Hellfest – Day One – Knotfest11th July 2019
Once again I was fortunate enough to be given press accreditation for one of the best festivals in the world, Hellfest! This year however they put a spin on festivities by announcing that one of the worlds heaviest metal bands were bring their very own festival, Knotfest to the famous grounds.
To say we were excited, would have been a massive understatement!
As with all stories we have to start at the beginning, and for us that was in a quiet little Yorkshire village called Selby. I picked Tom up from his house mid afternoon on the Wednesday aiming to get to Portsmouth for the 11pm ferry that night. Everything went smooth and before we knew it we were in the queue waiting to get on the ferry. The overnight ferry was a great shout as it meant we could grab a few precious hours of sleep before the 5hr drive from Le Harve to Clisson.
Once off the ferry, past border control and on the open roads, we began to think of what was to come. Four days, hundreds of bands, food, beer and interviews! Oh yes! We had been waiting so long that now it was finally here and we were so excited that time just flew. Before we knew it we were entering the small town of Clisson at around lunch time on Thursday, which now had road closures, metal heads wandering the streets and yet it still retained it’s beauty. As I said to Tom, one day I will visit Clisson when Hellfest has been and done and take in the sights of this gorgeous French town.
Last year I landed next to the SuperU, a large supermarket near the car parks and found myself a spot under some trees near the camper vans. This year with Knotfest being on, we arrived slightly too late to get one of those glorious camper van area spots and instead we were hustled in to the main car parks. This dented our spirits somewhat as I really didn’t fancy humping all my gear to the camp site and with the amount of camera gear we had, I just wouldn’t feel right leaving it unattended in a tent while we roamed the festival. But the car park attendants were awesome and told us we could sleep in our mini camper van still. Bonus!
Once we got parked up, had a stretch and cracked open a celebratory can of cider, we made our way down to the festival. First thing was to collect our wrist bands. The queue for the VIP line was pretty insane but we stood in the sun and enjoyed some friendly banter before getting our access passes. Passes sorted, we made our way under the mighty Hellfest sign and in to HellCity Square.
The atmosphere in the square is something out of this world! A wrestling ring. Stage. Food. Drink. Harley Davidson Motorbikes. Markets. ESP Guitars. All crammed around the Hellfest tree. It is like being at a small gig venue where everyone is just having the time of their lives.
There were still a few hours until the gates opened for Knotfest so once we had had a good wander around the square we decided to head back to the van, grab a few more cans and get back in time for the bands we wanted to see. For me, Knotfest day was more about enjoying the experience and conveying that to you guys than running around like a headless chicken trying to beat our way through crowds to take a few pictures of the acts. I did that for the rest of the weekend!
There were several acts on todays bill that I just had to see. Behemoth, just outstanding! I’m not the biggest lover of Black Metal and all its crazy sub-genres, but there is just something about these guys that I’m drawn too. I really enjoyed their set, I couldn’t name one song but maybe I need to listen to them more.
Next up was Ministry, now these guys have been going years with their industrial metal show. I mean these guys pioneered the genre. But for me it was too precise and neat, I get that it has to be like that with samples and synth etc but it just did nothing for me, sorry dudes.
Papa Roach took the stage next and opened with Last Resort! Yeah you read that right. They opened with one of the songs they are most noted for. I just can’t understand why to be honest because after they played it you could see droves of people walking away as they had heard the song they were waiting for the most. Be that as it may they performed well, I’m not a massive fan of the poppy kinda stuff they are pumping out but the set was solid and enjoyable, even if Jacoby was slightly annoying mid songs.
The temperatures were starting to drop by the end of the set though and a conscious decision was made to skip Powerwolf and head back to the van, grab a hoody and cider then head back in time for the beginning of Rob Zombie. Unfortunately we were a little bit later than we hoped but we did catch the last half of Zombies set and it was fantastic. The man is such a performer and with John 5 as his guitarist, the two put on quite the act.
As a ‘wanna be’ Viking the next act up was one I’ve been chomping to see again since seeing them a few years ago back here in the UK, and one I am wanting to see again and again, Amon Amarth! From the first note of Pursuit Of Vikings to the last of Twilight of the Thunder God I was captivated. They played a varied set with some from the new album, Berserker, and several from the hugely popular Jomsviking. I loved every second of it and it got me so fired up for the next act. The headliners. The band that started my obsession with the heavier side of metal, Slipknot.
I was a bit apprehensive while waiting for the Slipknot curtain to get sucked into a void! Your never sure what your gonna get with them. It could be a set filled with new songs that you’ve never heard before, (especially with a new album around the corner) or it could be one full of absolute face-melting favorites, tonight’s set was the latter! Every song was bang on what I wanted. A bit of new, a lot of old, some I’ve never heard live before (Get This and Custer being the ones in question). They might get a lot of shit off some metal heads, but I believe that without Slipknot, we would have a very different metal scene now if than if they hadn’t formed and created this absurdly heavy music of theirs!
Tom had bailed earlier, and I can’t blame him we were both utterly shattered, so the walk back in the dark was interesting and climbing in to bed that night was certainly satisfying, but I lay awake for a few minutes wondering what could top the weekend for me now, surely nothing could right? Well…….
Day One, Fin.