Thursday, August 27, 2009

Every Shirt CXXXIII: Party.San 2009

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shirt: Party.San 2009
size: XL (EU)
vintage: 2009
provenance: festival

Bought on-site at this iteration of the festival, this shirt features a MBT, probably a Leopard 2 or T-90, menacing the viewer on the front (below the fold above), and a full listing of the bands on the festival on the back, modulo Grabak in favor of Glorior Belli, who dropped off the morning of the second day and thus couldn't exactly be scratched from the festival shirts. For Wacken shirts in the past, I've listed who I saw; in this case it's shorter to list who I didn't: Satyricon (heard only), Eluveitie, Dark Funeral, and Six Feet Under (last 3, none at all). This is one of the great benefits of a smaller fest, where the scheduling can be such as to allow everyone to see every band if they want to. There's one of those going on this weekend if you're in New England, so if you're not in an anti-hurricane bunker, NEDF II is going to be worth a look-in, advance ticket or no. Go! Support! See killer death band after killer death band!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Every Shirt CXXXII: Graveheart

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shirt: Graveheart
size: XL (US)
vintage: 2008
provenance: band

This one's about a year old, from their gig supporting Testament on their tour before last. Per the shirt, Graveheart was also "on tour", though with a distinctly large number of off dates. They're still active, though I have no idea whether the new record that I got a promo for along with the shirt is out yet (Screaming Ferret is like that sometimes); Pete may get more recognition for producing Revocation's stuff, among others, but Graveheart is still out playing gigs and kicking faces in...though I'm not sure that I've seen the band since this date.

verse 2

In valley green, on towering crag
Our fathers fought before us
And conquered 'neath the same old flag
That's proudly floating o'er us
We're children of a fighting race
That never yet has known disgrace
And as we march, the foe to face
We'll chant a soldier's song

Interpret this as you will, whether it has to do with certain political events or certain sporting events current at the time of the post.

(Full version)

Every Shirt CXXXI: Withered - 2008 tour

shirt: Withered - 2008 tour
size: XL (US)
vintage: 2008
provenance: band

Picked up on the local date of their run with Watain, this shirt has a pretty neat design on the front as shown, but the real kicker is on the back, where the next night after the show I was at is listed as being in "NEW YORK, CA". One wonders at the cross-continental there-and-back-again required to do Boston-Cali-Philly on three successive nights....and then snaps out of it after about a second and a half and realizes that whoever printed this shirt just doesn't know (or didn't check) where New York City is located. What the hell ever; it's a unique point, and it gives the band's friends something to rib them about.

Every Shirt CXXX: Nile

shirt: Nile - Slaughterers of Apep
size: XL (EU)
vintage: 2006
provenance: catalog

The size (or more accurately, lack thereof) in this shirt is the critical factor in determining when it comes from; this was ordered while I was in Germany or (more likely) shortly after returning, and thus ends up being basically skin-tight. I could be less fat than I am, sure, but that's not going to change the smallness of the shirt. I should have gotten a newer one off the band when I saw them with Chthonic at Mark's back in '07, but neglected to; hopefully, they'll come back again with another new record and equally solid shirts.

Every Shirt CXXIX: Ramming Speed

shirt: Ramming Speed
size: XL (US)
vintage: 2008
provenance: band

Bought directly off Jonah at the kickoff show for the band's winter '08 "we're sick of working normal jobs" tour, this is a large-people-sized variant of a shirt that's fairly common around Boston, not only because Ramming Speed is cool and people like supporting them, but also because the back bears the immortal slogan TOP OF THE DUDE CHAIN, and having that on your back is a clear and ironclad indicator that not only are you a critical dude, but that you will point and laugh at anyone who actually uses "critical dude" in their normal vocabulary without a hint of irony. It remains to be seen if the band will reissue this design now that they're on Candlelight, or if they'll come out with something equally nifty and original, but regardless, this is a pretty cool shirt here.

Every Shirt CXXVIII: King Diamond

shirt: King Diamond
size: XL (US)
vintage: 1999
provenance: retail

This is one of my oldest shirts, but one of the least favored. The reason behind this is simple: I was young and had a limited selection of shirts to choose from, and also wasn't really aware of how little depth the King has to his solo catalog outside of the immortal Abigail. I can't really describe myself as a King Diamond fan at this point, all things considered, and thus don't often feel the need to put this on when there isn't some immense project compelling me to.

Every Shirt CXXVII: Skeletonwitch

shirt: Skeletonwitch
size: XL (US)
vintage: 2007
provenance: band

Picked up the first time I saw them, supporting Municipal Waste, this is a good shirt from a solid band that also gets a lot of art accolades. I happened to have it on for a liquor store expedition over the weekend and got complimented on the design by the counter staff; it is a pretty class design, and pretty goddamned intricate at that. Check it out on full size and see all the detail that Metal Blade's merch people were able to pack into this one.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Every Shirt CXXVI: Eluveitie

shirt: Eluveitie - Slania/Paganfest '08
size: XL (US)
vintage: 2008
provenance: band

Though this one has the '08 Paganfest dates on the back of it, I didn't get it from them then, though I might well have; instead, this shirt is from later in the year, when they were back with positively the oddest package in recorded history. They did well both times, but the more often you see this band, the more they sound like Schandmaul playing Dark Tranquillity. They're allegedly coming back on another weird bill this fall; we'll see if I'm able to make it out to Worcester for such.

Every Shirt CXXV: Demons & Wizards

shirt: Demons & Wizards
size: XL (US)
vintage: 2001
provenance: catalog

This was a catalog order, because I didn't have access to any other means of getting metal shirts when I was in college. It's also positively datable to that period because the album it's from -- according to most people, including me, the far superior of this project's two efforts -- is awesome, and when something this good comes out in late 2000, you immediately pull the trigger on the shirt as soon as you come across it. Despite extensive use since then, the high-quality materials have held up, and this one is still in good condition today.

Every Shirt CXXIV: Aura of Aquila

shirt: Aura of Aquila
size: XL (US)
vintage: 2007
provenance: band

The last time I saw Jim (playing with Autumn Above), he gave me guff about this interminable series and why his band's shirt hadn't come up yet. The answer, like to so many others, was that it had happened to get buried, and it would get gotten to eventually. It did, and here it is; much like the band, this shirt got kind of lost in the frame of this project and didn't deserve to. There is a lot of good black metal in New England along all kinds of axes, and Aura of Aquila is a definite and notable part of that, even though they have a thoroughly kvlt attitude towards getting their material distributed and an unfortunate penchant for losing bass players. Hence not playing out as much as people might want them to; this one is from an October gig almost two years ago that may have been one of their more recent live appearances.

Every Shirt CXXIII: Gojira

shirt: Gojira
size: XL (US)
vintage: 2006
provenance: band

Finally back into the legacy pile; this one is from the band's tour supporting Bodom and Amon Amarth back in December 2006. Since then, they've moved up in popularity, though at best sideways as regards tour partners; they came around with In Flames last, I think last fall, and they were supposed to be on Metallica's recent tour if I recall correctly. Good on them; they play good music, and I'm always glad to wear this one when it comes up, no matter how neo-hippie it may look.

Every Shirt CXXII: Goreality

shirt: Goreality
size: XL (US)
vintage: 2009
provenance: band

Also from the last pre-festivals gig of '09, this shirt is folded weird because that's how it came in the bag I got from Steve. This shirt wasn't opened until I got back from Europe, and the result is that it isn't folded like, er, every other shirt in the series. It's also a little unique in that the ink is injected into rather than printed onto the shirt, which looks really cool in person (you do get a little of it in the picture) and will mean that this one has a significant amount of durability. It's likely to need it; Goreality is a cool band, and their kit is seldom out of place, metal context or no.

Every Shirt CXXI: Pentagram (Cl)

shirt: Pentagram (Cl)
size: XL (EU)
vintage: 2009
provenance: festival

Acquired, like nearly everything in this catch-up run, at Wacken '09 (the only shirt from Party.San in that tour is a festival shirt that hasn't gotten on the stack yet), this is a semi-permanent reminder of Pentagram's blasting midnight set, which was pretty damn memorable on its own, shirt or no shirt. It is and remains easier to prove you were there if you have one of these, though.

As I don't listen to a lot of doom metal, I don't need or use the (Cl) tag to remind myself that these are the Chilean guys rather than the Americans or the Turks, but others may.

Every Shirt CXX: Pantera

shirt: Pantera - Power Metal
size: XL (EU)
vintage: 2009
provenance: bootlegger

Now this is unique, at least on this continent, likely. This one was acquired from a largely- (not mostly-, I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt because they're pretty cool dudes) bootleg shirt vendor on the German festival circuit, and is about the only Pantera shirt that I would consider owning and wearing. Pantera's official real merchandise is somewhat cliche at this point, and honestly, I'm not sure that the surviving band members see much more in revenue from it than from obviously unapproved stuff like this. Now to actually hunt up the record -- I have a boot of Projects In The Jungle/I Am The Night, but still lack the first and last discs of their we'll-pretend-it-never-happened period.

Every Shirt CXIX: Borknagar

shirt: Borknagar
size: XL (EU)
vintage: 2009
provenance: festival

Another Wacken '09 pickup, this one isn't just the first Borknagar shirt in inventory, it also happens to be a limited design from this festival season, allegedly pre-release shows -- hopefully this means a for-real new record this fall continuing the good ideas from Origins with a full band instrumentation and more black metal bits. Then again, who the hell am I fooling -- this is me, and this is Borknagar, so the record is ending up in my grubby paws pretty much day of release regardless.

Every Shirt CXVIII: Parasitic Extirpation

shirt: Parasitic Extirpation
size: XL (US)
vintage: 2009
provenance: band

I got this shirt from the band (well, the other band that has 50% of their lineup) just before heading out to Europe, but it didn't make it over; part of that was that there was a limited amount of space in my pack, and part of that was that it was typhoon weather coming home from that gig, and this shirt was the one that happened to be on top of the others, getting rained on both in the club->car stage and the car->apartment part, and it had to dry out. Nevertheless, this is a solid shirt, simple and straightforward (befitting a good and straight-ahead band), that will see good service going forward.

Every Shirt CXVII: Running Wild

shirt: Running Wild
size: 2XL (EU)
vintage: 2009
provenance: festival

I have an order in for a Wacken '09 festival shirt (see raging in re the merch crush), but even without it, I was well satisfied with this as a sole souvenir of this year's fest. My Running Wild fandom is well attested, and this special design for the final show is one that I'm glad I had the chance to pick up. Whoever picks up their crown, they were the first and will remain for a while yet the best, one of the very few gimmick-heavy metal bands that made a worthy career out of it, and that on the very real strength of their music.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Ditching Gary Caldwell

Time and other events putting things in perspective have diminished a lot of the initial rancor that was going to go into this piece on Saturday, when for the third time in as many games, Gary Caldwell did something blazingly stupid and directly cost his team a goal. It was not decisive, as when he got sent off against Norway, directly leading to the only goal the Norwegians would need and by reducing Scotland to 10 men with nearly an hour to play, probably indirectly to the 3 others, or the ridiculous own goal against Arsenal that will probably be directly responsible for bouncing Celtic from the Champions' League, but that doesn't make it any less stupid. In fact, that Caldwell would make such a blind-stupid mistake against a bottom-half SPL team like St. Johnstone may say more about his limitations as a footballer than getting embarassed by one of the top teams in the Premiership.

A while ago, Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders wrote an article called Guts and Stomps that was somewhat disruptive of the conventional wisdom in American football, the main contention being that close wins over good teams are not as good an indicator of overall team quality as the ability to beat the crap out of inferior competition. There's been no linkage of this to fitba as played elsewhere in the world, but one would suspect it transfers, as the basic idea -- that when two good teams play, the difference in quality is not always so large as to override luck and randomness -- is even more pronounced in a sport with much less scoring and fewer ways to score.

Provided this is true, we can extend this to players: a good player will beat the pants off and generally humiliate inferior competition, and a less good player will make stupid mistakes against them. It is hard to deny that Celtic have a better team than St. Johnstone, especially as evinced by the scoreline on Saturday, and their ability to be competitive in Europe. Nevertheless, there goes Gary Caldwell giving away the first goal in what should have been a shutout, as well as making Celtic fans yell, in unison around the world, from pubs in Scotland to American apartments to oil rigs off Namibia, "THAT FUCKING CLOWNSHOES!"

The problem is not heading the ball out of your own area rather than controlling it and clearing it with your feet. The problem is
a) doing it wrong, and directly at an opposing player
b) doing so as merely the latest in a long string of costly defensive mistakes.

This picture is from Kerrydale Street, probably the best Celtic forum out there. The problem is that it is from the '07-'08 campaign, and is a minimum of 18 months old. Gary Caldwell signed for Celtic in 2006 and faced criticism from the start for making dumb mistakes, so it is entirely likely that this is even older. People have been calling Caldwell out as a clownshoes virtually from the time he entered the team; under Strachan, this may have been understandable, as he was still an adequate footballer 90% of the time, and Strachan had (and I say this as a longtime defender of both hm and Belichick) a Belichick-in-Cleveland approach to transparency and understandable squad management, but this is the Mowbray era now, and as long as Tony is going to be explaining why he leaves certain in-form players out of the squad, he is somewhat obligated to explain to the Celtic support why in the hell he is leaving Gary Caldwell in.

Whenever anyone calls professional athletes out on the internet, there's inevitably going to be some jambo coming to their defense with some variation on "yeah, well, why don't you put the boots on and start for Celtic and see how easy it is". That's not the point. I'm a sub-rec-league quality left-back, not an alleged international central defender. But Gary Caldwell doesn't need to be worse than me for Mowbray to sit him down; all he needs is to not be better than Darren O'Dea, and I'm not sure that isn't the case. O'Dea is not a perfect defender, but he does not have the history of idiotic mistakes that Caldwell has. If he's merely adequate 100% of the time rather than the 90%-adequate/10%-shambolic split we have going right now next to Glen Loovens, that is a uniform upgrade. We can work on "good" in January; right now, getting the defense to "adequate" is significant progress....and a part of that is putting Clownshoes Caldwell on the bench, where his penchant for unforced errors can't hurt the team any more.

Note: if Caldwell a) does not do anything ridiculous against Arsenal Wednesday and b) scores or knocks in a penalty that contributes to Celtic advancing, I will gladly print this post out (on normal paper, not hot glass) and literally eat my words. With or without barbecue sauce is still undecided. Same result to follow if O'Dea starts and does something Caldwellian to cost Celtic the game.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

European Tour 2009 - index and conclusion

The full list of posts on this tour outran the front page, so this is an index to keep track of them.

European Tour 2009 part 1: intro, setup, landing
European Tour 2009 part 2: Helsingør/Kronborg
European Tour 2009 part 3: Øresund loop
European Tour 2009 part 4: København
European Tour 2009 part 5: Wacken warmup
European Tour 2009 part 6: Wacken day 2
European Tour 2009 part 6a: Swashbuckle in Germany - a photo essay
European Tour 2009 part 7: Wacken wrapup
European Tour 2009 part 8: Berlin
European Tour 2009 part 9: Party.San buildup
European Tour 2009 part 10: Party.San day 2
European Tour 2009 part 11: Party.San day 3
European Tour 2009 part 12: homeward bound

scores and stuff:

bands seen, day 0: 1
average day 0: 4/7
total day 0: 4
bands seen, day 1: 6
average day 1: 5.25/7
total day 1: 26.5
bands seen, day 2: 11
average day 2: 5.73/7
total day 2: 63
bands seen, day 3: 8
average day 3: 5.13/7
total day 3: 41
average, full festival: 5.37/7
total, full festival: 139.5
total bands: 26

bands seen, day 1: 5
average day 1: 5.5/7
total day 1: 27.5
bands seen, day 2: 12
average day 2: 5.21/7
total day 2: 62.5
bands seen, day 3: 9
average day 3: 6.17/7
total day 3: 55.5
average, full festival: 5.6/7
total, full festival: 145.5
total bands: 26

Weirdly, I saw exactly the same number of bands at each fest. By objective measures, Party.San was better, though an argument might be made for the Wacken experience as well. Toss a coin, and pick your poison: do you want easy cultural exchange and more mainstream bands, or will you take the hinterland and pure underground metal? Your decision; that guide on how to do Party.San even if you don't speak German is forthcoming, and I hope that this in addition to the scores above will convince people to hit up smaller fests in addition to the ones like Wacken that are more immediately accessible.

European Tour 2009 part 12: homeward bound


Day 16
9 August 2009
Bad Berka - Thüringen - Germany

It's about a three-hour ride to Dresden, so I've got some time to kill, vainly hoping that things will dry out a little and I won't have to put my tent away wet. Unfortunately, this turned out not to be the case.

758. Not my favorite conditions to pack in, but it makes a pretty landscape.

759. Towards town, over the fest, into the fog.

Fewer people in the breakfast tent just means more riots; no pics, as this is truly a "had to be there" moment. Go yourself and drink lager in the morning -- just be careful of dudes bearing kegs.....

760. It's like a modern art piece.

Weimar - Thüringen - Germany

761. Kulturbahnhof Weimar. A nice mix of metalheads and normal people waiting for the Düsseldorf train.

I moved, as it turned out, all the stickers (except Autumn Above and Return To The Pit), promo cards, and CDs that I came with. The buttons did not go; it's hard to give people gear from a band that they don't listen to yet. Thus, this merch thing was a (qualified) success; if I do this again, I'll be sure to give notice in time to do a CD-comp and stick random band stickers in each.

Ahead is Dresden, and home, or, "home, and real home"; going to München might be easier from a fly-out perspective, but I want to see how things have changed in my old hood in the last four years; see if the Dresden I remember still exists. I don't live there any more, but still feel that it's a place to come back to rather than to go to. We'll see.

Dresden - Sachsen - Germany

It's nearly six o'clock, and my feet are automatically turning through the net of streets in the back end of Striesen. The view from the S-bahn was the same as ever, and it's almost like going back in time as I do what I did dozens of times before, going back the same old way from a Sunday out, ready to put some DSF on, throw a pizza in the oven, get back to work on whatever video I'd left off on, and rest up for the start of the work week. But I can't do that. I'm an outsider now, and what I can do is stop on the sidewalk opposite, eventually, take a picture, and move on. You really can't go home again.

Of course, the extent to which this ever was home is debatable. I lived here for ten months, and where I come from, we regularly deny "from here" status to people who've lived in town for ten years, often more. And yet I use these ten months as a get-out-of-jail-free card exhaustively in Germany, proof that I'm something other than a standard-issue Sau-ami. The myth has lasted and will last longer than the association; they always do. But the truth remains: even to the extent that I ever was a Dresdner, I don't live here any more. And I am not home yet, no matter what this Ostalgie feels like, not for another day, not for another 4000 miles.


762. New iron and glass work at the Dresden Hbf. They were renovating while I was last there; now I scarcely recognize the place - Berlin scaled down.

763. Remnants of the old station.

764. New-hotness front facing on Wienerplatz.

765. Old factory converted to an office/industrial park, up by the Heeresbäckerei. This has also been extensively renovated.

When people from my old workplace started coming to Dresden in the mid-1990s, there were still piles of rubble lying around that the DDR never had the cash or initiative to finish cleaning up. In the intervening fifteen years, though, Dresden has caught up, then forged ahead, even since I left. I'd have to check in Friedrichstadt and Johannstadt to be sure, but to all appearances Dresden as a whole is still headed up, an odd trajectory these days for a town driven by tourism, several chipmakers, and a luxury car plant.

766. The best kebab shop in Germany, unfortunately closed because it's Sunday and nothing's open on Sunday. Gas-station Ketchup-Würstchen for dinner again!

I defy you to find better kebab than Kebabp-Haus Weixdorf within the boundaries of the BRD. Seriously; let me know, and I will hit them up the next time I'm over, to demonstrate that you're wrong.

767. The beergarden is gone, but the view from my old neighborhood is the same.

768. The Auld Place.

769. There's normal electoral advertising - there's both state and national elections in Saxony this September - and then there's this guy. When your party is a "Coalition" and is running a total of one candidate for a total of two seats, you've got to know that the mock is incoming. German-speakers will stare long and hard at this, then presently laugh themselves into incoherence.

770. "Targeted" advertising. This kebab shop is doing a lot better than the once that was in this location when I was living here, and there were other signs up and down the block (and in other areas of Dresden that I hadn't seen the NPD advertising in in fall '05, which is in itself troubling), but it works to explain both the continuing appeal of the NPD as a protest vote, especially in tough times, and why the great majority of the German people aren't having any of their bullshit.

I like this honest placard, though. It stands up for Work, Family, and Home, all good values.

And it doesn't take a genius to "translate" it into what it's supposed to evoke:

Lol ROT1. It's a continuing problem for those in the NPD (if any) that want their party to be just hard-right, not Nazis, that all of their electoral slogans can be yelled in a thick Austrian/Bavarian accent and sound like they're from 80 years ago. Germany tried that once, and the result at least locally was that Dresden got set on fire and fucked up so badly as to become Exhibit A in the "pro" case for the use of strategic nuclear weapons. You'd think that people would avoid a political party that ended up wrecking their city so bad that reasonable people could argue that getting hit with a Nagasaki weapon would be preferable, and even in Saxony, you'd be 85-90% right.

I still find it hilarious that the NPD are using the "Wir Sind Das Volk" slogan here in the NBL. Sachsen threw that one out for "Wir sind EIN Volk" back in '89 in Leipzig, guys.

771. And if you want to protest, but don't like fascists, you can always vote for the Animal Rights Party. I can't tell whether this is supposed to be a joke or not. If not, wtf, Germany? If so, though, the fact that they got more state funding for posters than the "Coalition For Peace" guy above is incredibly hilarious.

Addendum: a brief fact check reveals that they are serious and not a joke, to the extent that an organization advocating veganism as a political principle can be accurately described as "not a joke". However, their existence and serious status means that we can now mock vegans who wear silk, as the MUT is also looking out for the silkworms, and anyone who is not just isn't hardcore enough.


Day 17
10 August 2009
Dresden - Sachsen - Germany

I'm on my third pen and second notebook at this point, with field replacements of both beyond what I brought over; if I had been less purple on Malmö or took fewer pics of Swashbuckle, maybe both'd've lasted, but in many ways, this is a sign of a successful trip. I hit all my objectives (see back on day 0), had a hell of a time, and also have just less than 800 pictures to sort through and document from this voyage. Onto DUS and then LHR, and then it's time to get some shuteye over the long leg back to BOS.

Düsseldorf - Nordrhein-Westfalen - Germany

A good deal of the misadventures on this stop are my own fault, but the lingering impression remains that Düsseldorf has one of the worst-laid-out and most poorly documented airports that I can recall. As noted, this is partly my fault for using three carriers and not knowing where to start the counterdance, but seriously, a "connecting flights" sign shouldn't point at only one of three gate areas. Even if it had been the one that I needed, it was still crappy design.

However, the upside of this is that I now have a revoked EU exit stamp in my passport:

It's not as cool as a revoked entry, but it's still required for International Badass status. (Obviously, not there yet; among other things, I still need an arrest record in Singapore, at least one mismatched entry-exit set from countries between the Caucasus and the Himalayas, and an obviously-bribed-for diplomatic VIP cert from somewhere in sub-Saharan Africa.)

Plane for England's late....good thing I've got time before Boston, and hopefully there won't be a similar Kakerlak as this at Heathrow.

Hillingdon - Greater London - England

If you get the chance, it's worth it to fly in to Heathrow from the east. You come in over London, low enough that the clouds don't get much in the way, and it's a hell of a view. Heathrow itself, though, is large and a bit awkward to get around; in addition to the normal metal-detecting and x-raying, my flight was treated to an encore performance of the Security Theater while actually going in to the gate area, and I was quite glad to have an extended amount of time to make the change. This is why I'd rather have gone direct from Germany, but that would have pushed "stupid-expensive" right over into "ridiculous" or "absurd". Home in 8 hours! It seems too good to be true....and thus probably is.

Regardless, the rest of the trip went without a hitch; we got in to Boston on time, Customs paid more attention to my duty-free bag than to my largely-clean boots, and I managed to make it back in one piece to my hometown. Unfortunately, this meant bagging the Disfigured show, which hurt, but I did have to work in the morning, and jetlag started biting as soon as I got out of the terminal. It has taken nearly two weeks, but at this writing, the whole thing is together, finished, and concluded.

European Tour 2009 part 11: Party.San day 3


Day 15
8 August 2009
Bad Berka - Thüringen - Germany

669. Red sky at morning, thrashers take warning?

Regardless (and yes, it did rain later), I'm changing shirts today. I pimped Bone Ritual the first two, but my upper arms are too badly burned to continue. Embryonic Devourment today, then Dysentery tomorrow for the walk out.

Maybe it's the smaller Gelände, but people are much less filthy here than in Wacken - I mean, people piss in flush urinals. What's with that? Even if you're going to be clean and not abuse the fences, there's still portajohns and troughs and stuff. They also wash a whole lot more. Who knew that the grotty gore fans were the fastidious ones? Personally, I've got a good layer of baked-in dirt and oil going; I'll be glad to get in the shower when I hit Dresden tomorrow afternoon, but I'm ok till then.

There was a minor crisis this morning at breakfast when the tent for some reason ran out of rolls. Since this is mainly what Germans eat in the morning, this was kind of a big problem. Wait, beer, wait, wait, and when the brötchen get in, the entire tent pigpiles up to the counter.

<-- Actual color of the water dripping off my hat right now. That's a lot of beaten- and soaked-in dirt and sweat. More and heavier clouds stacking up to the west. Hope this passes and the rain hits elsewhere. The burns and lack of sleep are starting to tell; if it cools off without raining, I may just go sleep somewhere. I'd like to see Shining, but the big draw is Sadus-Moonsorrow-Brujeria...and after that I'm definitely sacking. How Eluveitie comes in after these bands I have no idea, and I'd pass up seeing Dark Funeral and Six Feet Under even in the US.

670. Parasailer floating by as we waited for doors. I thought this guy was going to come crash the festival, but he went on by over the hills towards town.

Shit got fucked up with the Einlass, as alluded to above, so it was like 1:30 before we got in. Still waiting for Hellsaw to start this shit, still listening to Rock in Rio, still on the point of falling asleep.

671. Fun with perspective. The stakes should be getting shorter going away from the camera, but not this much; the stage is on a hill and needs to be built level so the lighting rigs don't tip it over.

Hellsaw [5/7]
Not the most original 45 minutes of black metal ever, nor the most distinctive, but it was still good stuff for an opener.

672. The drummer meditating.

673. Guitarist and banner.

674. The band calls out for hype.

675. In action.

676. The organizers blow out the gas jets from last night.

677. The vocalist on the stalk.

678. Thrashing it up.

679. The two-shot I was going for before.

Beneath The Massacre [5/7]
They didn't run their whole time, but they didn't overstay their welcome, either, and they did club the everliving fuck out of the audience while they were out there. A lot of breakdowns for this early in the day, but they got a nice response and were well-pleased with it; probably just as they hoped this set would go.

680. Beneath The Massacre, above the fray.

681. Unleashing some more devastation.

I don't think there's any Goratory dudes in this band (that's Despised Icon, right?), but you never can tell with Quebecois deathcore, so I went forward to get some better shots just in case.

682. Some things are universal. And yes, that brim is as flat as it looks.

683. Doods get rowdy for BtM.

Paganizer [6/7]
Making their German debut, this Swedish outfit laid out a crunchy barrage of first-wave death comparable to Evocation and Unleashed yesterday, but a bit more brutal. Nothing but good material throughout, even to ending with "Troops of Doom", which is seldom the first Sepultura song off the shelf as covers go. They don't play live much, so this was a treat, but the US would also dig them for sure.

684. Paganizer waits for the word go.

685. ...and they get it.

686. Roger with a balls-out custom.

687. Andreas ripping it.

688. Pedal bass pounding.

689. If I see a hero shot, I'm gonna take it.

690. Battering riffage.

691. There's a drummer back in here somewhere....

692. The grindcore brigade waits for Rotten Sound...and hides from the blazing midday sun.

With no cloud cover, rail places could be highly contended. Have I mentioned that it was wicked hot as balls almost this entire festival?

Rotten Sound [5.5/7]
With as black-metal a bill as this turned out to be, in Germany besides, a little skepticism about the reception of this band was warranted. However, they blasted out a top-rate grind set, and the audience proved themselves mostly equal to the challenge, keeping a decent pit going most of the way through. This band would really fit better to Obscene Extreme, but they made this appearance work.

693. Taking a council before kicking off.

694. Violent bass, loaded.

695. Keijo starts working the crowd.

696. Full band, full bore.

697. A crane in the full band again.

698. Keijo calls for more pit action.

699. Condemnation of society.

700. The pit gets riotous.

Shining [6.5/7]
Though things got started a little slow, Shining definitely lived up to their legends, providing excellent suicidal black metal, and a truly unique stage presence, as can be seen in the pics.

701. Shining step out.

702. Screams of primal hate.

703. The band channels the dark.

704. Not actually spitting fire, but spitting at the crowd, yes.

705. Rage in the dying light.

706. Guitar invocation.

707. No heroin, but a Seven Oaks bottle is in full evidence.

Last year at Wacken, I met a Danish guy who used to work in Norway and hung out with a bunch of the more famous black metal dudes; in addition to confirming that Abbath works for the post office, he also told me about when Niklas was working (or, more accurately, "working") in the local metal pub in Oslo, and how he would just sit behind the bar and shoot up and glare at customers until they went away. Selfdestructive behavior from one of the leading lights of suicidal black metal? Can't be.

708. Niklas doing something unnatural to his guitarist's leg.

I have no idea what is going on here. Unfortunately, this is barely the half of it; I got no shots of him spending much of several songs rolling around on the stage screeching out vocals, or doing the second half of "Claws of Perdition" with one hand jammed down the front of his pants, grabbing himself. Black fuckin metal.

709. Pure hatred and despair.

710. The infield only got this full this early when they were playing.

711. Sucking bassist face.

712. A laid-back, bluesy solo - this may have been more offensive, in the context of this festival, than Kvarforth shoving his tongue down Andreas' throat.

Lost in the commercial success of the last 15 years is that people are not supposed to actually like black metal. It's supposed to annoy and disgust all but the very smallest fraction, and if blastbeats and pig heads don't piss people off, it's apparently time to play blues and tongue-kiss other dudes. Shining gets what black metal is, at the core, and if the gay stuff pisses you off, well, that just means that it's working. (And that you're probably insecure about your sexuality, but it's 2009, so you had to know that part was coming.)

The weather's coming in raw; here's hoping it holds till Las Brujas wrap up.

Brutal Truth [7/7]
It takes a special grindcore band to fill out a 45-minute set and still end up sounding fresh. And yet Brutal Truth did just that, driving a pit that was almost to American standard for most of their runtime. And this on a German festival where they followed Shining. Fun fuckin times.

713. Brutal Truth gets shit lit up.

714. Dan and Rich laying the groundwork.

715. Manic NYGC attack.

716. Full band.

717. Dan Lilker, glad to be out of Anthrax and playing shows while they cancel.

718. Dan, hero shot.

719. Again, thrashing out.

720. The security was always gut drauf, but didn't have much to do...

721. ...because no crowdsurfers tried to cross the crazy pit.

The blur in a lot of these is because I was losing light; as alluded to above, rain was coming in from the west.

Sadus [6.5/7]
In many ways, this was the Steve DiGiorgio show...and as a bassist and Steve fan, this was just ok. There was a fair bit of old material (understandable given the prominence of the old records over the newer stuff), but this was technically brightened up a bit as well, at least as I can recall. A hell of a performance, but better was coming.

722. Heroes on heroes - first Dan, now Steve.

723. Steve continues checking. Due to the coming rain, I was running out of light.

724. Sadus jamming as the crowd yells for them to start.

725. Steve chunking out the bassline of "Certain Death".

726. Sadus in action.

727. The band rips on behind a flash bomb.

728. Steve D being generally awesome.

729. Darren crushes a solo.

730. Frenetic thrash attack.

731. Steve takes command.

732. The band continues to outbang the lens.

733. Steve DiGiorgio, hero shot.

Why we go to Europe: because nowhere else can you

734. - slug mulled mead

735. - see Moonsorrow outdoors

736. - in Wikingerwetter amid the pagan hills of Thuringia, the heartland of the German Wotan cult.

I saw Moonsorrow back in May like everyone else, but this was a better set amid better conditions.

Moonsorrow [7/7]
I've already explained the setup; the rain came dripping through the set and enhanced the experience rather than sending anyone running for cover. The five songs in their 45 minutes included one from their demo (sounding a lot like what Finntroll was doing at the time, which is not surprising) and one off the first record; not the same as their Paganfest set, and thus an extra treat. Moonsorrow has a hard time being other than awesome, as a quick listen at really any point in their catalog will demonstrate, but this set took it up an extra notch, as much as it's possible to say.

737. The otherworldly glow of setup.

738. Moonsorrow infiltrates through the gloom.

739. The band, victims of low light and no tripod.

740. A better view, already packed with the epic.

741. Calling the crowd to rise.

742. Skaldic thunder.

743. Shadows and immaterial forms.

744. The band catches the stage lights just right.

745. Cosmic nebula.

746. The band taking the fest elsewhere.

747. Blinded by the light.

748. The opening to "Jotunheim", the closer.

749. Going the other way up the Rainbow Bridge....

750. Even penguin hand puppets get brutal to inter-band Sabbath cuts. (Not a slate, for real.)

Brujeria [7/7]
The rain was starting to mount, but this didn't slow the band down any. Assisted by Shane Embury in the worst narcotrafico disguise ever (srsly, get a trucker cap or something to cover up that bald monk mop), they smashed out a simplistic but uniformly well-received set of nu-death that got bodies moving and Germans yelling in Spanish. They benefitted from people waiting for SFU, which is approximately the same, minus the fun factor, but that fun factor, from "Pito Wilson" to "Marijuana" (on playback at the end), is what makes this band. Now that people know who they are, they've become a Palo-Mayombe-cult/sorreño-thug theme ride, and they do it well and people are fine with it. We know that they're not real gangsters any more than Running Wild are real pirates or GWAR are real Antarctican space monsters, but they execute the gimmick and the music behind it well enough that people will suspend disbelief, which is the critical sign that they're doing it right.

751. Spots over Brujeria's set. The light here was pretty much impossible, as the following shots will show.

752. Shane Embury, fooling no one.

753. Jeff Walker in a better disguise, aided by frame shake.

754. The band in a psychedelic haze.

755. After this I decided that further pics would be just impossible.

756. ....except for this invocation at the start of "La Ley De Plomo".

Bands I cared about concluded, I hit the tent, and fell asleep before getting any concrete impression of Eluveitie.

757. Bootcondoms! I should have used another trash bag, but I didn't have one that didn't have trash or the foot of a sleeping bag in it already. Fortunately, these did work, and I had dry boot innards in the morning.

European Tour 2009 part 10: Party.San day 2


Day 14
7 August 2009
Bad Berka - Thüringen - Germany

As mentioned, this fest is Death Metal Date Night, and that pays off for some people. When I woke up with the dawn today, I was prevented from going back to sleep by the sounds of not one but two couples going at it. I'm in a densely tented area, but that meme of extreme metal fans as sexually frustrated losers is in serious trouble.

Today's highlights are mostly in the block Swallow The Sun - Hate Eternal - Thyrfing - Misery Index, but Unleashed and Satyricon are potentially worth staying up for, and I also want to catch Solstafir. If you're playing along at home, award yourself 10 extra scene points if you associated the band's name with Agalloch's "Not Unlike The Waves".

It is uniformly Wicked Fucking Hot here. The good news is that I can keep my promise to ceaselessly advertise Bone Ritual, but the bad news is that the kutte is staying in the tent absent significant rain. It's not worth magnifying the atrocious heat of the day to avoid the chilldown walking back from the last band. Fifty-degree (Fahrenheit, obviously) temperature swings (from low-nineties in the afternoon to low-forties at night, due to the complete absence of cloud cover) are tough, but I can hack it for that limited time.

574. An old license plate from before Europeanization.

575. Playing at bowls with METAL! \m/ balls and a 1L Faxe can. I didn't ask about the rules, but this may be descended from the same game that turned into horseshoes on the US frontier.

Evocation shirts are confusing when they don't have the band's logo. I keep seeing people in them, going "wait, they have gear out here already?" and being unnecessarily disappointed to find that it's not a fold in the cloth hiding the first letter.

576. Empty infield while Summers Dying sets up.

577. From the foot of the stage up into the hills. The next settlement is well over the other side of the ridge; the actual town of Bad Berka is out of frame about 3 miles to the right, colinear with the back of the stage.

578. An innovative way to beat the heat. There's some wind, so it isn't as bad as yesterday, but such measures are still justified.

Summer's Dying [5/7]
Don't let the pics fool you - this isn't a black metal band, it's a melodic death metal band with Music/Image Reconciliation Disorder, aka Stormwarrior Syndrome. They had some black parts, but never got much blacker than Dissection there, in the main laying out a solid set of melodic death metal mostly echoing mid-period Dark Tranquillity. They did ok, but proved their character by finishing strong despite badly fucking up the intro of their last song no fewer than four times. That's the sort of thing that breaks bands, especially a local band on a big stage like this. We'll see if they ever go anywhere, but they've definitely got the stones to do so.

579. Summers Dying hits the stage.

580. Crushing Thuringian death.

581. Event symbolfoto: single-minded neck wreckage.

(bonus note: my girlfriend was not impressed with the blood paint on this guitarist's arm, and was disappointed that it wasn't a tattoo or something equally permanent.)

A prodigious memory has its uses, especially with a little luck. I wasn't sure where I'd seen Nice To Eat You Records before, whether it was Dysentery or Deconformity or both or some other local band, but they had a booth, so I wandered over, and some random dude was, I kid you not, buying From Past Suffering Comes New Flesh. Quick as a whistle, I slapped one of my few remaining Dysentery stickers down and ended up chatting a bit with the label dude, who took my remaining Dysentery sticker off me along with about half of the Parasitic Extirpation ones I had left, then allowed me to shove some Composted promo cards in the end of the box containing them as a sort of endcap. In return I bought some Katalepsy and Haemorrhage off him; good stuff.

The only regret from this transaction was that I didn't tell him why Parasitic never got back to him about stocking Knee Deep In Disease - that they were practically out themselves due to high local demand and the five that I took over to give away were probably the only ones not in "private" hands by that time as a consequence of the simultaneous Dysentery tour.

Grabak [5/7]
Glorior Belli cancelled, leaving this Saxon horde, who either came down special from Leipzig in the morning, or were already here and borrowed up some gear. The sound was pretty typical violent German black metal, but the sourcing wasn't.

582. Grabak make a last-minute fill-in.

583. Wait, they have how many bassists? Even if they sucked, this would make their appearance worthy.

584. Heavy Metal Picnicweise. The grass is soft and non-destroyed, and the ground slopes down to the stage, so there's a lot of sitting down (and lying down, come the night time).

585. Some representative fauna (foreground, bullet belts) and flora (background, leopard bikini) of the festival. I wans't going to do fanservice because it tends to objectify the subjects, but these dudes were looking to be snapped and the chica happened to be in frame, making it equal-opportunity.

Inhume [6/7]
Just a flat hammering grind-death outing. These guys need to come to the States; they got a little frustrated with the lack of moshing, which would not be a problem on, say, NEDF a year or two down the line. They also continued the brief run of odd instrumentation; if a grind band has two vocalists, one is usually the guttural guy, and the other is the shouty guy. In this case, there was no shouty guy: the vocalist in the red Dead Infection shirt did death gutturals, and the long-haired dude did even more brutal gore gutturals. S00PER Brutal.

586. Inhume storm the stage.

587. The two vocalists let fly.

588. Guttural dude bellowing.

589. Death vox and a rake of untrimmed guitar strings.

590. Action shot; I was trying to get the singers doing simultaneous high-kicks, but failed.

591. Gore dude rocking a shirt from some friends in the crowd.

Solstafir [5.5/7]
Pelican must be huge in Iceland. Solstafir have been around for a while, but this set of predominantly new material brought a definite doomy, post-rock, cosmic sound to the proceedings. It was still black metal, if in the way that Agalloch and Wolves In The Throne Room are; something different, to be sure, no matter how it's received.

592. The drummer prepares....

593. Slate of their banner.

594. The bassist and his girl braids enter. Yes, they're also Viking braids, but he's short about 50 pounds and three deadly weapons of being taken seriously in that regard.

595. The singer hypes the crowd.

596. Full band behind a boom.

597. As above; stay out of my shots, DVD guy!

598. This Bosshoss-looking motherfucker was hiding stage left for most of their set.

599. Full band (for real, even the shy guitarist) through the smoke.

600. Wailing on a solo at the end of "Ritual of Fire". This song took up easily half of their 45-minute set, if not more. Epic.

Den Saakaldte [4.5/7]
Well-delivered but ultimately replacement-level modern black metal, I saw this set from the beergarden/cocktailbar after reprovisioning for the second half of the bill. If there was a time to take off Friday, this was it. Not so easy tomorrow; Shining is in this "dinner" slot.

601. The band at a great distance.

602. A little closer up. Still replacement-level.

While researching something else I found out that Kvarforth from Shining allegedly does the vocals here, which matches up with what I saw from the band, but that doesn't magically improve the music.

Swallow The Sun [6/7]
Swapping places with their neighbors to the west (Evocation had some difficulties getting in, so STS went on one slot early), these guys brought a killer set of harder Katatonia that reset the tone after the Norskies and probably about did up the day's quota of melody. This also included a new song that the rest of the world won't get to hear until November...unless you stop by one of their gigs in the meantime, that is. As expected, raw, evocative, doomy, awesome.

603. Swallow The Sun enter.

604. The band, enshrouded.

605. Tearing into the first song.

606. Stage right crew.

607. Band, stage left.

608. And now the guitarist finishes tuning and rips it.

609. Full band again.

610. Wailing on a tap solo.

611. The full band in the falling light.

I checked as I went past the Nice To Eat You stand heading back for a drink - Composted, sold out; promo cards, gone. I did something useful after all.

Evocation [6/7]
Nice crunchy first-wave Swedish death; it's not for nothing that their logo recalls Entombed's. Another band that would do well in the States; this style generally does well wherever you take it, and this was no exception. Fun times with pounding death metal.

612. Evocation fill the stage and the frame.

613. Crunching out "Angel of Torment".

614. Yells and biting guitar.

615. Digging in, face to face.

616. Close formation.

617. Mid-bang.

618. Thomas takes to the stacks.

619. Teamed up.

620. A little closer on "The Ancient Gate".

621. Bass and guitar, close in.

622. Bonded by crushing death.

I'm running out of light, but I should be ok through Hate Eternal at least.

Hate Eternal [7/7]
A Hate Eternal set where you can hear Erik's guitar correctly right from the start, for a decent length of time? Why so I have to go to Europe for this again? The actual music was as uniformly killer as expected, and the crowd was gut drauf enough to make a decent pit for most of the set, a rarity in this part of the world. Full fuckin marks - first time for this band, first time that there wasn't any technical bullshit in the way.

623. Erik storms out.

624. Outfield lineup.

625. New bassist thrashing. Pretty sure this isn't Makoto; if anyone knows otherwise, go ahead and dopeslap me.

626. Erik Rutan, full roar.

627. Lost in the cavern of the stage.

628. Ripping out pure fuckin' death.

629. Erik takes a solo midstage, and I take a two-shot.

630. Hell boils behind Erik for "Behold Judas".

631. The sun sets over the western hills at the end of the set.

Thyrfing [6/7]
Their material was never the best the viking scene had to offer, but this was the pure old viking metal of the old school, well delivered, though the singer could use a couple more viewings of "Chocolate Rain". I MOVE AWAY FROM THE MIC TO BREATHE, srsly! Good stuff, though, and well appreciated by the still-filling crowd.

632. Thyrfing's shit is apparently wicked complicated.

633. The band struts out in the last of the sun.

634. Lost in the fog.

635. The band, benefitting from stage smoke.

636. Through the haze of battle.

637. Bassist, guitarist, and some light amplifiers.

638. The rest of the band outruns the shutter.

639. Full hammering attack.

640. Thrashing away.

641. Guitarist and a blast of fog.

642. The keyboardist stands in a pillar of light.

643. The whole band catches the spots.

644. These five to eight thousand are pretty pumped.

645. Everything goes up for the start of the Black Plague song.

646. More thrashing action.

647. The security, out of focus.

648. Smoke fills the stage again.

649. Stagefront, no fire, though I was anticipating it.

650. The band receives the audience's acclaim.

651. Jens hits the deck to slap hands with doods.

Misery Index [5.5/7]
I heard this from the back rather than seeing it from the front, but the impression holds: precisely milled grind-death, not exactly to my taste, but expertly smashed out and provided. I'll see them indoors one of these days; I can take a break before I take a look at Unleashed and decide if it's worth staying out for Satyricon.

652. Misery Index stirs shit.

653. A little closer...

654. NOW we get fire...

655. You can almost see the band with all the lights up.

Bump the score up to the next full point if you like; they closed strong and I did have stuff between me and the stage most of the set.

656. A perfect blackmetal fullmoon. Suitable for background use.

Unleashed [6/7]
A partial setlist:
Passion of the Christ
Never Ending Hate
Your Children Will Burn
This World Is Ours Now
Victory or Defeat
Into Glory Ride
Hammer Battalions Unleashed
Death Metal Victory

There was some other stuff in there as well, but this is a fair summation: a good old Unleashed set with a lot of punch and fire. I'm pretty sure that nobody was really expecting anything else. Originality is kind of unlooked-for at this point in the band's career; we got some good Unleashed, and that's what matters.

657. Unleashed enters like something out of a Bathory cover painting.

658. The stage glows like a 19th-century nightscape.

659. More like "Thrashin" of the Christ, but that's a Municipal Waste song.

660. Unleashed through the smoke.

661. Pounding away.

662. Jonny roars up the crowd.

663. Jonny gathering the crowd's never-ending hate.


665. ....and so they did.

666. More fireblasts.

667. The flames continue.

668. The pyro smoke from "Winterland" mushrooms into the night air.

Satyricon [5/7]
I heard this from the tent, and what I heard vindicated that decision. It's ok if Satyr doesn't want to play his band's good music any more; just means I don't have to stand around listening and waiting in vain. New Satyricon is still Satyricon, and still decent, but given where my campsite was located, nothing that needed staying in the infield for.

European Tour 2009 part 9: Party.San buildup


Day 12
5 August 2009
Berlin - Berlin-Brandenburg - Germany

Looking at how the running order is, I could probably have taken another day and gone down tomorrow...but the itinerary is what it is, so down the tent I go; hope I find some cool peeps or a place to buy a case of local beer while inbound - best both.

I've still got large chunks of Schleswig-Holstein stuck to my boots, despite all the hiking yesterday. It's looking more and more like I'll explicitly have to hose them off to get back through US customs.

561. The cursed (?) track 13 at Potsdamer Platz. I had to go through this station quite a bit when I was going around in Berlin, and got stuck there a while on a couple occasions. Despite the time spent, I never saw a train slated for this track. Spooooky.

Bad Berka - Thüringen - Germany


562. Noch bequem. This festival is capped at 10,000; nice and small and quiet.

563. Over to the main part of the campground.

Some nice views of Thuringia on the way in; got to come back here sometime. The ground's harder here than in Wacken, probably due to the drier climate as much as the lack of immediate rainfall, but the tent went up without a hitch; let's hope it stays so.

No bands today, and nothing in the festival area open; after exploring around the site a bit, I tried despite the suffocating heat to get some daytime sleep. Once the bands start, there'll be little opportunity for such.

564. Tower on a distant hill.

565. Bone Ritual shirt with the sleeves cut off. Because I promised the band, and because there isn't shit else to do. The beerwagon (conveniently located less than 100 yards from my tent) isn't even open yet.

566. A full moon over British dudes helping Spanish girls with their tent.

567. Are metalheads perched like ravens on these distant hay bales? This area did get camped up later, after more people arrived, but this just looked spooky in the dusk lighting. I have no idea if anyone was really out there.

The lack of anything to do meant that I probably could have taken another day in Berlin and gone down earlier in the day Thursday without difficulty. However, this would mean tighter train connections as well as having to set up at the ass end of the campground. Sweating buckets and boredom is an acceptable tradeoff for a 2-minute stumble to beer and breakfast, and a five minute hike to either the festival entrance or the shuttle bus.


Day 13
6 August 2009
Bad Berka - Thüringen - Germany

568. Dawn through mosquito netting.

The ticket says something about cameras being forbidden; we'll see tonight if this is actually enforced before trying to lug this through and potentially losing everything I've piled up so far.

569. Mexican flag. Mostly Germans here, but people will come from all over; this is the biggest all-extreme all-metal fest there is.

570. Pfandmarke and Schwarzbier. Good: 0.4 liter of Köstriker black for 2 euros. Bad: ridiculous deposit system. There was a 1e deposit on each weak plastic cup redeemable only with a cup and chip together. This caused no end of confusion, and by the end of the weekend, I (along with other regulars) was no longer getting charged the deposit at the local beerwagon because we were going to drink standing there, then give over our last cup, and go to bed or go watch bands.

Five good beers and breakfast for 15 euro; this is the good life.

571. Down the hill to the stage; about six hours left to kill.

This is very much death metal date night; while Wacken in places is a family affair, this is a lot of young couples - and quite a few women on their own. Extreme metal is usually like this, but here more so than most places. To sum up: if you like extreme music, loads of hot metal chicks (or, in fairness as well as PC-balance, fit dudes with their shirts off), and good, cheap, beer, Party.San is your festival. You do have to get pretty deep into interior Germany to get here, which may be tough for non-German speakers, but it's worth it. A guide will follow at some point.

572. Lunch/dinner in progress. I told you this festival was wicked interior German. If you have a grill or, hell, a can opener, you will not have to eat sausages cold with your hands, or potato salad like it was poi. However, you'll be a lot more comfortable here, in a general sense, if you can.

If it's not raining, the dust from the road covers everything. Bands are about to start, and none too soon.

573. The official injunction against cameras. It wasn't enforced, but my wariness kept me from trying off the bat and this unfortunately means no pics from Thursday night.

Postmortem [4.5/7]
Pretty nice thrash with touches of deathcore, but they went on a little longer than probably was necessary. This is a feature, not a bug; every band up to the headliners gets 45 minutes, with 15 minute set changes, allowing the schedule to be wicked, wicked simple and easy to keep track of.

As will be seen in later pics, the infield, ringed with merch stands and food vendors with a bar and a single PA tower in the middle, is basically equivalent to the 2007 Wacken Party Stage, giving plenty of room for the up-to 10,000.

Azarath [5/7]
Though I can legit claim that I've been following this band since their demo, nobody here cares, so it doesn't matter. There were some problems with the sound at the start, but the band persevered and laid out a nice set of slightly blackened blasting death metal. Hells yes.

Psycroptic [6/7]
This was the first band to not feel like they went on too long, but this is probably because Psycroptic is awesome and I, like most death metal fans, could happily hear them play forever. They did a nice mixture of new and old, and dues were pumped throughout. This was, according to the band, the first Euro festival run for these Tasmanian Devils, and one expects that they'll be back again in the future.

Still mindful of my pack capacity, I limited the merch run I did before these guys to a festival shirt and a handful of bootleg patches featuring Dark Angel and Master's Hammer. We'll see how this self-limiting bit holds up.

Destroyer 666 [6/7]
Those seeing this band at Club Hell, or any of their other US club dates, are in for a treat. They brought a great intensity live, and even without the fire effects, a full headlining show indoors is going to be the balls. Absolute total black thrash devastation.

Protip: the "666" in the name is silent, like all those xs in xhardxcorexbandxnamesx. If you don't pronounce it, you may be able to fool others into believing you've seen them live too.

Marduk [6/7]
As always, all-dominant christraping black metal, and in a much more appropriate setting than the last time I saw them, at Wacken in '05 with the sun still out. I saw a little bit, then heard the rest from my tent, conveniently located (as a result of when I got in) a mere 400 yards away from the stage and right on the stage right PA's axis of fire. I got a smashing Marduk set while relaxing, and the knowledge that if the Saturday bands after Brujeria don't suck, I'll be able to hear them just fine.

Hell of a festival, hell of a first day.

Friday, August 21, 2009

European Tour 2009 part 8: Berlin


Day 10
3 August 2009
Hamburg - Hamburg-Hesse - Germany

Repacking right now to head over to the station. I can't believe these fucking Wessis don't know what a Waschsalon is. I blame Siemens, personally.

Friedenau - Berlin - Germany

I'm currently racing the clock to get my laundry done before the markets close so I can get some breakfast foods in. Until then, arriving pictures.

443. Ironwork at the Berlin Hbf.

444. Ad for a porn store in the train station. Not just the ad's in the station, the porn store also.

445. Out-of-focus mural in the Oranienburgerstrasse U-bahn stop after getting lost.

446. Yeah, you know we chill when...

447. Schönebergerbrücke. Two construction years, one in the late '40s or early '50s, is probably kind of common in this town.

448. View northish over said bridge. Nice and peaceful.

449. Gleisdreieck subway stop building.

450. Badass mural on the side of my hotel.

451. Church in Friedrich-Wilhelm-platz. There were probably closer laundromats, but this one (off the same subway stop as this church) got a good rec from Google, and I could actually find it.

452. Use this in your German class - with care. "Aber auch die Deutschen missbrauchen die Fälle!" - "Aber auch die Deutschen solche Misse korregieren!"

453. A memorial to victims of another age. A reminder to the huffers and puffers that the antisocial will always be with us, but who and why they unleash their hate and frustration against will change.


Day 11
4 August 2009
Berlin - Berlin-Brandenburg - Germany

454. Potsdamer Platz, crossing from U to S. Berlin has two complementary light rail systems that both do above- and below-ground, but very rarely share the same terminal when they meet up. I was heading to Unter den Linden, so I had to change from the U2 to the S1.

455. Brandenburg gate in the morning light.

456. Statue inside the gate.

457. Ampelmann series nr. 1: Bleib Stehen, Du Deppe.

458. Ampelmann series nr. 2: Sofort Ab Schon, Zecke.

459. Memorial on 17. Juni-Strasse.

460. Another clock, same place as the last....but I came prepared.

461. Soviet war memorial, and the final resting place of 2500 soldiers killed in the process of taking Berlin.

462. Military hardware flanks each side.

463. Caption for us non-Cyrillic-readers.

464. Memorial urns behind the monument.

465. An old view; the new memorial and the incompletely-destroyed Reichstag dominate a moonscape.

466. Back of the monument; all branches of the Soviet military are represented.

467. They apparently put lights in since I was last here, which must be quite impressive at night. I, however, had to keep going.

468. Red flower beds maintained by the city. For those who know Berlin geography and remember the old days, yes, the Soviets inadvertently built their main memorial in what turned into the Western sector. The British Army maintained it for them from 1949 until 1990, when it was turned over to the city/state of Berlin after reunification; the Russians built several other large cemeteries/memorials in their parts of Berlin and nearby areas of Brandenburg.

469. Modernistic building by the Reichstag.

470. "Dedicated to the German People". Flags here indicate government property; nobody else feels the compulsion to slap the schwarz-rot-gold on everything possible.

471. Memorial to Weimar-era representatives (many from the KPD and SPD) murdered by the Nazis.

472. Down Unter den Linden to the Fernsehturm. When I arrived yesterday, everything above the ball of the tower was lost in the clouds.

473. Life is a clay urn on the mantle. Time rolls on in Berlin, too.

474. Living statues getting made up for the day.

475. Fernsehturm again.

476. The police form up and get ready for another long day of chasing pickpockets and listening patiently to tourists whinge on in foreign languages.

477. Street to the UK consulate, permanently closed to traffic by vehicles much larger than a bicycle or pedicab.

478. Russian legation, Unter den Linden.

479. Flag up on the roof.

480. Statue of Frederick the Great, near Schlossplatz.

481. From Schlossplatz towards Alexanderplatz.

482. Humbolt University.

483. St. Hedwig's' dome, with horrible backlighting.

484. The front of the National Opera.

485. Statues (possibly both of Frederick the Great at different stages of his career, I didn't check too close) by a small park.

486. There's a museum for everything in this city....

487. Interesting brick church while crossing the Spree.

488. Onto this arm of the river.

489. The enormously impressive Berliner Dom.

490. In Schlossplatz. Mostly a slate, but a nice skyline too.

491. Museum of Antiquities.

492. While crossing Unter den Linden at Schlossplatz. As befits the national Lutheran cathedral of Prussia, this church really jumps out at you and proceeds to beat you to the ground.

493. Historical museum - impressions of the Wall.

German Historical Museum

494. An I.M. Pei staircase. I take so many architecture pictures, I might think I'd missed my calling, except for the part where I can't draw a straight line, period.

495. Roll of photo prints from the "Monday demonstrations" in Leipzig.

496. Statues of Marx and Engels photographed at the Wende with appropriate graffiti that didn't come out. Front: "It wasn't our fault." Back: "Next time it will be better."

497. Communist industrial enviro-devastation. This is near Lauchhammer in southern Brandenburg, not in Montana or Kazakhstan.

498. Klose's boots from the 2006 Germany-Poland game. This was at the end of a long exhibit on German-Polish relations, but the rest is better seen in person.

German Historical Museum - permanent exhibits

499. A reminder of the good old days - before the Huns.

500. Roman altar. The opportunities for Euro-Americans to reach out and touch their heathen past at home are somewhat limited.

501. History erased; a Roman altar to Victoria, with effacements.

502. Medieval swords.

503. A hand-copy of Bosch's Last Judgement that didn't come out as well as I thought it was going to.

504. Weapons from the farmers' revolt that caused Luther to write his best-titled work, Against the Thieving, Murderous Hordes of Peasants.

505. Ornate shutters. This building was originally built by the Prussian kings as a treasure and trophy house (hence the name Zeughaus, closely translated as "house for important stuff") and later used as an armory, but the original shutters have stuck through the transition back to a (now public) museum.

506. Royal dwarf of the Hapsburg court.

507. Caption for the above, explaining how it was a necessary part of Baroque princely culture to pay an official court midget to hang out at your place.

508. The Vincennes flag, awarded to the city of the same name for capturing Louis XVI as he tried to flee from the French Revolution. What is this doing here instead of in Paris?

509. An abortive early attempt at a machine gun. As with others, the "rapid fire" part works, but the "rapid loading" still eludes the designers.

510. Original iron-cross emblems from the Landwehr who drove out the French in 1813.

511. Napoleonic amputation manual. Br00tal.

512. Heavy arms of the first World War.

513. Not a horror movie poster, anti-Spartacist propaganda. "The Spartacists are horrible devil-monsters, not normal German soldiers who want a government based on social justice! Join the Freikorps and shoot them in the face!"

514. Not all Germans were anti-Semitic, as these leaflets show: "72,000 Jews died at the front! German women, don't mock the suffering of your countrywomen!"

515. ...but there's also this... ("Your current rulers...if you want change, vote German National!")

516. ...and this.

517. Hyperinflation: stamps go from 5 pfennigs (0.05 mark, for the bad at math) to 10 billion marks in 4 years. A nice keep-your-damn-hair-on to our current right.

518. Court transcript from Hitler's judgement/sentencing in the Beer Hall Putsch. Note that his profession is listed as "Schriftsteller", a freelance writer, neither gainfully employed nor doing anything as macho as his later mythology and hagiography would like to pretend.

519. Anti-Nazi poster from '32 - "End the Nazi murder plague!"

520. More anti-Nazi literature from the end of Weimar.

521. And of course also Nazi crap from the same period.

522. Once in power, they took over everything, even the traditional socialist May Day celebrations. This is NATIONAL labor day, not international labor day now.

523. Just who were the Nazis and how did they set themselves up? This poster shows.

524. Der Stürmer - "the Jews are our misfortune" special issue. Special issue? I thought that was kind of the whole point behind this stupid rag - did they ever put out an issue whining about someone besides the Jews as the root of Germany's problems?

525. Official Nazi race-classification chart. First you try to make sense of it, then you start laughing at the absurdity of it, and then you stop laughing because about 11 million people were murdered because too many idiots took this bullshit seriously, and where you came out on a chart like this might mean the difference between survival and a bullet in the back of the head in some forest in Poland or the Ukraine.

526. Genius Loci - the spirit of the place. Powerful even as it is, and more so in situ in the museum.

527. Ribbentrop's globe, symbolically damaged by the liberators.

528. German air-defense maps.

529. Halifax motor assembly, recovered from one of the lakes around Berlin. Note the splintering of the wooden propeller blade.

At this point, I was asked to stop shooting flash, so I did.

530. One of the famous 88mm FlAK guns. (yes, it's an abbreviation; FliegerAbwehrKanone)

531. "For shame, you hamstress!" Best. anti-hoarding. slogan. evar. Unfortunately, it didn't come out as well as I'd've liked due to the flash ban.

532. "Das Letzte Gesicht" - "The Last Face", secretly carved out of a block of oak by a concentration camp inmate and hidden to preserve the record.

533. A corroded V2 engine.

534. Half mosaic, half sculpture: "Trümmerfrau". This piece has a special resonance for anyone who's spent significant time in Dresden.

535. Postwar drama: a set model for Mutter Courage and the sleeve of a costume from Nathan der Weise. Because I am an unrepentant and slightly anorakish Brechtian.

536. Divided Germany: the West, the Wirtschaftswunder,....

537. ....the East, not so much.

538. NVA (National VolksArmee, not the Cong's uniformed buddies) field jacket and AK-47. When I was in Dresden, most of the Ossis I worked with were, like me, too young to have put this uniform on. Only their boss, pushing 50, had done his "Bundeswehr" in this gear.

539. Ok, they have a Trabi to complement the VW on the western side, but it's kind of hidden. (To prevent younger visitors from going "Woot Trabi!" and getting the wrong impression? People didn't like these cars before they became cult.)

540. What's wrong with this map? It's full of those nice happy 1950s-children's-encyclopedia symbols, and then you notice that the goddamned Wessis still haven't gotten used to the Oder-Neisse border.

541. This part of the Wall hasn't been broken up to be put into tourist paperweights yet.

542. Original protest banners from the days of reunification.

I can highly recommend this museum, but be prepared for a lot of hiking.

Berlin, outside again.

543. Rotes Rathaus from a little closer.

544. Spreeblick.

545. Church in the shadow of the Fernsehturm.

546. Rotes Rathaus, full on.

547. Dudes blowing giant bubbles.

548. Fountain below the TV tower.

549. ...and straight up.

There were a lot of goths hanging around here, but not shot, because goths are not animals to be stared at. Hippies on the other hand....

550. Look across to Alexanderplatz; same as ever.

551. Leopold von Dessau statue, right by the Mohrenstrasse (yes, Carrot Street, I'm not making this up) U-bahn stop.

552. Weird architecture, Mohrenstrasse.

553. Bundesrat building across a vacant lot.

554. Holocaust memorial. The pattern of stones at different heights recalls, probably intentionally, Jewish cemeteries in Israel.

555. A look into the depths.

556. At the bottom.

The get-lostness of this is overrated, but it still gets some Americans, as I overheard. "Where's the exit, where's the exit?" IT'S A FUCKING GRID HOW DO YOU GET LOST IN A GRID. "Getting lost" isn't the point; the point is the depths in the middle that you don't see moving among the stones at the edge. And then you're in too deep, and if you have claustrophobia at all, you feel buried beneath these giant masses of stone. You also don't see other visitors in the depths from the outside, not until you're all in the bottom together.

557. Potsdamer Platz, looking a different way.

558. What the hell? I thought he was from Gelsenkirchen? The name of the station, translated, is Uncle Tom's Cabin, which has a lot more to do with Stowe than Sodom. Still, I had to go collect this, though it's out on the ass end of the U3 line in Grunewald.

559. Nice architecture in the Neidstrasse, Friedenau.

560. Church at the end of the street that I missed the first time through.