Hellfest 2014. One of the biggest heavy metal festivals of all time. This year there would be such greats playing as Iron Maiden, Slayer, Carcass, and Black Sabbath. Suffice to say, the French metal scene was aflutter with anticipation for months on end. They were preparing what was surely to be the greatest heavy metal event the nation had ever seen. I was lucky enough to work for the festival, this along with my previous work with my heavy metal blog gave me an incredible level of access. I decided to take this intimate knowledge of the festival to divulge a story about Hellfest, not just another review.
Day 5: The journey home
Now usually people say that their homeward journey was boring and defined by a massive hangover. Not me, I’m far too stupid for it to go that simply. See, my friends and I ended up sneaking onto a train going in the wrong direction and going a hundred kilometers in the wrong direction. Suddenly, we found ourselves stranded in the small town of Belleville, with no train due for four hours. We had not even a hundred Euros between us and no clue how to get to somewhere that could take us to Nantes and then Paris. Realizing there was no attendant in the train station and all of our phones were running out of minutes, and there was no way we would find someone to give us a ride we realized we were screwed. Or so it seemed.
Somehow we were able to call a taxi, we thought we had just enough money to cover it. As the taxi arrived we realized that we might get blown off for smelling of beer and not having showered in days. Yet Thor smiled upon us, the driver had a son our age and her boss had been to Hellfest. She knew she could trust metal dudes and that despite our alcoholic despair we meant no harm. The kind woman even thought it was funny that we had barely eaten for the past week, having instead (As you well know by now) indulged in vast amounts of alcohol, she said it reminded her of her own son. She took us to the nearest large station and even gave us a small discount on our taxi fare, things were looking up for our intrepid trio.
Now, we had to sneak past security and get onto this next train. With no place to sit, we were forced to try and find a spot in an area that looked like it was normally reserved for baggage. Surrounded by hobos and their ilk I realized we had truly become hitchhikers. Why, that night my only prepared lodging was a squat. Electro-space hippies getting dirty looks from paying passengers, such was the sorry state of our existence. If that’s not coming of age, I don’t know what is. Here we were in the middle of nowhere, struggling to find our way out of a tight spot, with no 100% guarantee of a safe place to sleep on the other side. But perhaps this was some of that Hellfest magic left over. We were finding our way back from the middle of nowhere, we were young men proving ourselves, that we could triumph in the face of all adversity. Sure we didn’t know each other before Thursday, and sure we all came from a different far flung corner of the world, yet somehow bonds greater than we could imagine had united us, trying to find a way out. We may not have hunting expeditions to prove our worth, nor do we have fights for honor (Usually), but we have this, hung over misadventures that test resourcefulness and show that perhaps mankind isn’t as screwed as we always say it is.
The adventure still wasn’t over though, we know had to smuggle ourselves on board yet another train for a two and half hour ride from Nantes to Paris. My friend Dennis and I had a conversation about politics while Tai slept. We were never even ticketed, feigning sleep every time the officer came by. Technically we had tickets, but they were for an earlier train. We had come so far we didn’t want to risk getting kicked off, and we didn’t have the money to pay the fine. So we crossed our fingers and hoped for the best, and somehow, we made it through. On top of that, there were definitely some illicit substances being transported, and quite frankly, smuggling products which shall remain unnamed for 600 kilometers through the heart of France is not something I needed to be busted for in my hung over state.
Perhaps the most notable thing that happened on our ride home was the middle aged woman next to me asking me about metal culture. She was shocked at how quiet and respectful we were. She also was impressed at how none of us had our cell phones out. As I explained some of the basic tenets of metal culture to a woman who had been kind enough to show an interest I started to realize something. As we had been reminded on the first day of our trip: metal is one retarded screwed up family, and I like it this way. Here we were, bold, drunk and on the verge of discovery. Maybe we would never find the American dream, but we certainly could unravel the sacred secrets and paradigms that define so much of our existence.