Graspop 2008 Day 3

Acoustic rock. Kinda.

The final day. We rose at a reasonable time and realised we were all out of beer. Hans walked off to see early bands while we kept on going on into down to find out that the small supermarket was closed on a Sunday. Argh. Fortunately, there’s another supermarket around a corner which we hadn’t used before. Popping round there, we managed to get the last of the – sadly low-alcohol- tinnies and lugged them back to the campsite.

I managed to miss Lauren Harris for not the first time. Mainly because I’ve heard nothing but scorn poured in her direction. I know her dad’s a rock god, but by all accounts her own band sucks. Besides, beer and food were more important.

I made my way into the festival area in time to catch Apocalyptica coming on and had a good listen. They’re OK, and certainly novel, but not on a par with Hayseed Dixie when it comes to doing covers. Each to their own. After them, I popped into a marquee to see Soilwork with Pete. They put on a great show, but there’s no doubting that their best material was from Stabbing the Drama.

More metal karaoke

As we walked out of the tent to meet everyone else, I saw a familiar face walk past. It was Melanie from the previous day – quite a coincidence as she was only walking past to find her mates. We hooked up again and she kicked around with us for the rest of the day. I guess Brits are more fun than Germans…

Bullet For My Valentine are hard to take seriously in their “We are metaaaalll… from the Valleys” Welsh accents so they were pretty much ignored. We headed back to the campsite to make the most of the beer rather than watch Avenged Sevenfold (I’d eat my own ears rather than listen to A7X) where we discovered that Melanie had much better beer than I’d picked up. Got to love those Germans – they do come in useful at times.

We did head back for At The Gates, In Flames and Arch Enemy. The latter did keep asking for updates on the football as the Euro 2000 final was on, and the lead singer is German. A good job nobody told her they lost…

Of course, the big band of the day was Iron Maiden. They drew the biggest crowd that Graspop has ever seen and justifiably so. Hans even sang along to some of the songs! The stage show was superb, the song choices excellent, the whole buzz of the crowd amazing. With a great mix of songs, predominantly from Piece of Mind, Powerslave, Somewhere in Time, and Seventh Son along with the obvious classics they rocked for around 2 hours before letting loose an enormous Eddie mummy.

Fancy dress

Show over and Always Look on the Bright Side of Life being sung by tens of thousands of metalheads as they made their shaky ways back to the tents. Partying continued late into the nights, though. Just because the bands were done, didn’t mean that the beer would stop flowing!

Zemanta Pixie

Download – Day 3

When I woke I felt like my right elbow had been cramped for a week, but at least the swelling on my left one had gone down. Anni looked like I felt (with less bruising) but we gathered our thoughts and packed up before emptying the breakfast buffet of pig parts again. We checked out and re-tried Asda (which was open on a Sunday so all the staff and customers will probably go to Hell) so Anni could get a camping chair and I could get some books. OK, the books were an accident. Anyone who knows me knows what I’m like when I see cheap books.

Courtesy of a nearby Sunday market (more hellbound souls) we were a little late getting to Download but in time to catch Chimaera and Papa Roach – more dents and gouges on my anatomy. Coby of Papa Roach gauged the crowd with “Who’s looking forward to the other bands? Mastodon! (cheer) Lamb Of God! (cheer) Stone Sour! (big cheer) Killswitch Engage! (very big cheer) Evanescence (even the tumble weed didn’t bother booing) Oh, right… Iron Maiden! (even the staff in the food tents quarter of a mile away cheered)”

Another great but too short set. Mastodon were OK and I skipped Lamb of God and Stone Sour (both on at Graspop in 2 weeks) to watch Paradise Lost and Napalm Death on the Dimebag stage. I’d not seen PL in years. In fact, the last time I was any of them was when I tried to talk Aaron out of buying an iMac when I worked in PCWorld.

Back at the main stage, Anni was nestled in her comfy chair when Killswitch Engage came on. Ah well, it’d have been rude not to go in the pit. Scariest man of the weekend was in there – naked except for a pair of David Hasselhoff underpants and a pair of trainers.

I needed a rest after that and thankfully Evanescence were so awful I could safely ignore them. They moaned their way through a dreadful set and failed miserably to ignore the hecklers. Instead of sounding put-upon, they came across as thinking they were better than they really were. And they’re not that good to start with. Finally they left. Thank you, good night and ____ off.

The field filled. Human pyramids were built. Plastic bottles were thrown at them until they collapsed again. The sun began to consider setting.

Maiden came on.

This is a band that really makes you proud to be British. From rousing songs like “These Colours Don’t Run” to classics based on history such as “The Trooper” this band (and 2 of its members) have been going for around 30 years now. The Number of the Beast is 25 years old this year, and they’re still going. Bruce revealed – subtley – that they’ll be headlining Download again next year as well, and concentrating on the Powerslave era. Oh, wow.

The only let-down was the lack of a post-show firework display. The enormous Eddie in a tank was eye-opening, though. I can only assume the missing sparklies was due to being unable to get permission from the nearby airport as planes had been flying over the main stage all weekend. Here’s hoping we get a display at Graspop at we did 2 years ago.

We said our goodbyes and as T & H headed tentwards, Anni and I followed the crowds to the carpark. It took us over 2 hours to get onto anything remotely resembling a road and gone 3am by the time we got to Anni’s.

Kit was dumped, a wash put on and I collapsed in bed with KK snuggled under my arm for the first time in 15 months. I think my cats remembered me. I like to think they did.

Download – Day 2

And Saturday rolled around. Despite the fairly early night and comfy bed, both of us were exhausted in the morning. I demolished the buffet breakfast (have you ever seen a plate literally piled around 6″ high with bacon, beans and HP Sauce? It doesn’t last as long as you’d think) and we got to the festival again in time to catch Hellyeah‘s cover of Queen’s “Stone Cold Crazy“. It was only when the big screen showed the familiar face that I realised the drummer was Vinnie Paul – the brother of the guitarist that the second stage was named after.

We met back up with Tali and Hazel and sat through some decent sets by Shadows Fall and Aiden. Talia and Hazel went to watch Anathema, Gallows and My Dying Bride on the Dimebag stage while Anni and I enjoyed Bowling For Soup.

Whoever put Machine Head and Slayer on back to back with only a 20 minute break in between is a very cruel person in deed. Needless to say I was massively bruised and battered after that double bill. MH really know how to treat a crowd and Slayer’s sound quality was much better than in the warehouse in Perth where I’d seen them recently. The picture is of a random bondage-gear-clad girl I saw in the pit for both bands. Picture taken and published with permission! I have a video to prove that my camera is moshpit-proof as well, but you’ll have to wait till I get back for me to upload it.

T & H rejoined us before Marilyn Manson started and I have to say that he was rather disappointing compared to the show he put in in Leeds several years ago.

Linkin Park came on late, but this allowed a huge number of nubile (and not to nubile) young women to flash their boobies on the big screens. The biggest cheer went to one dark haired temptress who toyed with the cameraman for a good while before ripping of “her” wig to show “she” was a one of the numerous guys in drag floating around the festival!

Finally, LP came on and played a blinding set including the best version of “Push” I’ve ever heard… and left early. The songs were great, the light show dazzling, just the performance too short… and it clashed with Motley Crue in one of the tents.

As the spotlights dimmed, we crawled back to our tents-hotel. AQnni and I whized by Asda but we didn’t stay due to the stupid Sunday trading laws still forced upon England, which meant it had shut at 10pm.

Hotel. Shower. Crash.

Download – Day 1

I slept like a log, thanks to the first room to myself since I was in Jordan. And utter exhaustion. Anni called me at around 8:30 and we arranged where to meet, Lyse made me a farewell cuppa and I scarpered off to catch the train from near her house up to the end of the line where Anni awaited in her dinky little motor. Lyse – a huge thank you for your hospitality, comfy bed, internet access and chicken curry! You are a star amongst stars!

Using Anni’s new birthday toy – a satnav system – we managed to not find the hotel we’d booked. Instead we resorted to the decidedly low-tech but much more accurate technique of asking someone. The Ramada decided that we couldn’t be refunded for the night we didn’t want to use despite the booking centre selling Anni the room on the condition that the dates could be altered. Anni will be taking that up with them next week. Happy puppies, we were not. Plus, our room “wasn’t ready” despite several people in front of us getting into theirs easily enough. We ditched our luggage, sorted day bags and legged it.

“Breakfast” consisted of a sausage and chips from a chippie near Asda in Derby. Hey, I’m only here for a few days so I’m treating it as a holiday – it’s indigenous food! We loaded up on snacks and drinks from Asda then headed Download-wards.

Parking was swift and I swear the walk to the main entrance was shorter than last year. As ever at a festival, I was wearing a Toon shirt so I got talking to the guy putting the wristbands on – and queue-jumped as a result. Once inside, I met Talia from Bristol for the first time. Nice to meet up! She was with a friend of hers, Hazel, and the four of us threaded our way to the Dimebag Darrell tent for the first band of the weekend, Turbonegro.

As would be fairly common for the bands in the tents, we ended up squished outside with a passable view of the stage. Some of the bands playing the smaller stages over the weekend were hugely popular so gathered quite a crowd despite the space (or lack of it) available. Turbonegro were pretty good, playing decent no-fuss rock’n’roll. I definitely need to look out more of their stuff.

Next up, though, were the mighty Megadeth on the main stage. Oh, yes. Almost dot on time, Mustaine & co. trod the boards to a huge welcome and launched into “Sleepwalker” from the new album. The ladies stayed up the slope and watched while I did my usual and vanished into the middle of the crowd at ground level to beat merry hell out of a bunch of strangers. I wish I’d taken my camera in with me. As well as a very attractive girl who hit like a man (kudos) there was a one-legged man in the moshpit! I poop you not. One leg, two metal crutches, mental attitude. Further kudos.

Megadeth, of course, rocked. I’m still not that sure about the newer stuff, they scattered in a handful of older songs most of which were from Rust In Peace, though I think the biggest crowd-pleaser was “Peace Sells…”

Injury count: impressive bruising of both forearms, gouges on my right wrist (I think from studs on someone’s jacket), cuts on left elbow, very sore right elbow from crushing it twice. The usual.

The set changes on the main stage were managed swiftly and around twenty minutes after the ‘Deth exited, Dragonforce replaced them. Woah! I didn’t catch these madmen at Graspop a couple of years ago – I must have been watching someone else – but I’m glad I caught them here. Their rules seems to be “why play one note when you can play 27?” and they must be one of the fastest bands right now, taking the term “speed metal” to its extremes. Superb vocals, great fun, women getting their tops of on the huge video screens to huge cheers. Rock and f’ing roll, indeed.

A potty break was called for and we wandered aimlessly trying to locate the wrong ones (we headed for ones we could see within the campground that Anni and I couldn’t access) until we got our heads around how the site was laid out, slightly differently from two years ago. Free drinking water was used to refill all the bottles we had on us, then we waddled back into the main area to watch Wolfmother. By now, Hazel had wandered off to collapse in her tent as their group had been awoken at 4am by some kiddie playing System of a Down at full volume (until someone kicked his stereo to pieces).

Wolfmother were pretty good, but we really just sat and watched them. Anni got ripped off £5.50 for an admittedly decent burrito and then the rotting remains of Guns ‘n’ Roses took to the stage and pretended they were still good (translation: Velvet Revolver came on). They were the first band of the day to come on stage late, which is typically primadonna-ish of them. We tolerated this for a while as there wasn’t much else to do before dividing up. Anni went to watch Korn in one tent while Talia and I headed for the Tuborg stage to get a decent spot for Hayseed Dixie.

On the way we popped into the “turn up and play” tent. It’s kind of an overgrown karaoke where random bands are created from people who want to get on a stage, playing cover versions. What we saw was pretty good and I was amazed to see Krusher, formerly of Kerrang and some dodgy rock TV programs, doing the compering. He looked about as drunk and wasted as I ever remember, though much older. I swear the guy’s barely 45, but he looks 70. Mind, I doubt anyone’s enjoyed their life (and all possible excesses) as much as that man!

We snuck to somewhere near the front of the Tuborg tent and watched Hayseed Dixie set their stuff up – no roadies for this bunch. Ten minutes early, John walked to the microphone. “Well, we’re not supposed to start for fifteen minutes, but you’re here, we’re here… We’ve been sat backstage trying to figure out how to get this down to 40 minutes, so let’s make it 55!”

The crowd erupted. I’ve seen this lot maybe eight or nine times and I honestly think this is the best performance in terms of atmosphere I have ever seen. The crowd spilled outside of the tent, everyone knew all the words to every cover version, their own material is short enough to grab attention without boring those who don’t know it and the reaction to “Duelling Banjos” was beyond belief. Punks danced with women dressed as cowgirls; skinheads pogo’d with their arms round hairy rockers; hands were raised, clapping like mad. I don’t think there was a single person in that tent – the band included – without a huge grin on their face.

And just to think – some people preferred to go and watch Velvet Revolver instead. Frankly, they stink worse than the poop I keep in a jar (Hayseed reference) at the best of times, but when compared to HD they simply don’t come close to cutting it.

I’m really glad we got an extra fifteen minutes from Hayseed Dixie, it’s only a shame it wasn’t an extra hour or so.

Talia had never seen them before and I think she’s now a convert. And as a huge bonus I bumped into Neil and Jane from Bradford on the way out of the tent. Neil’s someone I seem to just “find” at festivals so I’ve not seen him since this time two years ago. I can’t even remember when I last saw Jane. I think we ran out of hugs, it was so good to see them again! See, this is why I wear the Newcastle shirt. Neil asked where I’d been and after about two minutes I managed to get through the list. With any luck, I’ll get an email from him next week. If not, I’ll track him down again!

The final band of the day, My Chemical Romance were on the main stage by the time we walked out. Much as I find a lot of their fans annoying (emo kids really do need help, frankly) the music’s good and they put on a good show for the short time they lasted. Their set was scheduled for 90 minutes, and they wandered off – with no encore – half an hour early. Well, if you only have two albums to play off…

And time to go home. I swapped Talia one of my jumpers for her mobile phone (she was cold and her phone needed charged), said goodnights, and Anni and I headed for Asda to stock up again. And then to a pizza place for a late supper. Nice pizza as well, though I had “eyes bigger than mouth” syndrome. Shame.

The shower at the hotel when we finally checked in was hugely appreciated and we collapsed in bed. Anni complaining about how warm it was while wrapping herself in duvet, me just lying on top of the covers – something I’ve only really “learned” how to do while I’ve been travelling. Before I left the UK, I had to have some kind of sheet over me, even on the warmest nights.

Tomorrow looked set to be more violent fun…