Getting straight into Wacken‘s motto: Rain or Shine! This year’s Wacken was surrounded by a lot of controversy. Because of severe weather and heavy rainfall loads of people were unable to join the festivities and were asked to stay home. This was a decision made by authorities and meteorologists. To ensure the festival could go through as planned people were pulled onto the campground with tractors and the first day only 25% of the campground could be used. Luckily, we were part of this 25% and could see the entire situation unfold from the inside. The rain kept pouring and the mud was knee-deep with about 40L of rain per square meter falling, there was nothing the festival organizers could do. The situation would be deemed unsafe to let more people in and people already on there way were asked to return or stay at spots that were made available for Wacken. Nearby garden centers and places that could hold a lot of people joined in to make sure that people who were already on there way could spend the night and didn’t have to travel back. That being said, Wacken wouldn’t be possible if all the people showed up.
From Monday to Sunday the festival organizers did everything in their power to make sure bands weren’t canceled and Wacken could continue and I, for one, applaud them for that. Of course, the people that had to stay at home were not happy about it and thought that the festival should be cancelled for everyone and not just them. Other festivals like Metaldays came to the aid of the people who were sadly refused to the festival by offering 500 free tickets to their festival.
Day 1 (Wednesday 2/8)
After a few days of rain and walking around the mud Wacken finally opened the holy ground and people were able to enjoy the live acts. Sadly, a few acts had to be canceled because it was still not possible for people to even attend or the weather conditions were not good enough. I had to miss a band I really wanted to see – All For Metal – because there was a really big queue to enter the festival. When I could finally enter the grounds Sable Hills was the first band I saw and they really amazed me. The metal core outfit from Japan took me by surprise with their stage performance, the songs and the fact that they were really thankful and humble that they got to play at Wacken. If you like metalcore you should really check these guys out! Up next, Ferocious Dog and, holy shit, did they put the life back into the party. One of the best folk punk bands out there right now made sure there was no one standing still, even though we were knee deep in the mud. Their mix from old folk classics and their own songs went well with the crowd at the Wackinger Village stage and brought a smile back to everyone’s face! The infield was supposed to open around 2pm on Wednesday, but because of the state it was in they couldn’t open it at that time. Some bands that were supposed to play on the infield were pushed to other stages and finally at six, the crowd got the all clear to storm the Faster and Harder stage to see UK giants Skindred take the stage. This is one of my favorite bands to see live because they always bring loads of energy on stage and their own style of metal was a great opener for the infield that day. Classics like “Ratrace” and “Nobody” along with some of their new material (new album “Smile” out 4th of august 2023) While Skindred was playing it was time for my interview with All For Metal singer Antonio Calanna which you can now check out on our Youtube page or on the website. For me, the highlight of the Wednesday were two bands and, I’m going to be honest, they both made me cry that day.
The first day of Wacken something very special happened. One of the Metal Gods who passed away a few years ago Lemmy Kilmister returned. Because of Lemmy’s love for Wacken one of his wishes was to have his ashes enshrined at Wacken. Former Motorhead band members Mikkey Dee & Phil Campbell were there for this special occasion. With this in mind Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons played Wacken later that day with a mix of their own music and, of course, some Motorhead classics. This filled my metal heart with tears and I did shed a few when they played the iconic “Ace of Spades.” The show was exactly what you would expect – some straight on kick ass rock n roll. In the next show the Queen of Metal Doro Pesch was celebrating her 40th anniversary in metal. All I can say is WOW!! The show was amazing and hits from Doro, Warlock and Motorhead songs were on the setlist. What made this so cool was that this show was full of special guests. Including Uli Jon Roth, Udo Dirkschneider, Hansi Kursch, Joey Belladona, Mikkey Dee and Phil Campbell. When this celebration of Doro’s musical work was over it was time to pay respect to Lemmy with an amazing drone show that depicted Lemmy himself looking over the crowd. What an amazing way to start the first day of Wacken.
Day 2 (Thursday 3/8)
Our day started early for another check on my 80’s metal bucket list. Vixen still rocks like they did in the 80s, and even though the lineup has had a few changes they still kick ass and it was amazing to hear “Cryin’” & “Edge of a Broken Heart” live. Up next, some more old school rock/metal with Uriah Heep with over 50 years of musical experience they only played Wacken for the 2nd time. This didn’t matter as thousands of metal heads were singing along to their classics like “Easy Livin’,” “Stealin’”, “Gypsy” and “Lady in Black.” The crowd went nuts when they played the last song and all around the festival you could hear people sing along with this majestic tune which made this a truly special moment. Swedish power metal heroes Hammerfall were up next and they brought the power to Wacken by “Any Means Necessary” (pun intended). The show was what you come to expect from Hammerfall and did not leave anyone in the crowd doubting why they are selling out shows left and right. With a mix of old and new songs the crowd absolutely loved it. One of the surprises for me this year came in the soft and amazing voice of Eivør. The talented singer from the Faroe Islands brought her folk to the Wackinger stage. The music was magical and the band was amazing. There even was a little hiccup when the drum was too cold and didn’t sound right and had to be warmed up before she could play again. If you ever get the chance to see her live you should take it. Next up, something completely different – Carpathian Forest played on the W.E.T Stage and brought back old school Norwegian black metal. I finally got to see this band live and they did not disappoint. They played “I will Follow, Knokkelmann” and their cover of Turbonegro’s “All my Friends are Dead.” It‘s a little hard to explain their music but if you’re a fan of black metal, you should definitely check them out! Now it was time for some German power metal from the legends themselves, Helloween. With their recent line up featuring all the singers that were in the band – Kai Hansen, Andi Derris and Michael Kiske. Preforming all the classics and some songs from their album “Helloween.” It’s so amazing to see all these people on the stage together and blast out all the hits together like “Dr.Stein,” “Future World,” “Keeper of the Seven Keys,” “Perfect Gentleman” and “I Want Out.” The show ended with a great drone show that showed the Helloween logo and the famous pumpkin. After a long day it was time to go back through the mud to the muddy campground and get some rest for the next day.
Day 3 (Friday 4/8)
This day started off a bit slow. Because of the mud, I was really tired and my feet and legs started to hurt a bit. So after missing out a few shows we started our journey back to the main area to see some more music. First band of the day was the Tiktok-star-turned-metal-singer, Peyton Parrish. What a voice this guy has, damn. Perfect for the folk metal scene with songs like “My Mother Told Me,” “God Of War,” “Valhalla Calling” and a great cover of Disney’s “I’ll make a Man Out of You” (Mulan). It was very cool to see him on the stage for the first time, and we can expect great things too come from him. Trivium played the main stage after that so we went to take a look. Loved the energy the band always shows when they play. Nothing much to add here but it was a solid show! In the meantime we had an interview with Dust Bolt’s Lenny which you can see on our website. Santiano played right after and they brought back the party vibe with their German retelling of folk songs. It’s great to see folk metal so highly on the list this year. I remember seeing them a few years back on a smaller stage. But they definitely earned their place among the best in German folk metal bands! Walking back to the Wackinger village stage where Icelandic band Skálmöld was playing, however, the sound was too loud and I couldn’t really enjoy it. The band sounded okay and they had a great stage presence but I had to get away because the sound was so loud it was hurting my ears. Megadeth is a delight as always the band was putting all of their energy in the songs and Dave Mustaine sounded great. It’s good to see the band still stand strong among the thrash metal greats and it’s always great to see them live. One of the headliners of the festival was up next, and it was none other than one of the biggest metal bands in the world Iron Maiden with a set list filled with old and new songs mostly from “Senjitsu” & “Somewhere Back in Time.” Topped off with some classics like “Iron Maiden,” “Fear of the Dark,” “The Trooper” and “Wasted Years.” With the entire band preforming well you can see why Iron Maiden is still one of the biggest bands in the world. It was a great show from start to finish and it also ended with a great drone show with the logo and of course the mighty Eddy. One of the best shows of the festival came in the form of folk, but not any kind of folk. I’m talking about proper Nordic folk by none other than Wardruna. WOW! I’ve seen this band a few times in my life on different locations but it’s something special to see it on the main stage at night when all you can see is the band and the occasional flames. Such a great band and it’s difficult to explain their style, singing in the Norse language, using runes in their lyrics and using traditional instruments. This was my highlight of Wacken, for sure. If you want something completely different from your average folk music you should give Wardruna a listen!
When the show ended I did watch a little bit of Bloodbath who sounded better than when I’ve seen them before, but as I was saying earlier I was really tired and didn’t see the end of their show.
Day 4 (Saturday 5/8)
The last day is here and it started to rain again. The mud that was semi-dry the days before was soaking wet again and there was no dry spot left at the entire festival. As tiring as this was, it did not stop us to see the Pegasus-riding, golden-armor-wearing Angus Mcsix. This show was a lot of fun where jokes and audience participation was a must. Power metal with a fun twist and a story through all the songs that takes you away and makes you laugh at the same time. Evil goblins coming on stage or dancing dinosaurs shooting lasers and even Pegasus that was thrown into the crowd so someone could ride it to the bar and get some beers. This was an awesome show and it brought a smile back to all our faces as we forgot the mud for a little bit. As I was waiting for an interview that eventually never happened we did miss a lot of Ensiferum and that was really a bummer because I really wanted to see them. However, we did get to see a press conference by the President of Iceland who was there to show his support for metal and for the festival. It was awesome to see a person of power openly saying they’re a metalhead and supporting the arts so much. Time for a stage filled with big yellow duckies and a Scotsman in a kilt. Alestorm made everyone forget about the mud as they played the main stage. Everyone was dancing, drinking and partying and there was nobody standing still for these pirate metal legends. The energy and power that comes from them this tour is amazing and you can really see they grew a lot as a band and are on their way to bigger things. Saltatio Mortis, one of the greats in German folk metal at this moment took over the main stage and showed why they are one of the greats. The infield was filled with partying metal heads signing along to songs like “Loki,” “Heimdall,” “Wo sind die Clowns” and “Hypa Hypa.” To make it even more special they invited a special guest on stage who was none other than Peyton Parrish. Preforming their song “God Of War” together and a nice rendition of “My Mother Told Me.” I can’t wait to see this band again, hopefully, later this year. Because the mud was a bad as it was on the first two days we decided to take it very slow today and just watch the two bands that would close off the main stage. After the announcement for next year’s festival, including Blind Guardian, Mayhem, Scorpions, Amon Amarth, In extremo, Knorkator, Pain, Motionless in White, Soil and many more. Along with a great show including drone fire and even a flying QR code. Tickets went on sale on the 6th of August and sold out just a few hours later. Two Steps from Hell performed their first ever festival show and it was such a sight to behold. A big orchestra making film music (but in a metal way). It was awesome. They are still touring Europe at the moment so you should really go to one of the shows! There’s only one way to close this festival off and that is with one of my all time favorite bands – Dropkick Murphys with their first time at Wacken. From the start this would be a different show as long time singer Al Barr was not present during the shows for a while now. But when the show started with the lonesome boatmen you could already feel the excitement in everyone’s voices. They started off with some bangers and got the crowd nice and hyped up to still enjoy the last band while it was pissing with rain. It was good to hear so many classics I haven’t heard in a while including “Worker’s Song”, “Barroom Hero,” “Skindhead on the MBTA” and “(F)lannigan’s Ball.” After missing out their show earlier this year I was so excited that they would play Wacken and they did not disappoint. This is a way to end a festival with some high energy folk punk to make sure you will still kick out a mosh or two and get you ready for the sad moments when it’s over.
So that’s it. It was six days of dragging myself through the mud to see some live music and see some old and new friends. If I have to ask myself if I would do this over again the answer would be YES! Wacken always has a special place in my heart and I really take the festival’s slogan to heart. RAIN OR SHINE.
Best bands for me this year were.
Wardruna, Dropkick Murphys, Saltatio Mortis, Peyton Parrish, Alestorm, Angus Mcsix and Doro.
If you want to check out the interviews check them out here !
If you still want to see some of the festival’s concerts you can check out the stream on : https://www.magentamusik.de/wacken-2023