So, Wacken Open Air. The holy land of heavy metal. I came, I saw, I waded through puddles of urine. It was – although there are certinaly other strong contendors, like my wedding and the time I met Nick Cave – the best five days of my entire life.
I can’t explain Wacken to someone who doesn’t understand heavy metal. It’s not about seeing the bands – which were awesome. It’s not about camping for five days with 70,000 other people, which is not something I’d recommend to anyone with a love of personal hygiene or sleep. It’s not about getting drunk in the German sunshine, which is fun, apart from the sunburn.
Metal is music for misfits, and misfits tend to suffer from a feeling of looking at the world from the outside – a sense that they see something no one else can see. Goths, punks, emos … anything non-mainstream – they can all relate to a feeling of isolation on some level. Most outside music addresses this isolation fro,m the point of view of the songwriter – it’s insular music about one person’s experiences (usually the vocalist). “I am sad, I am misunderstood.” As a listener, you relate the music to your own experiences and draw your emotional connection from there.
Metal is different. Metal is not about “I”, metal is about “we.” Metal does not say, “I will survive”. Metal says “we will triumph.” As Manowar so eloquently put it (Manowar put most things eloquently):
“If you like metal, you’re my friend.”
It’s true. Metal music makes you feel not alone. Wacken amplifies that feeling on a truly epic scale. And for one glorious weekend, you realise you aren’t alone. You really, truly aren’t.
I had a bit of a moment during Lacuna Coil’s set, when they performed “Enter the Silence” and the entire crowd clapping along and singing the chorus “everything I wanted right here in my arms” and my husband squeezed my hand and I realised I was home.
Thank you Wacken. I will never forget you.
Brutal Metal Hails