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Wednesday, November 13, 2019
GIK Acoustics - Europe
GIK Acoustics - Europe
The Moshville Times

Wacken XXX – the aftermath

So, our first visit to Wacken – one of the biggest and probably the most well known of all the heavy metal festivals. Two of us went, and we both survived. I’ve covered the day-to-day stuff in a couple of other posts, but wanted to wrap things up with an extra article.

(c) Shellstar Media

Most importantly, we bloody loved it. The first thing I want to get across is how incredible the ambience is. Wacken have managed to create a festival many times bigger than Bloodstock, yet maintained the friendly and fun atmosphere of its smaller UK cousin. Given the vast scale, this is impressive.

Getting around the stages isn’t too difficult or time-consuming, with the longest trek being to get near the larger ones: Harder, Faster and Louder. A problem we didn’t have (benefits of press passes) was getting into the “Infield” area where these three are located. Once this area is “full”, though I don’t know how they judge this, the barriers to get in are closed off. Or at least one of them is. You may still be able to get down by using one of the other openings.

I’m only raising this as I was talking to another guest at my hostel who has been three times and he found it really frustrating. Maybe this is something the festival are trialling, so fingers crossed they sort it out for next year.

Another thing he mentioned was the snaking barriers which you need to navigate to get into the W.E.T. and Headbanger stages (located in the same tent). Again, this wasn’t there the year before, and we never saw that many people heading to the tent at once which would have required such a mechanism. Still a minor niggle.

(c) Shellstar Media

One thing that Mark and I thought was a plus point, though, was the general layout and how busy the whole place is. If you’re walking from, say, the History Stage to the Wasteland Stage, it’s not a small trek… but take the route through the Wackinger Village and there’s always so much going on that the walk seems shorter. Assuming you don’t get too distracted!

Talking of walking, if you’re camping then the recommendation is to get there early. The good spots are right by the entrance to the arena so your walking distance is negligible. However, those sites are huge so if you end up at the arse end you might find it more of a trudge.

The sound quality, especially the main stages, is simply mind-blowing. Slayer were staggeringly good from where we were (right down the front, obviously), and we watched Parkway Drive from outside the Infield Area and it was still superb. The sound in the tents and on other stages was, at the very worst, really good.

The on-site supermarket is, simply, incredible. Prices are a tiny bit above those outside, but it’s marginal and Wacken were open enough to advertise these prices in the run-up. I guess the aim was to convince people that they could perhaps cram all their friends and gear into one car rather than two and buy all the other stuff when they arrived. Fewer cars is a good thing for many reasons.

(c) Shellstar Media

Round the back of the building was something commonly seen at most German (and Swedish) supermarkets… the recycling points for cans and plastic bottles, which give you the deposit back. The queue for this was huge on the last day, but you couldn’t spot a single discarded can or bottle around the place. If the owner didn’t recycle them, then other people were collecting them instead. The same goes for the plastic cups at the beer stands which were either collectable souvenirs for €1-€2 (depending on the size) or returnable if you wanted the money back. Again, this resulted in far fewer discarded containers.

The shops and stalls were great, and not badly priced. I buy all my patches at festivals these days as it’s cheaper than online! No rip-off postage charges. Although I think I may need another jacket after this trip. There was also a huge variety, which was nice. Festival t-shirts were really cheap at only €20 for the standard ones. Band shirts varied (€35 Anthrax, really?), but Wacken themselves seem to be happy to shift large numbers at reasonable prices.

As for the food… bloody hell. OK, so it’s festival prices but Wacken hands down has the largest variety of top-notch food I’ve seen at a festival ever. Any festival. Anywhere. The Wackinger Village is evil as you can walk in one end not even feeling peckish, but by the time you’re halfway through the smells have driven you to starvation.

(c) Shellstar Media

The Beergarden area is lovely, though we only made it over there the once. Running the Metal Battle competition on the History Stage is a great idea, and it actually has superb lighting for photographers. Great news for these bands that get coverage through playing here. It is a shame, though, that some of them end up playing up against monsters on the main stage… but that’s just going to happen when you have so much going on.

Oh, the staff and crew. Utterly wonderful. We love you all. From our tour guide (who supplied me with drinks after I lost my wallet and couldn’t find Mark to borrow cash), to the awesome lady I saw boogying to Black Stone Cherry when I was running out of the press area to see them, to the girls who patiently helped us load up our payment cards, to the bus drivers, to the bar staff, to the caterers… Everyone we met seemed to be as excited and mental as the festival-goers themselves.

So, for us as first-timers, I can tell you that we were hugely impressed. We loved it, and our current plans are to hit Wacken again next year, hopefully with more of us going. And better organisation on our part! This year our coverage has largely been “getting a feel” and we didn’t see as many bands as we’d hoped. With a bigger team and a bit of familiarity we’ll see what we can do in 2020!

Bands already announced for 2020 include Amon Amarth, Death Angel, Hypocrisy, At The Gates, Mercyful Fate and Judas Priest. Keep an eye on their lineup page (and our website) for further announcements!

Photos by Shellstar Media

About The Author

Mosh

Father of three. Teacher of Computing. PADI divemaster. Krav Maga Assistant Instructor. Geordie. Geek. Nerd. Metal nut. I also own and run a website - you may have heard of it.

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