Lost At Bloodstock

When punk goes death metal

Lost At Bloodstock
Lost At Bloodstock

By Ben Tipple

Jul 14, 2015 18:30

Packing the car full of necessary camping equipment and copious amounts of alcohol, spirits are high. Fortunately the sun is shining for the impending four hour drive that will take my friend and me from the South East of the country to Derbyshire – home of the death metal monolith, Bloodstock.

The booze feels necessary. Any suggestion that alcohol is required for a good time is unintentional, however the thought of three days of some of the heaviest music on the planet, somewhat removed from our usual tastes, is slightly softened by the existence of substantial liquid confidence. At least if everything else fails, we have all the necessities for a party at our tent, possibly blasting the more accustomed pop-punk out of a portable stereo.

The purpose of our journey is simple. Take one person who has comparably zero understanding of death metal, allow him to take a trusted friend who will rave about headliners Down and Emperor for the full journey, and plonk them into a field full of death metal enthusiasts. Many argue that festivals are enjoyable regardless of the genre; that theory is about to be tested.

Lost At Bloodstock

Upon arrival there’s little to distinguish Bloodstock Open Air from the number of fellow mid-sized festivals dotted around the country. Although notably further from any main road than some, a festival car park is a festival car park. We park the car. Many lug huge hiking backpacks on their person, most supporting a crate or two of beverages – more common than not ale or premium cider. This quickly proves indicative of one of the major draws for the adult contingent: quality alcohol.

Yet what Bloodstock also demonstrates upon arrival is a substantial non-adult cohort; some carrying miniature versions of their older companions’ camping gear, and some ready to settle in for the day ticket experience. There are a surprising number of tiny death metal heads gallivanting across the site. We suppose it’s never too early to start listening to Aborted or Morgue Orgy.

Upping the beard and hair ante of even its closest mainstream festival counterpart, Download, Bloodstock’s general campsite proves to be the usual affair. Finding a spot a little further away from the arena, a war against the exhausting heat is won and tents are erected. Conflicting heavy tones dominate the air as sounds of cheering, laughing and the opening of cans come into play. So far, so good. We feel at home.

In fact, we’ve never felt so at home in a field. People are friendly and welcoming, ranging in age from the teenage outcast to the retired couple donning Rotting Christ t-shirts on seemingly permanent camping chairs. Pretence is non-existent. Never more so is music a conduit for a community, even if we are the real outsiders. Finding a seat on one of many benches near the impressive bar facing the main stage encourages conversation with strangers. Although presumably there are exceptions to the rule, in our 72 hours on site those exceptions pass us by.

Even if the likes of Decapitated and Balls Deep don’t prove to be to our taste, Bloodstock emerges as surprisingly eclectic. Despite judging the line-up poster as a series of spider webs upon first glance, crossover acts such as Krokodil, Hatebreed, Crowbar and Biohazard offer a more accessible introduction for the death metal rookie. Following a particularly heavy evening, an extended stint of sitting facing the New Blood Stage proves refreshingly fruitful. As with any genre, the assumption that it will all sound the same is nullified within moments of entering the arena.

Lost At Bloodstock

As some of our ever-extending party opt for Ultimate Warrior face-paint – a look that proves particularly popular with festival goers – whispers of bin-jousting fill the air. Presumably unsanctioned by the festival organisers who seemingly employ individuals to scout the campsite looking for groups of people with mischievous intent, the idea is to balance on a considerably sized wheelie-bin and smash yourself at speed into a fool of similar persuasion. If it sounds idiotic, it’s because it is. Tales of serious injury spread like folklore around large clusters of predominantly teenage punters, all with an odd pride in their self-destruction.

Although we value our spines far too much to actively take part, the spectacle is unquantifiable. Perhaps we should count our blessings that we aren’t privy to a serious injury or even death. It’s not surprising that festival security are keen to shut down the covert underground bin-jousting rings that apparently believe they are far more subtle than they are. Standing on two noisy bins in the middle of a campsite is not the most secretive of endeavours. Still, it’s similarly not surprising that partakers are high on adrenaline as they take out opponent after opponent. We bow to the bin-jousting king, just as a security guard once again forces dispersal.

As the Sunday sun threatens to call it a day, so do we. Although expectations had been set to leave far earlier, we depart later out of necessity rather than choice. Presumably in this field in Derby there are more friends to make, more ale to drink, and more than a fair share of surprises in store. With sufficient known and unknown musical gems lined up to make the pilgrimage worthwhile, there are more than enough quirks to fill any gaps in the bill.

Being lost has never been so much fun.

Bloodstock Festival 2015 will take place from the 6th to the 9th August 2015. Full details and tickets are available via the official festival website.