Rock Am Ring, Day Four: Is this Germany or Ireland?

We fully expected Saturday to start on a cold note. What we, on the other hand, didn’t really count on was for it to start on a wet and rainy note.. So, it was with a bit of a frown that I woke to the sound of rain dripping on our tent. Dunkel woke, too, with much more than just a frown, but then.. He has issues with rain. Either way, I told him to calm down, relax and made a joking prediction that it’d all stop within half an hour.. Which strangely enough, it actually did.. At least momentarily. It actually stopped raining long enough for us to rendez-vouz with Lars Bo and Christian at our camp and just about get ready to leave then, as if to say screw you guys, it started raining again.

The outlook of a cold, rainy day made Dunkel flat out refuse to leave the tent, so while he held down base camp moping to himself, Tina and I got ourselves wrapped up best as we could in several layers of clothing and brightly colored single use ponchos compliments of my mother and Klaus. Lars Bo and Christian settled for just wearing some brightly colored umbrellas, but still managed to stay relatively dry. Looking like quite the motley crew, we then headed off to what was going to be our go-to bar in Nürnburg for a breakfast of champions consisting of a cheese burger, fries, two beers and four shots of Jägermeister per person.. Which left us full and happy, warm and ready for the trials ahead.

Having had our fill, we then headed back to camp to see if we could lure Dunkel back out with us which proved damn right impossible. Instead, we took a bit of a timeout to have a beer and some fun duct taping Tina’s shoes and legs as well of the shoes of Lars Bo and Christian.. As to keep them dry. Seeing as my shoes were already full of holes and water, I passed on the experience, knowing it’d be too late to do anything about my cold, wet feet. Looking even more pimped for the occasion, we then headed off towards the festival grounds and more great shows in store for us. We spent the walk there as we usually did, drinking a beer or two, stopping every five minutes to pee and just plain watching people and their behavior.. Which was even more fun than usual, seeing as it was now raining and a lot of people had a lot of really interesting ideas about how to cope, ranging from homemade rain clothing to just plain stripping down and enjoying the experience.

When we arrived at the security check point at the festival grounds, the boys were lucky enough to have their umbrellas confiscated as they could apparently double as weapons or whatever, so we spent the first few minutes on the grounds looking for ponchos for them as well, and a new one for me as I’d already managed to destroy the one I’d borrowed from Klaus. We also stopped at a merchandise booth and bought hoodie shirts for both Lars Bo and I as we we were both cold as hell.. Thanks fly out to Tina and Lars Bo for lending me money when I hadn’t been smart enough to bring enough of my own! Having thusly put the last hands on the pimp our crew project, we trotted on towards our goal for the day, Center Stage and a whole bunch of headliner shows.

Center Stage at Rock am Ring is huge.. Like, really huge! It consists of a huge fucking stage, a large open area and two smaller secluded areas up front holding 9,000 and 12,000 concert goers each… On top of this there were sound and video relay towers in several different areas as to make sure everybody got the best of the shows. Our plan, though, was to get up as close to the stage as possible. Which took a bit of walking and struggling as it meant going all the way around the general admission area and into the smaller areas up in front of the stage. Despite it being pretty early in the day, and the band playing (Trivium) being crappy, the front area holding 9,000 fans was already full, so we settled for the area immediately behind it which was located like 100 meters from the stage and so, but still offered a pretty good view. Especially since we managed to get up all the way to the front security rail, where we grabbed a few good spots and held on to them.

First off on our list of things to see were a couple of beers followed by Flogging Molly, an Irish folk punk band with bells, whistles, banjos and all. They took stage, laughing slightly at the ridiculous weather asking “Is this Germany or Ireland?” then launched into a great show featuring all the songs we’d come to hear, mainly “Devil’s Dance Floor” and “Drunken Lullabies” plus a whole host of other songs we’d never heard of before.. But a good show it was, and despite the rain, people were happy, slightly drunk, dancing, jumping and singing along.

After Molly, it was time to regroup, have a wee and another beer and then, finally, a bit of patriotism in the shape of the only Danish band on the bill: Volbeat! Seeing Volbeat on a major stage in a foreign country was both interesting and awesome. For whatever reason they’re hugely over in Germany. Probably almost more popular there than back home.. And also they’ve become a hell of a lot better at performing on major stages and sorta filling out the space.. I’ve seen them a few years ago opening for Metallica and back them they seemed kinda nervous and out of place on the huge stage.. This year not so! They delivered a solid set with great confidence and really seemed to be enjoying themselves.. Good show, guys!

After Volbeat, we had to surrender our good spot in front of the stage in order to go out and get something to eat. As we left, we noticed that the lines to get back into the front stage areas were simply too long for us to even bother, so we drifted back a bit, got some food and then made our way into the general admission area where we still managed to find a pretty good spot from which to watch the rest of the shows that evening. The bands on Center Stage that evening were Machine Head, The Prodigy and Slipknot in that order. Machine Head was mainly just confusing. I don’t know a lot of their songs, and their sound was really weird – albeit fucking loud! The crowd seemed up for it, though, as there were a lot of horns being thrown, a lot of changs of “Machine-Fucking-Head” and circle pits breaking out on either side of us constantly. We even managed to fall into a few of them.. Or jump into them, as I did on one occasion when one unlucky guy fell over and everybody within range dove down to help him up. Hey, at least people take good care of each other.

The Prodigy were nowhere near as good as they were when Tina and I saw them last year, but that’s not to say that they didn’t put on one hell of a show.. Playing almost every song from their new album and throwing in classics such as Their Law, Poison, Smack My Bitch Up and Breathe.. There was a hell of a lot of jumping and fist pounding going on and at least Christian, Lars Bo and I unanimously decided that we were getting waaaay to old for this crap.

The real headliner of the evening, Slipknot, were about every bit as sick as I’d expected. I felt a little sad that we were stuck not only behind a mixer tent blocking our view of the stage, but also in a section of the crowd which didn’t seem to know the songs too well. It made for a pretty subdued experience that I don’t think the others enjoyed too much. I was left feeling that if I’d been in another spot, it’d have been my favorite concert of the weekend, but I still found it really, really great. Nice set of songs, awesome live show, good stage presence, and I still maintain my view that Corey Taylor is one of the most charismatic front men in metal.. If not in music in general.

After Slipknot, I experienced the rather rare luxury of actually being so hot that I was starting to sweat, so I was more than happy to lend Tina one of my long sleeves so that she, too, might keep somewhat warm while we walked home. I’m not really sure it helped much, but it was better than nothing, I’m sure. We wound off the evening with a round of drinks and a bit to eat at the festival grounds before embarking on the ever so trying 20 minute walk back to camp which we actually managed in pretty good spirits. Safely back at camp, we invited the boys back to our tent for the traditional post-concert drinks and were rather happy to see Dunkel here, sitting around with a light on, plastic bags spread out for us to sit on and drinks lined up for us.

I was happy, too, to find out that he had dared venture outside of base camp at some point during the evening when the rain had stopped and had managed to catch both Volbeat, Machine Head, The Prodigy and Slipknot, especially, which was his must see band of the festival. He’d then apparently ventured back, gotten things ready and drinks lined up.. Good boy!

He also seemed as if he’d been a little bored, at any rate he couldn’t really wait to get hammered and have fun, a fact that kinda took its toll on all of us because the pace Dunkel was setting was a little too hefty for the rest of us, and himself apparently.. Whiskey was thrown down, the rest of the absinth was shared, beers and hard ciders were consumed at an alarming pace with a few Havana Club and coke thrown in for good measure.. It all really kinda got out of hand, but it was all fun and games.. Until Lars Bo started falling over and we all realized that we might be getting a little too drunk for our own good. And still, we didn’t really care too much. Lars Bo was the first to call it quits and stumble back to his and Christian’s camp. Christian followed not long after and when I went to use the rest rooms, the two others had gone lights out when I returned.

I took this as a sign to curl up myself and get ready for what was to be by far the coldest night of the festival.. I mean, it was ridiculous. Even fully dressed and curled up in my sleeping bag, I couldn’t sleep from the cold.. The fact that drinking large amounts of alcohol wrecks havoc on my bladder didn’t really help much either.. I essentially spent most of the night laying around and needing to pee but flat out refusing to get out to do so because of the cold.. When I finally surrendered and got up to do so, it turned into my only truly miserable experience of the festival.. Dizzy on the borderline between drunk and sober, feeling slightly hung over, shaking (not just shivering) from the cold and feeling utterly disoriented and confused.. Not my idea of a good time, so I ended up hurrying back, curling up even more and then eventually, finally, falling into blissful sleep at somewhere around 9 in the morning..

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