In one sentence: Too much to see and too many choices to make. But what an experience. Ok, those were two sentences. But that's the shortest summary I can give of the biggest metal festival in the world.
As it was my first time going there, We left a day earlier to take the time and explore the surroundings of the festival. Wacken is a 3 street village that turns black for one week. That week it doesn’t matter where you’re form, what you believe or how you look. ‘Why can’t that always be like that’? Is the question I often ask myself and that’s also the question I got asked by a random German guy I ran into while waiting for my friend to come back from the bathroom. The only reply I could give was: ‘I don't know, but it should always be like that’. This part here is the mood that you’ll find at Wacken. Nobody is the same, yet everybody is together.
There are 8 (+ Metal Church on Wednesday) stages in the Holy Land. I’m not sure if I found them all. That means that you can see a lot of different bands. New bands, old bands, aliens… Whatever suits you. It also means there are a lot of choices to make, like I said before. I definitely haven’t seen everything, but I did make my choices to form my first experience there. Enough to never want to leave again. Let me try to write down the experience of this muddy, Holy, Wacken land to you.
Wednesday August 2, 2017
As I arrived on Tuesday evening, Wednesday morning turned into exploring time. There’s so much to see. Even outside of the festival. The whole village of Wacken turns black and so now and then you see elderly people sitting outside and waving at you. All the kids are driving karts to transport beer and other liquids to the campsite and back. A real international and family experience.
After seeing the village it was time to explore the campsite, which was HUGE. You would think you would never find your tent back, but the thing has streets, which makes it way easier to find your tent than on a normal campsite. Less falling over the tent pegs included. You can just drive your car (or any other thing on wheels) on the campsite, which makes everything lined up in straight lines.
On Wednesday, the main stages weren’t open yet. Also the Louder stage only opens on Thursday. So for now, we ‘only’ have six stages. After a nice BBQ, we headed towards the festival itself. Starting off with Flotsam and Jetsam, followed by Ugly Kid Joe on the stage next to it with only a 15 minute break in between. For me, Ugly Kid Joe had the best performance, as everybody was waving and jumping up and down. Even outside of the tent they were playing it. The whole festival sang along with ‘Cat’s in the Cradle’ and jumped up and down with ‘I’m Alright’. After watching Annihilator, who played after Ugly Kid Joe, some more exploring was done.
Wackinger Village, the place where the most delicious food is being made for a reasonable price. So many choices (yes, more choices) to make.. Eating something else everyday was the result. And that was not the only place where food was sold. Also at Wackinger Center was an opportunity to buy food, but that was the more ‘classical’ festival food like hamburgers and french fries. But then very good tasting hamburgers and french fries. Believe me, every festival food after you’ve been to Wacken will taste bad compared to the food here.
Then there’s the metal market, the place that’s full of shops with t-shirts, cd’s, vinyl, patches, rain boots (very important further on in the story), earplugs, stuff like that. As I said before, the main stages, the Faster and Harder stage, weren’t open yet. When it turned dark, you could easily see the power of the lights around the stages. They were so powerful that it would go all the way up in the air and you could still see it at the campsite. It was beautiful. A camera couldn’t capture this view. On top of it all, Wacken also shows a couple of movies every night at the Beer stage. We watched ‘Free to Rock’, a movie about how Rock’n Roll started out and how it was forbidden in the first place. People weren’t allowed to stand at a concert, Rock’n Roll changed all that.
Thursday August 3, 2017
WAAACCCCKKEEEENNNN!! is the thing you shout when the sky is angry with you and throws the whole sea on you in a couple of minutes. In 5 seconds, everybody was soaking wet and had to search shelter for the rain. It was pretty funny afterwards. That was also the moment no grass could be seen and all the precautions the organization of Wacken took to prevent the infield form flooding, were gone. That’s where the rain boots came in handy that I literally just bought (let me thank my friend again for this).
Skyline is a cover band that played classics like Iron Maidens ‘The Trooper’ and Deep Purples ‘Smoke On the Water’. Later on Doro Pesch came on stage to perform ‘We Are the Metalheads’ and ‘All We Are’ together with Skyline. That’s another thing I learned: If you’re in Germany and Doro is not on the billing, you will still see her everywhere. Keep this in mind, she will come back.
Europe played the song everybody wants them to play: ‘The Final Countdown’. In an interview, they were saying that only once in their life, they didn’t play ‘The Final Countdown’ and everybody was angry with them. So from now on, they always play the song. So you never have to worry that Europe doesn’t play the song. I think it’s cool. It’s one of their classics. But then again, I can also imagine that playing the song almost every night can be a bit boring.
Accept were amazing with their special Orchestra show. It was the first time that they brought lead guitarists Wolf Hoffmann’s Headbangers Symphony with them. They performed songs form old classics like Vivaldi and Beethoven. It was also the first time that they performed songs of their new album ‘The Rise of Chaos’. Songs like ‘Die By the Sword’ and ‘Koolaid’ were played live for the first time ever. A very awesome experience I have to say. they were totally in sync with the orchestra, which gave the show an extra dimension. As their new album would release the next day, they offered it to the fans a day early. You could buy the album at the signing session and also get it signed at the same time. Really nice of the band to offer that to us. Thank you Accept! You can read the review of the album on darkview.be as well.
Volbeat closed of the first official day of WOA 2017. Volbeat is always a solid band, and also this time they were solid as a rock. They opened the show with ‘The Devil’s Bleeding Crown’. They played a piece of ‘Heaven Nor Hell’ and also ‘Seal the Deal’ and ‘Marie Laveau’ were part of their setlist. Something not to forget is the tribute to Johnny Cash by playing ‘Ring of Fire’ and the tribute to Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington by playing Last Goodbye.
Watch Volbeat play ‘The Devil’s Bleeding Crown’ Live at Wacken:
Friday August 4 2017
Friday included more exploring through the area. If you are a subscribed to EMP in Germany, or known as LARGE in Netherlands and Belgium, then you are allowed to enter the Backstageclub at Wacken and Summerbreeze. At the backstage area you had a higher deck where you could see the Faster, Harder and the Louder stage. The only problem was, if 2 bands were playing at once, you’ll hear the sound of the 2 bands mixed. So in my opinion, it was not the best spot to check out bands. It was a cool spot to get an overview over a part of the festival grounds. The backstage club area also included a bar without a waiting line, toilets without a waiting line and a place where you could sit dry and charge your phone for free. It was a cool idea to create this area. It makes you feel special if you can enter a special area :)
There was also a pole sitting competition. Although the pole looked rather comfortable as I expected it to be very small. It actually looked like a chair on top of a pole. Apparently if you sit on the pole for six hours on Wednesday and Thursday, you will receive a VIP upgrade. If you do so on Friday and Saturday, you will receive a 75 euro voucher for the official Wacken shop. For every hour somebody sat on the pole, a company will donate 10 euros to the Wacken foundation to support rock and heavy metal music. Pretty Cool huh?
Around that area also stood a huge park bench, like it was made for giants. It looked pretty cool and was apparently also comfortable as a lot of people were sitting on it. Around it was a little beach area with other benches where you could sit dry and kinda mudless.
Throughout the festival area were different higher decks were you could go to to get an overview of a part of the area. For example the Jaegermeister deck. It was deer shaped, like the logo of the drink, and it had 3 different levels. Form the horns of the deer came fire and from the nose came smoke every now and then.
Sonata Arctica sounded very passionate and alive. They asked the crowd if anybody was alone there without any friends. Lead singer Tony Kakko told us to hug each other and make new friends. Especially to make friends with the people who just responded to the previous question. Tony was also talking about exploring new stuff. Wether it’s music or pieces of the world. It’s out there, go find it and explore it. They played songs like ‘Closer To An Animal’, ‘Black Sheep’ and ‘Life’. Let’s not forget the awesome outro by playing ‘Don’t Say a Word’ followed by the Vodka outro. Sonata Arctica fans will know what this means. After the show, they also did a signing session. Very nice guys who were very thankful for an awesome crowd, and the crowd was very thankful for them. If I may allow myself to speak for everybody who watched the show.
Trivium is a band that I’ve seen live twice a year the last couple of years. They play a lot of shows, and they do it good. Well, good is an understatement. Every Trivium show just has a lot of energy. Moshpits and crowdsurfing included. After playing the well-known ‘Strife’, they also played ‘Kirisute Gomen’, ‘Silence In the Snow’, and the song the band always closes their show with since its release: ‘In Waves’. This includes the traditional kneeling to the floor and jumping up and down as soon as lead singer Matt Heafy screams the first ‘IN WAAAAAVVVEEEESSS’. Always awesome to see these guys live. If you haven’t, be sure to check them out sometime.
Watch Trivium play 'Kirisute Gomen' live at Wacken:
Apocalyptica did a special concert at Wacken. They went back to their very first album where they played Metallica songs with 4 cellos. So that’s exactly what they were doing now. It was cool seeing them going back to their roots. They even invited former member Max Lilja on stage with them. They played well known Metallica songs like ‘Master of Puppets’ and ‘Nothing Else Matters’. Especially on that last one, everybody was singing along which was very beautiful. They also played ‘Battery’, a song that they play very rarely and on top of that they played ‘Escape’, which was the first live performance of the song since 1993.
Megadeth was up next. Not really my cup of tea, but they gave a good show. They opened with ‘Hangar 18’ and played ‘Dystopia’ from their latest album and some older songs like ‘Countdown to Extinction’, ‘Trust’ and ‘Peace Sells’. And not to forget: ‘Symphony of Destruction’. The song everybody knows and sings along with.
Marilyn Manson gave his show like only Marilyn Manson can do. If you know what I mean. He plays a song, throws the mic away, leaves the stage dark and black for a few minutes, gets a new mic that isn’t any better or worse than the previous one, then plays another song. Halfway through, Marilyn got angry at the crowd for not cheering him on louder or more, or maybe both. He asked a German lady backstage to translate what he was saying so we all would understand and sing along louder. But hey, what do you want if you only play one song for 3 minutes, and then leave the stage for 5. The band that supported him sounded really good though. Also Marilyn himself sounded really good, when he played. The show was not that entertaining, but the music was of really good quality. He played songs like ‘Disposable Teens’, ‘This is the New Shit’, ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)’. He closed the ‘show’ with ‘Beautiful People’ and then threw the mic again. But then again, it wouldn’t be Marilyn Manson if he didn’t all the above.
Watch Marilyn Manson play 'Disposable Teens' live at Wacken:
Saturday August 5 2017
This day especially, was a day with a lot of choices. I was glued to the main stages and missed a lot of other great bands. But the experience I had at the main stages was unforgettable.
Max & Iggor Cavalera returned to their roots by playing their full Roots album. Some of the songs they even played twice like ‘Roots Bloody Roots’. The song that everybody moshes and jumps to, but that actually happened throughout the whole concert.
Heaven Shall Burn… What can I say… They were amazing. One of the Highlights of Wacken 2017. A huge mosh pit, more crowd surfers than you can actually count and huge circle pits around the sounds systems. This was awesome. You just have to be there to understand this feeling. There is a livestream of the full concert on youtube if you want to catch a glimpse, but this was simply amazing.
Powerwolf played the songs they normally do. It was a good show, as always, but nothing really special. The most memorable thing of this show was a little kid on the shoulders of his dad rocking out to Powerwolf. He got cheered on by the crowd. An awesome moment. Powerwolf started out with ‘Blessed and Possed’, the title track of their latest album. They also played songs like ‘Armata Strigoi’, ‘Sanctified With Dynamite’, ‘Resurection By Erection’ and ‘Wolfs of Armania’. They closed their set by playing ‘We Drink Your Blood’. Normally at Powerwolf shows, there is a lot of howling form the fans. I missed that at Wacken this year. Guess there weren't that many wolfs around this time maybe.
Alice Cooper is 69 by now and still got it. The stories he tells with his songs really come across with the show he puts on stage. Also his voice still sounds in good condition. He even released a new album recently called ‘Paranormal’. He also introduced the album by playing the song ‘Paranormal’. It’s new, but it screams Alice Copper all over it. The classics made it to the show as well. Songs as ‘No More Mister Nice Guy’, ’18’, ‘Schools Out’ and especially ‘Poison’ was screamed along by the crowd. When ‘Frankenstein’ was played, the Frankenstein character came on stage. Something Alice Cooper is doing for ages, but it just never gets old. ‘Ballad of Dwight Fry’ is always an emotional song, and Alice is very good in bringing the frustration, the inner battle that this song is about, these feelings to the crowd. Stuck in a suit where his arms are tied around his body, the nurse coming on stage, … It gives me the chills every time I watch it. A very good show ended with a tribute to Lemmy, by playing ‘Ace of Spades’. 10 out of 10 for Alice Cooper and his awesome band.
After Alice Cooper played his tribute to Lemmy, it was the turn of the Holy Wacken land to pay it’s respect to Motorhead by singing David Bowies ‘Heroes’. Lemmy would have wanted this song to be on a cover album, as said by the organization, so we sang it for him. An absolute beautiful moment that definitely engraved in many memories. The only negative was, that we had to sing it a second time. That kinda took away the special feeling, but it was still an awesome moment.
The Vikings of Amon Amarth took over the stage. The set looked amazing with drummer Jocke Wallgren sitting on a huge viking helmet. They started of the show with ‘The Pursuit of Vikings’ and also played some new songs from their latests album ‘Jomsviking’ like ‘First Kill’ and ‘Raise Your Horns’. The last one always has an amazing vibe through the crowd. Everybody is raising their horns, weather its a drinking horn or the devil horns. It creates unity through all. And, guess who came back on the stage without being on the billing? Jup, Doro Pesch gave an awesome performance together with Amon Amarth on the song ‘A Dream That Cannot Be’. It was cool to hear her clean vocals mixed with Johan Heggs screams. After slaying the sea monster while playing ‘Gardians of Asgaard’, Amon Amarth closed the show by playing ‘Twilight of the Thunder God’. Definitely an awesome performance by these vikings.
Avantasia, a band composed of humor, dreams and lots, lots of talent from all over the world, gave a 2 hour performance. Those hours flew by in a second. Starting of with the opening track of the latest album ‘Ghostlights’, ‘Mistery of a Blood Red Rose’, lead singer Tobias Sammet showed everybody the power of music. He was the only artist that thought of translating stuff that was being said in German, so that other musicians on stage and non German speaking people in the crowd could understand. He was also the only one who went to the other side of the stage to have a laugh with the Kreator fans. Avantasia created joy and unity with their performance, something that a lot of bands did, but this one has a special place. They played songs like ‘The Scarecrow’, ‘Farewell’, ‘Let the Storm Descend Upon You’, ‘Twisted Mind’, ‘Runaway Train’, ‘The Story Ain’t Over’, and many, many more songs brought by different talents. Ending the show with ‘Sign of the Cross’ and introducing every single member on stage playing with Avantasia, this dream closed its cover.
Avantasia playing ‘The Scarecrow’ live at Wacken:
Being kinda in a daze from Avantasia, the one thing that really reminded me of Kreator is that ‘Satan is Real’. An awesome song sang along by every person on the infield. Followed by multiple moshpits and wall of deaths. Closing the show with ‘Death Becomes My Light’, Kreator ended the day, and Wacken 2017 form me.
Wow… is really all I can say. My first Wacken experience has left me speechless and has me craving for the next edition. Surely this review does not cover everything that was there. You have to really be there to experience this feeling. This, is the Holy land of Wacken. See you there, rain or shine.
Check out the official Wacken website to buy your tickets and see the line up for next year! And yes, Doro Pesch is on the billing this time :p