There are many words to describe the MetalDays Festival. “Festival” is rarely one of them. People call it its former name, MetalCamp. A metal holiday. The Soča paradise. I simply call it home.
No place feels more like home, not even my own apartment. Arriving at the city of Tolmin for the second time in a row and strolling down to the festival center to set up my camp in the woods felt eerily familiar. Suddenly, the excitement was almost gone and replaced with a warm feeling of safety and love, the kind you experience when coming home to your family after a long time of being away. The first day of this year’s MetalDays Festival did not feel like the first day at all, but merely a continuation of last year’s fiesta, it was Day 9.
Day 9? But isn’t the festival 7 days long, counting the warm-up days when only the New Forces stage is active? Correct, but another magical thing about this festival is arriving (almost) as early as you want and camping there before the infrastructure is even set up. The official start date is the 21st, however, if you find yourself there on the 17th, you won’t be turned away. This means the world to every fanatic like me for whom squeezing in a day or two extra is the difference between life and death x)
I visited this festival for the first time in 2018. This was the first metal, no, the first and the only music festival I ever visited, and it still is (for another week at least, when I hit the road again to check out Brutal Assault). So if you’re here looking for a review full of knowledgeable comparisons and objective criticism, look elsewhere. I can only tell you a raw, personal story about man and metal.
For as long as I remember, concerts were the only thing in this world that truly made me feel alive. One of my earliest memories was 11 year old me dragging my father by the sleeve to take me to see Rammstein at their first-ever concert in the Zagreb’s Arena. I was a very difficult child so there was no saying “no” to me. And off we went! The rest is pretty much history. By the time I was 14, I had an extensive file of tickets to every relevant gig that happened in Zagreb, my pocket money was spent on a pricey subscription to Metal Hammer (periodically switching from UK to DE for language-learning purposes) and I was looking at all those festival ads with huge names on them, dreaming the biggest dreams of one day going to gigs more often than to lunch, writing for a cool magazine, visiting every festival imaginable and really living and breathing metal. Don’t let your memes be dreams, kids, because here I am, all those years later, doing all that. The only thing responsible for turning on my dream machine and making it all come true is the MetalDays Festival.
Before the summer of 2018, I was in a confusing place. Life had taken me in a different direction and for a few years, I was barely going to any shows, wasn’t discovering new bands, my focus was completely off music and I had almost forgotten how fantastic it made me feel. Almost. My friend pulled me out of a contemplative, depressive lull with a single suggestion. “Hey, let’s go to MetalDays. We won’t need a lot of money, we’ll volunteer. It’s not far, I’ll drive. Come on, they’ll have Judas Priest!”
Yes, of course we’re going. It wasn’t even a decision, just a logical development. Of course we’re going.
Cut to entering the roundabout, seeing Hofer and hearing “We’re here!”. It wasn’t long until we were strutting about the festival in our best outfits, feeling like the most important people in the world. Every worry, every problem of the mortal world was left at the door. We were in a different dimension. I felt like Arnold Schwarzenegger coming to New York. I finally left my third-world-country hamlet and made my way to the City of Metal.
One of the last big gigs I’ve seen before my own, personal dark ages was Alestorm in 2015 (a rare case where I can confidently say I loved them way before they were cool). It was a pretty wild show (no shit), a small club, a river of alcohol; I was in the first row and got the thicker end of it. Days later, after some unceasing pain, I found out that two of my ribs were broken. Now that’s what I call getting my money’s worth.
So naturally, when I learned that Alestorm will be playing at the main stage of MetalDays 2018 on the very first day, I made sure to secure my spot at the front. I was in absolute awe of the massive stage in front of me, two side screens, no less! (How will I feel at a double stage festival? :O) There were a lot more people than I was used to. This was metal on a grand scale that I always imagined and I was right here. More unexpected things happened and one stagediving incident later, I walked out of that gig with a broken nose and the biggest smile on my face. I was back.
(Many thanks to the medical team for being quick and professional, making the festival experience better and safer for everyone.)
And just like that, after several concerts, drinks and new acquaintances, my blurry identity at the time was put right back on track. I was instantly reminded of what’s really important in life. That you don’t need a lot to be happy, only the Three B – seeing Bands, drinking Beer and fucking Babes.
I literally could not believe that I temporarily forgot sex, drugs&rock’n’roll was the meaning of life. How could I have been so blind?