By Joan Pabón and Stefanie Natzius
Known as one of the biggest Festivals in the world, Wacken Open Air has become a must for Metalheads due to the amount of bands and the level of organization they have reached to take over 80.000 people to a very small town in Northern Germany. After the long Corona pause, they came back with a vengeance and a huge variety of bands.
The line-up for Wacken Open Air 2022 was nothing short of phenomenal. It was a melting pot of diverse metal genres, featuring both legendary bands and rising stars. Whether you were into classic heavy metal, brutal death metal, or progressive metal, there was something for everyone. The organizers did a fantastic job of curating a line-up that catered to all tastes, ensuring that every attendee got their dose of headbanging goodness. The last minute cancellation of Limp Bizkit was a let-down for some people but there were enough bands to forget about the mishap.
Normally, Wacken would start on Thursday, but the 2022 edition offered a special “Wacken Wednesday” ticket which could be purchased separately. This was a nice warm-up for the coming days since less people could be seen around the campus. Only the louder stage would be open for this occasion and we got to have a first taste of what would come in the next days.
Brothers of Metal
The Swedish band brought their Viking roots to the stage with full speed. Some minor sound issues were noticed but they could still deliver the goods. The three vocalists make a great combination of melody, power and epic melodies that can make us dream of Valhalla.
One of the most awaited come backs after the departure of the charismatic Angus McFife (which now has his own band, Angus McSix). Unfortunately, the guys had issues at Hamburg airport so the audience had to be patient to hear them with their new vocalist. They finally arrived and could deliver a shorter set, although they didn’t have time to unpack their banner. A good sound and interaction with the audience characterised their performance, but people still need time to get used to the new line up.
Not much needs to be said about this band. Amazing sound, perfect execution and a direct interaction with the audience are always a highlight when Epica plays. Even though they tried to cover all their greatest hits, the set felt a bit short. But this is always the case at festivals since each band has to stick to a specified time. The pyro was insane, including two big metal snakes at each side of the stage that were also breathing fire and the keyboardist got in the photo pit which let everyone see his cool bent keyboard in detail. Amazing!
The most anticipated act of the day, and one of the reasons that motivated many people to buy the extra ticket for Wednesday. Tobias Sammet’s metal opera has the most unique line up in terms of singers so nothing can go wrong here. Impeccable sound and a wide range of songs from their latest album to their origins. The best closing for a great day of Metal.
Wacken Wednesday was over and many people wondered if this would be the start of a 4-day festival. We headed to our tent and got ready for the first official day of W:O:A.
Day 1: Thursday
The first day of Wacken Open Air 2022 kicked off with a bang, setting the tone for an epic metal extravaganza. The anticipation was high as attendees flooded into the festival grounds, eager to witness the magic unfold. The day started with some fantastic performances on the smaller stages, showcasing talented up-and-coming bands from various metal subgenres. The Wacken Metal Battle would develop in parallel to all programmed concerts, bringing small bands from around 30 countries to play and compete in front of this global audience.
Joan had the chance to play with his band Tragedian, so we could have an insider’s look behind the stage.
Speaking of organization, Wacken are experts in making sure that all bands are taken care of, no matter the size. Unlike other European festivals, they give the chance to smaller bands to play in their different stages offering the best sound and conditions.
For Tragedian, the Wasteland stage was chosen. Festival staff transported all band members from the camping zone to the stage before the show. Timings for all the bands were very strict, but there was enough time to prepare and the staff was super helpful.
In spite of the heat, people continued gathering around the stage and the metal brotherhood could be felt all over the place. Although many people were watching Tragedian for the first time, they greeted them as if they already knew the songs and enjoyed the performance.
After the show, the band was transported to the artist village, in which backstage rooms and showers were available for all bands. Tragedian members could also choose their preferred meal in the catering zone, in which all kinds of food could be found, from vegan to steak. Later, Wacken staff would take the band to the meet-and-greet area in which they had the chance to meet some new and old fans, while King Diamond could be heard in the background.
If you have a band and you dream of playing at Wacken, it is possible! Just get in touch with the Wacken foundation who are happy to support all Metal bands!
Day 2: Friday
Days at Wacken start at different times depending on each person’s choice. We headed to the press tent around 3 p.m. and got the chance to hear something unusual: an “a cappela” band called Metaklapa who brought back to life some metal classics through their voices.
After this performance, it was time for the founders of the festival, Thomas Jensen and Holger Hübner, to share information about the Wacken Metal battle. The objective of the battles is clear: giving the chance to local metal bands from all over the world to step up by joining the festival and helping them grow. Until now, they have been able to organize the contest in around 30 countries but they revealed that their mission is to expand the number to over 100 countries! So, no matter where you are reading this from, you could also get the chance to play at Wacken.
Then, we headed to the Wickinger Stage, which is one of the coolest areas of the festivals. Viking and middle-age history is celebrated around the stage and you can grab a glass of mead to sing to the Northern gods.
From Vikings to dwarves, this is the perfect transition. Like coming out of a Lord of the Rings movie, the Italian band engaged the audience on their quest for gold and beer. If you’re into Power Metal and Dungeons & Dragons, you should not miss this band next time they’re in town.
In English, their name is translated to “Fire snake” and they surely live up to their name. Medieval folk meets metal and a circus; a great show that takes you to ancient times, even if you can’t speak German.
The rest of the night was all about sharing with new friends eating and drinking around the bonfires!
Day 3: Saturday
As the final day of Wacken Open Air 2022 arrived, there was a bittersweet feeling in the air. The festival had been an incredible journey, and this day was all about celebrating the grand finale. We headed to the camping area and the Wacken town. On the way there, we shared some impressions with fans from the World Metal Camp. From Argentina to Norway, people from many different countries could be found there, and a mixture of languages and Metal was in the air.
After checking the town and trying some local food, we went back to the festival area.
Such an amount of musicians and instruments on stage must be a challenge for the sound staff, and we could confirm this was the case, since the band had to deal with some technical difficulties that took away part of their stage time. Nevertheless, the audience didn’t lose hope to hear the classical pieces mixed with Metal that Haggard are known for. Finally, they were able to play and deliver all the classics. Great performance and musicianship, as always.
Fire in the Wasteland
No worries, no accident happened there. We did see a live fire show which was really cool and it’s one of the many side acts that Wacken has to offer.
The night ended for us after the big announcement: Wacken Open Air 2023 would have a Viking theme and it would be extended to 4 days! We celebrated with some mead and later joined the closing act.
Source of the image: https://www.wacken.com/en/news-details/waiting-list-for-woa-2023-started/
Winners of Eurovision 2006, the Finnish band was the perfect closing for the “horror” edition with their outfits and bloody show (as in “they use fake blood”). However, the energy of the audience was not so high anymore (which makes sense after 4 days of concerts). All in all, it was a good performance but some people expected a more powerful band to close the fest.
Wacken Open Air is not just about the music; it's about the entire experience. The festival grounds were well-organized, with multiple stages, food stalls, and merchandise stands. Despite the massive crowd, the logistics were handled efficiently, ensuring a smooth flow of people and minimal waiting times. The sense of community was strong, with metalheads from all over the world coming together to celebrate our shared passion.
What we could confirm, not only from the line-up but also from the organizer's point of view, is that Wacken Open Air is mainly focused on helping smaller Metal bands to grow and on keeping the flame of Metal alive. Something many other big festivals around the world should learn about: small and local bands are the future of Metal.
We can’t wait for the 2023 edition and we hope you join us in that trip to Valhalla!
Follow their webpage for more info: https://www.wacken.com/en/