Adventures Of A Groupie At Wacken 2000
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
George Arvanitakis who does the
fan club magazine is seen behind doing an interview.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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!
Left To Right – Iron Maiden Dave, Beaky, Steve (with the phone), Will, Tino
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!