The Wacken Diaries – 02: Day Zero

The festival hadn't yet started, but the fun had...

Wednesday was an early start: up at 6am, pack up all our shit, hotel breakfast, and then hustle down to the train station, meet up with Vagrant, and figure out how the hell we were going to get to Wacken with our extremely limited grasp of the German language.

Luck was on our side – the ticket machines had an English language option. We managed to find the right train to Altona, the closest hub for country lines, with only one aborted attempt, and before long we were settled in for the hour-long trip to Itzahoe, the closest train station to the town of Wacken.

View from the train windowAt Itzahoe station, beneath a hand-made sign proclaiming “welcome metalheadz”, the masses were assembling to get onto chartered buses – for those who had prepaid, that is. Other people were waiting on the regular local bus or hopping into taxis, and it was the latter option which we took. Thirty minutes and 30 euros later, we had arrived at the holy Wacken camping grounds and were in line with our tickets to get our wrist bands and full metal bags.

Why the early morning rush, I hear you ask, when the festival doesn’t even start until tomorrow? Previous experience had taught us that getting in early meant a snagging a camping spot close to the action, which meant less walking and hence, fewer potential points of confusion when trying to find the way back to camp without falling in a piss ditch or worse in the very likely scenario of being under the influence. Our English crew had banded together and booked a taxi to take them from the hotel straight to the festival grounds at around 8am – an option that was slightly more expensive per head, with a lot less hassle, but also with a lot less adventure – and so they had already claimed an area in Camping Ground “A” and pitched their tents by the time we arrived.

Welcome Metalheadz! Waiting for buses

Campgrounds

Wasting no time, we got our AUD $38 special unpacked and pitched. The English boys arrived back shortly with a gazebo which was somehow successfully erected in the middle of our camp despite suspect instructions and even more suspect construction skills on the part of a mathematician, a psychiatric nurse, a system administrator and two web developers. Then it was off to shop for supplies in the township: supplies being deck chairs, an ice bucket, and some cold Wacken beers.

PosingIt was our first look at the village since 2008 and we found a few additions, but nothing much had really changed. The camping store was there in the same place as always, and most houses had bars and food outlets going in their front gardens. Black-clad metalheads streamed down both sides of the street and the local children were doing a roaring trade carrying beer back to the grounds behind their bikes and go-karts. The Wacken office was a hive of activity and the internet access they offered (3 euros for 15 minutes) allowed Metalbeast and I to quickly sort out a SIM card issue we had with our German phone numbers.

Wacken beer!Supplies in hand, we headed back to camp, picking up our cold Wacken-branded beers along the way. As per last year, the stuff tasted cheap, vaguely like Australian budget brew Emu Bitter, but it didn’t matter. It was just too cool to be sitting around our camp with good friends, sheltered from the weather with our Australian-flag-adorned gazebo, listening to Amon Amarth on our little camp stereo, holding the black and gold cans aloft: cheers to all, we were at Wacken!

The afternoon and evening consisted largely of sitting around the camp drinking and checking out the Metal Market. Visitors to our campsite included a naked Swedish man and an Australian photographer who gave us shit, then wandered off in a huff. Nuz the mathematician donned his skin tight black body suit and disturbed more than a few passers-by, and somehow later in the night we avoided seeing Mambo Kurt for the second year running.

Then it was back to the tent to drift off to sleep to the soothing sounds of Wacken: the call and response which we dubbed the "global Wacken positioning system" (screams of “Waaaacken”, answered by other screams of “Waaaacken” from across the fields), drunken singing, fireworks and flares going off, and the gentle tinkling of the intoxicated, peeing on tents.  It was a beautiful thing.