The UK Summer festival season has come a long way over the last couple of years. Once upon a time Download was the sole big ‘alternative’ festival for the rock/metal fan. Those who wanted heavier went to the much smaller Bloodstock while the more hardcore fan travelled abroad to the likes of Wacken & Hellfest.
Download owned the market & it made them complacent (no competitors – why try? If you don’t believe me look at Download 2008).
Over the past few years Reading/Leeds festival has flirted with rock acts but other then the occasional band they still seem to cater for the indie/casual market more then anything else. Sonisphere has had its ups & downs with several successful years before an absolutely disastrous attempt to open up to a more casual audience resulting in a cancelled festival & nothing happening for years.
I’m not a long-term festival guy, my first one was in 2008, Download funny enough. I really enjoyed it as it as my first one. Since then I went to Download 2009, Sonisphere 2010 & 2011. Between autumn 2011 & autumn 2013 festivals became a no-no as my wedding took priority (madness, I know).
So after all that saving & spending 2014 came around & we made the decision to try & get to a few festivals this year starting with a 30th birthday in the VIP section of Bloodstock festival. Our first dalliance with a heavier festival in the UK seemed like a no brainer this time around. We also decided to invest in Download 2014 as well but as more bands got announced that we really didn’t like (Linkin Park, Fall Out Boy) we decided to sell the tickets to a family member at a cut-down price.
We decided to do something we’ve never done before…go abroad for a Summer fest. Hellfest seemed extremely attractive this time around & shortly afterwards Sonisphere announced its return with a stellar, if a bit uninspiring line-up. Thankfully the day splits worked out perfectly for us & a Sunday ticket was in order.
We’ve been really lucky this time around with 2 major fests filled with bands we want to see & a full day at another. So with that in mind enjoy this top 10 & if you are going to any of the same fests let me know what yours would be in the comments.
10 – Children of Bodom (Bloodstock)
They are playing 3rd from top on the Saturday of the festival which means a nice lengthy set. I’ve seen Bodom live a handful of times & each time I’ve loved every minute of them. Their catalogue of songs excites & I can’t think of many better bands to spend my 30th birthday with.
9 – Iron Maiden (Hellfest)
This might seem like a strange one as I’m not exactly their biggest fan but I’ve never seen a ‘best of’ Maiden set & that is something I would really like to see. I’ve only seen them live once at a festival & I did enjoy them so hopefully this one is a killer.
8 – Watain (Hellfest)
At Sonisphere 2011 I wanted to catch some of Watain before going to see Black Spiders. Sadly they were late on stage & I ended up missing them. Since then my love of the black metal mob has grown & I’m really excited to see them live for the first time.
7 – Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegal’s (Hellfest)
I really like the debut album of Anselmo’s solo stuff outside of Down & the chance to see the man play his stuff on the small scale is really exciting. The opportunity to maybe see some other Anselmo work is seriously tempting as well.
6 – The Devin Townsend Project (Sonisphere)
For the last few years any chance to see Devin Townsend live has fallen by the wayside, he always seems to play when we are not able to go. Finally though it seems like nothing will stop us from seeing him at Sonisphere!
5 – Down (Bloodstock)
Down, how I love thee…let me count the ways. Seeing them in their first headliner slot in the UK is super-exciting & I hope they really pull the stops out (I expect so).
4 – Metallica by Request (Sonisphere)
Has it really been 3 years since the last time I’ve seen Metallica? Apparently so & having made my votes for the ‘by request’ set I’m super-stoked to see what the set ends up looking like! I really hope we get some rare numbers…
3 – Gojira (Sonisphere)
Back in 2011 I sat outside the tent waiting for Ginger Wildheart to finish so I could get in nice & early & get a good spot for the mighty Gojira. It ended up being the best decision of my weekend as the tent got packed & people weren’t allowed in after a while. Gojira are special & I can’t wait to see them on a main stage!
2 – Black Sabbath (Hellfest)
It’s really simple…I’ve never seen Sabbath live (I’ve seen Ozzy), I have to see Sabbath live.
1 – Emperor (Bloodstock)
The reason I bought a Bloodstock ticket…The band that made me look at black metal differently, the reason I got into black metal. That they are headlining on my 30th birthday is the most epic thing ever.
Ok, 10 weren’t enough…I’m going to cheat & add another 10 that I hope/expect to see….
Rob Zombie (Hellfest)
Never seen him live & he is supposed to put on a great show…
Deep Purple (Hellfest)
I have to see Deep Purple….
2 albums in a row have been almost albums of the year for me….
The new album is so good…
I do love me some Misfits…
Dimmu Borgir (Bloodstock)
They’ve promised something special, the return of symphonic darkness…
On an absolute roll at the moment & I’ve never seen them live…
Always an absolute killer band live…
Amon Amarth (Bloodstock)
Be prepared to destroy your neck muscles in a head-banging frenzy…
I kind of have to, don’t I?