Monday, December 08, 2008

Tribal Gatherings : Hard Rock Hell

The tribe is gathering, they have heard the summons and responded. You will recognise this tribe, they exist in minority numbers in every town and village. You can identify them by their mohawks and dreadlocks and shaved heads and long locks, by their tattoes and piercings, and by their colour of choice for fashion, it is black.

An invasion of metalheads, goths and rockers (and the odd punk or two) has descended upon the town of Prestatyn, although the residents of that town may be largely unaware as the venue for this gathering of outsiders is the rather incongruous Pontin's Holiday Village.

Over a damp and cold weekend in December, forty plus bands ranging from the famous (Thin Lizzy, Hawkwind) to the not quite so famous (Attica Rage, Textures) have come to entertain the tribe.

This is a summer festival, in miniature, in the opposite season. Three indoor stages, merchandising outlets, fast food stands, bars, a pub and chalet accomodation of dubious qulity. The event is strictly 18+, all the parents attending are free of their responsibilities for the weekend and early on Friday afternoon they are already partying hard.

By 5pm the Queen Victoria pub (3rd stage venue) every table looks like a scale model of Fritz Lang's Metropolis built from empty plastic glasses. By 6pm a creative group of boozers have made a 1oft tall stack of glasses that touches the ceiling, and there is general applause for this feat.

The pub features the smaller bands, and is the only stage open on Friday daytime so the bands get to play to a packed house who are warmly receptive to the various strains of classic / modern / power metal they put out.

At 6pm the main stages open up, and the early victims of the day's alcohol abuse are already being steered / carried back to their chalets by slightly less inebriated friends. The last band will not leave the main stage until past 3am on Saturday morning, so most of the tribe have another nine hours drinking ahead of them.

On Friday I managed to see 10 bands, Big Linda, Attica Rage, Jettblack, Benedictum, Textures, Budgie, Cancer Bats, Doro, Tigertailz and Thin Lizzy. Thin Lizzy pack the main hall and play at a quite astonishing volume, it is probably the loudest gig I have ever been to. Lizzy's drummer is Animal from the Muppets, all I can see of Tommy Aldridge behind his huge double bass drum kit is a headbanging afro. Aldridge later plays a Bonham style drum solo eschewing sticks in favour of beating the skins with his hands.

When Welsh glamsters Tigertailz take to the stage at gone 2am (accompanied by stripping schoolgirls and fire eaters) I think it is fair to say that most of the tribe are the worse for wear, I certainly am, I've had a decent amount of beer and to be honest I'm struggling to stay awake. Some have succumbed and lie comatose in corners or even in the now rubbish strewn carpeted area. Two blokes are having a slurred but impassioned discussion on who is fitter for thier age, German metaller Doro, or Madonna, "Or maybe Maradonna" quips a passing inebriate.

I have lost count of the number of people who have ended up in the arms or lap of a surprised punter after failing to correctly navigate the dark and treacherous steps in the seated section.

I finally call it a day (or night, or very early morning) at just before 3am when I realise that despite the pounding glam metal of Tigertailz set, I am swaying on my feet and in danger of falling over. Other people are walking, well, staggering really, back to their chalets. Two lost souls near my apartment are struggling to find their home.

"We don't live anywhere fucking near here"
"How can you tell, it all looks the fucking same ?!"

And it does, especially when you have spent the past 15 hours drinking heavily.

Saturday is much like Friday, metal, beer, poor fast food, then more metal, beer and poor fast food. We have popped back to our chalet mid afternoon to cook a bit of tea when a thunderous racket explodes beneath us, that would be a competition winner getting Orange Goblin to perform live in her chalet.

2.30a, Sunday morning and I cannot stay up to see Viking Skull, I've had more to drink than yesterday and my list of bands seen Million $ Reload, Warrior Soul, Battlelore, Alestorm, Spit Like This, Pride Tiger, Tygers of Pan Tang, Hawkwind, Orange Goblin, Clutch, Black Label Society, The Wildhearts at 12 is slightly longer than yesterday's tally.

We wander back to our prison cell like chalet on a frosty Sunday morning, some wags have amused themselves by 'creative' drawing in the frost on car windscreens, crudely drawn penis's abound and then something that makes us really laugh. Some poor sod has had the legend "I love Wham" inscribed on his car, surely there is no greater shame ?

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