Adventures Of A Groupie
Last Modified On 21 Mar 2009
For cost reasons I caught an earlier flight than the other bands. I therefore had a 9hr wait before the others arrived and I decided to take a bus to Lubeck. Unfortunately there were next to no facilities at the airport so there was nowhere to leave my suitcase. I therefore planned to get back a couple of hours before the others arrived but I was too concerned with time and fatigue and got back with 3.5 hrs to spare and discover I had been told the time of arrival wrong by two hours. Bother. Time dragged somewhat. Still eventually the plane arrived and it was interesting to see how many got their instruments on board and how many went in the depressurised and cold hull. Out of Mantis it was only Leon that couldn't get his keyboard on.
Tom from the festival was there to meet us. On the Mantis plane were Angel Witch, Savage, Grim Reaper, Samson and Gaskin
Chris is often fairly quiet and this seems to lead him to being attacked by the others.
Dennis had bought along a crowd of six from the Dean Swift including his son Jack and Beaky who does the sound. The bus to the Hotel was a good hour and we finally went to book in around 8.30pm. Then the problems started. Dennis arranged for his group of people to be booked in the hotel and I had arranged for me to be booked in. It seems however this never happened and there were no rooms for none band members. By about 9pm were we being driven to a hotel nearby that could squeeze us in. Unfortunately the Bus driver went wrong then had to go back to the original hotel for all the bands then come and get us again. We were supposed to be picked up 10pm and it took at least 3/4 hr to get to Wacken. It was a very party like atmosphere on the bus with members of Mantis, Grim Reaper and Samson in full mucking about spirits.
Spirits were high on the Bus to the hotel and eventually we got Nicky Moore from Samson to sing us some dirty songs
At about 11Pm we were checking in to get site passes knowing that free food was available somewhere and that there was a back stage party were we would arrange details for travel the next day. Tom disappeared straight off and we spent until about 1am hunting the site for this party and food which we never really found. Tino, Chris, Leon and I did find an Ambulance/security tent where we eventually found someone that would take the bands free food coupon. Tony had managed to get separated and when we eventually found him and he had been offered a crate of beer when complaining about the food and party. Dennis and Bruce and supposedly gone back to the hotel straight away as they did see any point in hanging round the site. But as we waited for the next scheduled Band shuttle at 1am Bruce turned up alone.
I and several of the band had been hoping to see Krockus and Molly Hatchet unfortunately it was down to the last few numbers of Company Of Snakes who now had Gary Barden with them. After hearing about a minute of this I have to say I was very relieved Mantis have Tony O'Hora on vocals now. I hope Gary had a cold or something as his voice was extremely strained.
Friday was the day of the Mantis show my first problem was getting to the festival site. Mantis didn't want to go there until late in the afternoon. I knew Angel Witch and Samson were both on early so I got a taxi back to the bands hotel and waited to see what transport was sent for Samson. Sadly it was only a 7-seatter Space cruiser type thing. With the Bands equipment and a driver there was just no room. Apparently the band found the trip murder even without me as things were so cramped and it was a 50km journey.
Gaskin were also floating around the hotel looking for a lift but there was no shuttle service available to pick them up and the Samson driver couldn't say when one would be available. I knew Angel Witch had 3 girlfriends to try and get to the festival so I decided to see what would turn up for them an hour later. Again it was only enough room for the band. I considered phoning up the shuttle service myself but since the 3 Angel Witch girls wanted to get to the site it seemed to make more sense to get a taxi for the four of us. It only worked out about 23dm each so saved us a lot of hassle.
Beaky wanted a picture on the page so I was
happy to oblige
I therefore made it to the site in time for the first band. I had a VIP pass and was a bit surprised how limited it was. They only people allowed behind stage were band members. Considering the number of gigs I have seen with friends/fans on the side of the stage I was somewhat surprised. I had spoken with Samson, Angel Witch, Gaskin, Grim Reaper and Mantis and they were all interested in getting me to video them for their own private archives so I went along to the Samson stage to look for a good position. I was far too naive! I went up to security to ask who has permissions to get between the stage and the crowd. He didn't really speak English and immediately spotted my Label Mics. I explained and a radio conversation later and I was in trouble. I had a broken VIP pass (I had fixed it to loose and tried to pull it apart to tighten it without realising it was a Fix once only lock) and he didn't trust me. I then decided I better get him to escort me to the band production office where I could get someone to vouch for me. They did and I got rid of the security guy but clearly I wouldn't be allowed to video and I needed to get better credentials. I then spent the next 6 hrs going about the task. I could go into long details but I will leave it at Gaskin commenting "He's going for this like a bulldog" and Chris the man from Screen Horn the official Wacken Video company commenting "You have done amazingly well to get this far. Well done. All you need to do now is sign this and show me your passport .... " And "You have really warped a lot of peoples heads today!".
Chris from Screen Horn
Chris was actually a very good bloke and I could understand his problems exactly. That is kind of what allowed me to achieve my end results. I had been told at one point the Lady in charge of the press had said I could not get a pass and that was that. I thought the game was over but I decided to go and see her and the promoter in person and I was referred back to Screen Horn again. My luckily break was then bumping into Steve Grimmett from Grim Reaper who had a spare moment to go and meet Chris and vouch for me in person. I had to do the same with Tino so I didn't want to miss them arriving which was sadly due the same time Angel Witch were on stage. I did go and take in a couple of numbers as Mantis's transport was behind schedule arriving but I couldn't risk more.
Incidentally I was quite friendly by now with the guy in charge of the taxi's. He was having a frantic day as he was trying to get the bands on site 3hrs before show time but things had slipped and it was down to two hours. The local police were also causing more delays, as they wouldn't let the bands get to the entrances they needed to or something like that.
Dean with Dennis (Chris and Tino in the background)
I have to say I found the organisational side of the festival as interesting as the festival itself. There were about 5 bands I had eyed up watching on the Saturday prior to travelling but I wasn't that bothered. I mainly wanted to see Mantis and Molly Hatchet. The rest would just be bonus and if I could be of use to a band by videoing them it would give me that extra buzz I needed to watch material I don't know. In my state of health and fatigue I doubt I would have been interested enough to watch the bands I had eyed up anyway. My normal way to get through music is to try and let myself go and headbang etc. There is no way I could keep that up all day though.
Just as Angel Witch finished Mantis turned up and went to have a look back stage. They immediately got all 7 non-members through despite our lack of passes. Actually a couple of the band had forgotten/broken their passes so they had to get a couple and there were some discussions with the band's contact about getting us all back stage and I think it was on her say so we were allowed. She certainly wasn't prepared to give all area passes to everyone.
They left the equipment backstage and then went to the press area. There we grabbed a drink and some food and meet up with several people I had spoken too on the net, which was good. They all had photo passes and I made a mental note of what I needed to do for any future festivals!
At around 7.30 I had to go and get my gold dust Photo Jacket and Special access all areas pass that allowed me to stay in the stage area for the whole show and not just three songs. When I got back Dennis had decided to sign someone's jacket. I thought "Mmm after the hassle I have had getting mine I will get it signed too!" so they whole band signed mine as well. I expected I would be in trouble when I handed it back in but I could at least say they could Auction it or something.
Chris signing my photo jacket
About 7.50 I went down to the Wet Stage to watch Grim Reaper. I thought they were fairly reasonable considering I had never heard them before. I quite enjoyed their set and certainly enjoyed videoing them. The Bass player is so different in movements to Chris. He was really into the show. I know Chris is too but he is an awful lot stiffer in his style. (I wouldn't change him by the way I just get interested by these little differences probably because I am rather reserved and wish I could let go more.)
The security did try to kick me out after three songs and they again spoke little English so this was a good practise run for the routine for Mantis.
Brotherly love or a bad breath competition? In the back stage area.
I wish I had managed to get sorted in time for Gaskin too as they had been following my progress all day and I am sure they would have liked a record. Sadly it just wasn't to be. I have a Gaskin album but I must admit I can't recall what I thought of it so it didn't really bother me. It just strikes me that musicians never really get chance to see themselves performing and I know a lot of them collect their own bootlegs because of this so a video is nice for them as long as they feel safe it won't get in the wrong hands.
Tino, Dennis and Dennis's son Jack. The True Metal Stage in the background
After Grim Reaper it was time for Mantis to set up and since I had an all area pass I didn't have any trouble getting back with the rest of the lads from the Dean Swift and the band.
Mantis performed a cracking set and went down a storm but I cover that elsewhere.
After the show I went to see how they felt etc and then took my pass back. Luckily security remembered me and the fact I had been through several times. I therefore managed to rejoin the band.
One of Screen Horn Chris's assistants had asked if Tino would do an interview after the gig so I reminded them as they left the stage area and Chris and Tino did one for about 10 Minutes in an old bus. It might well turn up in NWOBHM documentary from Jess Coxx sometime.
The band then meet the press again and another TV crew from Australia caught up with them. They are the ones that took some footage of the show. I am not sure what they are likely to do with this stuff but they did another 10-minute interview.
The band giving and interview for an Australian TV crew
By now it was midnight and we knew we had to be up at 6am the next morning to get the transport to the airport. We therefore made arrangements to get home and left.
I noticed there was a meet and greet point for the fans. Having a fans eye perspective I would have liked to get them to go along to that but I think whoever was running it was advertising when bands would show up. Given it was so late I decided not to mention it. If Mantis get to play Wacken again I will certainly try to get this to happen as I know a lot of fans were really chuffed to see Mantis playing in Germany and it is only fair that fans not as lucky as me should get to see their idols too.
I have to say I was impressed at how many people in the Press area seemed to be huge Mantis fans. Things are really looking promising at present.
Chris with Gerry Lemmens (who is a keen non internet fan) in the Press area
I really hope things can take off for them especially now that Nowhere to Hide is going to get marketed and distributed worldwide and not just in Japan as per the last few albums.
The bus to the airport was really rather subdued. I know I only had 2.5 hrs sleep so I doubt anyone else had more.
When we got to the airport most people started on Coffee but within 10 minutes or so the Mantis crowd were back on beer and in fine spirits again. I have to say I was enjoying things and then I went to the Men's room and that was that I just could not force myself to function anymore. To be honest I was surprised I had survived so long given my illness but my bubble had now completely burst. I was pretty subdued on the flight home but once at Stanstead most of the crowd went for a drink and at last I could get some Cider in me to perk myself up again. You shouldn't mix Painkillers and Drink but in moderation I find it helps a lot. I find 1/4 of a pint is enough to loosen me up and I was stunned at how drunk I felt on my Pint.
I took a bus home and slept most of the way. Got home and went to bed at 6.40pm. It has taken me 4 days to get round to writing this up and that is despite resting all I could and forcing myself to get pictures for the site together etc.
At the airport Tino asked me what I thought of the show and I just couldn't get my brain to string anything more together than "F**king brilliant". I am not sure I even said that. I was probably trying to give a proper response. In retrospect what I thought is probably all he really needed to know. Another example of the Daze I got into was on getting home Dad asked me "How was Germany?". It took me a good minute to work out he was asking how was the Wacken festival. I had forgotten it was in Germany. No one bands get confused as to what town they are in on tour!
Back at Stanstead the group nicked Maiden's
phone because it kept ringing. Who ever was on the other end kept getting songs!
Well the whole weekend was great fun and it was good travelling with Steve, Iron Maiden Dave, Dean, Jack, Beaky and Will. Plus of course Praying Mantis and the other bands. Boy do I wish I could be more sociable though! I am sure I reinforce the view that only sad boring gits do web sites!