Belgrade honors the legends in the Ušće mud

Last week I did something I hadn’t done in years: Took a week off overwhelmingly for my own amusement.

Still paid attention to the news and came back from Serbia with several kilograms of newspapers and books to be used in future videos – but generally I lived off like in the 1990s: News only on TV and physical printed newspapers, food in cheap Yugoslav-era taverns where smoking habits remained civilized as opposed to ЕвроГейский союз, and patiently waiting to go to a good ol’ fashioned concert.

Rammstein was in town!

Tens of thousands of people slowly heading towards Ušće Park

And even though in 2024 everyone has a camera in their pockets, you can hardly find any images with the mud at the location. Which is both a testament to the quality of the show that the German band has put out that nobody got distracted to film the mud, but also a testament to the resilience of the metal fans. You have to dig deep into the Internet to find out there was mud.

Still… this needs to be said: The organizing was dogshit and occasionally literally horseshit.

The encircled seats cost more

The way the venue was set up was weird to put it mildly. The people in the stands paid more and saw less. And the benefit of seating was marginal given that anything you wanted/needed involved a hour queue while… standing.

The weather was absolutely haram throughout the whole week up to the morning of the concert. It suddenly got better just as the doors were opened for the venue. But by that time the entire surface was one giant mud pool.

I got dirty. But the chap I fell on will not walk for at least a month. The whole experience was one of a survival of the fittest. Which is fine in general, provided you don’t ask me to pay premium price for that. Although, again, the show was really good and, after all, I got out in one piece.

It’s not a Rammstein show without fire and pyrotechnics

After the show things got even more complicated.

Belgrade is a huge city, surface-wise. The city proper 50% bigger than Bucharest and the metropolitan area is almost twice as big as Bucharest.

The good news in this is that the city can easily accommodate over 120,000 people showing up literally overnight. The bad news is that navigating the city without public transport is impossible around an event like this. Even those who showed up with their cars still had to walk 5+ km – something which may not sound so bad, but it suddenly becomes bad after you stood on slippery mud for 7 hours because the organizing was horseshit.

Random street in Novi Beograd, not far away from the venue

Even if you managed to find housing “nearby” that’s not too helpful after hours of standing in mud. As for taxis? Forget about it. There are 570 registered taxis in Belgrade. Even if you assume 10 times more cars became available through apps such as Uber or Yandex, that still barely made a dent.

So, in its infinite wisdom, the GSP (Градско саобраћајно предузеће) decided to shorten the public transport schedule. It is indeed very motivating to walk in long columns and trams to pass by empty as they retire early. The tens of thousands of fools left high and dry? Mogu da sišu kurac, naravno. To je srpski način.

Poor foreigners using the underway passage

And I can’t complain that much. Both myself and my woman have a decent understanding of the Serbian language and Serbia as a country so we were fine. But those first time in Belgrade? Those were definitely not fine. Especially those who came from afar like from Scandinavia or Germany and didn’t quite understand that maps are for orientation purposes not some law.

Translation: The quickest physical route is the correct one. Traffic lights, or anything that is not a huge wall are just obstacles you casually gloss over. Literally. It’s either that or you walk extra kilometers because you believe Google Maps is real life.

That is to say if you can use Google Maps. Getting a local Serbian number has just gotten a lot harder. Такође зато што се јеби. What? The writing is confusing? Welcome to Belgrade. You haven’t been in a country with two alphabets before? 🤷🏻‍♂️

Rammstein – a story of persistence

I’m not even a big fan of Rammstein per sé, but I am a fan of persistence and grit. And Rammstein, whatever your opinion about them, is such a story.

This year they turn 30. They’ve been around in the same line-up for 30 years. Do you have any idea just how hard that in itself can be? It’s hard to keep a single friend in the same project for 30 years, let alone six friends in a controversial project that stirs shit up for a living. That is admirable!

To crawl from the poverty of the DDR into the degeneracy of the German punk scene, to then effectively invent a new style, sing only in German (how many big artists sing only in their mother tongue these days?) and become big… that is admirable. Because it was achieved by persistence.

Till Lindeman just turned 61 this January. The bass player is the youngest. He turned 53 this April. Seeing these old men being far, far more energetic than the majority of 25 year olds that I know is admirable. But also sad – for the said 25 year olds.

To perform dangerous stunts for over 2 hours in a venue like that is a performance in and of itself. But then the guys did it again the next day – because the tickets for the May 24th show sold within minutes.

I complain that I have to be in 9 cities in 3 countries in the next two months. These guys are doing 40 shows in 18 cities in 10 countries in two months. That is admirable. It’s hard work and their current amazing results didn’t come out of nothing – but out of a lot of hard work.

Everything was thrown at them: Accusations of satanism, typical German censorship, accusations of being pro or anti current thing, and, of course, a bullshit rape case as well. Nothing stuck. Because after a while, you become a living legend.

You don’t have to like Rammstein per se to appreciate this.

But one thing is certain: I ain’t going to concerts in Belgrade anytime soon.

It was still appreciated when the Romanian border patrol just assumed we were coming from the concert.

All in all, I’m glad I took this opportunity. I now have more newspapers for the Propaganda Basement. And, for a few hours, I remembered why the saying is “touch grass”. Because touching mud is quite unpleasant. Even when honoring the living legends that Ramštajn truly are.

Lucian Vâlsan on Youtube
Lucian Vâlsan
Not particularly nice. Mostly libertarian-conservative. Founder of the Freedom Alternative Network.