Festival Report 2016

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

With the risk of revealing my hand too soon, I will start by saying that it is now clear to me that the hell section of Copenhell, stands for helluva, because that’s what’s been provided – one helluva line-up, one helluva party, one helluva time!
But, let’s try and examine it just a little bit closer, shall we?

In the beginning, there was the line-up
Once again, Copenhell needed to change dates, compared to earlier events. Why? Because they were booking Black Sabbath. Black motherfucking Sabbath! On their (how many is it now?) farewell tour! How do you like that? Good, I bet!
That wasn’t all of course. In fact, I would argue that 2016 saw the strongest line-up yet for Copenhell. Other than Black Sabbath, the roster held several big names, such as Scorpions, Megadeth, Amon Amarth, and Alice Cooper, and even more mid-sized and small artists. All in all, this was a line-up that no one could argue with, and truly, there has never before been as quiet among the internet whiners, as there was this year. Likewise, it is no wonder that the festival sold out.

If you build it, they will come
Having seen what happens when a lot of people gather in small spaces, and with the knowledge of a sold out festival in mind, Copenhell saw fit to further improve the infrastructure of the festival. I’m not sure if there were more shuttle busses than previous years, but there were always a lot of them ready, especially so in the night time, and the want and need for an easy getaway is overwhelming and imperative. Thank you so much for that!
Moving along, there was also set heavily in on reducing queues when entering the festival. First of all, the success of having a day for getting your wristband on before the festival actually opens, was visited once more, again in the pleasant setting of the yard outside Pumpehuset, Copenhagen. This meant less waiting, when actually at the festival site, wanting to get in.
The entrance had also been widened, to accommodate more visitors at a time, not once during the three days in hell was there a problem for us getting inside.
When we actually got inside, the festival grounds had also been further improved. The much loved biergarten had moved to a location closer to the entrance, and had increased in size as well.
The best part though, was the opening of a new area. It was called Styx, it held several food stands and bars, it was placed next to the Hades stage, and, most importantly of all, was the beginning/end of a new easy access road stretching between the Hades stage and the Pandæmonium stage! No more bottlenecks with people going all the way across Helvíti and around the entire festival grounds to get from one of these stages to the other. So what if it was momentarily closed occasionally, when bands were transported to and fro the stage area? It only lasted a minute at a time, tops, and for the rest of the day, it was perfection.

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here
Or don’t. In fact, my hopes had never been higher for the festival, than they were this year. All the new things to explore, all the bands we were going to see, all the people we would meet. Ah yes, there was no abandoning of hope from this reporter. Even the announced rain and thunder was acting more like blazing sun and blue skies.
Our opening act, the band that got to kick the festival off for us, was none other than Germany’s premium bard constellation – Blind Guardian! While it was a bit sad that they were booked this early, so we didn’t have more time at the festival, to look forward to their concert, they managed to make us forget all about that for a time, while safely guiding us through magical forests and dark passages. We didn’t know it at the time, but Hansi Kürsch and his merry men actually delivered the best concert of the day, right then and there.
As should have been foreseen, much of the first day was spent overindulging. You know the problem; it’s been a long time since your last festival, up to a year for some, and now it is time to make up for lost time. That means throwing yourself out into ridiculous situations, which you should know will come back and bite you in the ass later on. Like being a bit too frequent a guest in the bar. You get the picture, I’m sure.
It didn’t help that the promised wet weather finally made an appearance about halfway through the day, and got really aggressive as the evening wore on. It really didn’t help that the main act of the day, Scorpions was insanely underwhelming, and snagged the worst concert of the festival right there. This time, there was no “we didn’t know it at the time” – we knew! Oh boy, we knew…
And so, tired, drunk, and wet, we had to choose between Gutterdämmerung or sleep. I had been really looking forward to seeing what Gutterdämmerung was all about, and we gave it a shot, but only a short way, we had to admit that there was no way we could handle more this day. Oh well, light was only a couple of hours away from breaking on a new day anyway, so we might as well get prepared for that.

A new day did break, and even though the body was in a sour mood, one quick look at the program convinced us that it was time to leave for the festival again. Did I mention what a blessing it is to have this festival practically in our own backyard?
Anyway, the program on the second day was not in any way less epic that that of the first. We had actually planned on revisiting Sólstafir, but had to cancel that plan due to waking up and other such nonsense. Instead, Amon Amarth was the band that roared the day into action for us, and what a roar it was! Of course, it wasn’t a problem that the roar was helped along by L.G. Petrov (Entombed A.D.).
Here, I suppose, I should give a shoutout to those artists that stood out especially well this day, but you know what? I can’t. The day was that good. Instead I’ll stick to saying that we were a bit saddened to see that Abbath and Artillery were overlapping each other slightly. And of course, we couldn’t leave Abbath. Who could?

Moving along to the awaited, and dreaded, final day of the festival, Copenhell once again had a busy schedule planned out for us. The almighty Black Sabbath was headlining the day, the festival, the everything they came in touch with, but before that, there were several distinct and different paths to go down. We chose to open together with yet another Swedish band (we don’t know much, but musically we kick ass!), Clawfinger, and it turned out that it was a stroke of pure genius from the festivals’ side to have them open the Helvíti stage. They got the party started so hard it was near impossible to see where we could go from here! So, we went to the bar.
Seriously though, Saturday at Copenhell was a great day. It had the best weather of the whole festival, the line-up was still strong, and yet there was a bit of time to hang out as well. Oh, and do you remember that opening day at Pumpehuset I mentioned earlier? Well, here’s a funny thing. The car-renting business called Lej Et Lig had a hearse standing there, that you could have your picture taken with. It was all a part of a competition, in which you could win free beer, and who wouldn’t want to participate in that? I know I would, so I did, and apparently, I won! A quick and pleasant meet-up with the good people who had organized the competition, and I was now one lucky bastard heading fast for the nearest bar! What could possibly go wrong?

This will be my final chapter
Feeling tired and broken, we staggered out with the zombie lines leaving the festival, as the sun was rising. Tired and broken, but filled to the brim with gratitude. And what should greet us on our way out, but a huge sign stating “Thanks – see you next year! 22-23-24 June, 2017”. Hell yes, we’ll be seeing each other next year! After all, Copenhell is at the moment the top ranking festival here at the Metalmoments headquarters.
After all, it is a festival that was working impressively well already in the beginning, and has yet strived to better itself every year, and managed to do so, if I may be so bold. The infrastructure mentioned earlier is smooth as hell (pun intended), the people working there, which I apparently give a shoutout to in every festival report, deserves yet another accolade this year. Always smiling, friendly, and helpful to the best of their abilities, they let people party the way they want to, and are calmly overseeing it to be able to thwart off any danger. That’s what guards are supposed to do, that’s what almost all guards we’ve encountered around Europe have failed to realize, but never here. This is such a well-oiled machine, it’s almost scary.
Having said that, there is always room for improvement. Toilet facilities have improved, yes, but there is still some way to go until we reach perfection – something closer to the Helvíti stage would be wonderful, maybe up towards the hill?
There is an impressive variation among the food stands, but in most places and instances, prices are still a bit steep compared to what you’re getting. For me, Butcher Boy served up a nice and warming chili known as Satan’s Stew, which got to be my favourite meal.
On the other hand, the bar staff was at the top of their game most of the time, and except for one time over at the Pandæmonium stage, I never experienced any long queues.
All the fun activities were still around, now added on with a nice exhibit area, where you could look at pictures and read a bit about the history of metal, and how it has been influenced by changes in society. Good stuff for that relaxing moment, if ever you found one. Another choice would be to visit the biergarten, and see a show by The Maniac from Pain Solution. That guy had completely reinvented his show, and was a painful, toe-cringing delight to watch once again. Here’s hoping he’ll be back for yet another year.

And the story ends…
So, if you’ve stuck around long enough to get all the way down here, you will already have a pretty darn good idea about how we here at Metalmoments feel about Copenhell in general, and about the 2016 edition in particular. The only thing left to say is, remember to check our individual band reviews, and we’ll see you in hell – 2017!

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