Few festivals present a extra dramatic distinction to their environment than Hellfest, a heavy metallic music pageant that happened final weekend within the peaceable countryside of Clisson close to Nantes in northwestern France.
Lined by quiet, bucolic vineyards, inside it’s a vista from Mad Max: an open-air enviornment with fire-belching metallic buildings and laser-lit fountains located amid a gothic steampunk wonderland. Previous the sector there’s a purpose-built city sq., a comic book e-book Camden full with bars, barber and tattoo parlour. A large crypt homes Hellfest’s official merchandise retailer. The six-stage occasion attracts roughly 240,000 black-clad metalheads over 4 days, and this yr hosts rock royalty equivalent to Mötley Crüe, Iron Maiden, Slipknot and Kiss. It’s the food and drinks, although, that may be a massive motive for followers coming again yr after yr.
Sixty meals distributors supply every thing from oozing raclette baguettes and burgers topped with native cheese le curé nantais, to savoury galettes and hulking platters of Argentine BBQ that includes sausage and steak. Chips nonetheless reign supreme however a aspect of younger potatoes and roast greens is widespread.
“I’m a chef and would say that is good meals – not only for a pageant,” says Luke, an eight-time Hellfest attendee from Fort Donington. “The range is unreal.” He and his good friend polish off beneficiant parts of potatoes topped with pulled pork, washed down with cups of muscadet.
The pageant campsite is surrounded by vineyards and muscadet is the native speciality. As Rancid play to a raucous crowd on the Warzone stage, native winemaker Sylvain Paquereau of Domaine de l’Epinay pours wine on the pageant’s devoted muscadet bar. “We make a particular pageant cruet which is bought in bottles with a particular label,” he says. “We promote about 6,000 bottles yearly throughout the weekend. And within the wine bar, with between 15 and 30 folks serving wine, we promote about 25,000 litres.” Hellfest’s wine accounts for round 5% of the vineyard’s total manufacturing, and the promotion is priceless.
“At first we have been actually stunned [by the numbers]; numerous folks drink beer however they take pleasure in tasting different issues just like the wine of the area. French folks learn about muscadet however folks from England and Germany see the vines round [the festival campsite] however don’t know what they’re for.”
Paquereau says the freshness of muscadet, a dry white wine, lends itself to the June warmth, with on-site temperatures topping 30 levels, and is greatest loved with oysters – a pairing served in premium hospitality areas. In addition to being taken dwelling by the 80 totally different nationalities that attend the pageant, bottles of Hellfest muscadet are additionally left in artist dressing rooms.
Based in 2006, Hellfest has grown right into a worldwide metallic phenomenon and brought Clisson, a city of roughly 8,000, with it. Indicators across the city proclaim it Rock Metropolis; in the meantime the Hellfest website itself has been became a year-round public park and customer attraction. Homes are rented out and native companies capitalise on the metallic euro: Benoît Payen of the native mayoral workplace says the pageant brings in an estimated €20m to the native economic system every year. Regardless of preliminary apprehension, he says the city is totally on board with the pageant, and it has positioned Clisson on the worldwide map.
“It was generally tough for the folks of Clisson – so many individuals wearing black,” says Marc-Antoine Etourneau, director at Clisson’s E Leclerc grocery store, referring to the hundreds of metalheads that descended in town the primary yr. “However now we take into account headbangers massive teddy bears.”
No go to to Hellfest is full with out a pilgrimage to this grocery store: hordes of metalheads spill out of the pageant every morning, many with carts, to replenish on alcohol and native produce together with bread, cheeses and cured meats. The grocery store receives a full metallic glow-up for the pageant, with unique merchandise, a stage, and stalls outdoors promoting every thing from consuming horns to battle jackets and themed scorching sauces.
A triumphant Sunday closes with a Slipknot set that I pair with a brioche roll filled with lobster, crayfish, mayonnaise, celery and parsley salad, with a aspect of do-it-yourself crunchy matchstick frites and washed down with a muscadet. Then, a grand firework show that might give a sure theme park in Paris a run for its cash.
The stroll again to the tent passes by a recreation of “trolley jousting” with carts presumably liberated from E Leclerc: an unofficial custom relationship again to early editions of the pageant. Just a few fleeting seconds of brutal collision and grappling are adopted by energetic retrievals of fallen opponents and bear-like hugs. It’s the identical exhilaration and camaraderie of Hellfests’s mosh pits – and a reminder that for all of the rarefied gastronomy, metallic was by no means about desk manners.