Catching a bit of sleep at Rock Am Ring can be a pretty interesting ordeal. I mean, it’s a fucking rock festival; the party is pretty much going 24/7. You crawl to bed by the time physical exhaustion kicks in, you close your eyes and if you’re lucky (or Tina or Pernille) you might catch a little sleep.. You sleep for a few minutes and then, for whatever reason, you are rudely awaken. Either by a drunk idiot stumbling into your tent, a party going on next door or some moron with a megaphone just looking to terrorize everybody within earshot.. It’s all part of the fun and all something you’ll have to put up with. We all have our ways of coping, me, I just plain don’t sleep, really..
So, on the first night, while the rest of the camp went to sleep, I lay awake and listened to the children of the night. This year, much to the envy of the four other guys in our entourage, I had the pleasure of sharing a tent with my two lovely female travel companions so the first night was pretty much a mix of listening to Pernille talking to herself in her sleep, Tina doing what I’ve come to refer to adorable girlie snoring (which is kinda like snoring, only quieter, more subdued, less annoying and kinda cute in a strange kinda way).. That and trying to ignore the craziness going on outside. Which was, of course, pretty impossible. Strangely, this year the general noise pollution actually died out shortly before sunrise and so, despite the odd bump from Tina, I was actually lulled asleep by the sound of her girlie snoring on one side of me, and Pernille arguing with herself on the other.
And I dare say I managed to sleep for a full three or four hours before the sun had risen so high in the sky, making the tent so unbearably hot that it became impossible for all three of us to sleep. I gave it one last desperate try for a few more minutes before I went fuck it, opened up the tent and tumbled outside where I was greeted by Lars and a few others who had also given up on the whole getting sleep situation. Not really knowing what else to do on 9 AM on a day where the sun was keeping us from getting our much needed rest, we did the only reasonable thing which was to pop open a few brews and a few hard ciders – an activity the rest of the camp pretty quickly joined us in..
Having thusly drunk our breakfast, we decided it might be time to get some food as well, so once everybody were on their feet and had brushed their teeth, made the trek to the toilets and back, and whatever else we needed to do, we set off towards our favorite bar where we each ordered a breakfast platter and a cup of coffee. We ate, we drank our coffee, Tina and I drank a Jägermeister/Red Bull (which nearly cost me a tooth as I banged the glass against it in a very enthusiastic effort to beat the little one in a chugging game), and we then set out to explore..
As I probably mentioned at around this time last year, the Nürnburgring (or the Grand Prix circuit at least) is located at the foot of a small mountain, on top of which stands an old medieval castle, the tower of which offers a nice view over the general area. This very tower became the goal of our exploratory trip. And so, after having stopped at a street stall to by a couple of really overpriced beers each, we set out on the long, hard trek up the hill to the castle, stopping several times along the way for beer breaks and to wipe our foreheads.
The weather was every bit as awesome (and hot) this year as it was bad last year, and it was taking its toll on us. After much huffing and puffing, bitching and drinking, we eventually made it to the castle, paid the EUR 2 entrance fee and made our way to the top of the castle tower where we were treated to some absolute spectacular views of the festival area and the surrounding towns.
We took it all in for as long as we possibly could, then made a slow descent down from the tower and to the outside of the castle where we plopped down with the rest of our beers, enjoyed the slightly inferior view and baked in the sun for about an hour, discussing such important matters as world politics, the future of Africa, incurable diseases and global climate change.. No, REALLY!
Eventually, we ran out of beer and if there’s one thing I’ll take back with me from this trip, it’s a strong realization that Lars doesn’t enjoy running out of beer, so as he got more and more impatient it was decided to head on out from our spot in the sun, find some beer and trek on.. Our trek was a long one, probably in the 5+ kilometers category, but as we discovered several beer stands along the way, it wasn’t much of a problem. We eventually ended up in a merchandising/food/drink/party tent area near the main entrance to the festival grounds, since the grounds would not open till later that night and we were all pretty tired from walking, we decided to sit down. Well, everybody but Lars did anyways.. Lars seemed to have somehow gotten lost in the crowd and I was almost about to start worrying about him when he emerged some ten minutes later, smiling brightly and carrying a 24 pack of 24 oz beers.. Good boy!
The next few hours were spent chilling in the sun, emptying most of the case, watching the spectacle of thousands of drunk youngsters passing by, getting a bit to eat and just generally being goofy. It was extremely good times, really, and we saw a lot of strange things, the memories of some I’ll take with me to the grave (like Tina having her tongue measured for a segment on German SWR3 television) and other’s I’d rather forget (like random male streakers).
Eventually it got late enough for the festival grounds to open and before the rush got too big, we decided to head back to basecamp to pick up some necessities for the night ahead.. Like longsleeves for me, leggins for the girls and such. Lars had, at some time during the day, apparently gotten rather intoxicated and were becoming a bit of a nuisance to be quite honest. By the time we made it back to camp, he was at a point where he was mainly capable of rambling to himself, randomly breaking out into supporter songs for his favorite football team and eventually collapsing – not in his tent, but rather on top of his tent..
We honestly considered just leaving him while we went to catch the opening of the festival, but someone – namely Christian – decided that we should try to wake him and bring him.. Fine, the rest of us reasoned, as long as you drag him.
Having picked up our necessities for the evening, as well as Lars, we set back towards the festival grounds.. It was a long fucking walk, let me tell you, especially for Lars who were getting dragged along by Christian, and for Christian who, naturally, was pretty busy alternatively dragging Lars and also trying to keep track of him whenever he caught a second wind and staggered off somewhere.. But we made it, we eventually made it! .. And bumped right into a line of epic proportions. Which I guess was to be expected. The opening act of the festival was KISS anyways, and apparently a lot of people wanted to catch KISS playing. After standing in line for forever, and getting frisked and all, we eventually made it onto the festival grounds.
Once on the festival grounds, we spent some time walking around looking at all the weird offerings. Pernille found herself a new set of hair while I found a silly hat.
In the end, though, we decided against our new purchases, well anybody but Tina anyways, as she fell head over heels in love with a pink studded (imitation) leather belt.
By the way, if I haven’t already extended one, I might owe Tina an apology for my behavior right after this pic was taken. As I may have felt the urge to give her a more than loving pat on the ass which may have left both my hand and her poor tushy stinging ever so slightly afterwards.. I’m sorry, baby, it may have been both a little inappropriate and a little mean, but also ever so slightly tempting.
Having thusly walked around a bit and having had a look at the sights and sounds, as well as having established that Tina is quite a good sport and puts up with a lot of crap at the hands of her best friend, we decided to make our way towards the front of the main stage (Centerstage) for what was to be the rock party extravaganza of the evening: A live performance but none other than the legendary Gods of Thunder; KISS! Okay, so towards the front of the stage might have been a bit of an overstatement. In reality, we were pretty much stuck at the back of the stage on account of some 75,000 people other than ourselves also wanting a piece of the action.
Centerstage is a huge fucking stage, arguably one of the biggest in Europe, but the crowd area is also very narrow, so if you’re at the back – well, then you’re really at the back! It’s not really much of a problem as they have dozens of video walls and audio relay towers, so you still get to feel like you’re part of the action and it wasn’t really till I hoisted Tina onto my shoulders and had her take some pictures and video that I realized how far away from things we really were and what a fuck-ton of people we were surrounded by. I honestly didn’t expect KISS to be that popular with the predominantly young crowd, but oh well, there you go, it was definitely the largest crowd I’ve ever seen waiting for a show.. And what a show it was.
As the lights dimmed and the intro started rolling over the video walls the crowd started roaring louder and louder until they eventually exploded to the familiar battle cry from the stage of “Aaaaaaalright, ROCK AM RING (..)” – and then the stage sorta exploded to in a sheer inferno of lights, fire, glam, glitter and fireworks. The next two hours were a lesson in classic rock of the finest caliber, showcasing some of KISS’ greatest hits from the past 30 odd years. We partied along to such classics as “Detroit Rock City”, “Shout It Out Loud”, “God Gave Rock N Roll To You II” and, of course, “I Was Made For Loving You” which had all of us dancing, singing, jumping and screaming along like the drunken idiots we were.. We even paused along the way to show our respect to the fallen hero, Ronnie James Dio, as KISS started a thunderous chant of “DIO, DIO, DIO!” which echoed across the ground as thousands of devil horns filled the darkening skies.. The concert was an experience to say the least and while I didn’t really know what to expect from the evening, I was very, very pleasantly surprised by the aging rock franchise that is KISS.. So thank you guys!
At around midnight, the last electric guitar died down, the lights faded and a huge fireworks display filled the sky much to the approval of the already rowdy crowd which now slowly but steadily started to make their way back towards the camping grounds while singing the chorus to “God Gave Rock N Roll To You” and other songs they deemed fitting. The trek back was a long and exceedingly hard one as the exits weren’t at all geared for the number of people that wanted a part of the KISS show, but with spirits high and a few brews and a stop at a fast food stand to help us soldier on, we eventually made it back to base camp where we, tired and weary, indulged in a our evening ritual of a beer and a little talk before bed. I don’t honestly remember what the talk was all about but I remember that it wasn’t very long and that I ended up by stating “Ah fuck it, I’ll go to bed, hopefully this time around I won’t be woken by somebody’s ass bumping into me or similar.” – “It’s a hard knock life, Johan,” said Lars looking at the girls.. “Go fuck yourself,” Christian chimed in. “Sleep tight, you lucky bastard,” Bo merely offered.. “Where’s the love?” I tried as I crawled to bed along with the ladies..
As it turned out, I wasn’t to be awoken by having someone’s ass bump into me that night. Oh no, it was to be a whole lot more controversial than that..