Rock Am Ring, Day Three: Chaos at Alternastage

Friday morning came to set off a soon to be familiar trend at this year’s festival.. A feeling of bone-chilling cold. I woke earlier than the others, probably mostly owing to me being a really light sleeper and there being a lot of noise on the camp grounds.. Well, that and a tiny, sleeping blonde thinking that apparently her head should be where my feet were, but it’s all good. At any rate, I was awake pretty early and spent some time drifting to and fro sleep until eventually Dunkel stirred awake as well. And so, together, we jumped right into the only thing we know how to do well.. Drinking that is.. Tina eventually woke up as well but pretty much flat out refused to leave her sleeping bag, a move that I couldn’t really blame her for coz, well, did I mention it was freezing cold? Right.. I guess I did.

Well, since Tina was all curled up and I had no intentions of forcing her out, we decided that Dunkel and I go try and find some breakfast while she guarded the tent and tried to keep warm.. So on yet another sightseeing tour of downtown Nürnburg, Dunkel and I went, searching high and low for something cheap and filling to eat.. We ended up at some small booth that we discovered totally by accident that served up some cheap (and fucking large) homemade burgers that seemed pretty good value for money. While ordering, we killed time chatting with the owner which seemed a bit of an up-hill battle because he was hung over as all hell and I, on the other hand, found it ridiculously hard getting into the routine of speaking German again, a language, I’ve actually always best managed when drunk – and I clearly wasn’t drunk enough yet.

Either way, we got our food quickly enough and returned to base camp where Tina seemed reasonably happy to see us and even happier to see some food in our hands. Happiness only grew as we found some beers that Christian and Lars Bo had left behind the night before. These were consumed along with our breakfast and then things started getting kinda crazy. See, we found in our luggage this funnel that I’d brought for God knows what reason and for some other odd reason whatsoever, Dunkel decided that the only reasonable thing to do next would be to try and drink through it. So while Tina took pictures, Dunkel and I took turns getting down on our backs and having hard cider poured straight down our throats through the funnel. Incidentally, right at the moment that this took place, our new-found friends, Christian and Lars Bo decided to show up, looking all but perplexed and scared by the sight of such antics before noon.

Dunkel and I spent some time trying to convince them to join in but they seemed more interested in doing things in their own pace and besides, we didn’t have much time for sitting around.. This was the first day of concerts at the festival and we had a combined total of something like 12 bands we wanted to see (no joke!), so we pretty soon decided to head off towards the festival grounds.

Having scouted the area the day before, Dunkel, Tina and I pretty much knew the quickest way, so we headed off that way, encountering a lot of epic sights on our way, including grown men dressed in fuzzy animal costumes, boys in pink, semi-nude people and drunken behavior all around.. Man, I love European summer festivals! We made it to the festival grounds without too many problems, other than nearly losing Tina on the way.. Ahem.. And after a frisk pad down by security, we were on our way to the stages. A way that led through a concrete tunnel (where people wasted away time singing along to various tunes, and scaring the crap out of me as they spotted my Ramones t-shirt and pounced on me bellowing “HEY HO! LET’S GO, HEY HO! LET’S GO!”) and up a steep hill that led right into the madness that was the Rock Am Ring festival area.

The festival area at Rock Am Ring is relatively small, to the north is “Center Stage”, the biggest stage of the festival, accommodating probably around 80,000 people. This is where the headliners perform. In the south end is Alternastage, the smaller stage where “smaller” acts perform. Well, smaller is probably not the right word as it still accommodates some 40,000 people or so. Between the two stages is a large-ish open area where people can hang out, get something to eat, do various things and catch shows from either stage via audio relay towers and video walls. This is the area we’d wound up in and it was already pretty buzzing, but we really had no time to stand around.. Our first priority was to find some beers a task accomplished by Last Bo before the rest of us even had time to look around and wonder about where to find a beer tent, our second to head down to Alternastage where we were to spend most of the day..

Trotting down to Alternastage, we caught a song or two by the German band Exposed to Noise who won the right to open the festival in a fan community battle of the bands kinda thing. After them followed Wirtz, another German band I’d never heard about.. Then the first band, any of us (i.e. Dunkel) really wanted to see: Hardcore Superstar, a Swedish band (I think) that had this whole metalcore meets Bruce Dickinson thing going for them.. At any rate, they were pretty good and we had fun during their set.. And for me that’s pretty much what festivals is about, seeing some acts that you wouldn’t normally have seen and have a few beers and a lot of fun in the process. The Swedes were followed by Dragonforce who was the first “major” act of the festival (if you don’t count the bands that I’d never heard of but were apparently big enough to be playing at Center Stage at the same time). Dragonforce are a power metal band from England who are known for being notoriously bad live, but I actually thought they gave a pretty good performance, plus the sun was out, people were enjoying themselves and we had beer, so it was all good.. And we lost track of Christian and Lars Bo in the process as we were busy having fun and they were busy wandering off to either pee or get beer right as things started to get crowded at the front of the stage.

It may seem, by the way, that I’m running through shows really quickly, but let’s be honest, we saw 11 or 12 bands, so it’d take forever.. Besides, gigs at this hour were like 30-40 minutes each. So, let’s move on shall we? 😉 Following Dragonforce were Shinedown, a band I’d only heard of by name and that weren’t very special, so we spent their set getting a beer and getting some food, going to the toilet and what have you.. And then things started getting interesting as the bigger bands started lining up on stage. After food, drink and a trip to the rest rooms, we started pushing closer towards the stage in order to get a better view of things to come. The next band on the bill was “Enter Shikari”, about the weirdest band I’ve ever seen live. It’s an odd mix of hardcore (punk) and rave (techno), but they’re really energetic and apparently have a shitload of fans in Germany. As we started pushing towards the stage, a tall, somewhat bulky German looked at Tina and another tiny girl standing next to her and remarked “Sie beiden werden bald sterben” (they’re both about to die). Dunkel and I, on the other hand, grabbed hold of each other and I put an arm around Tina, remarking “when people start moshing, we push towards the front, okay?”. Tina barely had time to look back at me and go “*When* they start moshing?” before Enter Shikari hit stage and all hell broke lose. People started screaming, jumping, thrashing, moshing and what have you and we half struggled, half jumped, half got carried forwards towards the steel wave breaker in front of the stage. We managed with a little luck to land Tina a safe spot right up against the security rail. I managed to get one protective arm around her and clung on to the rail for dear life with one hand while holding on to Dunkel who’d also secured a spot at the railing with the other.. And like that I weathered the storm that was Enter Shikari.

I managed to catch a bit of a breather after they went off stage, but I knew things were gonna get a hell of a lot worse (and strangely, didn’t really care, we had kick ass spots after all). The next band on the bill were Papa Roach who are HUGE in Germany and also have a few songs that both Dunkel, Tina and I really dig. To say that things got crazy would probably be a bit of an understatement. They tore on stage right into the opening of “Between Angels and Insects” after which I didn’t really touch the ground for the 45 minutes that the set lasted. Not so much because I didn’t want to but merely because I was either busy thrashing around, headbanging and singing along at the top of my lungs or being shoved around and beaten up, doing all I could to protect Tina while trying not to scream too much like a girl in the process.. The crowd really was fucking insane, and there were a lot of punches being thrown.. NOT COOL! But hey, still an experience.. Especially thanks to their closing song, “Last Resort”

After Roach had left stage and I’d gotten banged up pretty severely and gotten nothing but a small sip of water we’d managed to score from a friendly security guy, I had to beg for a breather which we used to get some water.. Which turned out to be a lucky move as we reunited with Christian and Lars Bo at that time who were stuck at the beer tent, ranting about how crazy their Papa Roach experience had been.. Yeah, ours, too. On the bill, Staind were up next and I really wanted to go pee before they hit stage. While the others really wanted to head forward and get some good spots for the show. At least that’s what I thought. So I went to pee thinking that they were heading down towards stage and they stayed where they were thinking they’d wait for me to get back.. So what could possibly go wrong? I mean, there were only about 30,000 people at Alternastage at this point.. And Staind had just hit stage, drawing in even more people.. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, for starters, I aimed for the wrong beer tent when I got back from the toilets, so I spent some time walking around the wrong area, looking for my friends.. Which isn’t to say that I didn’t have fun.. I met some guy who was firing up the joint to end all joints, who responded to my walking around in a searching kinda manner by giving me the world’s biggest hug and grinning at me manically asking me to please smoke with him, a request I politely turned down, remarking that “this isn’t where I parked my car” as I suddenly spotted that I was on the totally wrong side of stage as compared to where I thought my friends would be.. So, huddling slightly and pushing forwards in a very apologetic manner, I fought my way back to the general area where I thought the others would be and started looking around. I eventually got to a point where I could move no further because people were getting increasingly taller and starting to sport that whole “You try that and I’ll fuck you up” attitude. Luckily for me, though, right as things started to get tough, a small line of three really cute girls started pushing by, so  I just sorta trailed behind them as they seemed to be heading in the same general direction as I was, hoping that’d be okay with them..

As it turned out, that was evidently more than okay with them, as one of them, this super cute dark haired semi-goth chick, grabbed hold of me, pulled me to her and went “So, you’re going with me, huh?” to which I, admittedly, rather perplexed  went “Umm.. Well, I was kinda looking for my friends..” A question she answered merely with a wink and a “I can be your new friend if you want” .. Which didn’t really seem like that bad of a deal to me right then.. But I really kinda wanted to find my friends and see some good music, so while being dragged off in one direction, I texted Tina who apparently almost right at that moment had spotted me in the crowd and had gone to come get me.. So it was a beautiful moment, really, I let go of one really cute dark haired girl just to get dragged off in another direction by a really cute blonde.. I’m pretty sure I heard someone utter the word bastard. But all that aside, I was pretty happy to be back with friends.. And to hear the songs I’d come for, mainly Mudshovel, Waste, Outside and It’s Been A While.. All the getting lost and cute chicks aside, it really was a good show.. Aaron Lewis was in his own little world as usual, but good show!

Following Staind came Killswitch Engage who managed to deliver one of the worst live shows I’ve even seen.. Like, honestly.. I’ve seen bands I’ve never even liked and still been able to say good things about their show. KsE were just.. Crap.. No stage presence, no energy, no charisma.. And toss in such wonderful comments as “You’re all a bunch of big fat pussies”, “I’m fucking tired.. I’m jet-lagged as hell” and “We’re Killswitch Engage from the United States of America, we’ve come here to get drunk and pee on your girlfriends”.. They managed to score a tiny little point in my book by ending their set with a Dio cover, other than that they were just plain terrible and served only to really kill the crowd..

A crowd who was, by the way, in for probably the strangest performance I’ve ever seen, courtesy of none other than the king of shock rock, Marilyn Manson! As far as Manson’s performance goes, I really don’t know how to describe it.. It wasn’t bad.. But it wasn’t good either.. In my opinion, he had a really strange mix of songs.. And an even stranger stage presence. There isn’t too much to say about the way he delivered his songs.. The incoherent rants in-between, though.. I just don’t know. He was clearly flying higher than the International Space Station, stoned, high and drunk off his fucking ass.. It was really somewhat of an embarrassment to watch. Incoherent mumbling, constantly yelling “DEUTSCHLAND!”, ranting about how he’d rather be somewhere else fucking whores and doing drugs, smashing equipment, falling over and leaving stage before his encores.. Even managing to verbally abuse KoRn frontman Jonathan Davis before doing so.. It was about the strangest thing I’ve ever seen.

Speaking of KoRn frontman Jonathan Davis, he.. And the rest of KoRn.. Were the next band to hit stage.. At fucking 2 AM in the morning as the late night headliners of Alternastage. While Manson was probably the strangest show I’ve ever seen, KoRn was probably the craziest show I’ve ever seen.. And definitely one of the best, too. As they hit stage, you wouldn’t think that it was 2 AM and people had been listening to music and drinking all night long.. That whole place fucking exploded! People were singing, jumping, screaming, crowdsurfing, moshing, falling over and being crazy.. Within mere minutes we’d lost track of Dunkel who’d disappeared somewhere in a mosh-pit, seconds later another mosh-pit opened right besides us and Lars Bo went missing for a while.. Or I lost track of him anyways as I was plenty busy holding on to Tina and keeping her from falling in all while moshing people away from us. Lars Bo eventually reemerged and we regrouped. Dunkel was apparently lost for good, but the rest of us huddled up, pushing tiny Tina between Christian Lars Bo and I and keeping her there for the rest of the show while searching out a more peaceful portion of the crowd to spend the rest of the concert.. Which was kinda hard as the crowd was generally rowdy as hell, but we managed to find a pretty quite spot and enjoyed the rest of the show from there, going absolutely crazy and jumping none stop for 90 minutes on end.. Good show, guys and gal! \m/

Korn eventually ended their show at around 3:30 AM with “Blind” as could be expected, and an extra encore of “Got The Life” which came a lot more unexpected.. At least to me.. And we ended up walking back to camp in the very wee hours of the morning, feeling absolutely spent after 13+ hours of music on Alternastage that day. It had been a good day, though, and we barely had the energy to sit down and have one last beer while watching the sun rising over Nürnburg.. But of course it had to be done, and of course we did so before settling in for a few hours of sleep..

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