Never mind the weather (photo: Manfred Nikitser)
Germany - Wacken fans don't let the weather stop them. It's not for nothing that ‘rain or shine’ is the rallying cry of party-loving metal fans who travel to northern Germany from all corners of the world for Wacken Open Air (WOA).
This year, metalheads had to be particularly strong. Days of constant rain had so softened the ‘Holy Ground’ of the festival site that a travel stop had to be imposed for the first time in the festival’s history. Anyone who made it onto the grounds though still got the full Wacken experience, including knee-deep mud.
Lighting designer Jerry Appelt, who has been associated with the massive metal festival for 20 years, has also experienced a lot in Wacken. “I am emotionally attached to the festival,” he said. “It was remarkable how the organisers dealt with the very difficult situation this year.”
More than ever, Elation’s Proteus series of weatherproof lights showed its advantages under such adverse weather conditions with 72 Proteus Maximus and 48 Proteus Excalibur an integral part of the lighting design.
Technically, Jerry, who designed the lighting for the two main stages, relied on a mix of new and tried-and-tested for WOA 2023. On a festival of this size, the primary aim is to provide the most multifunctional setup possible to suit the many bands yet additional focus is placed on the recognition value of the festival. “Visitors should know at first glance that they are at Wacken. The look and feel of the festival must of course be continued from year to year. This is a very clear wish of the organisers,” explains Jerry.
This also includes the long-distance effect of the two powerful main stages. “For Wacken we always create an overall lighting architecture that works across the entire square,” the designer continues. “That’s why we still use the good old searchlights here, which you can see from the motorway 15km away.”
Classic, widely visible fans of light around the main stages also make up part of the concept. For this, Jerry relied on the Proteus Excalibur, which “supplied the space with lighting architecture” on the stage wings and piano towers. “The Excalibur is my first choice for close and medium-range open-air events because it delivers a convincing beam structure. Nothing frays and the fixture makes a really nice imprint.”
Jerry anchored the audience lighting using the Proteus Maximus, which he often uses at larger open-air events. “The festival shows on the main stages are now almost entirely broadcast via livestream,” he explains. “It is therefore important that you see the audience as a whole in the broadcast and not film it into a black hole. After all, Wacken is not only about the music but also about togetherness and the very special festival spirit that is created by the people.”
On the one hand, the Proteus Maximus earns praise for its “absolutely reliable IP65 certification,” and on the other hand for its “convincing light output,” states the designer.
Independent of the Wacken Open Air festival, Jerry recently had the opportunity to test another member of the Proteus series for the first time, and was immediately enthusiastic: “I was impressed by the Proteus Brutus,” he said. “I'm a Fresnel fan and the Brutus has an integrated shutter system. Add to that the advantages of IP65… I’m really looking forward to doing my first productions with this fixture soon.”
Alongside Jerry Appelt, Matthias Rau, Manfred Nikitser, Ole Güllich and Emmanuel Jörgner also waded through the sacred mud of Wacken 2023. Jonas Horney from Salty Dog Studios Hamburg handled lighting pre-programming, ensuring a harmonious transition from the virtual to the real world on site.

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