Sonisphere begins this Thursday and continues the summer of metal and rock music by giving us three days of the heavy stuff at the prestigious Knebworth House, famed for putting on some of the biggest names in rock history, although I’m sure, like me, you’ll remember it because of Robbie Williams‘ concert in 2003.
But don’t let that titbit of pop knowledge knock your judgement of my metal credibility, for I have been to every edition of the festival thus far, and whilst the festival has been on a two year hiatus due to the festival not getting its act (or acts as the case may be) together, it decided to play safe with three of the usual suspects on the festival circuit – Prodigy, Iron Maiden and Metallica. Considering Sonisphere and Download keep trading their headliners amongst each other year in, year out, I could probably get away with copying and pasting the Download Festival preview I did recently, because at face value you would be hard pressed to find differences between the two festivals.
So what will make Sonisphere stand out from its competitors? Firstly, and most importantly, the two open air stages at the festival are faced opposite each other, which means the walking distance is a lot less than other festivals. If that isn’t enough for you, then get this, the times for both of these stages are staggered, meaning you’ll never have a clash if you’re going for the biggest bands! The undercard is something that Sonisphere always gets right, so expect variety amongst all the stages; The Prodigy leading the charge in dance, Mastodon and Dream Theater tearing through the progressive metal, and Chas & Dave paving the way in…wait Chas & Dave are playing Sonisphere, surely that’s reason enough to go?
At Sonisphere, the party doesn’t stop after the headliners are finished. In addition to the usual comedy, silent disco, fairground rides and alternative karaoke that you’d expect, you get a caboodle of entertainment within the Bohemia village. First off we have the Voodoo Rock Party inside the Bohemia tent on Thursday, which will be hosted by one of London’s most recognisable alternative nights. The Bohemia tent will also play host to the Kerrang party on Thursday and Saturday who will probably play more of the same. I’m sure we can expect some Limp Bizkit, some Drowning Pool and some Disturbed as well as the other alt. night staples that we all love to hate, but I’m sure I’ll be head-banging with the best of them after a few pints.
The late night music is back and this year I will definitely be checking out 65daysofstatic who will bring their unique brand of instrumental dance rock to the late night crowd. I will also probably check out The Sisters Of Mercy, who I admittedly missed out on in 2011, but feel I owe them some of my time as homage to my Dad’s music collection which I’ve been subjected to over the years – I’m sure I can keep up with the goths when it comes to shrieking the words to Temple Of Love.
Wrestling, have I mentioned that yet? No? Oh, well Sonisphere is going to have wrestling, courtesy of Progress Wrestling over by the new Satellite Stage. I’m sure I’ll be checking this out across the weekend and look forward to some of the imminent match-ups from Rampage Brown and Jimmy Havoc. Yeah, I don’t know who they are either, but one way or another I’m sure it will be leagues better than the make-shift Sonisphere Wrestling Federation drafted by a camp not to far from my own in 2011, their champion coming up with this great one-liner, “I will fight anyone, at any time, at any place, except when Metallica are playing”. If that’s not enough, the Information Tent will be hosting Wrestling Aerobics at 11am in the morning, so don’t forget to bring the spandex!
On the topic of the Information Tent, the oracle of knowledge is being hosted by the Cult of Love and Gratitude, meaning by day you’ll be able to ask for directions to Pootopia (the best festival poo you’ll ever have by the way), and by night you’ll get to experience an intimate party. I’m not fully sure how this one will play out as its a new feature to Sonisphere, but I’m sure it will be a laugh and well worth checking out during the early hours of the morning.
It’s clear that the organisers behind Sonisphere have put a lot of thought and care into their programme across the weekend, and definitely look to be the guys who go that extra mile for their punters. If the entertainment on offer does not prove this, then perhaps the fact that they have regular shuttles taking festival goers to and from Stevenage railway station all the way to the festival site for free will prove it? In addition, the jammy swines have also managed to swindle some extra late trains returning to London on the Saturday and Sunday!
I’m genuinely looking forward to Sonisphere next weekend, it looks set to pick up where it left off in 2011, almost as if those two years of failure never happened and you know what? I’m okay with that, as it was always the mainstream music festival that tried to be daring in its approach. And in spite of the headliners being the same-old bunch of misfits, anyone who saw Metallica tear up Glastonbury at the weekend will know that they’re in prime form, so I’ll be seeing you in the mosh pits!
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