What a whirlwind of weekend I’ve had. I’m pretty sure I’m just a husk right now. I flew from a festival in Germany, with just enough time to wash and pack (although not very well, it would turn out) and then hop in the car and head to my very first Bloodstock festival.
The very generous guys at Kraken Rum invited me to enjoy their Freaky Tiki bar over the weekend, and with that, introduced me to my new favourite festival. I was also able to bring Si with me too, which was such a lovely bonus. We’ve been unable to do a holiday this year due conflicting schedules and a conveyer belt of bad luck, so we decided we’d treat this like a summer getaway of sorts. But obviously due to Si being in Young Guns, he sometimes finds it hard to consider a festival as a break, or even something to do simply for fun. For him, they fall into the‘work’ bracket due having spent the last ten years playing them around the world. However, we knew this was a festival minus our usual crowd, so we would be able to spend some quality time together, and avoid being caught up with work chit-chat every five minutes.
I’m a creature of habit, so for the last decade (or more) I have pretty much stuck to the same schedule festival-wise. It’s only in the last couple of years as opportunities have arisen, and impressive line ups have come under my radar, that I’ve branched out and tried different ones, with mixed results to be honest. I was extremely hopeful about Bloodstock though….
I’d heard a lot of great things about the festival, but with my unique health needs/issues I was interested to see how I’d get on at UK’s largest independent Metal festival.
When I looked at the line-up there wasn’t a vast amount of acts I was desperate to see, nor that I was familiar with, but I didn’t see this as a negative, if fact it was a massive plus point. As a music nut there is nothing I like better than stumbling upon a new act to fall in love with, and with so many names completely alien to me on the line-up there was huge potential for this. I was looking forward to leaving the festival with a whole new playlist of bands to obsess over and reignite my love of metal that was first fired back at school.
I have also been working as an interviewer at festivals for the last 7ish years, so it would be an absolute joy not to have a strict schedule to have to run by, and to be able to just switch off and enjoy the live music on offer throughout the weekend.
Ghost was the band I HAD to see this weekend. I interviewed Nameless Ghoul a couple years ago, and although I struggled to comprehend everything he was saying due to the tricky combo of mask induced muffled, press tent chatter, and foreign accent, I found him an incredibly interesting gentlemen. Our chat only served to increase my annoyance that I hadn’t been able to ever catch their live show due to being detained doing interviews whenever they’ve been playing. This time I would finally be able to experience Ghost in all their glory, and what a masterful and theatrical display it was. Si has been in his alt/rock bubble for the last few years, so isn’t hugely au fait with current ‘metal’ either, so he was completely in the dark about their unique offerings. When I looked over at Si a couple of songs into the setlist he was wide eyes and open mouthed, staring at the stage in complete wonder. I’m not even exaggerating either, I actually had to tell him to close his mouth. But this embarrassing truth from our time watching Ghost captures how incredible they are to watch. They’re definitely one of those bands you have to see to understand, and to get the most out of what they do. The combination of the lighting design, religious backdrop, the costumes, the masks, and commitment to their roles have catapulted them to the top of my fave festival moments of all time.
Si was a huge Hatebreed fan in his youth, so that was another main stage act we wanted to make sure we got involved with. We stood a few metres in front of the sound desk so that we had a nice central view of the stage, close enough to feed off the energy of the mosh pit, but not close enough to be in severe danger. After a few songs of singing along, Si handed me his cup of Kraken with a determined expression on his face and said….I’m going in. I think it’s safe to say he was already enjoying Bloodstock and it’s heavy ways.
One of my revelations from the weekend was Arch Enemy. It was my first time seeing the swedish Death Metal Band and I was completely transfixed by Alissa White Gluz, with her superhero outfit, blue hair and absolutely unbelievable metal vocals. I can’t sing along in the car without losing my voice the next day, how her vocal chords survive her performances I will never know!
Puppy have been one of the bands I’ve been listening to when working home from this year, but this weekend was the first time I’ve managed to see them live (performing on the Sophie Lancaster stage). They are an extremely tight live band, and I can’t wait to watch them progress as it’s still relatively early days for them. There’s some early Deftones sounds ringing out from some of their riffs, which I LOVE!!
One of the greatest things about the festival is that nothing about the days there felt like a hassle. It was so well organised and facilitated that you never had to queue for more than about a minute for anything, whether it be a food stall, bar or portaloo. The Kraken Tiki Bar was no exception, with the bar staff extremely fluent in serving up their delicious array of Summer Eclipse rum cocktails throughout the day.
It proved to be a very popular haunt for festival guests, because even though the themed area was sectioned off to create a sanctuary of sorts, it still had an incredible view of the Main Stage. It meant that even if you had to stand at the bar to get a drink, or were a sitting down within the palmed space, you wouldn’t have to miss out on any of the action.
There were Kraken Huntstresses in badass black boiler suits hosting the area and making sure everyone visiting the bar had the experience they wanted, whether that be a party or a much needed chill. They were encouraging impromptu air guitar and head banging contests, whilst giving away branded goodies to deserving punters.
One of the major perks of the weekend was that we had some vouchers to spend in the bar, which meant we would be able to sample the different concoctions without feeling too guilty about our expenditure, and in turn giving us the info needed to give you a trusted overview of the selection.
My personal favourite of the Summer Eclipse cocktails was the INK SPRITZ – crushed ice, rhubarb soda, lillet, Kraken, orange slice and rhubarb stem. I love how it made the back of my throat flinch in that way that tart stuff does.
Si’s favourite was the POISON APPLE – cracked ice, lemon juice ginger syrup, Kraken, cider and a wedge of lime. He reckoned that the ginger would be soothing for his festival belly, so it was medicinal as well as delicious.
As you guys know by now, I’m not a big drinker, and only treat myself now and again. I genuinely believe because it’s a a rare thing (compared to my uni days at least) that I can taste the flavours more intensely and really savour each sip. I think these Kraken Rum cocktails have stolen my heart from my beloved Mojito, and that’s saying a lot!
Although this is a post focused on yummy rum cocktails, I have to touch one the food offerings too, after-all we all know how drinking usually leads to wanting to devour a copious, and frankly gross, amounts of food.
On our first day I enjoy a spinach and potato curry from the Indian Street Food stall. I was feeling a bit smug about my choice, because not only did it feature my one true love (the potato), it felt like a fairly healthy option in terms of festival dining. Of course I pretty swiftly counteracted that good behaviour with a Crunchie/Dime milkshake hybrid from the adjacent stall. Oh well….
Si is a big foodie, so when he’s greeted with a huge amount of choice he actually finds it incredibly stressful. We had seen loads of people walking round with bowls of bright yellow rice so we knew the Paella store would be the sensible option, and thankfully he wasn’t disappointed. On day two we went to the Vegetarian stall to share one of the amazing Nacho bowls, which is spilling over with all the usual goodies, albeit in more ethical form.
I’ll be filling this blog with more photos from this wonderful festival over the next few weeks, but for those considering purchasing a ticket for next year, who may need that final nudge, let me be that for you.
This is the happiest and most chilled I’ve been at a festival in
years, which may sound odd considering it is a metal festival. By chilled I don’t mean it doesn’t have energy and aggro you’d want/expect from a metal festival, what I mean is that it lacks any unwanted stress.
Shuttles take you to and from the taxi drop off throughout the day. Once you pick up your passes its a very short walk to get to site, and compared to many of the festivals the overall site is very compact too. I wanted to make a point of mentioning this for my fellow spoonies, as this made a HUGE different to my comfort over the weekend. I didn’t exhaust myself darting between the four stages, and at no point had to drain my energy from standing unwillingly. It was brilliant!
As I hinted too earlier to food options are fantastic too, there really is something for everyone, with many stalls offering vegan and gluten free options too. So whether you go to festivals to indulge or whether you want to continue your healthy regimine when away from home, Bloodstock’s got you covered.
The overiding positive of the weekend was the general vibe of the festival. Everyone we met was so friendly and it genuinely just felt like a lovely community of music fans getting together unified with one goal to have a good time and immerse themselves in the Bloodstock experience. I’ve never seen so many people get involved in terms of their outfits too, it is unrivalled for smile inducing people watching – there were squids, lifeguards, dragons, Jesus (who was giving out a lot of hugs), a cardinal and a pope.
When you have guest passes it can sometimes be all to easy to settle in the comfort of the area and in turn miss out on the true essence of the festival, you know the random and heady stuff happening out there in the field. In the past I’ve often missed half the bands I’d planned to see because I’ve been caught up in the socialising in these areas. At Bloodstock I loved being out there embracing everything the main site had to offer.
FYI Bloodtsock does offer an
extra special VIP experience in the Serpents Lair camping and
hospitality backstage bar, which offers 100+ different real ales. It was great in there, but with the festival being so awesome and with the Kraken Bar Tiki bar keeping us quenched we really didn’t feel the need to hide in there.
So thanks to Kraken Rum I finally have a festival Si is willing to come to, with me, for pleasure. He’s already talking about our plans for next year, and his hope to being reunited with the blissful Premier Inn bed again.
See you then Bloodstock, you’re rad.
So who will I see next year as part of the 15,000 metal heads descending on Walton on Trent?
The Tiki Totem
A huge thank you to Kraken Rum and the Freaky Tiki Bar for a fantastic weekend.
This is NOT a sponsored Post