Monday, 29 June 2009

Hellfest 2009

Festival number 5! Hellfest 2009

Hellfest is my favourite festival. There, i've said it. I love it. I'm a Francophile. I love France. I love the guys that run Hellfest. I love the fact that ive been involved with the festival for so long, i love working festivals, and every year Hellfest is a challenge and a pleasure. And since the end of Uxfest Hellfest is the closest i get to running a festival - I like the crew, i like the site, i like the feel.

So to France! once more! Back again! How exciting!

I was asked this year to assist Lardon with the headliners. Pascal Lardon looks after all the big groups that visit France - Iron Maiden, Britney Spears etc.

And this weekend me and the girls - Rachel (who's on Hellfest number 3) and Lucy (Hellfest number 1) are working with him.

Normally i bring a friend or two and they become my team and we pick the bands we work with and run the backstage for them with their TM (tour manager) or whatever. This year we are allocated the Headliners, punultimate bands and 6/7 others besides.

Pascal is also working with Scarlette who is super cool and 2 dudes who are driving and doing and sorting too.

So I arrive on site at Hellfest on the Wednesday before. I spend the day with JP who is kind enough to pick me up at the airport and going round the site and seeing Twiggy and crew and helping set up in the dressing rooms and "acceuil artiste". I was totally whacked. Having worked until gone midnight Tuesday night, got a taxi home, then got up at 5am to catch the early flight to France having only had one full(!?) day in the office since Download i was working on the run and braindead. I sorted the car park tour bus parking plan with JP - how to manoeuvere 12m or 14m buses with trailers (6m) in the car park so we can fit 17 in plus 6 trailers. Where to put the power? JP and i did a very nice plan. JP did it to scale and i added illustration.
I love coming back on site after a year and seeing all those people who work Hellfest who i love! Its great! JP! Yoann! Ben! Kevin! Twiggy! Marie! David! Wally! etc etc. its such a good feeling, being welcomed back, and it speaks volumes for the festival that the same people work, some voluntarily (me included), year after year.
Last year, and this year i was priviledged to be welcomed at Marylene and Gaston's house. They're a lovely couple who live in Clisson and like to get involved with the festival. They are friends of Yoann and Ben who run the festival and have kids about my age and a bit older and i like to recommend them bands to watch and find out what les clissonais think of Hellfest.
Clisson is right near Nantes in France - here's a nice little map, so you get the right idea!

I crashed out pretty early Wednesday and was asleep at 10pm and on site the next day early to start the real work!

Rachael arrived Thursday at Nantes airport and JP and i went to pick her up. As soon as Rachael and I got back to site we started work with Pascal. Here's Pascals crew pulling shopping trolleys of food and drink for the riders out of the back of their storage van.

Rach and i set up air conditioners, plug sockets, lighting, sofas, tables, little bloody candles in glasses, hangers on hanging rails, food for Motley Crue's crew, dinner tickets, lunch tickets, drink tickets, bloody tickets, sorting out the other dressing rooms outside of what came to be called "The Kingdom" (the tents where the headliner stayed)

Here's me looking really happy and tearing off more drink/food tickets.
We sorted envelopes, bins, cafetieres, kettles, cutlery, crockery, timings, Gama Bomb's hotel, Grand Magus' arrival, trains, planes, automobiles, jokes, cleaning, scrubbing, taking shoes on and off to go into the porter cabin Kingdom rooms cause they had black carpet. Getting pinches, bruises and cuts...
THEN Lucy (now known as Lucy Lawless arrived).
We did a tour of the site - i showed her the layout and the plan - 2 new tents this year - Terrorizer tent and Rock Hard tent, we found the good loos, then counting down to the arrival of Motley Crue's crew....

When the Crue's crew arrived it was all change. We were all in the Kingdom working with Beth (Motley Crue's Wardrobe lady and production assistant?) getting the Kingdom set up for the Crue who would arrive the next day.
This was no straight forward task.
Motley Crue need to get in the mood with member specific, ambience enhancing dressing rooms.
Nikki Sixx is all about pirate themes and dark red and black fabric. Think crushed velvet.
Tommy Lee was going for a Hareem themed dressing room - here you can see the drivers ruining our attempt at Hareem, and Lucy in Nikki Sixx's dressing room...

We worked in the Kingdom setting up Motley Crue's dressing rooms until gone 2am. My phone hadn't stopped ringing as we had friends arriving in the campsite who wanted to see us, but we were way too busy with hareems and pirates and steak sandwiches.
About 2am we did a swift walk to the campsite to see some of the newly arrived English comrades. Most of them were blind drunk. We were all still sober, apart from the few glasses of champagne Beth had given us we were alcohol free.
I had even gone to the supermarket earlier in the day before picking up Rachael and i'd bought 6 bottles of liquor and a BB gun. Which is obviously a winning combination. But we didn't have any time to think about our stash in the boot of JP's car.
JP gave us all a lift back to Marylene and Gastons. Pretty damn exhausted. And the festival hadn't even started yet!
Having worked most of Thursday night on Motley Crue, Friday for me was about working with Heaven and Hell. I spent the early part of the day sorting our other bands that had turned up and then from 2pm through until nearly 2am i was pretty much all about Heaven and Hell.
The security, the baguettes, the vegan food, the uncut lemons, the extra curtains etc.
The way it works with Headline bands is that they don't turn up on site until just before the show. But you have the crew, TM, PM etc there all day, making sure everything is just right, so that the show and the night goes without a hitch. Whether its fear or perfectionism that motivates this desire, or just desire to serve well - i don't know. But i do know that things need to be exact. Makes, marks, layouts, brands, number etc.
And toilets.
I found, cleaned, sorted, locked (with a spoon) a special Heaven and hell toilet. Chair, mirror, towel, plant. It looked good, even i would have pooed there. Although there wasn't a toilet seat on the loo - why is that? why do french toilets think that its ok to do without a toilet seat? the holes are there to screw the seat in - is it chauvanism, economy? enviromentalism? mentalism? spartanism? i don't know.
Anyway, i cleaned Dio's loo.
Friday was the day Karma to Burn played. After meeting them at Download festival, i really wanted some time to hang out - and although i sorted them Cigarettes etc. the only time i really got to hang was with Will from KtB when he was already totally pissed and i was on call for Heaven and Hell. I couldn't understand anything he said, and i kept having to run off to work for Dio etc., and he kept taking this as an insult cause he was so drunk. In the end he passed out of the floor of his dressing room, and i was still running. At least i got to see 4 songs of their set whilst being cheeky in between running from one place to another.
I think i remember running a few trips to merch around this time. I can't currently recall all the other bands i worked with. Just thinking about it now makes me tired!
Ahhha! It was also the day of Anthrax and Down! Gosh and it was the day i had to announce Pentagram weren't playing! On stage. To angry people (video to come later) - Oh! And it was the day of Wasp with their TM with an awesome mullet & of Gama Bomb arriving and sorting their backline, and of trying to find "the amount of greenery a shire horse could carry" for Down... which i had no luck at - i'm not good at these things.
I think Lucy and Rach must have been working in the Kingdom at this time, as i didn't see a lot of them as i was so busy with the other bands. Every time i sat down my legs would throb and i would feel light headed. When i got to have a 10min lunch break with the girls i was unable to talk, my body was already saying "No no no no no no no no no"! but whatever, its a festival! I like to run and run and keep smiling.
So 7pm something Iommi, Butler and Appice arrive... everything seems ok.
They are ok with the loo.
The vegan food is sorted.
I was stationed by the entrance to their rooms for about 3 hours ready to run until they went on stage.
Dio arrived at 9.15pm. He looked smiley, and went straight to the dressing room.
Will from KtB had passed out by this point.
When it was time for HnH to go on i cleared the pathway to the stage of people and escorted them with their staff to the stage - i stood at the bottom of the stairs to the stage arguing with liggers and blaggers about why they couldnt get on the side of the stage. I watched 2 mins from the side of the stage couldn't see enough, ran round the front, got worried about the bass speaker sound, ran round the back to the stage manager and mentioned it... then i started to get a worrying feeling about HnH's food which was ordered for after the show. So i ran back to the office to check the order...
And indeed the order was wrong. I re-ordered, including the phantom spaghetti bolognaise for Dio - then i saw a ray of sunshine in the guise of JB from Grand Magus at the office counter, and ran back with him to see the last few songs of the set before clearing the way to escort HnH back to the dressing rooms.
I collected the food, and dished it out between Motely Crue and HnH then I sat outside the HnH dressing rooms for about 2 hours trying, in the nicest possible way, to get rid of the people trying to sneak backstage. Together with the security guy i was trying to explain why they couldn't go back there. Some people REALLY can't take a hint. How do these people always get backstage anyway? Where do they come from?
About 1am after Motley Crue had played (i could hear them from the dressing rooms) after i had sorted some merch for Anthrax, Dio asked to see me.
We chatting for about 45mins. Tony and Geezer had already left. I was the only person he spoke to apart from his crew. He was totally and utterly awesome. Interested and interesting and he referred to me as his friend. The full impact of this still hasn't sunk in.

Great end to a really busy first day!
Yes! Dio!

- btw - in case you weren't aware i am a HUGE Dio fan. And this was a big deal to me!

As we didn't arrive back to Marylene and Gaston's until nearly 5am due to a total fail & mess up with trying to get a 10minute ride back to theirs, we were late arriving on site Saturday morning. Fail! (11am not 10am)
Saturday was the day of Marilyn Manson - Rach was very excited but holding it together. Rach LOVES Marilyn Manson. LOVES him. I had joked with her years ago that i would help her meet him one day. And now that day had arrived. Rach came prepared with a new dress. She really was suprisingly calm.
Saturday was also the day of CLUTCH! Who i love! But not one of the bands we were working with. Today it was Manson, Machine Head, Soulfly, Gojira, Cradle of filth, Killing Joke, Misfits and for me Gama Bomb and Grand Magus.
Infact, Gama Bomb was the way i started my day. And what a way to start! Just like Municipal Waste last year Gama Bomb took to the main stage as the first band and killed it! A HUGE crowd was enthusiastically thrashing and a dust pit started up with Irish flags flying. Awesome.
I videoed the whole thing running around the stage + trying to Twitter/Tumblr it / at the same time. And take photos. Its a skill.

Philly loves it! Look at the crowd!!
Philly after costume (jacket) change number 3 - the "no jacket".
Because Friday had been so busy, and i'd only managed to see a few Karma to burn songs and a few Heaven and Hell songs i then ran straight from Gama Bomb to treat myself to Grand Magus!
Awww JB!!! He really has a fantastic voice, and i love their groove. I think they are in my top 10 "new" bands.
Here's JB singing and grooving. Nice.
There was a crisis mid-set where they ran out of beer and i missed a song and a half when i legged it all the way into the dressing rooms, up the stairs to the bar, ordered the beers (there were no cans on site!) then ran back to the stage with them, and delivered them. They were well recieved though, so it was worth it.

Saturday's bands seemed like a dream to deal with compared to Friday. I even got time to have a laugh. I'd told Neil Fallon the day before about "theming" dressing rooms for Motley Crue - and he joked with me that he was wanting a dinosaur theme room - so when i had a spare 5 mins i drew them a huge dinosaur and stuck it to the wall. I also drew Back to the Future's Delorium because i told them i was planning a "Back to the future" theme for their room.

I ran around for Machine Head - although they were no trouble - I was so delirous with tiredness that i was able to communicate on the same level as stoned Soulfly, Cradle of filth were no bother really
I got to have a laugh with Entombed (although i hadn't got to see them Friday), Grand Magus had to leave quick smart after the show, and i got to hang out with the girls. All 3 of us made it to the side of the stage to watch Clutch. How awesome.

I had a little boogie - then ran back to work.
Misfits were easy to work with too, Jerry Only was really lovely. I'd heard that they were difficult to work with, but i can't state enough how laid back and cool they were.
I heard Jerry Only tipped the whole lighting and stage crew.

Gama Bomb were busy chilling and drinking in their dressing room, and i introduced Philly to Jerry Only. I was still feeling bad about not being able to introduce Philly to Dio the night before, i still feel bad infact, but it just wasn't possible.

So Saturday was the night we opened the boot of JP's car and got out the booze and BB gun. We were going crazy with fatigue and festivalitus and we were getting a bit rebellious.
Rach had been asked to help with the costume changes on stage during the Marilyn Manson show. She was nervous and happy and had been in the Kingdom most of the day sorting his dressing room requirements. Bits of gossip about sterilising knives and Stoya the current MM girlfriend floated back to us. Lucy and i giggled alot.
I ate dinner with Clutch which was nice and then ran around - at this point i can't remember what it was for anymore
ICE ICE ICE probably ICE, maybe BEER BEER BEER, or TOWELS TOWELS TOWELS or maybe lemons, or room temperature Evian, or ICE, or boxes of ICE
or something along those lines.
I drunkenly ended up watching Cro-Mags with Neil, then with Louise - then Louise and i went to see if we could spy Rach on stage with MM. But we couldn't.
Another long wait to get home Saturday night - and another early start Sunday.
If Saturday was the "silly" phase of exhaustion, Sunday was the total drain, no reserves, we're not living, we're just surviving day.
Sunday morning i was so tired. Bone tired.
Sunday was Manowar, and their team arrived on site early, and the 3 of us must have come across drunk as we were conversing in tired ramblings and making very little sense.
Sunday was Dream theater, Europe, Queensryche, Hatebreed, Suicidal Tendencies, Mastodon as part of our list to work with. I mainly spent most of the day with the punultimate band Dream Theater. Their TM had me running about no end. He was polite enough but i was bone tired, and Dream Theater had arranged a Meet and Greet at the festival - but not actually really arranged it. Which ended up with me running into the campsite box office during Mastodon's set (arghhhhh) to deliver some envelopes. Which never actually got picked up. For some Dream Theater fans. Some of which were sweet, one of which was a dick, and all of which were nerdy nerderson fan boys of the really boring and lame Dream Theater.
They didn't leave me with a good impression.
I was however, very tired. And i was kinda over working 17 hour days with hardly any break, running and carrying. But this was festival number 5 - and i do love it. I love it!
The rebellion in all us 3 started to spill out in wrestling on the grass and vodka with watermelon and shooting the BB gun with Wino, Orange Goblin and various other people who were hanging out. But...back to work! More to do - although by 11pm we had detriorated into drinking zombies in the VIP, with the first time i had seen some of my friends from the camp site at which point i looked a bit like this:
We were so tired we didn't even hang around to see all of Manowar's set. Rach was dead on her feet and managed to get us a spot in a shuttle with Volbeat.
So we all jumped in ready for bed.
I was so tired i couldn't see, and i gave wrong directions to our driver at which point Volbeat got pissed off and i told them all to fuck off.
I was very tired.

Lucy left early Monday morning to catch the train back to London.
Rach and i weren't leaving until Tuesday. So we went back to the site to catch up and say Bye and send love. We'd left so early the night before - but i know everyone was pretty dead.
Here's Yoann and i having a hug before i had to go.

And Rach looking confused as the stages had disappeared.

Hellfest 2009: another winner. Great line up. Great weather. Great people. And once again, ending up doing the most random and crazy work -
The best times and the best thing about Hellfest however were the friends.
Specifically RACH and LUCY.
We all agreed by the ends - fuck the bands, the girls are where its at.
Please see the post below ladies to see how much i love you both.
We really TCB'ed...
And whilst on the subject of Hellfest i'd like to state we don't like no tards with tude
I learnt the word Spaff
Bobbie from Pentagram lost his teeth
Tommy Lee likes to party to Dizzee Rascal (mostly by himself)
Fiji water is the only thing Dream Theater drink
We will be back next year.
Yes we will.
I <3 Hellfest.

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