As 55,000+ rock fans descended upon Knebworth this year for the second annual UK Sonisphere Festival, it became apparent that Sonisphere has been swift to throw its dirty, sweaty elbows into the likes of Download and the Reading and Leeds Festival to become one of the premier festivals in Britain. While promoters Kilimanjaro are highly experienced in the live music scene, Sonisphere's virginal inception last year raised a few questions - would they be able to top 2009's awesome headlining bands Metallica and Linkin Park? Would the economic recession allow music fans to splurge their cash on yet another festival in the already suffering live music industry? Would Sonisphere actually survive to see another year? Well, it seems the answers are yes, yes, and hell-fucking-yes.
Whereas last year the festival only produced two days of music, this year saw the addition of a lineup for Friday too. Naturally, it wasn't a full day and didn't feature any bands on the main stage, but on the whole acted as a pleasant warm up to the weekend. As the throngs of metalheads arrived at the campsite in the grounds of the beautiful Knebworth House, the beers started to flow, and the noise began to fill the air.
The Bohemia stage welcomed California prog-metal band Bigelf, who, I'll be honest, initially attracted my attention with their name. But when you know nothing about a band, their name is as good a reason as any to check them out. And oh boy, am I glad I did. Having toured with Dream Theater and Porcupine Tree, Bigelf have evidently learned from the big shots how to really put on a show, and despite a relatively small crowd, their immense performance clearly impressed everyone.
Over on the Saturn stage, the brilliant folk-metal band Turisas did some serious face-melting. With their faces painted, and clad in Viking costumes, the symphonic Finnish metallers rocked their saddeningly short set with aplomb, as the entire crowd joined together during songs including "One More" and "Battle Metal".
Following Turisas was some old school rock from Europe. While they performed their entire set list fantastically, and ripped through "Last Look At Eden", "Love Is Not The Enemy" and "The Beast", nothing compared with the crowd's explosion as the show closed with "The Final Countdown", which for many festival-goers was one of the highlights of the weekend.
As Alice Cooper ruled the Saturn stage in a predictably glamorous and exuberant performance, and alternative rockers Terrorvision took the crowd into a 1990s nostalgia trip, a special mention has to go to 65daysofstatic, who put on a mind-blowing set in the Bohemia tent. Math-rock, electronica, experimental, whatever you want to call it - their instrumentalism and sound quality was phenomenally noisy and beautiful, leaving much of the audience wowed. Hailing from Sheffield, England, 65daysofstatic were the surprising zenith of Sonisphere's Friday night, and will hopefully continue on to great things, as they are definitely one of the most exciting bands to emerge from the UK in the past ten years. [ END ]