Friday, August 6th, 2004. While I greatly miss the beautiful, fuzzy, snuggable and divine cynosure of my existence, Bounce the Wondercat, I roused myself from the comatose condition I vegetate in without him, in order to travel to Hildesheim, where once again, like every year, thousands of black-clad people gathered in the sweltering heat of the second weekend of August, in order to celebrate great music and an alternative lifestyle. Of course the A2 is in one of its two conditions (no, not rain this time, construction) and the drive takes almost 4 hours, so that I arrive at around 7ish, and most of the good camping spots are already taken. Still, I manage to find a place near the showers, right next to the main road.
The highly entertaining performance of 'Big Klutz with Tent' is followed by the even more hilarious 'Big Klutz with air matress and sleeping bag.' After all my stuff and gear is taken care of, I decide to get some real food one last time, and go for some yummy gyros. Before I even leave the campsite I run into Micro and Ines, and we chat for a few. I write down Micro's cell-# even though my own cell mysteriously stopped working. On the parking lot I see the next familiar face, Ivy, one of the few people from my own high school class I actually liked :P We chat for quite a while, and I get totally jealous when I find out that she and her boyfriend (?) have a big-ass RV, with a working fridge... cool drinks are a luxury this weekend. All I have is my dinky, crooked little tent, which has just enough room for me and my backpack. Anyhow, I head over to the Greek restaurant a few hundred yards down the road. Familiar face #3, Alex, who shared a ride with me last year. He is VERY drunk, and about to leave, but that's okay. I decide not to head out with them, since I really really really need real food.
Back at my tent I realize something dreadful. Somehow the combination of my lock has changed without me noticing it. It was a cheap-ass lock, so it is not surprising that this happened, but it is fucking annoying. Especially when I realize that my maglite and my leatherman are inside the tent. My other maglite and my other tools are in my trunk, which is safely locked with the key inside my tent. Of course I am just a big dumb human, a cat like Bounce would never have made a mistake like that. The guys next to me try to help me out, but it's no use. So I walk off to find a security guard. I find quite a few, but not a single one of them has a tool, or even a walkie-talkie to reach somebody who does. They are very helpful though, and promise to send help my way once they see somebody. Eventually I find a sec with a cell phone, who calls another sec with a tool. The lock puts up some brave resistance, but to no avail. I finally manage to crawl into my tent and sleep... only to have my tent collapse again and again, as people trip over my tent lines, making my little shelter collapse on top of me. This is the last time I use this little POS tent.
Saturday, August 7th
My tent has collapsed around my again, and I hear people talking outside. I am still tired as shit, but decide to get up, so I have enough time to get ready before the entrance opens. The people talking outside tell me that it is not even 5 yet, so the two weeks of honest work I just went through DID do major damage to me after all. Getting up at the asscrack of dawn is not exactly exciting. I crawl back into my tent, hoping to catch a little more sleep.
Eventually it is morning, and I get ready. Last year I learned (quite painfully) that sunburn hurts like a bitch from hell, especially a burnt scalp and forehead. I am a little iffy about my digicam, so I take the regular one as well, just in case. Happily I make my way to the actual festival grounds, and get in without any problems. Even though I carry a multi-tool and a digital camera the sec lets me in without even asking me to show him my camera.
I browse the merch area, while the first band, Flowing Tears, is playing on the main stage. I prefer to check out the place first, and then slowly make my way forward later on. As long as I am up front for The Mission I am happy :P At the Sonic Seducer tent I see yet another familiar face, somebody I met at a Cruxshadows show in Bielefeld a few weeks ago. We talk for a few minutes, then I am off again. By the time I arrive at the stage I already bought two t-shirts and several CDs. I walk up ahead as far as I can, trying hard not to retch as Medusa gives her little spiel announcing the next band. I can't stand that woman. She has no stage presence, and does not really seem like she knows what she is talking about. Her announcements seem like she prepared them weeks ago, and practiced them in front of a mirror for hours, to get them just right. The next band is bloody awesome though. Saltatio Mortis put up a great show, with cool songs and witty transitions. The crowd loves it, and I make a mental note to get their CDs ASAP. Unfortunately the set is too short, barely more than half an hour. I move up ahead as others push back to get more beer or some food.
The next band, Epica from Holland, is one of many doom-metal combos that have appeared following the success of Nightwish, Within Temptation and others. Their singer is very pretty and very talented, though the male vocals are a little hard for my taste. They dedicate one song to one of their fans, who celebrates his birthday today, and are somebody with potential in my opinion.
Epica is followed by a band that supposedly puts up a shocking and controversial BDSM show and has the most animalic frontman of any current band. Umbra et Imago sound okay, but I am not too convinced. The music is okay, the frontman has a certain charisma, but the BDSM show is neither shocking nor controversial to me. Sure, cunnilingus and bondage on stage might shock some, but seemed very over-the-top and contrived. The women have a blank look in their eyes, as if they are doing (and have done to them) things because they are part of the show and are expected, not for actual enjoyment. Except for the afore-mentioned oral sex on stage, and the frontman rubbing himself everything was pretty tame and boring, especially for people familiar with the Genitorturers :P
Luckily Umbra et Imago are followed by a really awesome band (and I managed to get much closer to the stage. Fiddler's Green recently celebrated their 1000th concert, and they rock the fucking house. They sound a little bit like Subway to Sally used to ten years ago, and the crowd loves it. Along with Saltatio Mortis they are my favourite band so far, and their CD is on my list of must-buys. A forty-minute set is WAY WAY WAY too short, as I make my way closer to the stage, ending up in the second row.
By this time the sun has come around, and we are being slow-roasted in our black outfits. The security guards are very attentive, handing out bottles of water to the crowd, and hosing us down with water. I had forgotten how great water can smell. I worry a little about my sunblocker, especially seeing the puffy red shoulder of the girl in front of me. But we are being cooled down, and that is good enough for me right now.
Tristania, another doom-metal combo from Norway, is pretty damn good, the female vocalist has one of the most stunning soprano voices I ever heard, though the male vocals once again are a little harsh for my taste. I am still dazed from FG's set, and yearning to see The Mission, so I can't say too much about Tristania. And soon enough it is break time again, which means more water fights with the secs, more fun from the firehose, and another chance to cool down a little.
Finally The Mission come on stage, and of course Wayne carries his bottle of red. Last year his solo set was bloody awesome, and I am excited to see him with the entire band now. Unfortunately the sound is not mixed too well, and sometimes his voice does not come through, sometimes it is too indistinct, so I do not recognize several songs until he kicks into the chorus. Oh well, it still sounds awesome. I would love to see them at a club sometime though, because I think they are still a little better there. Wayne does not look too happy either, though I am pretty sure that this was not the first time in the 20 years history of the band that the sound was not as great as it could be :P
More water, more waterfights. More bad announcements from Medusa, and L'ame Immortelle from Vienna take the stage. Of course just now my digital camera runs out of batteries, and all the spares are in my tent, so I will have to wait until my regular pics are developed. I had not heard L'ame before, but now I love them. Their stage presence is great, their songs are hauntingly beautiful, and they have a lot of energy.
In Extremo is another band I am excited about. I love Subway to Sally, I love Tanzwut, I now love Fiddler's Green and Saltatio Mortis, and the two major medieval bands I know of are In Extremo and Schandmaul, who play tommorow. And In Extremo does not disappoint me. The songs are awesome, and the singer's ability to sing in fluent Latin is impressive. Of course I have no idea if the Latin is as fluent and correct as it seems, but I don't really care. It sounds incredibly cool. Again the set is over way too short.
Within Temptation is the next band, and I am anxious to see them as well. I missed them last year, but I loved their CD. The dutch girls next to me tell me that they go to every show they can get to, which I can understand. I feel the same way about the Crüxshadows (who unfortunately are not playing here this weekend) and some other bands. Within Temptation is bloody awesome. Sharon's stage presence (I use that word a lot, don't I?) is wonderful, the music is awesome, the crowd loves it. And the pyrotechnics make my ears ring :P I love the show, but it is over too soon.
As soon as Within Temptation is off-stage I make my way back as well. I have not eaten in almost twelve hours, I need something cold to drink, and I want to pick up a little more merch. Plus I have seen Wolfsheim (the headliner) before, and was not too impressed. Their stageshow is almost non-existent, so I might as well listen to them from afar. I finally decide to turn in, sleeping a little better this night.
Sunday, August 8th
Today the only two bands I really want to see don't play until the afternoon, so I have a lot of time to kill. I take all my crap to the car early on, taking only a small backpack with drinks and my cameras inside. I chat a little longer with the girl at the Sonic Seducer tent, and manage to find a Fiddler's Green CD. No luck getting anything by Saltatio Mortis though. So I make my way into the hangar (which I did not visit at all yesterday) to wait for Schandmaul and Gothminister.
The hangar is still pretty empty, so I can make my way into the second row easily. The main advantages of the hangar are no sun and no Medusa. The downside is that the place heats up really fast. But right now it is still okay. I start chatting with the people in front of me, and find out that there is still one place to check for Saltatio CDs. I don't really feel like going there right now though, the view is too good.
The first band is rather old school, sounding a lot like old The Cure. That is okay though, after all Robert Smith is God. Well, not God, but close enough :P Their set of about 20 mins is not too long and not too short, but we will see if they can make the cut.
The same goes for the next band, Elis. Another doom-metal band (there seems to be a lot of those around lately) with a female vocalist. They are okay, I heard better, but I heard a lot worse as well (Xandria anyone?) Their set time is okay as well, about half an hour.
The next band's set is WAY too short though. Chamber are just bloody awesome, with three violins, a bass, a cello, guitars and more. The frontman has a great voice, the music is beautiful, and an arrangement of Rammstein's Engel has the entire crowd singing along. The hangar is packed now, and the excitement is so thick in the air that you can almost taste it. Unfortunately they cannot give an encore, because of the tight schedule of the festival.
They are a hard act to follow though, and Pink Turns Blue suffer a little needlessly. They are not bad at all, but they fail to move the crowd the way Chamber did. It is not quite conceivable why they got a 40 minute set, while Chamber had to make do with 25. At one point I actually feel sorry for the singer, as he tries to animate the crowd to clap, and hardly anybody does. He did not really deserve that. For his last song he tries to do a Rogue and walk through the crowd. Unfortunately he apparently overlooked the girl sitting in front of me (with her back against the barricade, so she might have been hard to see) and almost jumps onto her head. Which would have been a shame, she was too pretty to get her skull crushed by that guy :P She can get out of the way in time, but the guy leans a little hard on my shoulder on his way into the crowd, leaving a welt that is still visible. I actually knew the last song he sings, though I had no idea that it was by him. Plus I had it on a tape my cousin's ex-boyfriend made for me 10 years ago, so I plead innocent there.
The secs water us and spray us down, which is bloody decent of them. Then Schandmaul take the stage. They are pretty good as well, but I think I am a little jaded on fiddle bands right now. If you don't know any of them, they all sound similar after a while. Still pretty damn good.
Finally I make my way to the front row in time for Gothminister. I only caught a bit of his show from afar last year, and I liked it, so now I am happy to see the rest of the show. While his make-up last year was mostly white, he now comes on-stage with metallic grey, almost black face-paint. Dementia is pretty as ever, but very disturbing, due to her contacts and her puppet-like movements. I have to think of Pris in Blade Runner, which shows how stuffed my head is with movie trivia and pulp. During the show they change costumes several times, which kinda drags a little, but the music is awesome.
After the show I walk around one more time, buy three Saltatio Mortis CDs at the place that was pointed out to me (Thanks Becky) one of them signed :P Then I make my way home, since I have to work tommorow morning. I could wait for Lacrimosa to take the stage at shortly before 9, but then I would not get home until 2 am, which rather sucks if you need to work at 6.30 the next day :P