The Railway to Hell - A Prologue to Wacken
|Wacken Open Air 2010
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)
Year after year a special vehicle leaves for Wacken Open Air, the biggest heavy metal festival in the world: the Metal Train! 750 metalheads in 13 wagons and a special disco wagon sure sound like a whole lot of fun, but is it really worth the 120 ? for the 777 km from Stuttgart in the South of Germany to Itzehoe in the far North and retour? This is the question I've been asking myself ever since I've heard about the existence of the train. This year I've decided to give it a chance and see what the Metal Train is all about.
First of all let's check some facts:
- 750 fanatic metalheads in 13 wagons plus a disco wagon. More than 20% of them come from abroad, most of those (approximately 150) from Switzerland.
- The Metal Train is the only train in the year which brings you from Stuttgart to Itzehoe in one go, and the price includes a CD and the shuttle bus from Itzehoe to Wacken which would normally cost you another 10 bucks. The cheapest option by regular rail would cost you 90 ? one-way(!) and would require you to change trains a whopping 8 (eight!!) times.
- However, if you pack four metalheads into a car and let them drive from Stuttgart to Wacken, it costs each of them merely 50 ?.
Stuttgart - Itzehoe in one go. Sexyness included.
But maybe the experience is worth it after all? Well, join me on my ride on Germany's loudest train and find out.
Welcome to the railway to hell...
Stuttgart Central Station
8.00 p.m.: I arrive two hours early. So far I can't spot any metalheads, so I opt to visit Burger King for a last proper meal. Only a few minutes later the first black-clad creatures trickle into the restaurant. And at 8.30 p.m. black is the dominant colour. I already get to know some people and after a while we decide to go to platform 3.
8.50 p.m.: As we get closer to platform 3 the noise level rises. And as we turn around the corner we are greeted by "WACCKKKEEEEEENN!!!" shouts and a sight to die for: the Black Plague has totally infested this part of the station, just as if an inkwell had been spilled all over it! The occasional passers-by who want to go to platform 4 look either frightened or amused, especially as one guy keeps flashing his buttocks towards the people in the train on track 4 waiting to depart.
I give my ticket to the supervisor and - in typical festival manner - get a wristband in exchange. And this is where the party already starts: while waiting for the Metal Train to arrive, the black bunch is already killing a few beers and keeps singing and cheering. If the atmosphere is this awesome in the station already, what is it going to be like on board??
9.20 p.m.: For some reason the train doesn't arrive on platform 3, but on no. 1 instead. No problem, the crowd packs its stuff and migrates to the other platform while waving German, Swiss and Swedish flags.
9.40 p.m.: Most headbangers have already taken their seats in the train, look out of the windows, have a smoke, kill another few beers and make their way to the disco wagon.
9.50 p.m.: I as well have taken my seat by now in one of the press compartments of the train and get to know my neighbours: the TV crew of RTL is a friendly bunch which shares a compartment with me. The next compartment is occupied by the crew of German TV channel Pro7. I won't state what I thought about them, but it should be easy to make up your own mind after seeing what they created: http://www.prosieben.de/tv/taff/video/clip/28694-der-metal-train-1.1928194/ (sorry, only in German).
10.04 p.m.: The train starts moving. The rejoicing is huge and the speakers blast "Rock'n'Roll Train" by AC/DC. Wacken, here we come!
"Poser pic, GO!"
I take my trusty camera and make my way to the disco wagon. Wherever I go people are partying, the atmosphere is absolutely brilliant, so I jerk open the doors to several compartments while shouting "Poser pic, GO!" - most of the time people do not only display their truest pose, they also invite me for a beer or whatever else they have in store. By the time I get to the disco wagon I have already tasted a dozen different beers and have got to know three times as many people. In the aisles people are leaning out of the windows and whenever we pass through another train station they unleash their "WAACCCKKKEEEEEEEENN!!!!" screams, making Metal Train truly the loudest train in the republic.
The disco wagon in the middle of the train is just that: a heavy metal disco with two bars, a DJ who keeps the crowd going and a huge space in the middle where people keep headbanging and moshing. This is where the metal breed goes when partying on the aisles and in the compartments gets too boring. Or if the mates in your compartment are the doing-it-wrong kinda guys and kick you out because they want to sleep...
"Holy shit, this is awesome!"
After 1 1/2 hours we arrive in Mannheim, the first stop. And of course there's only one thing to be heard: "WAACCCKKKEEEEEEEENN!!!!" The people we are to pick up at this station are totally flabbergasted. Greeted by the passengers of the train with handshakes and cheers, the new guys make their way to their wagons. "Holy shit, this is awesome", I've overheard some dude exclaiming. Apparently his expectations that the Metal Train is one huge rolling party have just been confirmed.
Most of the new passengers end up in the disco wagon in the course of the next hour. By now it is pretty tightly packed and if you're a claustrophobic you are in big trouble if you want to get from the front half of the train to the rear half. And this was only the first of six stops! But then again, as a claustrophobic you wouldn't want to go to Wacken anyway.
Anyway, much fun has been had. The people are banging and moshing along to Metallica, Slayer, Maiden, Accept, AC/DC and the likes while fans of extreme metal might feel a bit neglected. It would be great if Metal Train sells more tickets next year to make the return of the second disco wagon feasible again where the musical program could be different from the other disco wagon, pretty much in the vein of Wacken's two main stages dubbed True Metal Stage and Black Stage.
"Get the hell in here!"
"Has anybody seen my contact lens?"
Less than an hour later we already reach our second stop Mainz-Bischofsheim, which also serves the Frankfurt metropolitan area. The welcome of the new ones wasn't as frenetic as it was in Mannheim, probably because people are either too drunk already or too busy partying. I am pretty drunk myself, after all I've been walking from one end of the train to the other twice by now, have met a shitload of new people and got to try a shitload of beers. And as the newcomers who've gotten on board in Mainz are from my area, I try to find someone who has some original Hessian cider, the only thing we people from Hesse love more than beer. And everywhere I go I pull off my "Poser pic, GO!" routine on whoever hasn't been victimized by me yet.
The people in one compartment however didn't just let me go and asked me for a photo session. Okay, that didn't really work out as the next person walking by got yelled at: "Get the hell in here! Photo session!" The same happened to the next person. And the next person. And the next person. By now people were already lying on top of each other while others were walking by, stuck in their heads in curiosity and got told the same thing: "Get the hell in here! Photo session!" In case you're wondering, photo session was synonymous for one guy - me - lying somewhere underneath with a leg in his face and holding up his camera in the futile attempt to take pictures of whatever was going on on top of him. In the end we were more than 20 people in one single compartment! And many of them on top of me and on my legs in particular. At least I got compensated for the pain with - you guessed it - even more beer!
"So why are you here?"
At half past 2 we've arrived at our fourth stop, Cologne. While many people who've been on board from the very beginning have gone to sleep by now (pussies!), the newcomers from Mannheim, Mainz and Koblenz (yeah, I've forgotten to write about the third stop in Koblenz. I was too drunk to register it anyway, so fuck that) have lifted the overall spirit in the train, so the welcome in Cologne's central station is even more frantic than it was in Mannheim.
Brother alcohol was starting to get the better of me (even more so as I had finally found someone with a keg of cider), so it was high time to investigate why exactly people chose the Metal Train over driving by car, sharing a ride or flying to the nearest airport. Here are some replies:
- A bunch of young chaps from Southern Germany:
"Neither of us is eligible to drive and we didn't want to do carpooling and end up in different cars. So in order to stick together this was the cheapest and definitely the most fun option!"
- Two guys from Milan, Italy:
"We came over the Alps by train and got onto the Metal Train in Stuttgart. Flying to Hamburg might've been faster, but just as expensive and we couldn't have brought as much luggage with us."
- Some guy from Switzerland:
"For one, this is a lot cheaper than any other train. And then, which other means of transport allows you to party out with hundreds of people who are just as crazy as you are during the whole trip?!"
After the last guy's remark I deemed my work as finished, so I pack away my camera (which had its fair share of beer by now as well...) and concentrate on partying until I finally pass out at 4 a.m..
The last meters to Wacken
Itzehoe! At last!
At about 9 a.m. we arrive at Itzehoe, the closest train station to Wacken. Normally people who arrive here have to buy a ticket for the shuttle bus to cover the last 20 km to their point of destination. Metal Train passengers however have their own bus which they already have paid for with the Metal Train ticket. Well, two busses actually and they need to commute several times between Itzehoe and Wacken, so that the slowest bunch of people (which includes me) needs to wait for about an hour until we can finally board the bus. No problem though, there's still some beer left, the company is great and the train station also offers a café for some breakfast. And it leaves us with some time for a summary:
- Metal Train sure as hell is one huge party! It's great if you don't want to bother with "Who's gonna drive?" or if you're on your own and already want to get to know a lot of people before you arrive in Wacken.
- However, I have not been convinced by the advantages it has over going by car. One reason is that you can't lock away your valuables at the campground of the festival. The other reason is that you have to carry everything yourself, which isn't much of an issue if you have a handcart with you. And if you drive a Mini you can actually bring along more luggage if you don't go by car. Still, as a German I'd recommend going by car as it's just a lot cheaper.
- Now if Wacken is the only festival of the year for you or if you come from abroad just for Wacken Open Air and travel by plane or train, you might want to consider going to Stuttgart and make the most out of your Wacken experience. It might not be cheap, but hey, if you travel that far only for Wacken Open Air, money shouldn't really be an issue.
And then finally the bus arrives at 10.10 a.m. to pick up the last MT adventurers and bring us to the holy Wacken Land...
To be continued...
|Written on 15.09.2010 by Daniel "Promonex" Pereira loves to enthuse people with stuff he's enthusiastic about; as writer, photographer, promoter and DJ. Metal Storm staff since 2005.
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