Thursday, September 09, 2010

Euro Tour 2010 - conclusion and scores and other garbage

I forgot to do that thing I did last year and put the scores in at the index post, even though (or perhaps because) I was smarter and put the index at the start. So, here they are:

bands seen, day 1: 3
average day 1: 4.67/7
total day 1: 14
bands seen, day 2: 10
average day 2: 5.5/7
total day 2: 55
bands seen, day 3: 8
average day 3: 5.38/7
total day 3: 43
average, full festival: 5.33/7
total, full festival: 112
total bands: 21

bands seen, day 1: 5
average day 1: 6.3/7
total day 1: 31.5
bands seen, day 2: 7
average day 2: 6/7
total day 2: 42
bands seen, day 3: 9
average day 3: 5.72/7
total day 3: 51.5
average, full festival: 5.95/7
total, full festival: 125
total bands: 21

The thing that sticks out here is that this is a wicked low number of rated bands. In 2005, I saw enough of 30 bands to get some kind of impression of them at Wacken, and the festival has done nothing but shove more bands in more places since. Chalk that up to more time spent hanging out; this is probably also why Party.San sees the same five-band drop from last year.

The other thing to note is that Thursday night at Party.San was really fucking good this year. I knew, of course, that Devourment and Watain had fucking killed it, but I didn't know that this was the best single festival day I had on record since Atheist broke the scoring system in 2006, which came out to exactly the same average. What's more, this year's day 1 was a lot more consistent; it's harder to make up 'dropped' points in a sample of five bands rather than 8, especially when there isn't a historically great set in the mix generating a "free" point.

Last but not least, trends. There was a lot of ceaseless moaning about the lack of quality on this year's Wacken, but overall, average score dropped by 0.04 points. So even according to this dumb and arbitrary measure, not significant. Party.San, though, saw a significant increase in quality on stage as well as fun "off the park"....and I'm pretty sure that had I seen enough of, say, Ofermod, Diabolical or The Crown to write some more arbitrary numbers down for Friday, this wouldn't've cratered the average. If you're losing patience with great culture and merely "pretty good" music up in S-H, the great culture and great music in Thüringen are worth checking out. Hinterlands guide for non-German-speakers is that way.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Euro Tour 2010 part 14: No Nation On This Earth


[Bad Berka]

534. Grey dawn over the hills.

The weather didn't hold. It rained overnight, and stayed damp. Eventually there was nothing to do but eat breakfast, hang out with the Obscure Mortuary and Terror Blade crews (Sarah apologized for not finding me the day before, and for being sold out of their demo by the time the morning rolled around), eventually finish all the beer left after Sarah and Michael started for home, the no back, kick the slugs out of the tent, and pack everything up. On to the shuttlebus.

Only problem, no bus. Both the normal bus and the replacement were broken down. No biggie, though; the airmobile/landmobile concept I had going meant that my pack was light, nothing in it that I didn't need to bring back, so the 3km to the village was no problem.

535. Bad Berka, drawing near over the Landstrasse.

536. Now entering...


537. Nick (from L.A.) waiting for his train back to the west.

So it's only an hour or so on to Berlin, and time to wrap things up. By any reasonable measure, this trip was a success; I maybe didn't see as many bands as past years, but those I did were pretty much choice. I hung out with cool people from across the world and completely emptied my pack of promo merch (well, except the buttons...) in the process. CDs, stickers, promocards, all gone, hopefully to good homes, and hopefully we get more trans-Atlantic connections out of this that are good for both sides.

So what are the lessons for merch, and for future Nachfolger, even if I end up not doing this again?
1) Wacken loves stickers, CDs not so much. This is not a DIY festival, and despite my experiences this year, most of the people you encounter don't play in bands. This makes giving CDs out tougher, if people want to wait until it's on a label. Stickers, though, even if they don't keep them, they'll play with them and get them stuck to shit, where other people will see them.
2) Under CDs, doom doesn't move in Germany. Death/grind and black/thrash go like the dickens, but I had a real hard time getting all the Dead Languages material moved. It's different, of course, if you're just chucking stuff out, but I wanted to be as sure as I could that the CDs I had were all going to people who would actually a) listen to them and b) like the band. Finding doom fans, at least at Wacken and Party.San, is just tough.
3) Buttons don't move period. No music, no space for a contact address. They are officially off the list; next year's merch call (should I do this again) will include a NO BUTTONS disclaimer. I have enough from enough bands to handle the rare cases where I'm able to give them out; bands I don't have any from can give me 5 max along with other stuff.
4) The more I lug in, the more I can kick out. It was a little tight at the end, mostly due to selection, though; if I had some death metal along, it would probably have "burned" at the same rate as Nachzehrer in Party.San. Whatever your band is (well, except doom maybe), gimme it, I'll move it, and to people who want to hear your music.


538. City limits by the hotel. I'm pretty sure my room was still in Berlin.



539. Rainscape at the Grünbergallee S-bahn stop.

Rain hiking to the S-bahn, the check-in counter closed, the stormdetonation of my soda bottle while waiting, even this pen falling apart on the way out of my pocket -- hopefully, this gets the bad luck out of the way and my pack gets to Boston the same time as I do. Seriously, if it aint one thing, it's another.

Pech noch nicht aus: because I didn't get stamped in Stavanger, I get aggro from the border control. Good thing that I'm paranoid about privacy and keep all my old ticket stubs and other personally-identifying crap to destroy on getting home; safely out regardless.

And it really was; I entered the United States in Dublin (seriously, you can do this) and sailed clean through customs in Boston, claimed my pack without issue, and managed to get an early, if expensive train, to get back to....

540. There and back again.

Sixteen days and three hours after departing, I was back where I started. The circle closes, and we are back where we least to the world, but as the foregoing may indicate, there's a way that everyone who's been across will understand, that where I and they belong is on some muddy infield with a kutte on my shoulders and a beer in my hand, on the other side of that golden spiral.

Euro Tour 2010 part 13: Where The Schlamm Lives


[Bad Berka]

488. Still life with logging boot.

The sun came out early this morning, but things are still shit. You get used to the mud, maybe not so much to the dude who snores like a downshifting semi in the next tent.

At breakfast, more cool dudes, more CDs passed out -- and also Austrians on meth and Sarah from Terror Blade's crew, who promised me a demo later after her boyfriend got their car back from the shop. All I had to do was find the girl with pink hair and inch-long spikes on the shoulders of her kutte; not a problem, even in 10,000 metalheads, especially since she's also looking for the 6'3" guy with seven bands of studs on each shoulder. Right?

Tribulation [4/7]
Overall decent black thrash, but absolutely nothing special -- or especially original. There were some good parts, but nothing that ever really developed into their own sound.

489. Tribulation warming up, jamming on "The Wicker Man".

490. The band comes out through the haze.

491. Jonathan jamming in his girl jeans.

492. Rest of the band.

At this point, of total resources I have zero stickers, three CDs, 8 flyers, and bare handful of buttons left. Everything is going to move by the end of the festival; no need to push, just let it go and let things come.

Ghost Brigade [4/7]
There's a time and a place for this kind of music, but even if the place is Party.San, it's doubtful that the *time* is between two black-thrash bands. They're not as crap as their demo, but if they played in the same slot as Swallow The Sun did last year, people would be screaming about downsizing. Still, they aint bad, and if the lineup goes small here to go Napalm Death - Suffocation - Lock Up - Cannibal Corpse later on, that's a tradeoff I'll take.

493. Ghost Brigade, laying a foundation.

494. One of the guitarists, because he was the closest.

495. Rest of the "outfield players".

496. In "action".

497. Full band.

Desaster [6.5/7]
Not perfect, but Desaster isn't in the perfection business. What they do do, though, is lay out critical burning black thrash metal, and fuck did we get a long portion of such. The infield filled near full up, and the band responded in top fashion. This is perfect festival music, fun but still true, and this was some kickass execution at, it must be said, about the perfect festival for this kind of music.

498. Desaster setting up, with banner.

499. Infernal jamming "South of Heaven" by way of warmup.

500. Desaster hit the stage.

501. Satanic out front.

502. Odin chunking away.

503. Full "outfield".

504. Odin smashing some more.

505. Hey! Hey! Hey!

506. Action shot.

507. Infernal doing his hero thing.

508. Part II.

Varg [5/7]
Solid but not spectacular black metal, Varg is the best kind of schedule filler, the kind people will eat up gladly for and hour sometime between the openers and the headliners. A good performance of good music, this set slotted perfectly into the afternoon.

509. Varg, full band.

510. Inciting the crowd.

Now for the hard part -- dinner and no bands to miss. Maybe if I turn in before Lock Up, having seen them and CC last weekend, I'll be able to tough it out; we'll see.

Månegarm [6/7]
The heathen/epic elements came in later, but even at the start, when I was off resting my feet, this was a class performance. Not quite on the same level as Moonsorrow last year, and certainly not in as good conditions, but good stuff all the same. This band was one of the main draws for me, before Autopsy announced, and they certainly delivered at their expected level.

511. Månegarm, full band.

512. The lighting was shit; the band, badass.

513. Focus on the fiddle. Månegarm play all their own instruments live, even the traditional stuff -- no playback or keys -- which makes the performance that much more impressive and awesome.

Necrophagist [6.5/7]
Amazing, still. Some things don't change, and one of them is that Muhammed and his band -- they've been together long enough to stop being sidemen -- will produce, on any stage, death metal vom absolut feinsten. Almost simple in how it came out, almost laid back at times -- but you kind of have to be a Necrophagist-level musician to make this kind of music come off as easy in any way.

514. Necrophagist setting up.

515. Muhammed and Sami through the smoke.

516. Stefan, easier to photograph.

517. The rest of Necrophagist is in here somewhere.

518. Stefan, hero shot.

519. The rest of the band emerges.

520. Muhammed's still veiled by the light in the smoke.

The way the sunlight was coming in made the smoke almost impossible to see through, especially with an old beater camera. The smoke's a godsend later; not so hot to work with in the middle of the afternoon.

521. Muhammed finally appears.

522. Full band, fully visible.

The ground is firming back up nicely; if the weather holds, moving out will be merely difficult, not stupidly dangerous. I've still got large chunks of Thüringen in my boots, and the shorts are probably going to be a total loss (tent's gone when I get home and no longer need it to balance the pack, obviously), but I've got a fair bit of time in Berlin tomorrow and some rough plans to get through immigration.

(Lol jinx. No sooner had this been written than it started dripping down again. Results from the next morning in the next post.)

Aura Noir [6/7]
Simply kickass -- full power blackened thrash showing its roots in Sodom, Venom, and Sarcofago, and the crowd lapped it up, but the best to come was outside the music. This is how this fest works: you come in, and great bands play great sets one after the other.

523. Aura Noir, at least as they are.

524. Setting up some "South American Death".

525. The audience for black thrash in Germany. All these dudes were in for Desaster too.

And then, at the very end....


Carl-Michael came out on crutches to do "Sons of Hades" as a quasi-encore, the first time he's been onstage since the accident five years ago. Still not so able to move around, but he's still got the pipes. Fuckin killer.

The light's basically gone, so pics from Napalm Death, Suffocation, and anything I stay later for will likely be crap.

Napalm Death [6.5/7]
Powerful is the word for this -- so much speed and power in their grind that they double-timed the set. Nobody cared, though; we got super-fast, super-crunchy Napalm Death and then half another Napalm Death set as an encore. Fuckin hell.

To continue to allay baseless rumors about this fest, "Nazi Punks Fuck Off" got a strong and correctly pitched response from the crowd, and a loud chorus of "Nazis Raus!" from the time that Barney finished announcing it straight into the start of the song.

527. The "alte Zugmaschine" (old tractor, punning on some remarks from the orgas before the set about tow-out arrangements in the morning) gears up to drag the fest out of the mud.

528. Barry is a dynamo of energy.

529. Giant inflatable dong in the crowd before Suffocation.

Suffocation [7/7]
Just the top; not really a "high 7" as those facetious things go, but really, really good, headliner-class in every respect. Frank still blabs on a bit, but the actual music still kicks ass; when Suffocation is on, they're fucking on. You have to check if Terrance doesn't suddenly have three hands, and you just stare slackjawed at Mike's perfection of precision behind the kit: no wasted motion, every stick movement goes to exactly the right place with exactly the right power, then strikes again or moves on at near the speed of light. The audience responded as well as they're going to; you're not going to get 100-meter pits at this fest, but if you don't move when Suffo is just flat nailing breakdown after breakdown in "Pierced From Within", you're not fucking human.

530. Suffocation setting up. Light's gone.

531. Frank talking something over with Mike. Light's gone here too.

532. Derek, Terrance, and Frank let loose.

533. Frank roaring away as only he can.

Euro Tour 2010 part 12: Thuringian Pagan Mudness


[Bad Berka]

The rain's stopped, at least for the moment, the sun is out, and a nice dry breeze is blowing, but the mud still covers the ground -- and my boots. I've got a serious case of Thuringian Pagan Mudness going on here; hopefully, shit will dry out to the point where I can kick it off against the front rail.

472. Upturned cross guitar jammed into the mud, out in the campground.

The morning was pretty standard form; get breakfast, drink Köstriker, meet some cool people, hang out, drinking a bunch more beer, then repair back to the beerstand to drink more Köstriker before the festival gates open. It's a routine, but there's not a whole lot else to do before the infield opens.

Milking The Goatmachine [5/7]
Good shit, and a full portion of goatgrind, but our slam/grind death bands don't have a lot to fear. It's not a stretch to believe that Composted would play them absolutely off the stage night after night, nor that for touring purposes both bands would have a lot of fun in the process.

473. The goats set up.


Seriously, a dude runs around in costume with a supersoaker and gets attacked by an inflatable shark -- this is Composted with one gimmick rather than 20. (Ok, and a little less crushing, but what the hell.)

Lividity [6/7]
There's been and will be better death, grind, and slammy death at this festival, but here, outdoors in East Germany, is where to see Lividity, if nowhere else. (Look around and see how many people have Lividity patches on their kit the next time you're in the NBL.) This was a nice crunchy performance despite the rain, and one featuring a lot of new stuff, which got a good strong response from the audience.

475. Lividity checking.

476. Taking the stage.

477. Von and Jake roaring.

478. Dave, heroshot.

479. The full band laying waste.

A short break in here to find some dudes; unsuccessful, but missing Suicidal Angels doesn't appear to be a super high price to pay.

Things will vary spot to spot, but it is not pure conjecture to say that Germany, land of Desaster, is very ready for Nachzehrer, and following them the whole of NEBM, and then maybe the rest of the New England DIY underground by extension. Black thrash is what people listen to here, at least among the cadre that goes out to this festival, and people have been enthusiastic about getting DIY stuff off me. Maybe my brain's running ahead of the real world again, but this small sample of good results is encouraging; maybe things really are waiting on the one band to make that leap and open things up for the rest to follow.

A word on mud:
In Wacken, when it rains, the ground goes completely to pieces. Dirt paste eight, twelve inches deep. Here, though, what you get is this layer of spready mud that floats over the grass. Weird, but that's how it goes.

Origin [5.5/7]
I was in the head and at the back when this set was going on, but you gotta fucking cut out sometime. Also, the rain was starting; time to rest up for Dying Fetus and to blame the PA sound if things don't come out perfect.

480. Left to right; me, Jesse, and Max getting blasted in the beer tent and missing The Crown.

Asphyx [6/7]
We missed half their set due to the running order getting flipped around (and drinking very large amounts of beer), but what remained was fuckin killer. The running order may have gotten screwed around, but crushing death metal puts everything right.

481. Asphyx.

482. Asphyx again, setting shit off.

We got pakora (feckin vegetarians, but it was all right) and went further up. There's a lot of death metal beer blur from here to the end of the night.

Dying Fetus [6.5/7]
Jesse hadn't seen Dying Fetus before. One of the first things he learned is that you don't hand your beer to someone just before "One Shot One Kill" and expect it not to get shook all to pieces. Tremendous set, just completely explosive.

483. Dying Fetus opens fire. Bad light and a drunk guy holding the camera, but they're on the stage regardless.

Sarke [6/7]
This was a pleasant surprise, the band being both better and notably blacker than I expected going in. As good as the music was, though, going forward for this band was pretty much exclusively because they were on before Autopsy; still a positive, though, that the time on the rail was well-spent.

484. Fires for Sarke.

Autopsy [7/7]
What the fuck else? This was nearly perfect, worth the wait in years and hours and the long miles of travel to get here. Halfway through, I was so dead from beer and exhaustion that I could barely stand up, and thus had to pull, but Autopsy from the first row, Autopsy from halfway back, the last Autopsy song in the tent, still fucking Autopsy! This makes the trip worth it, all the mud and other bullshit worth it.

485. Autopsy banner in low light.

486. Eric rips it -- hero shot.

487. Autopsy, full band.

Euro Tour 2010 part 11: One More Magic Potion -- No, Make That Two, And Pass Me The Whiskey Back



Rain, but not actually raining, is decent enough. Odds are I'll be able to get the tent down unmolested.

[Bad Berka]

Party.San = richtig Party. Several CDs out just on the trip to and from and to the festival again, and Donny, Oscar, Jesse, Susi, and Julia, among quite a few others, heartily partied with. Rewind before this pen runs out.

442. Getting in; seemingly even earlier than last year.

443. This one looks like it's going past.

444. So fucken glad to be back in the East, for real. Have I mentioned I love this fucking festival?

The notes and pictures are sparse from this day because after taking the above, I ended up moving my tent across to hang out with several of the peeps mentioned above. I had a 24-can (12-liter) slab of Radeberger that mostly vanished in this time, probably evaporated by German, Swedish, Israeli, and American dudes, with occasional help from passers-by. What exactly went down, though, is not completely clear -- how you know the party was up, on the last day of the festival with uniformly good weather.


[Bad Berka]

For the first time since like winter 2007, I have my kutte buttoned up to protect against the elements. It is really raining like a bastard here.

445. Bonus video - the grounds and the rain. This was kind of taken by mistake, but it actually came out.

446. A better view, being an actual picture.

Fortunately, the breakfast tent and beer wagon are open; that's my until-festival basically sorted. Maybe go into town to get a backup pen (this one's dying) around midday; sun-in-my-eyes delusions can wait until the bands start.

Dudes were jamming Landser out over the campground at 7:30 this morning. Someone was desperate to go home early.

Beers after breakfast ended up leading on to many more beers (and thrashing around to Nachzehrer, Nachtmystium, and Fiddler's Green) with Daniel, organizer of Mordfest, who at least at the time wanted to bring Nachzehrer over for a couple dates in November. If the flights can work, it might happen; the audience is definitely there for black thrash in Germany.

This then led on to more drinking through the afternoon -- no bands and it's raining like a bastard, what the fuck else was there to do? -- and Daniel and I lugging Jesse into town to introduce him to the doner kebab. Even vegetarian, Turco-German food kicks ass, and no traveler should be allowed to miss out on it.

447. The dudes in the international party tent.

Eventually, though, we got back, in time for....

Merrimack [5/7]
Slashing, kickass black metal from France, but nationality doesn't matter here if you can pump the fuckin metal out. I was up front here mostly for Devourment, then back to take in the spectacle of Watain.

448. Merrimack, at last!

449. Whole band in the smoke.

450. The singer pumps up the crowd.

451. Action shot, most of the band.

452. The guys on the other side of the stage.

453. Full band in full cry.

Devourment [7/7]
I know they're the originators, but this felt, at least to me, acculturated to my own scene, like nothing so much as Dysentery up on the big stage. Sooo many fuckin slams -- and more besides, but fuckin slam dood! SLAAAAAAM!!!

454. Devourment setting up in shitty light.

455. Chris tuning up.

456. Full band on soundcheck, before the light died.

457. The band storms the stage.

458. Ruben crushing.

459. Mike and Chris brew shit up.

460. Lens was a little too long, but as it was.

461. Full band hammering the crowd.

Monstrosity [6.5/7]
This was one of those sets that really reminds you why you love death metal. Nothing too fancy -- brutal parts, mosh parts, good solos -- but almost perfectly put together at a uniformly high standard of execution. Fuckin hell man -- fuckin death metal.

462. The band emerges.

463. Storming the stage.

464. Full fuckin death power.

The Devil's Blood [6/7]
The normal songs, not much to write home about, but the solos man, the fuckin solos! These guys get how to play rock'n'roll lead guitar, and the amazing instrumental work gets the extra point here, more than the revival of '70s occultism.

465. The Devil's Blood being spooky awesome.

Watain [7/7]
It was a bit of a slow start, and the audience, more heavily death metal this year (Autopsy and Cannibal Corpse as the other headliners), was giving them a bit of aggro, but once "Sworn To The Dark" started (second song), all was right, and both band and audience in fine form. At least while I was down front (exhaustion and a LOT of beers catching up with me), they didn't do anything bloody, but as the pictures show, fire, fire, everywhere. All in all, this was about as true a Watain set as modern animal protection laws will allow, and a terrifically cool musical experience as well.

466. Techs set up Watain's props. Excuse the light, this set was a midnight start.

467. Ritual candelabras burning in the gloom.

468. The intro starts....

469. The band, hidden in a funeral fog.

470. Watain strike!

471. Tridents burn as the band swears the audience to the dark.

Euro Tour 2010 part 10: Symphonie einer Grossstadt



The DDR museum doesn't open till 10, so I've got some time to kill and pics to process.

384. DIE RAPISTS. Street graffiti on the vegetation-banked sidewalk of the Landsbergallee.

385. Graffiti on a Gothic-style brickwork by the Landsbergallee S-bahn stop.

386. Old abandoned house, Ostkreutz.

387. Old, closed, Bahnsteig, Ostkreutz.

388. Udopea head-shop, Alexanderplatz. Careful how you transport this stuff internationally.

389. Marienkirche in morning light. Every five steps coming out of Alexanderplatz, another frickin picture.

390. Rotes Rathaus over the trees.

391. Martin Luther statue by the Marienkirche.

392. Berliner Dom over some commercial architecture.

393. Rotes Rathaus, backlit. It probably looked better live.

394. Statues of Marx and Engels (see last year, #496) in a new monument under construction.

395. Berliner Dom, closer. I'll need a much wider lens if I ever want to get this entire building in the frame.

396. Noch nicht unter Hochwassergefahr. Görlitz was flooded and Dresden was bunkering in, but the surge had not gotten this far down the Spree yet, and would not before I left Berlin.

397. Friedrichsbrücke plinth and the Nationalgalerie.

After the DDR Museum, the Nationalgalerie, and lunch, some time to rewind.

398. Another look down the Spree, towards the rebuilt synagogue.

399. Decoration over one of the doors into the Berliner Dom.

400. View through the colonnade into the Nationalgalerie.

401. Frieze along the walls of the stairwell inside, showing important figures from German and Germanic history.

402. Rotunda on the second floor, part 1.

403. Part 2.

404. "Berkaer Landstrasse", "The Road to Berka". The composition is cool, and I also found it neat that I ran into this painting at this point, considering the next step in the journey.

405. Slate for 404 with some additional info.

406. Bright colors, Impressionism blending almost into pointillism? Is this really a German artist? Yes it is, German artist on a German subject, in the true fin de siécle before the guns of August started to sound.

407. The artist's reflection is visible in the glass of this still-life.

408. A half-finished Metzler showing the sketch construction.

Because I was an idiot and forgot my spare batteries, I wasn't able to shoot half of what I wanted to in the Nationalgalerie. It's worth a visit; nineteenth-century German painters don't sound so interesting conceptually, but as the few pictures above show, there's a lot of diversity even in that caption, and there's a decent selection of sculpture as well.

409. Across the courtyard, coming out.

410. The Pergamon-museum. Antiquities are cool and all, but that's a long fucking line. No dice; I'm on the clock and need to see stuff while I'm here.

411. As with Jesse-Owens-Strasse, Berliners had a fair number of streets with politically unacceptable names after the war, and rather a lot of people who needed apologizing to.

Now, lazy canal-boat tourism! The guide for this tour was a historical interpreter dressed as the Hauptmann von Köpenick, which fits; not only a famous character, but this is what Berlin is all about, the pretense that becomes real, with time and by accident. Or maybe too much Brecht is getting to me.

412. Graffiti under the first bridge.

413. Berlin - City of Peace.

414. Facade of the Kurfurstenhaus.

415. Sophienkirche behind some other buildings.

416. Some more under-bridge graffiti.

417. The Berliner Dom finally fits into the frame.

418. Really unusual protest graffiti, near the site of the old Volkspalast.

419. Battle damage, still unrestored.

420. Berliner Ensemble symbol -- Pflicht für Brechtner.

421. Reichsadler on one of the metal bridges.

422. Mosaic over the entrance to the Ganymed.

423. View up to the Reichstag.

424. New buildings of the Bundesamt.

425. Sculpture detail; installed on one of the federal buildings.

426. The Löbe Haus part.

427. Up to the Hauptbahnhof.

428. Coming up on the Moltkebrücke.

429. Kanzleramt main building.

430. Detail, Moltkebrücke.

431. Willows weeping into the river by the Congresshalle.

432. Repair scaffolding around the Siegessäule.

433. Congresshalle on the way back, since the camera was dead on the way out.

The batteries were functionally dead at this point, but I didn't have my spares mit, so this was an extended resuscitation operation to keep them functioning for as much of the remains of the tour as possible.

434. Another view of the Kanzlerhaus.

435. Memorial to the victims of the Wall, where it used to cross the river between the zones.

436. Modern insert in an old houserow.

437. Political mural on the way back.

438. Another Wall memorial.

439. Living architecture under construction. The ivy's supposed to cover the metal frames as on the left, building a living shadow of a classical temple.

440. Old and new; back of the Nationalgalerie and the Alexanderplatz TV tower.

441. Cool rib construction under one of the bridges.

After this, the camera was dead dead, not even enough juice left to check the pictures. Fortunately, I did pick up spares back on that initial food run Sunday night; the two remaining "charges" should last through the end of the festival.

Unheilig played Wacken in 2007. Now they're on top of the MTV charts. This is what's different about Germany: metal bands are not penalized in the scene for having the ability to cross over, and in return, the mainstream doesn't penalize them for being metal bands when they make a good song and video.

Euro Tour 2010 part 9: The Golden Spiral



This morning, shopping, then I figure out what to do about laundry and tourism. I've got time, unlike last year, but more space to cover.

Record check (cleaning out the crash bag to do laundry):
Darkwor 3/4
Nachzehrer 16/20
Dead Languages 7/10
Deathamphetamine 6/10
Panzerbastard 5/9
I need to push Nachzehrer some more; the gain rate is about the same, but I've got a lot more volume to clear from them. Of course, Party.San is a much more DIY-friendly festival, and I expect to move everything above no problem.

Because Andrew stressed so hard to give PB only to the baddest doods, here are the four bad doods at Wacken who got the first four discs. In order:
- Greek Motorhead fans who hosted Death Before Dishonor in Thessaloniki and partied them to the point that they almost couldn't leave
- Mark from Alarum
- a bunch of badass German bikers
- Sobo from Jack Slater

Today was a down day, but I made it, literally, all the way around Berlin, keeping my eyes open.

The city of Berlin is divided into three concentric zones for the purposes of public transit pricing. The S41 and S42 lines run clockwise and counterclockwise, respectively, on the border between A, the inner city, and B, the immediate suburbs. (Think as if someone had the sense to run a belt line from the sea on the Cambridge-Somerville line, cross the Charles around the point of the ABC interchange and follow the Pike back eastwards.) Because Google wasn't being especially helpful, I went back to the Waschsalon in fucking Friedenau to do laundry...which was literally across the city, almost halfway around the ring.

That in mind, and wanting to try and find a Hertha fan-shop around the Olympiastadion, why not? Out on the S41, detour down the U9 to do laundry, then backtrack and pick up the 41 again, switch to the S3 at Westkreutz, then on coming back from the stadium, NOT take the S3 through the city center to Ostkreutz, but get back on the 41 and complete the circumnavigation. After all, what's the use of a ring line if you don't go all the way around, like Japanese businessmen sleeping endless circuits on the Yamanote after they miss their last train home?

Also sofort. Not very adventurous in comparison with any other leg, but it's still the hard way to do the simple thing.

I washed my handful of clothes (Rampant Decay shirt now permanently stained as a result fo Norway, which is how it should be, Woods GITNB shirt already "recycling" itself, wtf Dan), and since I was just across the road, took a look at Hurricane. I bought a bunch of weird shit (Norwegian jazz, Spanish grindcore, metalcore from Belgium via Hong Kong, German oi), and thought I'd found a copy of the Napalm Death/Coalesce split, but someone had gotten there first and done the punk rock thing and stole the CD out of the case. Fuck. Whatever, they'll probably enjoy it more than I.

371. Looking south from Bundesplatz, laundry done.

Chores done, tourism in.

372. View across the Olympiastadion S-bahn stop. Ther track I'm on is the only normally "live" one; the others handle special extra trains for World Cup finals, Champions League finals, Olympic championships, the DFB-Cup final, and other major events.

373. View of the stadium itself.

374. Immortalized here for obvious reasons. Vergangenheitsbewältigung requires the hand withheld be extended.

375. Ha ho he, auch in die 2. Liga. Unfortunately, I forgot that Hertha doesn't own their own ground, and doesn't even train out here, so no fanshop. Fortunately, there is kind of a giant monument here, so it's still worth making the trip out just to see the stadium from the outside.

376. Bell tower overlooking the stadium. The stripped lines and artless imitation of the classical style screams Fascist architecture louder than any date plaque.

377. The stadium has similarities, but looks better by being less violently useless.

378. Towers on the other side of the stadium.

379. Statues by the stadium. The ground was closed, so I couldn't get any closer.

380. Berlin water system manhole cover.

381. Russian market on the Landsbergallee. Rumgang absolviert.

382. Sundown, going out on a beer run to a local discounter.

No vuvuzelas, but I did find some Eiskorn to smuggle back. This is going to be doubly difficult since glass is going to be controlled for at Party.San.

383. ((not germane))

Tomorrow's plan is a little tougher; DDR-Museum, bang around the inner ring, and watch out for floods on the Spree. However, I can shoot and write as much as I want; I got a new notebook along with the beer, eats, and contraband, and don't need to worry about running out of paper.

Euro Tour 2010 part 8: The Silence Is Deafening



355. Gray skies fallen, but not much rain. The tent was more or less dry as I packed up, but I'm hanging it up in Berlin, if I can, all the same.

356. The metal Rapture: coffee in cups and tea cartons on the tables, but the people are just....gone. Well, until next year.


On the train to Berlin now; partying and crashing last night created a backlog in the notes, which I straightened out over this train leg; the notes in question are now transcribed above and in the prior post, with pictures in the right places.

It's not just that I happened to get 'adopted' by a bunch of Spaniards for three days; the untold story of this year's festival is going to be the emergence of the Spanish-speaking population, likely mostly at the expense of English. Wherever I went, there seemed to be Spanish spoken in numbers, and to such a degree that I had to start checking to be sure it wasn't just the same people all the time. In contrast, most of the English I heard was in an Irish accent, with American and Australian about tied for a very distant second. Time will tell if this is an aberration, but while English is still the official second language of the festival, those who already have some English and German nay want to pick up Spanish for utility purposes. I know I will -- should I come back, which is more likely now than it was a week ago.

With big bands (well, big new bands, what with Maiden, Slayer, Fear Factory, Immortal, Cannibal Corpse, and UDO all having played here before) and big anniversaries off the table, what remained was a normal Wacken. Normalcy, for someone like me who cut their teeth on the go-go ascendancy of the past few years, feels like a letdown, but if you look at the billing, as it is, for what it is, you've got to respect the bands, and the setup that brought them in, for laying out what has to be acknowledged as a musically excellent festival. If this feels average, it's just an indication of how high that average is in absolute terms. Wacken is more commercial than it was, but still allows and even creates space for DIY bands, Wacken has a lot of shit mainstream bands, but gave Voivod and Kampfar good long sets on a big stage to be mega true. Seriously, all things considered, this festival is fucking awesome, and anyone who tells you differently is probably trying to offload their timeshare for the first weekend in August. It's just the Stammgäste that occasionally get old and jaded.

I plan not to be back unless I get at least two from the set (Hypocrisy, Tankard, [Sodom, Kreator], some band with dudes I know personally), but I also reserve the right to change that plan at any time. If you haven't been yet, though, you still need to go.

Next up: Berlin; shower; shave; hang tent/bag; maybe laundry, deffo dinner. After that, I can figure out what tourism points remain for Monday and Tuesday.


357. Tower at Ostkreutz. The real is everywhere here in the old east sector.

358. Penthouse yo.

359. And a view into the distance.

360. Same shot, wider to show the altitude a little better.

Despite the views and being large enough to set up a tent in (more on that in a sec), I'm not sure that I'd recommend the Grand City on the Landsbergallee to other travelers. All the main lights were out of commission, the battery in the TV remote was dead, no soap or shampoo in the dispenser, and the AC was minimally on the fritz if not completely unavailable. However, even with this, the room was so cheap (about $108 for 3 nights) that I personally would do it again. After all, this was only a matter of finding a Spätverkauf or a gas station -- and I had to get something to eat anyway. Back on the road!

361. Old out-of-use building by the hotel.

362. Olympic training center at the Berlin Sportforum.

363. Jewish cemetery by the road.

364. Graffiti on the Kindl brewery.

365. Brewery front entrance.

366. A look into the cemetery coming back; history everywhere.

367. Kleingartenanlage front wall, Eastberlin style.

368. Dinner with improvised utensils. Normal people go to the hotel restaurant. I buy a brick of pea soup while getting batteries and eat it with a bottle opener because I forgot I didn't bring any utensils.

369. Tent up to air out.

370. Yes, in the hotel. Couple days like this, and it'll be field-ready again.

Euro Tour 2010 part 7: Buried By Time And Dust



Last day. Time to do some merch, pass out the contents of my coat, and see the most concentrated stretch of "front" of the festival. From the start of Kampfar at 2:30 until Immortal wraps at 11, I probably don't sit down. Way it should be, but that's seriously 9 hours. How did I rate this fest as uninspiring again?

292. I have a serious problem. Bootleg patch addiction ruins lives and empties wallets. On the plus side, though, I get to fill in any and all empty spaces in both of my live jackets.

Special: A Word About Kuttes

This article was in the festival news this morning; in that context and with the "problem" alluded to above, it seems like this year's special is on the use and construction of patchjackets.

It's up for debate whether the kutte as we know it was invented by German bikers or by English tailors' apprentices in the NWOBHM era, but it inherits from both, and both only reinforce the DIY ethic. German bikers swap local club patches at meetups, leading to the vest covered in many small patches. The big backpatch, though, is probably a descendant of fan DIY embroidery, which was itself probably inspired by the meaning-laden backpatch configurations of outlaw biker clubs. And now dudes can make Hammerfall jackets, but what the hell.

More important is the idea of 'souvenir'. Your kutte is self-expression, and also a self-authenticating record, a tattoo that you can take off and use as a pillow if your pack gets lost. Every jacket will have a story to tell -- and if the construction is true, it'll be authentic and worth hearing.

The kutte is also the ultimate paradox: on the one hand, it is an old, dirty, sweated-through pile of fraying fabric with rusting metal bits jammed into it that by definition never gets washed, no matter how much mud, blood, sweat, and beer it soaks up, but on the other hand, as personal history and from sunk value (cost of patches and time spent sewing) it is literally beyond price. With flights and festival tickets figured in, the time is coming soon when my jacket will be worth more than my still relatively-new car. Fucked up.

What this all comes around to, in the end, is that people are apparently eBaying kuttes out there, and some people are apparently buying them. I almost can't process that. DIYing a jacket together to field readiness takes a shitload of time; when I first got my original to a good state, I figured about $300 in parts and labor. No way you can make money like that.

And that's just build to sell -- I can't even imagine selling your own "used". It'd be like selling one of your legs; something so inseparable from yourself and seriously, you might need that sometime. Better just to stow it.

Everything, though, is down to DIY in the end. As long as it's necessary to build your jacket yourself, the only people who build them out worth a damn will be the ones who similarly will never want to get shot of them.

And on that front, it's not necessary to go to Germany or silkscreen your own kvlt logos to get started building. All you need is something that covers your torso, needle and thread, and a plan. You can build a true jacket out of shit off the racks at Newbury Comics if you do all your own work, by your own rules, not anything inherited from '80s liner sleeve collages, and the kvltest of pieces will not save you if you take shortcuts or, god forbid, buy stuff preaffixed.

Needle, thread, jacket, parts. Beer cap thimble and some kind of football on the TV. Only this is true, and fortunately, like metal itself, it's available to everyone who's willing to take the leap and do the work.


293. The firefighters' band warming up the morning crowd.

Ektomorf [4/7]
Stasis by definition, basically unchanged in the last four years. Then again, theirs was a mature style on Instinct; Soulfly put a lot of time and effort into developing it.

I could be seeing Nightmare, but that nine-hour stand looms; easier to sit around and take what comes for now.

294. Not just the scourge of anime conventions any more. However, in an interesting move for the patheticness implications, hugs are not free, even on the sign.

295. DIY sofa. 2x bench + 1x table, + 1x inspired idea = 3-seater bench with back support.

This was later upgraded with another bench to include a footstool.

Caliban [4/7]
Mittelmässig komplett. Metalcore is ossifying, and this is what flesh that is turning into living stone sounds like. I'm about to go to sleep here -- if it has to be this genre, give us something from the NBL.

Kampfar [6.5/7]
Worth every bit of the year wait, and more besides. This would have been better at night, but "Hymne" and "Ravenheart" will bring even the sunniest, dustiest day back to the fogged and gloomy fells of Nordaland.

296. Kampfar setting up.

297. Checking guitars.

298. A dust cloud rises from the main infield.

299. Kampfar take the stage.

300. Drums and banner.

301. The drone yields to roar.

302. Auftritt!

303. Not a Bergtatt fog, but a Bergtatt feel.

304. Thomas lays it down.

305. Band jamming.

306. In with a fuckin BANG!

307. Dolk thrashing.

308. Full band.

309. En hymne til Wacken.

310. Evoking the white waterfalls.

311. In the grip of the music.

312. Choir for the intro to "Hymne".

313. Roaring up the crowd; a thanks for waiting.

314. Ripping some old shit.

315. 'Forgotten' drumkit.

316. Between the flames.

317. Feuer frei!

318. More fireblasts.

319. Jon heroshot.

320. The Ravenheart banner goes up.

321. Full normal banner as the crew tears down.

322. The firefighters spray down the stagefront to cut down on the dust.

323. The ground just devours the water.

324. What front and center looks like.

Overkill [6/7]
Not as good as inside, but a crapload better than the last time I saw them here, even if they didn't break out "Old School". However, they of course don't care what I say, and told me to fuck off a couple dozen times surrounding a cover of their namesake Motorhead tune. ;)

325. Wacken to the core.

326. We are the Wacken Crew.

327. D.D. kicking ass. (Sorry, ran out of song title puns.)

328. Bobby screaming at the crowd.

329. We don't care what you say!

Lock Up [6/7]
A good, finely tuned return performance for these grindmasters, paying tribute to Jesse (R.I.P.) while showing themselves as a band, now with Anton from Pentagram (the Chilean one) stepping in on guitar, capable of moving forward. Nothing new here just yet, though, but those two records are so good that the large, fired-up audience was just glad to hear them again, crunched out in a worthy fashion. "What do you reckon, Mr. Barker? Another fast one?" Of course it's going to be another fast one, the great virtue of this band is that fast, brutal songs is all they have.

330. Barker on the throne.

331. Anton gets tuned up and settled in.

332. "What do you reckon, Mr. Barker? Ready to go?"

333. Shane and Tom pounding it out.

334. Lock Up, locked in.

335. Full band in action.

336. Tom belting it out.

W.A.S.P. [5/7]
The band's still got chops, and Blackie still has the pipes, even if he looks completely past it. But the music....yowza. Completely useless L.A. pop metal, almost throughout, and that, time does not heal.

337. W.A.S.P., far enough away that Blackie's jowls and poodlemullet are not immediately apparent.

W.A.S.P. were kinda boring, aso Dennis (who was also doing an Overkill-through-Cannibal-Corpse rail powerstand) and I played spot-the-CC-member as they set up.

338. Pat tuning up.

339. Paul bringing his drums in.

340. Detail shot of the cowhead sculpture, since I was literally right under it.

341. Rob getting warmed up.

Cannibal Corpse [6.5/7]
Maybe I was a little close for maximum effect, but this was a crushing set of premium death metal by any measure. The pit was immense, but injuries minimal, and the crush up front not bad at all. Dust got to the point where you'd think that someone'd thrown a smoke bomb, but what really filled the air, even more so, was all-crushing death metal.

342. The band hit the stage.

343. CC unleash devastation.

344. Corpsegrinder growling doom.

345. Full band, full bang.

346. George and Pat wrecking necks.

347. FOR TEH HORD LOLZ. There were "Explode me" signs out in the crowd, obviously unclear on the difference between grinding and explosion.....and that Fisher's been down since beta yo, so his main is probably not a fucking skillknight.

347a. Detail, but still not sharp enough.

Corpsegrinder's WoW fandom, of course, is no secret. However, not many uberfans have managed to get themselves put into the game. If you a) play this game and b) did not get the death metal sweatpants from this guy's quest and then keep them forever, you fail. (sure, a lot of people would just stop at a) on that assessment, but these people are on George's list of people to punch in the face, and that's not a good place to be.

348. Curto always looks on the bright side of life.

Rather than stay in the crush for Edguy and Immortal, I pulled and went to get a drink with Dennis' crew. On the way, I got grabbed by Mária, and then we all hung out together for a while before the Germans went back to their camp. I barely saw/heard Edguy, but found out I'd been hanging out with Sobo from Jack Slater for the past three days. WTF?! Small damn world, great fuckin fest.

349. Edguy atmosphere.

350. That's no's a lightglobe.

After Edguy, we tried unsuccessfully to get into the circus show, hung out in the beergarden for a bit, got dinner, got Sobo and Paula found again, then got in to see Fear Factory from the side. This is how it goes when you're in a group; a lot of waiting, meeting up, doing in many ways everything but seeing bands. It's only insaniacs like me, alone and self-sufficient, whose only choice is rail, bar, tent.

Fear Factory [5/7]
If I'd heard in advance that Dino was back in, I'd've been more interested earlier. Still, though, Fear Factory is Fear Factory: decent, solid, with an unquestionable appeal, but not really interesting to me.

351. Fear Factory, super wide.

While we were sitting here taking in the schedule, Curto noticed that Gene was playing all to the outside, rather than crossing over like other drummers. So I dusted off Aaron's old fat drummer theory, and now that has crossed over, across continents and languages.

352. Stage lit in Demanufactured Blue. (See if Lowe's has a chip for that!)

353. Pyro on the spotlight towers = awesome.

354. Big board already in operation. In a first, they moved one of the video walls over to the bus gate to track coming departures. Technology, for good? Who knew? Disruptive, yes, but useful.

Euro Tour 2010 part 6: The Sun Was In My Eyes



This morning I learned an important lesson. When you ask overworked breakfast shop guys for "whatever", they give you the fucking dregs, in the form of two rolls with raw Hackfleisch and onions. Pig sushi for breakfast, awesome. Next time, ask for specifics.

Today is decent for bands, not great, but there's going to be a lot more time by the stage than in the beergarden. I also want to see if I can hunt up a torc, but the vikingism of the stalls I've seen so far leans heavily against it.

243. Danish promo. I've seen Obliteration, of course, and (at this point I still thought) I'm seeing Nominon next week, but I don't know many of the rest. All the more reason to go -- if, of course, I was still going to be in Europe in a month's time. If you can get to KBH, go support!

For more information, go to

244. The Luftwaffe get to get in without a ticket.

245. Dew-Scented setting up and checking.

Dew-Scented [6/7]
Just as expected; raw, powerful, trad-driven but never hidebound thrash fucking meta, perfect for getting geared up properly with. They squeezed every last drop out of their allotted set time (by the usual thrash trick of playing wicked fast), and kept a small but lively pit boiling in the center almost throughout. Hammer.

246. Looking back over the ground.

247. Dew-Scented doing an extended soundcheck that essentially added another song to their set.

248. More "checking" -- but nobody's complaining about three full minutes of full-band thrash blasting.

249. Security playing with a toy cow that "Harry Metal" didn't throw far enough off the stage to hit the crowd.

250. Jetzt gehts richtig ab.

251. Dew-Scented pounding the crowd to dust.

252. Arise from the fuckin grave!

Amorphis [5/7]
Decent, but I don't feel I missed a whole lot by sticking Black Stage-side to wait for Orphaned Land's return. The sound was doubled over to the other stage, and this was a set tilted towards their later stuff (exactly as expected), and thus of relatively less interest.

253. Orphaned Land set up, unfazed by the Finns blasting next door.

254. Yossi tunes up.

In between bands, there's music videos on the big screens at the sides of the mainstages. Iced Earth's video for "Ten Thousand Strong" is playing right now, and the point of this note is that Jon Schaffer apparently doesn't do irony at all. Seriously, go watch it again, thinking about his politics and current events in the real world.

Orphaned Land [6/7]
It wasn't as magic as last time, maybe due to the larger setting or the prominence of the playback elements, but the band got steadily better through the set and got the crowd (none of whom did anything politically controversial) pumping. Good stuff, and they managed to run out a bunch of extras thanks to the larger platform to the approval, at least, of this old kuttenträger.

255. The drummer pumps up the hype.

256. Full band.

257. Smashing start -- "The Three Sons of Seven".

258. Yossi -- hero shot.

259. Kobi in unearthly light.

260. Mostly-traditional, not-unusually-provocative belly dance to music based on traditional melodies? No Fun Brigade approved, and not hard on the eye either.

261. Ahriman and Ormuzd. The black-clad dude is Izzy from Bartholomeus Night, in to do guest vocals on "Halo Dies".

262. The crowd bounces for "Norra el Norra", kicking up a duststorm.

This pic also includes the super-hawt South Asian (? -- I wasn't anywhere near close enough, and while I think I saw her again in Berlin, I wasn't going to fucking go up to her on the S3 platform and ask "hey, did you spend Orphaned Land's set on someone's shoulders with your shirt off, and by the way, what's your ethnic background?") woman who will likely be the "face" of this set in the commercial media, but she's kind of behind some people's arms and a shitload of dust.

263. There's something seriously wrong with this picture. Near field: waiting for Voivod. Far field: watching Ill Niño. They've got good instrumentalists, most of whose tracks on Roadrunner United I enjoyed, but collectively the band is shit.

The Party Stage, fortunately, is still in a sonic shadow, and the PA here isn't doubling the mainstage, so I don't have to hear them on the wait.

Voivod [7/7]
Even from the soundcheck, this was going to be amazing. The band delivered, as they seem to be in the habit of doing, but with a little extra boost that can only come from the stage. Ensiferum in '05, Atheist in '06, Enslaved in '07, Cynic and Primordial in '08, even Borknagar last year, and now Voivod -- just something about the place, wherever it happens to be placed. Full out amazing set, top marks from the first note to the last.

264. Voivod checking.

265. Blackie gets dialed in, wearing an Acrassicauda shirt.

266. Another full-featured soundcheck.

267. Snake and Chewie fucking around on mic check.

268. Repeaters and antennae top the Raiffeisen tower now.

269. The crowd starts to fill in some more.

270. Voivod doing their secret warmup dance.

271. The Bloc has made it overseas for their heroes.

272. The band take the stage.

273. Thrashing around like a SoCal hardcore band half their age.

274. "Voivod" -- four mostly graying Canadians possessed.

275. Snake, Blackie, Away; only one original member not pictured, but of course wherever Voivod go as a band, Piggy is always there with them.

276. The one and only M. Belanger.

277. Chewie, like he's been here forever.

278. Blackie Theriault, a true original.

279. Snake setting up one of the weirder ones.

280. Full band, full zoom.

The Bosshoss [4/7]
Half-listened to, but while it wasn't bad, it wasn't terribly inspiring either. Besides that, why? Why here? Like Volbeat, but without, um, the metal parts.

Schlemish [5/7]
Decent overall, but they did a fair bit of genericized Celtic stuff, and I'm always wary of that -- that music comes from somewhere, and the issues that go into the originals are, unfortunately, still alive and relevant in Celtic Britan. Those who concern themselves with being authentic revivalists ought to pay more attention to stuff like that. Also, they didn't do "Rabenballade", which was a shame.

281. Schlemish in action.

282. A better view of the band.

283. Atmosphere; the stage this year is larger and on the other side of the Medieval Markt.

After this set, I went over and bought into the new model for live recordings. Thirty euro is a little steep, but Voivod today was worth it, and the code may be good for more than one set; who knows.

Not-hearig Kamelot right now; the schedule got fucked and Grave Digger, who I want to see, are playing against Equilibrium, who I HAVE to see.

284. It's a balloon WHY IS IT A BALLOON. With the only supermarket in walking distance of the festival grounds, Edeka doesn't exactly need to advertise.

Among other biergarten amusements in this dead space: dudes in bikinis, Bayer, and some guy in the fuckin Bumbles!

285. Shaking it to FantaK.

Fantasia Kalashnikov [5/7]
A jazz band covers metal standards. Exactly as clumsy and as cool as you'd expect, but my Latin as well as Celtic heritage has been awakened, and I enjoyed the fuck out of it.

286. FantaK and firedancer out front.

287. Fantasia Kalashnikov wraps it up.

Equilibrium [6/7]
Amazing, as expected, but this was the last stage that they should have been booked on. This is what happens when people don't buy records -- the organizers can't say, shit, 2500 people are going to show up in an area with no crowd control, we better move this band. Oh well; gave up three songs in to try and catch Slayer, but that was even worse packed....until Pitu took control, that is.

288. The bigger-than-expected audience, and the stage in the distance.

289. Epic viking entrance, 100% -- but it would've been better on the Black, nu?

I went back to the beergarden to see a bit of Slayer, and ran into Curto et al again. He and Mária were turning in, but Pitu and Paula were headed down front.

Slayer [6/7]
This was a good set back even in the beergarden, but it went great as we surged our way up. Pitu punched through holes that didn't even exist, and we got "South of Heaven" and "Angel of Death" from less than 50 yards back with almost no effort. Skill; and Slayer were as crushing as expected. Just, though; it's not a Slayer set if Tom doesn't forget some lyrics somewhere -- and as noted, a real Slayer set doesn't fit into an hour timelimit.

And now to the right; even if it's Anvil, if you can get close to a band you haven't seen before, why go back?

Seriously, Pitu is the man. If you're drinking with this dude at some fest and he suggests "vamonos a escena", FUCKING DO IT. No matter how packed it looks, there is always a way through.

290. Fuckin Slayer!

Anvil [5/7]
They may have finally made it after their movie, but Anvil is still Anvil, the music is still the music, and they had problems getting traction for 30 years for a reason. Decent thrashy '80s metal, but not really worth staying up for, and we pulled after a couple songs.

291. Anvil in nearly enough light.

Despite the undercurrent of "meh" in the air, this was quite a good day of music and metal culture. Wacken, it seems, is still Wacken after all.

Euro Tour 2010 part 5: These Three Things



The sky looks like crap, and I need to make a run into town to get batts and check the Celtic score. Also, for some reason I only traveled with three pairs of mountain socks, one of which is kind of beaten to crap from Norway. Who the fuck thought that was a smart idea?

Batts are in, and I think I've shaken off msot of the effect of the homebrew "Wodkaschnapps" I got off the Dutch dude from last night at our re-encounter this morning. So ist, sozusagen, Wacken. Some sprinkles, no rain. Five hours to gates. Hope it stays dry.

227. Biergarten aktuell.

Also, when I was in town, I saw an ad for something called Red Korea. Red wine and cola. This shoudl be enough to indicate the dumbness of the idea. It's a shit combination, so shit that associating it with the world's last Stalinist dictatorship is a positive. JUSTICE FOR AIJALON.

228. MTV newscrew, shooting a spot in a forcegiven kutte. This may be a Profifest, but the audience is still kvlt -- these guys were treated to a few rounds of "Kein Amnesty für MTV" from the German contingent and "You're shit/and you know you are" from the English-speakers, but they stuck through the kutte-draping, the mobbing, and the plastic forks broken into devilhorns being marched across the front of the camera, and got a good view of the true Wacken in.

229. ((not germane))

So there's this pink shirt you see at festivals with "schwarz war leider ausverkauft" (black was sold out) on the front. And now there's a complementary black shirt out with "fuck pink! schwarz ist wieder verfugbar" (they got black again) on it. Shirt meme is a shirt meme.

230. Table graffiti. "Mambo Kurt Huffs Glue!"....and some personal observations about Alexi Laiho and the Finnish dental system.

Random flyers/stickers ate on their expected hit rate, about, but it's always good to see them get vultured. The only problem is that in Germany, I probably have to put the Humanity Falls promo cards out face down....people are still kind of sensitive about images of KzLs.

So these Aussies sit down, ask where I'm from as normal, and the first question after that is do I know Sexcrement. Ho-ly fuckin shit. Half an hour later, we've traded a small book's worth of DIY tales (one of them being Mark Palfreyman from Alarum), including a concrete explanation of why Necrophagist was so late to Metalfest in 2006, and I'm damn near out of CDs. Small world, hellacious festival.

Prayers of Sanity [4/7]
Decent, but our thrash revivalists would wipe the floor with them. Maybe Portugal can do better as well, but with the format of this contest (these guys were national Metal Battle winners, the contest being sponsored by Metal Hammer), it's difficult to tell.

231. PA tower. We're in.

232. People getting an early front slot for Alice Cooper.

233. Party-mädels. Confetti and silly string to the unsuspecting is the price of glam.

234. Viking dude naked. Wacken, man.

Skyline [4/7]
Cool, but unlike last year an all-covers set. This is about their level, and the help, as shown, that they get by being the organizers' band definitely helps.

235. Skyline pumping up the crowd.

236. Doro fronting the orgaband.

237. Udo comes out to do "Balls To The Wall".

238. Official bodypaint girl, for some reason.

Now sitting through the Metal Hammer awards again; Steel Panther won best debut. This is why I put so much effort into DIY. DIY can occasionally be crap if dudes don't put effort into it, but the alternative is much, much worse.

239. Daaa~s iss de letzte. Seriously. Seriously. Maybe this is what Motley Crue does to a fest. TROTZDEM.

(I met some bikers the next day who had found an actual use for this stunt, but 10 euros to prank your buddy, as will be explained, is still a little steep.)

240. Curto getting a boost up from at least Paula and Maria, probably some others too.

241. "In the night/The fires are burning bright" -- Bruce and the cowskull.

242. Maiden crowd and the dying sun.

Iron Maiden [6/7]
It was a festival set (Curto (mentioned above, more later) was disappointed at the lack of MOAR, and more disappointed at the lack of "Run To The Hills"), but it was also a good Iron Maiden festival set, drawing mostly from the last three records. They didn't do anything off the new one, though, so I won't hear that till I get home.

On Curto. And Héctor, y Mária, y Carmen, y Pitu, y Paula y Sobo. Around the start of Alice Cooper, a Spanish guy sat down -- helped down -- by me with a wrecked knee. Despite the language barrier, we compared injuries, then hung out (translation assistance from several others of his friends, mentioned above), and I ended up seeing Iron Maiden con mis amigos nuevos, then hanging out at their camp. It was a grand old time of the sort you get only here, the ability to meet random people from random countries, connected only by metal, and stumble by accident into good times.

I'm hoping to see these guys again before the end of the fest, for various reasons, but not least among them (ok, not most either) that I want to hear the end of that shaggy-dog story of why Carlos Santana didn't want to play with Jaco Pastorius. Maybe I need to learn Spanish for that -- good enough reason to learn.

Euro Tour 2010 part 4: Wohin Soll Denn Die Reise Geh'n?



183. Sjelland over breakfast. The Danish coast is in sight after passing through the open ocean -- across the eastern end of the Skagerrak and down the narrows and reefs of the Kattegatt -- overnight.

184. Sjelland through breakfast. Purely facetious.

185. Buoy in the channel, which has gotten narrow. Suspiciously narrow...

186. Ok, that's why. Always good to get back on familiar ground.

187. Kronborg from the sea.

188. Directly opposite the fortress.

Literally seconds after the above was taken, the power washer came past and in the process of cleaning the window made it useless for photography. The lesson: live in the moment and take your shots while you can, because they are there and gone between blinks.

189. Ferry, sailboat, and water distortion.

Coffee finished, I went up on deck to take more pictures and be more frustrated by bad batteries.

190. Ferries crossing off Helsingør.

191. There was apparently some weather overnight; things you miss when belowdecks with no windows.

Other than this, the weather has been pitch-perfect, which was a godsend given the extended periods of planned homelessness. Of course, this means it will rain throughout Wacken, and Party.San as well, but you take what you can get.

192. Helsingborg shoreline. This makes it pictures of four countries on this trip, despite never actually being in Sweden.

193. North to the narrows of the Sound.

194. Helsingborg industrial shoreline.

195. Postcard seascape. I can live inland just fine, but for most of my life it's been a fairly short hike to salt water and an open horizon, and it kind of shows.

196. Island in passing.

197. ...and the Swedish coast beyond.

I's like these batteries are easily tired out or something. Need to upgrade to wicked-badass ones, and lots of them, to do the festivals.

198. Fishing boat going the other way.

199. Windmills on the shore behind.

200. And on the Danish side.

201. The trawler heads up towards Sweden.

202. Low-hulled build, probably an unloaded containership, coming in.

203. The power-launch lifeboats look like minisubs.

204. When the spray dries in the sun, it leaves a crust on any exposed surfaces.

205. Broadside view of the previous ship.

It's getting towards nine AM; I'm all packed, but it's still time to hit the exchange desk and make a final check. Just have to make sure I don't miss going under the Øresundbronn or anything.

206. Target: bridge. There's NFW we're making that, not in just another half hour, and it's out of the track besides.

207. Superstructure, flags flying.

208. Over into København.

209. Windfarm at sea to the south.

210. Into the harbor again.

211. Liferafts, not depthcharges. Each of these contains a Zodiac boat, but fortunately, they didn't have to deploy on this trip.


Even while pigpiling off the boat, I was missing the 9:50 train. Good thing there were also realistic options after getting down from Nordhavn.

212. ((not germane))

213. UNICEF/RCRC aid depot in Nordhavn.

214. Navigation aid; ok, this is where we are, let's go south.

215. Cool old car on a sidestreet, Nordhavn.

216. Out into the harbor from the S-tog platform.

217. Posthorn weathervane on top of the post office.

Everything is relative; under normal conditions, I'd be fuming about 53 DKK for a sandwich and some water...but I've just come from Norway, where the same meal would cost more, and the sub would be half the size.

I couldn't get a reserved seat on the ICE, so like last year it will be a mad scramble for an unbooked seat -- but at least on this go I've got the ticket in my pocket.

218. Tivoli orb over the train. On, afterwards, and in a free seat with a minimum of aggro.

Now resting at Rødby -- the ferry's late, but at least we didn't miss it like last year.

219. Back at sea; Denmark recedes behind the ferry.

220. Gulls flying alongside the ship.

221. Offshore windfarm.

222. Some kind of platform, for salvage? It's not really big enough to be a drilling rig.

223. The German side draws closer.


It's like something out of Tales of the Black Freighter -- logical decisions, by random chance, lead to the worst of outcomes. I ended up alone on the train to Elmshorn, and am alone here on the platform, likely for another half hour. At least I'll get in and in all probability set up before dark, and it's a long festival yet and another one after to get stuff passed out.

224. View from the tent. Same place as ever.


This tent's on its last legs. Thinking about tossing it after Party.San, especially if I have to put it away wet. I'll survive.

225. Making up a selection of merch items for today and tomorrow.

226. Herrlicher Himmel.

Shortly after this, I helped a crazy druggie Dutch dude kill down a bottle of Scotch, met his crew, got into an incoherent political argument, helped a Swedish teenager fix her bag, and passed out about half my CD allotment (from above) for the current two days. Looking good, but not as good is the report from Solvi that she'd gotten her wallet jacked from her tent. I aint got shit valuable that isn't strapped to my carcass at all times (well, except a computer that hates working and an out-of-region cellphone, both buried under laundry), but it's still a concern, even just as a marker of Wacken's metamorphosis into just another megafestival.

I also, and probably more importantly, have a belt buckle for the first time in four days. Fucking Hammer.

After the abovenoted, I got some dinner and a beer, and to talking with der Mattse (ok, Matt Wilkes, but German fluency gets you named whatever the locals want to do with your handle), a bunch of the DORF contingent, and some occasional passing Irish; good times, all around.