A Spañard Goes to Hellfest 2k15: Vol. 0
11:30 PM. Bags packed. Tent set. Clothes ready. Waiting for my tutor to confirm version 1,000,000 of my final undergrad project so I can upload it and get some sleep before the 4 & 1/2 days of brutality awaiting me. Confirmation is received, project is sent.
5:00 AM – Thursday morning. Alarm clock goes off. Eyes are ostensibly sewn shut. Eat breakfast in a dazy haste before driving for an hour in the scarce pre-dawn glow to make the 7 AM bus to Clisson, France. My brother and I board the shuttle to Hell and spend the day stopping at various places along the flat French countryside and watching pitched-up DVDs of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, a really bad movie with Bruce Willis and Mos Def and an incredibly boring Kreator show. Don’t ask.
At around 5:30 PM we arrive at the festival site. I’m instantly reminded of how much I absolutely LOVE large crowds: the line to get ones bracelet and gain access to the camping grounds must be about 2,000 people (conservative estimate), so we inch our tent, bags and asses along for the better part of an hour. At least it was cloudy the whole time. Always improving things from year to year, the bracelets now have an electronic tag that you have to put up to a scanner in order to get in to the festival. Smart.
Luckily, the major benefit of arriving the day before the festival starts is that there is still plenty of camping space left within a 5 minute walk from the camp’s entrance, so it doesn’t take us long to find a decent spot to set up shop. I don’t really know how far the campsite sprawls out, and I don’t intend on finding out anytime soon. Looking around from our chosen lot, it is easy to appreciate just how much Quechua profits from festivals like this one: everyone and their brother has a Quechua tent, and there is a veritable sea of them that stretches out as far as the eye can see.
I made a point of taking a notebook along with me this year so I would remember stuff to write about it later. I didn’t take notes as frequently as I wanted to, but in the spirit of not wasting these words that I put time and effort into I’m going to include everything that’s in said notebook, unedited, in quoted text like this one:
7:30 PM – After spending all day on a bus we have our tent set up next to one inhabited by a dude in a Bolt Thrower shirt. All is well.
After resting for a bit we went to check out the Extreme Market, that is, the place where your wallet goes to commit seppuku. Anything a metalhead’s heart could desire: mostly shirts, shirts and more shirts, but also CDs, vinyl, patches, horns to drink beer out of… you name it, they probably have it. I didn’t go too overboard this year and only snagged an At the Gates shirt and an Iron Monkey one that got away from me a couple of years prior. The key to this place is getting everything you might want as soon as you can, because by Sunday most stuff is sold way out in the most requested sizes. It’s pretty much Metal Merch Mecca, and any label/brand that knows what they’re doing is here year after year. Case in point: Earache Records have been conspicuously absent for the second year in a row. I think I’m starting to see a pattern here…
Back at the campsite, resting for a bit and getting stuff organized for before going to sleep. Protip: inflatable mattresses are a life saver, HUGE improvement over sleeping bags on the floor of the tent. By the way, we could have chosen to stay at a Hotel, but Hotels are for False Metal Posers who can’t handle the intensity of the campsite. Also if you stay at a Hotel you have to take a shuttle bus that gets in at like 12 AM every day and miss a bunch of shows so screw that. Besides, if you stay at the campsite you get to participate in random shouting matches with your drunk neighbors, these usually consisting of “AMPEGOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”. This is because Emperor played last year and everyone was super excited so they kept screaming that in the campsite (“Ampego” = French for Emperor), and it looks like it’s starting to become a tradition. So with this in mind, we armed ourselves with foam earplugs and tried to get some rest for the insanity that lay ahead…
Note: Alright, so this “Day 0” intro turned out waaaay longer than I expected, so I’m going to stop here. I will be doing one post to cover each of the three days, plus possibly one additional post as a conclusion of sorts. When I said this was going to be a multi-part epic series, I meant it, motherflushers.
To be continued…