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METALLIC REVIEWS
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WACKEN OPEN AIR
WEDNESDAY 04.08.2004 - MONDAY 09.08.2004

By Yolanda Downs-Barton

So, I am back. I can't be arsed to do a big ole review of Wacken, there will be many other people who will it for me. Besides, disagreements about what constituted a good gig are likely to make that a bit contentious. Me, avoiding controversy? No, a Pod-person hasn't taken over my body, I'm just attempting to be subtle for once. I have a raging cold and a slightly upset stomach because I waited in a sopping wet t-shirt and shorts for the weird Satyri-Darkthrone arrangement at the Black Stage for 2 hours, in the freezing cold, in the middle of the night. Not that I am complaining, I knew I was going to get ill but I had to be at the front, y'see. It was fucking brilliant. I am still smirking now, I had such a great time. Nocturno Culto sounded the dog's bollocks, though he's become alarmingly porky, and I disturbed some skinhead next to me by screeching with laughter at *that* infamous 'true taste of evil' comment. After the set I felt as if I was very drunk indeed, which was bizarre because I hadn't touched a drop all day. If I'm honest, I blame pure awe. The sheer luck of me getting into proper metal at a time when I could see something like this..... it just bowls me over completely. I'd talk so much more about it all, but I think I'd bore the arse off anyone reading. Other people who were there will know exactly what I mean, however. I feel privileged and special, and Mr Culto (heh heh) was godly.

Anyhow, in general, stuff about Wacken and not just a tubby blonde legend. The festival food was good - Robb Flynn's opinion of German food is highly mistaken, perhaps he was upset that they don't solely serve cheeseburgers, which brings shades of Fawlty Towers to mind - and I didn't get to try everything I wanted because of money and time limitations. (Despite scoffing a whole pig's leg I have lost a lot of weight, and I wasn't even fat in the first place.) I also bought some CDs. As did Jim, but his are more daft and include classic Finntroll. And I got the Black Stage t-shirt, because that is where I was most of the time. The MetalMarkt was interesting in terms of the stuff you could get hold of. I'd gone along to the festival wearing my Mjollnir, but there were variations on this being flogged all over the place. Jim wanted to get one but never got around to it. The other most generally available item was drinking horns. The message here is clear: bring more money and next time go in a car. I had to turn my nose up at a shedload of albums I know are quality just because of expense and baggage space. Speaking of CDs, the atmosphere was incredible. There is no English festival where you can leave CDS in your tent for a week and they will not be nicked. There is no English festival were your tent won't get slashed by some jackass. People from Australia, Brazil, Zimbabwe, Japan and every corner of Europe don't turn up at Reading. The Wacken locals actually liked the metallers; if such an event was run over here, there'd be mass complaints. Everyone was everyone's mate (well, almost... more about this in a sec). I don't want to use the phrase 'metal brothers' in a serious comment, but it's hovering around the tip of my tongue.

And from an aesthetic perspective - fucking hell, there were a lot of attractive blokes, all of whom were friendly (in a non-leery way). It made me realise some things about how I've started to act, such as that I'm making less of an effort with my clothing - not out of a desire to look like a norm, but because I worry about what people will think. This is ass. I'm a part of the best and most interesting community ever, and I ought to be proud of that. There were a fair few bands I've never had the chance to check out on CD, but I've now been able to go one better. Death Angel have also made a convert of me. I ended up fighting a twenty-stone Turkish bloke with a tattoo of Thor on his arm over a DA drumstick. I didn't get it, annoyingly enough, although I put up a hell of a struggle, but I did get a bloody nose. This is one of two proper injuries I got over my stay in Wacken, the other being a concussion during Arch Enemy. Crowdsurfers are a pet hate of mine at the best of times, but how much more when they are huge tall heavy Germans covered in spikes. I wanted to stay in the pit, as I'd got into the front row and I knew the set was ending anyhow, but the bouncers pulled me out. It's probably a good thing they did. I couldn't walk for a while, but wouldn't let them take me to the infirmary or I would miss Mayhem. Maniac was ripped to his tits, he bit one of the pigs' heads (the heads that according to Chris, bless him, are no longer used!), and there was much ado with pyro's. It was ace. I'm assuming the pigs' heads were left over from the piggie legs that everyone was eating with saurkraut. Second best band of the festival, after the obvious choice of the headliners, had to have been Destruction. No arguments accepted there, they were amazing. Somehow I got talking with some other metallers about that Hicks 'You think Jesus is ever going to want to see a cross..?' comment. Bill Hicks suggested that Christians wear fishes instead. I understand this, but since this action will not stop them from being twats, and metal bands are still going to want to mock them, 'fish' doesn't quite have the same ring as 'cross'. 'Nailed to the Fish'? And for that matter, 'Once Upon the Fish'? Erm, maybe not.

Ooh, and the infamous Wacken showers. Wasn't bad. I think that anyone who would seriously run off at the idea of being nude in public if everyone else is nude as well has some issues to confront. That said, some girl kept her knicks on in the shower and had pubes, protruding from the sides of her knickers, growing halfway down her thighs. Urgh. Other than that, it was fine and I don't see what all the fuss is about.

Non-metal-brotherly behaviour. (Manowar arm up, and get out the Johnson's baby oil...) You knew I was going to get onto it at some point. There were a couple of nazis around, mainly because the farce that is Böhse Onkelz allegedly have a past as a nazi band. (This is why, this year, the festival organisers had some Metalheads Against Racism beer glasses). How they coped with the general multi-national crowd I'm not sure and don't really care, but they were either enough of a bunch of cripples to show up early and write some white power graffiti in the non-paying khazis, or these loos had been rented to Angrier-Than-Thou Straightedge Fest before WOA. Gay.

Coming back was a bit weird. The plane went through some evil clouds, and there was a lot of turbulence. Oddly I'd known from the start of the flight that something not great was going to happen. What was going on was that we were in the middle of a thunderstorm - we saw the lightning. It was the first time I'd ever been scared while flying. I don't doubt that from the faint screams from some of the other passengers, some people were having a sudden unexpected bout of Christianity (well, other than the Mormons who were also on the flight - they'd be asking the alien Jesus to take them up in his spaceship or whatever). I didn't, I'm chuffed to say, but I was spooked. You could actually smell the panic in the aircraft, because a bunch of unwashed metallers sweating in terror doesn't have an especially wholesome odour. I made a joke, which was not that funny because a) I thought we were going to die and b) Jim made a klutz-like reply to it. I sort of half-laughed that some of the metallers were even now grabbing for their Mjollnirs. Jim, who I think was also a bit afraid, said, 'What does Thor have to do with the weather?' Um, I don't even know how to comment on that. One of the non-metallers crapped himself, you could smell that too, unfortunately.

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