Monday, June 26, 2017

louder than bombs

i'm back from rockfest! i'm badly sunburned and half-deaf and i have bruises and wounds that i don't know how i got (plus i carried back a shit ton of montebello mud on my poor boots and i even got it in my mouth at one point), but i'd do it all again in a heartbeat.

so here's how it's gonna go: this blog post will be completely about the entire rammstein experience, and tomorrow i'll do a blog post covering everything else from my rockfest trip - the other bands i saw, random observations on the weekend, et cetera. reason for this is twofold: i have a lot of feelings, and i have a lot of photos to spam you all with. breaking this madness up into two posts is the way to go here, i think.

let's start with round one:



it's funny, because the rammstein: paris concert film did exactly what it was supposed to do: make me want to see rammstein live immediately. i say it's funny because i initially went into it back in march being like "yeah, cool, i'll just spend $15 and see the film and it'll be just like being there without the huge cost!" - but then less than a week later, i was dumping $500+ to go see them live. well, fuck.

no regrets though, obviously; some rock/metal fans describe seeing rammstein live as a bucket list item, and for good reason. (i actually did hear a few people saying verbatim afterwards, "well, that's the bucket list.") there's absolutely nothing like their stage show, which i previously explained to my parents as "a wagner opera, except performed by german metal dudes with flamethrower bazookas and dick cannons". exactly this.

and although i knew it wasn't going to be exactly like the paris show - which, to be fair, was filmed five years ago, and with myriad camera angles that would give a far better view than simply from the audience - i just felt fuck, i have to see them immediately. because it's rare enough that a band is still playing after over 20 years together, let alone with the same lineup, and that generally adds to the urgency, because who knows how long they'll still be doing this?

and oh my god, having been there myself for the first time, i can now say definitively that i've never seen anything like it. never in my life. i've been going to live rock concerts for 18(!) years now, but this? this was another goddamn level.



but okay, let's back it up and begin from earlier on friday the 23rd.

i got to the rockfest grounds around noon, and i'd originally had a plan to head to the vip front stage zone area around 4-5 p.m. to try and get a good spot. this idea flew out the window when i managed to get right up to front row, stage right by 1 p.m., and i decided to be a total moron and just stay there all day. i may be a front-row ninja, but let's be clear - for a show like this, it's too tough to try and work your way up to the front. so, i took a page out of 18-year-old caitlin's book and claimed that spot early.

i stood in that spot for 11 hours, through six other bands, with only one very quick bathroom break. no food, one beer, no sitting down, the occasional soaking by rain, and a hell of a sore lower back.


(18-year-old caitlin is also responsible for the frostbite misadventure.)

but also being in front row all day afforded this random opportunity:

rammstein superfan robert - with whom i'd spent the day trying to identify which of the pyro-cannon gear was rammstein's ("this is so cool but also kind of terrifying? like, are we going to die?") - said, "i'm never washing this hand again" and i believed him. (i was also so happy for the young french couple next to me with rammstein shirts and tattoos - they had a happy birthday richard sign and he gave it/them a quick smile, and i think the girl almost burst into tears)

see, to me, being front row has always signaled that you are fucking dedicated. if you're in the very front for a band, it's pretty clear that you're insane about them, because it's very likely you've been waiting there all day. sometimes the band even notices you - and sometimes you end up in videos and photos - and that's enough motivation for me to forever be ruthless about staking out a prime spot.

but honestly, it was all worth the dehydration migraine. their stage show is such a spectacle that they even had a disclaimer up on the video screens beforehand that advised us to just enjoy the show and not focus on taping it. but then they had giant black curtains obscuring the stage during setup, and a projected countdown clock before they began, and various members descended on platforms from the stage rafters, and till had an exploding hat, and yep. camera pandemonium. (i regret that i fell prey to it a few times - being more ready to capture the pyro than i was paying attention to the songs, boooo me)

so i'd never trade front row for the world, but it can be a tough choice sometimes because the sound isn't great up front. you need to be further back to really hear everything, so i feel like maybe i didn't get the total audio experience? fingers crossed some video surfaces at some point soon (also because i want to relive it).

also, set list in order:

Ramm4
Reise, Reise
Halleluja
Zerstören
Keine Lust
Feuer Frei!
Seemann
Ich Tu Dir Weh
Du Riechst So Gut
Mein Herz Brennt
Links 2-3-4
Ich Will
Du Hast
Stripped
Sonne / Amerika / Engel

when you've got as extensive a song catalogue as rammstein does, you're bound to not be able to fit everything in a set. (they're gonna have to play "du hast" forever, though.) probably because of the family-friendly festival atmosphere, there were no dick cannons, which means "pussy" and "bück dich" were out. (funny then how "halleluja" was in the set, given that it could be their most offensive song, but you wouldn't know it unless you understood german) also no "mein teil" (too much blood?) or "mann gegen mann", both of which i'd been stoked to see. also, it's strange that they went with "seemann" for their one ballad rather than bigger singles like "ohne dich" or "mutter", but it must be good to change things up. plus that means i can always hopefully see those songs next time they play the air canada centre and bell centre (i am clearly already budgeting money for the upcoming next album's tour).

but oh god, the songs we did get. two of my absolute favourites - "reise, reise" (you are damn right i howled "aaaaaa-aaaaaaahoiiiiiii" at the top of my lungs) and "halleluja" (which i sing-screamed the whole way through, doing the prayer hands at "faltet er die hande zum gebet" and everything) right off the top. "ich tu dir weh"(!). "zerstören"(!!). so many faves i'd been dying to see live, like "mein herz brennt", "links 2-3-4", "ich will" (i danced so hard), and "du riechst so gut" (my voice gave out towards the end of this one, but at least i got to do the synchronized headbanging). and most of all, the fucking epic cover of depeche mode's "stripped", which i'd wanted to see so badly but thought i never would and then i almost started crying when i recognized that ominous opening synth. (remember what i said at the end of this blog post? it actually happened, you guys.)

oh, and the pyro. rammstein are (in)famous for it. it got very warm during "du hast" - giant pyro cannons from the floor and ceiling in front of the stage - and also with the flamethrower guitars (exactly what you'd think) in "stripped" and the head-mounted flamethrowers (exactly what they sound like) in "feuer frei!", but then during encore song "sonne", the fireballs started shooting horizontally, then up, then down repeatedly and in quick succession. (there was also pyro behind the sound booth and above the stage, i think, but i only saw it in photos/video after) it was honestly no wonder that there were fully-suited firefighters at sidestage throughout. somewhat comforting but also not.

(i also get easily freaked by sudden loud noises, so i'm proud of how well i handled all the flash pots and fireworks. "ich tu dir weh" was full of loud flash bangs.)

one thing i didn't think of while watching live videos at home was how many crowdsurfers i'd have to duck; fortunately, this is also where being front row comes in handy. at least you have something to hang on to when people go sailing over your head.

also, look - i know it's the dumbest fallacy to assume someone on stage made eye contact with you or pointed at you or acknowledged your existence (i've known enough musicians to debunk that idea, because they can't see shit in the audience half the time; though sure, they may acknowledge you if you have a good sign, which explains my early concert-going gimmick), but man, let me believe that my favourite member of the band (paul, whom i was standing directly in front of) totally looked down and smiled at me - dancing, singing in german, fist-pumping, and generally losing my mind - at one point. i want to believe! (he once said in an interview that sometimes you see someone in front who's really into the music and that feels great, so like, !!!!!)

but yeah, i have no shame in my crushes on german dudes in their fiftysomethings. they were all so hot, leave me alone.

of note: friday was a special night because, as mentioned earlier, it was guitarist richard's 50th birthday! (till announced this in really adorable, very careful french and english.) each member of the band came up hugged him in turn while we all cheered, but then richard had already left the stage with flake by the time paul came back with a bottle of champagne and a glass. so clearly, the only thing for paul to do was to smash the bottle while till took the glass of champagne, drank it, then smashed the glass as well. of course. (richard eventually came back over and hugged paul again while they both laughed about it, and it was the cutest thing ever.)

okay so that was close to the end of the show, so it's time to dump a shit-ton of photos on you! and honestly, getting these shots made it worth the day-long wait. i don't know if i'll ever take concert photos this good again. (yes, i shot the entire thing with my crappy iphone 5s. i can at least give myself props for being very good at framing shots)

i labelled which song they were during, if i could remember:


reise, reise


halleluja


halleluja


halleluja


halleluja


halleluja
(check behind the kit, schneider is fucking throwing that stick between beats)


zerstören


zerstören


keine lust


keine lust


feuer frei!


feuer frei!


feuer frei!


seemann






ich tu dir weh


ich tu dir weh
(you can see schneider mid-stick flip behind the kit in this one, too)


ich tu dir weh


ich tu dir weh


ich tu dir weh


du riechst so gut
(this picture isn't the best but i love seeing paul and richard together onstage. the vampire guitar bros are probably one of my favourite parts of this entire band)


du hast


du hast
(paul is my favourite. there is a lot of paul in these photos. i'm not sorry, i love him)


du hast


du hast


du hast


stripped


stripped


stripped


stripped


sonne


amerika


amerika


engel


engel


engel


engel

the band once said that their shows are a visual spectacle to make up for the fact that most people don't know what they're saying, so they have to hold your interest somehow. uh, mission accomplished. (there was so much dirty confetti still left on the ground by saturday.)

surprisingly, after "stripped" i think i got the most emotional at "mein herz brennt" ("my heart burns"). it's not even their saddest song, not by a long shot (that would probably be "ohne dich"? though i would make an argument for either "feuer und wasser" or "nebel"), but it's a deep, howling goth rock anthem that gets you right down to your bones. and there's a part in the performance where till, the singer, takes out a glowing heart from under his coat and holds it up just as it explodes into sparks and flames.

and oh my god, i got to see that happen live and i just about lost it.

because look, it felt like i was home again, you know? sometimes, you just feel like you're home, even if it's miles and miles away from where you were born or where you're currently living. and for me, no matter what loves or hobbies or other interests come up in my life, i'm still the girl in the front row. i'm still the girl who's been backstage, sidestage, in the van and in the studio. i'm still the girl and the last 18 years can't be taken away from me. it's all the bands that gave me a home and live music that gave me a place to belong. they've always meant more to me than anything in the world.

(but i felt the pang in my heart, and i remember what it was like to look for somewhere i could belong, and what it was like when they promised me everything, and what it was like when it all went away and i had to stand on my own two feet. and i remembered what it was like to be on the road, to never be sure what came next, to know i could just decide tomorrow, it was fine, it would be fine. but now tomorrow is here - tomorrow's been here for a while - and i feel more lost than ever. because where do you go when you're not sure which doors are still open to you, and which ones are closed forever?)

so this whole experience - plus the entire weekend at rockfest with my people - really gave me back something that i had been missing for a long time. for the first time in a long time, i felt like i was back where i was supposed to be: being so crazy in love with a rock band.

alright, that's it for the rammstein recap, thank you for indulging me. i'll be back tomorrow to detail everything else i got up to on my epic weekend trip!

[ music | none ]

1 comments:

Johnny said...

This is seriously cool. Thanks...