.. Turisas appeared with To Holmgard and Beyond in their usual costumes, all covered in blood and kept us screaming, and shouting, and dancing, and headbanging all the way to Miklagard Overture which put an end of this awesome show – one of my highlights of the whole festival. Heh, now I also know how headbanging while playing the accordion looks like..
Next were Benedictum who I weren’t familiar with but seeing them live didn’t make me want to get to know them any better.. They got on stage a little late and played a little too long so at that moment the schedule on the WET stage started falling behind. I hoped that they would at least make the pauses shorter because I had some plans for seeing other bands outside a couple of hours later. Well they didn’t, the delay was even getting longer by the hour.
Anyway, I was waiting for Moonsorrow with interest since I quite like their recordings. To be honest, on stage they looked so funny that I couldn’t really enjoy the way they played.. It seemed to me that they don’t feel comfortable at all and are doing things exactly as rehearsed in front of the mirror. They kept doing one and the same reconfigurations and moves on the stage in regular intervals while trying to make scary faces (having so boyish faces appeared to be a major obstacle), not to mention that going out half-naked and covered in blood wasn’t such a good idea after Turisas’ show, especially when the rest of your outfit consists of some regular jeans.. All this comes to say that I expected much more from these guys in terms of stage performance.
Then it was time for Municipal Waste whom I only stayed to watch because there was no time to go out, see some other band (e.g. Type-O-Negative who were playing at the same time) and get back. Not so bad decision since that way I kept my perfect spot near the stage and witnessed another circle pit, and yet another wall of death, both even more impressive than the first ones. The music wasn’t easy to bear though but I focused on the crowd gone mad and later realized I actually did enjoy it.
And finally it was time for Unheilig – another band I was impatient to check out live. And they didn’t disappoint me at all. They played all my favourites, Der Graf’s voice felt like crawling on my skin all the time and didn’t let me take a breath till the very end.
By that time we were already 40 minutes behind schedule so I had to run to the Party stage to see Haggard. But I couldn’t run, I was way too exhausted by Unheilig so I only managed to hear the last song Haggard played (which was quite impressive, I’d love to see them again some other time), then immediately headed for the TM stage to watch the last band for this year’s W:O:A – Subway To Sally. Lots of pyrotechnics, awesome music and stage performance.. This was a brilliant finish to a great festival.

August 5th, 2007

At 3 AM, right after Subway to Sally’s gig, we hurried back to our camp, packed the rest of the tents and ran to catch the first shuttle-bus to Itzehoe. As far as the announcement went, there should have been six busses every half an hour starting at 3 AM. The first one came at 4.30 and by that time the bus stop was crowded – apparently a lot of others decided to leave early to avoid the heavy traffic in the morning. Somehow our whole group managed to get on the first bus. Inside it was even more crowded than on the day we arrived. Everyone was still screaming “Spiderschwein”, at one point one of the guys started telling a story and after each sentence the others sang some tune to support him. Unfortunately my German can’t be any poorer so I couldn’t get even the slightest idea of what he was talking about but still it was real fun.
When we reached the town in about half an hour, we immediately boarded the train to Hamburg and I managed to get a couple of hours sleep which I knew was all I’d get till the night train to Wien over 12 hours later. Already in Hamburg, we had some breakfast in the nearby McDonalds – my first and most probably last visit at this chain. Half an hour later we were hungry again. While walking along the river I noticed my tower somewhere in the distance and immediately got all my strength back, determined to get there that day despite all the skepticism radiating from the others. Slowly we moved in the right direction until we found a park and some of the guys decided to have a nap there. Those of us that were still hungry left to look for another McDonalds somewhere around because we had seen a sign on the way and had nothing better at hand but fortunately found a Burger King instead. Fortunately because the Burger King’s stuff tasted much better and was able to satisfy our hunger for quite a while.
Later when all the others got back to their feet we resumed our slow march towards the tower of my dreams. And we reached it in another couple of hours. I can honestly state this ordeal was worth it – it was even more beautiful than expected. After I spent some time enjoying the view from all sides and angles we left the place and moved towards the city-hall – another beautiful building in the city center. Then some perky swans tried to peck our hands, probably expecting to find food in them. Wrong assumption. And finally we left for the Central station to get the train back to the Altona station from where our Wien train was to leave. Late in the evening we were finally able to have some real sleep.

August 6th, 2007

I only woke up 15 minutes before arriving in the Austrian capital. We switched trains and most of us kept having naps every now and then all the way to Belgrade. And here comes one of the most stressful situations on this journey – the train was late and we only had 9 minutes to find the one to Sofia and get on it.. Surprisingly enough, not only did we manage to do so but we even found some places in the sleeping couch. We stuffed all our luggage at any empty space available and got to the beds.

August 7th, 2007

9 AM, Sofia Central train station. Home sweet home. The most exciting journey in my life so far was over. Our party dispersed right where it got together for the first time.
I still have my W:O:A bracelet on though. Each look at it reminds me of all the emotions that overwhelmed me during this awesome week and makes me dream about the next one.
Oh, I almost forgot.. Long live Spiderschwein!

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