Sonisphere Festival 2011 Saturday Review

Day one at Sonisphere 2011 had exceeded expectations, Anthrax, Metallica and Killing Joke all fitting neatly into the “brilliant” category, but the pre-festival expectation had that as an aperitif. Saturday was the one I was looking forward to the most, with Bad Religion and the Sisters Of Mercy as the top two of my “must sees” for the weekend.

The distant rumble of pre-noon thrash announced that day 2 was underway as Sylosis got things going. Never actually made it across the arena in time to see them though, oops.

The first band of the day I actually saw certainly one of the more, erm, weird acts I’ve ever seen at a Festival. Richard Cheese and Lounge Against The Machine providing their own unique interpretation to some classic tunes. Honestly, if you haven’t heard People = Shit or Enter Sandman sung in a swinging lounge stylee you haven’t lived. Other standards given the Cheese treatment included Nookie, Another Brick In The Wall Pt.2 and My Neck, My Back, Lick It.

Not laughed so much in ages, what a brilliant start to the day.

By the time Richard Cheese had finished there were some anxious looks being cast heavenward as big dark black clouds started to roll in. The weather forecast said that Saturday was going to be dry, they wouldn’t get things wrong…. would they ??

Lounge Against The Machine were followed on the Saturn stage by Gallows, a band I just never seem to “get”. Mind you, looking at the response they were receiving I’m in a minority on that one as they had some insane early pit action going on.

The Jager stage was the next port of call for Jettblack. This is another hard working band who seem to show up at almost every festival. Since first watching them at Ozzfest our paths have crossed a couple of times and they have always put on a great show.

Jettblack are one of those bands that I always try to catch at festivals like this as (all being well) they won’t be playing these intimate little stages much longer. That’s why I like what Jager are doing at Soni and Download, giving these bands a platform (literally) to show off what they can do to a bigger audience. There are so many good young rock bands on the scene at the moment, it’s just a matter of time until they start to break through to the next level.

The first horrible schedule clash of the weekend meant that I missed Cavalera Conspiracy who apparently put in one of the most impressive sets of the weekend. They played Sheffield a few days ago too, really wish I’d caught them there.

By now the storm clouds were gathering and the inevitable downpour was imminent. Take more than a bit of rain to stop The Treatment having a good time though.

The Treatment are a band who are continuously growing in confidence and live they just keep on getting better and better. They have a fantastic young rock’n’roll frontman in Mat, combined with an old school twin guitar attack and a fine knack for writing strong, melodic songs.

The weather gods finally decided that enough was enough and it was time to piss down. The band had just started Just Tell Me Why when the deluge began, unfortunately leading to a general exodus towards one or other of the tented stages.

It was odd, even without the rain there seemed to have been some strange stage allocations with the tents often officially “at capacity” while still having loads of space inside. But rain or not there was no way I was taking refuge in any tent, no chance. I had an eagerly anticipated appointment with some US punk rock legends on the main stage.

Bad Religion are a band who never seem (to me) to get enough credit for the role they played in the American punk scene, another one of those massively influential bands who few people have heard of and the chance to see them in the UK on a big stage was not to be missed. Unfortunately the weather meant that they played to a more sparse crowd than they deserved, but if that meant that they took their collective foot off the gas then it certainly didn’t show as they blasted through bona-fide classics like 21st Century Digital Boy, Los Angeles Is Burning and the awesome Punk Rock Song.

They saved the best ’till last though, and the fury of Fuck Armageddon… This Is Hell led to some ill-advised pit action for someone of my advancing years. Honestly, before the gig I was telling anyone who would listen that this could just be the set of the weekend, and it certainly came close.

After Bad Religion the next port of call was supposed to be Sum 41 in the Saturn stage, but about 5 minutes was all it took to decide that they weren’t really for me so instead I headed back to try to get into the Red Bull stage for Revoker. Tried and failed. Same when TesseracT were on later šŸ™

Bloody weather.

At this point I gave up and headed back to my tent, only so long you can take standing in the rain before it starts to really piss you off. I re-emerged an hour later into some sort of muddy wasteland and slithered up the hill to Bohemia to see Ginger Wildheart do his thing. Say what you want about Ginger, no one can fault his work ethic (is he permanently on tour ??) or deny that he is an awesome showman.

Having more or less dried out it was back out into the weather for Rival Sons who had drawn one of the biggest crowds of the day to the Jager stage. This is a band that everyone seems to like, OK they’re not doing anything particularly original but they are certainly entertaining and by god can they play. Festivals are all about surprises and this was definitely one of the performances of the day.

While Biffy Clyro did their much talked about headline set I headed back to Bohemia for Paradise Lost, but once again the security weren’t letting anyone else in. Tempers in the crowd started to fray and the “fuck you” attitude exhibited by some of the security staff was, quite frankly, appalling. I know it can’t be easy following orders and facing loads of pissed up music fans, but these people have paid hundreds of pounds to be here and see these bands. They couldn’t even tell us why they weren’t letting people in, reports from those already inside said there was plenty space.

Luckily there were no such problems at the Jager stage where the always awesome Black Spiders were headlining. The band opened with Kiss Tried To Kill Me while the crowd did their best to bounce up and down, which is not easy on a muddy, wet grassy slope šŸ™‚ Slightly ironic that they played Stay Down next…

After the spiders it was time for the big one. The announcement that finally persuaded me to go to Sonisphere 2011. The ultimate festival booking, the living legends that are the Sisters Of Mercy.

The band came on stage (half an hour late) cloaked in thick, swirling dry ice and immediately started some drum and bass heavy thing that may once have been Ribbons. Dominion was passable but by the time they got to More I had had enough. After seeing how awesome Fields Of The Nephilim still are in Leipzig a few weeks back I had high hopes for this, but it was just a mess.

Gutted, genuinely gutted. In the event that anyone from Killi / Soni are reading this, can we have the Nephs next year please ??

So on that low note day 2 drew to a close. Band of the day for me was Bad Religion, with a strong mention for Rival Sons. Of the bands I didn’t see I suspect Cavalera Conspiracy would have ran them close…