Friday, August 26, 2011

Suomi Finland Tourkele part 12: Move On!

8/14 - Berlin

I didn't write anything on the actual trip out due to circumstances; jetzt, Nachfassung.

Around 7:45, Mitzi came by to pick up the Gwynbleidd shirt I'd been holding for her since Thursday. With this, it was all up; down to 5 Rampant Decay buttons out of about 35 buttons, 2 shirts, 90 CDs, and 150 or so stickers imported. I didn't think it'd all go, but it went; a light pack makes a light soul.

It's a bit disappointing to have only seen so few bands -- like 20 at Wacken, and about 10 here -- but I missed those bands having more fun, not sitting in a tent being miserable. In addition to keeping up with the two crews from last year, I hung out with a new huge bunch, and met or brought into the orbits of the above a bunch of other more tenuously-connected people, singletons like myself, going alone for that reason, to meet new folks, swap stories, and go halves on crates of 29. I've seen a lot of great music at festivals, but little that will be a stronger memory than Dennis literally falling over himself laughing as Müller attempts to push an unconscious Knut back into his tent by shoving him in the butt. Fucking balls-off hilarious.

All good things must end, though, and I had to drop my trash, hike to the bus, and then spend the better part of five hours getting back to Berlin. Decompression's hard when the train's overflowing and you're standing in the hall the whole way. Despite the Invalidenstrasse being completely dug up, the hotel was a little better in this regard: shower, shave, real Turkish food, a 6-pack, and Real v. Barca, and I'm almost acclimated to civilization.

8/15 - Berlin

All caught up; now I just need to catch a plane, and hope my pack makes it back ok.

445. Good news on the plane to Dublin. Aer Lingus is really good with legroom, but more is always better.


In Dublin I dropped exactly 10 euro on lunch (water, ploughman's, cookie, so not exactly 100% worth it but airport prices), cleared US customs, and got on the plane, all told, with a couple minutes ot spare despite like 3 security checks. The flight across the Atlantic was long enough to listen through the new Motörhead and Social Distortion records a couple times, write up some interview questions based on the experiences of the trip (there's that old-and-getting-consumed-by-work thing again from the first post), watch Jeremy Clarkson call God a loser (a redeeming feature at last, but he obviously isn't a Lordi fan), put together the thankslist before I forgot people, and observe, via the cute education-policy funcionary seated next to me, that it's not uncivilized, among Irish people, to put jam on butter on a scone. I was going to do it anyway, because you eat the calories the airline gives you for free, always, but you never know how embarrassed you're supposed to be. Land in Boston, strap up, negotiate the T, short hike through the rain, pick up the car, and somehow, home again.

Years have passed, closer to the grave; this may be the last such expedition, but this was a good one, and you never go out on a high, because you think "yes, I can do it again" straight on until the point where you fail, and can't. I will continue to go out and do adventurous things until my body breaks down, and Party.San was so good, in environment and music, that I still want to go back, likely pairing it with Summer Breeze rather than Wacken, but Amon Amarth and Forbidden and Scorpions and Henry Rollins have already announced for next year. We'll see how this shakes out: the struggle between Kommerz and DIY is an eternal, and perhaps, a political struggle, but hopefully one that the rebels will win. In the meantime, there's Party.San, our own fortress island hidden in the Thuringian heartland, where only "heavy metal is the law", and if you've got at least one in the set [beer,booze,bratwurst,craic], you'll get hooked up with the rest, from some of the coolest metalheads on the planet, in practically no time at all.

Final stats and points:
Wacken day 1: 5 bands, average 5.6/7
Wacken day 2: 8 bands, average 5.69/7
Wacken day 3: 8 bands, average 5.56/7
Wacken total: 21 bands, 118 points, average 5.62/7
Party.San day 2: 5 bands, average 6.1/7
Party.San day 3: 3 bands, average 5.83/7
Party.San total: 8 bands, 48 points, average 6/7
trip total: 29 bands, 166 points, average 5.72/7

Yes, Party.San was that good, and yes, Wacken was that good, even with the mainstream stuff playing boat anchor. That's an improvement of nearly 0.3 from last year, and even Party.San is up trivially over last year's wicked good results. Even if you're going for the first time, fucking go: the ancillary stuff only gets tiresome enough to weigh down the fucking awesome music when you've been a few times, and are in that demographic that will end up scoring free bratwurst and playing Dosenfußball while cranking Scaphism and Exhumed, which just makes the awesome experience more awesome.

Suomi Finland Tourkele part 11: Heathen Tribes

8/13 - Schlotheim

And yet here it is, 7AM, I'm done with breakfast, and still writing. Maybe get a beer or two, then go back to camp and sleep on the table; the bill for today is fuckin killer, and I need to make it to and through At The Gates.

As noted, I'm down to the square root of nothing merch-wise. I have half a pack of Bluntface stickers, the Blessed Offal record that I haven't technically managed to move yet, and then it's frickin buttons. I wasn't sure I'd be able to move all I had from FA and the BCS stack, but it's all gone. The sign helped; I'll be bringing my own markers over next time to make sure that goes out for Wednesday/Thursday. However, the sign wouldn't've helped anything if the people at this festival weren't honestly interested in all corners of the scene.

But seriously, I'm moving buttons? Come on.

Yes, seriously. I took the morning slow, hanging out with the Erfurt guys after moving the Blessed Offal record onto one of Timo's dudes (to the girl who got buttonholed by them, if you're reading this, leave comment = get rip of Bone Ritual demo; apologies that I didn't bring next to any black metal stuff over) -- old Broken Hope counts, right? -- and took part in the demolition of a decent bottle of Moskovskaya.

I also met the Chörnyj Woron guys again, by total accident; the same themes from two years ago about the coming end (or not) of the superfests are still relevant. After they left, Mitzi came by, which was more good craic, and eventually someone decided christ, we're all drunk again at 2 in the afternoon, let's go see some bands so our friends won't laugh at us when we get home.

437. Panzerchrist in Festivision.

The lack of focus nearly captures the haze you get when you and your friends are playing soccer on the road to the campsite and need to empty another 5l keg every time the "ball" gets too beat up to use, or dribbled off with by some random addition to having a live can in your hand the whole time.

Panzerchrist [5.5/7]
Good, hard-hitting thrash music; a good pick-me-up in the middle of the afternoon. During this set Mitzi ended up rounding up, by chance, most of the rest of the Israeli contingent -- including Omer, who'd been operating for a year under the misapprehension that I was Scottish. This is why it matters what booze you back; in the absence of other information, it's an easy, if often terminally incorrect, ethnic signifier.

438. Panzerchrist gives the crowd a kick in the teeth.

Heidevolk [6/7]
This was really the only other band that I was an-sich motivated to see, so it was really good that I was in the infield and not completely wrecked. Much like on CD, this was a strong but not outstanding performance right up until "Vulgaris Magistralis", at which point people went bananas. Heidevolk is a good band, but that one song is so good, especially live in a festival context, that people may be tempted to write them off as a one-hit wonder.

439. Heidevolk, done with the ooga-chakas and hailing the crowd.

Here, we split; more drinking with various dudes, a bite to eat, and I end up on bench with the dudes from camp, yelling at people to smile. Success rate is about 50%; maybe high for stereotypical growling metalheads, but this is Party.San.

440. Knut demonstrates for Aktion Lächeln.

441. Knut with his glasses off. I promise this isn't Ryan from Autumn Above on the other side of the water.

Time went by, we played more Dosenfußball -- a big reason for the popularity of soccer worldwide is not only that you can play it with a crumpled-up minikeg in the middle of a crowd, but that since you're not allowed to use your hands, you don't have to put down your beer -- and eventually, I went back in for what would end up being my last band of the festival.

Watain [6/7]
Watain war's wert. This set wasn't as good as the one from last year, but you can count on this band to kick ass, always, and that they did.

442. Watain - to the death!

443. The audience by night.

Ground down by another hard-partying day, it was back to the site, to half-hear Enslaved and trade "4AM whiskey/soaked wisdom" with the other old dudes from the group. Haasi'd gotten the Disinter CD he was after, but there was still time and beer to go on about those hard, crystallizing moments when death is right there in front of you, in or out of your control, and if you survive, your fear is what dies. Heavy, maaan....but still, as shown, a hell of a time wrapped around and through.

444. Beersoaked, yet unbowed: left to right, Misha, Haasi, Sven, and me. Here's to comrades, near and far.

Suomi Finland Tourkele part 10: This Is The Song That We Chose To Sing

8/12 - Schlotheim

There is little cooler than dancing around to Benny Hill, while drinking beer, at 6 in the morning. \m/. Unless, of course, it's having to switch off the music due to complaints from dudes half the campground away....and cranking it up again as soon as they leave.

It's absolutely going to rain today. Only question is when. I will see bands today, too; I'm near out of CDs, and have a flag to throw at Primordial.

In addition to just moving the CDs, I got some reactions as well; people, at least from the Erfurt crew that heard Dennis playing the BCS split from his car, were very impressed not only by the musicianship and songwriting of the bands, but also the professionalism of the recording. Big ups to Eric, Eliot, and any other engineers involved on this end; we have a lot of good recordists as well as good bands in New England, and the former definitely helps the reception of the latter.

Wow. I was wondering why my kutte felt so light (well, besides all the CDs being out of it) and was letting so much wind through; closer inspection reveals that almost all the dirt has been washed out of it. Yeah, it rained that hard on the last day of Wacken. Five years of mud, sweat, and beer, all gone.

It rained a little (knock on wood) and I spent most of the morning drinking with the Terror Blade NRW crew, at the beerwagon, in camp, and around the Flunkyball tourney. Now, in to the fest!

Urgehal [NR]
I only saw the last song from this bunch; pretty decent, all told, and if/when they play somewhere normal closer to home (one would probably suspect PT-109 or another DIY space for this kind of black metal band), it'll be worthwhile checking them out.

Skeletonwitch [5.5/7]
A little short, but a hard-kicking set of American blackened thrash including a couple off the new/forthcoming record. They hit nice and hard, but seemed to clear out a little fast.

410. "Upon Black Wings", Skeletonwitch take the stage.

411. Full band banging.

412. Hero shots "Beyond the Permafrost".

It was in here, or maybe just before, that I got the requisite "bum picture" taken by a few people I ran into before Watain the next night; me napping at the rail between bands, them at the side giving the horns. If you have this pic, send it in. Short sleep + eight hours of drinking + old age = big wreck of a carcass piled against a metal fence.

Desultory [5.5/7]
A crunching, puching set of Swedish thrashing death metal that beat back the rain and kept us tough folk who endured that downpour satisfied. Killer shit; I don't know nearly as much about this band as I ought to, and that's got to get corrected going forward.

413. Desultory steps out.

414. Blasting the crowd.

415. These dudes will never be "Enslaved".

video6: The weather tarp over the bass cabs kicks along with Desultory.

Absu [7/7]
Not perfect, but what a fuckin' set. Tremendous from start to finish; this kind of second-wave mayhem was supposed to be extinct, but not here. For a black metaller of my generation, there's not a whole lot better than "Never Blow Out The Eastern Candle" when played this hard. Amazing.

416. Proscriptor setting up. And yes, he's even better than advertised as a drummer/vocalist, which considering his rep is pretty difficult.

417. Absu assaults the stage.

418. Ezuzu, hero shot.

419. Vis Crom shredding the fuck out.

420. Uh oh, somebody smuggled in a political banner. This one isn't controversial, but security might want to think about what might've been if this'd been a Starry Plough or something.

Primordial [6.5/7]
No Grave Deep Enough
As Rome Burns
Bloodied Yet Unbowed
The Coffin Ships
Empire Falls

Killer set, and as can be seen, nearly all new material. There were some tech problems, and security was up on me about the flag (and also, they didn't close with "Death of the Gods", which would have got it chucked regardless), but as regards actual music this was amazing. Even more new stuff might have made it better, but they kind of have to play "Coffin Ships", and there's only so much time in a festival set. To the bitter end!

421. Alan is wicked pissed.

422. Michael, hero shot.

423. Ciaran ripping.

424. Pol laying it down, and Alan gets in the shot because that's what lead singers do.

425. Simon back behind his kit behind Michael.

426. No stage deep enough.

427. Full band, full stage.

Melechesh [6/7]
The hits keep coming; killer, first-class black metal with their unique Mesopotamian edge. I only saw the first half of this one from the front, the rest from the back, but this was still and absolute class performance following three other absolute class performances.

428. Melechesh setting up.

429. The band invokes the tones of war.

430. Guitar intifadeh.

431. A better shot, if not as low as Paul Proteus' ninja stance.

432. Ashmedi slashing away at the crowd.

433. Bassist on the far side.

434. Full band in full cry.

435. Moloch with his hood off. It lasted one song before being too hot to justify.

436. Hero shot of Ashmedi because he was also there. This camera's too slow to get a two-shot of the guitarists here as well.

When I came off the rail, I thought I'd hit the head, get dinner and a drink, then be back after Belphegor. This turned out not to e the case: it was quickly clear that I was, for lack of an equivalent expression in English, "völlig auseinander". Eight beers (that I can remember), a half pint of vodka, and a couple hits of whiskey between 0700 and 1400, followed by standing on a rail in sun and downpour for the better part of four hours without food or water will do that to you. By the time I was rehydrated -- which also included passing out a decent amount of promo stuff - I'm down to buttons, seriously - to Tank from Zombieslut -- I was about ready to pass out. I saw a bit of Belphegor (decent, but not enough of a sample space to actually rate), picked at some pakora (not working this year), then sacked out. I need to get better at sleeping in the morning and staying up at night.

Suomi Finland Tourkele part 9: Die With A Beer In Your Hand

8/10 - Bitterfeld

Getting the time and energy to write this all up from the past few days took till the outbound train; Schlotheim is a little further from the main centers of Thuringia, so I need to stay awake. The changes between trains are extremely tight, but as long as we don't get delayed, I should be in Mühlhausen no problem around 1 PM, then over to Schlotheim before the rain gets too bad.


As it happened, I got in to Party.San, period, by about 1, and with the help of Roger got my tent up. This would've been very difficult to pull off alone; the wind blows constantly from west to east across the airfield, and the ground is hard and dry. This leaves some hope that we'll be able to escape what looks like inevitable state-wide rain tomorrow, but regardless, enemy #1 this year will almost surely be the wind.

405. Hike up to hell.

406. Customizations. This obviously weakens the tent against water, but allows the wind to go right through without the threat of snapping the poles, which was a real danger beforehand, at least early on Wednesday before the campground filled up.

I also customized my tent with some stickers, since the cuts obviously condemned it to the bin once this trip was over, but they blew off almost immediately. This was some hardcore wind. A few of them got salvaged for Müller to paste on the tablecloth protecting the picnic table, but not many.

I ended up tenting on the edge of a larger campsite, which provides greatly enhanced party opportunities. Cheers to Dennis and crew for the hospitality, as well as taking a bunch of promo stuff; I'm still going to have to take time and pass stuff out manually as well as at breakfast and in the infield.

In the afternoon, Roger, Sven and I made an expedition into Schlotheim proper in search of beer and other necessities; we ended up hiking all through this small, cool town, vainly searching for a supermarket that hadn't been plundered of its can beer. After coming up dry at the Netto (they had "Schloss" brand "beer", but the similarity of that name to the "Schlitz" that Americans will recognize is truly serendipitous; Roger I think boosted a can by accident and later gave the verdict "well, it has alcohol in it"), we ended up back at the Edeka across from the bus stop, waiting for 1700 and the truck to get in with the beer. The celebrations when that occurred, and the staff finally wheeled the pallets of 29 in to the store, were a sight to behold.

On the bus back, we gave away a few beers to people who weren't carrying their own slabs, and I gave away a Forced Asphyxiation CD to this guy from Melbourne. I tried to also move the BCS split, but he already had it -- Boston's own Wren had sent it out to him earlier due to a prior acquaintance. Small world -- or maybe just that this is the magnet festival for those with itchy feet and hardened eardrums.

8/11 - Schlotheim

407. This doesn't look good. Walls of gray clouds from horizon to horizon; there's light in the west, but more clouds behind it. Not a good omen for the day.

I'm feeling much better than in Berlin, if a little chilly; we'll see if things pick up after breakfast.

408. View back from the breakfast tent.

Things did pick up; it somehow didn't rain, and over beer after breakfast, Roger introduced me to Mitzi and to Alex (from last year), again, by weird accident, and from there things snowballed. Between the "beergarden" and two campsites, I spent the day drinking with old friends and new, moved damn near everything from the promo stacks, and took part in a couple weird adventures, including holding a sign -- on the back of the sign that moved all those Boarcorpse and Forced Asphyxiation CDs -- for Mitzi's Aktion Rausziehung that was probably an active discouragement to the cause. When a cute girl is going around with a sign advertising free beer for bare tits, it's a lot more effective than when it's carried by a hairy auld kuttenträger. Hitrate was about 2%, not including dudes, most of whom did not meet the mass requirements for "tits" (the one or two who did, of course, did get beer for it, because otherwise it would've been gender discrimination), for anyone planning to try this in the future. Despite being hairy drunk dudes, we had more absolute success with Aktion Lächeln later in the weekend, but any time you sit on a bench and wander in the road drinking beer and barking up spontaneous social interactions with passers-by, it's a success. But especially if there's tits.

409. View up into the east at sunset -- Hammer!

The party later got even more chaotic; it's difficult to have ten people thrashing out in a VW van without it getting to that level. It was probably here that I got that burn putting out someone's cigarette with my palm by accident, but I'm not completely sure I remember. Party fuckin' San.

There were, of course, bands playing on Thursday night, but we weren't keeping track of time, and we didn't hear any bands start, which is normally the trigger to go inside the festival grounds. This was because, as I found out later, the roof blew off the main stage due to the winds, and the Thursday night bands got moved inside to the beertent. I was a little bummed at missing Negura Bunget and Aborted, not to mention how Decapitated was going to work as a revived band, but the sound was allegedly kind of crap -- understandable, since the PA in there was only set up for this roots-rock band Cashley who were supposed to play Saturday morning. Win some, lose some.

Suomi Finland Tourkele part 8: Zwey Seele Wohnen Ach! In Meiner Brust

8/7 - Wacken

The rain came down so fucking hard through Children of Bodom and Subway To Sally that I was unable to write, and the notebook was so waterlogged as to be unusable until the end of the Berlin phase; three goddamn days out of the jacket, on top of the vents on an old CRT TV to dry out. Things were a little out of order there, but have been rectified in this publication, and despite the wet, I kept going, and got the following shots and observations in.

The rain trailed off in the morning, and I packed up, got breakfast, and packed out.

398. Flaneurisme Wacken; metal hands and windmills in the distance from the breakfast tent.

On the buses out, I got to listen in to some other Wacken experiences; everyone's is different on the surface, but fundamentally the same. We come in, drink heavily, meet new friends and have fun with old ones, grapple with the exigencies of the festival, and yet have a great time seeing awesome bands. Averaging over a sample space of n=70000, this is the Wacken story.

However, Wacken is not so simple. As was more obvious this year than ever, Wacken is a brand underwritten by other brands. It is brought to you by national beer and energy-drink brands, and its distinctive logo is printed on about everything that will carry it. It does promo for punk bands decrying "brand synergy" in synergy with national TV broadcasters. Wacken is a mess of commercialism and self-contradiction....but it is also a mass of 70,000 mostly-anticorporate metalheads, who strain against the bounds of Kommerz to establish their own synthesis of what Wacken should be. In seven years, the meme goes, every molecule in your body is completely replaced. I don't know that I'll be back next year to do the comparison, but I would suspect that the same idea will hold. Already, there is little left of the festival I saw in 2005; "Planet Wacken" exists, but much more as a circumscribed rather than a created space. The DIY tendencies here, weak then, have gotten further limited. Wacken is still a good festival -- this year, musically awesome, maybe even better than '06 -- but it's a huge and commercial festival, and the things that make it cult, rather than just another among German rock festivals, are fading. We'll see if things change, but the only way that things might be altered is if the wave of people drops, then flows crosswise to another festival in defiance of the power law. As long as Wacken sells out, Wacken will keep selling out; a guaranteed max headcount is a recipe for stasis, not change.


I got in from Hamburg in decent order and found my way up to the hotel, which was located directly under the main approach to Tegel. Shutting the windows helped cut down the airplane noise, but the primary concern was like always: shower, eats, sleep.

8/8 - Berlin

Like usual, I went out to do laundry, and since I was feeling like crap, decidd to just go to the known-good laundry in Friedenau rather than mess around trying to find one in my own neighborhood. U6->U9, go.

399. Umbau in der Neidstraße. The feeling of the steel I-beams jutting out where balconies used to be just looked cool.

400-402. Some different views of the church, trees, and clouds at the end of Friedrich-Wilhelm-Platz. They're decent as they are, but I'm still not sure the scene eventually came out as intended.

With laundry done, I headed back and ended up sleeping a lot. Sick again.

403. Hotel Bärlin and clouds over Kurt-Schuhmacher-Platz.

404. Dinner. The Lidl by the hotel was out of spoons and forks, so I was restricted to combinations of stuff eatable with a plastic knife. There are people who do this shit, and then there are people who aren't hardcore enough about pack weight.

8/9 - Berlin

Pretty much the entire day needs written off. I was sick to a degree that I hadn't been for a long while; maybe the old hotel, maybe the jet fumes, maybe some strange bug picked up from the nonexistent sanitary environment of the W:O:A. (See previous years' comments about inevitable cholera epidemics.) Regardless, I slept, then got in a lot of groceries to try and retank on nutrients before heading off to another camping weekend. It seemed to kind of work, at least until I woke up coughing at 1 AM. Bad air; it'll heal itself once I get out in the field.

Suomi Finland Tourkele part 7: I'm Never Gonna Shave My Beard

8/6 - Wacken

Pretty sure I'm not sick any more, at least as sick as I was yesterday. I'm blaming the fucking mayo on breakfast sandwiches and not eating them any more: choccy bread and coffee, like when I was living here for real. After like an hour writing up last night, it's getting on promi time; Crashdïet goes on in about two or three hours, and I've got a new coatful of stickers to move.

Under CDs, things have been about as slow as expected. I've moved nearly all of the Kinzel material, though, due to being extremely aggressive with it. I can't really take that into Party.San, where the expectations of extremeness are much higher; Wormwood Prophecy I might, but I'm likely to clear their remaining discs by the end of the day, and the main issue at Party.San is probably going to be keeping adequate stock of the BCS and FA "core competencies"....that and finding a bad enough dude to take the Blessed Offal record.

While in line for the ATM -- 100 euro Erstärkerung will get me through the day and likely to Berlin -- I ran into one of the guys from Aeon Throne. Unfortunately, I don't know shit about the band, and made the connection (artist pass, stage wristband) too late to pass him any of my promistuff. Oh well; it's all getting out one way or another.

video5: Dudes with a mobile stereo wagon for a personal soundtrack.

That video did a number and a half on the battery. It's been pretty good about regenerating, but it's got to be all normal pictures till I get to Berlin and a wall socket tomorrow.

369. Impromptu metal Scrabble game.

So far, I've done one survey and one live interview with the festival info staff. Maybe, the anticommercial, anti-tech, pro-DIY, pro-local-integration message is getting through, but it'll probably get lost as a view from terminally outside the target audience. Any German festival lives and dies on Germans between 16-25; us oldies and Ausländer are just bonus.

370. Hefeweizen bee trap. This is the second bee I've had drown in a glass at this fest. You'd think that the local population'd evolve an avoidance response, but I guess not.

Notice: as long as the Wacken newspaper follows Bild in page-1-ism, it, like Bild, will not get bought, because it will be presumed to be, like Bild, full of shitty journalism that needs tits on the front cover to foist itself on readers. There are enough good-looking girls just walking around the festival, there's no need to slap T&A on the paper just because.

Bulletbelts are weird. They obviously have bullets in the cartridges, at least most of the time, but the primers are all struck, at least those I've seen so far. A bulletbelt with "unstruck" (empty, of course) primers would be significantly more threatening, provided you're close enough to notice and know anything at all about guns. Ok, stupid idea, strike that.

Moonsorrow [7/7]
"Kivenkantaja" into "Sankarihauta" -- it gets better only with "Jotunheim", and this was an opening set, without a lot of room for a 20-minute song, even one that incredible. This wasn't as magical as '09 in P.SOA, but it's about as good as an opening set is ever gonna get. Two mugs may be making a positive filter, but a lot of beer and an amazing set is kind of standard operating procedure here, even at 11 in the morning.

371. Moonsorrow setting it off.

372. "Kivenkantaja" - simply perfect.

373. The Fenni are still unconquered.

Crashdïet [5.5/7]
No "Ticket to Hell", but we did get "Riot In Everyone", and that they're back at all, and on this stage, is a minor miracle in and of itself. They're still ultimately a Swedish riff on Motley Crue, but they bring enough punk energy in the package to make it work.

374. Crashdïet hit the stage.

375. ...and there's a "Riot In Everyone".

376. Simon takes it to the crowd.

377. The band collects plaudits from the audience.

Now it was time for a long-range quick-switch: out to the Bullhead tent for Onslaught, with a stop en route for food. To avoid undercooked meat problems, like last night, I grabbed a bowl of pasta, and used my Italian racial ability (Devour Pasta, 1 lb/round, the other being Garlic Immunity, Full) to completely scarf it down before getting processed in.

Once inside, I met a dude with a Ramming Speed patch on his rig. He wasn't a huge fan, but described them as "a drunker, less professional version of early Metallica", which I think Ricky, Jonah, and the boys would be very proud of.

Onslaught [7/7]
Not better than Moonsorrow only by a matter of degrees, this was an amazing set that fell, really, under the Heathen Rule: when a band that has no business being back plays an awesome set, you're not allowed to complain about their song selection. All that was missing was "Fight With The Beast", but a full hour of classic Onslaught old and new will get full marks every fucking time.

378. Onslaught smashing out.

379. "Metal Forces" united.

380. Blasting out the thrash...

381. ...with "Power From Hell".

Very little of these came out, but it was wicked awesome, I promise.

Dir En Grey [4/7]
I saw the end of their set while waiting for Knorkator, and like the Japanese, I can't understand why they are "big in kaigai". Give us Barbatos in this slot, or at least Aphasia if you want to go more mainstream. Or Jesus Christ, what the fuck is wrong with Metalucifer? They don't suck any more, and this is a country that goes nuts for HammerFall and Manowar.

Knorkator [6/7]
The pictures don't do this set justice. No still images, and probably no words, really can; Knorkator demands to be seen and heard in full motion to even be identified, let alone appreciated, because any kind of understanding is out of the question. "NDH gone a-trolling", maybe, for the uninitiated, but that doesn't capture half the mayhem that was on offer, from either the band or the audience. At least one crowdsurfer in a fursuit, and another toting a kiddie pool: that's a partial picture right there.

382. Knorkator's, erm, unique stage setup.

383. Alf inside his hamsterwheel.

384. "Der ultimative Mann" ist...blau? (Actually, purple, as I was told by non-colorblind people when they looked at these. Screw your correctly-functioning eyes, I saw what I saw.)

385. Full band, momentarily less crazy.

386. Alf without the camera in the way.

387. Stumpel takes off the gimp hood (the rest of the bodysuit would come off later, of course) for "Buchstabe".

388. Security somewhat unsuccessfully prevents Stumpel from diving into the crowd.

It was about here that we got one of the Teletubbies (see above pic) coming over the rail; he got to dance around for a while before the secus got him out, because the singer of the band on stage was right next to him, doing the exact same thing, in nearly so silly a costume.

389. Alf steps out for some lead vocals.

Mayhem [5/7]
I dunno if I'm seeing them next weekend (answer: no, they weren't playing) or not, but if not, I'll wait to see them inside in the States. The sound was good, but a little too good, a little too precise, to evoke that old feeling. Good to see them, but I need a bigger sample space than the one I got coming back from Knorkator.

The Smack Ballz [3.5/7]
There are some things that don't work on accordion. The intro from "For Whom The Bell Tolls" is one of them, and that this is even mentioned is a strong indicator of the band's compositional sense, or lack thereof. It's hard to lose patience with a beergarden band, but there are gimmicks, and then there are stupid gimmicks. "Average" is probably their ceiling.

Iced Earth [6.5/7]
I went up to check on the video walls in case Matt was singing. Others, I can take or leave (as in '07), but you go in for Barlow Iced Earth. Period. Rather, you went in for Barlow Iced Earth, because this classic, Something-Wicked-trilogy-reviving, vintage Iced Earth set was, at least to current information, Matt's last with the band. It's happened before, but in this case, with this public farewell, it's more likely to be permanent. Darkness and silence, man; another of the heroes of old passes away from the face of the earth, and off into the West.

390. There are the "Burning Times".

391. The only way to actually see the band, really, at this distance.

392. Wide shot; this is about how the infield always is.

393. Brothers of metal, parting the ways.

I had no interest in "Sepultura" with no Cavaleras, and I was tapped out anyways, so I went to grab some more pasta and another beer. Of course, about 10,000 other people were of the same mind.

394. This is what Wacken thinks of modern Sepultura. Everyone's waiting for Avantasia and/or Motörhead, so they're not back in camp, but they're certainly not in the infield.

395. ...and when there is no room in hell, the dead will eat and booze standing up. I eventually found somewhere to sit and write up, but the place is feckin mobbed.

For some reason, I've been running into a lot of Americans today, and numbers of American women completely out of line with prior projections. Good on yees!

With similar sentiments, I found a KTDF flyer that I could actually read, and noted that Funebrarum's playing; good on the band for getting over, and good on the fest that they can cover the flights.

Not pictured: beer mug tattooed on cellulite-filled bare ass, on a table during Hayseed Dixie (again, ratings-wise, pretty much second-verse-same-as-the-first). Half no time to haul out the camera, half concern about potential war crimes charges.

Only in Wacken: I just had a 45-minute conversation in German with a Frisian Dane; my second language, his fourth. We could've swapped languages like kung fu masters in a HK chopsocky flick switching styles (both of us useful in at least four languages, with fairly minimal overlap), but that would've just been stupid.

I'm not putting any ratings on Sepultura, Avantasia, Kreator, Motörhead, Children of Bodom, or Subway to Sally due to extenuating factors: these sets were deliberately "written down" to do promi in the beergarden, and the loss of what I sacrifice to talk to people and pass out CDs and stickers in an environment where they'll get picked up isn't fair to pass on to the end-reader. Good stuff (well, maybe Sepultura less so), but I wasn't listening closely to rate the performances or, more importantly, talk remotely intelligently about them.

I hate to self-promote, but after pushing my death metal allocation on Martin from Norway and talking DIY bass shop with him, I kind of had to pass on at least the name Coelem. Now I actually have to eventually finish that EP. Fuck.

That makes four now that I've seen here at Wacken in the world famous hoops of Celtic FC. That's nearly as popular as Barca and St. Pauli; a certain west of Scotland club should look at where "don't be a dick, seriously" can get you, then take a look at themselves.

In the rain, I met Eric the Swede, who shares my philosophy of life, if a little harder-formulated: you only live once, and you only regret the things you don't do. So do it, and accept whatever comes with no regrets. Drink up, thrash hard; nothing is guaranteed.

396. Still remains; my advertising is getting eyeballs, some way or another, still, two years on down the road.

The clouds opened hardcore as the night wore into the early hours; I ran into Sobo again, along with some other interesting people, and probably gave out an incorrect email address because I was worse for wear and/or drink at the time. It should be noted at this time that despite the debits of facial hair that some people may be aware of from the next week, there are decided benefits as well. Hence ripping off Thundermug for today's post title.

397. The first buses head out in the dark of the morning.