Monday, 20 May 2013

Download 2013 - A Preview

In one month’s time from this writing, Download 2013 will have come and gone. It really has come round quite fast this time. Everything seems to have happened earlier than usual this year. This was confirmed by the release of the stage times in the last week (something normally reserved for the last week before the festival). I’ve looked at my various guesses of times and I did alright in some areas but in some I didn’t even come close. This blog will look at those times and look at my plan for Download 2013. I guess this makes this blog my Download 2013 preview.

As with any festival that runs Friday to Sunday, it is appropriate to start on the Friday and that is what will happen here. The Friday at Download historically is the shorter day. I’m not entirely sure why that is but if I were to take a guess, I would say it is to allow as many people as possible time to arrive before starting the music. Friday was a pretty straight forward day for me in terms of choosing what to see. I will be starting off the day at 1pm with Rise to Remain on main stage. I really enjoyed their set on the second stage in 2011 and am interested to see how they do on the biggest stage. They were due to open the main stage in 2012 on the Friday but the weather cancelled that plan. Of course, weather could quite easily do that again, but I really hope it doesn’t! Moving over to the second stage for the first of many moves between the two big stages this day to watch Skin and Uriah Heep. There is nothing wrong with a bit of classic rock and it is certainly (in my view) better than the other options at that time (I actually quite like Architects but I have seen them before). After UH, it is back to the main stage to watch Papa Roach. This is the first real clash of the festival for me as their set somewhat overlaps with Dragonforce’s set. I’ve yet to see Papa Roach live and I think I’d like to. I listened to them at Sonisphere and didn’t enjoy them but I attribute that to being at a different stage and having my back to them. Time for another clash, and while it would be easier to just stay at main stage to watch Down, my intention is to actually stroll back to the second stage and watch Europe. Down were absolutely stunning at Download 2011, and Europe were the same at Sonisphere 2010. This decision has been made because I’ve seen both, but it has been longer since I’ve seen Europe (plus the sing along to Final Countdown will be ace).

I saw the stage times for the next clash and swore quite loudly. It has been decreed that Volbeat will clash with Korn (they also clash with Turisas, which just isn’t nice). Two of my must see bands at the festival and they are clashing. I have opted to see Korn as I was supposed to see them in 2006 but Jonathan Davis was rushed to hospital and I saw Korn + special guests. Don’t get me wrong, that was ace but I’d have rather seen Korn. Since then, Korn have toured a few times but they seem to charge a fairly high price to see them and I’m not willing to pay over the odds to see them. Volbeat on the other hand are one of my favourite bands and I am gutted to be missing them. However, they are touring in October so I will make sure I am at that. The next band for me is another band I’m surprised I haven’t seen live considering they have played a lot of festivals/gigs since I became aware of them and that is Bullet For My Valentine. They clash with 3 Doors Down. I’d have loved to be able to see both but I can’t – and I’ve not seen BFMV so that is my justification there. Quite nicely, they have arranged it so I can see Gogol Bordello on second stage in the changeover between main stage sub-headliner and headliner which is nice. My plan is to then walk to the back of the main stage crowd, watch 15-20 minutes of Slipknot and then head back over to the second stage to watch Black Stone Cherry. I love both BSC and Slipknot, but for me this was a no-brainer. I’d like to see Slipknot again once they release a new album and mix the set up a bit. They will likely play a very similar show to Sonisphere 2011 and while that was immense, I’d rather see BSC than see that set again. I’d also rather see BSC because it’s cool for me to see a band I first saw at the Wedgewood Rooms headline an open air stage at Download. They have really become a big band who may headline the main stage one day, but even if they don’t. It will be cool to be there to see them headline the second stage. On top of all of that, I should still be able to watch the Slipknot encore before heading back to Burton for the night. All in all, I would call that a result!

Rise To Remain (Main)
13.00 - 13.30
Skin (2nd)
13.50 - 14.20
Uriah Heep (2nd)
14.45 - 15.25
Papa Roach (Main)
15.35 - 16.20
Europe (2nd)
16.55 - 17.35
Korn (Main)
17.55 - 18.55
BFMV (Main)
19.20 - 20.20
Gogol Bordello (2nd)
20.10 - 20.55
Slipknot (Main)
21.00 - 21.20
Black Stone Cherry (2nd)
21.25 - 22.35
Slipknot (Main)
22.40 - 22.50

When Friday concludes, it ushers in Saturday and that is the next step for this preview. There was a bit of controversy online when it was first announced that the second stage headliners on this day wouldn’t clash with Iron Maiden. From what I was reading, people thought it was a completely ridiculous demand by Iron Maiden to insist that no-one was playing on the second stage when they were on. Personally, I don’t think it is that unreasonable (especially as they are planning to film a DVD at Download) and considering AC/DCs demands, it is very reasonable! Anyway, Saturday is much like Friday for me in that I am not standing in front of one stage all day. It differs in that I intend to pay a few visits to the 3rd stage over the course of the day. The day for me kicks off with a bit of classic rock on the main stage in the form of U.F.O. I’ll be honest, this set should be good but I am mostly looking forward to hearing “Doctor Doctor” live. Following U.F.O, it is a trip over to the second stage to watch Red, White and Blues and Heaven’s Basement. I consider seeing both of those bands a better use of my time than watching Young Guns (who I’m not crazy about) and the bands on the 3rd stage at that time aren’t exactly to my liking either. Back to main after that for a bit of Buckcherry. They were superb at the Wedgewood Rooms last December so I’ll give them another go.

My first visit to the 3rd stage is up after Buckcherry to watch a band I really should have watched at Sonisphere 2010 but decided instead to watch Motley Crue in what turned out to be a mediocre set. That band is Earthtone9. I am really looking forward to seeing them, so much so that they win the clash with Hardcore Superstar for me. On the main stage just after Earthtone9 finish is Mastodon. They do nothing for me so I will head over to the second stage to watch Katatonia. I had it in my mind that I’d seen them but apparently not. After them, I am heading to main stage to watch a band who bored me to tears in 2006, and that is Alice In Chains. I am going to give them another chance as I missed them at both Sonisphere 2010 and 2011 (as well as the fact they are the best thing on at the time). I suspect I will be leaving their set slightly early to get a spot in front of the second stage for Lit. Lit are another one of those bands that I am seeing mostly for one song (My Own Worst Enemy) but I’m sure the rest of their set won’t be dire. I’ll remain at second stage for a short while to watch Thunder. Thunder clash with Motorhead though so I may change my mind on the day. I’ve actually just checked out Bury Tomorrow who is also on during that time, and they seem quite good. I may go and watch them. Argh, now I have a 3 way clash out of nowhere! Anyway, after whatever band I decide to see then will be a trip to the 3rd stage to watch Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats. Don’t know a lot by this band, but I need something to do in the changeover on main stage between Motorhead and the band I’ll watch after Uncle Acid, Queens Of The Stone Age. I am really looking forward to QOTSA! After them, another trip to the 3rd stage calls to watch Kvelertak before watching the day’s headliner, Iron Maiden. I really wanted to see The Hives but they are clashing with Maiden, and that is a clash they would lose 99 times out of 100.

UFO (Main)
11.00 - 11.40
Red, White & Blues (2nd)
11.45 - 12.10
Heaven's Basement (2nd)
12.30 - 12.55
Buckcherry (Main)
13.20 - 14.00
Earthtone9 (3rd)
13.55 - 14.25
Katatonia (2nd)
14.50 - 15.20
Alice In Chains (Main)
15.50 - 16.40
Lit (2nd)
16.30 - 17.00
Thunder (2nd)
17.20 - 18.00
Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats (3rd)
18.05 - 18.35
QOTSA (Main)
18.40 - 19.50
Kvelertak (3rd)
20.05 - 20.45
Iron Maiden (Main)
20.50 - 22.50

With the first two days discussed, it only seems appropriate to then talk about the final day, Sunday. Sunday is the only day where I am standing in front of one stage for more than 2 bands. The day starts off at main stage for the first 3 bands. Sacred Mother Tongue were superb in 2011 and are a must watch for me again. Cancer Bats are always superb live and it will be nice to see them get their full set on main stage this year (another victim of the 2012 weather). Coal Chamber should be an interesting one. It will be odd for me seeing Dez Farara with another band as I’ve only known him with Devildriver, but I’m sure I’ll get over it. After those 3 bands, I’m heading over to the second stage to watch the next 3 there. Graveyard will likely already be playing by the time I arrive. After them it is Masters of Reality (don’t really know a lot by them but of the stuff I listened to, I really enjoyed it). Following them it is Amon Amarth who are just excellent live. They were one of my Wacken 2012 highlights so I am looking forward to seeing them again.

After them, I head back to the main stage for a set I’ve been looking forward to for ages and that is Stone Sour. Haven’t seen them live since 2010 and I am quite excited by the prospect of them playing. After Stone Sour, I am heading over to the 3rd stage to watch 3 bands in a row. The first is Red Fang. I had originally planned to see Ghost but the way I see it, Red Fang will be good and it’s easier to just head to 3rd stage early. After Red Fang it is Newsted. I have heard nothing from this band, but it is Jason Newsted’s new band, and I am curious to see what they are like. Following them is P.O.D who is another one of those bands that I know one song, but I’ll give them a go. After P.O.D, I will stroll off to the second stage to watch A Day To Remember. Hey, it is better than watching 30 Seconds To Mars! Then I come to a conundrum. Do I watch all of Rammstein, or watch the Satyricon set and catch the end of Rammstein? I was gutted I missed Satyricon at Download 2006 and would like to see them, and I’ll be seeing Rammstein at Wacken. I can’t decide on that one just yet.

Sacred Mother Tongue (Main)
11.00 - 11.30
Cancer Bats (Main)
11.55 - 12.25
Coal Chamber (Main)
12.50 - 13.30
Graveyard (2nd)
13.30 - 14.00
Masters of Reality (2nd)
14.25 - 14.55
Amon Amarth (2nd)
15.20 - 15.50
Stone Sour (Main)
16.10 - 17.10
Red Fang (3rd)
17.15 - 17.45
Newsted (3rd)
18.05 - 18.35
P.O.D (3rd)
19.00 - 19.40
A Day To Remember (2nd)
19.25 - 20.20
Satyricon (3rd)
21.10 - 22.10
Rammstein (Main)
21.15 - 22.50

Well, that is my plan for Download roughly sorted. I’m sure I’ll make changes here and there as the time comes but I am pretty pleased with the bands I have chosen to watch. If I stick to my plan as is, I’ll see 18 bands I’ve not seen live before and 36 in total. Can’t complain about that! 

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Dude, Where's My Hotel?

I was writing a blog, previewing Download 2013. I wrote all about my drama in the last 10 or so days about my hotel booking and decided I would preview the festival in a separate blog. This is the story of how Travelodge almost ruined my trip to Download 2013. The key word there is almost. My plans for the festival almost took an almighty boot to the face. In September last year, I booked a Travelodge room at the Derby Kingsway Retail Park Travelodge for the weekend of Download. My reasoning for wanting to do this is simple – the weather at Download 2012 was pretty horrible, and the effect of the weather made walking around the site a challenge. I left Download unable to walk properly and suffered for nearly a week afterwards. I wanted to go to Download again as they announced bands I was interested in seeing but I did not fancy camping there again. I’ve heard from several people that I’d be missing out by staying in a hotel and not camping but for me, a festival is about music. The campsite atmosphere can be fun, but you can recreate that by going camping with friends.

Anyway, I received an email just over a week ago informing me that the hotel I was due to stay in between 13-17th June 2013 was going to be closed on May 21st 2013. You never want to read that. The initial email I received said I could have my booking transferred to another Derby Travelodge or any other Travelodge that was available. I requested to be moved to the Travelodge in Derby closer to the train station (I opted against it in September as the one I booked was significantly cheaper) and did a private check of its availability (it was available for all 4 nights). I sent the email and aside from occasional thoughts hoping everything went okay with the transfer, thought nothing of it. That email was sent to me on Thursday 9th May and I responded the same day. On Monday 13th May, I got their reply which wasn’t good news. They emailed me to inform me all rooms for that weekend in Derby were full and offered me Burton upon Trent Central Travelodge. After a quick check of the travel situation to Burton, I emailed them back informing them this would not be good as after 23.30 on a Friday/Saturday, you can’t get back to Burton.

I really didn’t know what to do at this stage. The option I did not want to do was take a refund as that would have meant me telling my friend Paul (who was sharing the room with me) that he wasn’t going to Download (he had essentially told me this was the case). What a refund would have meant for me is that I would have had to camp at the festival by myself – a prospect I did not find appealing at all (despite planning to do that at Wacken this year. Hmm...) Getting back to the point, I sent them the email asking for more options on the Monday. By Wednesday afternoon, I had not received a reply and was feeling very stressed. I sent Travelodge another email because it was at this point I discovered they do not have a customer service phone number. I copied my last email in on the new one and stressed I needed a reply and also gave them my phone number (hoping that might speed things up).

The next day on the Thursday, I left work early as I was feeling unwell (I’m not sure if it was linked to the stress caused by this situation, but I wouldn’t be shocked if it was). On the Thursday afternoon I received a reply, not only containing another unsuitable option, but a new email address which would mean my problem could be dealt with quicker. I replied to that email saying the new option was not something I could accept and asked for a refund. I had accepted defeat at this point and was all ready to make the phone call to Ticketmaster asking them how to change my ticket type when my phone rang. 

On the other end of the phone, it was the person from Travelodge who had emailed me the new email address. They once again offered me the Burton upon Trent Travelodge with the promise they would pay for taxis to and from the festival each day. In one simple motion, I went from very anti-Travelodge to them winning me back over. I said I would email them to confirm times I’d require for taxis (which I did almost immediately) and got another email back informing me that me and Paul would have separate rooms at the hotel as that is all they had left and that the taxis were booked and paid for. I was really blown away by the fact they went above and beyond for me in solving this issue. The only thing I’d request is that they answer their email a bit quicker! In conclusion, Travelodge have kept me as a customer which is something I really didn’t think I’d say. I do think they need a customer service phone number, but on reflection (now that I am not clouded by stress), I can see why they don't. I considered the tone of my emails to be very polite and cordial. I suspect some people who have issues with their hotel booking might fly off the handle at someone who isn't to blame. Anyway, thanks to Travelodge and whoever is responsible for sorting my issue out, I am grateful. Because of them,. I am able to type the next blog which is a Download 2013 preview. 

The title of this blog is (you will be shocked to learn) inspired by the very silly (but funny) film Dude, Where's My Car? (I really had nothing else, don't judge me!)