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BLOODSTOCK OPEN AIR, Catton Hall, Derbyshire
12-14 August 2011


By the fans...for the fans...Alli Price sets the scene for this year's premier heavy metal festival and talks to three metal fans who are veterans of similar events...

Well, it's that time of year and here we are again with the best independent heavy metal festival in the UK upon us.

Yes, Bloodstock Open Air (BOA) has arrived and looks to be in fine form, if not perfectly fine weather.

With a fantastic line-up including the legendary W.A.S.P and the mighty Motorhead, and the expansion of entertainment to include stand-up comedy, the anticipation is almost palpable.

Bloodstock started as a relatively small indoor festival, held at the Derby Assembly Rooms, back in 2001, aiming in part to bring bands to stages there which UK fans wouldn't normally get to see.

As organisers Paul Gregory and family watched it grow to sell out point, they expanded to the open air festival we now know, while keeping the "by the fans, for the fans" ethos well intact.

This year will see almost 12,000 fans converge on the beautiful setting of Catton Hall near Walton-on-Trent for 3 days of metal mayhem with bands both established and up and coming.

I think with Bloodstock there's more of an emphasis on up and coming bands and the unsigned stages, whereas at Download and other festivals they seem to concentrate on the bands that are big in Kerrang! and Metal Hammer.

Earlier in the week, I had the chance to have a brief chat with three fans from Derby, Rezzie Ramzan (36), Laura Fitchett (20) and Ryan Porter (19) , who were wishing the week away as they looked forward to one of their favourite weekends of the year.

For Laura, this is her third BOA, Ryan has been going since 2008 and Rezzie is and old hand, with his first Bloodstock being the Indoor festival in 2004 and attending every one since.

I asked Rezzie, his view on the changes between indoor and outdoor.

"It was needed. Indoor had got too big for the Assembly Rooms and I think they've proved they made the right decision.

You do have a lot of the old school Bloodstockers who still pine for the days of the indoor, but it's not going to come back because Bloodstock has got too big - and it had to."

I asked what other big festivals they'd been to?

Rezzie: Wacken, Grasspop, Sonishphere, Download
Ryan: Sonisphere last year
Laura: Download 07 and 09

Doro, Bloodstock 2010
Doro at Bloodstock in 2010 (Photo: Sonia Waterfield)

So as they all had other experiences to compare Bloodstock to, I got them to share what they see as the main differences between it and other festivals.

Rezzie told me, "I think with Bloodstock it's still small so there's a very relaxed atmosphere, because even abroad, especially Grasspop, it's very commercial and you can see that with their sponsors and stuff.

Whereas with BOA it's still got that small vibe. It's a lot friendlier. Yes you still get your idiots and you will get that as the festival grows bigger, but it's just that little bit more relaxed. You can just have a bit more fun."

Ryan focused on another aspect of it all, the unsigned or unknown bands, which Bloodstock prides itself on giving a chance to showcase their talents every year.

"I think with Bloodstock there's more of an emphasis on up and coming bands and the unsigned stages, whereas at Download and other festivals they seem to concentrate on the bands that are big in Kerrang! and Metal Hammer.

They don't seem to look into the "underground" too much, which isn't too good as there's a lot of talent coming up, that otherwise wouldn't get that platform to perform on, if it wasn't for festivals like Bloodstock."

Laura was in agreement with Ryan, "It's like Ryan said, Bloodstock gives the opportunity for unsigned bands to show people their talents and get them into their sort of music. And it's not as commercialised as Download. I just think it's a better festival all together."

When I asked them what they were most looking forward to most this year at Bloodstock, Ryan said "Rhapsody of Fire" After a quick heckle over the name from Rezzie "Rhapsody - no fire" referring to the band having to change its name for legal reasons, Ryan went on to explain why. "They've never played the UK before and I'm very keen to see them. They're one of my favourite power metal bands, so yeah - should be good."

Laura kept it simple. "Partying! Listening to different types of bands, figuring out different types of bands" and said she likes seeing the less known bands as well as the established bands on the main stage.

Next I stumped them a little by throwing out the question of who they were looking forward to seeing on main stage the most and it seems Kreator is a popular choice as both Laura and Rezzie chose them, and Rhapsody, chosen by both Ryan and Rezzie, who clarified why that is for him:

"Rhapsody and Kreator. Rhapsody because they're one of my favourite power metal bands and Kreator because they just blew me away at Grasspop." you really want to have a couple thousand chavs trying to riot with 12,000 metal heads?

With the fans still having a lot of input into the booking of bands on the Bloodstock forums and Facebook, I thought I'd ask them if they could see anyone booked for /play at Bloodstock, I wondered who would they choose?

Laura and Ryan replied quickly with Testament and Gamma ray respectively, while Rezzie was obviously overwhelmed by the choices. He finally answered with,

"That's such a hard one as there's a lot of bands I'd like to see. (pick one) If it had to be one that's not played before, then I'd love to see Motley Crue there."

So, with preparations for going in full swing, I had to ask of them what is the one thing that's most essential for you to take to BOA? I got rapid fire answers of

Laura: Tent!
Ryan: Ticket!
Rezzie: Friends!

And yes I was a little surprised that the favourite answer of "beer" wasn't their first thought, which goes to show that's not all festival goers think of!

In view of all the current civil disturbances, which we were seeing unfold on the news as we talked, I asked them if they thought it would affect Bloodstock.

Rezzie firmly replied straight away, "No. As someone posted online somewhere yesterday, do you really want to have a couple thousand chavs trying to riot with 12,000 metal heads?"

Ryan also seemed confident that the festival would be untouched by the atmosphere of unrest.

"Not really. I think most of the organisers and festival goers are dedicated enough to the music, so I don't think it'll have any effect at all really." And Laura was in agreement.

Rezzie interjected here: "Transport maybe. I know there's been a few queries in the Q&A group from people who are flying in from abroad. There's one who is flying into Birmingham who wondered if it would affect them, another who is catching the Big Green Coach Company from London which is supposed to go through Victoria station (London), so it might impact people who have further to travel, especially if they're coming form affected areas, but the festival itself no."


The only truly well established independent heavy metal festival in the UK

Moving back onto happier subjects, I wondered what their favourite Bloodstock memory was from the past.

"At BOA 2008 when I lobbed an (empty) Fanta bottle at Nick Ward's head (a friend of theirs who is in the band Aeterna )" Laura replied, laughing. I wonder if the riots brought that one to mind!

Ryan said "Helloween at 2008 - best live set!" and Rezzie perhaps explained part of why Bloodstock will always be close to his heart as a festival with "Bloodtstock Indoor 2004 walking into my first ever festival."

To round things up I asked these die hard metal fans to sum up Bloodstock in one sentence:

Rezzie: The only proper heavy metal festival in the UK
Ryan: The only truly well established independent heavy metal festival in the UK
Laura: One of the best heavy metal festivals in the UK

And so, on that note I left them to enjoy their building excitement, and continued to revel in my own.

As the masses begin to converge in quiet Derbyshire, I know we're in for a hell of a weekend and shall be uploading throughout the festival, so stay with Get Ready To Rock for all the latest.

Feature by Alli Price who will be reporting at BOA for GRTR!

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