Bloodstock Report Part Four: Summary and Other Thoughts

With a great lineup and lovely atmosphere, Bloodstock is definitely a festival I would consider returning to in future. As I mentioned in the second post, we bought the tickets almost a full year in advance, solely on the basis of Emperor’s appearance, when they were the only band announced. Though I would happily have returned to Brutal Assault, I chose to get the Emperor tickets while they were available and as it turned out, Bloodstock’s lineup was more suited to my tastes. In terms of cost, it is obviously a lot more expensive that Brutal Assault, due to their locations, but allowing for the cost of traveling it probably worked out about the same. This may change in future as Ryanair are now serving Prague airport. My choice of festival next year will again be based on lineup.

As I’ve already said, bar the issue of communicating with the fans, I thought the festival was excellently organised. The toilets were usually in great condition, the showers were adequate, and the one schedule change I was aware of was communicated from the main stage hours in advance. There were some disappointments at the merch stand; Emperor shirts  had sold out by Saturday afternoon, and Decapitated didn’t even have any shirts with them, but these problems can’t be blamed on the festival. If the CD selection from the independent vendors wasn’t as obscure as that I’m used to from continental festivals, that’s probably because it’s a lot easier for a merchant with a collection of releases by obscure scene bands to travel across mainland Europe than it is to travel to the UK. Even at Bloodstock, my hobby of seeking out the most offensive grind CDs is probably pretty niche, and it didn’t significantly impact on my fun at the festival, so I can’t hold it against them.

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Bloodstock Report Part Two: Saturday

Opening Saturday’s lineup was Back Down or Die who were good dumb fun. Violent slammy death metal, with the frontman interacting with specific audience members by name, which always adds a nice touch of intimacy to a gig.

I had planned on ignoring Evil Scarecrow because I thought their name was stupid; but while ordering a pint at the Bloodstock Arms, their elaborate costumes and props projected up on the big screen caught my eye, and they turned out to be by far the most entertaining and fun band of the entire festival. A large dedicated corps of followers turned up in robot costumes and with appropriate props to match the band’s silly songs about robot/crab hybrids, waltzing cyclopes, sci-fi war and the misery of black metal. They got the crowd to participate to a degree no other band acheived: seeing thousands of metalheads all crab-scuttle from side to side while waving the pincers in the air attests to the skill this band has in getting the audience to do stuff. The music is a good fun fare, symphonic and synthy. They weren’t among the most musically talented bands we saw but the music is really acting as a vehicle for the wonderfully silly and entertaining stage show.

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Bloodstock Report Part One: Thursday and Friday

I’ve just come back from my annual festival trip, this time to Bloodstock Open Air in the West Midlands. If lists of heavy metal bands and their performances is your thing, read on; if it isn’t, read on anyway and try something new today!

Bloodstock is easy to get to, with the festival operating a shuttle bus service from nearby Lichfield City train station to the festival site. My Bro-in-Chief Conor and I arrived in Lichfield about 4pm, made a quick visit to Aldi for supplies, and got the bus out to the campground. All the sites are named after the worlds of  Norse mythology – we chose Asgard over Valhalla, being the two nearest our entrance, and later learned of Midgard and Hel. Unfortunately we arrived just a little too late to set up our tent and get into the arena in time to see opening band Balls Deep and their groovy, catchy aggression.

We spent the remainder of the evening getting familiar with the arena, the shops, and the variety of available beers. One great find was the Prat in a Hat thrift shop, fronted by two huge bins of second-hand hats. They stocked all sorts of hats: an enthusiastic festival goer in a newly acquired bike helmet told us with great confidence “There’s a hat in here for you, and there’s a hat in here for YOU.” And sure enough, I found a nice camo-print baseball cap that fitted me well. Thank you, mystery hat sage. Other stalls had camping gear (which might literally have saved my life as I forgot to pack a sleeping mat), clothes, CDs, and novelty items or accessories. Bloodstock also had an excellent variety of foods; we filled up the first night on delicious roast pork baguettes with apple sauce and crackling. The Bloodstock Arms pub had a couple of beers from Wychwood Brewery (the brewery that makes Hobgoblin) and some smaller craft beers alongside Strongbow and Fosters. One section of the arena was taken up by fairground rides, because being strapped to a giant mechanical rotating claw and spun around in the sky is pretty damn metal. Continue reading