TOUR TALES # 7 – STAY STRONG
The music festival has always been a sort of coming of age rite since the first people discovered that mixing alcohol with loud noise (and sometimes hallucinogens… ok at least half the time) was a great idea. And who could blame them? If it wasn’t for that random red solo cup filled to the brim with dark red liquid handed to you to partake of while Motorhead raged through their set, how else could you properly enjoy your summer? Actually.. I think that was Deep Purple. Ok, it was definitely for Deep Purple. And did I ever regret it at the time. Although, I did lose my passport during a Motorhead show, but that’s another story…
Yes the music festival is something we can all agree on in its various forms. You can, in the blink of an eye, forget everything that happened in your 20’s as I am sure many have or are currently in the middle of.
This particular installment of Tour Tales sees my first visit to blessed Germany and the first time I performed at a massive festival called Wacken Open Air. I was 23, I had just discovered Germany’s 10/10 public consumption laws and I was in possession of a medium-clearance VIP wristband that allowed me access to almost all areas of the festival grounds. Basically I got handed the keys to my very own alcohol-soaked theme park.
When you have been in the circuit for a few years, you will begin to learn who is who as well as make a variety of friends in a variety of bands. Such was the case was when I went to see my buddy perform on one of the main stages at the festival in the middle of the afternoon. They must have had a crowd of 50,000 people watching them and I was in the middle of them all. During the middle of the set, the entire crowd dropped to their asses and pretended to row an imaginary ship. It was completely bizarre how everyone just dropped at once like they had all had a conversation about it beforehand. Regardless of where that came from, I was the only person in the middle of 50000 people standing on my feet. My buddy immediately saw me and pointed at me and motioned “drinks after our show backstage”. Hell fucking yes.
So I went backstage with my drummer and we immediately found him next to the VIP shuttle drop off with an armload of cold canned Captain and Cokes. It was sunny, warm and we were half drunk. We had found our friend and we had an entire afternoon to hang out.
Now our buddy was in one of the larger bands on that festival, so he had the high-level security access wristband. This allowed him to get into the headliner artist village area where they had 24/7 spas and handlers, unlimited food and drinks and everything else pertaining to the average rock star’s daily needs. Unfortunately we were not allowed among these gods of people so we decided to continue hanging out in front of it while our buddy kept making drink trips every 15 minutes into the artist village. What a sweetheart.
We met everyone. As we stood there getting increasingly drunk, we met and charted with Doro, the guys in Trivium, two of the guys in Rammstein, Chris fucking Jericho (who was over the moon for the fact we were Canadian and invited us backstage to his show that night) among many other household names in rock and metal.
The entire afternoon went by in a massive blur and I was completely elated by the time our buddy had to leave for a signing session his band was doing. He realized he hadn’t done anything but drink rum and coke for 5 hours straight so he handed me a few euros to grab him a schnitzel sandwich and left us.
I grabbed the schnitzel and a couple cups full of mead and headed for the rear entrance of the signing tent where the whole band were seated doing autographs and pictures with a lineup of about 1000 people.
When I entered the tent I handed him the food and he handed me a marker. ‘Sit down and start signing’ he said. So I did.
And I sat there for about the better part of an hour signing autographs and CDs and peoples arms. The best part is nobody even realized I wasn’t in their band. They just kept getting me to sign their posters that I wasn’t pictured on and CDs that I didn’t have anything to do with as excitedly as they got the lead vocalist to. My drummer and guitarist sat behind me laughing in a drunken hysteria throughout the whole thing.
The last thing I remember in that hazy afternoon was signing a dudes forehead, and in capital letters “STAY STRONG”.
The moral here is that I was once a big man child (not discounting the fact that I would probably do that again in a heartbeat) and there are hundreds of pieces of this band’s merchandise probably spread all over Europe with my signature scrawled across it. Also, yay European festivals!
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