Let’s all go to France


Over the last few weeks, we’ve had two of the biggest extravaganzas of metal music in Europe unveil their extended line up, replete with day splits. One of these has garnered widespread attention across the heavy metal news sites and magazines, despite a fairly mediocre spread. The other hasn’t, despite having a line up that is the equivalent of the dream fairies jumping into your head while you were asleep, pulling out a list of bands you’d like to go and see play live, then writing it down and handing the list back to you when you awoke. So let’s have a look at that one, shall we?

Hellfest is a three day festival that runs from 21st to the 23rd of June in Clisson, France. It is 160 Euros for a three day pass and camping. the headliners announced so far are Kiss and Def Leppard. So far, so Euro, you might think. But then when you look at the rest of the bill, you can find the following:

Neurosis, Swans, Converge, Cult of Luna, At the Gates, Testament, Danzig, Voivod, Prong, Testament, Kreator, Hypocrisy, Between the Buried and Me, Cryptopsy, Misery Index, Pig Destroyer, Immortal, Belphegor, Sleep, High on Fire, Red Fang, Black Breath, Black Pyramid, Black Cobra, Pallbearer, Masters of Reality, Karma to Burn, Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Ghost, The Sword, Graveyard, My Sleeping Karma, Truckfighters, Sick of it all, Agnostic Front, Terror, NOFX, Bad Religion, Gallows, Atari Teenage Riot and ZZ Fucking Top.

That’s not the full line up, by the way. That’s just a list of the bands that I want to go and see when I look at the line up. If you go and have a look for yourself, you’re bound to put together a different list. The reason you will be able to do that is because this festival seems to understand the basic fact that when people go to a music festival, they want some choice.

People don’t just like one type of music, and this is as true of metal as any other genre. What Hellfest have done is put together an incredibly diverse line up from the world of metal and rock, then split it out across six themed stages. Oh, and there’s still one headliner to announce, by the looks of it.

You’ve got the two main stages, one playing a plethora of classic rock bands that personally I have no real interest in but that can clearly shift ticket sales, another with the likes of Korn, Coal Chamber (ok, I’m going to be down the front for that one too but don’t tell anyone) and Helloween. Then you have two stages that cater pretty exclusively for death metal, thrash, grind and black metal. Then there’s the mini Roadburn stage, which is where I will be pretty much camped out, because I am a hipster metaller (as I suspect, dear reader, are you) mainly hoping that Sleep play all of Dopesmoker and I can die happy. Then there’s a whole other tent dedicated to hardcore and punk.

What’s so bloody great about this is that if you get bored after four hours of non stop doom and want a change of pace, you know pretty much what you are going to get if you go to any of the other tents. Fancy something brutal? Got to stage three or four. Need to lie down and chill out? Go watch some old men play your childhood back at you on the main stage. Perfect.

Now, at this point many of you will be thinking ‘waaaa, waaaa, it’s in a different country.’ Well shut up.

The price of a full weekend ticket works out to be about 142 quid, meaning you’ll have 65 quid to spend on transport before you even reach the face value of the Big British Metal Fest. (Incidentally, number of bands I would put on a list from the Big British Metal Fest line up? Eight. And five of them are also playing Hellfest.)

Personally I’ll be grabbing a flight to Paris, a train to Nantes and then another to Clisson, whole thing should take less than 8 hours and breaks down to about 70 quid each way. On British trains that’ll just about cover you leaving your own driveway.

Over the last few weeks I’ve seen all manner of people bemoaning the lack of a decent festival this year. That this festival or that festival has lost its way, or is only booking haircut bands. Or only have headliners you’ve already seen. Well, here’s your answer.

Let’s all go to France.

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