Bloodstock Open Air - Catton Hall, England, 16th August 2007
|Event:||Bloodstock Open Air 2007|
|Written by:||Baz Anderson|
Bloodstock Open Air - Catton Hall, England, 16th-18th August 2007 by Baz Anderson (129)
Bloodstock has been running now since 2001 and started originally just as an indoor event, but like all good things Bloodstock grew, and in 2005 we had the very first Bloodstock Open Air as well as the Bloodstock Indoor festival in the same year. Now in 2007 for the first time the Bloodstock Open Air stretches over onto three days and there is no indoor festival. The festival has grown to be the UK's biggest independent, all metal festival and so is a must for the people of the UK and anyone else that decides to make the travel over like some did this year. A few thousand people had made the travel down to Derbyshire field in the middle of nowhere for what was the most promising and awaited Bloodstock so far, featuring bands from our own country to Scandinavia, even as far as Costa Rica.
This was my third and final Open Air festival of the year after finding pleasure in the fruits of the Hellfest in France and the mighty Wacken in Germany, and so by now I have a fair idea of how things work at these 'do's and can compare the organisation as well as the whole festival experience and joy you get from that.
As we approached the festival site, to my surprise there were road signs pointing up towards the site and as we entered the campsite there was already a lot of people setting up camp and waiting for the festival to kick off. The friendly atmosphere I was expecting was already clear as someone came over to me and gave me a tip to save space while setting up the tent. We could park out cars in the same camping ground next to our tents to make things much easier, and also because this is not the biggest festival in the world, all the campers could fit in the field just next to the actual festival site and so if you ever had to go back to your tent for something during the day, you did not have a half hour trek.
The festival site was set up with the main stage in the middle on one side, opposite that was a whole row or metal market stalls, and then each other side there was huge tents to house the unsigned stage, and the DJing/disco stage.
Among normal things to bear in mind, we also had the weather to worry about. We did not know if it was going to shine for us or pour rain all over the party. Luckily the on-and-off rain on the first day was only brief, but shockingly as we entered the festival site just a couple of hours before the first acts were to perform, they were still assembling the main stage, putting up the main towers of speakers either side of the stage. Inevitably this delayed things somewhat from kicking off the start to this festival that had two sides. There was a lot of things to praise, but also a lot of things to complain about with the organisation but hopefully you will grasp a taste of the experience by reading this review.
Chris Slade & Exploder
Chris Slade of AC/DC was supposed to be kicking off the festival with a bang, quite literally, with a drum solo and AC/DC tribute with local band Exploder. Not something I would kill myself if I missed but I wanted to catch this and I wasn't the only one. Unfortunately a huge crowd had not gathered quite yet, and on the front barrier there was a mob of drunken idiots shouting abuse towards the stage which must have disheartened everyone just that little bit, "friendly atmosphere?!" I was thinking, but still Chris Slade gave us his drum solo after performing the classic "Highway To Hell" with Exploder and his son also set up on another drum kit on the stage playing along at the same time, which must have been personally quite an important thing for them. The drum solo must have lasted around five or ten minutes of plodding along on his drums, unfortunately the audience were not quite warmed up enough to chant along to the drums as maybe he would have liked but he always had a smile on his face and gave us some good entertainment to kick the festival off with.
Sight Of Emptiness
All the way from Costa Rica we have the Bloodstock unsigned winners Sight Of Emptiness who won this opportunity to perform on the main stage of the festival and show us all what they have got to offer. Unfortunately however another problem was to raise its ugly head, that being the classic problem of bad sound. This happened at last year's Bloodstock Indoor festival with Savage Circus and it ruined their set and the same problem struck again. It did not ruin the set completely though, the bass was way higher than it should have been and so the vocals and guitars were drowned out from where I was but the band gave us their all and put on as best of a show as they could. They play melodic death metal exactly in the vein as Amon Amarth and such bands, they even finished with a cover of "Death In Fire" but the main difference between these bands is the vocalist of Sight Of Emptiness often does these high-pitched screams that were virtually un-hearable. Unfortunately I was left thinking that the set would have sounded much better if the sound was sorted out, and I was also a little worried that the problem would persist onto the next bands. Still, some people bought the band's album to help them pay for the flight back to Costa Rica so it wasn't all bad.
Finland's Kiuas took the stage next and were the first band of the festival that I had highlighted as a band I had to make sure I saw. The band took the stage with intention of grabbing the festival and kicking it off properly, and I think they managed. People that did not previously know the band went away satisfied and happy, and the people that did know the band enjoyed a forty minute set of their typical Finnish style power metal with their extra elements they have in there as well. Now the sound, like the last band the sound was the main problem here, it hadn't been sorted completely but it was not quite as bad. We could hear the vocals and we could hear the guitars, so from when the moment they kicked off their set with "The Spirit Of Ukko" we were entertained by an energetic band on a mission to get us moving and singing. Great band to get us ready for the rest of the night, as there was still much much more to come.
This was the first festival I have been to where someone would actually come out onto the stage and introduce each band before they were about to come on. But I think it was needed here because I don't think a lot of people really knew who Head On were before the festival, but they sure do now. They were introduced as England's hottest new act or something like that which made me raise an eyebrow out of curiosity. The band took the stage and did their thing, which turned out to be a slow-ish/mid-tempo kind of groove metal with a few of the straight to the point elements of bands such as Pantera and Hatebreed. Thank goodness the sound problems seemed to have been sorted, so it was a pleasure to listen to a show that sounded right for once - the sound problems from here on were thankfully sorted. The frontman had a sense of humour introducing their song "Meat Wagon" as "this song is called Meat Wagon, it's a song about meat... on a wagon" which made me laugh for a while. Also I can now tick the box that says "watch a VHS recorder get destroyed at a metal festival by a huge wooden hammer", as just by chance that happened during their song "Here Comes The Hammer". The band put on a good show but my mind was more on the idea of seeing the forthcoming bands, Head On seemed to make a lot of fans though, they really connected and got the audience going.
Anticipation for Firewind was very high, they were one of the bands people wanted to see most after the last roaring UK tour they supported Dragonforce with and apparently showed the headliners up at most of the dates. Still, myself for some reason has never been drawn towards Firewind, I have never pushed myself to give them a good go, but I figured if they were going to be worth getting into, then their performance would be the final push. They had an hour set to impress us with their power metal, and that they did. Original singer Apollo was out and Metalium singer Henning Basse was covering, but you would have never known this guy was not a permanent fixture in the band, he was running around like a headless chicken, getting the audience singing along, chanting, doing whatever, and he was singing perfectly as well. Even though I didn't personally know anything they played, it seemed like most other people down there did. But not knowing the material didn't hinder my enjoyment too much, the sound of the galloping double bass drums and wailing heavy metal vocals are always a pleasant sound to hear wherever they are coming from. The set didn't convince me they were quite the best band on the planet, but I shall certainly see what I can get hold of to try and re-live some of this experience again.
Now, the band we had all been waiting for were the last of the night. It seemed like everyone that was there had been waiting the whole day for this, the climax of the night, thrash metal legends Testament. I was on the front row and let me tell you that I was crushed the most during this set than probably every other band's sets during the whole festival - and I was down there at the front for nearly all the bands that were to grave Bloodstock with their presence. So there we were, stood in the dark in a field in the middle of nowhere with Testament in front of us and as much as I would love to say that everything about the set was perfect, I would be lying if I said that. On the band's side everything went right, the sound was right, they played brilliantly and gave a really intense show and the audience really showed their respect, but if you have been waiting all day for the band to come on and people squash their way into the front even though there is blatantly no room and stick all kinds of things into you and really give your body a hard time, your attention really drifts and frustrations build. I had been at the front row at both Hellfest and Wacken and the people at both of these were no way near as ravenous and aggressive as the people here in England at Bloodstock to worm their way to the front, that friendly atmosphere thing was being questioned once more in my mind. But anyway of course the main focus was on Testament who delivered a great show. "The Haunting", "Into The Pit", "Practice What You Preach", just to name a few. They had an hour and a half to thrash us silly, and that they sure did. You know how Testament are, great riff after riff with drums constantly being smashed, this time by our "home boy", the infamous Nicholas Barker, well imagine it ten times harder, and ten times louder than on any CD they put out, and you have an idea of what it is like. The enormous frontman Chuck Billy standing there on top of a stack of speakers in front of the stage like a titan screaming out to us made it even more of the intense show I was expecting. Great stuff, the best band of the day although the callous pushing and squeezing at the front was the worst experience of the day.
So that was the end of the first day, and although we had had a real treat with such bands as Testament and Firewind there were a lot of things running through my mind about the organisation of the festival. Most notably was that for a band of the status as Testament you would expect some tough, strong security at the front of the audience to catch all the crowd surfers, but this was far far from the case here. In front of me was a poor young girl probably around my age looking suitable worried wearing a security suit, and other than her there were only a few other people dressed as security when it was obvious they were not up for the job. The poor girl was looking at her watch just wishing the show would finish, as the delays had made Testament run over more than half an hour after when they were due to finish. As well as concerns on behalf of the security for the rest of the festival, I was also worried there would be a repeat performance by people down at the front at future shows but thankfully this turned out not to be the case. The camp site was supposed to be set out like a grid, but ended in total chaos, the car I arrived in as well as a large percentage of other people's were totally surrounded by tents and other cars, and so it seemed as though we were going to be stuck in there for a while, lord knows what would have happened if there was some kind of disaster. It seemed like the first day the festival organisers were still finding their bearings and did not have control over the festival, and I was left wondering how the next two days would pan out.
||Written on 26.08.2007 by Member of Staff since 2006.|
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