Wacken Open Air is known as one of the biggest metal festivals that held every year since 1990. Every year starts this week in the fields outside a German village north of Hamburg. They celebrate the 30th anniversary as a Wacken 2019.
How we start Wacken Open Air 2019
We have no trouble doing our summer vacation program with my spouse over the last 3 years. You ask why; we know that Wacken is the only place we can go even if the groups are not disclosed. Again and again. This the 12th is HOLY WACKEN of my spouse. Like every year, this year was waiting for us in the same place. I suppose I had spent the last 15 years wishing to go there, but for some reason, Wacken was not a meant to be, while I was busy with Download, Hellfest. After my first experience of Wacken in 2017, I am preparing for the 4th year carefully. It is not easy to give up Wacken once the soul tastes it.
People wait August impatiently when the groups start to be announced one by one, but at the same time, it is also one of the most beautiful waiting. The tickets are bought at the best opportunity months before the festival and the procedures start. When we decided to go, we meticulously decided what to put in the suitcases months ago because I was a little annoyed about my inexperience in previous years. In fact, in my first year in 2017, it rained more than it had been in a very long time, and all the festivals and camping areas were left in the mud. My spouse could have been an expert, but I couldn’t even stand while walking in the mud. Wacken is famous for its mud, but it was upsetting me to have such a surprise in my first year. So instead of buying the rain boots from there (because they’re not comfortable at all), I got them in advance. Also, the boots sold at the festival look aesthetically terrible :).
The tent and sleeping bag are needless to say are the most important things to put in the bag rather than the boots. Even if we are “dirty metalists” since comfort is important, we also took our air mattress with us every year. This is a bag with sun cream, polar and rain boots as we experience rain during the day and frost at night. Like a bag of mixed emotions. By the way, it is also worth mentioning, it is extremely cold at night.
After the Running Order is released, what will be watched and missed has to be calculated. Even a few days ago, I remember that my soul was divided into two again: in 2017 when British Lion took the stage in one of the tent scenes, I decided to watch Avantasia on the main stage. Fortunately, this would not happen in 2019. The cheapest way to go from Hamburg to Istanbul is to go to Munich then take the train to get to Hamburg even though it is a bit troublesome. We can also rent a car but there is no need to carry the traffic chaos from Istanbul to there. Following the hundreds of Wacken t-shirted crowd, we reached our second home after a 2-hours train journey. When we got off the train, the shuttle services set up for the festival were waiting, and thousands of people from different cultures from different continents greeted each other with the shouts of Wacken. Everyone was welcomed.
After a short shuttle journey, we re-joined the Holy Lands. We had to get to the place where the VIP/PRESS registrations were made as soon as possible and go to the campground at the same speed, as the weather was saying us that “I am coming very badly soon”. 15 seconds after my partner pitched our tent, we hardly put ourselves into the tent. We were trapped in the tent due to rain for a while but we managed to reach the festival area in the first opportunity. As the main scenes have not been opened yet, despite the rain, there was no mud, nobody took a step there. I was ready for everything in any way. Even during the whole festival, the audience was directed to tents or safer places due to occasional severe storm warnings. Since there was no one in the field during the rain, despite the rain it was not muddy. They even prevented us to go to the toilets two steps away for security reasons, even in the press tent. Rules are rules, especially when you are in Germany!
0. Day at Wacken 2019
It was very frustrating not to catch Axxis, The Quireboys and UFO due to the delay on an opening day but at least we are not late for Sisters Of Mercy in the evening. We grabbed the beers and started to explore the new scenes which were added this year. Especially, the Welcome to The Jungle scene was amazing even with a small group of people. At the end of the day, after watching Sisters of Mercy, we hit the road at 4 am, we returned to our tents and leaked completely destroyed.
1. Day at Wacken 2019
As usual, the opening of Faster was officially held with Skyline 30 Years Ago tracks, with guest participation of Doro, Gus G. Since I was going to end the night with Sabaton, I had to be thrifty for my energy, but it did not stop me to watch Krokus, Hammerfall, Airbourne in order. Krokus was a band I wanted to watch for a very long time, so I gave up the Testament and ended up with my screams “Keep on Rockin in the free world”.
I watched partially Hammerfall and started to wait for Airbourne. Their energy did not decrease from the first track “Ready to Rock” until the last track “Runnin ‘Wild.” They were one of the rare bands that I watched with pure attention.
And the war machine from the North
Sabaton, we already knew that the band was going to organize a special show for the 30th Anniversary of Wacken and going to use two scenes, but as we did not know which scene they would mainly use, we were at the forefront of Harder. Even I had the opportunity to watch Sabaton in Istanbul and other countries and knew it was a privilege to watch such a band in Wacken, I was sure of this once again at the end of the concert. The stage decoration was World War II-themed with plenty of soldiers with tanks (in chorus uniforms). They made the opening with Ghost Division. As the show continued, Joakim Broden announced that they were reuniting with the band’s former guitarist, Thorbjörn Englund, to write Field of Verdun, and Thobbe appeared on the stage. He accompanied the Fields of Verdun and Shiroyama tracks. In the second scene, Pär Sundström appeared and made a long speech about the founding of the band, their goals and overcoming the obstacles. As part of Sabaton’s 20th birthday celebration, guitarist Pär invited former members of the band to the stage. Sabaton was not enough to invite guest, they invited Çellist Tina Guo to accompany Swedish Pagans and To Hell and Back. It was indeed worth to watch as the excitement hit to the top. This was a birthday and 80 thousand of people were celebrating this birthday frenetically.
2. Day at Wacken 2019
Equilibrium was the first band of the day, which means “Wake up Wacken” since the time of the stage is 11:00, so we took our place in front of the stage without even having breakfast. Then, it was Queensrÿche time which I had to watch before Geof Tate left. I must say that Todd La Torre, whom we know from Crimson Glory, was no less than Tate. We watched the Empire, Eyes of a Stranger classics with great excitement.
The next band to watch without a break was the Swiss folk metal band Eluveitie. However, the concert area was evacuated for safety reasons due to rain and storms.
We had planned to watch the Cradle of Filth on the Harder stage, however because of the rain, the concert moved to the tent scene. I think this was even better as I wouldn’t like to watch Cradle during the daylight ???? I watched Within Temptation with out of the corner of my eyes and after Nightwish, I watched the previous year, it was a bit more prosaic :).
The resurrection of legends – the Faster stage was gathering for Demons & Wizards- The Gunslinger tour would take place in several special festivals 13 years after their last album, 19 years after their last live performance, and of course Wacken was one of them. Even if I am not a super fan, such a special screening is always welcomed. With their flaming scenes, the performance of Kürsch and Schaffer on the stage would bring tears for power metal lovers. Because of the intensity, I had to watch them from behind, but I can easily say that everybody in Wacken was soon going to see the farewell of the legends and be a witness to history.
Even before the concert has started, it was impossible to go ahead, I did not even think about it. Going ahead? I could not even enter the festival area, but it was enough to see the scene. The scene was lit with a reverse cross with a red fog cloud. It was incredible to be the witness of this moment. The intense waiting has ended when the Delusions of Savior intro is heard.
The effects and changing of lights throughout the concert created an incredible atmosphere. When the impressive pyrotechnics combined with Slayer’s aggressive music, it became a true 30th Anniversary celebration. Filled with 90-minute hell riffs, Slayer did not drop the tempo till the end. After playing the farewell song Angel of Death, Tom Araya has ended this with a magnificent concert with “Thank you Wacken”. Araya took the microphone again and sincerely and proudly thanked us again saying “I am gonna miss you guys”, left the stage without waiting for the applause and shouting to end. No, we thank you; Thank you, SLAYER, for making us a witness of this unforgettable concert and history.
3. Day at Wacken 2019
Since it is the last day of the festival, it is the most precious day! And what made the last day special for me was that I would eventually watch Parkway Drive. In the early hours, instead of going to the village as we always used to do for our breakfast, we went to Kaufland which has incredibly affordable prices. We had all our necessities from here during the festival because it is both affordability and proximity. Of course, you cannot enter a festival area with the beer cans, but you can buy it cheaper and put it into the glass and enter the field. I hope this market will be there in the coming years. It was a great comfort for all of us.
Uriah Heep was in Wacken with their 26th album “Living Dream”, the same name as their tour. As far as I know, it was their first Wacken show in their 49-year old history. As usual, Uriah Heep was elegant on the stage and managed to reach their fans/us ingeniously with their music quality. They deserved to be applauded for minutes or even more. Without a break, I had the opportunity to watch Norwegian Kvelertak at Louder. But interestingly, even if they do not have a single song other than Norwegian, Wacken adored this group. I was also amazed by this interest.
Powerwolf was among one of the things to watch before PD. Since I watched another concert in 2017, it was not a big priority, but it should have been watched this year. Even at the same time, Avatar was playing on the other stage, I made my choice on Powerwolf in spite of the fact that Avatar is extremely fun.
Rain or Shine – We miss you Wacken until 2020
You can reach the Wacken Open Air 2020 (30.07 – 01.08) full program and tickets here.
Photos: Laçin Temoçin