Tour de Force




Since summer and, thus, summer festivals are almost upon us, I thought I’d take a closer look at Sonisphere, one of the biggest European music festivals. Mostly because I wanted to do some research on it, since  it’s the only festival in which I am indulging this year. Probably.

(Note: I don’t much like festivals, especially ones that are outdoors. The bands I like never play for that long ,and unless I want to be stuck in the way back, I have to suffer through all the other artists just to get a decent spot. Not to mention, the weather. I hate hot weather. I swear to God I was born with menopause, because I’m always having hot flashes. I try to spend my summers carefully planning my routes with air conditioning and avoiding any chance of getting damp that isn’t shower or pool/sea/any body of water-related. But no one likes a cranky, sweaty bitch, and I split my time between two especially humid cities, so I grit my teeth and steel myself for my few months of personal hell.)

The Sonisphere Festival has been around only since 2009, when Stuart Galbraith joined the events company Kilimanjaro Live. His idea was to hold a series of events that would change and adapt to wherever they were being held. That’s what is really interesting about Sonisphere — unlike a traveling festival with one specific list of musicians and bands that tour the continent, they have a changing roster of artists for each “territory.” In 2009, the Germany date featured Die Toten Hosen and The Prodigy, adding a more punk and house air to the festival, while the Sweden shows featured The Cult and Primal Scream to suit their audience. Of course, there are bands that headline each show (in this case it was Metallica), but I’ve never seen audience preference be such a priority for a huge festival.

The festival ranges from one to three days with multiple stages and headliners, depending on the location. The first stop of 2010 was Poland, where The Big Four, who’re getting varying degrees of praise and criticism for their most recent show, played together for the first time. It wasn’t until the Bulgaria date that they were stood onstage together at the same time, though.

The good thing about having a few days and headliners for each is that multiple festival shows can actually occur simultaneously, which is how the Turkey and Romania dates were scheduled. Accept, Metallica, and Rammstein were the headliners, and played each of the three nights in both countries, with supporting bands like Alice in Chains traveling back and forth. There were also bands specifically selected for each country — for example, Orphaned Land played Romania, while Turkish Pentagram (Mezarkabul) performed for their local fans, but neither played the other country.

This will be my first year attending Sonisphere. (Though, coincidentally, last year I ended up at an airport at the same time as Manowar, who were performing. One of their nice road guys helped me with my suitcase.) I’ll be going to a one-day festival date mainly because Iron Maiden are headlining. Though I was a little meh on their Final Frontier Tour setlist, I’m actually kind of psyched to hear  “Blood Brothers” live. But, more importantly, I’m assuming my role as eldest cousin/sibling and taking various little relatives to their first Maiden show. Train’em young, right?

The other bands I’ll be seeing run the gamut of emotions from yay to aw fuck me, but I’ll leave them as a surprise until I actually write about the show. I’m curious to see the audience reactions. I’ve been to concerts, but not European festivals, and it’ll be interesting to see how they differ from the States.



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