I’m going to preface this with a spoiler. Bloodstock 2015 might possibly be the best festival experience I’ve had to date, from the music to the people; there wasn’t one moment to dampen the weekend.
Now that I’ve made it unnecessary to read on, please read on.
I wont mention every band of the weekend, mainly because I’ve already got too much to write and I’m clearly forgetful (nothing to do with alcohol). I didn’t see as many bands as I intended to, but I got swept away in just enjoying myself which at the end of the day is the point I suppose.
Coming from Scotland, we were quite unprepared for the initial heat that hit us upon reaching the grounds of Bloodstock. By the time we were in the queue my nose was already turning a bright shade of pink, a colour that would only turn redder over the coming days. Despite the attempts of some to rile up the crowd, we enjoyed the quiet, if not upbeat shuffle to the main gate, punctuated by the first casualty of the weekend spewing his ring. Also quiet if you don’t count the Father Jack impressions obviously.
Upon setting up camp in Valhalla (yes, I know Midgard is the party camp, but Valhalla is called Valhalla, why the fuck wouldn’t you camp in Valhalla?) attention turned to the most important point of the weekend. Getting mildly tipsy on one or two fine ales.
After fifteen or so cheap lagers and a horn of mead, we quested off around the festival befriending any and all campers. This is where Bloodstock comes into its own; I’ve never been to a festival where people are so open and friendly. Bigger festivals tend to be fairly cliquey, but at Bloodstock you’ll have a BFF from the moment you bump into them.
There were several bands on Thursday night, all of whom I assume were very good. The one I do remember though was Red Rum. Are they jumping on the pirate metal bandwagon? Yes. Does anyone give a fuck? No. An all too short set had the Thursday mob singing and jumping in merriment, the icing on the cake being their excellent version of They’re Taking the Hobbits to Isengard (dedicated to Christopher Lee). Arnocorps followed, leading the night to a close with some ridiculous Arnie impressions which can never go entirely wrong.
I say brought the night to an end, there was still the important issue of the after party/club (is it called a club in a tent?). We walked in and within seconds Manowar were playing, I don’t care what kind of festival you like, that’s glory right there. I also finally got a proper ale rather than pissy, warm lager. Good guys those Hobgoblin lot.
The next morning there was pain. So much pain. A strawberry milkshake soon sorted that out once we reached the arena, 4 quid might seem pricey to you, but that sucker is better than medicine. It was finally time for bands though and I opened my day with a bit of Armored Saint. Despite an early slot, they show no signs of half assing, giving it the full oomph like they were playing a headline slot. They might not have the synths, fire or choirs of some others, but a bit of classic heavy metal at a heavy metal festival always serves to remind you of what it’s all about.
Enslaved were one of the highlights of my day, though did serve to annoy the living tits off me for the remaining days after the vocal melody to Building with Fire got stuck in my head. Even now I’ve had to put it back on. Despite losing all their gear in a French airport, the band were on top form, you wouldn’t even know they were missing all they owned if not for the shots at Charles De Gaulle airport.
Ihsahn was my main disappointment of the weekend, a sentence that pains me to type. You can’t blame a guy for technical difficulties, but there’s a certain expectation for a front man not to let the mic sit silent for too long. Sadly Ihsahn didn’t tell a tale or two and the audience slowly lost the buzz it once had. Sure he got some of it back but the damage was done.
Overkill on the other hand know how to work a crowd, putting on a show like they weren’t a day over 20. Bobby Blitz has more energy that I fear I’ll ever had and his piercing vocals shake the heads of those still unfortunate enough feel lingering effects from last nights partying. A solid set wakes the crowd, but it’s Elimination that really sees the crowd getting pumped.
Then Sabaton came and ruined everything. Ruined in the best possible way of course. For the rest of the weekend you could hear people commenting about other bands; “I mean they’re good, but where’s the tank?” After experiencing technical difficulties in 2013, Sabaton decided to bring the big guns and they really meant that. A full size battle tank is revealed as the curtain drops following The Final Countdown. The instrumental The March To War leads into Ghost Division and with that the stage seemingly explodes. Bring a headliners worth of pyro, we had it raining from the roof, shooting from the stage, and most impressively, shooting out the tank.
Broden schools any potential frontment in the crowd in how to keep an audience alive. From stories and jokes between songs, to fist pumps and jumping during songs, the audience isn’t allowed to drift or fade. You give it 100% or you get blown up by a battle tank. Interjecting the songs with a few comedy routines, they also serve to remind even the grumpiest, corpsepainted face in the crowd that metal can be fun.
Nightwitches serves to be one of the most electrifying moments of the set, with an air raid siren blaring over an empty stage before the songs opening stabs kick in, leading the tank firing pyro over the audiences head, interspersed with flaming jets from the stage.
Closing on Metal Crue they end on a spectacular note. A spark fountain rains from the ceiling before yellow and blue (Swedish don’t you know) confetti coats the crowd. Fireworks burst all around as the final upbeat moments come to an end and sadly, they take their leave.
It’s a headline set by a subheadlining band, and the general consensus seems to be that they’ll be headlining in the not so distant future. The opening chant from Swedish Pagans could be heard throughout the weekend from various pockets of the crowd, and the confetti littering the ground even on the Sunday night made sure no one could forget Sabaton was here.
When I said they ruined everything I really did mean it. Trivium just didn’t have the full cylinders firing for their set, and having to follow Sabaton didn’t help, no tank, you see?
Pritchard and Dainton also made their return to Bloodstock to disgust the not so easily disgusted. But a fishhook through the ear and a shitty drum stick wiped under a grown mans nose does give you pause to vomit. Some problem sees the set cut short, but they seem to fit the entire routine in anyway, just dispersing with a lot of the build up.
With that it was back to the tents for more drink and to listen to Swedish Pagans.
Valhallla is a pretty place