Bloodstock 2016 – Saturday Roundup
Words by Matt Tustin || Photos by Christopher James Ryan
Saturday began with the sound of rainfall hitting my tent. A lovely way to wake up after the chaos, drunkenness and sunburn of the Friday before, but it was mixed with a small worry that it may continue and wash the day out. Coffee was imbibed and the sun resumed its beautiful blasting of rays through the dwindling clouds within an hour of waking. A perfect time to go and catch Akercocke, then?
Akercocke‘s first show after five-and-a-bit years drags the faithful from their tents down to the Ronnie James Dio stage to welcome them back after a lengthy absence, and they go down a storm. Gone are the suits and long hair, but the music still stands. A tribute to Satan in the blazing sunshine, beer in hand, is a perfect way to start the day, and, in their absence, Akercocke have lost none of their power and brutality. With a new album on the way, they’ve picked up a few new fans with this performance, and without disappointing the faithful.
Rotting Christ carry on the brutality in the intense rays of Satan’s left bollock to a large crowd of fans and people who have wandered down due to the buzz that was going around camp. They’re tight, and they get the crowd circling and moshing, with a great stage presence and no small number of atmospherics. “The Sign of Evil Existence” was a particular highlight, chugging along in epic nature.
There’s not much better way to spend a beautiful festival afternoon than with Fear Factory, continuing their tour celebrating 20 years of Demanufacture by playing it in its entirety. They’re in top form. A lot has been said about Burton’s voice over the past couple of years, but it holds up well for the most part today, with only a couple of points where it cracks. But his voice rings strong and true, most notably during “A Therapy for Pain,” with the refrain of “tried so hard” carrying far beyond the crowd. A special performance of a much-loved album from this industrial juggernaut.
Paradise Lost are having a grand old time on the main stage at Bloodstock. They’re now old hands at this festival, and for good reason. They still retain that slow-burning, towering sound, but with an extra layer of oomph that soars across the site.
The biggest buzz of the day was for the mighty Gojira; with everyone I spoke to saying they weren’t missing this set for anything. Gojira strode onto the stage as if they owned it, and they might as well have owned it, with the audience eating out of the palm of their hands. There was meat on these bones, a gloriously chunky sound, the riffs just keeping on coming. They never have an off day. Sublimely brutal.
I’ve never managed to catch Mastodon live before, and wasn’t quite sure what to expect. They started slowly; incredible, psychedelic visuals on video screens behind them, bathed in blues and purples, and hit their stride, clearly enjoying themselves. A personal highlight was “Colony of Birchmen,” that I’ve been bursting to hear live, and it proved to not disappoint, sounding incredible. Stunning, and worthy headliners on the main stage.
I didn’t catch much on the other stages today, so I finished the day with a band I’ve heard much about but never really listened to before, Acid Reign. Bursting onto the stage in a red suit and top hat, Howard ‘H’ Smith relentlessly barreled the drunk-on-ale-and-happiness crowd into a frenzy with a constant circle pit through the entire set. Thanking Mastodon for ‘opening up for us’, they were on top form, leaping around the stage and crowd-surfing during the performance. Acid Reign was an absolutely perfect way to end the day, and close off Saturday with a bang.