Just a random thought I had on the way to work this morning whilst listening to ‘In Dreams’ by After the Burial, but have you ever come across a band at a gig that you’ve never heard anything by that have truly blown you away?

Generally, I like to know something by the bands I’m going to see before I can enjoy watching them.  Sometimes, and in hindsight stupidly, I’ve neglected to watch a support band at a gig because I didn’t know them (and probably because Jim said they were amazing and we don’t always agree) and have sat at the bar and missed bands the calibre of Protest the Hero and Whitechapel.  Silly me!

Anywhoo, I have found myself at a few gigs over the years where I’ve been utterly stunned into laughter by an unexpected gem of a band.  I can think of three occurrences that spring to mind.  One I’ve already mentioned on here before, so I’ll keep that one brief…

First up, was waaaaaaay back in the day. Anyone familiar with Canadian all-girl group ‘Kittie’?  Well, I went to watch them.  Didn’t have a ticket and it was sold out so I took a chance and headed to Manchester to see if I could get one off a tout.  Robbing bastard touts wanted £50 for a ticket which I was not willing to pay for a £12 gig!  So, I thought I’d try one more avenue.

I headed to the back of the venue to see if I could get my stuff signed, and lo and behold, Morgan Lander of Kittie was walking to the bus.  Jackpot.  She kindly signed all my bits n bobs, CD’s, singles et al and said “enjoy the show” to which I replied “Not coming. Couldn’t get a ticket!”.  In a move of pure genius, she got me added to the guest list!  Oh yeah!  Bingo!  I’m in.

Pretty sure Sugarcoma were supporting on that show too, but don’t quote me on that.  However, the band that made this night so damn good were about to grace the stage.  I’d heard of them, but nothing by them. They were an unknown entity on this night out, so coke in hand (I was driving) I settled in to watch the show. …and the band was ‘Shadows Fall’.

Shadows Fall

Shadows Fall

They hit the stage hard with a barrage of fast, technical wizardry and thrash-esque riffage that put me in mind of Slayer and early Metallica in parts.  They were amazing.  Thinking back, they were probably the first band of this new breed of metalcore type band that I witnessed, leading to a love of bands like Unearth, Parkway Drive, Lamb of God, As I Lay Dying and more…

I pretty much stood there laughing to myself (I was on my own) as they blasted through some amazing sounding songs with great music and vocals. Topped off by the 6-foot dreadlock windmilling by frontman Brian Fair, Shadows Fall made the ever growing list of bands I needed to hear more of!  Needless to say I nipped to the merch stall after the show and got a copy of ‘Fear Will Drag You Down’ and chatted with the band (except Fair – his autograph still eludes my CD cover, even though I have met him twice since!)

The second band that did this (and the reason for me writing this) were ‘After the Burial’.  I was off to see Caliban with Jim and Ross and supporting were After the Burial, a band I’d never heard of.  Pretty sure I MySpace checked ‘em and thought they sounded ok, but couldn’t remember the song I heard or what they were like.

So we got to the gig and watched the opening act, then on they came.  The stage was dark and then they kicked in.  Silhouettes of two guitarists with their back to the crowd and their guitars behind their heads opened the show and blazed into perfect technical shreddery of their opening song, which I think was ‘Berzerker’!  They nailed some awesome guitar playing – sweeps, the works – from the back of their heads!!!

A brilliant show of skills and some fantastic tunes came from the stage. The only off-putting thing was the god awful illuminous colours of their guitars!! Really enjoyed their set and can’t wait to see them again very soon supporting Suicide Silence along with All Shall Perish.  A beast of a line-up, I’m sure you’ll agree!

Now, here’s where I’ve done that thing where I don’t pay attention to a band only to find they’re actually fantastic and I really like them.  Also on that Caliban line-up are the third band in this story.  A band who were so heavy and bass-pulse destructive that they left me in fits of laughter at the ‘Never Say Die’ Tour in 2010.  Emmure.

Yes, I didn’t pay attention to Emmure, and if I did, they sounded nothing like they did that day at Never Say Die.  I did a full blog about that gig if you wanna know exactly what I thought, but needless to say, I thought they were pretty damn special.  I laughed through their set.  They were immense and aided a thoroughly good night out and have since added a host of great tunes to my iPod!

Have a think.  Pretty sure we all come across a band we don’t know who just stick in the mind as a “fucking hell, these are ace!” band.

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Having recently read Dom Lawson’s retaliatory post about all the people on t’internet being a bunch of whiny cunts about Download festival, I can see where he’s coming from.  Yeah, yeah, every year when they initially give a line up I inevitably say “that looks wank! I’m not going”, but I usually do.

So yeah, I love Download and do go pretty much every year.  Think I’ve only missed one (Kiss/Offspring/LostProphets year) so far. Well, and this years. Should be there right now and deep down, I’m pissed I’m not.  Last year, I did Download and Sonisphere for the full weekends, plus days at Leeds (for Limp Bizkit & Weezer) and Hevy Festival (For a Stag-do – and Sylosis, Black Dahlia Murder and Despised Icon were playing), and that run of festival madness damn near bankrupted me.  So please, this post isn’t to start a fight or anything, it’s just my point of view of the state of festivals today from my side of the fence.

No, I didn’t go to Download this year.  The line-up is fucking atrocious in my opinion, with the exception of a few decent bands and yes, I am going to Sonisphere.  Big 4?  Gotta see that.  I have gripes with all festivals, but Download gets the brunt of the barrage ‘cause it’s the one I’ve been to the most and seen change.

Here we go…

Announcing the line up:  Please, PLEASE stop fucking around and announce a decent amount of bands and all major headliners before selling tickets!  I’d like to know what’s on the bill before I fork out my hard earned readies on a ticket!  What if I bought one after you said “Headlining are System of a Down” only to find the next batch was topped by Kings of Leon and Panic at the Disco. What if all the tickets sold out and it turned into a good line up?? Just tell me the bands at the start and I’ll buy a ticket.  Or not.

Price: It’s always going to be an arguing point.  Festivals like Download have become ridiculously expensive and it ain’t gonna get any cheaper.  It’s gonna get to the point where people the festivals are aimed at won’t be able to afford to go. I can’t see the kids of tomorrow being able to raise the £250 price tag for Download 2015.  Some of them might even have to sell their GHD straighteners to raise funds!

I get why it’s becoming increasingly expensive.  You want bigger crowds, so you add diversity (not the dance outfit) to the selection of bands and facilities you make available.  You want to cover all bases of rock, metal, punk, emo, hardcore, thrash and so on and so forth, so you add more stages and more bands to bring in crowds into that scene.  And that’s all fine, but…

Think about it.  You put on 40 odd bands per day, yeah?  We then have to pay for the privilege of having 40 odd bands and pay a little extra to cover the costs of said fantastic/shite bands to play for our amusement. Well, I can’t watch more than one at a time, can I?  So why should I have to pay the extra for you to add a bunch of Emo bands to the bill to draw in an Emo crowd?  Why should there be a price increase for everyone so you can sell more tickets and add bands that I won’t get to see ‘cause they’ll be on at the same time as other bands.  Ok, I like the fact that there’s choice.  I’ll pay for good choice.  Let’s say I wanna watch Linkin Park, but Rob Zombie’s on at the same time.  I’m paying for some of Linkin Park’s fee and I won’t get to see ‘em!  Heres another: Korn/My Chemical Romance a few years back.  Why should my ticket price increase so MCR can play.  I didn’t want them there, I was happy watching Korn.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ranting here saying we should have ticket fees depending on the amount of bands we intend to watch or a fee per band, etc. That would be shite.  But please, can you take into account that we can’t watch all bands that are on the bill. It’s just not physically possible, so why should we have to pay so much? £200 for 200 bands is a great deal.  Tho, I’m only gonna manage to see about 40 of em, so not so good.

Food: Right, there’s no way I can afford £7 for a feckin Burger n chips everyday.  Having already blown £200 on a ticket, £10 for a car park, money for fuel and camping drinks, I’m bloody skint.  So what do you do to help us poor, hungry metallers?  That’s right, you make us pay £5 for a burger.  Last year we were paying nearly £8 for a chicken wrap!

We’re not allowed to take food into the arena these days, so we’re forced to pay unfair prices for food. Same for beer! I remember when you were allowed to take in plastic containers of beer and drink. You even take unopened bottles of water off us! Daylight fucking robbery!!  Isn’t a music festival about us watching the bands that you put on for us to enjoy, and not about you robbing us blind at for the luxury of eating??

Download especially pisses me off for this point.  You’ve moved the arena further from the camp site, so now I can’t save money by nipping back to my tent for a cheeky pot noodle!  If I did, it’s a half hour stroll to the tent, cook and eat, walk back and oh! I’ve missed 3 bands!  Yes, I’m a lazy fucker, but that’s not a quick walk for anyone is it? At least at Sonisphere they didn’t fleece me of a bag of crisps and a fucking apple like Download did!

Beer:  It’s too expensive and you fucking know it!

Festival Bogs:  I can’t really complain about the festival bogs at Download or Sonisphere.  I went to Leeds for the day last year and I’ve never seen anything like it! Disgusting doesn’t cover the state of these things!  As much as I hate festy bogs, my congratulations go to metal festivals where we can have a relatively clean shitting experience!

Distance from the camp:  Ok, I’ve touched on this but why is the campsite soooooo far from the Download arena these days? Ok, they’re doing stuff to the track so you had to move the arena.  So move the bloody camp to be nearer it!  I like the newer layout of Download, it’s much better than it was when it was by the track, but there’s no point clinging to Donington Park if the festival isn’t there. It’s an epic walk now if you do need to go back n forth to your tent, as some people do.

It’s these reasons that do my head in about festivals and Download specifically, these days, not primarily the selection of bands playing. I’ll still go every year and tolerate the nonsense for the love of the music played, the laughs I have with friends there and the random people who make the camping much more fun!

My decision to not go to Download this year is just a money and line-up thing. If I miraculously came into a spare £200, I’d have gone.  I’d go for the day ‘cause I want to check out System of a Down and Alter Bridge, but £80 for a ticket is a li’l much, don’t ya think?  It’s £200 for weekend plus camping, so where did you magic the price of £80 for the day with no camping from?  Pull that out of your arse, did ya?  You might think £80 for all those bands is a good deal.  If I could watch all the bands, it probably would be, but it’s PHYSICALLY FUCKING IMPOSSIBLE!!!!!  Ain’t it?

These are only my opinions based on going to festivals for the last 17 years or so and how things have changed… not always for the better.  I’ve got plenty of festival experience and love and hate them. I’ve been to Donington/Download, Sonisphere, Reading, Leeds, Dynamo and more. I’ve had some great times with many people and friends at festivals and some shite times where we’ve been robbed and had our weekends spoiled by fucking dickheads who’ve got no respect for anyone.

So please, I’m not after a ‘war of words’ over this. I’m just passing on my side of the story.

Probably should have gotten to this sooner while it was fresh in my mind, but I had to go to work and it numbed my mind from all things!  Anyway, I’ve just remembered I needed to do it so here goes…..

T’other week, me n the usual posse headed on over to sunny Manchester to witness a rather heavy event.  It was the ‘Mosh Lives’ tour, headlined by the behemoths that are Emmure.  Also in tow were Winds of Plague, War From a Harlots Mouth, the classy I Wrestled A Bear Once and someone new to my radar, Visions.

The Mosh Lives Tour 2011

The Mosh Lives Tour 2011 Poster

So it was an early dart from work to get back in time, swing by and pick up Ben, home, change and wait for Ross to pick us up and head over to Manchester where we were meeting Snail (Jim) who was driving up formCoventryfor the show.  Few beers in the car and we were there.

Cheekily, we have phoned ahead to Snail to ask him if he had car park money, as we’d forgotten.  He did.  So we made him walk to the car park barrier and put it in and press the button so we didn’t have to get outta the car!  It was raining after all!

We were a tad early, and when we get to a gig a bit early and can’t be arsed queuing, there is only one solution: Head to The Oxford for a swift pre-gig bevvy!  We got there, ordered beers and cokes, navigated our way through the labyrinth of staircases to the bogs and back, then settled down for a nice quite pint.

Noooooooooo, that wasn’t gonna happen!  You know when you get those drunk old gits who come over completely out of their face and badger you with conversations that you can’t understand??  Yeah, we had one of those!  But this guy was unreal!  “Students, ya know nothing…. Tell me something???  You don’t know anything… rarararah…”  STUDENTS???? Excuse Me?? Feckin students?  Sorry mate, you’re harassing a table of ‘kids’ aged 30-33!!  He didn’t stop for the entire time we were there and even threatened us with death!  “rarararah…. I’ll kill the lot of ya!”  Not even joking.  He was weird.

So, pints downed in less that hospitable circumstances and we headed over to theClubAcademy, where the drinks are cheaper and the queue was now shorter.

First up were Visions.  Can’t remember much about them. They were ok, but nothing really stood out as being amazing and they were more background music for drinking to!  We did our usual scout of the merch stalls while they were on!  Ben got harassed by some crazed fan to buy a War From A Harlots Mouth CD just ’cause the guy selling it was in the band!!  Try as he might, he didn’t make any commission.  No sale.

I Wrestled A Bear Once were up next!  These guys and gal are crazy!  The music is just purely insane.  They started proceedings with ‘Ulrich Firelord-Breaker of Mountains’ which, if you ain’t heard it, has the heaviest Inspector Gadget theme tune beatdown at the end!  Pure genius! They did some new songs too which were equally as crazy and mine and Snails favourite tune ‘Ain’t No Family’.  Ya can’t beat an insane metal song with the most random horse neighing in the middle!

War From A Harlots Mouth aren’t a band I’ve gotten into much, but they were pretty good!  Heavy, technical tunes and epic growls mixed in with some fast paced riffery.  I only know one song (which is the1:22blast of ‘If You Want To Blame Us For Something Wrong, Please Abuse This Song’ with the machine gun beatdown from ‘Transmetropolitan’), which fortunately, they played!

Winds of Plague were the main reason I was there. I’d not long got their new album ‘Against the World’ and it had been on constant rotation all that week!  Not just to prep for the gig, but because it’s just really really good!  There are some fantastic tunes on there, the main one I got hooked on was ‘Refined in the Fire’ which I was hoping they’d play at the gig, Built for War (featuring Jamie form Hatebreed) is ace and to top it off, a guest appearance from the living legend that is ‘The Ultimate Warrior’.  Yes, THE Ultimate Warrior, the very same Ultimate Warrior that handed Hulk Hogan his arse at Wrestlemania XI in one of the greatest exhibitions of wrestling you will ever see!

The Ultimate Warrior

The Ultimate Warrior - Yesterday

The Warrior on a metal album?  That can’t be a bad thing!!!!!

Anyway, Winds of Plague hit the stage and played a stormer.  I hung back for a while and took in the show!  Don’t remember their singer being such a big chap!  Built like a tank, so he is!  Anyway, a few songs in and I hear the shout of “Decimate the…..”  and before he said “Weeeeeeeeeeeeeak” I was en route to the pit for some good old fashioned moshing!  Stayed there for a bit, and they played it!  Refined in the Fire.  “I don’t fear evil, EVIL FUCKING FEARS ME!!!!”  Classic stuff.

After all that hot, sweaty pit action I was ready for another cheeky pint and a rest before Emmure bass pulsed their way through the last hour!  Our mate Dave couldn’t make it to the gig, and jealously messaged us saying “I hope they play an acoustic set”.  Even if they did, I’d imagine it’d still have been heavy to the point of stupid!

Emmure

Emmure - Heavy enough to make a grown man shit!

Emmure bounded onto the smallClubAcademystage and tor through tunes from their back catalogue and new album ‘Speaker of the Dead’.  It was loud and damn heavy.  Enjoyed their set from the back, but did feel compelled to launch an assault on the pit for ‘Solar Flare Homicide’.  “I see a fire in the skyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!”

The sounds wasn’t as bass pulse heavy as it was on my previous Emmure encounter, which was probably for the best given that we all nearly died from heart-shaking pulses last time, but the show was still good.  Nice to see them doing their own thing on a headlining slot, and with such a good line-up of bands in support!

All in all, a pretty good show!!

Not going to Download festival (Sigh) so next gig is Suicide Silence, After The Burial and All Shall Perish!  Follow that with Sonisphere, then Slash (YAAAAAAAAAAAAY), followed by Unearth and 36 Crazyfists a few months later, this year is shaping up to be pretty good!

Hello!

Ok, so I wrote this post a month or so ago and within minutes of me kinda finishing it I’d gotten hold of a bit more stuff to add to it. So I thought I’d re-write and see where I got with it.

Basically, I’d ordered some new CD’s.  “Whoop” I hear you say, and it is whoop!  I’d been skint so far this year and hadn’t been able to get hold of anything new, and as a collector of CD’s that disappoints me greatly.  So with my new found wealth (which didn’t last) I ordered:

  • Times of Grace – The Hymn of a Broken Man
  • Slash – Slash Special Edition (It had 3 extra songs so I had to!)
  • Emmure – Speaker of the Dead
  • Oceano – Contagion
  • DevilDriver – Beast

Quite a mix there, eh?  Well since I wrote the post about these new bits n pieces I’ve gotten hold of some more stuff by Emmure, albums by Impending Doom, All Shall Perish, Baptized in Blood and my fave at the mo for sheer fun music, Royal Republic.  I’ll blast through and give you the lowdown.

Adam Dutkiewicz

How Cool?

Times of Grace was always going to be good. I love Killswitch Engage.  If you need to know how much I love KSE, then you need to track down the Couple that were standing next to me and Ben at Download in 2009, as they applauded our singing along to every Killswitch song played and apparently, we were better than Howard!  Anyways, Adam D is a legend and Jesse Leach’s vocals on KSE’s ‘Alive or Just Breathing’ are superb, so I was well up for hearing what times of Grace had to offer.  I’d already heard ‘Strength in Numbers’ and loved that and the rest of the album didn’t disappoint.  It’s loaded with melodic, catchy tunes, great Adam D guitar work and excellent vocals from both parties.  Not bad for a 2-man album.  Christ, I hate multi-talented people like Dutkiewicz.  And he looks good in a cape!!!!

Slash’s CD is just a re-release with some bonus tracks, which I wouldn’t usually buy ‘cause they piss me off. Seriously!  It used to be the case that the limited or special edition versions of a CD came out first, so the real fans and collectors got them as soon as they could.  I have many a ltd edition digipak and a few with Roadrunner Records first day stamps (Sepultura’s ‘Roots’, Machine Head’s ‘The More Things Change’, etc.).  A band released an album, the cool kids got the good stuff first and then there were normal versions for those who weren’t that bothered.  We – The Fans – buy our favourite bands albums when they come out, only for you – The Record Company Whores – to release better, more upgraded versions of said albums at a later date.  Err, fuck off!!  Now I have to buy a second copy of the album which I don’t need ’cause you’re money grabbing twats.  That’s not metal, is it??

Anyway, I digress.  I bought the Slash CD AGAIN because, as you know, I am a massive Slash fan (he says, sitting in the office at work in a GN’R t-shirt) and the CD had 3 acoustic tracks of songs I like and love on there.  Slash and Myles Kennedy performing Velvet Revolver’s ‘Fall to Pieces’ Slash and Myles’ ‘Back From Cali’ and my fave GN’R classic ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’.  “But Dan, you could have just downloaded the 3 tracks!”  Yes, I could have, but I’m a CD collector and Slash fan.  Unfortunately, this was a buyer.  Anyway, the songs are good and I love the solo album anyway, so it just made it better.  Could have saved these tracks for a limited edition version first release of the next solo album though!!!!!!!!!!!

Emmure - Speaker Of The Dead

Emmure's 'Speaker Of The Dead' - Heavy

Emmure.  Well, if you saw a previous post about me catching Emmure at the Never Say Die! Tour, you’ll know why I needed to get hold of some of their tunes at some point.  They’re just plain heavy.  And live, they’re even heavier and loaded with massive bass pulses that make your insides rattle. Speaker of the Dead was the first set of Emmure tunes I actually listened to properly, and it’s a thoroughly good album. Dirty, low-tuned riffs, nothing over complicated, just big, fat, heavy riffs and shouty vocals. Just what the doctor ordered. I’ve picked up the rest of their back catalogue since and it’s equally heavy. I still think ‘Speaker…’ is the better CD, though Ben will argue in favour of ‘Felony’. They’re all good though.

Got tickets to catch them on tour Next week at Manchester Academy and it’s going to be a bloodbath!  It’s Emmure, with Winds of Plague, I Wrestled A Bear Once, War From A Harlots Mouth and Visions on the “The Mosh Lives” Tour.  Mint.

DevilDriver’s latest album Beast is just another DevilDriver album.  I like DevilDriver, but they tent to do a few really good songs on every album and the rest just sounds the same.  They’re excellent to watch live as they have like 5 albums worth of material to pick an epic set from, but they’re not a band I can get into fully.  Don’t get me wrong, this CD isn’t crap, it’s just similar to all other DevilDriver albums to the point where nothing majorly stands out.  If you love their work, you’ll love Beast.  I only like it though.

Oceano are another great band a stumbled across a while back using the MySpace friends links.  Like Emmure, they just do big heavy riffs and deep growling vocals.  Oceano are more sludgy in their approach.  Listening to ‘Contagion’ is like listening to a giant slowly stomping the world to the point of Armageddon.  Oceano need to get back over to the UK soon, as I missed them last time due to being late out of work. 😦

Myself, Ben and Dave went to see Whitechapel recently inManchester.  It was a good show featuring Whitechapel, The Acacia Strain (who were ace) and a band I knew nothing about – Impending Doom.  These guys were epic.  Such a raw, heavy noise from a band with one guitarist.  Check ‘em out!  Again, following the sludgy heavy route but with a bit more technical stuff in the guitar work.  I’ve got hold of some of their tunes and they’re defo worth a listen.  They’ve got the sound of a band who’ve really worked hard to get where they have.

Baptized by Blood are a band I’ve been interested in hearing something by for a while.  I downloaded ‘Last Line Lady’ from Roadrunner Records website when they were giving it as a free mp3, and liked it.  Apparently, these guys are managed by Dave Mustaine of the mighty Megadeth, so they must be alright!  Album seems pretty solid.  Melodic metal riffage with some top class solos and growled vocals.  Think a more heavy Bullet For My Valentine with no singing or All That Remains type music.

Royal Republic

Royal Republic

Ahh, and now for a band that brought me out in fits of laughter from the moment the first song kicked in.  I downloaded a copy of ‘The Royal’, again from Roadrunner and thought “this sounds like fun”, then I forgot about it.  I remembered again recently that I had it and put it on.  Had to get a copy of the album! RoyalRepublic’s ‘We Are the Royal’ is a gem of an album of you’re into a more poppy, fun rock record.  Happy go lucky riffs, a superb vocal and fun lyrics.  Definitely a summertime album.  If you want a comparison, they’re a bit like the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, with some Rocket From the Crypt, Tenacious D and a touch of the B-52’s for sheer novelty value.  It’s the sort of album that you need to stick on if you want cheering up or at a party.   It’s just fun.  They’re not metal, but they are still good to listen to!

And as a final note, I’ve just got the new Winds of Plague album, which is frickin’ ace!  Prob pop on summat about that after the Emmure gig (which is tonight!!!!).

Laters.

Welcome back to my epic Donington ’95 tale!  If you’re just joining us, you might need to read part 1 first!

Now where was I?

Aaaah, White Zombie were on next.  They were such a cool band and came up with some cool, unique songs.  Not that Rob Zombie doesn’t continue with that style, but that line-up wrote Astro Creep 2000, and that’s one hell of an album!  They played all the songs I wanted to hear: Electric Head parts 1 & 2, Thunder Kiss ’65 and my fave More Human Than Human.  Top stuff.  We were getting more used to this mosh pit thing now, so we went in a bit further and still came out unscathed!!

At this time of the day, I was pretty excited.  I knew what was coming next. It was a moment I’d been waiting for since I first got into rock n’ metal.  He was here. The reason I got into it.  The reason I picked up the guitar.  Slash was about to play.  That instantly recogniseable figure with the wild hair, top hat and trademark Gibson Les Paul was about to grace the stage!  Snakepit came on stage, and my day was complete.  Ex-GN’R rhythm guitarist Gilby Clarke was also in the band, so my excitement was added to from seeing him there.  If memory serves correctly, Matt Sorum wasn’t there, but he was on the album.

Slashs Snakepit - It's 5'O Clock Somewhere

Snakepit's First Album

They played a few from the album ‘It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere’, a few Guns songs, and even one off Gilby’s solo record ’Pawnshop Guitars’.  It was a great song called ‘Cure Me or Kill Me’.  They ended on Snakepit tune ‘Beggars and Hangers On’, which was a personal fave (and one I never thought I’d hear live again ‘til I caught Slash’s current solo tour with Alterbridge singer Myles Kennedy).  The clouds broke and the nice weather kicked in at that point! “Looks like we brought the sun out everybody”, said Eric Dover, Snakepit’s as then frontman. By the end of ‘Beggars…’ I was all sung out and chuffed to bits. When you see your idols for the first time it’s quite something.

Next up were Slayer.  Gotta be honest, I was pretty intimidated by the thought of watching Slayer.   There’s a reputation that Slayer crowds have, but regardless I was looking forward to em.  I only knew 2 or 3 songs.  My fave being ‘Dead Skin Mask’.  Still is, actually!  They were good.  Slayer does what Slayer does best – Evil, Satanic thrash!  Raining Blood, Angel of Death, South of Heaven… all the classics.  Needless to say, I stayed out of the pit for this.

Where we at now?  Oh Skid Row!  Haha, yeah, these guys were ace!  We’d just got a copy of their 95 album ‘Subhuman Race’ which was ace.  Much more heavy than early stuff, but still very Skid Row sounding.  Great track on there called ‘My Enemy’ (which on the day Sebastian Bach dedicated to the Queen).  Love that tune, but it has a god awful guitar solo in it!!  But yeah, they were great.  They played ‘Slave to the Grind’, ‘Youth Gone Wild’ and a bunch of new and classic songs.  Loved it.

You see some crazy shit at festivals.  The sorts of things you wouldn’t normally see.  When you’re surrounded by thousands of people who just want to drink and rock out, you’ll spot these things cause they don’t care!  You’re in the company of like minded people. At one point, there was a group of dudes just standing chatting casually.  One was quite openly having a piss, in full view of the world, like he did this regularly.  This was another one of those moments that cracked us up.  I mean, I understand that there’ll be a band on shortly and you don’t wanna miss out, or that the bogs are generally minging, but, come on!

I think one of the more fun festival traditions that I picked up on at Donington was the bottle fights!!  If it was on the floor and wouldn’t cause injury of death, it was an acceptable projectile!  Empty plastic bottles, small, medium or large, (or a 5 litre carton, but I’ll get to that story later!), plastic pint glasses, rubbish… You name it, it was thrown.  Whenever there was a lull in the proceedings, bottles were thrown!  It gives such a great feeling of satisfaction to watch someone throw a bottle and see it spin through the air and ‘ping’ off the top of an unsuspecting stranger’s head.  Not so funny when they hit you though!!

There was a full bin bag of rubbish that a few guys tried to throw, but it was ripped, and just poured back on them when they got it in the air! Nice.

At one point, there was a circle of people standing around by us throwing stuff.  Our mate Dave picked up a plastic pint glass and filled it with sand, just to give it a bit of flight weight.  Standing mid-circle of people we didn’t know, he swung and flung the glass underarm.  Unfortunately for the poor sod standing directly in front of Dave, the glass had a split in it, and he suffered a mouthful of wet sand as it hit him square in the face!  Classic.  Got Dave a laugh though!

Therapy?

Therapy? - Good Tunes, Shit Taches

Back to the tunes.  Therapy? were next.  The line-up was hand picked by Metallica… apparently and Irish noiseniks Therapy? were 2nd on the bill after only Metallica themselves.  Quite an honour for the band. That’s some doffing of the cap if you ask me!  They came out in the suits and fake taches that they’d been wearing for the ‘Infernal Love’ album tour.  They blasted through a set of some of my fave songs: Nowhere, Die Laughing, Loose, Diane, Screamager, Teethgrinder.  They were ace.  Tim’s fave song was Therapy’s cover of Joy Divisions ‘Isolation’.  If you can see the footage from Headbangers Ball or Noisy Muthas of this, we’re pretty sure you can see Tim bouncing on the spot at the back of the pit screaming “ISOLATIOOOOOOON”.  He was getting some serious hang time on the bounces too!

It was all coming to a head now.  Metallica were on next and Tim, Dave, Andy and myself were pretty hyped up for it after all the decent bands of the day. Ok, Dave hated Therapy?, but the buzz was still there!  We were ready. We’d eaten and had a drink, managed to keep our belongings through the pits and avoided all incoming projectiles for the entire day… til now.

Metallica were due on.  The Ennio Morricone music from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly came on and the crowd was ready.  We’d scooched a bit further forward given that Tim was a massive Metallica fan and wanted to get nearer.  The music finished and there were massive cheers, then an announcement said Metallica had cancelled.  “BOOOOOOOOOOOO”. Was only a joke though!! Don’t worry.

Seconds later they came onstage, all guns blazing, Hetfield with a storming new mullet, straight into ‘Breadfan’ and ploughed into an amazing set of songs that I knew.  Enter Sandman, Wherever I May Roam, Master Of Puppets, etc…  They were amazing. So this is what a massive headlining band at a festival felt and sounded like.  Unfortunately, the set was marred for me by an incident during Breadfan.  I said before we’d not been hit by anything til now.  Well, just as they were starting, and my adrenalin was buzzing through the system, some absolute bastard decided: “I know, I’ll throw one last thing…”

Hetfields Mullet

MULLET!!!!!!!

It was a 5 litre plastic carton. Full, I might add. Full of orange drink.  With the lid on tight.  This… brick hit me right in the side of the head and it bloody hurt!!  I felt dizzy, and it gave me a headache that lasted the rest of the night!!  I was not amused, but I didn’t let it spoil the set.

It was loud, it sounded great, there were pyros, and I was buzzing my tits off! They premiered 2 new songs that day that they’d never played live before, and were written for their next album.  They were ‘Devils Dance’ and ‘2×4’.  Both of which never made it on to Load, but did surface on Re-Load.

I remember a point during ‘One’ where my mate Tim scared the snot outta me too!!  It was just at the fast bit.   The double bass bit was on, with Lars giving it the beans!!!  The guitars and bass had just kicked in.  ‘At this point, I tapped Tim on the shoulder to ask him something just moments before Hetfield started singing. Tim turned, just as the vocals started and screamed “DARKNESS!”  right in my face!!!  I didn’t know the song that well back then and completely did not expect that to happen.  Made me jump!!  Also made me laugh afterwards, cause his face was in as much mental anguish as the dude in the One video would have been if he could move his face! Hahaha.

It was an awesome set, and they did play ‘So What’ so I got to sing and swear along.  From memory, and I have seen Metallica several times since, I’d have to say this time was probably the best.

Really enjoyed the whole festival, even with that near death experience earlier in the day!  My first real gig, my first festival, my first moshpit, I saw my hero, I heard some great bands and it was all finished off by Metallica and a load of fireworks!!  Tremendous.

The only thing left was getting out of there and getting home!  We made our way across what I can only describe as ‘a war zone’, back towards the exit.  The ground was littered with small fires, what looked like dead bodies (but was actually pissed people unconscious) and err, litter.  Bottles, cans, chip wrappers, paper plates…  We were walking along, talking to each other, ensuring one another that what we’d just seen was ‘ace’, and stamping on empty bottles as we went.  Dave’s bright idea was to leap in the air and land both feet on a 2 litre plastic bottle. Now normally, this would do no harm and just crush the bottle.  This particular bottle had the lid on, and was going nowhere.  Dave landed both feet on it, and as it wasn’t giving way, the bottle shot forward, leaving Dave… without a leg to stand on!  As the bottle went forward, Dave’s legs simultaneously went into the air, like you’d see in a comedy film or cartoon.  He hovered in the air for what seemed like minutes, then hit the ground on his back.  Man, it was funny.  There was a German chap sitting close by who witnessed the incident.  He looked over, laughing, held out a fist, shook it and said “Tosser”.  Couldn’t agree more.  It was piss funny!

We got to a narrow ramp on the way out.  Hundreds of us, all squished together, trying to get out.  Someone started making sheep noises, and then we all did it.  “BAAAAAAA, BAAAAAAAA, BAAAAAA!” for a good 20 minutes.  Just needed a giant metal sheepdog to herd us outta there!

Now the hard part.  Where did we leave the friggin bus????  We only had a certain amount of time to find it or it’d go without us. We thought we had a rough idea where it was, but after 15 hours of metal and a knock on the head I hadn’t got a clue!  We were all a bit lost, but we eventually got back to the bus, and in plenty of time!!

After what seemed like an eternity, the bus finally made its way out of Castle Donington and we were on our way home to a well deserved wash… and a shit in clean toilets!!

So there.  That’s my first gig. August 26th 1995.  A pretty accurate account.  Remember yours?

Now everyone remembers their first time. Surely? It’s a part of growing up.  That first experience is unforgettable.  Sometimes for all the wrong reasons, sometimes for all the right ones.  Even if it’s your first time with someone new, that first time will either leave you in tears, or begging for more.  You know it’s true.

Yup, your first gig. (Why?  What did you think I was on about, ya filthy buggers? 😉 Yeah, you can sit home and listen to Machine Head all you like. Learn every lyric, riff and drumbeat, but nothing prepares you for that live experience!

Now festival season is nearly upon us and I’ve booked my Sonisphere ticket, it’s sunny out and the beer’s flowing, so I thought I’d share this epic tale with you! Sorry if it’s a bit long!

I popped my gig cherry at a festival.  Not just any festival, either. It was the festival.  Donington – Monsters of Rock.  It was 1995, and I was just hitting my stride with the heavier side of metal.  I still have memories from back then when a friend (yes Tim, that’s you!) brought Fear Factory’s ‘Demanufacture’ round and I said “get this shit outta my house!  It’s ridiculous!”  Oh, how times have changed… and my opinion.  Demanufacture has earned its place in my ‘top metal albums of all time’ list.  It’s a classic.

Anyway, I was just hitting my stride with the heavy stuff. Bit of Machine Head, bit of Sepultura, Metallica, Pantera, and so on, so when it was announced that Metallica were playing at Donington, we had to go.

Of my group of friends at the time, I was the least into Metallica.  I was the big GN’R fan, so Metallica was an instant ‘booooooooooooo’ from me, just like Guns was for them.  I didn’t hate Metallica though (because it’s not possible unless you’re Dave Mustaine or one of his disciples), I just didn’t know them that well.  Enjoyed the songs I did know from the black album, along with the likes of ‘One’ and ‘Master of Puppets’.  But I was still eager to see them.  I blame hearing Metallica’s version of ‘So What’ on Noisy Muthas.  No matter what people say, swearing in songs IS COOL.

And for those of you who don’t remember it or just plain never heard of it, Noisy Muthas was a late night metal show hosted by Krusher (Who appears at metal festivals and events every so often) and his dog Bullseye.

But yeah, I was well up for going.  Especially when the full line-up was announced: Metallica – Escape From The Studio ’95. Featuring Metallica (obviously), Therapy?, Skid Row, Slayer, Slash’s Snakepit, White Zombie, Machine Head, Warrior Soul and Corrosion of Conformity. . All of which was compered by the aforementioned Krusher!.

I know what you’re thinking… “FUUUUUUUUUUUCK!!! WHAT A LINEUP.”  That, or “Warrior Soul???????”

Donington '95 Poster

the official festival poster - this hung on my bedroom wall for some time after!

But what a line-up indeed, and for a gig virgin and festival virgin like myself, this was the dealbreaker. I was more than made up. Ok, I knew a few songs by most bands, and was really looking forward to them. I was excited about hearing White Zombie’s ‘More Human Than Human’ and singing along to Skid Row’s ‘Youth Gone Wild’, but the one thing I was more chuffed about… Slash was gonna be there!!!  Snakepit were on the bill, and I’d been loving the album ‘It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere’ so was mega happy about hearing them play… and just seeing Slash!

I loved some of the other bands on the bill too.  Was just getting into Machine Head. Loved tracks like ‘Old’ and ‘Block’. White Zombie, Slayer, Skid Row, ace.  Therapy?, though, were a particular fave of mine at the time and still are. I watched them perform the entire of ‘Troublegum’ at Sonisphere UK last year  (2010) which was cool!  So singing along to ‘Nowhere’ and ‘Loose’ was high on my Donington ‘To Do’ list.

So we booked it.  I say we, it was either my mum or Tims.  But we were going.  4 of us, all just about 16 and all new to this gigging lark.

We went early one dreary Saturday morning on a coach trip, picked up from outside the classy ‘Phase One Records’ in Wrexham.  If there was a metal trip anywhere from Wrexham, that was where the trip began.  The four of us get on the bus and take a seat.  4 kids on a bus full of old dudes. Boy, did we feel out of place.

They weren’t old really. Just older than us. Late teens/early twenties and a few a bit older.  Old school biker looking metal dudes.  And 4 fresh faced lads who hadn’t got a clue what they were letting themselves in for.  Watching a pit on TV is nothing like being in one!!!!

So we head off. Despite the warning of ‘No booze on the bus’ from the trip organisers, there was plenty of can opening and bottles clinking about from around the bus. We didn’t drink. Well, there was no chance I was getting up for a piss on this bus anyway!  Spent most of the journey listening to Machine Head on Tims CD player, with a headphone splitter and prepping for the day ahead.

We had a laugh though.  At one point, one of our mob, Dave, turns to us.  Bare in mind we were surrounded by burly, beardy metallers who were old enough to drink and probably smoked weed.  “Anyone want a Jammie Dodger?”.  Could we have looked more like kids? Offering out kids biscuits on a bus full of hardened drinking metalheads. Genius.  Typing this now and I’m still giggling about it.  Back then, we were in tears for about an hour.  We had some funny looks, but it was piss funny.  You know they were just thinking: “bloody kids”.  I know this ‘cause I do it now when there’s youth metallers about.  So, sorry to all you previous generation metalheads who’s turf we invaded!.  And shame on you metallers of tomorrow!  Hahaha.

Christ, this is a big post and I’m not even at the festival yet!!!!!!!

So we arrived. Hurrah!!  “Everyone make sure you remember which bus it is and where it is”. Make note of bus and location and head to entrance.

Wouldn’t you love to hear “fuck. We forgot the tickets” right now?  We didn’t.

donington 95 ticket

The Donington 95 ticket - this isn't my ticket, but I have one just like it!

We made our way in. A little overwhelmed by the size of it all, we regrouped and had a look around.  First things first: let’s get some merchandise!!  So we made our way over to the big merch stall which was on the track at Donington, near where the wheel arch used to be, and spent half our money there and then.  The queue was massive, and we were smallish, young and insignificant, so it took us ages to get served.  By this point COC had started, so my first proper live band experience was listening to, and catching tip-toed glances at Pepper Keenan and Corrosion of Conformity from the Merch queue.

And there we were stuck for most of the set. When we finally did get served, we stocked up on goodies. Official Donington 95 Program: check. Official Donington 95 T-shirt: check. Metallica Cap: check. Metallica Bandana: check.  We made it out in time to catch their last song, which was ‘Clean My Wounds’, I think, and we wandered some more while we waited for Kory Clarke’s outfit, Warrior Soul, to start.

I wasn’t a fan to be honest.  They had one alright tune. “Let’s get high and get wasted!” but that was it.  We sat on the wall at the back and paid little attention. Next up was the first band I really wanted to see, so we made a move to get closer to the front.  Machine Head.

One of my all time favourite bands. We headed over towards the main stage. Main and only in those days! We’d been watching Warrior Soul and a bit of COC, so estimated where the pit ended and stood at the back.  Remember, we were new at this and now loaded with merchandise, so we thought we’d picked a good spot to watch the band.

How wrong we were.  Being new, we hadn’t quite taken into account how crap Warrior Soul were in comparison to Machine Head from a crowd perspective.  So where we were standing comfortably to watch Machine head was no longer the back of the pit.  They walked on, played an intro bit (that later went on to become ’Desire to Fire’ from ‘The Burning Red’) and then…..”LET FREEDOM RING WITH A SHOTGUN BLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAST”.  They broke into ‘Davidian’.

Everyone in front of us started moving.  About 20 rows behind us started jumping and pushing forward.  Panic!!!  The four of us were grabbing onto each other to stay upright and holding on to our possessions for dear life.  Pretty sure a program went missing, maybe some shoes, but it was scary!  Looking back, it wasn’t scary at all. We just didn’t know what the hell was going on!

So, we held on for dear life.  Sure we were going to get trampled to death under a stampede of raging Machine Head fans, we fought tooth and nail to get outta there. Just a bit further back so we wouldn’t die!!  And we escaped. Took a moment to take in what just happened, then we stood back and enjoyed the show. Having listened to ‘Block’ on repeat for most of the journey it was good to hear it live!  They were ace.  No Chris Kontos though (Their original drummer), so their drum tech was filling in. Kontos left/was fired not long after.  So yeah, that was my first mosh pit experience!  Fail.

I’ll leave it there for the mo.  Check in again for part 2

So last week, I was fortunate enough to find myself in possession of a ticket to see the return of Rob Zombie to the UK.

I’d kinda lost touch with what he’d been doing over the past few years musically, (I have Halloween 2 on the planner to watch!) but given that he’d likely be churning out a few solo tracks from ‘Hellbilly Deluxe’ and ‘The Sinister Urge’ and, fingers crossed, a few White Zombie numbers, I was pretty hyped for the show.

I ordered the deluxe version of Hellbilly Deluxe 2 but it didn’t arrive til the day of the gig, so I did all my prep on the way there in the car in the way to Manchester. It’s a pretty good album. Not a patch on the first Hellbilly album but it has some classic Rob Zombie sounding tunes on it like ‘Mars Needs Women’ and ‘Sick Bubblegum’. Unfortunately, my copy of ‘Educated Horses arrived the day after. No homework for that!

Anyway, the gig was ace.

First up were Revoker. To be honest, they didn’t do a lot for me. Spent more time Tweeting and updating my Facebook profile while they were on, so I waited it out knowing Skindred were up next. Sorry guys, just not my cup of tea!

I love Skindred. They’re a really unique sounding band. Good riffs, catchy choruses and great sing-along moments. It always helps a band when they have a frontman the calibre of Benji Webbe to add to the fantastic music. Anyway, they blazed through a decent set of tunes including ‘Trouble’, ’Nobody’, ‘Pressure’, ‘Destroy the Dancefloor’ and ‘Stand for Something’ and improved the night no end!

…and then for the main event. Rob Zombie. Not been over for 13 years and it was probably that tour I saw him last too!

Rob Zombie & Co 2011

Rob Zombie & Co

His live band now consisting of himself, Piggy D on bass, Murderdolls/Slipknot man Joey Jordison on drums and ex-Marilyn Manson man John 5 on guitar. It was quite a show, and something a lot of bands should pay attention to. If you’re gonna make a spectacle of your live show with gimmicks, do it properly like this! It was a zombie graveyard full of props and different backdrops, fire and smoke throughout. Giant monsters, robots and the like walking across the stage while the band played and what I can only describe as World War II looking Warhammer Space Marines shining spotlights into the crowd.

They opened with ‘Jesus Frankenstein’ and powered into the classic ‘Superbeast’ and it was top stuff from there on in. Playing solo numbers like ‘Demon Speeding’, ‘Living Dead Girl’, ‘Never Gonna Stop’, ‘Sick Bubblegum’ and ‘Werewolf Women of the SS’ (Backed up by a movie trailer for the same titled film starring Nicholas Cage – funny, but a spoof I hope!). I was never happier than when they broke into the occasional White Zombie track. They did my fave ‘More Human Than Human’, ‘Supercharger Heaven’ and the classic ‘Thunderkiss 65’, which sounded really meaty! Midway through Thunderkiss, Rob Zombie did a lap of the Apollo with a torch while John 5 soloed away on stage. More lightshows, explosions, videos of naked women, zombies and the Munsters later and they ended on ‘Dragula’.

I was glad I caught the show. It was a good one to see after such a long hiatus from eth UK. He’s back over for Download, but we’re only doing one festival this year, and it’s looking like Sonisphere, so I’ll miss it!

Don’t leave it so long next time, eh Mr Zombie???