FESTIVAL REVIEW: BLOODSTOCK OPEN AIR 2016 – Day 1 (Friday)
Bloodstock is one the best English Metal festivals out there. For the third time now I have ventured to this incredible festival and I am glad to say it never disappoints. On Friday, August 12th the gates opened early and the morning chaos began. A giant open field filled with stages, food, a sea of black t-shirts and fans dressed in comical costumes came together for a 3 day streak of metal. Several of the fans there had been waiting for this moment for the past year including myself. To be honest, there’s nothing quite like this experience. You could feel the excitement in the air and happy faces all around. Every fan had their own unique way of expressing this and enjoying the bands. Be it dressing up like Jesus, sticking their chair in the ground and enjoying a seat to watch bands from a distance or the hardcore fans glued to that barrier watching every glorious second of music. An event like this only comes once a year but the impression on the memory and happiness lasts a life time.
Day one, filled with eager fans, finally commenced. The line up was impressive on every stage from New Blood, Jager Stage, Sophie Lancaster & the Ronnie James Dio Stage. People from all countries came and you could hear the different languages from French, Spanish, German, Norwegian and every other one you could think of but we all spoke metal. Thousands of different band t-shirts and nothing but support and love for every band. The morning festivities kicked things off with Hark & Glory Hammer. An early start to the day but many already hungover fans or people who just arrived made their way to mainstage. Across the field we had the Sophie stage get their morning dose of metal as well. Every early morning band killed it. Everyone was so excited to play and just be a part of this monumental event we know as Bloodstock.
As the sun began to burn many of us we did not care as our faces became red as lobsters. Next up we had Evil Scarecrow. For those who haven’t heard of them they are an English based gimmick band but truly one of the best. They really pumped up the crowd and made everyone laugh. Dressed up in ridiculous costumes, playing songs that captivated and required fan participation, everyone cheered and went along with their demands. Blow up crabs were tossed in the air as the mosh pit was going and the mighty crab legion did the synchronised crab walk to the song “Crabulon”. It was very hilarious to see thousands of metal fans raise their hands up in the air and pretend to be crabs. Again fans obeyed commands and this time did the robot dance to the track “Robototron.” The jokes and crowd response was unreal to see the power they had over everyone. Utterly a silly hilarious and a good time.
Misery Loves Co. had a great set filled with many songs fans went crazy for. I was able to catch Stuck Mojo and I was surprised and very impressed. This mix of rap meets metal was done tastefully. They had a really groovy tone and singer Robby really had great stage presence controlling all those rhymes. He was so pumped to play on stage. The fans were into the set and it was a great change of pace to a line up like this. The raw aggression and passionate energy from the band radiated to the fans. They really stepped things up because they were unique and had to win over fans who might not appreciate that mix of genres but over all did a phenomenal job! Over on the Sophie Lancaster stage I was able to watch Meta Stasis and I was blown away. These guys did not hold back and the amount of force they had was unbelievable. It was a brutal set filled with love and hatred as they played and screamed every note as aggressively as possible.
Back on main stage we had Corrosion of Conformity, some good old American Metal. Based from South Carolina these guys are pure classic American Heavy Metal. With political trash talk about the USA, the guys tore up the stage. The atmosphere changed and the crowd became restless and began to nudge their way closer and closer to the barrier. It was time for a cult classic, the one and only Venom. The band that is considered to be the one who inspired the metal scene more than we can ever imagine. The crowd began to chant as they walked into the day light. As Cronos began to sing you could hear the screams of joy and excitement. The speed of the guitars and the sound of his voice sent shivers down your spine. With classic tracks like “Long Haired Punks, “Countess Bathory”, “Blackmetal” & so many more we were all headbanging and singing along. You could even see all the guys From “Corrosion of Conformity” rocking out to them on side stage. It was an epic moment, a glimpse of the past in present time. That dark atmosphere intensified as we had the mighty Behemoth play next. This was a very special set as they played the entire “Satanist” album. What we witnessed was magical. Their aura and stage presence was so ominous and dark you could feel the energy and we knew we were in for a treat. From beginning to end their set was mesmerizing. The pyro made every song more dramatic as the flames bursted on stage. Nergal‘s voice and demon like face was captivating and the evil sound and presence was there. “The Satanist” is such a powerful and hypnotic album live that no one could take their eyes off stage. As they spit blood and cried out to the fans you could see the vast Behemoth legion follow their every word. The guys ended their set wearing their masks with horns which was perfect. I’ve seen them play many times but this time was the most special.
Finally it was time to close the night with the legendary Twisted Sister. This was their last UK show and as they said “Bloodstock knows metal! This is the best festival in the UK.” Fans from young to old filled the barrier to witness a closing chapter to one of the most amazing bands out there. As the man him self Dee also said “this isn’t like the Scorpions or Motley Crue, this is it. We won’t come back 2 years later, this is our last show here ever. That’s why we are calling it 40 years and fuck it. Don’t be sad, this is like an Irish Funeral so let’s drink and have a good time!” From start to finish that’s exactly what happened. The guys played a few classic songs but they also played older songs from the 1st album that we never hear them play. I couldn’t believe how much energy the band has. Dee ran across that stage like a madman. He might be in his 60’s but the guy is ripped and never stood in one place. They stole the show and everyone’s heart. It was bitter sweet as this was definitely the end but they gave it their all; sweat tears and metal. Dee several times thanked England and said “you saved us” referring to the time when they were big in the UK at the start of their career. It was their second home. Every single member was gushing with emotion and intensity. This was the most beautiful moment possible in Bloodstock history.
Day 1 was over and I couldn’t have imagined such a beautiful start. Exhausted, tired, drained and happy beyond all belief the sea of black tee shirts made their way to their camps, cars etc as Day 2 was just a few hours away.