Beer in hand or arms crossed under garden hoses, tens of thousands of festival-goers braved the heat wave to rediscover the enhanced atmosphere of Hellfest, a metal block high that opened Friday in Loire-Atlantique after two empty years.
A wet keffiyeh stuck under the hat, a cup of blond in the hand, a red Nuit Farlin that does not go away because of the “bogoti” below 40 degrees Celsius. The 34-year-old, ten versions of Hellfest on the clock, wouldn’t have missed recovering in Clisson because of “nothing in the world”: “It’s unique here, it’s our sanctuary, our freedom ours,” explains Noe Farlin, of Lille.
In swimsuits, horned helmets, cowboy hats, long beards, colorful tattoos and neon Iroquois, cheerful festival-goers danced tirelessly, among the dodgers. In front of the main platform, festival volunteers sprayed them every afternoon with a garden hose.
Giant nebulizers were installed alongside the six stages, and water points, water bottles and water bottles exceptionally licensed doubled to handle the heat wave. “We have done our best to allow festival-goers to stay hydrated. We are on the utmost vigil, regarding firefighters, and on alert if there are decisions to be made as the situation evolves,” festival sponsor Benjamin Barbeau confirmed to AFP.
Notched bracelets and denim shorts, Lisa Gelatin stands, arms outstretched, under a metal arch from which cold water flows. “I’m burning. But I don’t care because I’ve been waiting for this for two years: to go wild in the crowd,” smiles the 27-year-old, as she pops out of her banana a tube of 50-index sunscreen.
Hellfest was canceled in 2020 and then in 2021 due to the pandemic, Hellfest opened in an exceptional edition, staged over two weeks rather than one holiday, and the Metallica Monster was the original main title. Three hundred and fifty hard rock, punk and metal bands, including Guns N’Roses, Deep Purple, and Scorpions, bring out their big guitars in the middle of Nantes’ vineyards for seven days of festivities.
Dozens of festival-goers took advantage of the small square of shade, in the afternoon under the few trees of the 60 hectares of fields and along the surrounding walls. “As he was denied leave for two years,” Lorenzo Carey, 27, topless and long-haired bandana, is delighted to return to Cleason, where he meets his friends every year “from the four corners of France.”
Hit says he will not “drink much” and will wait until the end of the afternoon to “clean up”. He was still drinking his “early morning” beer, before the sun went down hard.
“Beer hydrates”, assures Johan Wiesow, 40, and wears a khaki hat to protect him from sunburn. More than the dignitaries, whom he had all seen playing “at least once”, came to Helvest “for the air” and “for the people”, the “metal men are happy to be there” with whom the pogo never ends in a fight.
The number of spectators is expected to reach 420,000 over the seven days of the festival, more than double the number welcomed in 2019 which reached 180,000 in its last edition before the health crisis. The first weekend, June 17-19, heavyweights from the metal or rock scene are expected, such as Faith No More, Judas Priest, Deftones, Deep Purple, Offspring and Killing Joke.
The second installment, June 23-26, was added in June 2021, with stars Metallica, Guns N’Roses, Scorpions, Alice Cooper, and Bad Religion.