Metal And Metal Festivals
|Written by:||Baz Anderson|
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 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 Open Air - Wacken, Germany, 2nd August 2007
Wacken Open Air - Wacken, Germany, 3rd August 2007
Wacken Open Air - Wacken, Germany, 4th August 2007
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 Member of Staff since 2006.|
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