As I can finally cross “been to Wacken“ off the bucket list, I have to say it wasn’t the overwhelming experience that everybody’s tales make you think it would be. To be honest, it was probably my least favourite festival ever, for a number of reasons:
– Too big. Takes hours to get anywhere, especially if you’re trudging through mud all the time.
– Yes, mud, too much of it, covering 100% of the terrain, at least ankle-deep. (I know everything about mud now, I’ve seen it all, from thick sticky mud to liquid brown puddles…) Turns every little walk over to the next bar into an adventurous odyssey.
– For many bands, the sound was pretty shit.
– Too many people, and especially…
– …too many idiots! At every festival you have those people who are interested in the music and those who are interested in beer, but in Wacken, at least in front of the main stages, there were far too few of the former and far too many of the latter. Hell, many people there were not even able to clap along on the beat! Sigh.
More generally, I hated pretty much everything about the main stages….
All in all Wacken is a great festival for people who come for the party and the adventure, but definitely not for boring sociophobics like me who just come for the music. So I made up my mind I’ll never go there again, and then they announced a handful of my favourite bands for next year. Well shit.
Nevertheless, I saw some good shows at Wacken which almost made me come to peace with the festival. There were outstanding performances from Katatonia, Insomnium and (most positive surprise) Emperor, and fine sets from Avantasia, Apocalyptica, Lacuna Coil, Kissin’ Dynamite and Emil Bulls. I guess Trivium were great too, but during their set I was busy being stuck in the crowd and trying to get even the slightest glimpse of the stage (fail). There were also some bands that I didn’t like at all (*cough* Megadeth) …and a really really weird (not necessarily in a good way) performance from Marilyn Manson who apparently hated Wacken as much as I did. Read about some of my favourites below (seperate post on Katatonia coming soon).
Btw, if you wanna see a really lovely, wonderful festival that is everything that Wacken is not, go to Tuska! Or go anywhere else. Just don’t go to Wacken.
They played their latest album, a concept album called Winter’s Gate, in full, which was amazing in itself! (If you haven’t heard the album yet, check it out! It’s so much more than Insomnium have done before, and so much more than the simple and over-used term ‘melodic death metal’ can express!)
Very fitting, they played in the darkness of the “Metal Circus“ tent rather than the daylight of the open air stages.
As the songs (or rather the parts) of the album flow into each other, there wasn’t much room for talking or crowd interaction, but that wasn’t at all needed here, because it would have destroyed the captivating atmosphere of the beautiful music. Even if the sound was slightly muddy, I loved every second of this performance!
If you’re used to the three hours of Avantasia’s headline shows, their two hour performance went over in the blink of an eye. Still, there was time to play lots of essential Avantasia songs and to bring many guest singers on stage (Jorn Lande, Bob Catley, Eric Martin, Geoff Tate, Herbie Langhans and Amanda Somerville), although Michael Kiske was dearly missed in my opinion. Nevertheless, Tobias Sammet himself was of course the shining star of the show with his outstanding vocals and his legendary talking that people either love or hate. His ego absolutely needs a big stage, and on Wacken’s main stage it unfolded in all it’s megalomanic beauty.
…are still celebrating 20 years of their “Plays Metallica By Four Cellos” album, therefore they had only Metallica songs on their setlist. Personally, I prefer Apocalyptica’s original work, and the crowd wasn’t much into it either. Still, they did everything to make the best out of the show. As a special treat, they brought their former member Max Lilja on stage (also known for playing in Tarja’s live band), so all past and present band members played together. Also, (I should write something about the cello sound, but….) holy shit, those drums sound amazing and like no other drumkit I’ve ever heard!
I call this band my “guilty pleasure”, simply because it’s a style of music I usually don’t like at all, and because many of their lyrics are just stupid. But I can’t help it – they are great musicians, great performers, their music is really uplifting and their singer Hannes has an amazing voice. So they are always really fun to watch and didn’t disappoint in Wacken either!
I’m a bit torn when it comes to Lacuna Coil’s music, because if you ask me, they have too few really good songs and too many very average songs. This was my first time seeing them live, and I have to say they sounded much better than expected. Especially Cristina’s vocals were absolutely flawless!
Not many things can make me enter a church, but how about a metal concert?
Aeverium had the honour to play a set in the little church of Wacken on the opening day of the festival. But before they started, an actual service took place, though the pastor based his speech on lyrics of metal songs and there was a choir singing popular metal songs. All in all I’m not sure if it was totally cool or totally embarassing…
Anyway, Aeverium were great fun; beforehand I was worried a bit what the acoustics might be like in the church (too much echo and such), but it sounded fine and the audience clearly enjoyed themselves. Great way to start into the festival!