Day two of Bloodstock. The inside of my mouth feels like sandpaper, and my head pounds in the torturous oven which my tent has become in the morning sun – I frantically scrabble around for a bottle of water.
I find one with a few mouthfuls left and gulp it down, trying to ignore the fact that it’s hot enough to make a cup of tea, then stagger out of my tent and across to the taps at the other side of the field.
Pouring another bottle of water over my head, I squint out of tired eyes and realise that despite the fact it’s only seven in the morning, I will need to wear sunglasses from now on. The guy camping across from me wearing only a thong is another good reason to cover my eyes as much as humanly possible.
So, I’ll admit that this isn’t the most efficient start to the first full day of bands – but hey, this is Bloodstock. I’m still functioning, and after a delicious can of 5p baked beans and endless gulps of water, I’m feeling somewhat more human. The coffee in the VIP area is reasonably priced, and actually very good coffee – thank God.
I spent a fair amount of time conducting interviews on Friday, but still managed to get in a decent amount of band watching. Ex Deo are a group who are to ancient Rome what Nile are to ancient Egypt – and they’re touring together soon too. Brutal. Though I’m not at all familiar with their music, Ex Deo certainly had the Ronnie James Dio Stage crowd roaring early in the day, and also attracted a couple of guys who were quite content to boogie along in their groovy 70s outfits .
They were far from the most bizarre thing I saw during the weekend though, and having seen more of a particular gentleman than I wanted to the day before, the calmer fancy dress was most welcome. I then also caught the end of Shrapnel‘s set on the Sophie Stage, who were making sure that nobody in the tent was relaxing with their compulsively headbanging tunes .
Dark Funeral were on next on the RJD Stage, but there was something missing about the vibe. Perhaps it’s just because black metal doesn’t really suit the daytime well, but I really found it difficult to get into their set. It wasn’t really their fault, as they don’t write the timetables, but perhaps Bloodstock should have scheduled them onto the Sophie Stage for the element of darkness an inside stage brings. Of course, moving them off the main stage would be an undeserved snub, so it’s really difficult to win here .
The next act I got a chance to catch was my first visit to the New Blood Stage, which has grown from being a white marquee to a miniature version of the Sophie Stage tent. The sound inside is, like the Sophie Stage, much better than other years, which is great – as the talent it hosted over the weekend deserved as much. Nocturna are the first group I see inside, who are an extremely promising young symphonic prog act, performing despite the fact their vocalist has a throat infection. Nevertheless, they battled on to give a memorable performance, and I hope to catch them at another point in full fitness .
Later on, Xerath launch a full-frontal assault on the second stage, their final performance with guitarist Owain Williams. Drawing one of the largest Sophie Stage crowds of the weekend, they absolutely nailed their set, pulling out a bombastic assortment of groove-filled tracks with which to drive their audience wild . On the way out of the tent, I was assaulted by a zombie. Which doesn’t often happen.
I had to take a quick dash across to see Voivod on the main stage next, and I immediately went into fanboy mode – though I feel justified in doing so, because they were fantastic. Their music is thrashy enough to appeal to fans of groups like the ‘Big Four,’ but it’s also twisted enough to push beyond the boundaries of thrash, into the dissonant churn of their own brand of progressive metal .
The last band of the day for me were Scar Symmetry, who pulled out a blinder of a set, despite the fact that they’re not my usual cup of tea. There was an incredible amount of energy on stage, which you could almost see seeping through the crowd. A very strong performance .
King Diamond are completely not my thing, and though this rare performance must have made lots of fans happy, I couldn’t last for long, and retired to the beer tent.
After the killer Thursday night, it wasn’t long before I again crawled off to bed, looking forward to what Saturday would bring; Gojira and Lamb of God, but also some unexpected (and fantastic) surprises.
To be continued…