In the last couple of years, I’ve always looked at Bloodstock with an eye of curiosity. It’s had a couple of bands I really like appear every year but never enough for me to justify the ticket price. This year was different, sporting a thoroughly healthy line-up so I plonked down the needed notes and made my second visit of the year to the Midlands.
I’ve done festivals in the past, this summer saw me attend my fifth Download, my third Wildfire and first Camden Rocks. And like those which came before, Bloodstock is something else entirely. It doesn’t have the complete sensory overload Download has, it’s big enough to pull in those household names at the top of the poster yet you’ll manage to see the same faces over the course of the weekend rather than blink and never see them again.
Sitting near the end of festival season, Bloodstock is at a great point in the calendar. If you’ve done multiple festivals over the summer months, Dr Seuss’ quote is for once, not trite but applicable:
Don’t be sad it’s over, smile because it happened.
And remember, we get the next few months to speculate who’ll be appearing next year and where then babble excitedly over announcements or become snide keyboard warriors.
However, post-festival blues don’t have a chance to kick in given the sheer amount of live music I consume as once festival season ends, thus begins silly season in the UK to the point you need to clone yourself multiple times if you aim to seen every band you want before Santa visits. And send said clones off to work on the down-time so you can afford to go…
Bloodstock 2016 was an experience unto itself and in my opinion, here’s why.
If you were there this year and didn’t see Twisted Sister, you better have a damn good reason. Without going into review territory (it’s coming soon), Twisted Sister on a bad night are better than 95% of bands you’ll ever see ever. Except, they weren’t bad; they knocked it out of Catton Hall. It’s an “I was there” moment and on that night, more than ever, did it hit me that when the final notes are played, they’re going to leave a hole in our universe that no band can ever hope to fill.
Because it’s Evil Scarecrow! Drawing one of the largest crowds of the weekend, from the spacehoppers to the scuttling of “Crabulon”, Evil Scarecrow make sure that during their time on stage, you have fun. Because that’s why we travel hundred of miles to see bands, right?
Bucket list moments and new discoveries
I don’t have many bands I have left to see on this list but to see Slayer and Anthrax share a bill and tick off the remaining half of the Big 4 alongside DragonForce (don’t lie, we all wanted to nail “Through The Fire and Flames” on Guitar Hero III), it made it that bit shorter. Meanwhile I discovered a shedload of new bands over all four stages and I can’t wait to delve into their back catalogues and catch them in a more intimate setting.
The Jägermeister Stage
Showcasing a handful of bands every day, it held some of the best bands of the weekend. The fact there was half a dozen rows of people outside the tent and every space inside the tent inhabited for every band only further shows how good the bookings were. I can foresee the stage being bigger next year.
People dressed as Judge Dredd. More denim cut-offs than I can count and thinking what patches I would put on mine if I had a blank canvas (mine is full but I did replace one band with a Bloodstock patch). My personal favourite was this however; one patron was clearly disabled and spent their time on an all-terrain stretcher but the sides had been decorated to look like a Viking longship. I wish I’d got a picture of it.
This one is two-fold. As Mosh and James have both said, there’s a sense of community at Bloodstock. A willingness to talk to anyone and likewise; help. Anyone who tried to get that couple of extra feet nearer to the stage, if they bumped into you, you got an apology.
But there was also the Moshville crew which made the weekend that extra bit better. From the minute myself, Mosh, James and Sean crammed ourselves and our gear into a car to make our way south until the final morning when we headed home, there was a real sense of camaraderie. It made it a festival like no other to date. For most bands that more than one of us saw, we pretty much reached a unanimous verdict which means the bands are doing something right. We’d all met each other (with the exception of myself and Sean) before but this was definitely the longest we’d spent in each other’s company and we’re all still alive so we can’t have gotten on each other’s nerves too much…
Now, can we do it again this weekend?