Up until this year, I was a Bloodstock virgin. I’ve been to a fair few other festivals (Leeds, Monsters of Rock, Download, Sonisphere, Graspop) over the years, but travel and family have meant that I needed to put those extended gigs on hold in recent years.
However, just the right level of begging and the fact that the kids are a bit older now meant that Mrs Mosh allowed me a break this year and I got to sample Bloodstock Open Air for the first time. As a bonus, I was working in the Media Tent as the organisers had allowed a bunch of us to graft away behind the scenes on reviews, interviews and photography. This gave me a great opportunity to enjoy the event from both sides of the stage.
I won’t go into the music too much – those are for the reviews. This article is about Bloodstock as a whole. Let me start with a complaint. My only one. To the dick who tore the label off James’ phone charger which identified it as ours and then nicked it (from the press tent) – screw you for being the only selfish twat of the whole weekend. I hope your phone falls into the next festival toilet you use. And you need it for an emergency so you have to fish it out. And it’s a toilet at one of those other festivals, not a nice clean one like the ones at Bloodstock.
Aside from that… holy crap, what a great event! I had the best time both working away (and getting sunburnt) and enjoying the shows. Due to the workload I didn’t see many of the bands (I did catch my shortlist of “can’t miss” acts, though), but I did get plenty of time to experience the festival as a whole and I simply bloody loved it. What’s probably more important is that the things I liked about it were the things other people loved too. We interviewed around sixty bands over the weekend (rough guess) and one of the questions I asked most of them what “What’s special about this festival?” The answers in every case consisted of one of the following responses:
- The word “community”
- The way you find and make friends so easily, how everyone’s so helpful and how there’s no trouble
- It’s nailed metal and the mindset behind it, supporting grass roots up to the big acts
- The size is perfect – big enough to get good headliners, small enough that you can walk around three bands playing at the same time and see a good portion of their sets
Nobody came up with a daft answer. Some went on for a minute or two and mentioned all of them. And they’re right. Bloodstock is, in my humble opinion, brilliant. If I don’t get on the media list next year (or opt to let someone else do the work), I’ll be there as a punter. It has the added bonus, for me, of being during the school holidays. For those who don’t know (I do mention it a bit), I’m a teacher so that’s quite important in allowing me to attend, too!
Here are a few of my personal highlights from Bloodstock 2016. Stage / band reviews will follow elsewhere, as will an article on working in the Media Tent… but these are just things I’ll look back at as little memories to smile at.
I’m not going to go on about the set from a musical perspective, but just the whole emotional experience. Feeling close to losing it as they ended an epic set, turning round to see a woman with tears streaming down her face and then indulging in a mutual hug/bubble over one of the greatest shows we’d ever seen. I gather the management and photographers who were in the pit at the front of the stage were in a complete mess as well. How are we going to replace the kind of acts that can bring that level of response out in an audience as these bands are gradually calling it a day? An honour to have been at their last UK show.
At the end of “Pisschrist”, as Burton is repeating the lyrics “Where is your saviour now?”, a man dressed as Jesus Christ crowdsurfed to the front of the audience. You could see Burton pointing at him and trying not to lose his shit.
Just before I interviewed Orion, the band were floating around in the media area. The same Jesus guy approached the fence and yelled “Nergal! You’re a very naughty boy!”. Nergal ended up taking a selfie with him.
Deadpool and Dredd
There were a couple of Deadpool cos-players over the weekend. One of them was incredible, with so many little details from the comics and films (and was walking around with his better half, Death). I got a photo with him and sent it home. My four year old proclaimed that “Deadpool and Daddy are best friends!”
On the Sunday, “gunfire” erupted in the VIP area and we were treated to a brief skirmish between some of Mega-City One’s finest and a bunch of Radlanders. Great costumes from both sides, but no prizes for guessing who won.
Anthrax’s drummer taking a photo of my “Judge Mosh” tattoo for his collection. Oh, and interviewing Joey Belladonna. *SQUEE*
Watching a bunch of people clad in genuine armour weighing upwards of 30kg beat the ever-loving crap out of each other until one one is left standing is, frankly, epic… if slightly disturbing due to the bloodlust it seemed to instil in the watching crowd!
This is Turin
Not a musical highlight, but an emotional one. The band had mentioned during our interview that they had something that meant a lot to them to include in their set, and that there may be some tears… and they were right. Mid-set they paused and asked everyone to put an arm round the person next to them. A nice gesture and not the first time I’d witnessed something like this coming from a band. However, what follows was simply beautiful.
Lead singer Darryl read out a list of people that band and the metal scene had lost over recent years – fans and individuals, not band members or personalities – ending with Sophie Lancaster. They then dedicated the next track to those now no longer with us. A wonderful gesture and one completely within the spirit of the festival. This is Turin… you nailed it. Your set was great musically, but this gesture simply took my breath away.
A special shout out to the staff working security. They were great to talk to, helpful and good-humoured. They also knew how to grab a crowdsurfer to make sure nobody got hurt. Even if that crowdsurfer was wearing a mankini.
Had I had more cash and more time, I’d have sampled more of the beers. The ridiculous number available in the VIP tent was mindblowing. A little pricey at £4.20 a pint for my budget, though that’s way better than what you’ll pay for a Carling at other festivals so not something to really complain about.
All photos by Will Tudor