It’s been a month or so since Hellfest 2014 came to a close and since then I’ve had time to properly reflect. I had started to write a day by day review, but at the end of the day that’s really just a list of awesome bands that I saw. I’ll sum up all the bands in one word; incredible. Now that that is out the way though, I can move on to the main object of this article, to discuss the best and worst aspects of Hellfest 2014 overall.
Seriously, when is the last time you saw so many legendry metal bands on one bill. You couldn’t walk from one side of the arena to the other without hearing at least one band that have either defined their space in the genre, or are carving their niche into it.
Hellfest is beautiful to behold. While over here in the UK, the likes of Download and Sonisphere make do with tents and a few rides as a “village,” Hellfest has gone and made itself its own city square. Complete with sign posts, giant bill boards and mascots on buildings it puts us to the shame.
Not content with that though, inside the arena they have lovingly crafted sculptures (that terrifying laser beam shooting crow for one) and a fire pit for the evening. Don’t even get me started on the fire though, turning round during Iron Maiden’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son to see the setting suns red sky turned that bit more fire red by the flames on every bar and merch stall in sight was a goosebump raising moment.
Nothing can beat the imposing sight of two main stages side by side though, it’s almost art.
My grasp of French comes from high school, many years ago now. While I tried my best to ask for food, drink etc in French I probably made a complete arse out of it. However, the staff didn’t give an ounce of fuck about it, instead they happily switched to English and chatted away. Goal for 2015: Learn more French.
The people in general are also amazingly friendly. We befriended an Australian, chatted with more people than I ever have done at a festival and shared drinks with just about as many. Good guys the lot of you.
The stage staggering meant despite the immense line-up, it was surprisingly difficult to miss all that many bands. I only missed two or three bands to clashes compared to the fist full I normally lose.
Once again I’m going to use my experience at UK festivals as a comparison. The security were very relaxed. Allowing the shopping cart jousting for a short period of time they eventually took away the carts (not that we can really blame them, despite how fun it was to watch) but allowed people to continue sliding on a big plastic tarp. At Download, attempts at independent fun (aka, fun we’re not paying for) is often shot down quickly. Once again, I can’t blame them though, separate health and safety laws etc, still, it’s nice to be treated as an adult, even if we use that treatment to act like children.
They also allowed glass into the campsite, treated as adults again. I wish I knew this before I downed a big plastic bottle of coke on the train to make room for a bottle of Jagermeister. Ah well, you live and learn, and you also stand for half an hour in a busy train dying for a piss.
Water Spraying Guys
Gods. Gods among men. When it was too hot, they were there with their hoses like an oasis in the desert.
Too busy/Too small.
Despite it being slightly smaller than some of the major festivals, you could be forgiven for thinking you were at the biggest of all. People were everywhere. Walking in a straight line was nearly impossible at times. For next year they either need to expand the site to give people more room to move and sit, or reduce the overall amount of tickets sold.
Food stalls don’t sell drinks.
I’ve got on at some UK fests in this article, but this was a big tick for UK festivals. Having to queue at a crowded bar for a small coke or bottle of water was taking the piss a bit, especially when you got food then had to queue again for liquid. Next year perhaps independent soft drink stalls or just allow food vendors to sell coke. The fact that several of the bars ran out of water on the Sunday night is the biggest complaint I have. The queues for the water taps were huge by this time, food places selling water would have really taken off the pressure.
Taking bottle caps.
Short entry this one, but what the fuck is that. If I’m buying a couple of bottles of water I want to stash one in my pocket for later. I don’t want you unscrewing the top and chucking it away. Easily solved though, just bring your own cap in. Still, an annoyance.
Staggering (part 2)
You don’t miss bands, no. But you also don’t get the best spots in crowds any more. It’s a hard one to figure out, if I’d rather wait half an hour for a band and get up close, or go from band to band ending up at the back. Which leads me to..
While at the very front people were going nuts, and for certain bands like Annihilator pits were flying, other bands got surprisingly mute reactions. As a big Maiden fan it was pretty painful to be in such a quiet bit of the crowd, though I did befriend a stranger next to me and together we enjoyed a good jump and a “scream for me, Clisson!”
Though as I said, some bands got one hell of a reaction..
I walked to three sign posted toilets before I finally found one with cubicles. The big trough in the middle of an enclosed fence isn’t the ideal place for a shit. Or a piss apparently, as people chose not to face each other at the urinal and instead pissed against the fence.
Fuck the sun. As a Scot I’m definitely not used to the liquid in my contact lense packs heating up. The sensation of putting the hot lense in my eye will haunt me forever. This isn’t Hellfest’s fault of course! But still, fuck the sun.
Oh, and fuck compost toilets. Those suckers don’t make for an easy arse wipe!
Some of you will read this and question why I bothered going. At the end of the day though, each positive point is worth so much more than each negative point. The negatives for the most part are mere footnotes at the end of one of the best festival experiences I’ve encountered. Now that Wacken 2015 has sold out so quickly, many of you will be looking for a festival in Europe to go to. Please take my advice and visit Hellfest. I’ve done Download, I’ve done Sonisphere and I’ve done Graspop, but Hellfest takes it.
If you want a good small festival in the UK though, it’s Bloodstock all the way.
Whatever you do next year, enjoy it. And remember. Fuck the sun.