Sunday, September 1, 2013

Save my soul with Rock 'n' Roll - Rock im Pott in Gelsenkirchen

Rock im Pott, August 18 2013 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany
  • System Of A Down
  • Volbeat
  • Tenacious D
  • Casper
  • Deftones
  • Biffy Clyro
Yes, you see correctly ... Biffy Clyro at the bottom of the list in the early afternoon starters spot. Odd but true.

It was a few months ago my friends in NRW asked me if I'd want to come up there for a weekend to go to Rock im Pott to catch some live Biffy tunes. Since I could not make it to any other festival this summer to see my boys and because I ALWAYS love to spend a weekend with my friends I agreed.

Next thing we had to do was deciding what tickets to get and this is where the trouble really started. The festival was taking place in the football stadium of Schalke 04 and the tickets were zoned and in different price categories. There were expensive seated tickets at the sides, less expensive standing tickets in the north curve (opposite of the stage like in the sense of very far away) and now comes the really odd part:  the internal space was devided in front of stage (very expensive), 2nd front of stage (expensive) and back (still expensive).

We had wild discussions about where to go but finally decided for the cheapest category - the tickets opposing the stage. I felt miserable about it right away, but those tickets cost still almost 70 EUR, which is a lot for a one day festival anyway and even more when just one band is 100% your thing although I was also looking a lot forward to see Deftones, Volbeat and Tenacious D.

When I arrived in Cologne the day before the show I finally felt SUPER miserable about those tickets. Biffy in the size of lego figures is better than no Biffy - that was at least what I told myself, but nevertheless bothered everybody with my sad kid face and questions if there were any last minute upgrade options. It turned out that there were none. Oh well ...

Sunday around lunch time we arrived at the arena being grateful that the roof was closed because it rained cats and dogs. Cudos to our driver ... it's been a shitty trip both ways! Walking to our designated area I felt pretty much like Debby Downer because:  NO VIDEO SCREENS AT ALL
Biffy lego sized would become reality in 3,2,1 ...  but noooooooooo ....

At our entrance a few security people were waiting and asked us if we would have north curve tickets. We were like "Yeah?" It turned out that our area had been closed for some stuff that had to be done for a football game later that week and because the festival was not sold out (simply too expensive if you ask me) we were upgraded to the internal space of the arena. Woohoooo!
We grabbed out wrist bands and RAN since we were quite late already for the - unexpected - fight for the barrier. But before you get all excited ... I do not mean the barrier like the one in front of the stage, but the barrier that kept people with backside tickets out of the front of stage and 2nd front of stage areas. STILL - it was a significant upgrade:

Upgraded tickets for Rock im Pott 

About the Biffy show is not too much to say aside that I bet this was kind of the saddest spot on their festival schedule, I am afraid. It was early in the afternoon and lots of people were not even there. The majority of the already present fans was in Volbeat or even System Of A Down shirts and not exactly appreciative. We were singing and partying our butts off at our 3rd level barrier but we were of course way too far in the back to be noticed by the band and so it was more symbolic support. At least I saw some blow soap bubbles rising in front of the stage during "Bubbles" which means our boys had some fans at the real barrier - at least. The performance of the band was flawless as expected.

Set list:

Stingin' Belle
The Captain
Sounds Like Balloons
That Golden Rule (LOOOOVED IT!)
Many Of Horror
Black Chandelier

It was obviously too short and over before we could blink twice. I would have felt awful but with the tickets for the two headlining shows in Paris and Munich in my pocket it was not much more than just a quick personal check on the boys anyway and for that it was fine.

Gambler & Si 

Ben & James 


Do not get fooled by the zoom of my camera. The reality looked like that: 

Playmobil sized Biffy Clyro

Next up were the Deftones. I was actually keen to watch and ehem ... listen to them. The problem was I did not hear much. While the sound for Biffy can be ranked as "kinda okay", the poor Deftones sounded awful at least for us in the back. I do not think it was much better anywhere because the crowd was like "Meh?" I am really sorry for the band because I "think" they did not play a bad show. 

Since the bar in front of bus actually only served people in the 2nd front of stage area and not us in the back (lovely, huh?)  we went for a walk to get drinks and food and totally skipped the show of Casper. I have no idea why he was in the line up anyway. When I think of how long the queue for the french fries was I guess the dude played in front of a pretty empty arena. 

We went back for Tenacious D, who were a lot of fun just like you would think they are. That would have been btw way our view if we would have kept our original tickets: 

Tenacious D

I know what you think what this THING on the stage looks like. But this is Tenacious D - they want you to think exactly that. In fact it was a .... bird:

Jack Black & Tenacious D

Tenacious D were the first band who got the crowd of metal t-shirt wearing super cool dudes swinging for a little bit and they obviously have a VIP fan, because when we went a little bit more to the side of the arena and turned around this gentleman was standing right next to us watching the show: 

Volbeat's Michael Schøn Poulsen 

There were 27.000 people and half of them were in Volbeat shirts but practically nobody noticed him standing there. My friends even went end asked for a picture, what he did without hesitation being super  nice. Some of those guys in Volbeat shirts who were standing next to us later during the show almost collapsed when they heard he had been out. They did not see him although they were standing less than 5 meters away the whole time. 

The Volbeat show was really cool. It's simple and awesome Rock 'n' Roll and Schøn Poulsen's voice is totally catchy. I loved it. 

It's only Rock 'n' Roll but I like it: Volbeat / Photo: Anita Ivanković

When Volbeat were finished it was already quite late in the evening and my feet and back hurt. I am definitely too old for this. But normally a festival is outside and you can go to the beergarden section and take a break or just hang out / sit somewhere or go to the campside or whatever. This was mostly standing for hours and hours. 

Thank god they later in the day opened up the seats in the very back of the stadium and we were allowed to that area with our wristbands. So we could take in the show of System Of A Down sitting on our butts and feet up over the empty row in front of us. It is not my type of music but the sound and sight were pretty majestic to say at least:

Headliners: System Of A Down

System Of A Down from our old people seats

It was a fun day, but the organisation definitely was not okay. Lots of entrances were closed and you had to walk in the rain around the arena, the queues for food were at some times ridiculously long and lots of people were less lucky than us and were "upgraded" to shitty seats with bad sight. Video screens were badly missed all through the arena. When you were Hobbit sized like me your only chance was to go to the back and sides to see anything but people's backs and you had to deal with watching playmobil to lego sized rockers from far away.
Also zoning the internal area of the stadium to make a silly amount of money with the front of stage tickets was awful and a bad rip off. It is also totally against the natural dynamics of a festival where the crowd is circulating over the day with people going to the front of stage for their favorite band and going to the back for acts they do not need to see from close by.
As sad I was for the first hour to be behind the third barierr the happy I was later. For no money in the world I would have wanted to be in the mosh pit for Volbeat or even System Of A Down. With actual front of stage tickets I would have gone home after half the day because it would have been too crazy for me in my zone. That's stupid crap

The best thing that came out of the day - besides precious time spent with my friends and some lovely Biffy Clyro live tunes - was the result of a 5 seconds photo session of me holding my ticket:

I tweeted the pic with the #summerofbiff hashtag and right after their headliner shows at Leeds & Reading the band picked it together with a couple of shots from other fans for their summer festival online scrapbook. I am on page 6. YAY!

Bring on the fall tour and let's MAKE IT MAGICAL! 

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