Festival Report 2011

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

Another year has come and gone, and gone is also one more Metalcamp, the longest festival I’ve heard of, and also the one located in the most beautiful, relaxing surroundings. Tolmin, Slovenia people, you’d do well in remembering this place...

Yes, for no less than the sixth year in a row I have visited this fairyland like place, where hell reigns supreme for a week every year. Some things have changed a lot over time, others not so much.
From what I gather, the festival had a new line of organizers behind it this year, and they of course had to cut their teeth at running the show. In some instances, it could be seen that they were new at this, and in other areas they had done some very agreeable decisions I must say.

The opening hour of the festival felt a bit odd to say the least, being exactly at midnight between Sunday and Monday, but I guess it was to truly live up to the “week of hell over paradise” motto. I still can’t imagine many people sitting outside the gates in the middle of the night just to be the first ones in though; I know we weren’t (though this was in part because we were travelling directly from another festival to come down here).
Still, we arrived in the early afternoon and still had plenty of day to get settled (out of pure coincidence we ended up right next door to some cool German and Israeli people we run into from time to time), meet our good semi-Danish friends Laura and Fredrik with whom we shared our first (of many) ice cold Laško at one of the bars of the town. After this it was time for some grub, at which point we steered our feet to our favourite pizza place in the world, where we got our first Tolminska of the year as well. Oh, how I have longed for this moment during those long, cold winter months we’ve been away from here (yes, apparently everything except for this one week is winter-time...). I was a bit surprised at seeing that almost all of the staff had been changed, at least on the waiter-side, and the young girls now working here didn’t seem completely prepared for the hordes of metalheads which were ahead of them, but hey, they had a week to learn, right?
After this, there was only one thing left to explore, and if you’ve ever visited this festival yourself, or at least have read my chronicles from earlier years, there can be no doubt in your mind what this one thing is.
Did I hear someone say music? Dear God, no! I am of course speaking of the beach bar!
Sliding into the seductively compelling yet icy cold waters of the Soča is without a doubt the best way in the world to counter the massive heat the weather had to offer! We also came well prepared this year, bringing along a new friend in Birk (a.k.a. The Bathing Bastard!), a massively long inflatable caterpillar. Sadly, the riverbeds had once again been redesigned from last year, so the current wasn’t nearly as impressive as it has been; surely all well and good for the common bather, but for us with a little more adventure in our blood who were looking forward to re-emerge in the rafting games we had created last year it was a bit of a let-down.
Still, we managed to have lots of fun anyway, and also ran into some more friends along the way, the mighty Scotsman Stuart and the mates he had brought along from across the globe.
At the end of the day, I got that same old feeling I know I have felt before at times like these; at this place, the concerts aren’t even necessary, the place and all the people you meet have it all and the bands are just a bonus! Still, the next day held some pretty cool names on the line-up which I was looking forward to as well, and I wasn’t about to miss this either.

I will try not to bore you with too many repetitions, even though many days did go after a pretty familiar plan; first off to the town, and more precisely the Metal Grill, which is located at the bottom of the Baron Bar, for some breakfast. Here we were greeted by a familiar, smiling face; our long-time friendly waitress of the Tmin (the pizza place I mentioned earlier), who had now changed her working area to this place. Usually, we’d go for the nice toast which we became familiar with last year, but this year that had been changed to a lovely plate of pancakes instead.
After this, a visit o the library for some internet and work time isn’t uncommon, until lunch-time arrives. Here we have gone through a variety of places, all serving quality grub, but we always end up returning to the Tmin, which in my eyes certainly has not only my favourite dishes, led by the mighty Tolminska but with several fine alternatives as well, but also the best price/amount ratio in town.
Anyway, after this our feet usually lead us back down to the Soča and the beach bar before the music of the day begins; thankfully, the music at this festival doesn’t begin until midway through the afternoon, so there’s plenty of time for whatever other events you want to spend some time on. Oh, and need I mention that Laško is a welcome guest at any and all of the things I mentioned (except for the library that is)?

Well, this year the musical part of the party kicked off with a heavy boot to the groin for us, generously handed out by none other than Brujeria, the Mexican drug lords of death, and boy did they ever get a party started? Yes they did, and I can hardly imagine anyone doing a better job off it, even though this was also an experience I would have had no problem in savouring a little longer as well.
Actually, the first day turned out to hold quite a few of the bands I was looking the most forward to on this year’s program; in addition to Brujeria, there was also Moonspell and Death Angel, both ready and willing to kick some Slovenian ass!
Other than these three, there were quite a lot to be excited about on the running order as well; some of the really heavy names were Blind Guardian, Slayer and Kreator, the latter which can nearly be considered a Metalcamp house-band by this time as it was their fourth time visiting. Smaller, yet in no way lesser, bands counted several points of interest, among which I might pick out Wintersun (also a known guest of this festival), Moonsorrow (highly recommended by friends) and also a happy revisit to the dog pound where Powerwolf reigns supreme.

Yet with all of this, I couldn’t help but get upset with my favourite festival as well.
With a new organisation comes new rules, and above all, new people. Some of these were the guards, and during the first day they proved to be unfriendly, uncaring and power-tripping to say the least! Through the years, I’ve seen several changes in the security, but this one quickly proved to be the worst one yet, by far!
Thankfully, some kind soul took it upon himself/herself to contact the festival top about the matter, bless his/her soul, and for the rest of the festival things were running rather smoothly.
Still, I did mention positive changes as well, did I not? Yes I did, and the chief of these, the big blessing of the year if you will, was that, praise the Lord in heaven and sing Hallelujah, my beloved Laško was back as the official festival beer! I know it was only for one year it was gone, but I myself, and several others I know of, missed it sorely...

So, what about it then?
Well, what can I say? Glasses were raised, with friends I’ve already mentioned, with the Olympic drinking team of Milan; Davide, Bianca, Luca and all the new faces, and also with several others whom we gladly run into each and every year down here. Metalcamp is one camp well worth its name, and the crowd certainly plays a very big part in making this happen!
But what would Metalcamp be without metal? A camp yes, and a highly enjoyable one at that I’m sure, but it would not be the same. My fondest memories of this year were given by Brujeria and Kreator, who both played stellar shows, but there were several other great ones as well, Powerwolf and Moonsorrow to name some of the top.
Other entertainment was given as well, and this year I tried out the beach bar after hours strip show. Sadly, not very exciting if you ask me, but it was there, and so were several drunken metalheads who gladly cheered the skinny girls on stage.
I much preferred the relaxing, yet entertaining water activities of the day, and the good company we held. Maybe I’m getting old? No, that can’t be it...

I could probably go on for a long time about technical details, describing how I would have preferred the big screens to show something useful, like a running order, instead of band commercials between shows, and how the same silly effects (again on the large screens) were given to all of the bands instead of just showing what was going on on stage, but why use up your time and mine about ranting about such trivial matters?
I do hope however, that I have been able to give you access to some of the feeling, the spirit of the festival, and who knows, maybe someday I’ll meet you out there between the Slovenian Alps for some heavy fucking metal? It is a place well worth visiting at least, and I’m sure I’ll be back again...

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