The Bloodstock diaries

Bloodstock Festival claims to be a festival ‘By the fans, for the fans’, but it really is so much more than that, discovers PRS for Music set list collector Gareth Kelly.

Anita Awbi
  • By Anita Awbi
  • 16 Aug 2011
  • min read
Bloodstock Festival claims to be a festival ‘By the fans, for the fans’, but it really is so much more than that, discovers PRS for Music set list collector Gareth Kelly.

The week before the festival there had been an air of unrest and tension around the UK, but the feeling of togetherness and ‘family’ at this event was so strong that as soon as you walked through the gates you forgot all of your worries and realised that Bloodstock is ALL about the music!

The festival is into its 11th year and still independently run by its founders, the Gregory family. They made our staff feel immediately welcome and as set list collecting goes, this one really was a lot of fun.

There were a great number of small bands playing on the New Blood stage, which meant that we had a lot of chance to educate people about PRS for Music and get a whole load of new members. And, because there is so much respect for the festival, everyone went out of their way to help make our job easier, and ensured we got everything done but still had time to enjoy the atmosphere and entertainment.

As well as karaoke and comedians, there was a great selection of bands playing on the Thursday evening, including the very energetic Beholder, who are fronted by another member of the Bloodstock team Simon Hall. Being treated to a couple of famous covers by these guys really started the festival off on the right note.

On Friday W.A.S.P headlined the main stage, but for me it was all about the smaller stages. We saw Cerebral Bore wow a tent of 3,000 people halfway through the day with their brutal mix of death metal and hardcore. They showed that they had both ability and a sense of humour when they treated the audience to a party halfway through their set, throwing cupcakes  into the crowd to the soundtrack of Haddaway’s What is love (Baby Don't Hurt Me).

On Saturday, I watched the same tent come alive to Dripback, the first band of the day. You would expect a relatively sedate affair at that time of afternoon, but that certainly wasn’t the case. The band have been getting lots of press lately, and with good reason. They are amazingly tight and pulled off one of the day’s most storming sets.

Meanwhile, the evening was all about Angel Witch and their melodic 70s-inspired metal. I had never heard of these guys before, despite them being around for many years, but soon as I was told that they had Bill Steer on guitar (Carcass, Napalm Death, Gentleman’s Pistols), I knew it was going to be an awesome set with lots of big choruses and even bigger guitar solos.

And so onto Sunday, and that horrible sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when the realisation that the end of the festival is nigh and you have to go back to reality. But this day was the best for music with some of my favorite acts playing on the main stage, and the mighty Motorhead bringing the festival to a close.

There was a little gem of an act called Lifer performing on the New Band stage at the end of the day. A New Orleans-inspired punk-metal band from South Wales, these guys could strip paint with their music and would be really well suited to a much larger stage. Let’s hope that the organisers paid attention to the extremely high quality of these smaller acts, as many could put a lot of the bigger bands to shame with their enthusiasm and hardworking attitude.

It was great to take PRS for Music staff to this festival. A lot of people could learn much from the overall organisation and feel of this event, and I'd like to raise a tankard of the finest ale to the Gregory family. Long live rock ‘n’ roll, and more importantly, long live Bloodstock!

Words and pictures: Gareth Kelly

Bloodstock Festival, 12 - 14 August 2011, Catton Hall, Walton-on-Thames, Derbyshire