It was very tempting to visit one of the biggest music festival events of 2012, headlined by legendary Metallica, reunited Soundgarden and others including Slayer, Limp Bizkit and The Offspring. One of the headliners were also Evanescence, who promised me and my long term friend, who just came to visit me in Barcelona, an interview. Promise of VIP experience, was fulfilled in the end, but a vacation turned into sandy hell, endless hours of arranging and few broken dreams.
During a summer of 2012, I was just finalizing my marketing master studies in Barcelona and enjoying each top class music shows of Catalan metropolis. Visits of Goran Bregović, Arctic Monkeys, Loreena Mckennitt, Guano Apes or the festivals as Sónar or Primavera Sound were accompanied by a Sonisphere fest in Madrid, which I really couldn’t miss. I had many visits in Barcelona during an early summer season, as the weather was sunny 24/7. Plus I managed to finalize my studies asap, to enjoy this season fully with my friends. Madrid’s festival was planned during a visit of my long term friend from my hometown Ostrava and enthusiast photographer, Renáta Pindurová. Our poor student asses were saved by my long term partners Pirate Smile, an agency, who was at that time handling, next to many others, a promotion for Dark New Day - side band of Evanescence’s drummer, Will Hunt. As we just recently did a front cover interview for Muzikus magazine (interview in Czech), we have arranged two guest list passes for me and my friend, hard-core Evanescence fan, in order to finalize the interview. We also wanted to give Evanescence an adequate space in our festival report, for Czech Rock&Pop magazine.
Route to Madrid
As a form of transportation we have chosen a plane, which was quicker and surprisingly cheaper than a train. Plus we had just a hand luggage, so we relied on the duty free shop, for a fancy 1l dose of Ballantine's. Since we were really looking forward to our VIP experience, I ordered a water, with two cups on the board, to test the scotch. Stewardess was not happy about it, so she asked me to finish my glass asap. Next to that, captain just informed us, we will be landing shortly. I was used to traditionally endless flights, so there were my planning skills, right there. Renáta underestimated her plane skills, so I had to finish also hers, plus I didn’t pour a small glass. Thank you Vueling, for a lovely landing, with a full mouth of whisky. We all hear a lot about Spanish effectiveness, but a route from a plane to city train, was smooth as a local wine. Edge of Madrid’s Getafe, where the festival was situated, was an industrial ghost town, with few locked up houses and a single “restaurant”. However we were not worried about that, since we will be dining backstage, right? We could see the main stage right away from a distance, behind two campsites. So we went straight to festival’s office, located between campsites, to get our passes and build our tent before we get in. So, I went to the lovely lady behind the desk and said “Hola” in my mui practicado Spanish, with Italian accent and showed her our passports. She was looking around for about a minute, looked at me and said: “I don’t have your names!”
If I received a penny, for how many times something like this happened to me. Nevermind, we sat down and I wrote a sms and an e-mail to my contact at Pirate Smile. It was still an afternoon, so I thought we could settle this down quick. As nothing happened for thirty minutes, I called and we arranged with Peter that Dark New Day’s management will help us. We were starving, thirsty and I had a limited internet credit, so we went all the way back to the restaurant to refresh ourselves and check e-mails, before we go back to sit in the sand and wait. When we got back to our spots next to the office, I went back to exchange few more calls, sms massages and e-mails for over two, or three hours and still nothing was solved. Renáta was deadly bored, I was really pissed off and just when we were sitting on a sandy ground, a snake has just passed around us! We arrived during an afternoon, in order to settle everything down and have few hours time before Limp Bizkit would come at 20.45h. I was just in the middle of writing an e-mail, when I just heard Fred Durst coming on the stage. Right after them, around 22.30h were supposed to play The Offspring, who were also supposed to give me an interview, during a set of Limp Bizkit. But guess what, I could get in, and unfortunately, neither my contact at Sony Spain, who arranged the interview, couldn’t help us, as the guestlist spots were limited. At that point we realized what the issue was. Each band has a VIP guestlist, but it works only on the day, the band plays. Nobody knew that upfront, so just when The Offspring started their set, we have decided, after nearly six hours of crap, to buy one day ticket. We did it in orded to see the end of the Friday’s line up and enter a camp site to have a place to sleep. Both of us said goodbye to 60 euro and I ensured Renáta, tomorrow it will be all limousines. ;D
After we built our tent and had few well deserved shots, we went to finally enjoy the festival. The Offspring were just finalizing their set, so we reminded ourselves of the primary school days. Unfortunately, without much of an energy from the guys up on the stage. By the time, they finished British doom institution Paradise Lost, still had few songs left, so we stayed with them. Luckily last few songs were Faith Divides Us - Death Unites Us, from their amazing eponymous album and a traditional Say Just Words, in the end. Before we went to take a spot in the audience, to see the Friday’s headliner, we went to grab a beer. After a coupon exchange, our cheap Czech beer asses were kicked in the face by the price. 8 euro for a one liter* beer. *Hint - 1l in Sonisphere Madrid, means 0,75l. Grunge legend Soundgarden were just on the wave of their reunion and there was no doubt, what to see next. But to be honest, I experienced Chris Cornell lately in a plenty crappy singing days, therefore I was really happy to see him and the guys truly animalistic. After the show we went to grab another wanna-be one liter beer, before a Machine Head show. I don’t know where they all get that energy to party all day, but after few songs with a mosh-pit behind my back, I went to watch the show from a distance. Performance was amazing, but the whole day was a piece of shit, so we went for few more shots and let’s dream about those limousines...
When we woke up, we could finally enjoy all those breads and salami we brought for a fancy dining. Festival's office was not opened until early afternoon, so we went to see Getafe’s finest city edge and grab a lunch at our old friends. Office opened around three o’clock, so we came there to give it another try after all that fighting yesterday. I went with my classical “Hola” and hoped for nothing else than a good news. Señorita looked at me and said: “Hola, nice to see you again, but I’m afraid, I still don’t have you on my list. After checking my mails, with no support and few more discussions with the office, we realized where the issue was today. Evanescence were the only band, from the whole line-up, who didn’t provide organizers their guest list. Guess what, we were the only people on the Evanescence guestlist. There was nothing else to do, rather than wait for the band to arrive, so the organizers could remind their management for their list. When they told us that Evanescence have arrived, we finally hoped our shitty experience was over. Unfortunately, for another hour or two, nothing has changed. Here was the missing Spanish effectiveness, plus my hidden package of patience took a plane home. So I stood in front of the promoters desk and refused to leave and stop looking at them, until one of them sends bloody Maria to remind their lazy asses, we are waiting here for ages. Swear to god, I didn’t move my look for at least half and hour. I had nowhere else to go and there was no more f*cking waiting from us for anything. After that half an hour she returned with a news that she caught their management and she gave us our passes instantly.
Suddenly everybody treated us differently. We could use different access and could go practically anywhere. We could also finally see the areas that unlawfully banned for us the day before. First of all, we saw Children Of Bodom on the smaller stage in the middle of their set, so we convinced the security guard to let us take pics, even after traditional first-three songs period. After that it was finally the area behind the main stage. Dutch Within Temptation were getting ready for their sympho-gothic setlist, while we were finally enjoying the look on the crowd covered around the gear.
Audience was even crazier, when the Slayer came on stage. Gary Holt was fully enjoying his new role as an Slayer guitarist and the crown went absolutely mental during Raining Blood. Right after the show we headed into the backstage to check on the Evanescence interview.
As soon we got in, we were searching for Evanescence room in the crazy backstage maze. When we found it, we saw the bastard, who was guilty for all our troubles. It was one, hell of a fat SOAB, who was just in the middle of counting a pile of Euros. I was just imagining how I will beat the sh*t out of him, when I realized all of our sacrifice, will be ruined by a single punch. Therefore I introduced ourselves and asked for conditions. He said that the band hasn’t arrived yet, and we should come back in a hour. Metallica was supposed to start soon, so we thought to check the entrance to the backstage and a restaurant. The second we came out, Metallica boys were coming out as well. I couldn’t believe, what I was just seeing. Next to two of us and few people from a local crew, there was absolutelly nobody, except all stars musicians hanging around. When the Lars, Kirk, James and Robert were coming us, group of security guards created a corridor for them and starting to push “lower line-up” bands out of the way. Suddenly you could see one of the Mastodon guitarists waving to Kirk and starting to lean his hand for a grab. Kirk really tried over a security gorilla, but he didn’t manage. They took them to a small closed area next to the entrance, for a private signing session. I was just standing next a curtain supposedly leading to it. When I slowly opened it, I was stopped right away by a giant security dude. Trust me, If I had opened that curtain even slightly faster, my jaw would have been separated into puzzle. Last thing we wanted to try before Metallica’s show was a restaurant. We weren’t thinking about food the whole day, so we entered the restaurant and while we were reaching for plates, we realized a long hair metal dude was counting his meal coupons. Bad luck. Let’s go for Metallica at least.
People were insane. The area was absolutely packed and they were even standing on the portable toilets. They were singing every single song, plus a band prepared a proper Sonisphere screen show for the fans. We enjoyed the show for a while, but somewhere, close towards the end of Master Of Puppets we had go to the backstage, straight towards our old friend. When we arrived, the whole band just went for the interview with the festival TV and we were instructed to wait. While we waited two tour managers met.
A: Hey Jimmy, haven’t seen you for a while, how you doin’?
B: I’m taking care of Metallica on their tour right now.
A: I heard, congrats. I’m looking after over Slayer this summer.
B: That’s also nice. Enjoy, see you soon.
Most of those guys are just paid professionals and switch bands every year. No wonder our cream cake buddy didn’t do anything on time. He doesn’t have much of an interest on the success of the band. He did his job. Timing was rather South European, but he simply didn’t care. While we were waiting, I saw Kerry King, Slayer’s guitarist right next me, so I asked him for a quick pic.
Thirty seconds after that I met this young dude with a strong British accent, who was desperately looking for a redbull. As I had one extra, I gave it to him. He was happy as hell and I realized later that day it was one of the guys from Enter Shikari. Evanescence have just returned from their interview and met with their personal security guard who gave them their all access passes. Well threw it on them. While he was still laughing as a redneck, band went to their two separate rooms (Amy solo) and we kept waiting.
Suddenly Amy comes out and yells:
“Jennifer, where the f*ck is my dress!!?” and slams the door.
Three minutes later:
“Is there a toilet paper, in this bloody house?” and slams a door for a second time. No time for pics and greetings here.
As nothing was happening for another thirty minutes and fatso, saw me waiting, I knocked on band’s door myself. I introduced ourselves and asked for a short meeting as planned a long time ago. Will let us in and asked right away: “Sure, come in. Where have you been all this time? I’m waiting for you.” I replied “Long story, man” and asked few things to finalize our interview. Right after we all took few pics, we were offered two signed copies of a latest Dark New Day album (great piece btw) and a pack of Evanescence drum sticks and guitar picks, signed on sight.
When we said goodbye to each other, I went to the both lovely gentlemen of the day, El Bastardo and Retardo to kindly ask to meet with Amy, for two or three questions, in order to finalize front cover and get an autograph. He replied right away: “Amy doesn’t do anything, two hours before the show” and lead me out of the office. I returned right away to quickly, but nicely ask him, as we both came all the way from Czech Republic, for thirty seconds and we are out. He gave me a proper Tarzan face and said loudly: “No!” When I returned to my friend, I didn’t know how to explain it and tell her, we are not meeting her idol. We talked for another few minutes and then I took her booklets and returned in again. “Listen to me, I got a girl here, who traveled over half a Europe to meet her idol. We went through some tough times here and all I’m asking is a photo and an autograph.” He stood up, went right next to me and yelled: “No”. From that moment he made sure, I couldn’t even reach the door myself. So we went out and finished all my mini shot bottles of whisky.
When we came out, Metallica’s army was just finalizing packaging their insane stage. In order to make the whole time-schedule smoother, Evanescence went on stage, while they were still packing the screens. We enjoyed the view from a side for a while and then Renáta went to take few pics from a first line, while I was checking the show with Fear Factory’s guitarist.
After the show we finally went to grab sth to eat. Sh*tty and expensive kebab is a solution, when you didn’t eat for a most of the day. As we were still not hungry, we went to see Fear Factory’s show, which was delayed and started somewhere around 3 or 4am. Renáta was taking pics, while I enjoyed my solo stalker look from a side, as most of the musicians who usually stand there, went to sleep. And that’s what we also did in the middle of the Fear Factory show, as this day was nothing easier, than the day before it.
This was truly of the biggest event’s I ever attended, but the price was truly big. All I can say, it was worth remembering. Over the years, I tend to think sometimes, that I should have asked Will, or go straight towards the door and knock. I might have saved this way one music dream, but it has to be broken one day. Mine was broken at Graspop 2010, but that’s just another story…