Metal And Metal Festivals

Written by: Baz Anderson
Published: 07.10.2007
Metal, a type of music, but its followers are in general far different to the fans of any other type of music. Anyone that listens to metal already knows that, and they also know that people that like metal are far more passionate about it than any other listener of music. You only have to listen to "The Bard's Song" on Blind Guardian's "Live" album or "Run To The Hills" on Iron Maiden's "Rock In Rio" for example to hear not just the passion and dedication of the fans, but more obviously you also hear an amazing gathering of metalheads all in one field, focused on one point.

This usually occurs at open air metal festivals and in an attempt to make life a little more interesting in my long summer break this year I decided to have a taste of the experience myself. It started with Hellfest Summer Open Air in France, here I was not only going to my very first open air metal festival, but I was also travelling abroad by myself for the very first time in my life. You can imagine I was a little nervous but everything worked out fine and I got to meet a bunch of great people and see a bucket load of fantastic bands as well as sample my very first taste of metal festival. A few thousand under twenty thousand at Hellfest made it a huge event, lots of people all in one field, but in terms of sheer size nothing would come even close to the next festival of my little festival marathon.

Next up a month and a bit later I depart by myself once more to northern Germany and the biggest metal festival in the world, the grand Wacken Open Air in Germany. As soon as I stepped over the bridge from the camp site for the first time I was taken back like I don't think I ever have been before. Finally that place that you see on DVDs so many times, you are finally standing there and it looks bigger than anything you will have ever been to before. A humongous field with two monstrous stages side by side looking into the abyss of heads of long hair, another large stage set up round the side of the main field and another smaller stage at the opposite side. A huge beer garden and incomprehensible amounts of campers taking up all fields in the surrounding area. Yet again I saw and enjoyed a lot of bands but this was just on the next level. Everything is so much more intense, if you like it you love it - if you dislike it you hate it, as the main complaint with the festival is there are just too many people there! You just cannot imagine how hard it is to walk from one side to the other because people are all standing so close together for hundreds of meters out from the stages. Still, Blind Guardian's set brought a bit of emotion to me as I stood in a huge field of people all singing along to "Lord Of The Rings" and such songs, I just cannot describe the experience apart from that my decision to go to Wacken was probably the best thing I ever chose to do.

Third and last festival of the summer for me was a lot closer to home, the mighty Bloodstock Open Air here in England. The stage is much smaller compared to the previous two festivals and only a fraction of the amount of people that went to them were here as well, as Bloodstock draws in a few thousand compared to the several tens of thousands of Wacken. The festival still had a great lineup and atmosphere, it was much much more relaxed at Bloodstock and so a fine way to finish my festival summer.

Lessons are learnt from these experiences, things are needed that you didn't think you needed before going and some certain things need a little extra attention. You never know what the weather is going to be like, take waterproof boots in case of a repeat of the Hellfest and it is a mudfest, constantly raining - a change of clothes may also be a good idea. Most importantly though, when you have set up your tent you must look around you and try and remember where you are using certain landmarks, trees, etc. because most likely the next time you go to the camp site there will be a lot of other tents and you will just never be able to find your tent at all if you just remembered where yours was in relation to a path or another tent. A light is handy to keep with you at all times to aid your search for the tent. But most importantly the main thing is to make sure you have fun at a metal festival, if you are wet and muddy and miserable it is a little harder to have fun - and so go prepared and you will love your experience.

Having been to three very different metal festivals this year in three different countries - I believe there are three main factors that will determine how much you enjoy yourself. These things are; size of the festival, i.e. amount of people, the bands that are to play at the festival, and the conditions of the festival, i.e. the weather, the toilets and the field.
A lot of people is good, its contributes towards the atmosphere - but then too many people can just get annoying when trying to get from one place to another. Obviously the better the line-up the better, you're only going to go if there's a good line-up. And obviously the best conditions are desired, this does not mean the more sun the better though, as too much sun can be a very bad thing indeed.
The sheer size of Wacken made it unique, whereas the smaller size of Bloodstock allowed it to be enjoyable for some different reasons as well, as we could easily get from one place to the next.

All in all though, an open air metal festival is like nothing you will have been to before. Quite simply you need to experience it first hand to understand what it is truly like to be there. It is very true what someone told me before going to Hellfest, my very first festival, they said that a metal festival is the best thing at times but also the worst thing at times. Nibbs from Saxon told me to expect the best but prepare for the worst and that is exactly how it is.

The festivals of 2008 are already announcing bands, Iron Maiden, Carcass, Avantasia, etc. for Wacken - Moonsorrow, Dimmu Borgir, etc. for Bloodstock to follow on seemingly year after year of providing good quality metal festivals for us. As the popularity of the open air metal festival rises there's nothing more to say apart from I will see you there!!

My summer, articled on Metal Storm:

Hellfest

Hellfest Summer Open Air - Clisson, France, 22nd June 2007
Hellfest Summer Open Air - Clisson, France, 23rd June 2007
Hellfest Summer Open Air - Clisson, France, 24th June 2007

Wacken

Wacken Open Air - Wacken, Germany, 2nd August 2007
Wacken Open Air - Wacken, Germany, 3rd August 2007
Wacken Open Air - Wacken, Germany, 4th August 2007

Bloodstock

Bloodstock Open Air - Catton Hall, England, 16th August 2007
Bloodstock Open Air - Catton Hall, England, 17th August 2007
Bloodstock Open Air - Catton Hall, England, 18th August 2007



 



Written on 07.10.2007 by
Baz Anderson
Member of Staff since 2006.
More articles by Baz Anderson ››




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Marcel Hubregtse - 07.10.2007 at 17:36  
Totally disagree with your opening paragrap. Metal listeners are just the same as any other avid follower of other sort of music. Just go to your regular pop concert and listen to the fans singing along to EVERY sungle song and word of the concert. Thos people are just as dedicated and passionate about their sort of music as we are.

Why do metallers always think they are more passionate than others?
wrathchild - 07.10.2007 at 18:43  
Yeah, I agree with Marcel's remark. Though I can understand Baz' statement

What I like in big festivals like Hellfest or Wacken (though I still haven't attended the latter) is that you can meet people from different countries, different ages, and live the same thing together. Even though I'm not very good at socializing, meeting people is the best thing I remember from the (few, I know) festivals I attended.

Hellfest was particularly great for this, because I got to meet many staff members. I really hope such a meeting will take place again but in better conditions (the weather in Clisson was not very helpful).

One thing I try not to forget when going to festivals is a pair of earplugs. Not for the concerts, but at night, to sleep
Baz Anderson - 07.10.2007 at 18:57  
well I stand by what I said, it just depends how you look at it

metal can be a way of life - you know, people live metal, it is like a religion. we grow our hair and some people get tattoos and (get Helloween rings stuck on your finger, and) all sorts
we have more pride in our artists because we have gone out and searched for them ourselves, you know, we haven't discovered them because they are the next big craze

to me of course people who like metal are much more passionate about it than any other type of music fan with their music
of course I have a totally ubiased view. hahaha
dismaleuphony - 09.10.2007 at 07:08  
Well I do think that metalheads can be more passionate about their music than some other musical genre's fans... but I also find that there are equally as many jazz or industrial or folk fans who are equally as passionate, and make their music a way of life just like a lot of metalheads do. I think any music that is not mass-marketed / corporate will often create a legion of fans who, simply by the nature of it being something you must search for to hear, are more passionate because it takes up more time and more effort to listen to the music. I always love something (or someone) more that takes up more of my time, and my brainpower

And about open air metalfests, well, the only one I've seen is Ozzfest out here in the US, and it was okay 10 years ago, but then again, I only went for 2 bands and disliked most of the people there. I have enjoyed the few outside concerts I've seen, but hopefully sometime soon I'll make it out to a fest across the ocean and see why they are so popular out there
Lucas - 09.10.2007 at 12:06  
Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 07.10.2007 at 17:36

Totally disagree with your opening paragrap. Metal listeners are just the same as any other avid follower of other sort of music. Just go to your regular pop concert and listen to the fans singing along to EVERY sungle song and word of the concert. Thos people are just as dedicated and passionate about their sort of music as we are.


Hmm, I don't know. Pop stars usually have much simpler lyrics, get waay more airplay and exposure and are forgotten MUCH faster. The fact that half of the metal community is still stuck in the 80's and 90's also says something about 'our' perspective on the history of the genre.
Eternal Flames - 10.10.2007 at 12:25  
I can understand what both Baz and Marcel are saying. Since Metal is still an underground genre, people find themselves listening to whole albums rather than just songs that have been released on the airwaves. A lot of mainstream fans will only ever know an artist by the songs they've released, so at a lot of mainstream concerts, there's not as many people singing along to a artists more obscure songs; that is, songs that they have not released on the airwaves. Now, of course, this does happen in metal as well, but not to the same extent.

I wouldn't say that metal fans are more dedicated and passionate about the music though. I've met punk fans, rap fans etc that are just as passionate as metal fans albeit I understand what you mean.

Anywho, good blog. I've never been to an open air festival myself yet. I've been to one rock festival here about 5 years ago, but not an open air festival and I wasn't a very big fan of most of the bands there either. I just happened to get free tickets to the show, so figured I'd seize the opportunity to see some different bands live. I'd really love to experience a open air metal festival though and if I ever do, I'll keep your helpful hints in mind.
GT - 12.10.2007 at 18:54  
Been to a couple of open air festivals (unfortunatly not metal only festivals) and I most certainly agree with the weather part. Rain and wind sucks of course but so does a burning sun for 7 days! You can't imagine how bad 90.000 people and the festival area smell after 7 days sleeping in tents and using camping-toilets (or the surrounding fences) when the temperatures have stayed around 30* C all week.

Baz tells about how annoying it can be with to many people making it impossible to go from point A to point B fast. That might be annoying yes, but if you just prepare youself before you arrive, well then the problem ain't that big anyway. It's a great chance to meet people and share a beer (or something else)...and then it doesn't matter if it takes 2 hours to walk 500 meters.

Anyway, enough from me. Nice blog with some really good advices on what to remember.
Bad English - 17.10.2007 at 16:07  
@Baz - hahah I agree thats why I hate such think like weather IMO best fest can be in Creta in mid june 99% garantie no rain
Thats why I always wear boots, army boots if go long journies it safe, and also Jack Daniesl can warm you lil bit

@Marcel I disagbree, IMO metal heads are unique, its like ultras who follow for exampel Napoli to Milan and wanna see how Napoli kick Inter ass and then 24h journey home, same whit metalheads thay all time are 'on the road'
Its like whole world go to WAO, and such fest but look pop fans, thay turn on MTV and are happy, dont by CD so much, and doomesters thay are just ho to say, ... are diferent

But also Blues, Jazz, folk fans has same passion how we, but we dont understand its only pop an dhip hop fans who dont care and dont follow and dig deeper into music

@Wrat - hehhe iMO there wa sonly stuff + Darkside Momo what you met and in rain --> CAMUS

@Baz I agree its like ultras who follow to them football team

@dismael - I didnt read your post when I psot about jazz., folk, blues but I agree about all what you sad
jupitreas - 20.10.2007 at 19:52  
From my experience, proper Hip-Hop/Rap and electronic music (house, trance etc) fans are just as, if not more so, passionate as metalheads. Punks also... Jazz fans are also passionate but they wont be screaming along with the lyrics or jumping around because, well, its jazz!
Bad English - 26.10.2007 at 15:37  
Written by jupitreas on 20.10.2007 at 19:52

From my experience, proper Hip-Hop/Rap and electronic music (house, trance etc) fans are just as, if not more so, passionate as metalheads. Punks also... Jazz fans are also passionate but they wont be screaming along with the lyrics or jumping around because, well, its jazz!


I agree about it and jazz fans maybe thay are [assionate but tahy mously siting and drinking(not lkke we), blues fans can jum and lil singing but moust jumping and singing metalheads
Darkside Momo - 02.11.2007 at 14:03  
A sidenote about the 'more dedicated fans, or not' topic : I agree with Dismal when he says that underground music fans, whatever the style, are dedicated. It's not specific to metal ; however, the way to express it is unique (i.e. long hairs, wear black, ...)

About your blog, Baz, I found it interesting, but I'd just add that some advice that you give (light and landmarks for camping) are well known to those that have already gone camping a few times in life. I'll also add two more tips :
- don't put your tent just near a passageway (unless you're sure to be so drunk that you would be unable to navigate in the sea of tents). At Hellfest, for example, the paths were onlymud, why was splashed all over the tents close to it. Dreadful.
- If rain looms near, try to put your tent on higher ground. You'll say, it's all flat. Well, not really, and after all a little elevation can spare you the grief of a mud sea splashing under your tent...
Doc Godin - 04.11.2007 at 08:13  
Getting away from the ongoing discussion of the first paragraph. I thank you for the advice on going to Open Air festivals, seeing as I hope to go to Wacken next year, see you there!
Opium - 05.11.2007 at 05:59  
Written by Lucas on 09.10.2007 at 12:06

Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 07.10.2007 at 17:36

Totally disagree with your opening paragrap. Metal listeners are just the same as any other avid follower of other sort of music. Just go to your regular pop concert and listen to the fans singing along to EVERY sungle song and word of the concert. Thos people are just as dedicated and passionate about their sort of music as we are.


Hmm, I don't know. Pop stars usually have much simpler lyrics, get waay more airplay and exposure and are forgotten MUCH faster. The fact that half of the metal community is still stuck in the 80's and 90's also says something about 'our' perspective on the history of the genre.

It wouldn't exactly be half, although your point is still quite valid and couldn't be more true, Lucas

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