Thursday, 1 March 2012

Totally pointless ramblings: Thoughts on the three main UK festivals

 This is probably a topic that I should have looked at earlier but I figured the time to do it should be now, since I can now officially say that I will be visiting one of them. yes this summer I and some extremely good friends will be heading up to Balado Airfield to spend a crazy weekend together at T in the Park 2012. My levels of excitement were intense yesterday when discovering my ticket was officially purchased. It now means my summer is going to officially be an awesome party filled with some of the best bands in rock music today. And as a fan of rock music, this year's line up is particularly enticing and the contrasting attitudes between a lot of people in my year who showed a sense of disappointment regarding the pop music acts announced and myself who basically jumped around screaming in excitement when the lineup was announced (Dignity! Who needs it?) was rather major. T in the Park have made a real effort with booking the rock acts this year and there are several I plan on taking my friends to see.
 I was totally taken by surprise and delight when discovering that playing on the main stage on Friday 6th July will be the festivals only metal act Mastodon. I cannot begin to describe the love for the Atlanta sludge quartet now. With their mind-blowing fifth album The Hunter making number one in the ROARF Top 50 albums list, I am pretty much forced to see their epic live show and will be forcing my friends to go as well.
 Also, exciting is the prospect of seeing triumphant Glaswegian rockers Twin Atlantic. They've lived a life of relentless touring as of late, captured perfectly in the blogging of drummer Craig Ernest Kneale which is simply one of the best blogs I've ever read. Their second release Free came in at 19 on the list of top 50 albums and the frantic energy of those songs are guaranteed to translate onstage in a manner that is oh-so epic.
 We've all pretty much guaranteed that we're going to watch the headlining set from Leicester alt rock masters Kasabian. I've come to love all their albums of zany synth-infused alt rock with their efforless sense of swaggering coolness. It means the weekend will definitely go out with a bang.
 Hopefully with a new album on the way, Suffolk's reformed glam rock stars The Darkness are going to rock hard. With stadium filler anthems like One Way Ticket, Get Your Hands Off My Woman and the legendary I Believe in a Thing Called Love, Justin Hawkins and co are bound to set Balado alight!
 There'll be much intensity to be found in seeing a live show by Enter Skikari. Their latest release A Flash Flood of Colour mixes metal and post hardcore with trance and dubstep for a full scale energetic set filled with absolute energy and intensity.
 I've really gotten into Band of Skulls' scuzzy and soulful blues rock. since checking out their second album Sweet Sour. It's alight with immense rock and roll focus and energy, with the distorted frenzy ofclassic rock n' roll mixed with the gentle subtelty of indie rock. Guarantees for a show of ultimate awesomeness.
 But there would urely be no set more warm, charming and uplifting than a set from folk punk troubabdor Frank Turner. The former Million Dead frontman has crafted a mass respectability with his incredible acoustic led solo releases with occasionally bursts into mass energetic and heavy punks riffs. That is sweet.
 So, they'd be the main acts I'd like to see at T in the Park this year. There are plenty others that would also be cool, like The Horrors, Pulled Apart By Horses, The Maccabees and Tribes. However, I am apparently being forced to go and see sets from pop starlet Jessie J and dance music megastar Skrillex. Though I'm less excited about the prospect of wathching a live performance from Miss J, the idea of watching Skrillex live sems pretty cool. Even though the idea of a laptop and finger being the only musical instruments required for a show is questionable at best, I've actually gotten into the former From First To Last frontman's glossier and pulsing take on dubstep music. Some of the greakdowns he's created are pretty intense. Just listen to First of the Year (Equinox). It's dance music you can headbang to.

 So, I'm pretty stoked for T in the Park and I'm pretty sure it will be the highlight of my year. It would also be awesome to visit Donnington Park and witness the incredible Dowload festival, however, it seems that my dear family have reservations about me visiting more than one festival, so no Dowload for me. At the same time, I'm pretty sure it wouldn't work out if I went. I have two groups of friends to go with and both would mean that no one would want to go and see the one act that I'm mainly concerened about seeing, Kyuss Lives! One group of friends are total metalheads who would want nothing more than the most agressive, most adrenaline packed names in the genre. It would mean a desire to see Machine Head, Fear Factory, Trivium, Megadeth, Lamb of God, DevilDriver, Killswitch Engage, Anthrax and Periphery. Maybe Metallica as well, but the perorming of The Black Album in full means less thrash, so less chance of that happening. Then my other friends, who I am going to T in the Park with woul have much greater joy in seeing more bands with a classic rock and more streamlined influence, which would mean seeing Biffy Clyro, Tenacious D, Black Veil Brides, You Me At Six, Slash, Rise Against and Shinedown. Both of these prospects would be amazing, but no one else that I hang out with constantly seem to have a desire to see the group that pioneered stoner rock, so no Kyuss.... no point.

 When I tried asking my metal-obsessed friends about their thoughts about Sonisphere 2012, their response was basically the word "SHIT!!!" screamed into my face. And I think I can see where they're coming from. The weirdest thing about it is that the lineup is made up of bands I absolutely adore. I mean, Wolfmother, Evanescence, Incubus are there. It's the only UK festival that Marilyn Manson is performing at! I should be screaming out for tickets and destroying things out of rage for not being able to go. But yet, I'm not so fussed. Simply it doesn't feel like the kind of festival Sonisphere should be. Sonisphere's meant to be like Download with much greater emphasis on metal and lookign at the lineup so far, it's obvious that the organisers have not made this happen. I mean, Cypress Hill and The Blackout are hardly bands that you'd associate the word "Brutal" with, and the headliners are hardly bands that would provide a full scale metal assault either. KISS and Faith No More have an undeniable influence of metal in their music, but Sonisphere seemed to be more accurate last year when The Big Four were headlining. An dof course, all rock music fans have displayed a reservation about Brian May and Roger Taylor's choice to still refer to themselves as Queen and perform onstage with former American Idol act Adam Lambert. The show itself is clearly designed to be a tribute to the group's amazing legacy but Lambert seems like the wrong choice for such a show, in spite of his flamboyant onstage performance and engaging interaction with crowds. But I can now imagine the poor guy getting bottles thrown at him. An American Idol contestant at a metal gig? Seems wrong. I'm not sure if the Queen set will be such a good idea, although if I were to suggest another singer they could have to create a more accurate tribute, I'd go with Foxy Shazam frontman Eric Nally. The resemblance between his vocals and those of Freddie Mercury are terrifyingly uncanny. Final thoughts on Sonisphere: Switchfoot and Ghost are performing at the same festival. That's hilarious.

 So, those are my thoughts on the three main festivals in the UK right now ad I'm satisfied enough to just be visiting the one. T in the Park is for once a British festival that actually satisfies all that I love in rock music! There's metal, alt rock, punk music and even some electronic hardcore stuff. For me it's the most exciting festival that the UK has on offer, but then Reading and Leeds is still to be announced which will probably blow everyone away. Those are my thoughts. But you are not me, you probably have different opinions and reading this has probably been a massive waste of time. Hahahaha!!!!

 T in the Park will take place at Balado Airfield, Kinross from 6th-10th July. Download Festival will take place at Donnington Park, Leicestershire from 8th-10th June. Sonisphere UK will take place at Knebworth, Hertfordshire from 6th-10th July.

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