I was at Rock am Ring for the first time this year. It is a Rock/Metal/Punk/Alternative festival sponsored by MTV at the Nürburgring in Germany, a racetrack (Formula 1, I believe). The concerts are held on a portion of the track, with camping and parking grounds in a circle around it. The festival is each year at Pfingsten, a holiday in Germany. It is the biggest festival in Germany with an attendance above 100,000 with people coming in from all surrounding countries. This year it took place from the 6th to the 8th of June (Friday - Sunday). The price for a ticket was a whopping 99 Euros for the festival but included camping and parking. This is different than the previous years where you would pay for camping seperately. This did not go down well with people who live in the area who used to only pay for the festival itself. Food and beverages have also become cheaper this year (2,50€ for Coke/Fanta/Beer) plus the sanitary facilities supposedly recieved an upgrade and are also more numerous.

There are 3 stages on the festival grounds: the Center Stage, Alternastage and Talent Forum. The Center Stage hosts top acts such as this year's Metallica, Marilyn Manson and Iron Maiden. The Alternastage is mixed Alternative, Hip-Hop and Rock with bands such as Silverchair and The Hives. The Talent Forum is chaos genrewise, ranging from Mudvayne to Flogging Molly. Bands mostly play simultaneously on these stages but they're loud enough to drown the others out once you're close enough.

Here is this year's (2003) lineup in order of appearance:

Friday

Center Stage
Murderdolls
The Donnas
Lifehouse
Maná
The Cardigans
Zwan
Iron Maiden

Alternastage
Whyte Seeds
Joachim Deutschland
mia
Blackmail
Die Happy
Dandy Warhols
The Hives
Silverchair
Reamonn

Talent Forum
Straight
Within Temptation
Soil
Tape
Molotov
Nothingface
Theory of a Deadman
Ministry
Mudvayne
Taproot

Saturday

Center Stage
Emil Bulls
Clawfinger
Stone Sour
Apocalyptica
Evanescence
Audioslave
Placebo

Alternastage
Surrogat
Saybia
The Ark
Tomte
Turin Brakes
Badly Drawn Boy
Stereophonics
Dave Gahan

Talent Forum
Instructive
Cancelled
Venice
Lucky 7
Flogging Molly
Virginia Jetzt!
Swosh
Underwater Circus
InMe
Chevelle
The Hellacopters

Sunday

Center Stage
Boysetsfire
Disturbed
Queens Of The Stone Age
Deftones
Marilyn Manson
Metallica

Alternastage
Stahlhofen
Creutzfeld & Jakob
Kool Savas
Deichkind
Saian Supa Crew
Patrice
ASD (Afrob & Samy Deluxe)
(Absolute) Beginner
Moby

Talent Forum
Conic
Kaizers Orchestra
Junior Senior
Hell Is For Heroes
Mother Tongue
Cave In
Rasmus
The Cooper Temple Clause
The Libertines
Danko Jones

Personal Experience

Apart from the fact that I didn't shower for three days and I guaranteed myself a nice skin cancer with a monster sunburn on the first day, RAR was pretty fun. We weren't extremely drunk but were able to keep slightly inebriated during the whole three days. RAR is BIG. Our camping spot, though right next to our parking space was a half hour from the actual festival. All along the way in every niche imaginable, were tents, garbage and drunk young adults. Not to say there weren't any older people there; i saw at least a couple older metalheads (even one in a wheelchair). The heat was murder, somewhere around 35 degrees centigrade. What made it worse was the absence of smog to filter any of the sunlight. Thus the collossal sunburn over my whole back and legs that is still healing now, 2 weeks later. Because of the heat we moved ourselves and our beer into the nearby woods which helped enormously. Each day we would spend most of the morning and afternoon there, drinking warm beer from 5 liter kegs. We were up around 9 every morning, since it was impossible to sleep any longer because of the sun shining on our tents. In the evening we eventually went to see some bands, usually around 6-7 PM when it turned a bit cooler. The bands I saw personally were:

Murderdolls: Like a funny version of Slipknot

Iron Maiden: Came to late and only caught the last couple songs

Deftones: Likewise, but still cool to hear some of their songs

Apocalyptica: Damn sweet, I learned an hour beforehand they were going to perform but still got up very close and they rocked

Marilyn Manson: Nice show but I didn't like the music enough to be crammed between so many sweaty, half-naked people and get shoved around all the time

Audioslave: Finally heard them for the first time, too bad I was far in the back

Silverchair: Music wasn't bad but stopped being fun after the lead singer started insulting Iron Maiden

Stone Sour: Some good music, but also only saw them for a couple of songs

Metallica: The last group I saw and by far the best, rocking like hell for two hours playing all the old classics and two off the new album, this is also where I crowdsurfed, feeling like a god for a minute until security up front pulled me out and sent me to the back again

Things You Need

If you ever consider going to RAR there are certain things you MUST have in your pack.

A. BEER

(Don't even THINK about going to RAR without beer. If you never drank it, you will. If you usually drink in moderation you will become a short time alcoholic and if you ARE an alcoholic, stay away from the place altogether. We were 4 people who brought along seven 5 liter kegs and 4 bottles of vodka. This was hardly enough, distributed over 3 days. Food isn't particularly important (unless you smoke a lot of weed) since you will be drinking most of the time. A couple of cans of beans will suffice.)

C. CIGARETTES

(If you don't smoke: Good for you. But if you do, you'll need a sizable amount of packs to get you through all three days. You can easily smoke one to two packs a day, not counting friends and total strangers who try to hit on you for a cig. A good choice is rolling tobacco: You automatically smoke less because you have to roll the cigarette first and a tobacco packet lasts for much longer than your average pack. Besides, less people want cigarettes from you. Two packets lasted me all three days.)

B. TOILET PAPER

(For more than just ass-wiping. Can be used to clean cups, forks/spoons/knives, plates, extract insects from your tent, clearing your nose, start a fire or wrap around the black strings of your tent that everybody seems to be tripping over.)

C. FLASHLIGHT
D. LIGHTER(s)
E. POCKET KNIFE WITH CAN OPENER
F. MANY PLASTIC EATING UTENSILS
G. CONDOMS

(All kinds of things happen at these festivals. Simply asking for sex won't hurt you, and your chances are better than anywhere else, believe me).

Also, try to get there on Wednesday. We started Thursday evening and hit a massive traffic jam at 9 that lasted until 2:00 AM (!!!). Luckily it was as fun as hell with people getting out of their cars and drinking, playing music and just having fun. After you to get to RAR, find out where the hell you are, since it's a bit hard to get your bearings at first. Print out a map from http://www.rockamring.de and take it with you. Get a playlist too. If there's a band you really, really like that everyone else likes, come a band or two earlier to make sure you get a good spot.

Rock On!

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