Sonisphere Festival: Saturday (2011)

Having been rudely awakened from my dozing stupor by a group of festival tits moving from gazebo to gazebo, claiming the importance of immediate gazebo parties despite irate responses from all those attempting to slumber in the vicinity, I attempted in vain to squeeze a bit more unconscious time for recuperation.

Exiting the tent feeling like a dog or other small mammal had shat in my head, my nose was greeted by the fresh air and my eyes by a wasteland of festival scree. Apparently today was dress-up day, the theme being superheroes, and our festival neighbours were in full swing getting costumed up, which essentially involved painting one of the members green from head to toe as The Hulk. Despite having been unaware of the occasion we had made Medieval doctor masks from plain masks, polystyrene cones and papier mache before the festival anyway, and were pleased that we could get away with these and hoodies as costumes only by stretching the theme a touch, and without make-up.

The Saturday line-up was definitely the weakest. With Biffy Clyro headlining the main stage with Weezer in support, and plenty of high school punk poot on the stages, as we entered the arena we knew the daywalkers would soon be out in force. By day two its always easy to spot a daywalker, those with day tickets rather than weekend camping, just by standing downwind, plus their eyes always appear a little wide..

Starting off proceedings on the main stage at the ungodly hour of 11am were Sylosis, and there’s little better for shaking out the cobwebs than some morning melodic death metal. Their brief set was composed of tracks from both their full length studio albums, Conclusions Of An Age (2009) and Edge Of The Earth (2011), and whilst the music was good you couldn’t help but feel their hearts weren’t quite in it, something quite understandable once the standard and/or style of the following bands in considered, plus the likelihood that they felt just as hungover as we did. Still, being on the main stage is impressive, even if a much higher posting on a smaller stage may have been more befitting. A solid band, one that we look forward to see playing again in a couple of weeks at High Voltage, hopefully with a bit more enthusiasm.

We returned to the campsite to make use of the food supplies we’d brought with us, which involved a couple of tins of beans pierced and placed on a lit hexiburner for a few minutes, and returned to the area to check out Jim Breuer, a comedian I was most excited about being a big fan of Half Baked with Dave Chappelle, but unfortunately turned out to be massively ‘meh’. His skits were drawn out to around four or five times the length they should have been, and his obtuse use of a catchphrase (yeah, yeah, yeeah in a Hetfield style) between every joke, seeming to check that audience was still awake, was just irritating after the first few times; a cheap trick, and not one I’d expect from someone with many years in the business. He was funniest when doing impressions, and to me the impressionist is only one rung above the mime on the comedy ladder.

We left about halfway through the set to find Sum 41 in full swing on the second stage, a band fairly close to my heart I’m only slightly ashamed to admit, having been a big fan back when I knew little of the difference between my arse and my elbow. We picked up some giant yorkies with mash, sausage and gravy, a true festival treat, and sat near the back where the hill was steep enough to allow us to see despite our low profile. I enjoyed the set, my companion, not having been a fan, did not. Except till the end, where, upon finishing their penultimate track front man Deryck Whibley shouted to the crowd that they had run out of time, but that they were here to see us, not ‘them’, and so would continue. What they didn’t realize, was that ‘they’ controlled the volume dial, and after about 30s this power was slowly exercised, and the sound of their closing song slowly diminished to nothing, except the delicate hanging cadence of sniggering festival-goers. Cleverly enough the sound guys appeared to have left the monitors at full volume, and the sums valiantly finished their set despite clearly being confused at the lack of enthusiasm from the crowd at large.

A chance meeting with some camp site neighbours got us along to see Periphery, a band I’d not listened to until just before the festival but was interested in checking out. Turned out to be well worth it, the standard of the music and the stage presence of the band were good, though the clean vocals left a bit to be desired, the growls were solid and the interplay between light and heavy passages of sound showed solid writing and musicianship skills. Formed in 2005 but signed in 2009, they release their self-titled debut album in 2010 and an E.P. ‘Icarus’ earlier this year, Periphery is definitely a band to keep an eye on in the prog metal world, here’s hoping with time the studio clean vocals will match the live.

Having had rather a lot of a concoction named Captain Jack Sparrow from a shared platypus bladder, we were in high spirits, no pun intended, when we made our way to the main stage to catch a bit of Weezer. Suffice to say we weren’t there for long, and headed back over the hill to get a good spot for The Mars Volta. Not being very familiar with The Mars Volta’s back catalog, but knowing it was highly varied and given their reputation for great live shows, we were happy to situate ourselves twenty meters or so in front of the sound tent. Unfortunately, due to average to severe inebriation and the presence of some rather attractive specimens in the crowd next to us I have to admit none of us can recall anything interesting about their set…

So we found ourselves on the way to Gojira, a band set to be the definitive highlight of the day, and they certainly didn’t disappoint. From France, and with a strong ecological theme, Gojira can well be summed up by the chorus of ‘Toxic Garbage Island’ from The Way of All Flesh (2008) in which Joe Duplantier bellows out the phrase ‘plastic.. bag in the sea’ again and again over a heavy sludgy riff from Christian Andreu and hefty double bass from brother Mario Duplantier on the drums:

Despite the omission of that particular favourite, the set was full of tunes and the pit huge and heavy, ‘Vacuity’ and ‘The Heaviest Matter In The Universe’ were my personal highlights, along with presence of a large inflatable whale bobbing around above the crowd.

Bruised and battered we managed to find the rest our of group and stumbled off towards the last act of the day, Black Spiders, about whom we’d all heard good things but none had really listened to them before and we were left underwhelmed; the music was solid rock and roll, but seemed lacking in something that we couldn’t quite put our fingers on. Nonetheless, we shall be catching them again at High Voltage, so watch this space for a further more concrete review.

And that was that for Saturday, a rather underwhelming day for music but Gojira played an awesome show and there was plenty of banter.

Sunday’s blog will be posted on Friday to help promote the festival vibes before High Voltage on Saturday.


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One thought on “Sonisphere Festival: Saturday (2011)

  1. Dood, I laughed out loud on several occasions. Good memories.

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