Rabarock 2009 - Järvakandi, Estonia, 12th-13th June
Rabarock 2009 - Järvakandi, Estonia, 12-13.06.2009 by Ivor (175)
To all the girls reading this - I apologize in advance (but I don't really mean it).
Day 1: Genesis
I reckon that on the subconscious level at least, I knew beforehand that this year's Rabarock festival was going to be a series of failures on a personal level. The fact that I had spent the last month and a half studying for my exams, and that I had managed to consume only negligible amounts of alcohol during that time, contributed to the sense of imminent doom as we boarded our bus in Tallinn. Another issue was the line up for the festival - because Rabarock tries to cater to as wide of an audience as possible, there were quite a few bands on the bill that I had decided to ignore from the get-go. Among them was Gary Numan, one of the headlining acts. To be quite honest there was but one band that I was obsessively seeking to catch, and that band was Anthrax. My devotion to this cause would be scrutinized on the second day of the festival.
Speaking of the row of mishaps (for some of which I could be held personally accountable), they started as soon as we had stepped off our bus and occupied a campsite near to the festival gates (another miscalculation that would prove disastrous later on). The girl I was traveling with had insisted on bringing her own tent. Being a woman, she obviously failed to check if the tent had all the critical structural components before leaving home, and thus we missed three bands waiting for a replacement. For easy referencing and anonymity purposes I shall henceforth refer to her as Satan. After an hour of continuous mocking I resorted to Victorian era tactics and made Satan bring me food. I sent a text message oozing with Platonic love to a man-friend of mine describing my miserable situation. His reply aptly summed up all my feelings about the whole thing:
"I'm both humored and sad, but not surprised."
As amusing and reassuring the message was for my über-manliness, I was still upset about having missed Viikate, so I left Satan to her business (which presumably consisted of burning priests on a stake and eating children's hearts), linked up with another girl I hadn't seen since her stoney six months' excursion to Amsterdam and headed for the main stage, where The Wildhearts were about to perform.
Metsatöll and Viikate
The Wildhearts were a positive surprise
Now, on CD, The Wildhearts evoke mixed results in me. Their songs range from catchy hits to unnecessarily long and tedious incursions into heavy metal territory. But instead of seeing a washed out and coke driven glam queen we were actually treated to a fantastically energetic live, despite the fact that half of their songs had strange undertones of, dare I say, college rock? The verdict was unanimous - The Wildhearts are definitely a band to check out, wherever you are, whoever you are.
Things seemed to be changing for the better - after The Wildhearts we enjoyed a driven performance by the Estonian punk legend Velikije Luki, which managed to attract a rather large audience. This was not all that surprising though, considering the historic role punk music played in Estonia during the last days of the Soviet Union and the fact that this particular legend rarely performs live these days.
Velikije Luki proved that punk is unlikely to die any time soon
Static X has aged well
Up next was Static-X and, Anthrax aside, it was the one band I was keen to see. I actually hadn't listened to the band ever since their debut album "Wisconsin Death Trip" ruled the airways in '99, but missing out on them was not an option. The thing is that each of us has our own unique genesis - some of us grew up alongside Judas Priest and Motörhead, others were lured to metal by the likes of Mötley Crüe and Poison and yet others by the pioneers of thrash metal. Static X is an important part of the origins of my generation - a generation introduced to the metal world by what I'd suggest was the last explosion of metal in the eyes of the mainstream audience. I simply had to see Static-X so I could one day tell my grandchildren that I too, saw the key nu-metal bands live "way back in '09". This is why I still somewhat regret missing out on Limp Bizkit earlier this year. Static-X however proved to be much more than just a pale shadow from the past and "I'm With Stupid" made me grin like an idiot. In fact, their whole set induced in me a visceral sense of reunion with my 14 year-old self.
KMFDM did well to prepare for the crowd for a long night out
I had been less than enthusiastic about the whole festival before The Wildhearts and Static-X but suddenly I felt a surge of new found energy, so Satan and I started assembling our master-plan for the rest of the evening. The decision to skip Pantokraator's show - a band that only an Estonian could love - came easily. Sure enough, after KMFDM's ferocious performance our plan to destroy the town of Järvakandi swung into action. It started with us joining Satan's friend Justin for a few drinks at his camper-van and moving from there to the official Rabarock afterparty.
It was after my first vodka-with-a-hint-of-cranberry-juice that things started going horribly, horribly wrong.
By the time we got to the first nightclub, we had completely lost our sense of time, direction and reason. It was only after several rounds on the dance floor when I realized that the club in question was definitely not the official Rabarock one - instead of rock'n'roll we had to put up with the latest and greatest of modern day R'n'B. Satan seemed to be enjoying herself and I gladly joined in, only to drop her smack in the middle of the floor. I went on to buy myself a bottle of water, but after an argument with the bartender I ended up with something completely different from water. I may, in fact, have ended up with nothing at all.
By the time we got to the official afterparty, it turned out that they were already wrapping things up and we had no choice but to stumble back to our tent. Arriving there we heard sounds recognizable to anyone who has witnessed awkward teen sex inside and sure enough, upon opening the door we saw a naked girl lying on the floor. I resisted the urge to go for the "well hellooo…" line, seems as Satan was standing right next to me. Also, the half-naked guy with her was a bit of a turn off (P.S. If you're reading this, you randy bastard, we have your wallet, your sweater and your hat).
We kindly asked the barely-legal couple to wrap it up within the next five minutes and relinquish our rightful resting-place.
Day 2: The Great Deluge
I woke up at around eleven only to discover Satan suffering from a headache. I, on the other hand, was feeling brilliant and looking forward to a hard day of moshing, despite the intimidating clouds gathering over our heads. I was actually somewhat delighted to see Satan suffering for once and I used the opportunity to dampen her already suffering morale even further. What I didn't know was that the old saying "don't laugh at others' misfortune" was to materialize itself on me soon. I set off for a supply-hunt, oblivious of the impending doom. At the time however, I was certain that I had survived my clash with alcohol, even though I did think it was weird that my world was spinning around at a frightening pace. I kept bumping into friends and boasting to them about my fantastic ability to consume unreasonable amounts of alcohol and escape it's humanly consequences. I was clearly tempting my fate.
The skies grew darker…
I was feeling fatigue but nonetheless went to see Zetod play the first set of the day. Three guys climbed on stage - one holding a bass, the other a guitar and the third an accordion. They were all dressed in traditional folk-clothing and I sensed trouble. As they began to play, the genesis of the mid-90's Estonian disco became painfully evident. Zetod are a strange mix of scrapped pieces of heavy metal from Metsatöll's table, thumping disco beats and traditional Estonian folk music. While I could certainly appreciate the guys' (successful) attempt at livening up the crowd, I lack the patriotism to actually enjoy their work. Also, if you're looking for a combination best suited for amplifying your headache, then accordion and guitars pretty much do the trick.
B.D.Ö. put the fun (and ninjas) back in heavy metal
I briefly surveyed A.Human on the main stage (which was decent) and B.D.Ö. (which was fun) right after them, before deciding to check on Satan, who was, while regaining texture in her face, still suffering. Optimistic as I was, I enjoyed B.D.Ö. wrapping up their set in the distance - a set comprising of their fifteen year old material and an attempt at breaking a record for having the most guest singers on stage at a heavy metal concert at once. Foolishly I cracked open a beer and rolled myself a strong cigarette. This was when fate decided she'd had enough of my antics and laid her vengeance on me. After a sip and a puff I felt the irresistible urge to take a nap - a move known in the drinking industry as a "rookie mistake".
Robots In Disguise
It was Robots In Disguise' cover of "You Really Got Me" that woke me. I immediately wanted to rush back to the festival area, only to recognize a very distinct feeling - that of food trying to find its way out of the stomach the way it came in from. I was then, effectively immobilized. To add to the peril, the entire festival area had been hit by a vicious thunderstorm. To my horror, I realized that we had set up our tent on the lowest ground in the camping area - in short, our tent had been transformed into a float. I banished Satan from my island-prison and occupied her rubber mattress to catch some more sleep. The move came too late, as I was already soaking wet. And it was still raining. Presumably, Noah was already ushering a pair of every species to his newly built Ark.
It is hard to describe just how dismayed we were at our situation as we stood there looking at the tent, which was by then proudly sailing the broad waters of the apocalyptic puddle, ruling its waves. The only consolation I had left was Anthrax.
I was not surprised that the Anthrax crowd wasn't exactly one of the rowdiest the band had seen - after all, and as mentioned above, Rabarock attracts people of various creeds, of whom half at least probably came to the event with the sole intent of purchasing fake mustaches and silly hats (damn you capitalism).
Despite having been out of their element, Anthrax didn't hesitate to unleash hell
Regrettably, I am not in a position to complain about the attendance, as I had to watch Anthrax from further away. I was still trying to maintain my cool, hoping not to upset my hangover fairy. The guys in the band apparently had no such problems and gave their absolute best to agitate the mud-covered moshpit. The gig itself was a hit parade - "Indians", "Caught in a Mosh", "Madhouse", "Only" and "I Am the Law" were included in the relatively short set. Additionally the audience was treated to two new songs from the upcoming "Worship Music" album and yes, this one just might turn out to be a very angry piece of thrash indeed. I've yet to make up my mind on Dan Nelson's inclusion but he seemed to fare rather well, more so with the John Bush era material. Perhaps the only real downside was the sound during the first half of the gig, with Rob's licks struggling to penetrate the general noise.
Disappointed as I was, having been unable to join the pit in tier three of my quest to see all the Big Four bands up close and personal, I sought consolation in the fact that I had at least seen Anthrax play, despite having been plagued by the "Hangover of the Year" for the better part of the day.
Kosmikud never fail to entertain the crowds
Ladytron and No-Big-Silence
As I still held Satan accountable for everything that had gone wrong, I left her behind to meet up with all the people I hadn't managed to locate on day one. Eventually I was forced to look past Satan's gleeful smile as we had to join forces in order to salvage our wreck of a tent from the high seas. Satan had arranged one of our friends to come over and drive us back to Tallinn. I'll refer to her as Angel, since she didn't yell at me when one of my beers exploded in the car on the way back. Although I'm sure that the incident was somehow Satan's fault.
I must say that despite the weather, the alcohol and Satan's snickering, I loved the festival in terms of how it was put together. Sure, the plentiful food stalls mainly offered a nausea inducing salt with meat on the side and the merchants must´ve made a million selling various trash (people, stop using fake mustaches for eyebrows - we get it, you lack personalities of your own). Still, the line-up was rather well thought out and activities such as heavy-karaoke and heavy-aerobics were a nice touch.
Until we come up with the technology to improve the local weather from 'annoyingly damp' to 'cancer-inducing sunny' (I like to imagine it would involve baby dragons breathing fire into the skies until mountains start melting), we must make do with what we have and appreciate the little things in life. One simply must appreciate the genius behind the Rabarock festival - instead of running from one stage to another at breakneck speeds, the festival offered once again a myriad of bands, several of which you could ignore with extreme prejudice. This meant that there was more time for various non-festival related activities, catching some sleep in the sun and rolling around in the mud like a pig in crap-heaven. Te organizers once again deserve credit for their attempt at offering as much as possible to as many people as possible and for hauling in Anthrax and Static-X I'd gladly make them all knights if only I had the authority to do so. The unwillingness of the people to surrender to the weather is surely a testament to the good decisions made by the crew. Although... if only they found some way of keeping the hangover fairy out.
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