If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that I am, at present, in Germany, on my way to Wacken Open Air – the Biggest Heavy Metal Party on Earth, for the second time, to see Judas Priest, Blind Guardian, Ensiferum, Subway to Sally, Moonsorrow, Apocalyptica, Avantasia, Deadlock, Helloween, Kataklysm, Kreator, Shining, and a whole bunch of others. To say I’m stoked to be here doesn’t begin to describe it.
I’ve already packed my bag, but some of you haven’t, and many of you have never been to Wacken, or any major festival before, and are looking for tips on how to survive. Here’s my Sophmore-list of Wacken must-haves for the discerning metaller. If you can think of anything to add, shout out in the comments:
Wacken is mud. Wacken is 70,000 metalheads all racing toward the stage. Wacken is broken beer bottles and piss ditches and muddy puddles and piss collecting in muddy puddles to make pissy muddy puddles and all this is to say you ready don’t want to be wearing your jandals and if you’re sneakers weren’t brown before, they will be by the end of the first day.
The Wacken climate has a mind of its own, much like Kerry King’s beard. You’ll be drinking your breakfast beer in the sunshine, and, the next minute, be huddled under your tent in a torrential rainstorm. Carry a jacket or warm sweatshirt into the festival grounds (Wacken provide a handy duffel bag for this purpose) and find a nice cuddly metalhead to snuggle with in the rain.
Sunscreen, Sunglassses and a Hat
In 2009, Wacken reported medics attended only 247 incidents throughout the festival, mostly people who got drunk and fell asleep in the sun.
Bonus points for comedy and beer-filled hats.
A “Tent Marker”
You’re drunk, you’re starving. It is 3am in the morning and you are looking for your tent. If you’re like many Wackeners, you will simply give up after half an hour and fall asleep in any tent. Pick one, it doesn’t really matter. The owner of the tent will either:
a) tell you to get the fuck out of their tent.
b) Go and sleep in your tent, and probably mess it up, just for good measure.
c) fall asleep on top of you.
If you want to avoid the whole musical-tent kefuffle, bring something along to distinguish your tent or campsite from those around it. This year, we’ve got a NZ flag, hopefully a banner for my website, and some blow-up sheep.
By German standards, beer at Wacken is expensive, and, even if you’re like me and don’t even LIKE beer, you will drink a lot of it. So bring in a crate, or four, yourself, and you’ll save enough money to afford a $50 t-shirt.
If a mad German accousts you and wants to share his drink, how will you each partake of the liquour of life without infecting each other with man-goobies? The simple answer is – you must produce your drinking horn from where it was tied to your belt, and your Teutonic friend will fill it up, and you shall drink together, and all will be merry.
If you don’t have a drinking horn, well … you’ll just look like a fool.
Another festival expense that can see your low-trading Euros quickly expended, stocking up on food before you arrive at the festival can save you heaps of money. While I do suggest you sample some of the fare on offer (especially the Wacken Nacken, the Full Metal Breakfast and everything in the Medieval Market), having some fruit, a few snacks, and maybe some sausages and a BBQ at your campsite will make you a very happen metalhead.
A Copy of the Running Order
Contrary to sensibility, you do not receive a copy of the running order in your Wacken bag. You can view it on the signs posted throughout the campsite, but it’s best to carry around a copy for quick referral. A copy of the map doesn’t hurt, either (I got lost no less than three times, much to the annoyance of my friend Johnowar, who’s just as blind as I was and probably sick of hearing me say “Ah, I know the way now!”)
There’s an EFTOS machine, but it’s generally crowded with hundreds of silly people who forgot to bring cash. Don’t be one of them.
And save all your 50c pieces. You’ll want them for the pay-toilets. There are some things that are worth 50c.
Never leave home without it. See above.
Several pairs of clean socks and underwear
Even if you can’t get to the showers, there is nothing that can make a metalhead feel human again than changing your socks and underwear.
A deck chair
Although Wacken offers a full lineup of bands and enough metal shopping to keep a small, third-world economy afloat, you will spent a fair amount of times sitting in the campground talking shit with newfound metal friends. So bring a comfy chair.
You can fill it up from the water tankers that come around the camp. Infinately cheaper than buying bottles in the venue and
My girlfriends swear by these. I’ve never tried one, but after leaving my husband to do his thing against a fence and braving some of the toilet blocks I’m keen to have a go.
A pen and pencil
Handy for writing down emergency lineup changes, notes to your friends to meet you in the bier garten (hint, don’t ever agree to meet in the bier garten) and swapping email addresses and twitter usernames with new friends.
A few handy German Phrases
“Hallo!”, “Danke”, “Eine Beir Bitte”, “Zwei Beir Bitte?” and “Meine Deutsch ist Schiesse” are particularly useful.
Wacken regulars, can you recommend anything else for the go-everywhere festival bag?