The countdown is on, three weeks until Catton Park is overrun by a hoarde of the weird and wonderful, your punks, goths, metalheads, geeks and freaks. Yes, it’s almost time for Bloodstock Open Air – the UK’s premier Metal fest.
Let’s take a look at what BOA 2018 has to offer…
Headlining Friday night at BOA are the mighty Judas Priest, tipped to be bringing some ahem, serious fire-power, alongside material from their new album… ‘Firepower’. It’s going to be a memorable show that’s for sure, but it’s not all about the headliners at Bloodstock – Friday offers up a plethora of bands we rarely get to see at other festivals in the UK, like Emperor and Suicidal Tendencies. We also can’t wait to walk with zombies Wednesday 13 and get our thrash on with Onslaught, we are coming fully prepared to leave this festival with RSI of the neck.
On the Sophie Lancaster stage we’ll be looking out for metal goddess Doro, and we’ll definitely be checking out the New Blood stage to fill our boots with brand new music to add to our playlists.
Gojira are back after a year off, but this time taking the Saturday headline slot to showcase their unique brand of metal and having seen them hit BOA in 2016, it’s pretty clear we’re in for an incredible night. Also on Saturday’s menu, the beautifully weird juxtaposition of Scotland’s own pirate power-band Alestorm, followed by New York death metallers Cannibal Corpse. I’m down for that sort of variation, it keeps things interesting. We’ll also be turning out for Combichrist, and Israeli band Orphaned Land over on the Sophie stage.
Sunday’s finale spot, perhaps somewhat controversially goes to Nightwish, a band who are no stranger to drama throughout their career. Indeed this will be the third time the band have headlined the festival, with yet another different vocalist – Floor Jansen. However Nightwish undeniably deserve the accolade of closing out Bloodstock, having topped the bill twice before and drawing from a massive eight studio albums worth of music, we’re catching them on the ‘Decades’ tour, which is bound to be celebratory. Also on Sunday, SFG are looking forward to At The Gates, Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed fame, and Evergrey but the biggest hype by far is for American rock crooners Mr. Big. We simply cannot wait to karaoke the hell out of ‘To Be With You’ in the cheesiest way possible. Might even slow dance. There’s something fantastic about Mr. Big featuring on the same bill as Watain – over on the Sophie stage, who we will also be sure to catch. If you’re heading there too, take a poncho for the gore and keep your phone in your pocket. Trust us. It’s gonna be a wild one.
If the music isn’t enough to satiate your appetite over the weekend, or there’s a bit of a lull in your lineup, you’ll find plenty of other stuff to see and do at BOA this year. Take a stroll through the BOA RAM Gallery which features the incredible artwork of Paul Raymond Gregory, various photographers’ shots from previous years, and new this year – an entire Judas Priest wall.
Meet your heroes and get your stuff signed! Bloodstock has always had a great band-to-fan signing tent with loads of opportunities to meet and greet, so make sure you take along any special CD sleeves for your favourite band and check the signing times.
Muscles 2 the Masses – BOA’s very own Strongman/Strongwoman competition now has an amateur division for festival-goers (who have competed in qualifying heats already) to be crowned Bloodstock’s Strongest Man, in a series of events which centre on… well, you know, lifting stuff up, mainly. If that doesn’t take your fancy, we’ve heard Battle Reenactment is back on the menu – who doesn’t love armored dudes beating seven shades of hell out of each other?
Late night DJ’s and movie screenings after the bands are finished are also being laid on for the drunks and nosferatu among us, so if all your mates have crashed and burned for the evening, pull up a pew for Spinal Tap and make some new pals.
There’s no slacking on the food front either, for a smaller festival the options are excellent whether you’re a straight up carnivore, a vegan or somewhere in between. Grab yourself a brisket sandwich between bands, pick a veggie paella or an entire Sunday dinner in a Yorkshire pud, but for my money – I’m making room for a crazy hot chili in a bread bowl also known as Bunnychow. Oh and you’ll find your morning hangover cure over at the famous Motley Brew, I particularly love their ‘Sweet Chai o’Mine’ mugs and the fact that you can also get a massage while you convalesce.
BOA’s main arena boasts a massive array of shops in which you are sure to find anything and everything a metal fan needs – you’ve got your patches and pins, your leather chaps, extremely obscure black metal tees, jewellery emblazoned with skulls, studs on absolutely everything and of course, viking drinking horns. If you’re looking for rare vinyl or CD’s – Bloodstock has your back, particularly brilliant if you’re looking for something better than the programme to take into the signing tent (I once found a vinyl of The Final Countdown and got Europe to sign it, they were not thrilled to recall their hairstyles…).
As for official merch, you’ve got your straight up festival tees with the incredible Bloodstock artwork, and a heap of other stylish variations, but this year I’m after some of the new offerings, particularly the leggings, hip flask and leather cuff. It’s great to see BOA venturing into more merchandise variation, and we’ll definitely be getting hold of the branded reusable cups for our beers too.
So what are you waiting for? Tickets are on sale HERE
See you down the front! m/