Every once in a while there’s a concert on a day when the planets are strangely aligned and are screwing up the world, making it almost impossible to do anything. Metallica played in Vienna, presenting their Death Metallic album on the day that everything went wrong, and I’m not talking the usual “everything” where it means “a lot”. No, I mean EVERYTHING. And this is the full story.
It started with a simple phone call. While I was getting my gear ready. Yes, I know, very wise. I knew I’ll forget something and I was right. The soft backpack. I remembered when I was getting into my car. But unfortunately that wasn’t the only thing. 🙂 So I drove to lunch, then afterwards it was high time I got going. Vienna is near, but not that near. I try finding the Stadthalle on my GPS. Nothing. OK. I check recently found adresses in it (I was there at the P!nk concert not that long ago), but there were adresses as old as from last spring in there. But no Stadhalle. So I needed an exact address to type in. Tried to find it on a backup route plan I print out of ViaMichellin, but no exact address there either. OK, we’ll put the Blackberry to use – will try to find it on the net. But of course the damn berry didn’t connect.
So I think of a person who’s sitting at the computer at the moment and has probably nothing to do, haha 😀 I call my mom to work, tell her to search for Stadthalle, because I knew the first hit is the right one. Well, it wasn’t. So she didn’t find anything. Finally, I tried the berry again and now it connected. Typed in the search word and got out the official page under the first link. Like I expected. So now I want to make sure I don’t look for it again. I want to write it down on that printout. No pen. So I got my ass out of the car, and back into my grandma’s apartment (yes, it was lunch at my grandma’s), took the pen, wrote the thing down. And since little things are even more annoying than the big ones going wrong, she just had to tell me that pen isn’t good. It only writes on one side! Whatever that means. 😀 So she gave me another one. Yes, this info is important, just stay with me.
I finally got the GPS to work and started driving. The ETA was still acceptable, considering the first photo meeting point was at 19:00 for The Sword, the first support band. But near Ljubljana, I remember I forgot to pack my memory cards. Great, will one be enough? Sure, I mean, I won’t make 500 photos. Hahaha! Yeah right! And besides, I forgot to dowmnload the images from last night, too. So I turn back, and go get them. Finally, I was able to really go, but this time the ETA wasn’t that satisfying.
In a few hours I reach the border, fill up the tank and buy an Austrian vignete. But amazingly my car drank more that it usually does, and I payed so as well. Eventually, I gave all the cash I had with me, but no problem, I said. I’ll just get it at the ATM. And that’s when the guy at the counter tells me they don’t have one. But no biggie, I can withdraw money in Austria, why not. Yes, well, if he had told me, I would’ve known. There isn’t a single damn ATM machine at gas stations & rest stops along the Austrian highways. 🙂 Sad But True.
But I didn’t know, so I stopped at the first one – nothing. Second one – nothing. Third – nothing. And this is where me, being a dumbass and all, noticed a pattern, so I asked if there’s any ATMs anywhere along the highway. Nope. Well, that’s just great. This was also the moment when I realised that some fucked up crazy Master of Puppets up there is out to get me big time. And I knew it wasn’t over yet. Boy, if I only knew…
I made the GPS redeem itself for the shit with the address, so I made her (yes, she has a lovely British accent) take me to the nearest ATM machine. Right after that, we stopped completely. Stuck in what I didn’t know then was the first major traffic jam on my way to Stadthalle. But I was lucky. I had to turn left, and that lane was faster. In the mean time the weather got awfull. Clouds way down to the highest floors of tall buildings, and some sort of spraying rain as if being in a car wash. To make things worse with all that water and stuff, I had to go piss ever since Graz!!! And I was running late, so I knew I won’t see the porcelain god for quite some time!
Searching for that damn ATM machine I was basically in my Seek & Destroy mode, but then I figured I shouldn’t do that if I want cash out of it. Oh, why I needed it? For the parking of course. 🙂 No, I didn’t even have that much money left. 🙂 Got the cash and now for the dreadful three-lane street, where I took a wrong turn the last time. This time I soon realized, I couldn’t. Because traffic was basically in a standstill.
After long long minutes, I reach the turn and realize that lane is empty. Yeah!!! Happy as if for the first time! I turn, drive a 100 meters and get stuck in another traffic jam. This one was catastrophic. A punishment for my previous happines. I stood there, moved a meter or two every 5 minutes, for a whole hour. What’s even nicer is that I was around 5 minutes away from the Stadthalle. What’s even better is the fact that it was six fifty p.m. and at that rate of moving I was wondering if I would see the show at all.
So I was boxed in a can with water running all over the car, fantasizing of a toilet five minutes away, but longing for some Cyanide to swallow at the sight of all the cars in front. In the mean time, the clock struck seven and I just missed the first support band. But at 19:40 I reached the parking garage, got my gear, put a little neck ID strap for the photo pass into my bag and ran 100m to the press ticket office to catch the 19:45 meeting for the Machine Head. I did it, got my pass, opened my bag and realized the neck strap isn’t there. OK, it didn’t fall on the ground in the parking, so it’s probably back in the car. (Well, think again).
We get in to shoot the Machine Head, able to move all around the stage. And since I wasn’t in the clear yet, here comes trouble. My back dial failed (no vertical focus point selection or exposure compensation). Immediately after, the top dial went dead (no horizontal focus point selection, no exposure control). Off and on didn’t help, so I took out the battery. Did the trick, but messed up my programs for a while. Just enough for our time under the stage to be over. But the problems still weren’t over.
I went into the crowd outside to take some pictures of the fans I missed while standing in a traffic jam. And my flash won’t fire. Charged and all, but doesn’t fire. Synchro failure again. Great. Thank you. At that point I didn’t even care anymore. Turn the Page and move on. So I waited for Metallica, hoping the hall doesn’t crash on us or something. We go in. Me and some other photographer position ourselves at a meter and a half long stretch of that big stage and wait. First, about a deciliter of beer comes flying over us, showering us. Wiped it off, voice the F word, and move back in position. 30 seconds later, half a liter of beer comes crashing on our heads. Great! Still better than the hall crashing.
The camera performed well during Metallica’s performance, and the Master obviously realized I won. But he woouldn’t give me my neck strap back anyway. I still don’t know where it is. Anyway, a few little things still went wrong, like me not finding my car or flash failing again (oh, yeah, it started working sometime in between).
The concert was quite something. To hear 16,000 people sing Enter Sandman … And the pyrotechnics! They came back three times, finishing with large balls flying all over the hall, people punching them around…
I survived. Although the weather on my way back was again awful. And I actully thought days before, that the biggest problem will be the radio with a broken CD player. I was listening to Austrian radio station All Nightmare Long, but they were good. Very good. When I crossed the border and lost reception, our stations made me wanna take some Cyanide again. 🙂 So it was pretty much a nightmare, loaded with stress, that I flushed down with an energy drink, and realized later that it’s not wise to mix them together. I had a helluva hangover.
But I made it through the night-time drive. Oh, and remember that pen I told you about? If I actually needed it, it would be another failure. After putting it in my backpack and reaching the press ticket office 100 m away, it was already COMPLETELY disassembled. … Well, apart from my own nightmare, the concert was great, and considering the shit I went through I’m pretty satisfied with the photos. And eventually, Nothing Else Matters.
More images will soon be available at www.dax-photo.com