Later today I should be making the relatively short trip north into Lancashire for Sancfest, a one day festival organised by Burnley’s Sanctuary Rock Bar and headlined by Acid Reign.
Last night though I spent the evening at home, just me and Ozymandias, whilst my wife had a night of drunken debauchery (probably) at her friends house. With no interruptions and prying eyes I made the most of the empty house and finally got around to watching the harrowing BBC drama Murdered for Being Different. It was such a hard watch, even though you know the ultimate outcome of the films subject. As someone who has been deemed as different for more than three decades now I’m kind of relieved I’ve not discovered the metal subculture as a teenager in recent years and had to put up with so much more venomous hatred than there seemed to be in the 80’s.
On August 11th 2007 Sophie Lancaster and her boyfriend were attacked by a blood thirsty mob in a park in Bacup. Robert Maltby eventually recovered, to some extent, from his injuries. Thirteen days later Sophie’s parents took the difficult choice to turn off her life support system as she was never going to regain consciousness. Over the course of time five teenagers were charged and eventually jailed for varying lengths between sixteen years down to four years and four months. It’s pretty horrid to think three of the five are now out and living their lives after being involved with the brutal attack.
When varying mainstream trends in clothing and music have come and gone in the thirty odd years I’ve been a “metal head” I have pretty much dressed the same way throughout those decades once the restraints and confines of uniforms have been left behind. I’ve had the taunts of greaser, sweaty, headbanger and weirdo verbally thrown at me for a long while, but nothing ever got to a point where violence was directed my way. As recently as May this year I had an egg thrown at me after a gig in Birmingham from a moving car and I can only assume it was because I was dressed differently.
Across the road from one of the local rock clubs there used to be a nightclub that was frequented mainly by people into the more popular music genres of the time, needless to say now it’s been stood derelict for more years than I can remember, whilst the rock club has thrived and welcomed newer and younger patrons with open arms.
I’ve stood out on the street in front of the Rigger on several occasions where there’s been a police presence due to drunken rowdiness and it’s all been on the nightclub’s side of the road where their attentions have been focused rather than those nasty rockers! Even with modern day festivals there seems to be more trust within the metal scene. Attendance wise two recent festivals within 40 miles of my house are chalk and cheese. The V Festival was held last weekend with somewhere in the region of 90,000 attendees. Apparently it’s been stated on the radio that it’s the safest festival around with something in the region of 300 arrests and an armed police presence. Less than 20,000 at Bloodstock a few weekends previously but I can’t recall seeing one police officer and I’ve heard of no arrests. Strange that.
Anyway I digress. It’s been a long time since I was last in Burnley, and I feel I will see some signage as I get closer to my destination pointing me to Bacup as there is less than eight miles between the two ex-milling towns. Tomorrow’s headliners Acid Reign also paid the best tribute that I saw to Sophie on social media a few days ago to mark the tenth “anniversary” of her murder, so tomorrow could get a little emotional at some point.
“This girl has done more through her death than most of us will ever manage in our lives. Love you Sophie”
In the aftermath of her death her parents went on to create the S.O.P.H.I.E. foundation (Stamp Out Prejudice Hatred and Intolerance) to try and educate people about the alternative sub cultures, and they are regular attendees at many festivals and events. The second stage at Bloodstock has been named in her honour since 2009. Also offences against the alternative sub culture have since been recorded as hate crimes by many police forces.
This track by Delain from their 2012 release We Are the Others is included in this post as the Dutch band dedicated the release to Sophie’s memory.