After a couple of years away from Bloodstock, 2019 sees me return to Catton Hall with my only year of attendance being 2016. And as some twist of fate, many of the bands who appeared that year are also making their return – or maybe it’s just because the line-up is that good that I’m finally going back.
As someone who focuses on the more rock spectrum on these pages, it makes a welcome change to be indulging in my heavier tastes for a weekend, seeing some of my favourite bands, making new discoveries and the camaraderie our on-site crew have. Normally, if I’m covering a festival, I’m either attending on my own or, at most, some friends who I’ll be hanging out with over the course of the weekend such as at Camden Rocks. Plus, these last couple of years, it’s been myself keeping this end afloat whilst the team work their backsides off.
For me, when it comes to a festival, line-up is king and everything else is secondary. And as I said, many of the 2016 bands are coming back but there’s a handful I’ll have seen for the first (perhaps only time), some bands I’ve seen a number of times and some I’ve not seen in a number of years. So just who are these bands?
- Parkway Drive – basically at the top of the list, I’ve not seen them in a number of years. Reverance is one of my favourite metal albums and from all the pictures of their stage show, it’s going to be a spectacle and a half.
- Scorpions – a close second. As a band which barely visits the UK, I never thought I’d get to see them. Add in the fact I’ll be able to see Mikkey Dee perform and it’ll be a perfect way to end the weekend.
- The Wildhearts – Ginger and co. have been on a hell of a tear for the past year and with their new album on constant rotation right now, their maiden performance is going to destroy my voice from all the singing on both the new material and the classics.
- Dee Snider – because it’s Dee fucking Snider.
- Evil Scarecrow – one of the most fun live acts I’ve ever seen. There’s nothing quite like scuttling left and right in the mid-day sun. However, despite being placed low-ish on the main stage, expect one of the biggest crowds of the weekend.
- Anthrax – what can you say about Anthrax which hasn’t already been said? Perhaps the most consistent of the Big 4, I’m expecting nothing but a masterclass from them – much like last time.
- Tomorrow is Lost – one of my favourite bands on the up-and-coming scene right now and more in the rock territory than metal, they’re still going to crush it.
I made a number of new discoveries at Bloodstock in 2016 and I don’t doubt that 2019 will repeat that feat. Hell, given the quality of bands on the New Blood stage, you could spend your entire weekend watching Metal 2 the Masses winners from across the UK and not need to venture to other stages and not feel like you’ve missed on catching some of the bigger names.
We recently shared the news on the festival’s endeavours to make for a more environmentally-friendly event as with every festival wanting to get in on the action – it only makes sense. Thousands of people descend on a space for a few days – leave it as you found it so there’s no trace of humans the rest of the year. It’s not difficult. That tent you bought? Take it home and use it next year – sure it’s a faff to pack them away and no human being on the planet looks elegant doing it, but you’re saving the site staff a job, contrary to popular belief, they’re not recycled and even if you don’t care about the planet’s future (but you should), you’re saving yourself a few quid. Same goes for all that litter around you. And on a similar note – respect your neighbours.
There’s a real feel and sense of community you find at all the independent festivals such as Winter Storm and Steelhouse – it’s something you can’t force or create yourself and although they have helped foster it, the metal community being what it is have taken it and ran with it. With all the standard amenities, provided you’re sensible, you shouldn’t need to leave the arena but if you do, you’re only a short walk back to your tent and if you do need civilisation, that’s not far away either. But this is a metal festival and it’s more civilised than real life is at times.
With only a few weeks left, all the bands are announced, it’s time to start figuring out all those clashes, picking out which shade of black you’re going to wear, how many t-shirts you’re going to buy at the merch stall before you’ve got to wait another year before the next iteration of one of the UK’s best festivals.