Monday, 2 August 2010

Sonisphere 2010

Me and Liz went along to Sonisphere in Knebworth this year, got a weekend ticket each and, luckily had a friend from Hatfield also going, meaning we could get a lift in each day and not have to camp (Liz is mostly against camping). This did mean longer trips there and back each day, as well as a long walk to/from the car, but it was nice to have a comfortable bed to go back to in the evenings (and non-smelly toilets, which was the main bonus for me as I like camping otherwise). 

Day tickets only let us in from Friday (on Thursday people could come in if they were camping to set up etc.), so we headed off to try and catch the first band playing, Delain. There was a lot of traffic getting there (traffic to the event, as well as traffic of people heading North on a Friday afternoon combined), which meant we missed the first song or so, but got to see the rest of the show. Next on were Turisas, who, due to having 40 minutes to play, only managed to fit 4ish songs in (I say ish as there were short bits of other songs and some talking to the crowd). We found Simon before Turisas started playing, and stood around where he was for them and Europe who played next. The next band on was Gary Numan, and we went for a wander around the stalls while this was on, before getting back for Alice Cooper. While wandering around before this, I ran into my old Scout leaders and we wandered off through the crowd before Alice Cooper started. Alice Cooper put on an amazing show, managing to get himself guillotined, hung and put into a Iron Maiden (*Air Guitars*) type device throughout the show. Entertaining stuff. As we were getting the car back, we started to wander towards the exit during the encore, but that meant we got back to the car quickly, and back to Hatfield easily (the car park turns off directly onto a motorway, a very well chosen location), where we went to Asda quickly to pick up some things for the weekend. I got two fold out chairs for me and Liz as they were cheaper there then what the stalls were selling at the festival. 

The planned arrival on Saturday was the first band on the Saturn (second) stage, Sabaton, although due to car difficulties, we saw the last song of their set while the driver unfortunately was waiting for the AA to come along. We then set up chairs facing the Apollo (main) stage for Lacuna Coil (which you could apparently hear from the far side of the car park). We stayed in our little chair spot for a while, until Anthrax played on the main stage, which was a great show. We stayed around in our chair spot for most of the day actually. We did wander off for some shopping (Liz somehow convinced me to buy her a ring, which I am keeping away from her until xmas, mwahaha). Apart from the shopping, we were hanging around the top bit of the slope for the main stage, watching Papa Roach, Good Charlotte (Liz's idea, I liked the idea of sitting down), and Place-bo. We moved over to the second stage for Motley Crue (who weren't that late on stage!), which was awesome (second time I'd seen the too :-D Liz was kind of disappointed with the singer (I am disappointed with the singing of whoever she is currently listening to)). Afterwards, we moved back to the main stage for Rammstein, who put on a spectacular flame filled show. Wouldn't want to meet one of them in a dark alley with a head mounted flame thrower. One of them took a dingy over the crowd which looked fun. Their show ended a bit earlier then we thought, so we were caught in a bit of a crowd getting back to the car, but still got back in good time, and the motorway was mostly clear heading back (I think we only had to get off at the next junction, so not that far). 

The first band we wanted to see on the Sunday was Slayer, so didn't need to set off as early as Saturday. We got there in time to set up our chairs before Slayer, and before the crowd-rush [1] before Slayer started. There was a really big crowd for Slayer; I would say more people than Alice in Chains who were on next, and about the same for Pendulum (who were the act on the main stage before Iron Maiden (*Air Guitars*)). Slayer put on an amazing show; I was tired just watching it, so glad I wasn't getting pummelled in the big mosh pits. I could also understand why they were put on relativity early in the day, even though they seemed more popular then the next two bands; it must be near impossible to keep playing at the insanely fast speeds they play at constantly for too much longer then an hour, especially as they have been playing for nearly 30 years. Awesome show. We hung around the main stage for a bit, saying hello to Faye who Liz had found when she went off to get pie and mash for dinner (again), watching Alice in Chains and a bit of Pendulum before heading off to the car to put the chairs back (with the plan to get closer to the stage for Iron Maiden (*Air Guitars*)). Pendulum weren't that great, I am unsure why they were effectively second headline on the main stage, particularity at a metal festival. It got a bit repetitive after about two songs. 

Iron Maiden (*Air Guitars*)
Getting back from putting chairs in the car, we headed over towards the main stage, to find a spot close to the front with a good view of the stage/big screens. We were quite a bit off to the side, but still had a good view (particularity of the screen, which would give us a good view of anything we couldn't see otherwise). The time slowly clicked towards when they were to start, and their pre-act song Doctor Doctor started playing, followed by some awesome intro music being played alongside some cool space pictures on the big screens. As that finished, everything seemed to go off (I thought it was a power failure) before coming on again for an awesome first song; The Wicker Man. Most of the set consisted of some of their more recent [2] stuff, with some older stuff mixed in, finishing with the song Iron Maiden (*Air Guitars*), which I took my bandanna off [3] to head bang to. They went off stage for a bit, before coming back on to an amazing encore; Number of the Beast, Hallowed Be Thy Name and Running Free (which I don't think I have heard live before, and it was awesome), meaning a bit more head banging. They left the stage again, and we headed to the car while their ending song started playing (Always Look on the Bright Side of Life), which we sang along to while navigating through the mass crowd also heading to the car park. Part way through the walk (which had to be a mile and a half to two miles) I took my jacket off so Liz could see me better in the dark crowd; I was wearing a red t-shirt among a sea of black. We eventually got back to the car, and were out the car park in 5 or so minutes which was impressive considering that not only was there everyone who was there with non-camping tickets (the day had sold out) leaving, but some who were camping had packed up cars ready to head off that night to get home instead of camping the last night. Cleverly, the staff had opened a second exit to the normal one which we used, the slight downside being that we came out directly onto the motorway... in the opposite direction to what we wanted. We turned around at the next junction, and still managed to get back with minimal traffic. A major bonus of having a festival car park attached to a motorway. 

All in all, it was a great weekend. The music was great, some of the shows were excellent, and the overall atmosphere was good. It seemed quite well organised too; the locations and timings of the two stages were set out well. I didn't do camping like I have done at previous Download outings [4][5][6]. 

I must be loosing my blogging-touch, my last posts about Download were 2000 words and 4800 words, this one is just over 1600, but that just means there is less random stuff to read ;)

[1] Crowd-Rush: Sonisphere cleverly timed the shows on the two main stages (Apollo and Saturn) so that one finishes, and the next act starts on the other stage about 10 or so minutes afterwards. It means it is possible to see all the acts on both the main stages if you want to, which is nice if there are a lot you want to see. The side-effect of this is that there is a bit rush of people moving from one stage to another (there is usually a mini rush when an act on one stage is about to finish for people who want to get further towards the front for the next act)
[2] 'Recent' being the last 10 years
[3] I got a bandanna on the first day to keep hair from blowing in my face as we were outside all day. The second and third days I brought along one I had at home as it fitted on my head better. The downside of wearing this, along with sitting around the main stage for most of Saturday, meant that I got a funny looking tan/burn mark along my forehead.