Thursday, 12 April 2012

8 Weeks and Counting

With each passing announcement, we get closer to a complete Download bill. In fact, looking at the latest poster (see below), I can only imagine that there are more acts to be added to the tent stages and the Jagermeister truck. Anyway, there was another announcement today which comprised of the following bands:

Breed 77 - They are a decent band. Don’t foresee me getting to see them however.

Saint Jude - Here’s the thing. There are two bands by this name on Spotify. One is more likely than the other. I prefer the unlikely option for Download personally. Little bit like Sheryl Crow. So what, I like some Sheryl Crow. Big whoop, want to fight about it?! (Enough with the Family Guy! – Ed)

With One Last Breath - Not really my thing to be honest.

Royal Cartel – From what I’ve heard, this band have a few really catchy songs. I like what I hear.

Tyla – Seems alright.
Ghost – Pretty awesome band. Really got into them since last year’s Download festival. I say really got into them, I listen to them occasionally.
La Dispute - I’m not entirely sure what I just listened to. I’m sure someone would say its art. Oh well

Shadows Fall – I quite like this band. Had exposure to them through being a Guitar Hero player and through WWE. They were due to play Portsmouth a few years back and cancelled. Would still like to see them.

Feed The Rhino – Really quite like what I’ve heard thus far. There’s a chance I might be able to catch their set as well, which is helpful.

The Dirty Youth – Initial response is a very positive one. They sound pretty damn good actually.

Pitch Black – Ok I heard a rap band, and an arse load of dance music. I don’t think the band that is playing Download is on Spotify. I guess it could be one of those...

Yashin - They seem alright but they aren’t amazing. I won’t be going out of my way to see them.

Voodoo Johnson – Really like what I am hearing with this band.

Sanguine – Not really my thing. The vocals are really off-putting.

So all in all, one of those announcements that made me think “It wasn’t awful, but it didn’t cause me any further clash headaches” and so as a result, I am in favour! As I said earlier, I think the top two stages are done in terms of announcements and positioning. Because there is more to be added on the bottom 3 stages, I won’t be guessing those but the following is my guess at stage times for the Jim Marshall stage and the Zippo Encore stage.


The Jim Marshall Stage

21.15 – 23.00 The Prodigy
19.20 – 20.30 Chase & Status
18.00 – 18.50 Machine Head
16.50 – 17.35 Billy Talent
15.40 – 16.25 NoFX
14.40 – 15.15 Fear Factory
13.50 – 14.20 Cancer Bats
13.00 – 13.30 Rise To Remain

Zippo Encore Stage

21.10 – 22.30 Slash
19.30 – 20.25 Nightwish
18.20 – 19.00 Opeth
17.15 – 17.55 Little Angels
16.10 – 16.50 Europe
15.20 – 15.50 Terrorvision
14.30 – 15.00 The Quireboys
13.45 – 14.10 Red White & Blues
13.00 – 13.25 Six Hour Sundown


The Jim Marshall Stage

20.45 – 22.45 Metallica
18.40 – 20.00 Biffy Clyro
17.10 - 18.10 Tenacious D
15.50 - 16.40 Steel Panther
14.40 - 15.20 Trivium
13.30 - 14.10 Black Veil Brides
12.30 – 13.00 Saxon
11.30 – 12.00 As I Lay Dying

Zippo Encore Stage

21.00 – 22.15 You Me At Six
19.40 – 20.35 Killswitch Engage
18.35 – 19.15 Skindred
17.30 – 18.10 Kids In Glass Houses
15.40 – 16.10 Theory Of A Deadman
14.50 – 15.20 Four Year Strong
14.00 – 14.30 Lower Than Atlantis
13.15 – 13.40 Turbonegro
12.30 – 12.55 Ginger Wildheart
11.45 – 12.10 Halestorm
11.00 – 11.25 Fozzy


The Jim Marshall Stage

21.15 – 22.45 Black Sabbath
19.15 – 20.30 Soundgarden
17.40 – 18.40 Megadeth
16.20 – 17.10 Lamb of God
15.10 – 15.50 Black Label Society
14.00 – 14.40 Anthrax
13.00 – 13.30 Kyuss Lives
12.00 – 12.30 Devildriver
11.00 – 11.30 Stellar Revival

The Zippo Encore Stage

20.50 – 22.05 Rise Against
19.25 – 20.20 Dropkick Murphy’s
18.15 – 18.55 Refused
17.10 – 17.50 Shinedown
16.15 – 16.45 Ugly Kid Joe
15.20 – 15.50 Sebastian Bach
14.25 – 14.55 Rival Sons
13.30 – 14.00 August Burns Red
12.40 – 13.05 We Are The Ocean
11.50 – 12.15 Black Spiders
11.00 – 11.25 Kobra And The Lotus

This would mean that my Download 2012 festival looks as follows (stage in brackets):


13.00 – 13.25 Six Hour Sundown (ZE)
13.50 – 14.20 Cancer Bats (JM)
14.40 – 15.15 Fear Factory (JM)
15.40 – 16.25 NoFX (JM)
16.30 – 16.50 Europe (ZE)
16.50 – 17.35 Billy Talent (JM)
18.00 – 18.50 Machine Head (JM)
19.30 – 20.25 Nightwish (ZE)
21.15 – 23.00 The Prodigy (JM)

Possible clashes from lower stages – Gallows (Red Bull Stage)


11.00 – 11.25 Fozzy (ZE)
11.30 – 12.00 As I Lay Dying (JM)
12.30 – 12.55 Ginger Wildheart (ZE)
13.15 – 13.30 Turbonegro (ZE)
13.30 – 14.10 Black Veil Brides (JM)
14.40 – 15.20 Trivium (JM)
15.40 – 16.10 Theory Of A Deadman (ZE)
16.10 - 16.40 Steel Panther (JM)
17.10 – 18.10 Tenacious D (JM)
18.35 – 19.15 Skindred (ZE)
19.15 – 20.00 Biffy Clyro (JM)
20.45 – 22.45 Metallica (JM)

Possible clashes from lower stages – The Treatment, Anti-Nowhere League & Gun (Pepsi Max Stage)


11.00 – 11.25 Kobra & The Lotus (ZE)
11.45 – 12.15 Black Spiders (ZE)
12.15 – 12.30 Devildriver (JM)
12.40 – 13.05 We Are The Ocean (ZE)
13.05 – 13.30 Kyuss Lives (JM)
14.00 – 14.40 Anthrax (JM)
15.20 – 15.50 Sebastian Bach (ZE)
16.20 – 17.10 Lamb of God (JM)
17.10 – 17.50 Shinedown (ZE)
18.15 – 18.55 Refused (ZE)
19.15 – 20.30 Soundgarden (JM)
21.15 – 22.45 Black Sabbath (JM)

Possible clashes from lower stages – Feed The Rhino, Firewind, Shadows Fall and Edguy (Pepsi Max Stage)

It has been said that the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry, but if I can pull off something even close to this, then I am going to have an amazing Download festival. Wait for the official times to come out now and give me a ton of clash headaches to deal with!

It’s going to be great.

Friday, 6 April 2012

God Damn Download

Just recently, I have written about Sonisphere and Hellfest. It occurred to me while writing about Sonisphere that I didn’t write a blog about the last Download announcement. I then left the writing to go out and be sociable and by the time I had returned, there was another band announcement! So I’m just going to go over the announcements briefly and give my thoughts. I did post about the leak of Europe and Symphony X and what that would mean for 2nd stage Friday. Below is the new poster and these are the bands that have been announced in the last two batches. Doing them in batch order

Europe – Quality announcement as far as I’m concerned. People are happy about them because they’ll get to hear one classic song of Europe’s but I thought their whole set at Sonisphere was really good.
Halestorm – Quite like the stuff I have heard from this band. I’ve heard varying reports of what they are like live though from superb to awful, but in studio the stuff sounds good.
Firewind – Widdly power metal at its best! I quite like what I’ve heard of this band and yet somehow have managed to never see them live. A real shame
Turbonegro – Don’t mind what I’ve heard from this band but wouldn’t be sad if I didn’t get to see them.
Theory of a Deadman – They weren’t bad when supporting Alter Bridge so this could be kinda cool. I’d watch them depending on who they clash with.
Stellar Revival – I’m afraid I have nothing for you on this one!
Anti-Nowhere League – One of the bands that inspired Metallica. I’m a little bit favourable to them because of this. I actually wouldn’t be shocked (considering they are playing the same day) for them to get up with Metallica during the encore and play “So What” – now that would be cool.
Turbowolf – They sound alright and could be worth a watch, clash depending of course.
Mallory Knox – They seem alright but I’m not massively into what I’m hearing. They’re ok – that’s all.
The Safety Fire – File this along with Stellar Revival...
Emmure – They sound quite good, although the vocals seem a little off-putting at times (coming from someone that may see Cannibal Corpse this summer, that doesn’t make a great deal of sense I’m sure).
Broken – See the file marked Stellar Revival and The Safety Fire. However, when searching for them on Spotify I did stumble across an Avantasia song which I don’t know if I’ve ever listened to called Blizzard of a Broken Mirror. Cheers Broken!

So all in all, this batch of bands isn’t that bad at all. Europe obviously being the big hitters from the group is a superb announcement. Think all of it falls under the banner of “clash permitting” as to whether I go to see the bands or not. This really makes the festival look stronger as a whole. Now, the newest announcement from last night read like follows:

Refused – The first band that was booked for Sonisphere which has now been booked for Download following the cancellation of Sonisphere. Cracking announcement though – I remain interested as to where they will play. I hope to see them at Hellfest but seeing as they are headlining a little tent by the looks, it may not happen.
Gallows – This is a really cool announcement for me as I saw them at one of their last UK dates with Frank Carter handling vocal duties and that has now gone to Wade MacNeil (formerly of Alexisonfire). I’ve heard since he took over, Gallows have stepped up a level in terms of live performance. I would like to see if this is the case. Excellent booking though.
Kids In Glass Houses – They don’t do a great deal for me personally.
Lower Than Atlantis – Neither do they.
Four Year Strong – Leaked by Andy Copping on Twitter. A pretty good announcement. I got them and All Time Low mixed up though. So I thought when I saw them “oh man, Lost In Stereo is an awesome song” – it still is, but is completely irrelevant to FYS. I do like FYS though so given the chance I will see them.
Don Broco – They aren’t a bad band as such, but they seem a tad dull based on what I’m hearing. Probably won’t be seeing them.
Porter Robinson – A very different band to that you would usually get at Download but I actually quite like what I’m hearing. Would expect to hear this in the dance tent at Reading/Leeds rather than Download but oh well!
T. Mills – Yeah this really isn’t for me.
Fearless Vampire Killers – They certainly aren’t an awful band, by any means. Don’t foresee me seeing them though.
Kobra & The Lotus – Leaked by Andy Copping. They aren’t bad from the one song they have online.
Rival Sons – Another leak by Andy Copping. They’re pretty good. Caught the end of their set supporting Black Stone Cherry. I don’t think I’ll be seeing them, but they aren’t bad.
My Passion – Leaked today. Not bad at all!
Black Spiders – The first leak from Andy Copping. Excellent, excellent announcement. Can’t wait to see these guys at Download. So good.
Edguy – BEST. ANNOUNCEMENT. EVER!!! Ok perhaps not the best but still, this is so so good. They were one of the main Hellfest draws for me, so that’s a tad annoying, but aww hell yeah! 2 times for Edguy in 2 weeks? Superb sir!

This second batch has a lot more in it for me, not least Edguy. I have real concerns over clashes and just how many times I’m going to have to cut sets in half to go see someone else. It isn’t like Sonisphere in that respect as if you are at 3rd stage and need to walk to the 2nd stage; it is a fair old hike. Anyway – these concerns weren’t helped at all by Andy Copping announcing more bands for Download while I was writing this review of the announcements. Let’s have a look at this next batch then!

Lawnmower Deth – I’ve heard a lot of good things about this band live. Apparently they are a lot of fun. Anyway, I like what I am hearing. Not entirely convinced the cover of Kim Wilde – Kids In America was a good call mind!
No Americana – Not bad at all. A little bit pop-punky which is never a bad thing (actually it can be bad. This seems somewhat irrelevant to this announcement as they aren’t bad. Moving on).
Silent Descent – Not bad at all.
Six Hour Sundown – Oh hai Lauren Harris! I really quite like the song on Spotify. Hell, I didn’t mind the previous incarnation under the moniker “Lauren Harris”.
Skindred – I love Skindred. They have been excellent every time I have seen them live so I am not complaining about this announcement. Especially as their set is allegedly starting as soon as The D finish. Excellent stuff
The Union – They are quite enjoyable. Very classic rock sort of vibe from this band. If they were early on an open air stage then it is certainly possible that I would could lie down towards the back of the stage and listen to these, no problem!

So another 6 bands added to what is turning into possibly the best Download festival line-up ever (a strong statement considering they’ve had AC/DC, Aerosmith, Iron Maiden etc headline). It could easily be the best festival I’ve ever been to. I was going to have a stab at stage times but truth be told, I wouldn’t know where to start now. I could guess Friday’s but Saturday and Sunday have significant differences to the previous years. That coupled with the latest news that Five Finger Death Punch have had to pull out means I would be in a tailspin trying to figure it out.

Not looking at the inevitable number of clashes there will be - I want to see 49 bands. There are also others I wouldn’t mind seeing. Download looks amazing – end of.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

The Cancellation of Sonisphere

7 days ago, the rumour mill kicked into full effect. eFestivals tweeted that a major UK festival would announce in the morning that it was being cancelled. On the eFestivals forums, the most likely suspect was Sonisphere @ Knebworth was the one that would be cancelled. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Sonisphere has events all around Europe – surely someone had been given duff information. Bands and agents started putting out cryptic information when the rumours started which pointed towards the fact that it was Sonisphere that was cancelled until finally, Queen’s website posted an update saying their scheduled performance had been cancelled. While that was not confirmation that the whole festival was off – it was now beyond doubt in my mind that Sonisphere UK was doomed. There were all sorts of rumours going around as to why Sonisphere was cancelling its UK festival but of course, nothing was official. That morning...

“It is with very heavy hearts and much regret that we announce the cancellation of Sonisphere Knebworth 2012.
Putting the festival together in what is proving to be a very challenging year was more difficult than we anticipated and we have spent the last few months fighting hard to keep Sonisphere in the calendar. Unfortunately circumstances have dictated that we would be unable to run the festival to a standard that both the artists and that Sonisphere’s audience would rightly expect.
We want to express our deepest regrets to the artists and to thank all the staff, suppliers and contractors who worked so hard with us to try and pull off what has proven to be an impossible task and we know how much they share in our disappointment. We also want to send a huge thanks to the Sonisphere fans who stuck by us and we are so sorry that we can’t fulfil what we set out to do.
Ticket holders will automatically receive a full refund direct from their ticket agents.
Team Sonisphere.”

While not addressing any of the specific rumours as to why the festival was being cancelled, Team Sonisphere confirmed that they could not put on a successful festival this year at Knebworth. What I am going to do is address some of the rumours as to why it has been cancelled. This was the line-up for the festival as it got cancelled.

For me personally, it is not a bad line-up but it is far from amazing. I have long said that Kiss is a band I would like to see, but the circumstances have to be right. I am unlikely to go to a headline tour as it costs too much money (the rumoured tour of Kiss and Motley Crue may change this). As a festival headliner, if they are alongside two other great headliners then I would be drawn to that festival. Faith No More are a great headliner and that was one half of what I needed. Queen with Adam Lambert is alright but wasn’t enough to draw me to the festival. Faith No More being on the Sunday was an odd call for me. Of the headliners in terms of band size, I really would think they were the smallest (in drawing power) so to have them closing the festival...not sure about that. As for the rest of the line-up, there were two special guest slots to fill which I can’t really comment on with any degree of authority as I only heard rumours. I heard Motley Crue for the Friday and Primus for the Saturday. In terms of drawing power, they would have been big announcements. There is very little else I can point to and say “wow” at (based on my own tastes). Evanescence is a fairly big name and they sold out some fairly big dates last year. The Darkness is a fairly big announcement as they have their own forest gig this year, but maybe that’s detrimental to Sonisphere. Their fans are more likely to have gone to that, and seen them headline rather than go to Sonisphere (I’d guess). They had 3 bands doing full album shows but if you don’t like those bands (I don’t), that isn’t a draw - especially when one played the festival the year before. I said from the off I don’t think Tim Minchin should be in that spot. I don’t think he’d go over as well as Bill Bailey did, and I hear the sound for Bill Bailey was awful anyway. There is nothing else from the undercard which stands out to me really. I guess I could mention Andrew WK and Cypress Hill. Both strong bookings I would say. Andrew WK did just sell a fair few tickets though for headline shows so would this have stopped people buying a Sonisphere ticket? Who knows? The last band I want to mention is Marilyn Manson. I’m informed his 2009 set at Download was atrocious. Before that set there were question marks over his live performance at festivals and for me, this was a weak booking in a big spot on the main stage. Yes, he can put on a show but that’s not an adequate excuse for a shocking live performance.

It seems appropriate when looking at the line-up to address this rumour – Low Ticket Sales

Sonisphere announced their first bands for their first Knebworth festival in February. This wasn’t seen as a problem because this was fairly standard for most festivals to start announcing around this time. It also wasn’t a problem as in 2009; it was the same weekend as the Wacken festival in Germany, i.e. the first weekend in August. In 2010 it was also towards the end of July/beginning of August but they announced the first bands in 2009. They announced before Christmas that Rammstein and Iron Maiden were headlining, sending a clear message to competitors. For the 2011 festival, we knew all the headliners before Christmas, as well as some of the undercard as well. Aside from its first year, Sonisphere announced its bands early. So when Christmas 2011 rolled around and there were no bands announced for Sonisphere 2012 – something didn’t seem right. Not only was there no announcement but there was no announcement about an announcement (say announcement again!).

As the days and weeks went on, there were rumours an announcement was due but nothing came. . Even Kerrang published an advert saying that the announcement would be in their next magazine. It wasn’t. People were getting annoyed and saying that they had to make arrangements. People defending the festival said that this wasn’t as wide spread as it seemed, but almost every other festival was announcing bands or had rumours floating. Eventually however, at the end of February – the first announcement was made. Since then I believe there has only been one other announcement but it got us to the line-up that I posted above.

Low ticket sales – well looking at that line-up, there is some good stuff on there. There is also some bad stuff on there – to the extent that I was only discussing getting a weekend ticket if I got a new job (and still ended up opting for Hellfest). So, I completely find it believable that the line-up just wasn’t good enough to convince people to part with £200 at this stage. Sonisphere has booked some epic festivals, and I do believe had it not been cancelled that the line-up for the 2012 festival would have got much stronger as the undercard filled out. However, if they needed a good number of ticket sales up front, this was not the way to go about it. Even though they had some serious exclusives announced – well you either like them or you don’t. Some for me I didn’t mind but there was not one exclusive which really made me want to go (other than Faith No More...more on that later). Looking at low ticket sales though, I have to go back to the lateness of the announcement and the lack of communication from the festival to its potential punters. It would have been so easy to send out a public tweet or Facebook update saying “announcement is coming on 20th Feb...apologies for the lateness of it” or something like that. TL;DR – I can completely believe with how long it took them to announce this line-up, and actually what they announced, that they didn’t sell many tickets. I am hearing figures quoted between 5-10k tickets. That is shocking considering some of the acts on this line-up.

Financial Backing – There were rumours floating around that the festivals financial backers pulled out. Now, this could be linked to low ticket sales (investor see’s figures for sales and in a panic, pulls out). It could be linked to the global financial crisis which is still going on somewhat. That wouldn’t make a great deal of sense though as it ran when the crisis was worse. I guess the crisis could be to blame if you consider the financial backers performance as a company worsening. It is something I don’t really know about but I think if the financial backer has pulled out, it is more likely to be linked to low ticket sales.

Facilities – There was a rumour circulating that the whole festival was cancelled as they couldn’t get enough security to cover the event and they couldn’t get enough toilets. These two things were linked to the fact that 3 weeks after Sonisphere, the Olympics come to London. This one seemed slightly odd to me, to the point that I don’t think it’s true. Security could be issue I guess if the security companies have all been contracted by the Olympic organisers and have to receive special training beforehand. But even that sounds quite excessive. The toilets one sounds even more ridiculous on reflection. I’m sure if you weighed up the cost of cancelling bands; it would cost a hell of a lot less to ship portaloo’s in from another part of Europe/the world. I’m not sure about this one, but if this is the case then someone has seriously boobed. The Olympics were announced as coming to this country in July 2005. It is not like they snuck up on anyone. Glastonbury took this into account and extended the time in which they are “on” so that they would be “off” during the Olympics. Granted, Sonisphere announcing they were going to take a year off after 3 years would have been odd, but it would have been better than announcing a lot of stuff and then cancelling it.

The question on a lot of people’s lips now is this – can Sonisphere come back from this? Personally, I think it is going to be tough. I’ve touched on it already but the communication from the festival this year has been shocking and you just cannot get away with that in the 21st century and the age of social media. If they are going to come back, this needs to change. They will need to keep people as informed as they possibly can. The brand has not completely died across Europe, so there is a chance that the brand has a future in this country but I just don’t know if people will trust them. By people, I don’t just mean punters – I mean bands and agents. The fact it had to be cancelled in its fourth year is not a good thing. The best way for them to resolve the trust issue in my view is to re-launch Sonisphere UK in 2013 as a one day festival with 2 day camping. What they then need to do is book a very safe act that will sell tickets to not only play, but to curate the festival. Co-brand the festival with this big ticket selling band and rebuild trust. In my mind, I picture Iron Maiden on their Made in England tour being a perfect choice for this. Getting Maiden for this slot will sell tickets as it will be their only UK date on this new “history of” tour. They came very close to selling out Twickenham, which I heard was quoted at 65k people for a gig. That is what I also hear the crowd for gigs at Knebworth are. Book Iron Maiden for this slot and Sonisphere is back. If they go full out again, people might not trust them and they may be forced to cancel again. If it happens again – they are completely finished (assuming they aren’t already).

As a final point, I would be gutted if Sonisphere UK died because of this. Their booking choices really made people sit up a take notice (first comedian headlining an open air stage, booking Richard Cheese etc). The layout of the festival is almost perfect as well (I am a big fan of alternating stages). It was also nice to have two festivals competing for my money that was completely to my tastes (or really close) in this country. I have no problem going abroad but if it is in this country then why not hope for the best. I hope it can come back, but truthfully I don’t think it will. As a finally final point, I really hope that Faith No More announce a replacement date so they can visit these shores.