We all have that particular something that helps us to temporarily disconnect from whatever’s going on, or even reset whenever it’s needed. Whether you’re traveling or not, there’ll be a point in which you say to yourself “shit, I could use a party/concert/whatever.” And getting your fix is even better, and arguably more necessary, if your kick just so happens to be your passion. In my case that’d be Metal. A good Metal show is the best thing there is to release stress—as paradoxical as that might sound to some of you. And Party.San Open Air couldn’t have come at a better time than now, since I’m in the middle of renewing my visa—and believe you me, that can be pretty exhausting.
Still here? Good. We Metalheads have a disproportionately bad reputation for some reason, but in reality we’re a pretty friendly and cohesive bunch. Metal has been part of my life for a very long time—ever since I first came across Metallica’s …And justice for all when I was like 10. All the way through middle school, all the way through high school. This shit don’t stop. Can’t stop. Won’t stop.
Anyway, I go to shows often because I live in Berlin and there’s a great scene here, but I also try to go to at least one festival a year. This year I tried a new one: Party.San Open Air. Before that I had only been to Obscene Extreme in the Czech Republic (read all about it here). Obscene Extreme is a different kind of festival, though: It’s a Grindcore festival, and even though half of the bands on the billing are Metal (Thrash, Death, etc…), the other half are Grindcore and Crust Punk.
Party.San is a proper Metal festival. Their lineups are always super solid, yet also a bit more eclectic—also featuring bands from beyond the extreme Metal spectrum, which I personally don’t really like, but am aware of the fact that festivals ought to include a little something for everybody. While this year there were some bands I literally had zero interest in, such as Equilibrium, I was so into the billing that, knowing I would miss Obscene Extreme, I said to myself that I would finally go see what the fuzz was all about.
Dylan, his buddy Martin, and yours truly loaded the car and left Leipzig at 10 am. Our destination was Schlotheim, in Thuringia. Funnily enough, the coat of arms of this town in the middle of nowhere in the former Eastern Germany is a pentagram.
The closer we got, the more cars full of Metalheads we saw on the road. They were all going to Party.San, which is held yearly since 1996.This year’s lineup was full of great (and sometimes legendary) bands: Carcass, Mgla, Sodom, Grave, Deströyer 666, At the Gates, and Wolfbrigade. There was another stage, where more underground bands played—and I probably spent more time there than at the main stage. There were A LOT of great bands at the tent stage: Graveyard, Ered, Mor Dagor, Implore, Bombs of Hades, Rebaelliun. I was glad to see a bit of Crust Punk represented at the festival by Wolfbrigade too.
Beer and food prices were surprisingly decent, but the Metal market was hit and miss since it combined the best underground Death and Black Metal labels with the most mainstream crap one could find.
As always in Metal festivals in Europe, it was great to meet people from all over the world. Granted most people there were German, there were bands from everywhere in Europe and the Americas. Latin Americans where, as always, out in force announcing where they were from with their flags: Chile, Bolivia, Mexico (For some reason it’s always mostly Latin Americans who do that at festivals).
The atmosphere at such festivals is usually friendly. Though there are always many people who take this shit way too seriously and don’t talk or smile, almost everybody goes there to have a good time, party, and make friends. Traveling in general if you’re a Metalhead is great: You can make friends with people wherever you are just based on your choice of t-shirt, and exploring the differences and similitudes of Metal all over the world is pretty interesting. And you’ll always find someone to drink a beer or ten with.
I had a great time, even though it was rainy on both Thursday and Friday. The lineup on Friday was super strong, and I really enjoyed it—maybe a little too much, since by 7pm I had to go lay down. I took a nap and went back to the festival to check out Grindcore legends Carcass, and then stayed in the tent drinking with my German, American, and Catalan friends.
Saturday was just perfect. Good weather, no hangover (though I deserved one), and a good lineup. It was also my last day as a 31 year old. Plus, I finally got to see German Thrash Metal legends Sodom. Sodom was one of my favorite bands when I was in high school, and they played a lot of classic songs. It was magical. At the Gates hit the stage afterward. Though I’m not into their style of Death Metal (Gothenburg Death Metal), I am partial toward At the Gates mainly because of Thomas Lindberg. The guy is legit, and I love what he’s done with Disfear and Lockup. And I turned 32 when they started playing!
The way back to Berlin was eventful because one of the vans of the bands I traveled back with wouldn’t start. Twice. I drove in Ered’s van as part of a 3-car caravan taking them, Graveyard, and Balmog to the German capital. By the time I got back home I was so beat I couldn’t think of anything but sleeping. But then I thought to myself “fuck it, it’s my birthday. I should go to the show tonight.” And so I went to see Graveyard, Ered, And Balmog at a squat.
The next day was a Monday, my alarm went off, I somehow managed to wake up, and headed to the office feeling extremely tired but like a new man.
Highlights: Sodom, Carcass, Bombs of Hades, Implore, Graveyard
Discoveries: Mor Dagor, somehow Goatwhore
Disappointments: Mgla (but only because it was pretty windy and I couldn’t hear anything) and missing Dying Fetus
Have you ever been to a Metal festival? I assume most of my readers are not into Metal at all but hey, you never know.
Greetings from Berlin, Seb