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Hellfest 2012

Part 1/4

It seems like it was just a few months ago that I was setting up things, relentlessly running around between stores and supermarkets to collect all the needed baggage to put myself on the route to Clisson.

The year of 2011 will always be in my memory as the one where I got to cover Hellfest for the first time, which resulted in an extensive day-by-day report with some not so great (and not that much) photos together with what happened to be two of the best interviews of last year’s Summer. I was ridiculously happy to see Coroner put my interview with Tommy on their Facebook page, only to find out that it was available on the Terrorizer website! You could say that I nearly fainted when people shown me that…

So it was safe to say that the ante had to be pulled up a few notches for this year’s edition, the seventh year of this amazing festival taking place on the grounds of Clisson, near Nantes, in France. We here at Riff Magazine were graceful enough to have the organization allow us to have a full team enjoying the festival inside and out. It seems like they were happy enough with the work yours truly had provided last year, and as such we felt inclined to return the favor again and have a gang of four make the whole coverage of the French battlefield. I would like to further extend our appreciation and gratitude towards everyone in the festival’s organization who made this possible, as much as to those who were there in the fields with us making our lives much easier. All the crew in the press tents who made us feel welcomed and needed, giving us enough conditions to perform interviews or attend press conferences; as much as charge mobile phones, cameras, use laptops and have online access. All the security guards and volunteers who helped by letting us pass through places normally sealed, and that helped us with language issues among others. Those are all small things that seem so vulgar nowadays but are yet so important in a setting as big as a Summer festival with so many people, and as such a big thank you from Riff Magazine to all of those who have made our staying there a positive thing!

So, armed with a gang of four, and this time with a more credited photographer and more manpower to undertake such a massive event, we headed out and faced the over 1000Kms worth of terrain to reach Clisson. I usually take a tour bus to these events but it’s quite easy to get there by car if you have a small knowledge of France or just a good GPS system to guide you. One thing that could be done was to make the road signs leading to the actual grounds of the festival a bit bigger, as they sort of blend in with the road signs already present. Simple and effective to make, and it could easily improve the lives of those trying to find the heart of the battle. Parking was very easy to find and we were readily aided by some Portuguese-talking fellow from the start, sort of like a personalized service, which was awesome actually. Time to set up the tent, shop on Leclerc for food and water and go to the first Press tent to get the accreditations!

It’s actually awesome what you can do with a VIP pass on a festival like this and of course we had to immediately check how things were going to be this year; one, because it was everyone else’s first time on Hellfest as opposed to my third, and two, because as it’s widely known the festival this year was on a different place. We memorized the set up and placing of the tents and stages, not to lose a single bit on the first day of shows, and went on to visit all the places that would have us marveled for three days of intense shows. For those who don’t know how things work, the first day, “Day 0” or “Day -1”, or whatever you’d like to call it, basically exists to harbor and welcome the majority of the festival-goers and for stocking supplies on the camping grounds, as well as to get acquainted with the place. It also serves as a major boozing day which makes up for a very rough night if you’re actually thinking about sleeping, but do people even sleep at a place like this? Partying is the name of the day and you get to meet and greet people from everywhere in an eclectic sauce of punkers, rockers, thrashers, and extreme metal fans all bound under the banner of music and having fun. The drinking and partying is savoring enough to have things running on up until 6AM, just four hours before the first show of the festival, and the place known as “Metal Corner” sets the tone and provides for some rocking fuel for over 12 hours!

Starting up with shows from middle of the afternoon onwards, it features local artists and small semi-professional bands that still have enough rage and attitude to imbue the present with a will to rock out with your cock out! From some good original bands to funny looking cover bands, passing by DJ sets or even striptease shows with fire breathing, you name it, there’s everything there; and it’s all backed up by a big covered tent with tables for eating and drinking and a lot of bars to quench your thirst. The covered tent was made much bigger this year, and the European Football Cup wasn’t forgotten since a giant screen was made available for the screening of several games. Right next to it was what could be described as the first day’s main attraction, a small building featuring a Guitar Hero type of game for several people to try out and beat everyone else’s score. The icing on top of the cake came from the top of the structure where a couple of people could play real live guitars with the game’s music. Suffice to say that it was heavily crowded and the waiting queues to get inside were a constant. It provided from some really funny moments where you could see some really good players wielding the axe, while others were just trying their luck for the sake of it. I want to thank a couple of friends (Ines from Twisted Sisters and Pedro Roque from Loud Magazine) for giving me five of the hardest laughing minutes ever!

There isn’t much more to report about the first day apart from a continuous torrent of drinking, singing and just rocking out. As I said above it’s a beginners ritual and an entrancing warm-up to the weekend’s main event, and in that sense it works like a charm and lets the partying spirits of so many people gain momentum into three days with over 50 artists performing each and every day. Day 0 ended in a blazing glory and I can say that the hardest thing to do was to actually sleep! But it was time to build up the strength and start planning the first of three massive days of shows, as the main event was already on a near horizon.

Stay tuned for the rest of the individual day’s reports, and in the meantime be sure to check some of the best photos of the first of four days on the northern battlefront.

Photos: Fabio Costa
Text: Julio Valada