All good things must come to an end and as we hit the final day of Wacken XXX, Mark and I decided to go for broke and hit a few more bands than we’d managed so far. We finally had the lay of the land, and there was a lot to pick from. Having said that, we still missed a stupid number purely down to how much is on over all the stages!
Once again failing to arrive on time (this time partly due to lots of other people arriving a bit later, likely because they were recovering from Slayer), we missed Bleed From Within. My apologies to the lads, as we’ve always been huge supporters. I’m sure they did good – they always do! The first band we caught were Die Kassierer who we’d not heard of before but who were obviously pretty big with the locals. We watched what looked like your drunk uncle shouting into a microphone while thousands of Germans absolutely a lapped it up. You’ve got to give punk its due – it’s roughshod but it works!
A good period afterwards was spent retrieving my wallet from lost property / the police, then getting some cash out to buy a t-shirt for a friend back home. Of course, by now the one she wanted had vanished (I checked all three stands). So she asked for an alternative. By the time I got to the stall, that had gone as well. Third time, and a lot of walking, later I finally found one for her! Lesson learned – next year get to the merch stall early if I want a full choice of t-shirts.
As all this was going on, Battle Beast rocked the Faster stage and we caught a bit of Reckless Love on the Headbangers. We explored a bit and finally, four days in, got as far as the Beergarden stage where we watched a bit of Deine Cousine who entertained for the brief period we remained. On a mission, though, we staggered through the blazing sunshine and wandered past Of Mice & Men on the Harder stage to catch TesseracT begin their set back at Headbangers.
I’m not a fan of the frequent tempo changes in the technical/prog metal end of things, but you can’t help but marvel at the musicianship on display. The huge crowd certainly got into it from the off, and Milton Keynes’ best certainly made an impression on the German faithful.
We nipped off to catch the Knight’s Show in the Wackinger Village. Passing through wonderful, delicious clouds of barbeque odours we found the enclosed area where a cheesy roleplay was acted out, involving pairs of combatants smiting lumps out of each other. It was a fun show, done very much tongue in cheek and with plenty of red paint. I mean blood. We took a walk around the Wasteland afterwards, where there was plenty to look at courtesy of some brilliant cosplay and set design.
The British contingent kept things going for us as we enjoyed a bit of Bullet For My Valentine on the way to see Naked Six in the History tent. Both bands impressed in very different ways, Bullet with their nail-on-the-head huge stage numbers, Naked Six with a more raw feel and a stripped-down sound. Perfect for the growing audience who certainly seemed to like what they witnessed.
With England and Wales covered, we left early to get to the Wackinger Stage to see Glasgow’s Saor. A minor sound glitch at the start (Andy’s bass had been ramped to a hundred and eleven, so was distorting ever so slightly) didn’t spoil a masterwork in atmospheric black metal. With 45 minutes, they were never going to fit in too many songs but it did mean that the usual “three songs and out” rule for photographers was a little pointless. It’s unusual listening to this kind of music in the blazing sunshine, and the crowd took a little while to really settle into the mood but Saor did indeed bring the blackness. This isn’t the sort of music I’ll seek out and listen to while driving or make the effort to go and see performed live at a gig, but I love it for background music when I’m doing other things. One benefit of a festival is that I get the chance to encounter bands like Saor playing exactly the kind of music I’d otherwise not hear live. It was great, though we did shift a little before the end to find somewhere comfy to watch Powerwolf.
It staggers me that a band as obviously popular as this in Germany took until earlier this year to properly tour the UK for the first time… and in relatively small venues. After traipsing all the way to Sweden to see them last year, by the time I see them at Bloodstock it’ll be four shows in a year. Powerwolf are like buses! Of course, they put on an epic show with their tongues planted firmly in their lupine cheeks. Their “which side of the crowd is the loudest” schtick was abbreviated compared to their usual headlining show, but otherwise they threw up the whole practised routine we’ve come to expect.
Because we wanted to catch the fire show later, we opted to stand pretty far back for Parkway Drive, and I’m glad we did. Prior to them coming on stage, Wacken announced a handful of bands for next year. And bloody hell did they do it with style. Making full use of all the lights, flashpots, screens and flamethrowers across both main stages, the display was nothing short of spectacular. I’d go back next year just to see them do it again! As for the main band, I can put my hand on my heart and tell you that until they were announced for Bloodstock I honestly don’t think I’d more than just heard their name. Certainly I couldn’t, and still can’t, name a song by them.
However, I had heard that their stage show is pretty impressive. I can confirm that this is the case. Anyone who reckons they shouldn’t be playing Wacken or Bloodstock is wrong. Musically they’re definitely metal (deal with it if it’s not one of your two preferred sub-genres), but showmanship-wise… wowzers.
Beginning with a Rammstein-esque entrance through the crowd accompanied by torch-wielding guards, they climbed over the front barrier and onto stage before launching into a couple of merry numbers. Well… most of them did. It turns out that they came close to cancelling as their bassist had broken his leg less than a week beforehand. Cue his mum wheeling him on stage, so that he could perform the set sat in a comfy wheelchair.
But, hey, this is Parkway Drive so that wasn’t it. No, Jio’s mum was about to crowdsurf for the first time in her life. From the stage to the sound desk. While tens of thousands of people chanted “Mum! Mum! Mum!”. OK, that was a slightly odd sequence of events, but this is rock n’ roll.
Knowing I’d be catching the band again in a week, we reluctantly dragged ourselves away to the Wasteland area to catch the Berliner Pyrophoniker. It was well worth the walk with some very odd “music” being wrapped around some very hot flames. We definitely weren’t going to get chilly watching it! After the act was finished, the heat was maintained by Lady Kitty’s Hell’s Belles posing away while some of the Wasteland crews revved engines and acted all apocalyptic-like.
With the final photos in the bag and our limbs and eyes getting increasingly weary, we reluctantly called it a night and departed Wacken early enough to just about beat the crowds after watching the tippy-tail end of Parkway’s show. Goodbyes were said, VIP food cards returned for their deposits and locker keys returned.
If they’ll have us, we’ll be back next year. Definitely. And we plan to take a bigger group. Wacken is simply too big to be covered by just the two of us!
Photos by Shellstar Media