Henry Rollins: The Column! German Metal Festival Time
[Look for your weekly fix from the one and only Henry Rollins right here on West Coast Sound every Thursday, and come back tomorrow for the awesomely annotated playlist for his Saturday KCRW broadcast.]
Since I last wrote you, I have been living in hotels, hitting festival stages and spending a lot of time in airports.
I did two shows at the massive Wacken Open Air, a heavy metal festival in Germany. Eighty thousand metal maniacs live together for a few days every year on beautiful rolling fields of farmland to commune with nature and the sounds of crushing music. One of the unenforced rules is that you must wear a black T-shirt.
I like being around music people. At the risk of sounding patronizing or broad-brushing, metal fans are some of the coolest, most nonjudgmental people you will find. The Wacken festival started more than 20 years ago with just a few hundred people in attendance. Tickets now sell out before the lineup is announced.
On the second day I was there, the posters for Wacken 2013 were already up. Although I have no stake in the festival, I felt strangely optimistic about that. I met a lot of great people, real music lovers, true believers. To make things even better, a smoke machine was billowing before I went out onstage.
The older I get, the more I enjoy the environs of music festivals. I have been performing at them, with a band or alone as I am doing now, for more than 25 years. I like the idea that people of similar age and interests can meet, exchange ideas and see that they are part of something bigger than their own youth. All these people brought together by music -- this is the real stuff of life and it's one of the best parts of my tour.
So far, the best part of this brief festival run happened two nights ago in Katowice, Poland. After my show at Wacken, I went from the site back into Hamburg and to the airport. I flew from Hamburg to Frankfurt and jammed to my next flight to Katowice. Upon arrival, there was a man waiting to pick me up, just as the Scottish bright light Henry McGroggan and I had planned it several days before. As I jumped into the car, I asked him if he knew where to take me. He said he did and off we went.
Several minutes later, we arrive at the Off Festival site. I run from the car and up the stairs of the main stage. Security personnel smile as they lift the tape. Henry M. is waiting. After we exchange greetings, he points to the spot that has been saved for me, and I find myself standing as I have many times in many countries before: stage left during a Stooges set. Henry, the band's manager, has kindly facilitated this vantage point for me.