Friday, August 26, 2011

Suomi Finland Tourkele part 6: How Can I Laugh Tomorrow

8/5 - Wacken

Before the festival, I went on a tear about how tent crime doesn't happen; it does. I got jacked for 70 euro this morning; they nabbed my wallet out of my shorts as I slept, took everything paper, and put it back. This sucked, but more importantly, it wasn't as bad as it could've been. They took no credit cards, no personally-identifying information, and didn't end up taking my passport. Also, I didn't go to the ATM at the end of the night, so the hole in my accounts, while still bad, is not as big as it might have been. Lesson learned: sleep in, or at least on, anything you don't have nailed down.

I worked through the experience hiking to and from the village, then eventually tanking up at a festival ATM. I then got some breakfast and killed half the morning talking to various cool dudes; only an hour or so until the bands go on.

353. The Wacken crest comes to traditional German ornamentation.

With the organizational improvements, you don't really need to go into the village for much, but if you don't, it feels like you're missing part of what makes Wacken Wacken.

Man, is it ever fucking cold. The sun was out for like five minutes and it was burning, but it's probably going to rain again and be terrible all day.

354. Panorama of the infield.

355. Priest's Epitaph banner -- might as well get it now.

I'm set up central, more to the True side, so I can see Ensiferum, then Suicidal direct, then Morbid Angel and still split if it gets too hardcore radikvlt. Come on the bands.

Ensiferum [6/7]
Good set, but not as good as I've seen off them before. There's a lot of playback in that's either new, or that I hadn't noticed, and their Sergio-Leone-isms in that regard can get a little trying, but when the band's in full cry, the sweep and hitting power of their spaghetti viking sound is just huge.

356. Ensiferum banging away on "Twilight Tavern".

I pussed out halfway through and hit the head; the blastbeats were doing a number on my ears from the front row, and inside the toilet cabin, the feeling was like nothing so much as seeing the set from inside a bass drum, the kicks of the speakers coming through the walls, ceiling, and floor. We'll see how much of today I can survive.

Suicidal Tendencies [6/7]
They had some sound issues at the start, but once these were ironed out, they were little short of incredible. This sort of wall-of-sound funk-metal sounds as fresh and vital now as it did in 1987, the execution was great, and Mike's rants/sermons were, at least to me, perfectly pitched and never so long as to detract from the set. Great stuff.

357. Suicidal gets the crowd amped up.

I'm seeing Morbid Angel next weekend (unless they're terrible here, or, as actually happened, I get peer-pressured by a pretty Israeli into drinking all hours with last year's crew of madmen). All the other bands except Priest I've seen. I can take a break, unwind my back, do some promo, and try to figure out how to beat whatever I'm sick from. I suspect it's "diet consists solely of beer and Krakauerwurst", but there's not a ton I can do about that.

Apparently, Killtown (noted last year) is doing a second year; good on them, and as usual, go if you're going to be in the area.

Morbid Angel [5.5/7]
The old shit is still quality, but the new material is pretty consistently inconsistent. They had the good sense to not play "Hardcore Radikult" in public, and "Where The Slime Live" kicked as,, but all in all, I've seen better Morbid Angel sets.

The traveling softcore show is back; they might as well go it, though, as it tends to be only dudes here who take their clothes off in public for free.

Sodom [6/7]
It took them a little whole to get cranked up, but this was a good solid Sodom set, closing in hammering fashion with "Agent Orange" into "Blasphemer". Just absolute fucking wreckage.

I'm still tired, but less sick. Just need to hold on till 11 when Priest finishes, than I can sleep. This assumes my shit isn't completely ransacked when I get back; it hasn't yet in 7 years, bt as the morning showed, there's a first time for everything, and looking flat broke doesn't always work.

358. Blaas of Glory go on a hike through the midway area.

The length of the ATM lines is a clear indicator that something's wrong. Either people are getting looted left and right, like I was this morning, or prices, particularly on drinks, are too high. In this heat, though, it's probably the latter: it's pretty easy to drink thorugh 80 euros of liquids without really trying, especially if you're alternating beer and water to keep hydrated.

Trivium [4/7]
I didn't really listen to As I Lay Dying for several reasons, but I did have to hear Trivium, and they were about as not-very-good as expected. Like Ill Niño last year, these guys are proficient musicians, but they don't write or play interesting stuff with their own band. Oh well; next is HSB, from the infield at least, then Priest from somewhere closer to the front.

359. Trivium, mediocre but ceaselessly grateful. Since so much of Trivium's music is so barely arranged, they feel like a fan band blown up huge; you'd expect this kind of performance and style from an early set on a DIY bill. Matt's enthusiasm for metal, though, is genuine and ceaseless, and you get the feeling that even if they weren't playing, they'd still be here, going bananas for HSB and screaming along to Judas Priest. Next time, please do, and lass die "Musik" liegen.

Heaven Shall Burn [6.5/7]
For 30 minutes -- until Priest came on and did what Judas Priest does -- this was the set of the day. It didn't quite hit the heights of that '07 outing, and the circle pit didn't quite catch that one for size or energy, but this was a ceaseless, remorseless audiovisual pounding that knew not pity nor fear, and shot off more pyro than any other band I've seen with the sun still up. There was a lot of stuff from the last record -- "Combat" is simply fucking immense live, and "The Omen" even bigger than on disc -- but no "Sevastopol" and not, at least as I could hear, "The Weapon That They Fear". Superfans may argue that "Combat" is a better "Weapon", but this ignores the fact that "Weapon" is maybe the best metalcore song ever written, and that what we're arguing about is a fundamentally great set from a genuinely awesome band. They are a giant among midgets (not exactly a God Among Insects) in the universe of contemporaries like AILD and Trivium, who got shoutouts from the stage, but they can also hold their own among the real giants of metal.

360. HSB comes out with a bang.

361. The gulf. It's a full 10 meters, minimum, from the first row to the stage.

362. "Electric Eye" of the BKA on the prowl for pickpockets. It feels a little odd to be watched over by machines of loving grace, constantly in the frame of surveillance drones, but as an American, I can't really say anything so long as our robot death planes are ceaselessly looking down at Pakistan through missile sights.

After HSB wrapped, I caught the end of Morgoth's set; not enough to rate, but much better than I've heard from them on record, and I'm really excited to see them at P.SOA.

363. Manual maintenance. In the hole in the middle of Dirk's belt buckle (the main image on the video wall is from Edguy's "Robin Hood" video) is a hand poking through and tweaking some non-working panels through an access pane. Sure, nerd content, but it's still cool.

364. Catching the scrim banner as it falls.

Judas Priest [6.5/7]
No KK, and no points of comparison for me, but you shouldn't need points of comparison for Judas Priest nailing shit from all over the place out of a 40-year career. Glen still rips, Rob still has all of his mind-blowing range, Scott still has it locked down on drums (and Dave is still locked up, lolz), and Ian Hill still looks like he's about to keel over of old age in the next second, but continues to pound away at the workmanlike bass lines whose perfect execution has kept him in a job for longer than most musicians will work, period. If you name a good Judas Priest song, they probably played it, from "Breaking The Law" on through "Victim of Changes" and "Diamonds and Rust" to "Beyond The Realms of Death", and they pulled out good stuff like "Starbreaker" that more than a few people (yeah, self included, duh) had forgotten they'd even recorded. They made "Turbo Lover" sound good and vital live, and ripped damn near everything to pieces with "Painkiller". The only debit on this set was that it ran for 2 and a half hours; great for ample provision of classics, but not so good for standing up the whole time. Thus, rather than waiting around for "Solar Angels" after "Heading Out To The Highway" (see stupid obsession), I went back to the beergarden, which resulted in the tail end of the set getting run over by Hayseed Dixie.

365. Judas Priest jumps out behind a sea of horns.

366. The Metal God doing "Metal Gods".

367. Judas Priest FIRIN THAR LAZERS

Hayseed Dixie [5/7]
At one point, the singer just stopped between songs to state: "This is the weirdest show we've ever played." Sure was; you never expect, as a band, to be handed the assignment "play over Judas Priest to people who are also trying to listen to them simultaneously", but they adapted well enough given the circumstances, and put out a good set of rebel rock'n'roll that was, at times, due to the strict Appalachian instrumentation, absolutely indistinguishable from Celtic folk. There's a huge political can of worms to be opened when people are holding up Confederate battle flags in a country and at a festival where the emblems of other racist regimes are explicitly banned, but intentionally leaving that aside, this was good music under difficult circumstances.

368. Hayseed Dixie pickin' 'n' grinnin'.

After this, it was off to bed -- due to the crime drama, I was up at like 4 and under heavy stress till like 7, then did a full day of Wacken -- tired, but on the upswing. I shoved my wallet and Paß down my grundle and set some thief traps, but was awakened only, as completely normal, by beer demanding to be recycled against the fence. Back to the routine.

No comments: