07: The new staging setup, from the hill entrance to the area closest to the festival grounds. The Party Stage is just a little out of frame to the right.
08: Memorial in Wacken for the dead of two World Wars - Let Us Rest In Peace. It's odd to look at memorials like this; these are men who suffered and died for their country, often far from home, but in wars that were started by their side for fundamentally bad and unjust reasons. Weird, weird feeling; Americans aren't used to separating the sorrow of the loss of life from the belief in the cause of the conflict, and for our sake and the sake of the rest of the world, I hope we never do.
I just ran into Andy again, for the third year running, while sitting around in the beer garden waiting for official entry. If you're a Stammgast and the people you know are as well, even among 70,000 people you'll usually run into them sooner or later, but this was really damn early. The pictures above were collected earlier in the day, on my shopping expedition into the village, which netted a loaf of bread that I would be eating chunks of the rest of the week, three boxes of iced tea, a Wacken-beer whose bottle is now starring on James' beer-wall at our place, a shirt from this year's Black Stage, last year's DVD (still need to go through this and see where if at all I'm in it), and before any of this, another carton of iced tea to drink while standing in the huge line to get into the Edeka.
Because the fest sold out so relatively far in advance, it seems like everyone is here already - though more will doubtless come on Friday and Saturday. Thursday's been more relaxed in the past, but this place is already brim-full of metalheads; it's gonna be an intense weekend.
09: Boston is NOT gonna stand for this.
See the address in that picture? Spam them. Spam them to fucking DEATH. Wargasm is used, posers, pick a new name.
10: Blitzkrieg kicks this shit off.
They did a couple tunes that Iron Maiden might -- and in some cases, by virtue of similar subjects, already has -- have done better, but they rocked nonetheless, and their well-practiced NWOBHM resurrection represents about the best openers that I've ever seen on this festival; they're a lot better than Tristania, and last year Faster Inferno was just a fucking joke.
Rose Tattoo [6/7]
Not AC/DC junior, but more like AC/DC part II; not super-original for Ozzie rock'n'roll, but damn cool stuff, like it was intended for the first day of this fest and the attendant heavy alcohol consumption. The set got better as it rolled on, and this is one of the bands that I've definitely got to try to get some recorded stuff from in the future.
11: Rose Tattoo rock'n'roll avalanche.
Sodom exists to destroy you. Never forget this. Awesome, awesome, awesome show that involved nearly everyone who'd ever been involved with the band, and covered a ton of complete classic material, old as well as new, and if we didn't get "Agent Orange", we got fucking Grave Violator and Frank Blackfire back in harness, so who the fuck is going to complain?
12: Sodom, scrim and setup.
13: Sodom in full cry.
14: Grave Violator joins up for "Blasphemer" -- my side and first row, bitches!
15: Frank Blackfire rips it up on "Christ Passion".
16: Sodom starts combi-ing multiple guitarists, leading up to the finale.
On "Bombenhagel", the closer, they ended up bringing out everyone living who's ever played guitar for the band, just a complete wall of thrash annihilation. Fucking killer set.
Since my feet were hurting and I wasn't going to be up front, I decided to just repair to the beer garden, and nearly dropped my beer when Biff announced the attendance figure from the stage. 70,000 wtf. Bloody amazing. The music was ok, though the sound wasn't great that far back (it's about 300-400 meters from the stage to where I was sitting) -- and they did do "Solid Ball of Rock", which I wasn't expecting, so this was a night to remember after all.
The figure of 70,000 is from the police (who have been inaccurate in the past), and was later allegedly topped, but feels about right for the number of people present. There were more than last year, but it didn't feel as packed because there was a lot more space for them to pour out in; moving the Party Stage added room for about 15-20,000 people, and the infield had a lot fewer islands in it than the last two years. The hundred thousand announced by the guy from Subway To Sally on Saturday night, though, is completely bogus.
The title for today has to do with the liquid ground in the infield; due to heavy rain all through July, the ground was waterlogged, requiring helicopters and drainage ditches to clear the campgrounds, separate parking and camping areas for the first time in history, and, as in 2005, tons on tons of straw in the infield. The weather was clear, warm, and dry, but the ground, once trod on even a little, rapidly turned into a morass, a set of conditions that led, in retrospect, somewhat predictably, to one of the singular events of Friday.