Words cannot describe the elation that came over me when I heard that Sonisphere was returning this year, with two of music’s, let alone metal’s, biggest names headlining. Partially, because I was glad that I wouldn’t have to camp in a marsh like my previous experiences at Download Festival and partially because this was a line-up that clearly focused more on delivering a supreme live show for Knebworth’s 40th anniversary. Here’s my account of 3 days spent wandering around an open field, surviving on mainly chips and a product that Tuborg consistently insist on calling beer, and rocking out to both current idols and childhood favourites. As is the logical train of thought, let’s start with Day 1:
Day 1 – Nostalgia’s Takeover
Having disembarked the glorious chariot known as “the shuttle bus” and raiding the merch stand, I set up camp at the Apollo stage, being treated to the surreal experience that is The Defiled. Whilst I knew none of the songs, it was great to see a British band who’d worked their way up, display their excitement by throwing keyboards around and smashing a bass guitar without confirmation of a replacement. From men dragging crosses, to scantily-clad women with plague masks, The Defiled ensure that they kick Sonisphere off the proper way. I left the Apollo stage soon after, due to it being the only main stage open on the day and the following three bands (Anti-Flag, Gary Numan and Band of Skulls) being of about as much interest to me as a Kings of Leon tribute act, I took my business to one of the smaller stages and a hip-hop/hardcore crossover outfit, TRC. Once again, I am unfamiliar with the back catalogue, but the pure energy and intensity brought out by this “grimecore” (I believe is what the young’uns are calling it) is enough to entice me into the mosh pit…. before I was hit in the face and made my swift retreat, realising that the pit was no place for old farts like me anymore…bloody kids. I managed to catch Howard Jones’The Devil You Know and despite making my best mate jealous, I just couldn’t get into them. Maybe it’s because I’m such a big Killswitch Engage fan, but still, I’m glad that our man Howard is back making music again. Bam Margera’s Fuckface Unstoppable follow suit, and hol-eee-shit are they terrible. Not only do the feature zero musicianship and Bam sounding like Neil Fallon with a really bad chest cold, but serial douchenozzle Brandon Novak also manages to get his knob out. Needless to say, this was met with the quickest “cheery bye” since CM Punk’s WWE walkout. Stick to skating Bam, you can’t hurt our ears doing that (though knowing Bam, he’d probably find a way to).
Things did look up after this though, as I managed to get myself quite close to the front for an old, gothic phase, teenage favourite, H.I.M. Ville Valo and co. take to the stage in a more reserved fashion that your mum’s favourite glam band, and rightly so. H.I.M’s music is definitely not moshable and is more for chill appreciators of the metalhead variety (yes those exist!). Everyone’s favourite love metal band seem to have ditched a plethora of new material, instead opting to play hit after hit, much appreciated by sticklers like me. Classics “Rip out The Wings of A Butterfly”, “Right Here In My Arms”, and “The Kiss of Dawn” take me right back to every car trip I ever took when I was 14, whilst “Your Sweet Six Six Six” begins the first metal equivalent to a dance floor that I’ve ever come across.
BUT WAIT, the nostalgia does not stop there! As moments after H.I.M’s love song compilation leaves us, we are immediately hit with the now classic line “Keep on rollin’ baby, you know what time it is.” Nu-Metal titans Limp Bizkit bounce right back, backwards baseball cap and all, opening with the iconic “Rollin’”, a song that anybody who played a WWE game in the early 2000s is familiar with. With guitarist Wes Borland looking a bit like a samurai that had accidentally tripped and fallen into a vat of black paint, it’s clear that Bizkit are here to piss around. Despite forgetting that it was a Friday by announcing “It’s Saturday night” and covering it up by saying “It’s Saturday Night to me man” , MC Fred Durst manages to keep great control of the crowd, whilst reminding us how many times he could fit “fuck” into a song through “Hot Dog” and “My Generation.” Of course “My Way” makes an appearance (the only Limp Bizkit song that I know of to not have any swearing on it…cheers sheltered childhood) and MI-2 theme “Take A Look Around” sends everyone into a bouncing bamboozlefest. This is only bested by set closer, “Break Stuff” basically giving the audience carte blanche to lose their shit, and jump around beating the absolute hell out of each other (needless to say I stayed well away from this). With the time travel over, and Fred Durst’s bearded motocross outfit greeting us for the last time, I made my departure and got on my bus back to London.
The Prodigy did headline this day, but I really couldn’t be arsed watching a load of guys in UV paint run around a stage shouting various random words to recycled beats that sounded like they were being played through a tinny phone speaker.
Overall, Day 1 of Sonisphere was pretty chill, and a majority of it was spent checking out a new host of bands that are now crammed onto my already overstocked iPod. As for ratings, well, I decided to mix it up a bit, offering a band of the day and an overall rating for the day’s music. Whilst I didn’t know a lot of the bands performing, I definitely enjoyed most of them, and was psyched to come back for Day 2…that is after spending 4 hours in London A & E with an asthma attack because my inhaler had decided to run out.
Sonisphere Day 1 Ratings:
Band of the Day: H.I.M
Sonisphere Day 1: 7.5/10