Festival Report 2014

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

Happy birthday to you, you smelly, hellbound and absolutely wonderful festival!
Yes Copenhell, the Danish flagship of metal festivals, proudly entered its 5th year running and it did so with a blast!

In a remarkably short time Copenhell has grown immensely in length, strength and health.
Back in 2010 it all began as a small 2 day event with 17 bands playing, and now we see this young adult of a festival span 3 days (with several bonus side-events, pre- and after-parties and other forms of non-festival entertainment) and an impressive 44 bands, headlined by giants such as Iron Maiden, Twisted Sister and Denmark’s own D-A-D! If that’s not progress I don’t know what is.
Metalmoments have been with the festival now for four years, only missing out on the very first year due to other commitments, and so far we’ve tried to document the festival as best we can for you, so we hope you know a little something about it even if you yourself haven’t had the pleasure yet. Why am I writing this? Well, because this year we had the pleasure of introducing someone new to the festival, namely my brother whom in no small way has contributed to my rock and metal interest in my early years – it goes without saying that the meeting was a success and we hope to repeat it again in the future!
As always, the festival was filled with faces friendly, known and unknown. Sadly there isn’t enough time to meet all, but that will have to be rectified at a later time.

How bad can it be when the most negative thing you have to say about a festival is that you don’t have time enough?
Honestly, that is the biggest downside I can find about Copenhell – it is too well-made, with too many things to experience!
As the final day of the festival was a relaxed one for us, I did manage to squeeze in a welcome return to Smadreland, the place where you get handed a pair of gloves and security goggles and then you are set free to pick up the nearest object you can find and start smashing it into all sorts of stuff (cars, television sets, plants, paintings, etc. etc.). This year, one of the weapons was a great hammer of war, and with this you could really get some weight in behind your blows, and of course your arms were trembling for some time after.
While missing out on the tremendously fun looking axe-to-cabbage massacre in the Viking village and their open air hot-tubs, I did find time to have a go at the growl-o-meter (scoring a full pointer, hell yeah!) and winning a beer at the headbanging competition! This last event took place at a stall in the Biergarten, a place where we took in a few refreshing beverages while listening to the talents of the live karaoke band Openhell and all the brave vocalists of the crowd.
There were of course several other sideshow events going on, old favourites which returned and completely new stuff being tried out. Some of these were the wrestling ring with professional wrestlers, an arm-wrestling table where you could go up against your friends or the Danish national champion; other champions you could challenge were the female world champions of table-soccer, and if you prefer to just watch there were daily Viking battles and pyro shows taking place all around the area.

Most importantly of a festival is the music though, and for me Copenhell 2014 promised to be a very good year!
The big headliners were Iron Maiden, Twisted Sister and D-A-D – Iron Maiden needs no further introduction (and due to legal restrictions from their management they won’t get one either, neither will there be a review), Twisted Sister on the other felt as a far less safe card. This show could just as easily end up being an involuntary joke as it could be good, easier even maybe, and D-A-D was a big surprise for all, shock to some and relief to others. You see, for the longest time Copenhell had had their original 2010 headliners Megadeth on the bill but due to an unforeseen event (the death of close family) they had to drop out and the festival had to quickly find something suitably special to fill their spot – in stepped D-A-D with a once in a lifetime special No Fuel Left For The Pilgrims anniversary show! Even though I like Megadeth and agree with the complainers that they are without a doubt far more metal than their replacement, I still think this move made Copenhell a huge step more interesting than it was before.
Yet, it wasn’t with any of the headliners that I found my biggest thrills. You see, upon delving deeper into the program you could see that Copenhell 2014 had a pretty strong and varied line-up overall (with the exception of power metal for some reason), and my favourite list was Týr, finally back on Danish ground, Monster Magnet and Bad Religion, both of which I was an avid admirer back in the 90ies and both of which I had never seen live before, and My Dying Bride, who for once got to play after dark.

So far I’ve touched on the length and strength of Copenhell, but there was also a health note, wasn’t there?
Well, apart from being a desperate rhyming attempt on my side, the health side was probably most noticeable in the ever evolving nature of the food stands – while I still consider them to be too expensive overall, there is no denying that we don’t lack for options! Pancake stands, hamburgers, candy, vegetarian food, entire grilled pigs and fried pork with potatoes and parsley sauce (a classic Danish meal) and more were spread out over the area so you never had to go hungry.
Just like the festival, the festival area had also grown. As the camping ground had been moved a short way away so that it no longer lay directly adjacent to the festival area, campers could sleep more undisturbed than before, and the festival area got extra space to itself, making more room for places to hang out and chill during the day – the Viking baths were a frequented favourite, as was the large biergarten and the hill.
Especially the hill saw more life than usual because of the abnormally good weather we had, and for good reason! Here you could easily hang back and still have a good view of both main stages, and Copenhell had even put an extra bar up there this year so less running for beer was required – what’s not to like?

Really, wasn’t there anything not to like?
Well, yes, of course there were some downsides as well. You can’t hold an open air festival for a five digit amount of people without having some things that won’t appeal to all, that just wouldn’t be possible.
As I mentioned, food prices were still a bit on the high side comparing to what you got on the plate – a general cut between 10-15 DKR per dish, and things would have made more sense.
The sound on the main stages weren’t always on top either. That the wind caught it during the windier episodes of the festival is unfortunate but hard to do something about, but even in the calmer (weather that is) sections there was a notable difference between how audible bands were, especially close to the stage.
What was on top though, and I feel I come back to this every year, was the crew. Nowhere else do I see guards who are as open-minded as they are at Copenhell. They take care of us, sure, but they do it with a smile and with a very good sense of when to act and when to just let us fool around. These guys know what festival life is all about, and they deserve a hell of a lot of credit for it!
Volunteers were plenty and often seen cleaning up the mess of used beer cups (why they don’t make a refund system is still beyond me), and the bartenders were faster than ever at handing out new beers. I never stood in a line for more than a minute tops, and that’s pretty damn amazing considering the size of the festival!

There is an old folk wisdom in Denmark, proclaiming that if you’ve been good, your birthday will be sunny and if you’ve been bad it will rain – well, it may have been a bit wet when Týr opened the festival and again early Sunday, but overall I daresay we have never had a Copenhell with better weather than this.
So it goes without saying that even though it caters to the dark side of music, Copenhell is the good way to live!

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