M.I.S.E. Open Air 2023 – meet the M:O:A makers

Meet the M.I.S.E. Heavy Metal Club. Let me introduces you to the crew behind the M.I.S.E. Open Air, a chilled metal festival from fans for fans.

What makes a good metal festival? – The bands and their performance, of course. A decent crowd happily celebrating the metal way of life? True. A cool location? – Certainly, too. Then again all this is merely a set of ingredients when there is no cooking without a cook! So again, what makes a good festival or more precisely, who makes it? – A crew of hard working folks. In our case, this crew is devoted to the bones and with their big double blast-beating heart to their club, and their festival. We give you the M.I.S.E. as they refer to themselves.

Summer has come to the idyllic hinterlands of Hessia and so have some dozens of metal acts, fairly the same number of heavy metal clubs, some hundreds of locals, as well as metalheads from all over the country, and even from Mexico! They all meet at the BBQ site of Büssfeld to celebrate life and metal at M.I.S.E. Open Air [M:O:A]. Amidst all the running of bands, crew members, headbangers, beer bearers and loo goers, a bunch of relaxed M:O:A makers take a few minutes to reply to some questions.

So meet the M:O:A makers

There is Marco, the president of the M.I.S.E. HMC whom you will run into everywhere but never find when you are looking for him. He is always in a hurry and keeping things running. Take him the father of everything, the club, the festival, the spirit.

Then there is Obelix, who has been around for longer than there is the M.I.S.E. or any sort of formal association. He is somewhat like the good soul of the M.I.S.E. family, always smiling, eager to help, and if necessary, deescalating cleverly but effectively.

Zonk is like the blood in the veins of M.I.S.E.. He is always present, doing whatever needs to be done, whether it’s backstage, at the tap, or with a cleaning bucket. He is deeply committed to his family, the M.I.S.E., even sort of a religious connection since he is the only one who married on the M:O:A stage.

Michelle represents the second generation, quite literally as Marco’s daughter. The club and the festival are her siblings, and as such, they help each other, even if they may not always have agreed on everything.

If Romina notices a need of action, there she is to help. She came with her spouse to stay for good. Together with Michelle, she forms the social media team. Their pink vests give them easily away wherever they are, busy speaking with guests, posting impressions from the ongoing party.

Finally, there is Deniz, rather a newbie in the M:O:A crew. He works for the security on the M:O:A to supplement his income. Thus his role and view on the festival is a little different from that of the others.

Some of the M:O:A makers. The crew is a maker as is the crowd, in charge of fun and partying.

Attached to the M.I.S.E. ‘twins’

Since the first M.I.S.E. Open Air back in 2013, eight more followed. It was a practically a twin birth, that of the M.I.S.E. Heavy Metal Club e.V. and its sibling, the M.I.S.E. Open Air. In case you wonder, no one needs a legal association (e.V.) to meet, enjoy metal or host parties. Running a full-scale festival, however, is another piece of cake. A bunch of metal-loving kids has met here for way before, I hear. “I was sixteen, when I first came here”, Obelix says, “last summer I turned fourty.” Zonk only drops incidental: “I’ve been here since the second M:O:A. I didn’t notice the first one because I wasn’t in the club then, but since the second time I’ve been a full member.” Michelle and Romina count their festival ribbons. “We have eight. In the first year, we had none.” Thus, Michelle has come here from M:O:A day one on and Romina concludes, she has come since 2015. Most people, I speak with, have come here for numerous years at least which leaves Deniz a newbie, working here only the second time.

You get attached to it because you see how it started from small and how big we are now. If that’s no longer there overnight, I personally miss something. It would hurt.” [Zonk]

You cannot miss the devotion when they speak of their festival, or rather their baby. I doubt that with less devotion the M:O:A could take place at all.

Still, this is too often how we are seen. Gloomy, aggressive, negative. Merely a distortion (like this image) of what the metal world really is.

Highly esteemed volunteer work?

Before  we can dive into guts of the M:O:A, I feel urged to once again vent my frustration about the narrow-mindedness of the mainstream. At the M.I.S.E Open Air, there are some 70 club members, their friends and families, affiliated clubs, and neighbours and hell knows who else. They work in over 400 shifts, excluding setup and dismantling, and of course, countless hours for planning, accounting, and post-production of the festival; all this plus the hired professional services. Save for those very few professionals, the vast majority does all this for free after work, in their holidays and on their weekends. “Because we don’t earn anything here. It’s not like at big festivals, like Wacken [80.000] or something else, where 10, 15 or 20.000 people come. Where the staff who work there get paid an hourly wage. We do it all voluntarily, without pay. And all our helpers – it’s the same. This is the only way we can try to maintain the prices we have.” Zonk tells me.

In Germany, voluntary work actually is highly esteemed. Fire brigades beyond the big city lights vitally depend on it, for example. Working on and for the M:O:A is nothing less than hard voluntary work but hardly as highly esteemed as training the kids in any sports club. Although this work cannot be praised highly enough, in response to my interview requests, I hear repeatedly, “I would love to, but please without a photo and without a name.” – And why? Because many employers still view our subculture through the lens of dark prejudices, and their employees may face disadvantages if their involvement becomes public. One can assume that if the M:O:A were a soccer tournament or classical festival, these same employers would wholeheartedly appreciate the same commitment perhaps even donate to make it work.

A glimps on the idyllic village of Büssfeld

Büssfeld is different

Then again, there is a different way. Michelle from M.I.S.E.’s social media team sums it up like this: “Of course, it has grown even more over the years. In the beginning, it was all a bit different here. We were eyed a bit. “Oh, the ones with the long hair” and so on. In the meantime, it’s impossible to imagine Büssfeld without the M:O:A.” 

Many [local] associations help. The volunteer fire brigade helps with the set-up. I think the LandFrauen [social club of local women] help, too.” Romina lists and Michelle adds: “It’s a give and take. And many of us are also in other clubs. For example, I am also in the voluntary fire brigade. I’m also in the table tennis club. We are a big community. There is a great deal of cohesion among us.”

During the weekend I encounter several examples of spontaneous helpers showing up on the site, accidentally on day one but only to return the next days as well. Some of them are managers on weekdays, and during the festival, they are kitchen assistants and fill-in workers. Another employer ensures that their employee also has Monday off after the festival so that they don’t have to go straight back to work after dismantling.

No demographic change in Büssfeld

The village of Büssfeld is a village just like thousands of others in Germany or wherever else in Europe. It is all but the spot you would expect to find a Heavy Metal Club (HMC) at all, and even less to be a sprock of a neatly running village machinery. Forgive me pressing all those stereotypes. It is only to mark how special it is what we have here. The Hessian hinterlands provide numerous examples for depopulation and aging residual population. The surroundings of Homberg/Ohm make no exception but then Büssfeld does! All around, people migrate to larger cities in need of jobs or longing for the seductive [cultural] infrastructure. Fleeing the villages grows the several lacks in the countryside all the same as the issues resulting from overpopulation in the cities.

“We do not have a demographic change. A lot of people move here. People feel comfortable here and we are really a community.” [Michelle]

Büssfeld is different in yet another way, as Michelle and Romina tell me. People move here instead of away from here, they point out. Back in the day, there was a youth club down in the village where hip-hop ruled the loudspeakers. On the other hand there was the BBQ site with a shed but used only on few weekends for family parties. Far away, from everybody who could possibly be annoyed by shredding guitars and growling throats, it made the cradle for the M.I.S.E. and naturally only the acceptable spot for the M:O:A to take place.

In Times Of Hardships

The summer 2023 turned out to be the game-over for surprisingly many (metal) festivals. Forever. The M:O:A survived. For very good reasons, none of us wants to think of financial hardships neither with a beer in the crowd nor afterwards reading a festival report. Yet this is exactly, what we have to think of if we want to attend our favourite festivals in 2024 again. Furthermore, as we all can spend our money only once we have to chose.

Many festivals have had to close their gates forever recently while the M:O:A thrieves. It seems all to be about the ticket pre-sales when this is only the tip of the iceberg.

Zonk tells me: “Going to Wacken for example, it’s 600 Euros for the tickets of a couple, plus 200 Euros to get there and back. You will pay roughly 2000 Euros in the end as you will need to eat and drink and maybe buy some merch, too. That’s as much as you would pay for a one-week holiday with your whole family. Five days of Wacken or five days of a holiday, I know what I’d do. And then all this overloaded program. Cool, yes. But how can I make it to see 200 bands? No. Too big. Too many people.”

Big events are big business, but small events maybe not. It is a difficult choice if you go on a holiday, attend one of the big festivals or rather a couple of smaller festivals all for the same total amount of money. If you go for one of the festival options, one thing however is for sure: None of those, can happen if we don’t make them happen. Zonk gave his views on the topic: “We could make it bigger. But we don’t want to. Because then the charm and atmosphere were lost. What’s the good in being bigger if people won’t come?”

“the pre-sale of tickets that regulates the festival”[Zonk]

Because you have to get bigger in everything. The stage gets bigger, and so becomes more expensive. You have to find the money somewhere. The lion share of the money is made through ticket sales in advance – incidentally, it’s the pre-sale of tickets that regulates the festival. If that doesn’t go well, you unfortunately have to cancel your festival. That’s probably what happened with the other festivals [that were cancelled or completely abandoned].” Zonk says.

On a social psychological view, we all might have lost our solemn faith in the reliability of our sound plans. Hell knows if there is any festival summer to come at all? Additionally, the soaring inflation can burn our income possibly before we can feed our kids. This is all but the setting to buy a ticket for a festival in 2024. Even more reasons we have to get to know the M.I.S.E. makers and their festival from fans for fans.


The M.I.S.E. Open Air

M:O:A running

You can see the M.I.S.E. president Marco running all over from dusk till dawn and dawn till dusk. Sleep? Who needs sleep? Or more precisely who can (afford) sleep while running the festival? Marco would love to tell us more but then yet another urgent call need his attending. While the dark lines under his eyes keep growing, the party moves on. His smile, however, will never fade as long as the bands keep playing and the beer taps do not run dry. “Here”, on his way off, he points towards the arriving truck, “comes our most important supply. Has never let us down!” Already the precious casks get unloaded to quench the heat- and dust-driven thirst for Hessian apple wine. (Side note: Unlike cidre or cider, traditional Hessian apple wine is not sparkling and as such actually wine. It runs in taps over here which might reveal its regional popularity.)

Possibly the best spot above the crowd and perfect view on the stage

As Marco is too busy running for an interview, I stop by at the back office. The result is pretty much the same. The Busy Bee has hardly a chance to go to the loo next to managing accreditations, seeing bands to their backstage areas and taking care of all the other questions addressed to her. I overhear two crew members discussing if one of them can stay at the office while the actual queen of the realm would attend to her privacies for five minutes. Not a chance. “Off you go. You’re late, too. Look, I have a key and I am willing to use it. It’s as simple as this: Whoever wants something will have to wait”, she calls over than looking at me. Time to speak? Not a chance either.

At the gate to the backstage area two guys are in charge. One would do perhaps if only this was their sole task. But as one of them is seeing the new arrivals to the office or their parking lot, the other one is approached by some other questions urging him to leave his spot. It turns out the team is father and son! With a little patience, we find a moment to speak. It is actually them who suggest to consider the social media team for an interview. They should hardly be overlooked in their pink high-visibility vests, I hear.

There are several reasons why I have not spotted them earlier, I am soon to find out. Their position is rather new as are their shiny new vests plus they do their regular-schedule, six-hours shifts daily, too. That keeps them running and me searching.

At the Gates

At the gates of the festival area is a central spot. Only on a second view you will notice that everything comes together just here. Access to in-field, camping, parking, the showers of the camp meet here as do access for paramedics, suppliers and security. So, I pass by here many a times each of the festival days. That again gets me in chats with people up here. Despite all the traffic and running, everything is a bit more relaxed than down in the pit in front of the stage, if only because there is shade and a gentle breeze. It is here that I meet Obelix and Zonk but also many others such as the friendly head of security, the pale pink unicorn with the great passion for the M.I.S.E. pizza, the relaxed and companionable ‘keeper of keys’ among all the others. The easy-going atmosphere up here is not to lead to false conclusions. Here, as everywhere else, the crew has a though job and long shifts. It simply happens to be also one of the favourite spots for taking a break and where you can experience literally the cohesion and commitment with the M:O:A of all in Büssfeld .

It is Saturday afternoon, as I find myself once more at the gates. The big red fire truck approaches on the narrow field road. “The guys are coming for their shift at the beer tap,” I hear a voice from behind me, continuing, “So that in case of an emergency, they don’t have to go all the way to the station in the village, they bring the fire truck along.”

The truck needs the full width of the road. It is difficult enough to pass by pedestrians with a smaller car, impossible to them. They do not come alone. An elderly lady is very determined walking in her own speed right in the middle of the path. All eyes rest on her heading this unique procession. Her whelled walker would not work on the grassy strip next to the road. Even more, it is beyond respect to hurry the likely oldest visitor of the festival. The driver seems not entirely happy with the speed of his arrival. Meanwhile the guys around me discuss the penalty should the fire fighters lose patience. Either the elderly lady does not care or does not notice all this. Anyway, she continues in her natural speed and disappears in the in-field soon. Later Michelle and Romina tell me about Jutta, 93-years old grandma of Romina’s spouse. She would come each festival, to join the crowd. It might be her, who forced the fire brigade into snail mode.

The tradition of mutual support

There is a tradition of partner HMCs of mutually attending their events. They come to support – financially as well as adding to the numbers -, to meet with friends and party together. Numerous also come to lend their helping hands, taking regular shifts. By the way, the M.I.S.E. members do three shifts of six hours each or work as long as they are awake and present.

Another share of helping hands comes with local associations taking shifts such as the fire brigade at the taps. Others come to help because their family, friends or spouses are here although neither of them are necessarily M.I.S.E. members. It might just as good a sister of a fire brigade member who ends up helping here. Romina, however, originally came to help as a spouse of M.I.S.E. member and Michelle is family while Obelix has be around as long as metal echoed from the loudspeakers up here.

So all but surprisingly, many families are around, even with young kids and this not only during the traditional opening performed by The Rockin’ Kids, a band formed by students from a regional music school. For the few professionals in the crew, the M:O:A is a job. Deniz however, says: “Well, in the end, it’s mainly because of the money, but also to experience everything. You have the opportunity to see artists and work with them, depending on where you are assigned, without having to pay the high ticket prices. It’s a chance to get a glimpse behind the scenes.”

It is natural to help each other in the social mechanisms of German rural societies. The soccer team used to attend the events of the local choir. Choirs from the neighbouring villages would mutually attend their events, too, both in order to enlarge the paying crowd and ensure a lion share of the income. The local butcher etc. were to supply the catering of local events and all of that worked vice versa, of course. The next step in the rural support scheme would be associations taking shifts or help with setting up or taking down of the event installations. Family, spouses and friends of the members of organizing associations would naturally counted in as helpers, not entirely as volunteer at times. Is this not what you just read about the M:O:A? This said, the M:O:A reflects the M.I.S.E. being perfectly integrated in the local social economic system, and yet it is curious to see a metal festival and a heavy metal club working neatly in all this.

Tasks and responsibilities

Deep down insight the belly of any festival organism, each is unique. Yes, all have stages, in-fields, portals and crews running it and performers on stage. Then again, all humans have eyes, ears and noses and yet no two faces are identical, right? So each festival is unique at the very least in this regard, too.

“The professional teams are assigned to their subjects, of course. But otherwise “up here, no one has a permanent position. That has changed every year apart perhaps the board members”, explains Zonk There is for example Marco, the president who from the look of it is the one head of everything, but also stage host, moderator or main trouble shooter, the first to ask everything and as such everywhere and nowhere at the very same time.

The social media claim

Michelle and Romina posing with their co-worker in their realm

An exception to this rule are Romina and Michelle in their role as social media managers. Michelle remarks that at some point they claimed the tasks. Romina gives longer version: “So at the annual general meeting it was once again about pushing ticket sales. It’s been one of those things for me all along where I thought, we’re not yet using all the channels we could use to make our festival better known and somehow stimulate ticket sales. The advantage of Instagram is now, of course, that we can simply show pictures of what it looks like here. We just brought it up and Marco said: ‘Yes. I can’t do it. Who’s going to do it now?’ And I said: ‘Well, I’ll do it.”

Most of the helpers just do what needs to be done. Some show up spontaneously and as already said, once they do, they likely return the next day, such as Zonk’s mum. “Yesterday, my mother stood in for my wife because our little one was sick and took over her duties. Now the little one is healthy again, and is now with the other grandparents. And my mother is here again today, volunteering for a shift.” Do I need to mention that Zonk’s wife is doing her shift too, again? So, one dropping out on one shift equals one getting in doing two shifts.

400 shifts plus x

The M:O:A comes with a hell lot of work for each one engaged. Despite the extensive schedule of shifts, there is need for even more workforce. Sticking with Michelle and Romina, apart from their omnipresent social media task, they still do their three six-hours shifts during the weekend. Obelix and Zonk are on duty more or less as long as they are around and awake, too. Certainly that is no less the case for any of the board members, as neither of their tasks can be limited to any shift. All this reflects the incredible commitment of each with the M.I.S.E..

The commitment with the event does not depend on the M.I.S.E. membership for the locals. I hear about local bank manager. Someone working on the M:O:A called her if she could stop by to bring an ingredient she would hopefully have in store and that was needed in the catering. She did. Immediately and left only six hours and hundreds of fresh pizzas backed later. The next day she came again to do another shift at the pizza station. So people end up helping here no one would expect and sometimes even the core members of the club do not know all the helpers.


M.I.S.E. – the father, the daughter and the whole lot

M.I.S.E. = I don’t give a shit

M.I.S.E. reads in German almost like a popular synonym of mean. Actually, it is an acronym saying: “Ist mir scheiss egal” which translates to: I don’t give a shit. Isn’t that exactly the attitude the straight-laced mainstream associates metalheads with? Gloomy creatures dressed in black, radiating aggression and don’t giving a shit about decency? From our point of view, the world looks differently, of course. Then M.I.S.E. is home, as Romina’s puts it: “So I say, metal is now becoming more and more conventional, and you can put more and more out there what you actually live. But here, I’a among like-minded, it’s all in a very familiar setting.”

In one way or another everybody, I ask about the motivation to be here, and to work here, mentions family. “For some people this here is like family”, Obelix explains. It is the elective family and it supplies a need.

Zonk or as M.I.S.E. as can be.

“… this familiar contact. Here, everyone sticks together, no matter what. Even if it says on my back: ‘I don’t give a shit’ – but if it is about us, we do give a shit about it.”[Zonk]

“Friendship, it’s just all so related to the M.I.S.E. The family thing, everyone helps each other, even if you have private problems. The club is there. I do it because of the spirit that exists here.”, Zonk says and goes on: “If you have financial problems, you can always come. If you can’t pay your club dues, your annual club dues, which are not at all high, then you go to the board and say, ‘Hey, guys, it’s currently looking like this and like that.’ Nobody says ‘OMG’, but they look for the problems and then ask for the root of it. You will not be left in the lurch here. We support you, because it’s no use for anyone if a good man or several other people just say overnight: I’m leaving. There must be some reason for that. Also, you do worry about the people. It doesn’t matter who it is. We are family. That’s really how it is.”

“We’re kind of like a big family that comes together and wants to party together and put on something awesome”, says Michelle about the M.I.S.E. and their motivation. So let’s dive into the guts of the festival now.

How to join the M.I.S.E.

Social life in villages largely depends on institutions like the soccer or other sports clubs, the volunteer fire brigade and local shops or pubs if there are some at all. It was normal to help and support another [at least] in history. These local institutions have kept this tradition alive if possible and at least among the traditional institutions. The M.I.S.E. has grown into this and not surprisingly, the club members living in Büssfeld often are engaged in other clubs as well. So nowadays, the M.I.S.E. is one more club you can join in Büssfeld and like Michelle also be active in volunteer fire brigade and the table tennis club, by the way although she moved to study some hundred kilometres away.

Yet not all M.I.S.E. members actually live in Büssfeld. Zonk for example replied to an advert selling a spare part he needed. The seller asked him to pick up the part at his place the next weekend and turned out to be Marco. They knew each other actually from other metal events. Marco invited him to stay for a beer, naturally with the others. Soon Zonk found himself in several chat groups and again at the BBQ attracted by the familiar atmosphere. He became a regular, and quickly invited with ‘some charming emphasize’ to join the M.I.S.E..

Romina’s story after helping on that one M:O:A went on like this. She kept on helping with the festival (and most likely also on other occasions we missed to speak of), “and at some point Marco or Lemmi just gave me a back patch and said, ‘so, you’re in now. We’ll do the paperwork later”. – Obviously, there is a pattern as the club preferably recruits by invitation. This procedure conveys a compliment and ensures commitment with the club.

M:O:A: – When work is fun

Why on earth do all these people work here so hard while others party as heavy as they can, I wonder. “Fun”, Obelix replies. He is paramedic and fully educated security officer in his day job. His smile while we speak mirrors the deep confidence he finds in helping people, or being among his club friends and getting all the music on top. “Up here you have, in my opinion, a sound mix better than down in from the stage.” But there is more to his spot around the gate, he points out: “Up here, it is always quite breezy, all the more if you’re not too keen on masses of humans it’s really stupid. And when the sun burns really tough, up here it is really way more pleasant rather than down there.”

Bubbles rule …

Romina’s personal motivation is rooted in the commitment with the HMC, too. She loves to spend time with the people she likes. Furthermore, it provides the setting to be how and who she really is. “So I say, metal is now becoming more and more conventional and you can put more and more out there what you actually live. But here,  is like-minded, in a very familiar setting. In a small setting, unlike at huge festivals. For me, it’s just like free time. I don’t see it as work, to be honest. So of course it’s also kind of exhausting to be here the whole weekend.”

Devotion rewarded

Running into Marco, I learn the M:O:A is his ‘baby’ or perhaps his third child. He compares the running festival to pregnancy and childbirth. Humbly he mentions that he was honoured to experience this twice and emphasizes his comparison would include the throwing up, feeling sick, the horrible pain, the doubts and fears and of course also the unbearable joy of holding your baby in your arms. Managing and then running the festival had it all, too.

Offspring for the still too few female metal artists? Anyway only small festivals really offer the opportunity to be that close to Holy Moses and all the others.

Funny enough, speaking with Michelle, his daughter little later, she uses the same metaphor. As a teenager there was a time when did not share her father’s enthusiasm for her metaphorical siblings, she mentions. Since she joined the M.I.S.E. aged sixteen she has been even more committed. As much as Michelle likes to be as a visitor on a festival, at the M:O:A she can meet and speak with people she would otherwise never meet. “For example, last night, Gerre from Tankard actually hugged me and said: “Thank you so much for being so great, for taking such good care of us. That wouldn’t happen to me otherwise.”

The motivation is deeply rooted in the commitment to, either the club and/or Büssfeld. Zonk says: “If one day there will be no more M.I.S.E. in Büssfeld, I will trash my kutte. Because that’s truly my family, and I support them wherever I can. If it no longer exists here in Büssfeld, I won’t need the kutte anymore. I can still listen to music. That’s my attitude!”

Long days’ labour and short nights’ rest

No doubt, running the M:O:A is a big thing for all helping hands. The longer the days last, the shorter the night rest becomes. Working on the festival is as much a labour as it is mental work. It is full of responsibility and exhaustive. Is there a point at which our enthusiasts simply wish to fast forward to the closing gig or even better Sunday morning? How do they feel when they get up in the festival mornings?

Michelle sums up: “I think it changes over the course of the festival. It’s been always fun doing this work, otherwise, I wouldn’t do it. It’s very, very time-consuming.” Romina agrees and admits that she enjoys the luxury of her nearby ‘Hotel Mum’ where she would get enough sleep in a real bed and a relaxing shower.

Obelix – always busy and always smiling

At mornings, definitely: I need coffee!Obelix says with a smile. When he wants to sleep, his last thought rather likely is “Guys, turn down the music! – Because the first few days they’re in a celebratory mood. That’s clear. And when you go to bed at five in the morning, they don’t think about the fact that you have to get up again in three hours.” He goes on: “Last night I knocked on the neighbourhood’s door and asked if half the volume wasn’t enough, because the people sleeping next door would be at the beer tap tomorrow. And if they’re in a bad mood in the morning, you all won’t have any fun.’ Two minutes later, the music was only half as loud. Optimal.”

“Here I come with lots of tiredness. Well, I’m not doing anything earth-shatteringly exhausting but at some point, you just get worn out”, tells me Deniz laughing. “It always depends on who is performing. Either you’re happy because, I don’t know, you saw some great band or a big DJ that you like. Or you have a headache if it’s not really your kind of music.”

Zonk admits that his quality of sleep depends a bit on his blood alcohol level. From a certain point on he would be kept awake by a train of thoughts anymore. Nevertheless, “I usually get up confidently every morning, looking forward for the work even though it is exhausting and all that.”

Tossing and Turning

Who needs sleep? Having the obvious reply in mind, I simply wonder if there is any time left to sleep for the M.I.S.E. guys and girls. Zonk has been in the ‘lack of sleep’ boot camp trained by his child for  two and a half year now. He is used to get up very early for his day job and thus is happy with three to four hours sleep at night during the ongoing M:O:A. He tells me that yesterday he took a nap during the day. He had asked his brother to wake him after one hour and woke after two, feeling refreshed. His brother had decided to let him sleep as to make use of the opportunity and that turned out just fine.

“Yes, how much sleep? That’s relative. Yesterday I started at half past seven, had breakfast at eight, went to bed at four fifty am and got up at six. Sometimes a bit too little. But that’s ok.” Obelix replies. His shifts as paramedic might be a perfect M:O:A boot camp. By the way, in the afternoons he usually leaves the BBQ site with his lady to take care of their horses. He usually spends the entire week at the site.

Some of the crew actually manage to get approximately five hours of sleep during the festival nights, such as Romina or Deniz while others in total not more than ten during the whole festival.  “That’s just what it is”, Zonk says. “That’s no different to the visitor here than to us. There are people here dropping to bed at five to appear at the breakfast at nine. That’s also only four hours.”

The M:O:A camps are open for the crowd from Wednesday to Sunday. For this time most of the M:O:A makers rather live than stay on the location. The set up usually begins on the Saturday before the festival and has to be finished on Wednesday when the gates open for the warm-up. A long list of administrative checks have to take place, too. Is the stage installed technically save? Does the catering zone and tap areas fit the hygiene standards for producing food and selling drinks? Apart from endless paperwork, officials have to check on site before the gates can open. Consequently, setting up the festival cannot be done at the weekend and after work only. Therefore the M.I.S.E. is present the entire week. Taking down everything works a lot faster, Zonk points out. And naturally there will be left-overs to be taken care of ensuring not to waste any precious beer or pizza!

Heavy Metal Club – New impulse for rural communities

The M.I.S.E. HMC is a strong group, meaning the members share a strong cohesion for another and their club. Thus, it is natural to be around, and as being present helping comes just as natural. I was not surprised if the cohesion within the M.I.S.E. had grown with the festival.

A heavy metal club being fully integrated into village mechanisms is at least in Germany surprising. Still the music is as exotic as is the traditional looks of metalheads to the majority in a village. Apart from that, it is just another club or association because the dynamics and mechanisms we explored here match perfectly with the rural traditions. Actually, the commitment and cohesion might be rather exotic in the anonymity of a big city. Yet it takes a good deal of open-mindedness to overcome stereotypes on either side – that of the metalheads as well as the ‘rubes’. Beyond this, the M.I.S.E HMC in Büssfeld can make an example for one tool for other villages to revitalise, stop depopulation and even in a further step spark a new economic impulse.

Good vibes of Büssfeld

Could you take a photo of us? – Sure, my pleasure!

Michelle’s hug from Tankard’s Gerre shows that the great atmosphere is not limited to the crew running the festival and the visitors in the pit. Artists feeling appreciated by their hosts may be a factor often underestimated. When budgets get tighter on either side, bands might favour travelling short distances and a welcoming host over big festival names in far-and-away locations. Quality does not depend on business terms. Professionality is rather an attitude than a matter of accounting. Passion and devotion easily outrun stiff rules of business if there is no personal spirit engaged.

By the way, there will be an additional gallery report on all the magnificent metal acts of the M:O:A 2023 plus two more interviews. So stay tuned.

Support your locals

Support your locals. There will be many more than those here.

You can meet Obelix and Zonk, Marco and Deniz, Romina and Michelle, and all the others on M:O:A 2024. If travelling to the Hessian hinterlande might exceed your budget, look around your doorstep. There will be numerous small festivals nearby and certainly even plenty of tiny countryside stages hosting a decent line-up from the neighbourhood free of charge for the crowd. The M:O:A makers and the crew there deserve your support.

If the M:O:A makers can teach us one thing that it is that we all sit in the same boat and rowing together will get us to best possible end. Then the odds are in favour that this goes with stretching the butter on too much bread still but leaves you and the festival crews butter to stretch at all.

See you at the 10th M:O:A in 2024

Is there going to be a M:O:A in the next year? It all depends on a vote in the end of a plenary assembly shortly after the previous M:O:A. It is the occasion to give and sort out all kinds of feedback, issues and complaints only to vote in the end pro or con doing it all again.

Obviously, the M.I.S.E. voted pro the next festival because they have already announced their 10th M:O:A taking place in 2024 and kicked off their pre-sales. Remember: the pre-sales make a festival happen or not.


Photos by Muumi-Katja
Thanks to Oli Odin Grimbart. Check out his M:O:A 23 epos
and thank you Friend X for your ideas and time.

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