SAMPLES > Bloodstock Open Air Festival (2009)
Catton Hall, Derby - Friday
14th to Sunday 17th August 2009
In this instalment I’ll be looking
at the Bloodstock Open Air festival which took place mid-August in sexy
If you’re unfamiliar with what I’m
talking about well perhaps you’ve heard of the Download (formerly Monsters of
Rock) festival, yes? How about Kerrang? Well, take these concepts and all
they stand for and throw them out of a window into some traffic. The
aforementioned items have nothing on Bloodstock: a festival simply teeming with
metal of the hardest variety. Seriously, it makes the Scuzz channel on
Sky Digital seem like a soft, new kitten that moderately rocks out. Sometimes.
festival goers of Bloodstock were a brimming sea of black band shirts and large
amounts of head hair and beard (the men look the same as well GUFFAW!). If
you’ve never been to a festival before let me set a few records straight: yes,
it really is a no-holds-barred when it comes to people’s choice of attire. Yes,
you will go home smelly and dirty even if you use the on-camp showers. Yes, beer
is very much the cornerstone of the weekend’s diet. And yes, you will get
robbed. Not by other campers, just by the prices.
Like most other festivals (though
probably only a fraction of their sizes due to its somewhat esoteric clientele)
Bloodstock boasts an array of merchandise stalls, food stands and bars for which
to keep one occupied for the full four days. Nothing much else can be said about
the amenities on offer. Food is overpriced as always but bizarrely becomes
rather tantalising after several pints. And there are a variety of clothes
outlets that pertain to the generic customer (customisable shirts, funny slogan
shirts) and to people more suited to the festival (band shirts). As well as a
slew of CD shops.
Bloodstock also offered – what me
and a friend referred to as – a hippy tent. By which we mean a tepee that sells
all manner of new age trinkets: home-made musical instruments, incense sticks
etc. Very mellow. Outside of which was a seated area combined with an ongoing
bongo session. And yes, we did have a go. Nothing says 'primordial' like beating
pseudo rhythms on a skin-tight drum. All that was missing was a loin cloth.
This aspect added a rather unique
dimension to a festival devoted to a transgressive form of metal and was a
welcome for my friend and I after a heavy dose of headbanging.
Headliners for the festival
included Carcass (yay!), Cradle of Filth (boo hiss etc.) and Europe (wha’?). By
this alone one may expect the Bloodstock line-up to cater for a wide variety of
headbangers: those who like brutal death metal, those who like more commercial
stuff, and those who like…The Final Countdown. Unfortunately (or
fortunately depending on your world perspective) it seems that only the
metalhead elite would find enough bands to enjoy. After all this is a metal
festival and if Kerrang has taught us anything it’s that watered down
versions of metal can soon make the genre wade and a little too commercial.
Friday saw such bands as
Blitzkrieg, Million Dollar Baby, Die Apokalyptischen Reiter, Municipal Waste,
Saxon, Arch Enemy etc. with Carcass as the main act. Each with its own take on
the festival crowds and the atmosphere. Municipal Waste, pour example, made an
attempt at breaking a world record for having the most crowd surfers during a
single song. Considering the majority of their songs are a little over 2 minutes
in length that's some feat. Did they do it? I don't know, I'd been drinking. My
Arch Enemy and Carcass seemed to
follow on from each other particularly well and were perfect co-headliners. In
more ways than one, with guitarist Michael Ammott playing in both bands. The
explosive magnitude of Arch Enemy's vocalist Angela Gossow (yes she's a woman!)
electrified the festival air and the welcome return of Carcass after their split
in the mid-90's could not have topped the evening off any better.
By Saturday the intense metal
allure was still very much alive and kicking. With bands such as Entombed,
Apocalyptica, Battlelore, Kreator, The Haunted and The Wolf keeping people
headbanging on the main stage. Co-headliners Blind Guardian were a brutal storm
of power metal-y goodness and one that I will be wanting to see again.
Cradle of Filth topped the night
off, unsuccessfully I'm afraid, when a barrage of tossed gob stoppers (yes, gob
stoppers!) severely injured their guitarist and forced the band to end their set
after only a few songs. Say what you will about them (I'm not a fan myself) but
I do feel a little sorry for those who paid up to £100 to see them and was
unfortunately let down by the elite few that couldn't make them feel welcome.
Maybe they were wrong for that type of festival. Or maybe – as some people's
shirts suggested – Dani Filth really is a cunt.
Sunday the hangovers were beginning to take their tolls, but the metal kept on
coming. Whether we liked it or not. Which we did. Because, quite frankly, we're
Anyway, some interestingly
powerful sets from both Amon Amarth and Turisas that saw people through the
roughest of phases with their folk-laden metal. Unfortunately we didn't get the
opportunity to catch Europe in action. But as many people can ascertain there's
only really one of their songs that stands out. Perhaps most of the people who
saw them were only there for that one hit. Perhaps not. Again, I'd been
In terms of the acts themselves –
many of whom from foreign lands – their performances had an appeal about them
that gave loudness and heaviness new meanings. The bands seemed genuinely
excited about the opportunity to play in a festival devoted to a socially
shunned and misunderstood musical genre, and like many other festivals it gave
them a new and wider audience. Die Apokalyptischen Reiter were one such act I
had never heard but have now added them to my list of “albums I will totally buy
And if the main stage wasn't to
ones taste, the alternative unsigned stage heralded a new breed of up and coming
metal acts, each given a much appreciated opportunity to play live to a festival
audience. Whilst the Sophie Lancaster stage (named after the goth girl beaten to
death almost two years to the day of Bloodstock) hosted a number of entertaining
time-fillers such as Guitar Hero contests, metal DJ acts playing none of the
chart toppers as well as a metal karaoke which kick started just after the main
As Bloodstock virgins, my friend
and I decided to cavort with a group of other people in our predicament with
whom we'd come in contact with via Facebook. This made our overall
experience of the festival that much easier. A friendly face was never too far
away and during no-band times it was somewhat of a relief to be able to meet up
with others rather than just hobbling back to our tent like defeated warriors...
...ooh that reminds me: Viking
battles. Yes, in the midst of the food stalls, the Guitar Hero battles and the
rather tacky fairground rides a roped off area had been lain. Crowds gathered,
with beer in-hand, to watch local actors, donned in full Viking outfits, battle
it out with each other. Obviously fake fights but this didn't put a dampener on
the display before us, as each member fought and hacked their way to victory. An
entertaining spectacle if I ever did see one.
Having a sort of gathering place
for a genre so specific yet also responsible for being scapegoated in the past,
Bloodstock doesn’t just seem like a festival as it does more a community. At the
risk of sounding like a cheese-monster on his third helping of Winsley Dale,
it’s a coming together bonded not only by a love of metal but by an entire way
of life. You can all be sick now.
Web site and all contents © Copyright Andrew Heaton 2010, All rights reserved.
Free website templates