Sonisphere Festival 2010: Rated!
Knebworth - 30 July - 1 August
Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson salutes the sold-out crowd at Knebworth on the Sunday
Gavin McInally - 03 August 2010
Overall - 8/10
The second instalment of the Europe-spanning, rock and metal behemoth; Sonisphere delivers on all fronts in the back garden of Knebworth House, with a largely refreshing line-up, some stellar performances and a welcome smile from Mother Nature.
Now in just its second year, Sonisphere still feels in its infancy with a subdued atmosphere akin to having 55,000 strangers bumping into each other in a field instead of an annual gathering of friends. However, for some fans, the more mature vibe and fewer 'butt scratcher!' chants in the campsite is a welcome change, in comparison to other longer-established rock festivals.
The site - 9/10
With the two main stages facing each other and running perfectly in synch, a third tent close by and Red Bull, Strongbow and Jagermeister stages all within spitting distance, Sonisphere's layout is arguably as good as it gets for major UK festivals.
Traders are tucked in among the circle of stages, the campsite is a fence hop away and the site's natural slopes create plenty of spots to chill with a pint and enjoy the action.
Getting there and back - 8/10
So close to the M1 you could park on the hard shoulder and share a cider with the campers. And for those who don't drive there's a row of buses dropping off sober revellers and collecting steaming metallers each day from the easy to access entrance.
Guest/Artist/Media access isn't quite as stress free but since they dodged the hefty ticket price, screw 'em.
Music - 7/10
For this writer, Sonisphere's line-up goes from jaw-droppingly brilliant to WTF? awful in the space of a changeover and at times it feels like the booking team have played a game of lucky dip in the office. Confirmations like Kylesa, Converge, earthtone9, Rammstein, Rinoa, 65daysofstatic and Therapy? playing 'Troublegum' genuinely set the event miles apart from the more tired efforts of Download but somehow irrelevant acts like Good Charlotte still feature prominently and only two years in, did Anthrax, Skindred and Alice In Chains really need to be re-booked?
Placebo - 8/10
Dressed all in white, with matching Marshall stacks, the London rockers enjoy a perfect sound and bravely play a 'Battle For The Sun'-heavy set.
Rammstein – 9/10
Absolute regimented German industrial, flame grilled brilliance; with the finest pyro show witnessed this side of Guy Fawkes night.
Hardly a word of chat is spoken between tracks but who needs stage banter when you've got a boat to go crowd surfing, a crossbow and a treadmill for the keyboard gimp?
Gallows - 8/10
The English punks take their fair share of abuse for rising to stardom so quickly in a genre which largely shuns success but they simply don't give a fuck.
A difficult second album; 'Grey Britain' may have cost them a chunk of their scene fans but even with numbers dwindling, they can still manage a circle pit out one side of the tent and in the other. Move over Devildriver.
Therapy? - 8/10
Even two power cuts can't take the shine off Therapy? playing the legendary 'Troublegum' in its entirety for the first time ever.
Pendulum - 8/10
Lodged between Alice In Chains and Iron Maiden, the dance superstars should go down like a fading glowstick at a metal event. But they once again prove they can mix it with the satanists as they whip Knebworth into a frenzy.
Rinoa & Kvelertak - 9/10
Both bands buried away in the Strongbow Tent and if there is a God up in those clouds, the English post metallers and Norwegian hybrid of everything great about metal will feature again on the larger stages in years to come. Awesome finds.
earthtone9 - 7/10
"Hi, we're from the 90s..." jokes Karl Middleton as they launch into their comeback show. Who remembers those years sounding so good?
Bring Me The Horizon - 5/10
With the Sheffield deathcore crew being familiar with abuse, it would've been a pleasure to see them in the 'Uppers' section. But with their busy sound being drowned out in the mix for what should have been an opening onslaught of 'Diamonds Aren't Forever' and 'The Comedown', it's a bad day at the office for the clothing poster boys.
G U Medicine calling it a day
It's never good news to hear a great band has thrown in the towel but when it's a genuinely hard working, decent bunch of UK rockers who never got the breaks they deserved, it's more difficult to swallow.
You'd genuinely have to be a right miserable bastard to groan about much more at Sonisphere: the organisation was faultless, the weather was spot on and with Clashfinder General's help there was a pile of great bands on offer all weekend.
Okay, the bar prices are getting out-of-hand at major festivals these days (£3.90 a pint!), the loos don't smell of Armani Code and security don't offer massages, but those gripes could be stapled to reviews of festivals the world over.
The aforementioned Gallows circle pit around the Bohemia tent was a sight to behold, even for the most experienced moshpit veteran.
And credit to the guy who managed to climb into the Rammstein keyboard player's inflatable boat before being ordered back off. You sir, are a legend.