A few weeks go I though any shows further than the Greater Manchester area were on the back burner, pretty much until the Iron Maiden show in July. Last weekend saw me make the trek over the Pennines to Leeds to catch another stunning and rather sweaty Suffocation gig and a week today I could make the same trip for the Outbreak Festival.
Depending on the weather I might be making my first appearance at the Download Festival since 2014. I’d been every year since its inception, but the whole thing started to feel like a drag. I wasn’t intending on going in 2014, but with Quicksand appearing I had to go.
The whole event always seems to be cursed with bad weather. I have never been as wet as I have been at Donington in some years. The deluges of 2010 and 2011 were horrendous. Even my belt was saturated and I couldn’t wait to get home and have a warm shower. I was going to head there a few years ago when Iron Maiden graced the stage, but again it hammered it down and I stayed home in the dry.
The line ups haven’t been great for my tastes either. I know it’s me getting old, and as my slippers state, grumpy. There are also way too many bands over the four stages and way to much traversing between those stages to see bands and ultimately missing large chunks by either getting there too late or having to leave part way though due to clashes. I don’t know why they don’t keep genres together on some of the stages and cut down on some of the mass movement.
On Sunday there are about 40 bands playing and around ten of those I’d pay to see, or have a curiosity to view. Almost half of those bands clash with each other. At one point in the day there are three bands I’d like to see on different stages at the same time!
Back in 2016 I attended Hellfest in France. It’s on a similar scale in relation to punters and artists to Download, but has two more stages and the whole arena area seems smaller. The main stages are side by side and three other stages are all close to each other. Moving around was extremely easy and over the three days I caught around forty acts.
There weren’t too many bands that I am aware of that played less than thirty minute sets, where as some of Downloads opening acts get a measly 25 minute slot. A trio of tomorrows bands that I’m interested in, and these are established bands with long histories, are only getting a paltry half an hour. It’s definitely a festival with its ideology in quantity over quality. Hellfest also starts earlier and ends much later. The days seemed like they would be a massive slog, but time passed quickly for most of the day as you were constantly watching bands rather that hiking backwards and forwards through ankle deep mud to catch snippets of bands.
Even prior to the festival the continental organisers do things better. We had the stage times for weeks beforehand and were constantly looking and comparing and generally getting excited about who we were seeing and bemoaning the odd clashes here and there (Deicide and King Diamond on the last day was my biggest concern.) Download decided to release their times to an app on Monday afternoon, less than 48 hours before those who are camping descended onto the Castle Donington site. This could purely be a money making exercise to force people to part with their cash and purchase the overpriced running time laminates. Hellfest even had the stage times up at the entrance to every stage for all to view.
Having ran down the the festival I’m hoping in 25 hours time I’m there in time to catch either Hatebreed or Dead Cross (Dave Lombardo and Mike Patton might win out on that clash!), Kreator, Body Count then either Shinedown, Myrkur or Messhugah (or parts of) before heading back up the A50 home. There are a few later bands I’d gladly stand and watch, but with a 3:40am alarm call on Monday for work I have to draw the line somewhere.
Body Count is the rap rock, almost a crossover thrash metal band, fronted by actor and rapper Ice T. The band were formed in 1990 and instantly gained notoriety due to their track Cop Killer that was on their debut album.
They’ve played quite a few UK shows over the years, but nothing here since 1997 that didn’t involve a festival. They could’ve had more shows here but several got cancelled due to the backlash of Cop Killer, quite ironic for an actor that had played a NYPD detective in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit for 18 years. If I remember correctly, one of those “banned” concerts should have taken place at the Students Union in Keele University, 7 miles up the road for me and one that I probably would have attended.
In 2014 Body Count released their Manslaughter album and it features a modern reworking of Suicidal Tendencies’ Institutionalized. When Mike Muir wrote it back in 1982 I don’t think Xbox was a thing!