“I was so incredibly mad at you last night,” Tina scowled at me during our Friday trek in search of breakfast. “Wait? Baby? Wha?,” I offered, thinking that I’d somehow unwillingly upset the poor girl which is something I hate doing, but sadly end up doing any way from time to time.
“Yeah, I elbowed you hard in my sleep.. Because you were holding me.. I mean, I dreamt you were holding me, I think..,” she elaborated.. “Ummm, you don’t think that’s a bit rough even if I did wrap my hand around you in my sleep which I didn’t owing to me not sleeping last night,” I tried.. “No,” she nearly snapped, “because your hand was on my breast, and you know how I feel about that!” – “Hmmm,” I said, sipping my hard cider and scratching my hair, “so let me get this straight, you’re mad at ME because YOU dreamt that I touched your breasts in MY sleep. Yet you’re perfectly okay with me slapping your ass last night which is something that actually happened?” – “Yes! Exactly,” beamed the little one! – “You’re such a head case, sweetheart,” I said pinching her cheek and walking off to see if other members of the entourage had something to offer in terms of conversation.
As it turned out, nobody had much to offer, at least not until we’d managed to find a bit of breakfast and a nice spot in the shade where we sat down to chat for a while over a morning case of beer.
A wonderful tradition we got started on this day and maintained for the rest of the festival. The weather was so incredibly good this year that none of us were really up for much during the day other than chilling in the shade, catching a bit of sun every now and then, drinking a few beers and talking idly about everything and nothing. It might sound a little lame, but it was actually a pretty awesome way to spend the hottest part of the day where energy levels were low and the sun would have probably killed us, had we gone to the festival grounds at the beginning of the day rather than chilling in town, getting fired up and liquored up for the evening. A lot of fun was had during these sessions and a lot of silliness ensued. Too much, really to mention, but let’s just say that we had a lot of fun, and that this picture of Tina discovering the Zen of Metal pretty well goes to show what level our overheated, well-lubricated brains were working at.
But of course, we couldn’t stay in the shade drinking beer all the time. Friday was day to catch a few major acts after all, starting with Airbourne who played Centerstage at around 5:30 PM or so. For their show, we were lucky enough to make it into the second front-most booth in front of the stage (the stage area is split into two booths separated by “wave breakers” (Zone A and B) right in front of the stage, as well as a general admission area (Zone C) further back), meaning that we were amongst the lucky 20,000 people to actually get in reasonable proximity of the stage which made us real happy like because we actually for a change had a good view of both the stage and the video walls.. And good sound as well.
Airbourne sound a lot like AC/DC only with a bit more power and spirit behind their sound, so their performance was a really nice way to kick off another day of concerts in the sun. They played for about an hour or so and it was all good times and great fun.. But not quite as good times and as much fun as the next man in line: a living rock legend known for his guitar skills, wild hair and funny hats – none other than Mr Saul Hudson, the man they call SLASH!
Slash is probably best known for his time as lead guitarist in legendary cry-baby band Guns N Roses, but has also played in acts such as Velvet Revolver and is now touring with his own solo project. On this particular tour, vocal duty has been handed to Myles Kennedy of Alter Bridge fame and together the two of them delivered a very solid performance. Myles struggled a little with the vocals at times but that sorta was to be expected from someone performing songs who wasn’t specifically written for him and his range. The crowd were of course mostly there for the Guns N Roses classics such as Nighttrain, Sweet Child Of Mine and Paradise City, and seeing these live was admittedly pretty awesome, but I will have to admit that the boys did a much better job on the newer songs.. Or, well, Slash pretty much nailed it all, of course, but songs such as Sweet Child of Mine obviously weren’t meant to be sung by people like Myles which is a bit of a shame.. But eh, regardless, it was only rock n roll and we did go crazy over the classics anyways.. All in all, an awesome little treat.
After Slash had thanked the crowd and left the stage, things got a little weird. I’m not really sure who got the idea of booking the world’s probably foremost hip-hop artist, Jay-Z, for a festival aptly named ROCK Am Ring, but the choice was undoubtably rather controversial. Some, this writer included, thought it was a pretty brilliant move even if they didn’t particularly know the artist and his music. Others were decidedly outraged and pissed off by the decision.. Obviously, the latter could have just stayed away from the show and watched something else, but since Jay-Z was playing the co-head slot right before the evening’s big headliner, Rage Against The Machine, certain people were given no choice but to sit through Jay-Z in order to get up front for RATM. This, in theory, should not have been much of a problem if it were not for the fact that certain RATM fans are complete fucking assclowns and decided to voice their frustration with the booking by constantly booing Jay-Z throughout his set, bombarding him with garbage on stage and showing off their middle fingers in some not so friendly gestures. Way to fucking ruin the show for everybody else, you immature sods!
Despite the hostile crowd, I’d personally say that Jay-Z put on one hell of a show. I didn’t really know any of his material and it wasn’t really my kind of music, but his stage presence was good, he delivered a solid party and I found the whole thing a quite enjoyable surprise.. It’s something I certainly wouldn’t have got to see, had it not been in between Slash and RATM, but I’m really quite happy that I got to watch it after all.. So thumbs up to Mr Z for a solid effort despite having to prove himself in front of a less than friendly crowd.
As Jay-Z left the stage to a strange mix of applause and boos, the audience really started buzzing again as the last major rebuild of the day started taking place. Down went Jay-Z’s extra back-of-stage video walls and up came a fuck-ton of lights and a huge, red Communist star, making it pretty clear what was about to happen: It was time for a bit of socialist propaganda, a lot of anger and some catchy guitar riff mixed with weird guitar effects and a bit of rap.. In other words, it was time for Rage Against The Machine.
Now, Germans are generally pretty notoriously crazy when it comes to rock shows, and Germans are generally pretty big RATM fans, so we were expecting things to get a little crazy for the show and we weren’t too disappointed. Things weren’t actually too bad as the air raid sirens marked the beginning of the show, neither did much happen as the band stormed on stage and Zack grabbed the mic and yelled “Good evening, we’re Rage Against Machine from Los Angeles, California!” .. Then lead guitarist Tom Morello hit a note, and well.. All hell broke lose. The crowd, at least 50,000 strong at the time, started jumping at once and for the next 3 odd minutes I’m reasonably sure no one touched the ground more than briefly.. “WHOA!!,” Pernille yelled at me. “WELCOME TO ROCK AM RING!,” I shouted back and started randomly moshing people away from both her and Tina.
I’ve heard that RATM is supposed to be a notoriously bad live band and I will have to admit that I was more than a little disappointed by them the last time I saw them (okay, last time had booze a plenty, pole dancing and a rowdy crowd, but the band themselves weren’t very interesting).. But quite honestly, this time around they were pretty awesome-like! The only thing I, as always, really didn’t like was Tom Morello’s trademark “Oh, look at me, I can make my guitar make really funny sounds for extended periods of time!” behavior.. I mean, we heard you the first time around, you don’t need to spend 15 minutes of a 90 minute concert showcasing the ability. That aside, it was all good, they delivered all the hits to be expected, and I dare say we all had a pretty good time. Lars especially, as he was going stark raving bonkers, jumping around, yelling and screaming, thrashing and pumping his fist. I must admit I came to a RATM show expecting to have to defend Tina against all sorts of crazy strangers, yet I left after the final notes of “Killing In The Name” being a little confused that I mostly had to watch over her to protect her from the fists and elbows of our crazed friend.. Oh well!
Getting back to camp after RATM was no fun at all. Not only were we once again stuck in an insane mess of thousands of people trying to get in opposite directions, we also managed to get separated from our friends along the way, that and I was severely dehydrated and weary after the show, as well as boiling over from heat and hyperventilating a little just for the fun of it. As such, I was actually pretty damn happy when Tina asked to borrow my hoodie for warmth. Not only because I like looking after my little friend, or because she looked pretty cute in a ridiculously oversized hoodie, but also because it probably stopped me from passing out and falling over right there and then.. So, good times, night air good.. Everybody happy! As a result of m discombobulated state of mind, I don’t really remember anything from the trek home beside a brief memory of an impossibly large group of people breaking into song to the tune of a bit of Dio being blasted at us from a tent on the way.
Things got a little better once we got back to camp and I had a drink (or seven) of water. But by then everybody were so worn out that my livening up really didn’t serve much of a purpose.
The night ended in our (mine and the girl’) tent where we all shared a goodnight beer over the stupidest game ever: Trust bingo! Which was essentially bingo, only played without numbers, tickets or anything.. Basically you had to imagine your ticket in your head, keep track of your own numbers and those of others and just trust your co-players not to cheat or lie.. It really was the most insanely stupid thing I’ve ever in my life heard of, but a few of the guys (probably owing to lack of sleep coupled with alcohol consumption) were really into it. Tina at least tried to get into it by playing the role of the cute number girl. Me, I just sulked in the corner, quaffing my beer while Pernille wanted no part of it at all and had fallen asleep in the corner. After what seemed like forever, the game came to an end with Bo being declared the winner as far as I recall, and we all decided to crawl to bed. The guys crawled back to their tents, I gently lifted Pernille back on her side of the tent and let Tina curl up on the other side and go to sleep.. And then I just sorta laid there again, listening to the sounds of the night, apparently still refusing to play the sleep game..
I lay there for quite a while, I think, when suddenly Pernille started stirring more and more as well as mumbling in an increasingly distressed manner. By the time she got to kicking her legs and mumbling “No, no!” I recognized the tell tale signs of a nightmare, grabbed her by the shoulders and gently stirred her awake. “Oh hi,” she muttered, opening her eyes and staring into mine. “You alright?,” I asked, “I think you had a bad dream.. “Yeah, yeah, no, no, I have to go take a leak.. White bunnies,” Pernille replied and half crawled, half staggered out of the tent. “Hey baby, did Pernille seem a little weird and distant to you?,” I half-assedly asked the sleeping Tina as the sound of Pernille stumbling over tent wires disappeared in the distance.. “Mmmmm..” Tina simply smiled in her sleep and curled up even tighter.. “I thought so,” I mumbled and laid back down.
After quite a while, I started actually getting a little worried about the whole Pernille situation and decided to get up and have a look around the camp for her, just in case. As luck would have it, right at this time, a huddled, confused little shape slammed into the tent and after some struggling about got the door open. “Pernille?,” I asked.. “Yes,” she replied “what happened?”.. “Umm,” was my first guess.. “I’m reasonably sure you had a nightmare, I tried to wake up and my guess is that you then went sleep-walking?” – “All I know is I woke up about five minutes ago, standing in line by the toilets,” Pernille explained as she got back in and crawled into her sleeping bag. “Well, sleepwalking it was, then” I reasoned with a laugh.
The reasonable thing to do would have been to have gone back to bed, yet for whatever reason the whole episode had gotten us chatty, so from then on, Pernille and I had our longest conversation on all of the trip about everything and nothing as is usually the case with overly tired, semi-drunk 3 AM conversations. For whatever reason, we actually ended up pulling an all-nighter just talking away which is something we ourselves didn’t even realize before the sun rose and the birds started chirping.. Oh well, I’ve probably said it before and I’ll say it again, I don’t go to Rock Am Ring to sleep.