Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Canadian's first taste of the European festival season: Download Festival Review part 1

Part 1: Joining the Hoard

     When you approach graduation, everyone seems to be coming at you with the same question: "Well, what are your plans for the future?". For me, there was only one plan: Get to Europe, Experience metal festivals. I've been living my whole life seeing images and videos of these monstrous 20 000-150 000 person festivals and dreaming of the day I could surf that sea of people, join in on those football field sized circled pits, and spend 3 days partying with thousands of metal fans. So after 17 years of school and no job lined up for me, I decided to hop on a place and just go for it. With minimal preparation, almost no plan outside of a few festival tickets, I went to Europe for a month.

     I arrived in London and immediately hopped on a bus taking me up to Castle Donnignton, the small British city that hosts one of the finest Rock, Metal, and Hardcore festivals around: Download Festival. The lineup this year featured a fair amount of standard rock headliners, but hidden within the side stages are some of the best live bands on the planet. This was going to be my first time seeing Opeth, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Chevelle, Thy Art is Murder, and countless others. The main reason I chose Download: the return of one of the greatest, and possibly the most underrated, progressive metal bands of all time: Sikth. Sikth is one of my favorite bands, and the idea of being there to experience the first time they hit the stage in almost ten years, in their home country, got me excited enough to buy the ticket right then and there.

     I had already heard lots about Download festival and even watched a few live sets from past years, but nothing could have quite prepared me for the weekend ahead of me. I began to realize the scope of how huge this festival is while still many kilometers away from the festival grounds. While I'm quite used to the "metal crowd effect", when an area close to a venue will become flooded with metalheads, but never before had I seen this effect on a European festival scale. Witnessing nearly 60 000 metalheads marching to the festival grounds was an experience in itself. This is the equivalent of if half of the city of Guelph just all got up at once and marched into a randomly selected field. Everywhere you looked you saw people who were unmistakably geared up for a metal/hardcore festival. With a crate of beer behind them, a backpack large enough to travel the world, a funny hat, and their favorite metal tee, these people marched in hoards so large that vehicular traffic was at a complete standstill for miles in every direction. 

     I joined the hoard and struggled through carrying my 85L backpack, packed to the brim, for several miles but was eventually greeted by the wonderful sight of the entrance gate. Immediately when you enter the festival grounds you arrive in "The Village", which more closely resembles a giant Metal-As-Fuck carnival. You could buy anything you need to survive, decorate yourself, or intoxicate yourself. There were even movie screens, makeshift metal nightclubs, carnival rides, hookah bars and so much more. After arriving at the far side of the village I was struck by the wonderful sight of thousands upon thousands of tents. Literally tents as far as the eye could see. I wandered up and down the aisles for about twenty minutes until I eventually found a prime spot to camp out for the next 3 nights. 

     I set up my tent for the first time, threw my bag inside and rushed off the check out the main festival grounds, aka "The Arena". It didn't take me long to stop rushing as it becomes immediately apparent that there's a 20 minute hike between the campground and The Arena, even for VIP campground it was about 15 minutes. However, 20 minutes and two beers from a friendly stranger later, I passed through the gates into The Arena, and my festival experience had officially begun...

Next week I discuss what bands I saw,
who was awesome,
who was disappointing,
and how the Irish guy camped next to me never stopped drinking.

David, I'll see you on Friday.

Friday, September 26, 2014

...I Guess We're Back!

After both Jeremy and I dropped off the face of the internet for the last few months, I've been looking for motivation to start blogging again. Jeremy, being the little minx that he is decided to break this radio silence, and now all I'm thinking about is Needs More Noise Gate and how to make it better than ever before.

Thanks a ton, asshole.
But seriously, I'm pumped to start doing this again, because I'm reminding myself of how much fun it was when I was in full-swinging blog mode a couple years ago (before I started getting flaky on my postings).

I will try to get something posted at least every Friday, to continue the Green Brothers theme that Mr. Dodge has started. I will (hopefully) post music or movie reviews, or maybe something else entirely if I'm feeling particularly saucy (or lazy) that week.

Topics that I'm mulling over in my head to write about include:

  • Reviews of the new Mastodon, Opeth, Cannibal Corpse, Iron Reagan, and '68 albums.
  • The Circle (Pit) of Life, a column series about what makes our favorite music so good. First up: An Ode to the D-Beat.
  • Reviews of non-music things that I'm currently in to such as: movies, board games, and beer.
  • More interviews with awesome underground metal and punk artists.

Sounds good? Sounds good.

Jeremy, I'll see you on Tuesday.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014


     So first things first, Needs More Noise Gate hasn't seen a new post in several months, I never finished any posts since New Years, and I have never lived up to my promise of providing bacon reviews. This is what inevitably happens when two Engineering students decide to write a blog, it ends up falling to the wayside far too often and before you know it most of the year has gone by. So here's a quick summary of what I've been up to all this time I should have been writing reviews, and my plan for the future (spoiler: it involves actually writing reviews):

January: I enter my final semester of Engineering, social life clings on for dear life. Attempt to gain more free time by deleting every video game off my computer. Become addicted to online tetris, social life dies.

February: The shortest month with the most deadlines, sleep becomes something you daydream about while stuck pulling an all-nighter in the lab, my capstone design group begins to realize my ambition is more psychotic than visionary

March: While demonstrating our project to the professor, David and I are told we have to completely re-start. Social life's dead corpse is violently cremated until I question if it ever existed. Wake up one day to the phrase "The Slow Decay Of The Human Soul" written on my table and have no recollection of writing it (true story).

April: OH GOD EVERYTHING IS DUE. Sell my soul to Satan to get my capstone project working the night before the presentation, end my University experience by 12 hours of non-stop drinking in attempts to forget that I left the entire last page of that final exam blank.

May: Become an extremely over-qualified factory worker, working 6 days a week in a desperate attempt to pay off debts. McDonald's becomes too expensive for my budget

June: Officially graduate and immediately leave on a month long trip to experience the European festival season. A detailed post on this whole trip will be coming soon! My two word summary of the trip: In Tents

July: Return from Europe, realize I didn't spend as much as I predicted, and can survive for a month without a job. Spend entire month doing nothing, become unnaturally good at select video games

August: Apply for jobs like my life depends on it, realize that sentence isn't as figurative as I initially thought, return to the wonderful world of debt. Finally find a job in my field and celebrate by buying a car (it's debt you can drive!)

September: Spend a month getting used to commuter life and settled into my first ever desk job. Realize I can actually do things again, remember I once promised bacon reviews and never delivered (sidenote: I like the idea of delivering bacon, someone get on this). Which brings us to the here and now!


Starting today, I plan to at a minimum attempt to write something here every Tuesday, and steal Hank Green's idea of REVIEWSDAYTUESDAY. So, if you like hearing my ramble, you're in luck. If you hate hearing me ramble, you probably stopped reading a long time ago. So thanks for taking the time to read about the boring parts of my year, the exciting part, my Europe trip, comes next week, maybe, I'LL TRY OKAY?!

More to come, 
at some point,
definitely on a Tuesday,
Just not sure which one,
I mean at least I did this post,
this is a big step,
I'm now beating David by 4 months in most recent post,
I don't know how to end this.