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My World and Music Festivals: The UK Rock and Heavy Metal Festival Scene
From the start
I got into rock and metal when i was about 13/14 years old, a big change from the cheesy pop music i had been bought up on. It was as far back as my first high school when i heard a local band jamming Green Day in the music hall. I went away and at school, in the local library i would sit and just search for bands. I soon discovered more teenage orientated stuff like Good Charlotte and Avril Lavigne and from there i made my first rock purchases at my local music store. It was not until i moved from Newmarket in Suffolk to the Midlands that i would soon find my true taste in the rock world.
I had always been musical from a young age, playing recorder in primary school to playing violin and in the school orchestra when i was in my middle school at the age of 11-13.One day however i was sitting in the lunch room and gazed through a set of doors into the music classroom and saw someone playing the drums. That was it . I was set and i knew exactly where i wanted to head next.
It was through my first high school i had tasted playing the drums in overly priced lessons. When i moved to my second high school it was there where i got to have them free as part of GCSE's. Playing and getting my kit had a huge influence on my music tastes through my teen years and getting to my second high school was really where it took off.
Best get a tent!
God gave rock and roll to you
I had moved to a new town and this girl was showing me and my mother around a new school checking it out and seeing if it was a place i would feel comfortable joining. She eventually introduced me to a couple of guys , Luke and Liam and from there it was history. We became good friends and they also had a huge impact on me. They introduced me to the rock and heavy metal world and i was totally seduced by its appeal its culture the sounds it presented.I knew i was in for a ride but i was young and open to explore new paths.
The first bands i recall getting into were Megadeth, a thrash metal band from the states, Dragonforce a power metal from the UK and another band called Celtic Frost who played thrash/black metal.2005 saw me hit my first Megadeth show with guys supported with Diamond Head. It was an experience unlike any other i had had previously. It was loud, energetic, full of power and the music was full of anger and rage. I loved it and i will never forget that day. Between then and the age of of 17 i explored local gigs and saw many bands as i could. It was not until 2007 that i hit my very first festival.
Download Festival -ACDC headlining
Download Festival and Beyond
Download festival based at Donington park in the Midlands, was my first festival when i was 17 and i must say what a choice.Headlined by My chemical Romance ,Linkin Park and the mighty Iron Maiden ( the only one i cared for) and around 100 other bands playing over three days it had a great mix. Over 180,000 people attended throughout the weekend being entertained my a massive main stag,e as well as other stages, rides and entertainment.
I attended about 5 Download festivals between the ages of 17-22 and it has changed quite a bit since then, but stayed the same in many ways. The music has always varied from pop-punk and heard rock to heavy metal, so it makes a great all round festival for everyone. But the layout has always been hit and miss.From being moved to the outer side of the Donington park racetrack due to complaints, to a mile walk from the camp-sites it has seen a real shift in layout and its inner workings.
The one thing that has stayed the same is the camp-sites. All of them are different colours, red and blue being the big ones and then you have a number of smaller surrounding them. The atmosphere is always phenomenal throughout each camp-site, as you make friends, discover parties all night and all day and always see an array of costumed people walking about.Unless you want to go nuts then always try to hit the smaller camp-sites but avoid the furthest ones near to the airport side of the festival.
Download not only created a great weekend away, but it also introduced me to many awesome bands. From seeing such bands as Kiss and ACDC to Megadeth, Lacuna Coil and Slayer i really had my eyes opened up to the metal music world. As i watched these bands i always got stuck into the sheer madness and energy of the shows by crowd surfing and moshing , head banging and putting my heart and soul into appreciating the music.
I lead crowds of people with horns, got on the download cameras from covering my self in swear word tape, met rock stars and experienced pain from being crushed against the main barrier. I drank monster energy drinks, camped rough danced with friends chased girls , watched people dance with fire and laughed at comedy. These experiences is why i loved festivals. Download for me was the start and is still a great festival. Especially if your young, free and want to discover loads of different bands and create experiences.
I have grown up a lot now, and have personally out grown the festival it's self. The music they have there now is a younger me and i have discovered my love for heavier, darker music. So it does not hold enough in that field for me to want to attend. That is why i decided to move on to the one and only Bloodstock Festival. One of the best independent metal festivals in the UK.
Bloodstock to me is one of the best festivals for rock and extreme metal i have attended since being on this earth. It is based in Walton On Trent in the Midlands and currently boasts about 15,000 visitors a year. Built initially by a family who hosted it at Derby assembly rooms it soon grew in success and became a larger outdoor festival. Now it had been running for around 15 years or so and it is hugely popular. Mainly because of its choice in bands and variety of styles from Thrash to Death metal.
It always has exclusive appearances by European bands and has a create community fel due to it's size. I love how easy it is to get around and then go and chill watching your favourite bands late into the evening. It has seen record attempts for the largest circle pits to people even making giant rows boats while sat on the ground. The atmosphere is a lot better than the larger festivals because it is more intimate , it easier to make friends , and you see more bands with out having to walk miles.
I have around 200 albums and a lot of them have been influenced from not only what i have discovered in shops and on-line but from the festival its self too. From the likes of Triptykon to Rhapsody of Fire, Iced Earth and Within Temptation , it has introduced me to so many great bands i never knew before. That is the pro of Bloodstock , that you can see loads of bands in one weekend and at a really cheap price too.
The bands are great because you can really interact with them. The circle pits can get massive sometimes and it creates great memories. I have seen some of my favourite bands here who i have waited for so long to see and it has been worth it. And the great thing about the UK metal scene is that it is really responsive to new music, great music and really supporting heavy metal. The festival its self has always responded well to feed back from its followers , always supported great causes related to its culture (such as the Sophie Lancaster Foundation) and helped the UK metal scene thrive.
This year will be about my seventh time at the festival, purely because i love it and would recommend it to any metaller young or old. If you want something heavier with an intimate feel this is more for you.
Some of my Bloodstock photos
Death Angel live at Bloodstock
Download and Bloodstock Attendance
What Festival have you been too?
© 2015 Robert Beeton