Wacken Open Air – Day 2

Saturday, 29th August 2015

With the infield and main stages not opening until 3 p.m., I had reserved Thursday morning to explore the festival grounds and do my merch shopping, however this was not to be as the rain continued to pour all morning and into the afternoon. If I had ventured out into the cold and wet for a heavy metal shopping spree, one of my stops would have been the Rarities Tent, which is a giant tent filled with vendors selling all manner of CDs, DVDs, and vinyl, most of which you won’t find stateside. There is usually a long line to get in and it costs 2 or 3 euro, but once you get in, you receive a wrist band that if worn, allows you free admission on repeat visits. In addition to the wares on hand, there are also musician clinics, live bands, and stripper shows going on inside the tent to occupy your attention beyond the vast array of heavy metal goodies. If you come to Wacken, definitely set aside time (and money) to check out the Rarities Tent!

Since the rain was coming down fast and furious, I spent the morning at the camp just hanging out and hoping the sun would return. Although my wallet would thank me for the time being for skipping the Rarities Tent, later on I would manage to purchase a number of shirts and a couple CDs, so I didn’t go home empty-handed. After some lunch at the camp and with the rain still coming down in the early afternoon, I headed for the infield and main stages to get ready for the start of what has come to be billed as a Night to Remember, which refers to the Thursday main stage kickoff of the festival.

Up until this point, only the smaller stages in the Bull Head City Tent and the Wackinger Village featured live action. Skyline, the cover band featuring Wacken founder Thomas Jensen and a mainstay at Wacken over the years, was ready to get the party started at the infield, however before I reached the infield I had a stop at the Wackinger Stage for some pirate shenanigans.

Ye Banished Privateers

Ye Banished Privateers are a group of ragtag swashbucklers performing sea shanties with a much more folk style slant than say the pirate metal of Alestorm, but they are no less fun than Christopher Bowes and his merry mates. Many of the bands that play the Wackinger Stage have scheduled performances at different times each day of the festival. While this was the case with Ye Banished Privateers, due to the overwhelming amount of bands I planned not to miss, seeing the band early on Thursday worked out perfectly for me so I stopped for some tales from the sea on my way to the infield.

As mentioned, Ye Banished Privateers have a much more acoustic, folk flavor to their music, which was perfect for the Wackinger Village atmosphere. The group both looked and sounded the part, as several different members took turns behind the microphone and got the audience dancing and swaying in the mud and the rain. Before launching into “Ship is Sinking,” one of the band members who could have passed for a pirate captain said everything at their campsite sank into the ground the night before, showing that the fans aren’t the only ones having to battle the elements at Wacken. We’re all in this together.

Ye Banished Privateers closed with “Yellow Jack” and the band conveniently had set up a small merch stand beside the stage to sell CDs and T-shirts. I promptly purchased both of their albums, which I had planned on getting even before leaving for Wacken, which also came with a free patch. My ears having been pleasantly plundered by the Privateers, it was time to head to the infield and get a good spot in front of the main stages, which like the WET and Headbangers stages in the Bull Head City Tent are situated side by side (Black Metal Stage on the left, True Metal Stage on the right) with the giant Wacken bull head hanging in between.

Skyline

Skyline had the honor of kicking things off at the infield and did so with a rendition of the Manowar favorite “Warriors of the World United.” While I was able to see Skyline rocking on the Black Stage, I mostly heard their set as I was standing in line awaiting my turn to purchase band shirts.

The way the T-shirt stands/stalls work at Wacken, in the infield area anyway, are band shirts to the left and official Wacken merchandise, including the highly coveted lineup shirts and hoodies, on the right. Multiple lines form for the band shirts, so they move much quicker, however there’s only one line at the Wacken merch stand and it takes much longer. This is why I would say get your Wacken lineup shirt as soon as you can because they will sell out.

Enough about merch, and on to Skyline. Skyline sounded great and played a number of classic metal covers, some more rare than others such as “Future World” by Pretty Maids and “I Want Out” by Helloween. Other standards that have stood the test of time also got proper airings, such as “Bark at the Moon” and “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘N’ Roll).” Skyline is always a great way to get the party started at the main stages, and they’ve held this slot for the past several years at Wacken. Whether you’re standing in line buying shirts, or rocking out in front of the stage, Skyline sets the perfect atmosphere to get the blood pumping and the adrenaline going for a night of metal that will be truly memorable.

U.D.O. with Bundeswehr Musikkorps

For this performance, former Accept front man Udo Dirkschneider and his solo band teamed up with the German Military Orchestra to deliver the first of several special performances on hand at Wacken this year. The festival has gained a reputation for special performances you won’t see anywhere else, especially when it comes to orchestras. The combination of the hard-driving metal elements from Udo and the band worked well with the symphonic elements of the orchestra to bring about unique versions of U.D.O. hits and, of course, a couple Accept classics.

The orchestra opened with the Star Wars theme and “Das Boot” before Udo and his band mates joined them on stage for hits such as “Animal House,” “Heart of Gold,” and “Man and Machine.” My favorite moment was the trio of “Cut Me Out,” the excellent “Stillness of Time” and personal favorite “Trainride in Russia (Poezd Po Rossi).

The setlist was very similar to the set U.D.O. performed with a navy orchestra on the recently released “Metal Navy Night” CD/DVD, which also featured “Future Land,” “Independence Day” and “Faceless World,” but unlike the Navy performance, the Wacken set closed with “Metal Heart” and “Princess of the Dawn.” An all-around excellent performance from the orchestra and the band, and you could tell by all the smiles that those on stage were enjoying it as much as us in the mud.

In Extremo

Next up were medieval/folk rockers In Extremo, who use traditional instruments such as bag-pipes, harp, hurdy-gurdy and shawm to balance out the heavier and more aggressive leanings in their German medieval metal sound.

During my first trip to Wacken in 2006, I got to witness the spectacle that is In Extremo in their home country. It was one of the largest crowds I had ever seen, or been in, with people singing along to every word (most songs are in German), jumping up and down and countless crowd surfers. While I was much closer this time around, having secured a great spot toward the front of the infield in between the main stages and didn’t see as much of the crowd surfing action if it was happening, the band still put on an energetic performance and got the crowd cheering and moving.

In Extremo will soon be celebrating their 20th anniversary with a festival of their own, so they’ve been pleasing audiences for a number of years and they’re always a welcome addition to any Wacken lineup. The band delivered a 15-song set that spanned their discography, kicking things off with “Frei zu sein” and running through fan favorites “Vollmond,” “Omnia Sol Temperat,” “Liam” and “Nurh ihr allein.” Front man and lead vocalist Michael Robert Rhein, known as Das letzte Einhorn or “the last Unicorn,” took a moment to share a 20th anniversary In Extremo cake with the audience before continuing with “Sangerkrieg,” “Ai Vis Lo Lop” and “Kuss Mich,” which featured a rousing crowd sing-along. Even if you don’t understand the lyrics, In Extremo always put on an entertaining show.

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