Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Booking Outside The Box

Hey it is another blog about one of the festivals I’m going to this summer. You probably could have guessed that if you’ve read anything else on this page (there is the odd occasional blog about other topics, see the last one for example). This time it is about Sonisphere and their latest announcement which is inspired! This announcement was of the comedians (some if not all). Last year they set the bar pretty high by booking Tim Minchin. Generally speaking, the comedian announcement is a bit filler for me if there are no bands on the outdoor stages that take my fancy. So I get excited but not as much as band announcements. Anyway, this is what the poster looks like now (I’ve split it into two for ease of posting)

WOW! How does Sonisphere keep doing this? The bookers of this festival are literally changing the way festivals get booked. Bill Bailey headlining the 2nd stage of Sonisphere before Slipknot headline the main stage is amazing. I had assumed based on logo positions that Motorhead would headline the second stage before Slipknot but this is so much better. It also means I shouldn’t have to miss any Motorhead to see Slipknot. I won’t miss any Bill Bailey either, but I’ll just stand near the back. I’ve seen him twice at Leicester Square Theatre so I don’t need to be up and close. However if he books more LST dates to warm up for Sonisphere, I’m all over them. He is that good live. As for the other comedians, I don’t think I’ll bother with Steve-O. I saw one of his videos back in the day and he was just hurting himself and laughing. It really wasn’t that funny (and I’m not against Jackass – some of that was funny but this video was not). Andrew O’Neil was good last time so I’d go see him again if the time worked out. I’ve heard of Jim Breuer but I can’t think why. The others I don’t know but I’ll be doing some research about them as time goes on. Congratulations Sonisphere on another solid booking.

In other news, I have got a job interview next week. I hope it goes well cause I could really do with a new job. I do want to get a new job. It would work out quite nicely with my work schedule actually if I got a new job now. I have two days left at work and then I go on leave for 2 weeks. April is a good month to be term time as it means I’m only working 7 days in the whole of April (8 if you include Friday, which I don’t as it is before my leave). I’m looking forward to doing nothing for two weeks.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Feed The Yak and He'll Get Fat

Yesterday marked the 2nd jaunt to somewhere else in the country to watch Pompey play away from Fratton Park. The very idea of going to watch Pompey on the road is awesome, but having seen Pompey lose to Brighton in my first away game – the dream was somewhat ruined. However, we had discussed for quite a while going to the Leicester game. This game sounded good to me as we dicked them earlier in this season (6-1!) and the game wouldn’t be too far away from where my brother lives, so possibly seeing him would be an added bonus. That didn’t pan out as such, but I was still looking forward to going to another away game, and I hoped that the result would be more favourable than the last away game I went to.

Leicester isn’t that far away, so we set off about 8 so we could get there within plenty of time and didn’t have to rush around to find things (such as pubs, bookies etc). The journey up was fairly painless aside from missing the right turn off and ending up having to enter Leicester from the north rather than the south (I was already feeling grim as it was!) and dealing with Leicester’s roads and one way system. Holy shit, I thought Portsmouth was bad (well, it is) but Leicester is much worse I think. Anyway, after a walk along a canal, we made it to the town centre but more importantly, a Wetherspoons! It was quite a nice pub actually although the staff seemed to think it was a serious issue that we needed ID. It is serious I accept, but we all had ID and were confused why they were so edgy about it. Maybe they picked up on the fact we weren’t local. Anyway, after some chat about the state of the world (always seems to be the way when drinking beer), we made a move to a Ladbrokes and Greggs and then made a move back to the ground.

I really like the Walkers stadium. It is a decent size for a football ground and the stands are still reasonably close to the pitch. We were up in one of the corners of the ground which to me appeared quite intimidating actually as it was almost like we were pinned in. Still, I thought from our seats we had a great view. The weather was really nice as well, but we were sat in the worst place for the dropping sun (note to self, invest in sunglasses). The game itself was pretty good although Pompey showed some of the same problems as ever (sitting back after scoring, not closing down players, balls to nowhere, Lawrence being Lawrence etc). We won 1-0 which was the main thing. However the thing was amazed me was the atmosphere. Now, I’m used to being in Fratton Park when it’s lively. The 6-1 game is a perfect example of that. Singing from whistle to whistle etc – it is generally a good atmosphere at FP and only a handful of times have I witnessed otherwise (Cardiff and Derby this year I’d say). However the home crowd for the most part barely looked alive. Hardly any singing, no clapping aside from when they came close to scoring and only pockets of them getting upset if decisions didn’t go their way. It was entertaining some of the chants coming from our fans. Nothing overly witty about them, I accept but entertaining all the same. Leicester had a fan with a drum, similar to one of our fans at home games. Main difference is when our drummer plays, fans clap along. At the Walkers, this didn’t happen so much. However our fans did clap along and chanted “If you can’t bang a woman, bang your drum”. Generally speaking the chants were aimed at their fans, such as “your support is fucking shit”, “we forgot you were here” “please be quiet, you’ll wake them up”. However I personally enjoyed “feed the Yak and he gets fat”.

Anyway, following the game (and the wait in the car park which apparently used to be the old stadium) we made the journey to Coventry. This was for Dave to see some family and also to visit a restaurant called Wing Wah. Similar sort of deal to Water Margin in Portsmouth in that it’s an all-you-can-eat and you go up to the middle and grab food. Quite a lot of the food was very nice and the desserts on offer were very impressive (including a chocolate fondue). I’d say on the whole it is as good as Water Margin, possibly slightly better. The only let down for me wasn’t being able to get a photo of the Buddha statue (the resemblance was uncanny!) Very thankful as well to Dave’s family as well for paying for the food. Very good of them. It was distinctly apparent to me however at this stage that the headache I got at the football wasn’t going away, and when we stopped at some services I was able to get headache pills. Can’t remember much of the journey home as I was drifting in and out of sleep, but overall a good day was had. I mentioned earlier we were talking about current affairs at the table, and that came back up on the journey home when we were discussing the fact that we (as a part of the UN) have taken (or are taking) military action against Libya. I would talk about this more however I don’t really feel there is much I can say about the matter. It is about time something was done to help the people of Libya, but I’m not sure if this is the right course of action. I would just like to share thoughts on the action from a friend of mine from University that he tweeted. So, via @OfficialSpudUK:

“Liam Fox, the easiest way to get more aircraft to Libya would be flying them of an aircraft carrier...oh wait yea”
“We could be much more effective in enforcing the #libya #noflyzone by basing a carrier in the Med to launch missions, never mind huh!”

He speaks a lot of sense. Anyway, that is all I have for now. 2 blogs in one day, lucky people! (In some respects). I will be back soon with another blog about something

Soundtrack of the blog. Spotify for iPhone playlist:

Sonisphere Summaries

So, Sonisphere have announced a new batch of bands since I last posted an audioboo talking about the festival. I will talk about the shape of the festival now following this announcement with an opinion on how the day splits look, and concerns over the conclusion to the Saturday. The announcement was a mixed bag for me this time, but that is not a bad thing. Some people expect to like every band that is announced for a festival but for me that is a foolish viewpoint. When I go to a festival, I want to see as many bands (or comics in Soni's case) as possible. The last thing I want is to miss bands I like because they are clashing with other bands I like. Now, thinking back to Sonisphere 2010 – there were only two clashes for me which really annoyed me – Evile/Lacuna Coil and Motley Crue/Earthtone9. Thinking forward to Wacken 2011, I am really not looking forward to the times coming out because I’d quite happily watch at least 75-80% of the bands announced. Seeing as that won’t be possible, I’ve got decisions to make. Anyway, slight side track there – the Sonisphere announcement is:

Mars Volta – “What’s this? A doorknob? Good show!” That’s my way of saying going to a door knob museum would likely be more interesting than seeing Mars Volta live. I’ll hopefully wander off and see another band in Bohemia or something when they are playing. Shame they are headlining the 2nd stage by the looks on the Saturday. I’ll speak more about that later.

Opeth – Pretty strong announcement for Sonisphere I feel. I truthfully didn’t think much of them at Rock Am Ring and it was raining and miserable when they played at Wacken which soured my mood somewhat. But their set supporting Dream Theater at Wembley was awesome, so I’m hoping we get another great performance like that this time around. Excellent stuff

Black Tide – I’m not sure what to think of this announcement. They released a pretty good debut album and destroyed the tent at Rock AM Ring (I remember giving them a 10/10 rating at the time) and then they played Reading and dear god, they were wank. Maybe it was the fact we were actually outside the tent, but it still didn’t sound good. Anyway, if no-one else is on then I’ll give them a listen.

Killing Joke – Reasonable announcement. They played the main stage in 2009 to a criminally small crowd (I’m informed, I listened more than watched). They are playing the Bohemia stage this time at midnight, after the Big Four have finished. That could be a squeeze getting into the tent (especially as I intend to be near the front for Metallica). But if I can get into the tent and watch them, I will.

The Black Dahlia Murder – Oh god no. Sounded like my ears were getting raped at RaR when they were on and I wasn’t even in the tent when they were on. Urgh, moving on...

Alestorm – Pretty decent announcement. Will endeavour to watch if there isn’t a clash with someone else. I’ve not seen them since they released their last album either so seeing some of the stuff from the 2nd album should be good.

Firewind – Same as Alestorm really. Will watch if there is no clash although I’ve not seen them before and I’ve always thought I’d like to.

Watain – Black Metal at Sonisphere, well now isn’t that a thing? Also, they are pretty good. Will watch if there is not a clash with anyone else.

Rise To Remain – I still don’t care for this band, and they’ve been at Sonisphere every year now! (I’m choosing to ignore the fact that Anthrax have as well, don’t judge me!)

Six Hour Sundown – No idea! Can’t find music on Spotify and I try to avoid MySpace if humanely possible.

The Treatment – Their first EP made me think “wait what?” but their 2nd release was pretty damn good. In fact, it could well be a different band as the logos are very different. Whatever, they sound good and if there is no clash again, then they will get a watch.

So a reasonable announcement with Opeth being the highlight for me. The lineup is starting to take shape now and the days have split a little bit so I’m going to have a look at where bands are playing and if that works for me.

Friday – Well, not a great deal to say about what we know about the Friday at the moment. We have the Big 4 + Diamond Head playing the main stage, with Killing Joke playing the Bohemia stage afterwards. Looking at other bands on the lineup, I wish they’d make Friday a full day and put Volbeat on the main stage after Diamond Head, but you can’t have everything. That Friday will be awesome. Sorry Bohemia, but you’ll have to pull out something amazing for me to miss any of the 5 bands on main stage this day.

Saturday – Again, I’ll talk more about the conclusion of the Saturday later. There isn’t a great deal of bands on the two main stages on Saturday that I’ll be watching. So far it will be All Time Low, Sum 41, Gallows and perhaps Architects. Now, I know more bands will be announced for the stages for Saturday, but I’m ok with not hanging out by the main stages because it’ll give me a perfect chance to check out the comedy (if there is any) and some of the Bohemia/other stage bands announced. To be perfectly honest, of those bands I just listed, I’m only definitely wanting to see Sum 41 and Gallows – I haven’t seen them and I really want to.

Sunday – Please let Fozzy clash with Mastodon! Ahem, not surprised with most of the bands that are playing this day. Black Tide looking like they might be on one of the big stages surprises me but them playing this day doesn’t shock me. Volbeat fit in here nicely but them being so low saddens me. Hope they get 45mins or so on stage. House of Pain I am surprised to see here. I thought they’d have played the Saturday. There are no other shocks here. There are a few I’m prepared to miss in favour of seeing Fozzy but Volbeat and Slipknot are the only two that would win the clash. Seen Limp Bizkit, Opeth, Airbourne and Arch Enemy before. Would like to see House of Pain and I don’t overly care for In Flames and Mastodon. The top of the day looks pretty immense, and the only time in my Sonisphere attending history that I’ll see a main stage sub-headliner, then the 2nd stage headliner, then the main stage headliner. But Limp Bizkit (Sub), Motorhead (2nd Head) and Slipknot (Main Head) is a dominating close to a festival and I cannot wait. If I have to miss Motorhead though, I will because they are playing Wacken, so I’ll endeavour to see them there. Superb day by the looks.

Other bands playing – I’d guess based on poster positions (although at this stage that doesn’t really mean a lot) that Sisters of Mercy have a major spot in Bohemia, possibly the headliner. I’d like to see the other 3 main bands there, Killing Joke, One Minute Silence and Four Year Strong. Other than that, there are 4/5 bands who I’d consider must see at this stage. But as times are released and we know more about the festival, this might change. I am excited for future announcements and further news on what is quickly becoming the best rock festival in the UK (in my humble opinion).

I fear I am about to be accused of being “metulz” or something of the like for this opinion, but I can’t help but have concerns at this stage for the conclusion of the Saturday. I’ve discussed the Biffy Clyro headline situation and I still maintain they are probably headlining the wrong festival. If they were to be announced to headline one of the days of Reading/Leeds/TITP then fair enough. I would have thought that would suit them more, which is why I was surprised to see them be announced as Sonisphere headliners. Even more surprised because the week before they play Sonisphere, they are supporting Foo Fighters. I am of the view now though that a festival promoter has one of the worst jobs in the world because with every booking, you will piss off someone. Almost like a comedian with jokes in some respects (it will always offend someone). Anyway, the promoter of Sonisphere has been very brave in my opinion by booking Biffy to headline – but at least he has taken steps in creating another main stage headliner for UK festivals. Download have tried (and in some respects, failed) to do this which proves that it is a risky move. I could list bands like Feeder, Lostprophets, and Offspring as examples of this. Bands like this headline and people scream and shout that they aren’t headliner material. But then a festival takes a safe route and books someone like Linkin Park to headline (a headliner in everyone’s eyes I’d have thought) and the promoter gets screamed at for not giving new bands a chance. You cannot win!

However, while I respect the decision of the Sonisphere booker to try and create another headliner-material band by booking Biffy Clyro to that position, I can’t claim to be overly enamoured with the conclusion on the main stages to be The Mars Volta on the 2nd Stage and then Biffy Clyro on the Main Stage. Now, my reasoning for this is simple – I’m seeing Biffy the week before in a support slot when the Foo Fighters play and I don’t like Mars Volta. I am not attacking the festival for these bookings; it just isn’t to my taste. However at this early stage where we don’t know what else is going on, I find myself concerned that for the first time since going to a festival, I will end up in the campsite without seeing a band who I consider my headliner for the day (no disrespect to Weezer, but they don’t fit the headliner slot in my mind). Now, if One Minute Silence plays after Biffy then I might watch half that set then head to the tent for OMS. I guess this view is formed due to a lack of knowledge of the rest of the lineup and stage times, which I will have to wait for. I just hope there is a good alternative on one of the various little stages. I guess this is the first time since going to Sonisphere that there hasn’t been something I’ve wanted to watch to close the day on one of the main stages – so in many respects my music tastes have definitely been spoiled in the past and are this year with the Friday and Sunday. Shall see what happens with future announcements and such, but I am still super excited about this festival and can’t wait to go back to Knebworth for the 3rd year in a row!

Wednesday, 9 March 2011


One of the best moments for me as a Pompey fan was watching the team walk out at Wembley. I may have only gone to watch the Community Shield, but even so it was a thrill to see my team walking out on the pitch at Wembley. I could talk a small amount about the game (because to be honest, the actual match was fairly unremarkable) but what I actually want to talk about is the memory of the pre-game activities. This game was used as a platform to launch the FA’s “Respect” agenda. In a nutshell, I believe this was implemented so that football referees at all levels (from Sunday pub leagues to the Premiership) got more respect for the job they were doing. It was essentially an appeal from the FA to players to be more respectful (Hence the name, I see what they did there). So, I was there when the “Respect” agenda was launched and I remember thinking that it wasn’t such a bad idea. For too long, footballers (and managers to be fair) have been able to abuse and bully referees on the pitch if decisions didn’t go their way so I thought that this changing could only improve the game. What should have occurred at this time was the introduction of harsher penalties if the referee reported that he/she didn’t like the conduct of a player so that the FA’s message was clear – “we don’t want footballers abusing our refs, if they do then they will receive significant punishment”. This never occurred, so the agenda was somewhat of a joke really (I assume, I have no idea of its impact on the lower leagues). Generally speaking though, I do believe referees are deserving of more respect for the job they do – it is a thankless task really and it is always difficult. You can’t be 100% all the time and when you aren’t, you not only get footballers giving you grief, but possibly tens of thousands (depending where you are of course) calling you incompetent and a wanker. Just as a side point, it is amazing how this doesn’t happen in Rugby at all. The players there respect the referee (I’m not sure what the punishment system in Rugby is, but they are clearly doing something right). The purpose of this blog though isn’t about promoting referees all that much. I’ve done all the positive speaking I intend to do about them, but I feel the need to ask – should referees just be given respect?

I’ve seen two games as of late which have made me wonder about whether referees deserve respect just because they are referees. One incident occurred in a game between Manchester United and Wigan and the other incident was actually the entire game of Portsmouth v Sheffield United (which I was at). I want to talk about Man Utd first though, but specifically, Wayne Rooney and Mark Clattenburg. In a nutshell, Rooney elbowed James McCarthy in an off the ball incident which should have resulted in a red card.

However, there is some debate over whether the referee saw this incident. It appeared from the highlights it was only when he saw James McCarthy fall over that he stopped the match. Now, if he genuinely didn’t see Rooney elbow McCarthy then there isn’t a great deal he can do at the exact moment. In fact, I’m pretty sure that even if he went back to his dressing room and watched a tape of it, he couldn’t send off Rooney at the start of the 2nd half (I’m not sure what the letter of the law states here, but to be honest if he went back at half time and saw the tape, and then saw the incident – he should be allowed to send Rooney off). Anyway, following the match everyone was waiting for the post-match referee report, expecting that Clattenburg would put something in the report which would allow the FA to charge Rooney for violent conduct – which should have happened. However, in a surprising moment, he didn’t. Perhaps he didn’t want to ruin the touching moment pictured above, but that is a shocking decision from Clattenburg. Man Utd are my premiership team when Portsmouth isn’t in it, but there is no doubt in my mind that Clattenburg in this instance boobed. Granted, the FA should be able to step in anyway and charge him, what with all the video evidence (Uhoh, dirty words in football) at their disposal, but the fact that Clattenburg didn’t write anything in his report which allows the FA to charge Rooney is appalling. In my eyes, Mark Clattenburg doesn’t deserve the respect which the FA claims he should get for being a referee. If anything, he should be removed from his position. I somehow doubt that’ll happen though.

The second match I want to talk about is one from the weekend which I was at – Pompey v Sheffield United. Now, before I talk about the refereeing in this one, I would just like to say despite some shocking play, I am happy Pompey registered 6 wins and 6 clean sheets in a row. It is a shame that streak has now ended (for those not in the know, we lost 2-1 to Bristol City last night). Anyway, back to the game at hand. I noticed early on that Sheff Utd had players kicking the ball away after decisions had gone against them. This was from very early into the game and despite this being a bookable offence, I figured that the ref was saying to them that they should calm down or else they would get booked. However this continued throughout the entire game, which made me think that the ref was either incompetent or far too committed to letting the game flow. I approve of a referee that isn’t constantly stop-starting a game but there are rules to uphold and if needs be, cards to issue. This was one pet peeve. Another was the fact that whenever Portsmouth put balls forward, the Utd defenders would latch onto the arms/shirts/torsos of our front players constantly. Again, if this happens once and a ref misses it, then fair enough. But this happened so many times (including one incident RIGHT IN FRONT of the referee with Kanu, where Kanu actually had to wrestle himself free! no foul though...) that you have to question the referee. Constant mistakes are not acceptable in any job, why should it be acceptable for a referee and if it is why should I respect a referee who is making all these mistakes? It has been bought to my attention by Dave (you can read his blog – it’s up in the blogs list) that there hasn’t been one good referee this season in games he has seen. How can this be? Maybe it is something which can’t be changed – but the FA can’t expect me as a fan to respect the referee if there are no real standards for the referee’s to live up to, and if the players I am supporting are still free to abuse the referee with no fear of repercussion. Footballers shouldn’t be allowed to act this way, but as long as they are, referees will never be respected in this game. Furthermore, if a referee’s performance, no matter how poor, can’t be questioned, then I don’t see how these people deserve respect.

Moving away from this somewhat –

I was at Wembley Arena for Foo Fighters the other week. It was an awesome gig (I won’t go too much into it – there is a whole blog reviewing the gig. Go read it) Anyway, I want to talk about one aspect of this gig which shocked me a little. When I went to Wembley Arena in 2009 for Dream Theater, I recall people with beer rucksacks walking around the arena, selling pints of Fosters (or possibly Carling) for £3.60 or something like that. I remember thinking then that the price was daylight robbery and purely taking advantage of a captive audience. I went for Foo Fighters, and the beer had changed to Becks (a very bad call) and the price had increased to £4.30 a pint! I’m not someone that advocates trying to sneak booze into a gig (cause if you get searched, you look like a right dick) but having seen this price increase for, in my opinion, a much shittier beer – I’d be tempted to just sit outside the venue with cans of beer and drink before heading in. This plan only works if you don’t care for the support bands and you actually drink at gigs (I’ll have the odd one, but don’t ever get drunk really). I refuse to pay £4.30 for 1 pint anywhere, and I would much rather go without than be forced to pay that. But then again, I think I am alone in this one, as people were buying these £4.30 pints, drinking half then hurling the other half, cup and all, into the crowd. I wish I had money like that to burn (or throw as it were...)

My next gig was due to be Biohazard supported by Panic Cell at the Wedgewood rooms. I was really looking forward to this as Biohazard are pretty win and I love Panic Cell. However the gig has been cancelled for reasons best known to Biohazard so I now don’t have a gig until the beginning of April, when I will be making a journey to the capital of this country to watch Children of Bodom and Amon Amarth. Should be a good night and I’ve never been to the venue before (HMV Forum) so that should be good. I like going to new venues.

That’s all folks! (Don’t sue me WB!)

(Both images ripped shamelessly from Google Image Search, apparently they are both from The Guardian!)