Wacken Open Air - Wacken, Germany, 5th August 2010
|Event:||Wacken Open Air 2010|
|Written by:||Promonex, corrupt, Valentin B|
Wacken Open Air 2010 - Day 3 by Promonex (124)
Wacken Open Air 2010 - Day 2 by Promonex (146)
Wacken Open Air 2010 - Day 1 & Miscellaneous (NSFW!) by Promonex (55)
Metal Train 2010 by Promonex (120)
corrupt: Wacken Open Air 2010. The biggest and most well-established metal festival in the world. For three days each year, the small village of Wacken with its 1,850 inhabitants and 4,000 cows turns into the capital of the whole metal scene as 80,000 headbangers from all around the globe gather to celebrate the high point of their years.
Promonex: But I guess you've all known this already, haven't you? What many of you don't know however is the crass development the W:O:A has gone through in the past few years. Therefore I'm glad to announce that for this year's report I've been assisted by corrupt, annual visitor since 2005 and harsh critic of Wacken's evolution, and Valentin B, Metal Storm's most annoying Romanian, who gleefully embraces several novelties.
corrupt: The year 2010 marked the 21st edition of the W:O:A, which surprisingly had its worst lineup in seven years at its 20th anniversary in 2009. This year, as in 2008, the lineup was partly really well chosen and featured a lot of different styles and influences. It is, however painfully obvious how the festival more and more tries to appeal to a mainstream audience. Many bands in this year's lineup would not be expected to play at a metal festival or can even be argued not to belong there in the first place. In the last seven years, the festival turned from just that, a festival, into a huge social event for the whole region. It attracts, metalheads aside, an increasing number of tourists, made curious by the overwhelming mass-media coverage. After all, "You have to have been there once". This development leaves its trace on the event. Apart from the actual music, the festival now features a whole amusement park that makes it possible for every visitor to spend his four days entirely occupied without seeing a single band. I leave it up to the reader to be the judge of this development. It does definitely come with side-effects to those who are there simply for the music. In their monetary quest, the organizers tend to book band after band, with a bigger focus on quantity than quality. This year they had booked more than 120 bands playing on six stages. Added to this madness, the running order once more seemed to be scheduled by people who have an understanding of music as much as our colleague Marcel Hubregtse loves this festival. Bands playing the same style being put in overlapping slots, bands who share fans being put in overlapping slots and bands that are guaranteed to be wanted by many, many people being put in overlapping slots. And the insane number of stages left thousands of metalheads, slot by slot, forced to choose one of up to three bands they wanted to see that were scheduled to play at the same time.
Promonex: That so many people still put up with this makes it obvious that Wacken Open Air isn't only about music anymore, neither for the organizers nor for many visitors. After all the medieval Wackinger Village with its swordfight shows (and its awesome catering!), the Bullhead City Wrestling Arena, the Moviefield, the bullriding tent and all the other attractions that are to be found on the so-called "Wacken Plaza" have been received positively enough by the visitors to ensure their return in 2010, so that you get the impression that Wacken Open Air is the metal equivalent to Disneyland by now. But is this development really a bad thing? Sure, it reduces metal to its hedonist aspect. However, it guarantees neophytes, who have only recently discovered their interest in the metal scene and metal music, to have a great time and get to know a few underground bands in the process, making Wacken Open Air the perfect beginner's festival. I myself however enjoy the international air of W:O:A the most. With more than 20,000 of all visitors coming from abroad it's the perfect opportunity for cultural exchange with metalheads from all over the world. And so in 2010 I ended up - after a chance encounter with Valentin B - sharing my camp with one Brazilian, three Mexicans, three Canadians and one Romanian.
Valentin B: Another year, another Wacken. Even though I didn't have enough money, with a little help from a friend I was able to get there. With a line-up looking tastier than the food in the Wackinger Village, two full days of train-riding to get there didn't really matter that much to me. This year's fest was blessed with very good and hot weather, which made for the usual Wacken mud to be replaced by dust clouds, especially on the last day.
Table of Contents
1.4 Metal Hammer Awards
1.5 Alice Cooper
1.6 Mötley Crüe
1.7 Iron Maiden
Friday, 05.08.2010 featuring Amorphis, Orphaned Land, Job For A Cowboy, Ill Niño, Die Apokalyptischen Reiter, The BossHoss, Blaas Of Glory, Endstille, Evile, Kamelot, Arch Enemy, Tarja, Grave Digger, 1349, Slayer, Ihsahn, Anvil
Saturday, 06.08.2010 featuring Caliban, Kampfar, Die Kassierer, Overkill, Lock Up, Delain, Metsatöll, W.A.S.P., Cannibal Corpse, Sólstafir, Edguy, Immortal, Candlemass, Rotting Christ, Soulfly, Tiamat, U.D.O.
The first day of Wacken traditionally is the day of the old-school. They call it A Night To Remember and it's an evening of hard rock and NWOBHM.
Promonex: But before it was time for the regular program of the Night To Remember, a surprise act was going to play on top of the Red Bull bus. Okay, it might not be that much of a surprise if you can spot the name Apocalyptica on the official festival t-shirts, but not in the running order. So these Finnish cello maniacs played on top of a bus, in broad daylight, for merely 45 minutes. Naturally they didn't manage to build up the mesmerizing atmosphere which they usually evoke at their gigs. But even if they had managed to create this atmosphere, they would have destroyed it with their more shallow vocals-centered songs. In the end this was merely a slightly entertaining gig, nothing more, nothing less.
Valentin B: The first band I witnessed at this year's Wacken was the winner of the W:O:A Metal Battle Romania. With 20 years of history under their belt you'd think they would have lost some energy over the years, but that is not the case at all. With music somewhere between Sepultura, Pantera and Soulfly, the raw power and energy emanated by these guys was great and provided a good start to the fest. The audience could have been bigger and better though, especially considering the usual stuff that was going on on the Black Stage with Skyline playing.
corrupt: Well, Skyline is a cover band. That's all there is to say. The only reason they play Wacken every year is that Thomas Jensen, one of the W:O:A organizers, played bass for them some time in the 80's. Just as last year, Skyline was to welcome us all and officially start the festival on the big grounds. I guess if you have your own festival, it's your right to promote your own band. But is it really necessary to torture your attendees with Doro and her insufferable W:O:A Anthem? What kind of Anthem is that anyway? Give a 14 year old a pencil, paper and ten minutes and he will come up with more intelligent lyrics than those. "We are the metalheads. You think we're crass, but we kick ass". Then give him a guitar and teach him five chords (note, five is bigger than three) and there you have an anthem that at least speaks to one or two people on the ground. I don't even want to be connected with such mind-numbing stupidity. It is moments like this, when lovers of music die a little inside. Moments like Tom Angelripper's "anthem" "Auf nach Wacken, Kopp im Nacken", which roughly translates to "Let's go to Wacken and drown ourselves in beer". What a classic. But stereotypes sell I guess. And since everything from the 80's has to be cool because, well, it's from the 80's dude, how can it not be cool to have Doro on stage feeding clichés to an audience that just wants to see a good band or two? Luckily for us, Doro only stayed for two songs and then made way for something better. Udo Dirkschneider, booked for the festival with his own band U.D.O. (clever name by the way), made the next guest appearance and finally the band and their singer delivered. Next to another W:O:A Anthem, that itself was miles away from Doro's, they played "Balls To The Wall", the Accept classic. After half an hour, the show was over and so was most of my good mood. With or without Udo.
1.4 Metal Hammer Awards
corrupt: Metal Hammer is one of the biggest German "metal" magazines. The magazine itself has cooperated with the festival in the past. Two of their reporters hosted the W:O:A DVD once or twice. Last year they decided to have their own little award to be given to bands during the festival that turned out to be the worst
1.5 Alice Cooper
corrupt: Then finally we were to see a real band, Alice Cooper. Yeah, scary rock'n'roll of the finest quality. At least I thought that, had I never seen anything of him (them?). He started with "School's Out" which was nice for me because I don't know that much else of his work. After that, the show went on with a mix of classics and newer stuff. Alice Cooper, his band and a few actors and actresses they had on stage did a small performance with each song. Most of the time, Alice Cooper was tortured by a woman or the other way around. Sometimes he would throw accessories into the crowd. But the whole show was very sterile and impersonal. There was close to no interaction with the crowd and everything happening on stage seemed to be planned and rehearsed, leaving no room for dynamics. As a result, the band didn't really spark the audience. The only really funny thing was when he introduced his band near the end of the show and ended introducing himself as "me". After that they played "School's Out" a second time for whatever reason and were gone. Nice to see him once but I don't think he'll have me in his crowd again. Generic rock with an uninspired show.
Valentin B: With a support slot of something like 75 minutes and more props than a medium-budget sci-fi movie, Alice Cooper gave us the usual deal: an excellent combo of theatricality and music. Surviving death in at least 5-6 different ways including being injected with a 2-meter long syringe and being bashed by a one-eyed furry monster, the band sure provided a great, entertaining gig.
Promonex: Alice Cooper's Theater of Death tour uses the slogan: "They keep killing him... and he keeps coming back." The actual show was kind of a musical without a storyline. Mr. Cooper didn't care about the audience, he just kept getting killed and kept coming back and sang his songs in between. Essentially this was a Gwar show with a protagonist with mass appeal, less blood, better music (which isn't really a feat) and less interaction. Unless you are easily impressed by the many different killing methods you had a hard time actually enjoying this gig. Sure, songs like "School's Out", "I'm 18", "No More Mr. Nice Guy" and "Poison" always sound great, but not if the delivery is done this poorly. And when we got "School's Out" a second time it really made you wonder why they haven't rehearsed some more songs to avoid such an embarrassment. But probably they've just been too busy rehearsing the whole choreography instead...
1.6 Mötley Crüe
corrupt: Mötley Crüe are one of those bands I was never interested in, but always curious about. Now I got the chance to see them and I have to say I'm impressed. After Alice Cooper's sterile show, Mötley Crüe started with a party, kept going and ended with a party. They had their audience with them from second one. I even knew a song or two. But even if I hadn't, the show still would have excited me. The band was in a really good mood and played a set full of energy. If you get a chance to see these guys, even if you don't like their music, don't miss it.
Promonex: I for one didn't know a single Crüe song before, because I just never cared about the band. Even now after knowing them a bit better I don't really care about their music, but their show was absolutely tremendous! Unlike Alice Cooper they easily managed to get the crowd into the mood as the positive energy and fun they had on stage was totally infectious. I still wouldn't pay any money for one of their gigs, but if I ever had the chance to catch them again on a festival, I'd definitely take it.
Valentin B: After a pee-break I got myself a nice, comfortable spot for Iron Maiden and braced to watch the Crüe on the screens. I've heard numerous different opinions about a Crüe concert, but most of the negative ones were silenced after seeing their gig. Aside from Vince Neil being a poor vocalist, the show that Crüe gave was pretty good actually. To my surprise they didn't even close the set with their nauseating ballad (you know the one I'm talking about) and concentrated mostly on their old stuff.
1.7 Iron Maiden
Promonex: Iron Maiden are the biggest band that has ever played at Wacken Open Air. Some of you might remember that I was far from thrilled about their 2008 show as the crowd control had been carelessly neglected. And things haven't really changed for the better in 2010: the audience was once again far too huge for the festival and many people, who had paid the full ticket price, weren't allowed onto the infield anymore. After my terrible experiences in the fourth row two years ago I didn't try to find a good spot anymore and rather concentrated on enjoying the show. Unfortunately there wasn't much to enjoy. After the Somewhere Back in Time show in 2008, the band probably thought something like: "Hey, we've played all the old stuff two years ago, so people would probably be bored if we play 'The Trooper' or '2 Minutes to Midnight' or 'Rime of the Ancient Mariner' again. Let's play all the new stuff nobody really cares about instead!" And so it was no surprise that plenty of Maiden fans were utterly disappointed by this show. If they at least have had the verve of Mötley Crüe, they could have played whatever they wanted and it would have been great. But this way the only redeeming moments were the song "Blood Brothers" for its dedication to Ronnie James Dio and the usual appearance of the band's mascot Eddie.
corrupt: Maiden played the most arrogant and dislikeable of shows in Wacken 2008 and were now back to redeem themselves with a new set and a new album. Of course they were the only band that got their own video show on the screens. The screens were even turned off halfway during the Mötley Crüe show in preparation for this. No price is too high to please Iron Maiden. In 2008 they started off with a vicious insult to a camera guy that Bruce Dickinson called a "fucking fuck" amongst other things and refused to play until the poor guy finally got the permission to turn off and remove his camera. Apparently, if Iron Maiden can't see their crowd properly, they reserve the right not to play. This year, said camera was off from the beginning and hence the band could start to play without insulting people. Their video show was played and what followed was a huge fest of recycled harmonies and repeated rhythms. Being the only band of the whole festival with a two hours slot, they had enough time to play a good set it would seem. But for whatever reason they couldn't even please the few die-hard fans I spoke to afterwards. For me, pretty much every song sounded like the one before. And I even know a few of them. Like all the bands this day, they had really good sound and, of course, what seemed to be the whole festival attending. Like their music or not, the show was boring. Just as Alice Cooper's show, this one seemed rehearsed and static, the announcements were nonsensical or non-existent and as usual there was much more fuss about the show than the show was actually worth. But at least they didn't come off as arrogant and dislikeable as last time.
Valentin B: Here is where people agree to disagree. Judging from the DVDs, Maiden are always an excellent live band, really among the best there is, but the setlist they chose for this tour divided the fans like nothing else. I purposefully didn't check out their setlist before the show because I wanted to be surprised, and surprised I was, and not in a bad way at all! After the "Doctor Doctor" intro, the crowd exploded when the unmistakable first riff of "The Wicker Man" hit the speakers. Choosing mainly their best stuff from the later days after the reunion with Bruce, they delivered quite a show and impressed me greatly as it was the first time I've seen them live. The only problem was with the crowd control: there were simply TOO MANY PEOPLE. I was sitting something like 50 meters from the stage but still everyone was pushing left and right, making it difficult to enjoy the show at times. But, as the song goes: "Always look on the bright side of life!" And at least I myself left the festival area happy that I saw such an awe-inspiring show of probably the biggest metal band around.
corrupt: The only band I was looking forward to that day should play on the W.E.T. stage, a small stage inside a huge tent, on the side of the festival area. This tent was a real problem throughout the festival, so I decided to dedicate a few lines to it. If you're just interested in Gojira, skip to the next paragraph. To get to the point right away, the tent didn't have an opening in the roof to allow for exchange of air. This combined with a massive crusade by the festival organization and American Spirit, to provide even the last attendee with cigarettes, resulted in an environment that even smokers had problems to breathe in. I as a non-smoker found myself coughing during most of the shows I've seen there. A friend of mine who suffers from light asthma couldn't even enter. She had to watch all the bands on that stage from the outside. This is in fact one of the biggest points of criticism I have this year, why the offensive sale of cigarettes? I love stereotypes as much as the next guy and of course, the coolest thing a metalhead can do is smoke, I even see the margin in selling cigarettes on the festival ground, but why do we need people walking through the crowd selling them? What's wrong with a booth to obtain them, so that people who really want to die the painful, long and slow death of lung cancer can get their fix there? It seems that the organizers only have a commercial interest left in the festival. This might not be a big surprise, but they really found a special way of concealing it. The ticket price remained constant for the last three years, and changing that would call for immense numbers of complaints (check their forums for reference). So what they do is introduce features as a "service" to their attendees. Sell beer within the crowd, so people don't have to walk 20 meters to get it themselves. Do the same with cigarettes and even ice-cream. All in good will and just for the people of course. Give the people everything they need to die painfully, but don't forget to warn them. They actually played an ad against alcohol and drug abuse once or twice a day. All the while giving the people enough of both to smoke and drink themselves into the deepest depths of nirvana. But how the hell can anyone produce a closed space with no possibility for air exchange at the same time?
OK now, Gojira. These guys were fantastic. They had all of 45 minutes for their set, so they were in a bit of a hurry, but they didn't fail to amaze. Their sound was incredible, every nuance of their music was audible, their set just awesome. Including one of my favorites, "Backbone." And the tent was overcrowded. A really awesome show and just what I needed to end my day. They did overlap with Iron Maiden for 30 minutes. So in the first part, when they were in between two songs, most the sound came from the outside. But that should not destroy the awesome concert for us who where there.
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