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Download Festival

I’ve been to plenty of music festivals in my time; Weekenders like Reading, Hevy, Beautiful Days, Buddha Fields and even the tiny Plymouth Festival, plus a load of one-dayers such as Hit the Deck and Slam Dunk, but this was the first time I experienced the biggest specifically Rock and Metal fest in the UK.

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Going with a couple of mates, we drove in each day, staying at an AirBnB nearby rather than paying the same amount for the pleasure of sleeping in a field. While it takes away from the fun festival vibe a bit, as gentlemen of our age it was a lot more comfortable.

IMG_20170610_125558We arrived to join the long queues to get our wristbands on the first day, sadly missing the first band we were hoping to catch. However once in it felt much like the usual festival affair, a fair stages scattered over a couple acres of land, littered with food stands between and the usual mix of hippy or gothic clothing stalls. We were there for the music though, and were quickly watching the bands hit the stages. There was a reasonable distance between each area, but with the RAW wrestling tent in between at least we had something to giggle at as we walked past.

IMG_20170610_190541For me, the smaller Avalanche stage was the best, with a nice variety of heavier metalcore, post-hardcore, pop-punk and new wave emo bands to keep me happy. The main stage obviously hosted the bigger of the bands, with an interesting mix throughout the day, mostly hard rock and straight up metal. The second stage seemed to be more strictly metal bands of various descriptions. It’s always entertaining to find a brutally heavy metal band that are chatty and friendly between songs, the Swedish seem to be pretty good at this, with both In Flames and legendary Opeth cheerfully bantered with the crowd.

IMG_20170610_222439As far as best bands of the weekend a few really stood out. Steel Panther certainly put on the best show visually, with close to a hundred girls on stage to party with them, while their chat between songs was on point. Probably not for everyone, with the crude nature of the jokes, but to raise a laugh from an audience of that size is impressive. Moose Blood put on a great show, as did Basement, a couple of English bands who have revamped the emo/pop-punk/rock scene with a fresh attitude and new approach, a departure from the auto-tune and backing tracks of many scene bands recently. The King Blues put on a good show with a new bunch of musicians, but it was the legendary big bands that really made the biggest impact. Prophets of Rage, System of a Down, Biffy Clyro, A Day To Remember, all smashing their sets on the main stage.

IMG_20170611_181018There were plenty more that were seen, but that missed the mark as far as my tastes went, but what was most interesting was the people there. I’ve always stayed clear of the metal genre, finding it a little trite and contrived to really enjoy, but metalheads, especially those past their teenage years are genuinely very sweet people, there were no fights or issues with anyone, and it was very nice to see everyone there just getting along and enjoying the music. Despite the line-up featuring some pretty un-metal bands, there was no rivalry or animosity between any of the festival goers and the atmosphere was very positive, which I think was helped massively by the pleasant weather.

The line-up each year has always been borderline for my tastes, a few good bands, but not usually enough to make me want to pay the full price to go. However with the Busabout season looming it was the only festival I was likely to get to go to, and I’m glad we decided to go. Overall, not as mind-blowing as some of the other fests (RIP Hevy) but still highly enjoyable overall.

Benjamin Duff

@versestravel

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The Best Snow Apps – Weather, grabs, and more – Blog for Prefitdelivery.com

 

SNOW APPSWHAT DO YOU WANT, WHAT DO YOUThese days we never ride without our phones. With improved signal and cheaper rates we can now actually use our mobiles while abroad, there’s even Wi-Fi in some of the mountain bars so you can check it and upload those selfies, but more usefully, we can check out the action and news with a huge range of snow apps. But which ones are worth the download, we’re here to find out!

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OnTheSnow – For android and iPhone, this is a nice little app with all the info for nearly all the resorts (certainly most of the ones you’ll be off to!) They provide pictures, piste maps, and more data about your chosen mountain, along with weather forecasts and powder reports. It works well, and doesn’t eat up the data too quick, or nail the battery. The pictures and most relevant snow reports are user uploaded though, so some are a little low quality or irrelevant, but mostly you’ll be looking at the blue bird skies or 3ft visibility, depending on how many other people read the weather report.

trace

Trace Snow [iPhone – Android] – Linked up with the usual social media culprits, Trace Snow tracks your movements around the resort using GPS and at the end of the day gives you a little report of what you’ve been up to. Recording vertical drop, horizontal distance, speeds and stops, even counting your jumps and air time. It has a few leaderboards for all these stats, but without any friends (you’ll need to search them out yourself even though it links through Facebook) it only has global stats, which are rather tricky to beat.

trickbag

Trick Bag – As always, available on both platforms (we don’t count Windows Phones…) The principle here is that you’ve got a huge library of ‘how to’s at your fingertips, split into levels of difficulty with short instructional videos showing you how it’s supposed to be done. While the tutorial section isn’t exactly informative, a writen explaintion would be nice. But if you’re looking for inspiration of what to try next, or simply trying to build up your bag of tricks this can really help you out. Be aware that downloading the videos will rack up the data charges though.

snocru

SnoCru – This is a social network style app designed to let you add your riding buddies and shred friends so you can always find some people to hang out with. Popular in the States, it hasn’t taken off so huge in Europe yet, but if you want to to know who’s in the same resort as you (especially if you’ve got a load of seasonairre pals) it can be a wonderful tool.

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Ski and Snow Report iPhone Android Not one we’re recommending, it’s telling us there’s no snow in the resort we’re in, while it’s snowing!

tricklist

Snowboard Trick List iPhone Android Pretty much the same as the Trick Bag app, but you have to pay for this one. It’ll probably have ironed out the odd creases that Trick Bag has, but whether it’s worth the money is up to you. For us, while it is nicer than the competition, we’d rather save the money for socks.

Benjamin Duff

@versestravel

Music Festivals around the world

Music is something that in international, but every country has their own take on it. Whether it be the music they make, the influences they work from or the way it’s played. Music festivals are one of the best places to experience this, as you’ll see a huge range of musical styles, both international and local, as well as seeing how the locals like to enjoy it.

Probably the strangest festival experience was a large festival near Pai, in north Thailand. The music was a good mix, there were ska/reggae cover bands, which are pretty common along with the strong rasta influence in the region, there were a couple Thai rock bands, who played a slightly dated sounding emo-rock, with occaisional top40 covers. There was a DJ stage, which was a nice mix of dubstep and comericial house, which unsurprisingly was where most of the white people were. Finally on the main stage the most popular and certainly the biggest pull were ‘bands’ (essentially DJs and some vocalists) that just covered modern Top40 songs. So the biggest names were those that didn’t play their own songs. But even more strangely than that; nobody pushed to the front, nobody pushed at all. In fact, the whole audience area was littered with tables, which worked hand in hand with the drinks being sold. Multi-packs of mixers, and whole bottles of liquor along with a bucket of ice. Perfect for sharing with friends around the little table you had in the middle of the crowd during the headline set. It’s something I’m sure some of the more mature festivals in the UK could take on with great success, but a very odd compared to the usual crush if you’re within 500 meters of the stage.

Another odd one for a UK festival veteran was Soundwave festival in Sydney. Single day festivals have often got a different vibe (I blame people having phone battery), but the Aussies don’t use the festival vibe as an excuse to be social. Instead I found most people stuck in their groups and the day lacked the community spirit you get at the longer events. The music while mostly American bands, was contemporary, even if a few of the bands would’ve had much bigger, or smaller, crowds in Europe. A case of each band getting a different reception as they spread around the world is never more evident than in Australia, where the styles are a little late, but from the local bands, you can hear the influences a few years behind the UK. The fickle music scene trends also really affect the popularity of a band, so while they can reach great success in one region, they could bomb in another.

UK festivals will probably always be my favourite though, the combination of naff weather, no phones and general drunkenness means you can be friends with anyone, at anytime. No matter who you’re watching, chances are you’re there for the same reasons, (because you love them, or you want to throw something at them) and that’s enough to make you friends. The rain makes them a little less fun, and rain is almost guaranteed at some point, just hope for a touch of drizzle over the epic floods that have been seen in past years. The tents, and the inability to find them along with the new campfire friends you make during the search are often some of the best times to be had at festivals. Something which is completely lacking from single day festivals.

So, in conclusion, the best festivals are multi-day with original bands, and a good mix of styles (without any mad clashes). Just like the ones we have in the UK.

Benjamin Duff

@versestravel