#60scountryguyfacts

Yeah, I know… Honest to glob, these are all true.

I’ll keep it updated.

– He only listens to 1960’s American country music. #60scountryguyfacts
– He only tuts halfway through sentences for no reason when he’s speaking to system admins. #60scountryguyfacts
– He was issued a mug upon arriving with his name on it. He uses it for pens and he’s brought his own mug (and coaster) in #60scountryguyfacts
– He responds to questions I ask the room about the company, even though I’ve been here ten times longer. #60scountryguyfacts
– This would be okay, except his response is invariably, “God knows”. #60scountryguyfacts
– He creates a clone of a VM for bug reproduction purposes, and then fixes the clone when he finds a workaround. #60scountryguyfacts
– He never ever offers to get you a cup of tea when he’s gone to get one himself, even though you offer every time. #60scountryguyfacts
– He prints out screenshots to show to people downstairs. #60scountryguyfacts
– He stands up from his desk really quickly and almost knocks his monitor over every time. #60scountryguyfacts
– “It’s retarded, but that’s the way of the world these days, we want everythink all year round…” #60scountryguyquotes
– His girlfriend is surprisingly normal seeming and not at all unattractive. #60scountryguyfacts
– He tells you about some trivial fix he’s applied to his Debian VM whilst you’re trying to stop the world falling over. #60scountryguyfacts
– He has a dictionary and thesaurus on his desk next to his computer. #60scountryguyfacts
– He wants to move his desk away from his smoker coworker because he is asthmatic. #60scountryguyfacts
– He thinks “spiffing” sounds like an American word. #60scountryguyfacts
– He just refused to Google something because he knows the information is in a book he owns and will look it up later. #60scountryguyfacts
– He describes himself as “bubbly and crazy” with a mini jazz-hands on the “crazy”. #60scountryguyfacts
– He brought a very sharp, heavy looking knife into work to cut the cake he brought in with. #60scountryguyfacts
– He also brought a whole kitchen roll in in his bag. #60scountryguyfacts
– At the offer of a free lunch, he eats his ham sandwich he brought in at work and opts for the soup at the restaurant. #60scountryguyfacts

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FIFA 12 – Game Review

I’d been anticipating the release of this game for some time, especially since I’d been without a recent FIFA game for about two months because I’d managed to scratch the last one to buggery by pressing the off button on my Xbox too vigorously on a slightly wobbly surface. I was starting to get withdrawal symptoms; where once my life was full of the giant mood-swings I get from football games (one minute I’m having a great time, the next I’ve just lost 2-1 or some mundane score and I’m throwing shrapnel around the room), I was now experiencing boredom. I love Football Manager, but it’s no replacement for a full on FIFA game. The latest one I own was FIFA 09 which is just that bit too dated now to be playable.

So yeah, I downloaded the demo when my internet was finally connected, a long, boring story that I’m not going to bother with right here, and got a few games in. I liked the feel of it. On first impressions it’s not that much of a departure from last year’s release. The general mechanic of the game feels similar and the control of the ball, despite what EA say about their ‘precision control’ bollocks is entirely unchanged with the exception of a new even slower dribble than the left-trigger dribble that is entirely useless because you can’t get anywhere.

But once you’ve played more than a couple of games you realise that you’ve completely changed your game-play style. What worked before doesn’t now and the addition of ‘tactical defending’ means that finally you can take the ball around players provided you’re not on ‘legendary’ difficulty. The defending takes a lot of getting used to. I’ve decided that I may have to remap the buttons, which it looks like it’s possible to do, to make the tackle button different to the shoot button. Too many times I end up yelling at the screen because I’ve gone to make a sensible standing block tackle in midfield and shoot from the edge of the centre circle. That’s really fucking annoying, especially when you’re 1-0 down ten minutes from the end of a game.

I like how players can jostle players running in front of them now. It looks like they’ve spent a bit of time on this. The scenario is that an opposing striker has dropped his shoulder and got past your last man who isn’t necessarily asleep, just not awake enough to stay level. So you end up chasing behind him. In past games, you may as well have run to the corner of the pitch and wait for a rebound off the keeper on the off-chance that he gets a palm/face to it. Now you can stick your arm out and surreptitiously yank the forward’s shirt or arm, putting him off his dribbling or shot, or slowing him down so you can get a full back into the area before he rockets the ball past the goalie anyway.

The main issue, however, is the defenders’ idiocy when you’re not in control of them. The ‘pressure’ button these days doesn’t make your team-mate run headlong at the ball-carrier, but makes him jockey them; another part of the new tactical defending. This is great, but it means you have to hold RB whilst trying to control another player’s speed with one of the triggers, which takes a fair amount of coordination. Unfortunately, most of the time you decide you’d just be better off jockeying the player and waiting for him to make a mistake, in which case your other defenders have a great time trying to mark the same guy as you or even just completely opening the figurative door to any opponents who just happen to want to run past you.

This makes for higher-scoring games that are invariably much more exciting and it means that a 6-minute-a-half game is perfectly reasonable. In FIFA 11 I’d resorted to playing 10-minute-halves in order to play games that have more than two goals.

I’ve been playing online mainly so far. I like the new ‘head-to-head seasons’ mode. You get thrown into division 10 with a certain number of points to gain within 10 games against teams in the same division. Once you’ve been promoted, there’re also a certain number of points you need to get in order to avoid relegation. This provides a great way to organise online matches between similar level players. Annoyingly though for me, my ability seems to be exactly between divisions 7 and 8, so I either win most of my games or lose most of them depending on where I am, though I’ve only played 20-something matches so far so I can’t make any assumptions.

The reason I’ve been playing online so much is because I’m finding the computer infuriating to play against. ‘Legendary’ mode means that your opponents will not shoot unless they have a clean sight of the goal and they also have supreme control over the ball. This means that they’ll just pass it around the edge of the area until you get fed up and attempt to tackle them, which is when they’ll turn you and smash it in the corner of the net. I’ll come back to that I think. I find playing against people much more rewarding anyway, especially when I beat some Leeds fan called DJ_Disc_Legend or something stupid like that. That’s satisfying.

The collisions between the players is brilliant. I’ve seen people complaining about it: sometimes two of your players run into each other and fall over. In my opinion, this is something that could easily happen on a football pitch if the players were being controlled by kids with no hand-eye coordination. You run headlong into another man, you’re going to get hurt. Moral of the story: don’t fucking run into people. That’s what idiots do. In all seriousness though, it makes League 2-esque goal-mouth scrambles much more exciting and gives you a valid reason to hammer the tackle/shoot button. That’s one of the advantages of that button mapping, I guess. Panic bashing is perfectly permissible in the case of a scramble on the penalty spot.

So, to summarise. I haven’t played loads yet. I’ve been having to make myself take breaks. I’m incredibly competitive and if I lose two games in a row I lose my cool. Something that happens regularly with FIFA’s “hey man, play against people who are exactly the same ability as you” mode. The game is clearly FIFA 11 with a load of exciting add-ons splattered all over it – but these extra bits all add up to create an entirely new-feeling game that has to be played completely differently and with a lot of thought. Seriously, I tried playing a game after a few beers and I lost something stupid like 8-1. You need to have your wits about you.

So to summarise the summary: I like this game, but I’m going to have to learn to play it without literally throwing my toys out of a non-literal pram. I fucking hate losing.

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A Brief Look at Sonisphere UK 2011

Right then, I know it’s over three weeks ago that I went now, but I feel like possibly I should write about Sonisphere UK 2011. I haven’t written anything in ages and it’s the only thing that’s happened to me of note recently (except for graduating from a top-ten university with a 2.1 in physics and getting a well-paid graduate job, but that’s boring and I won’t write anything about that except for this little aside) so I think it’s about time I did something here. I’ll make up with this absence in sheer volume. Also, I apologise in advance, I may have forgotten a few bits here and there, but I do have my crumpled and muddied Clashfinder to jog my memory, so here goes.

Sonisphere 2011 Clashfinder

My crumpled faithful festival companion

I went to Soni, as we patrons like to shorten the festival’s name to, in 2009, just for the Sunday when Metallica and Mastodon, amongst others of course, were playing as they did this year, but I was yet to discover Mastodon so I saw them from a distance while I was drinking beer. Actually, come to think of it, this must have been when I did discover them. I remember enjoying it anyway.

The reason I’d chosen to go this year is that my girlfriend and I had made a pact to go to the next available Biffy Clyro gig and a few days after that they were announced along with a host of other great bands. Jemma’s not necessarily into metal as such but this year’s line up was so unbelievably good (and varied) that it was a no-brainer for both of us. We didn’t have anyone to go with for a while but my band-mate and long-time uni friend, Sunny (this guy), started squeaking about going, so we told him to get a ticket; he could camp with us. We also had some other friends who we were to meet there (or at least plan to, Craig‘s “phone died”, but I know he was secretly too cool to meet me; luckily there were other, better, people) and we managed to avoid making Sunny feel like a gooseberry at any point, so all was good.

Friday

We arrived at Friday lunchtime with far too much stuff. Being that we’d decided to save some money and not camp Thursday night, we ended up in the furthest car-park and had to waddle for three-quarters of an hour with an imperial buttload of food, drinks, clothes and tents to where we were to pitch our tents. Eventually we got set up (which didn’t take too long, a teepee is easily the best kind of tent) and on making a trip back to Jemma’s car we bumped into another uni friend, Mike, whom I had no idea was going and whom I’d lived with just a year before. His mate had apparently just gotten a credit card and decided that buying festival tickets was a great idea.

With that bizarre meeting behind us and an hour-and-a-half round trip completed, I got my drink on with some Irish guys next to us. They were terrifyingly friendly, lecherous and drunk people. In fact they’d put up their tents with a bottle of JD and a bottle of Jager and made a complete mess of one of them. It truly is a sight to behold. They lent us their pump for our airbed though so we didn’t mind one of them trying to rape Sunny.

The JD tent

A mess of a tent: the result of drinking whilst/before camping

Having put away a couple of pints of cider and met Lotta, our typically Finnish friend, we wandered up to the arena to see the Big Four. It’s apparently the first time they’ve played together in the UK before, which is really exciting if you’re 40. I quite like some of their music though, so I was plenty excited to see them.

By the time we’d gotten in after a small amount of queuing and listening to those around us complaining about it we’d missed Diamond Head. This doesn’t bother me at all to be honest, I’d only ever heard one of their songs (as had most other people by the sounds of it) which sounds pretty boring anyway.

I do love listening to Anthrax when I’m in the right mood however and I was geared up to see them. Most of what I’d heard of them was from the John Bush era though thanks to their Greater of Two Evils album I was familiar with their older stuff albeit with Bush as a vocalist. I’d heard some of Belladonna’s singing before and I was hoping that perhaps the quality of the band would make up for his generic 80’s hair-metal wailing but unfortunately this was not the case. They were well below par and I got sick and tired of them pretty quickly. At this point I think we’d decided that it was lunchtime and left Anthrax to it with heavy hearts.

Tents at Soni '11

Evidently, a lot of people had decided to camp in tents

We sat down on the grass a fair distance from the stage for Megadeth. My previous knowledge of this band before I got into them in 2011 was from an NHL game (Peace Sells was the song) and by the time July arrived I was a bona-fide listener. I wouldn’t describe myself as a fan as such, but I do like the occasional Megadeth sesh. Dave Mustaine was twice the frontman I was expecting him to be and I personally thought they were jolly good.

After that, Mike finally caught up with me after spending most of the afternoon calling, texting and wandering about trying to find me and I somehow got left with them when Slayer got going (I don’t know, Jemma had to go back to the tent and I’d had a hip-flask’s worth of rum by then). Slayer are a great band to see live. I haven’t really listened to them much since I was a wee nipper. I was into Slayer most back when I was a Christian kid (yeah) and haven’t really given them much time since then. They were brilliant though, well worth making time for.

We left a bit early though, I went back to Mike and his mate’s (his name is something like Clumpy or something) tent in order to get royally fucked before the last bands of the day. They’d pitched right outside the arena entrance since they’d evidently got there first thing on Thursday so not much time was wasted. I’d seen Metallica before, and I do like them, but I consider them to be unbelievably overrated. For someone who doesn’t really care for James Hetfield’s singing/shouting/whatever, it’s just boring, simple riffs occasionally punctuated by a ripping solo and some kick-ass melodies. They had a two hour set in which the first half-hour clashed with Rolo Tomassi.

Ah, Rolo Tomassi! What a band! I found out about them when they were announced to play at Soni this year and after one song I was a lifelong fan. I was not going to miss them for 30 minutes of Hetfield’s “Metallica loves you, yeah!” shouting. I’d also managed to persuade Mike and Chappers to come along as well. We got to the Red Bull stage just after they’d started and, seeing as we were all completely bombed, we got properly stuck in. I got some fairly decent bruises and all I really remember was some flashing lights and Eva Spence scaring the shit out of everyone. They were, in my opinion, one of the best bands I saw that weekend and I will make sure that I see them again one day. Mike and Cheepy said that they were glad I made them go.

Rolo Tomassi at Soni 11

Rolo Tomassi at Sonisphere '11

We found the other peoples somehow during the ‘Tallica set and Jemma and I ended up getting separated from everyone else. Metallica were alright live. I remember enjoying them more in 2009. I’m not sure what was missing. On paper, they have it all, but for me… I don’t know. I’ll never be a big fan. I’m happy enough just to listen to S+M once every now and again and that suits me fine.

Saturday

Saturday began with a minor headache, milkshakes and Sylosis, a band I’d only listened to once before then, in the car on the way there. They were pretty good, slick guitarists and I should probably listen to them a bit more. My primary reason for getting up on Saturday was however Richard Cheese with his band, Lounge Against the Machine. For the uninitiated, Richard Cheese is a lounge singer who likes to cover pop, rock and metal songs. He’s a funny man and if you haven’t discovered him yet I suggest you search for him on Youtube.

Richard Cheese

Richard Cheese rocking the "room". "What a wonderful night!" It was before midday

The rest of the afternoon was, for me, a chance to relax, drink some rum, whisky, beer and cider and sit on the grass half-arsedly watching the bands that were playing on the main stage. I saw Architects from a distance. My reaction to them was, “the singer is a nobber”, and though I appreciated the music, I wasn’t fussed at all. I actively avoided the Gallows because I know that I don’t like them and I think the singer’s also a nobber. I took this opportunity to wander around and look in all the stalls. Festival stalls and festival food are the best things and it’s usually worth paying the price for a steak sandwich or whatever.

We caught up with Lotta and her troupe again where they were watching Me vs Hero in the Bohemia tent. They were shit. Like, really boring. Also, I don’t know who started first, them or Protest the Hero, but I’ve decided that I don’t like the latter now because of the former. I haven’t a clue what sort of music Protest the Hero play, but they have a word in common with Me vs Hero (a bloody stupid name too), so they must be bollocks. We wandered off to catch the end of Cavalera Conspiracy who I know I’d have loved five years ago but they’re just a bit ridiculous for me. It’s like they’ve gone, “Lets make some really heavy music without thinking at all about what it sounds like”. They were entertaining enough though.

Cavalera Conspiracy were followed somewhat bizarrely by Kids in Glass Houses. The singer was once again a ballbag, blurting out at one point during their set “Thanks for coming to see the best band on the bill!” at a fucking metal festival. They play pop music for Christ’s sake. They must have alienated ten thousand people with that one sentence. Their music left a lot to be desired and it started raining which made me hate them even more.

Kids in Glass Houses

Lame in Lame Houses making it rain

I missed Bad Religion which isn’t something that gives me sleepless nights. Following them, however, were Sum 41. I’ve never liked the whole pop-punk thing but Jemma loves them so I decided I’d watch them with an open mind. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed their set. They sounded superb and their evident experience gave their banter that extra edge. They managed to bang out a few Metallica riffs without looking lame and decided that their set wasn’t long enough so carried on playing five minutes after they were supposed to finish. This would have been a dick-ish thing to do had the next band been someone that anyone wanted to see, but seeing as it was only You Me at Six (which is a stupid name as well) no-one cared.

I didn’t see You Me at Six because I had to get something to eat before the evening got really good. I ended up queuing outside the Red Bull tent for ages in order to see Tesseract who are apparently much more popular than I thought they’d be and ended up giving up ten minutes after their set started. Jemma suggested I wait outside the Bohemia tent to make sure I got in to see Periphery. A good idea. We split up at that point because Jemma wanted to see Weezer.

Waiting outside for Periphery, I got to see the end of Pulled Apart by Horses. They were sick and I’m still wondering how I managed to go so long without listening to them. I got in to the tent right at the end of the set so I ended up on the barrier to see Periphery. They’re a band I’d been itching to see and they were incredible. The kind of musicianship involved in creating and playing that kind of music is unbelievable and they utterly blew my mind. Seeing them easily makes up for the fact that I never saw SikTh.

Wandering back out into the light after this, I went to find Jemma. I caught the end of the Weezer show; they were playing a Radiohead cover. Let’s get this straight. Sonisphere is a metal festival, and Weezer, a band who aren’t exactly known for being heavy but could have got away with playing some of their heavier stuff (much like Feeder did in ’09) did a Paranoid Android cover. A great song, covered by a good band, and I enjoyed it, but I get the impression that Rivers Cuomo is either lazy or complacent, because any band worth their salt would chop and change their regular setlist depending on their audience. For example, my old band would never have covered Get Your Dick Away From My Kids if there actually were children present. Actually, I’m not sure if we would be able to play much of our stuff in a setting like that. We’d have just turned down the opportunity I think. Either way, going on what Jemma told me, Weezer were a let-down, and that’s a statement for someone who likes them as much as Jemma does. She said that they weren’t loud enough either, a recurring problem with a few of the bands, especially Bill Bailey, who we couldn’t hear for the first half of his set despite repeated chants of “turn it up” from the crowd, even right at the front.

After that, The Mars Volta were on. I’m a big Volta fan and I was very excited about this but I feel a little bit let down. When I saw them at Latitude ’08 they played a bunch of songs from their recent albums twisted insanely so that a ten minute song was two minutes long and a five minute song was nigh-on half-an-hour. It was incredible and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez (the guitarist), obviously acting as the ringleader, was unbelievably good. This year, they played some stuff which was apparently from their new album that no-one’s heard yet, and went on a big proggy jam, which was cool, but at a festival you’re there to please people; they should have played a couple of their most well-known songs at least. Cedric (the singer) was on form, a real crowd-pleaser. Climbing down from the stage, tangling himself up in whatever he could find, he was great to watch, but it just wasn’t what they needed to do at Sonisphere.

The Mars Volta

Cedric Bixler-Zavala of the Mars Volta being generally awesome

To close off Saturday, Biffy Clyro headlined. Not a very popular decision for many of the festival-goers and lots of people went off to see Watain and Paradise Lost, which, to be fair, were good choices as alternatives to the Biff, but I think they won around a lot of the cynics who stayed to watch them. The problem, I find, with Biffy is that most people have only heard what’s on the radio and haven’t explored further enough to realise quite what they do. I’m guilty of the same thing, i.e. I wrote off Sum 41 without really listening to anything they do other than their three or four most famous songs, but sometimes you do, if you’re open minded enough, realise that you’re wrong. Craig’s a shining example of this. I’ve never seen a more drastic change of opinion (read his blog by the way, when you’re done here). He hated Biffy before, well, a couple of months ago.

Biffy Clyro

Simon Neil being a sex-bag

Anyway, they were as awesome as I expected live. They even played my favourite song, something that bands never do live (because my favourite song is usually some obscure track on a band’s least-popular album), and I didn’t expect Biffy to do it either (it’s 9/15ths by the way). It was great, but it’s a loud song, and it should have been louder. It’s one of those where if your speakers are turned down it doesn’t really stand out, but if you turn the up, it’s incredible. All of them were amazing to watch; even their touring guitarist, Mike Vennart, was awesome, though I’m probably strongly biased since he was the frontman of a band I hold in equal regard to Biffy, Oceansize, who split up this year. I saw them weeks before they broke up, perfect timing or what!?

I got kicked in the face a lot; we were in the standard crowd-surfer zone just right of centre near the barriers at the front.

Sunday

The final day was a big one; there were plenty of bands I’d earmarked. Friday was devoted to thrash, Saturday generally to scene-kids and Sunday to everything else, and that’s exactly what I like. We had to be up early though, Volbeat kicked off at 11am. They also kicked ass. And technically kicked off at 10.45. I guess this was because they were ready and they could get an extra 15 minutes of playing time. I didn’t mind that at all because they were every bit as good as they sound on their albums. If memory serves, they played a bit of Motorhead, who would be on later that day (and maybe some Metallica? I can’t remember), something that seems to be “the done thing” at festivals.

We went off for a wander at this point and checked out a couple of bands that we hadn’t heard of. One band that sticks in the mind are The Safety Fire. They were very Periphery-esque but much, much less tight. In a band that plays that kind of math-/tech-metal, tightness is very important. Their music sounded like it’d be something worth listening to many times on an album but live it left something to be desired (recorded material, to be specific, arf arf arf). We then went to investigate Turbowolf under instruction from Sunny. Unfortunately the sound people in the Bohemian tent, be it the band’s techs or the tent’s (I’m guessing it was maybe the band’s), managed to make them sound like they were playing in an iron tube. After ten minutes or so, we’d gotten used to it and they started to sound good, but we had to leave, for it was time for House of Pain.

The Safety Fire

The Safety Fire were pretty cool

There’s not really much to say about House of Pain at Sonisphere apart from that they didn’t fit in in any way possible and that we were quite far back so that when they finally got around to playing Jump Around it was a bit lacklustre. I’m sure the experience would have been different had we been at the front. Moving on, Parkway Drive were good. They were a designated lunch-band. We sat down, ate whatever shit we bought and listened to them. Good stuff!

A two minute silence was observed (and I mean observed, it was incredible) at 2pm for #2, Paul Gray, the Slipknot bassist who died last year. I’ve never experienced silences like this one. It was so much better than the “silences” you get in a football ground. You could have heard a peanut drop on the other stage.

Then came the decision I’d been thinking about all weekend. InMe or In Flames? I like both of them, but I don’t love either of them. In the end we went to the tent where InMe were playing and got a bit bored by the time they’d started playing because their intro was so god-damned long. In Flames seemed a bit better live but still didn’t do enough to warrant us hanging around to see them. Anyway, Mastodon were on next and I was almost pissing myself with excitement.

The festival-goers were considerably less excitable and slower by Sunday afternoon, which, from my point of view, was alright because it meant I got to see Mastodon from really close without getting crushed. I’d forgotten quite how insane they look (and sound). The singer (Troy Sanders) has a great habit of continuing to move his mouth for a bit after he’s stopped singing and Brent Hinds is just damn scary. I’m not sure if he’d forgotten some words or was just being weird (probably the latter, with some thought) but he whistled his way through a few lines in one song, though I forget which one. If anyone can find a video of it I will be very grateful. They easily lived up to and beyond my expectations and I will make sure that one day I see them play a full set.

Mastodon

Troy Sanders is a bass-playing mentally-unhinged wolf. This is a good thing

Then there came another clash. Amplifier or Airbourne? I’m a big Amplifier fan which swayed my choice so I went off to the tiny Jagermeister stage to check them out. Unfortunately this means that I missed seeing Joel O’Keeffe climbing the rigging of the Saturn stage and playing a solo at the top. Luckily Jemma caught it on her camera so that people would believe me. It must be 100 feet to the top of that stage; the guy’s absolutely insane. I’d hate love to know what cocktail of drugs he was on. By the way, if you’ve got this far in this post, congratulations, you’re well past 3000 words. Mention me in a tweet that says the word “bumfungle” in it as semi-proof. Anyway, I got to see Amplifier, who are currently second in my Last FM Top Artists. They were good but not necessarily anything to shout home about. I was slightly underwhelmed but I did enjoy their set which managed to avoid including anything from their first (and best) album. A bonus was seeing Steve Durose from Oceansize playing with them, the second ex-Oceansize member of the weekend. I was hoping to see Mike Vennart there but alas, no luck. I met him after he played in Exeter anyway, properly good bloke who loves music for what it is.

Joel O'Keeffe

Joel O'Keeffe has absolutely no regard for his own safety

By the time they’d finished, Airbourne only had a song or two left, but I did get to see Joel smashing beer cans open with his head, so not all was lost. Motorhead were all kinds of shit. No stage presence, one song that everyone knows which isn’t even very good and the rest of their songs all sounded pretty identical. This gave Sunny a chance to grab a nap on the grass and me a chance to drain a hipflask in preparation for the finale.

Opeth were really good. Halfway through their set I decided to get to the front and get stuck in because they were metaphorically rocking my socks off but the crowd were pretty much zombies. I’m not quite sure what was going on but I was a few rows back from the barrier near the middle and everyone was standing stock still. I saw that Kerrang! thought Opeth were boring but in truth, it was just the audience. Boring fuckers. Kerrang!‘s a shit magazine anyway. Mikael Åkerfeldt is a superlative singer and guitarist and I won’t have you mocking him! No!

Embarrassingly, I enjoyed Limp Bizkit‘s set. I know this is the excuse everyone uses, so I won’t use it as one, but I listened to them a shit-load as a kid. This isn’t an excuse because I’ll freely admit that I still like to listen to them. I have to freely admit this stuff anyway because I hate missing out scrobbles because I’m autistic like that. It is quite embarrassing for a grown man to behave the way Fred Durst does though.

We then went to the Saturn stage for the last time to see Bill Bailey. As I said before, I couldn’t here the first half of his set very well, but he treated it as a real festival gig and stuck to all the shit that everyone knows. Fair enough. I’d heard the majority of it before, but then he’s at a music festival and that’s exactly what most other bands do right? It pissed it down for the majority of the show but this didn’t deter anyone and we must have set a record for the most people at one comedy gig, tens of thousands of people there were!

Bill Bailey

We did eventually end up further forward than this while Bill was on

Slipknot wrapped up the weekend in terms of the main stages. It was still raining and I really don’t “get” Slipknot. I’ve listened to all of their albums over and over and I still don’t enjoy them. They were entertaining for the half-an-hour I stayed for but I decided to go back and wrap the weekend drinking cider in my tent. It’s a shame I missed the whole spinny-drumkit thing but I’m over it. Even more annoyingly, I missed Bat Sabbath, an entire set of Black Sabbath covers by the Cancer Bats, which must have been awesome.

Upon packing up the tents on Monday morning we looked across at the Irish guys’ area to see one of their tents on fire. Apparently they’d made friends with some fellas near us who thought it would be funny to light his tent. He was right, it was very funny.

A guys tent, on fire

A tent blaze is the best way to end a weekend's camping

Tl;dr

I went to Sonisphere UK ’11 and I really liked Rolo Tomassi, Biffy Clyro, Opeth and Mastodon. I stayed in a tent and I got kicked in the face. I have some friends.

 

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Formula One’s Utterly Arbitrary and Superfluous Rules

Well, what a ridiculous way to end a Formula 1 race that was. I’m talking about the 2011 Monaco Grand Prix, in which Sebastian Vettel pitted with over 60 laps left in the race and then tried to reach the end without changing tyres. Alonso and Button caught up easily and despite having better/newer tyres were struggling to get past Vettel thanks to Monte Carlo’s classically difficult-to-pass layout. It looked to be a thrilling last few laps, with the Ferrari and McLaren buzzing around on the tail of the Red Bull Renault when an insane line of nine or ten cars on the other side of the track came to blows. Utter disarray ensued around Louis Chiron and a couple of cars ended up in the barriers.

At this point my girlfriend asked me if they could finish the race under the safety car, which, annoyingly, they can, but there isn’t really a way to avoid that in some cases. Vitaly Petrov then couldn’t get out of his car, being briefly unconscious and the red flag was waved. I wasn’t completely sure of the procedure here, but I was thoroughly disappointed by the process.

The cars lined up on the grid and my immediate reaction was, “Fantastic! We’ll get to see an exciting race from the grid!” Alas, the rules state that despite the track being clear and all the cars on the grid being race-worthy, the restart must be under the safety car. What? Why? Let’s not take the opportunity to relive the most exciting part of an F1 race and have a pointless rolling start where the lead driver can effectively get a massive lead from the outset because he chooses when to pick his speed up.

What annoyed me more, however, was that whilst the cars were lined up on the grid the teams could make whatever changes they liked to the cars. OK, I understand that you don’t want a damaged car “racing”, if I can use that word when the safety car is present, from the grid, so fixing Lewis Hamilton’s rear wing was fair, though I’d have thought he’d have to pit when the safety car came in. What really got me was the fact that the teams could change the tyres on the cars. This is an utterly bizarre, arbitrary, superfluous, strategically retarded rule that gifted Vettel with a race win thanks to sheer luck. A (bad) argument would be that his strategy paid off, but my girlfriend’s analogy was, in my opinion, entirely correct. Her analogy:

Imagine a football game in the 80th minute where the winning team has made all three substitutions and the losing team is yet to change anyone. Now, say a player is injured somewhere on the pitch and play has to be stopped for a few minutes. Because of this, both teams can now make whatever changes they like to their teams.

That is the most obviously flawed logic and would never happen, but I fail to see how it’s any different to the above scenario. I’d like to see the Formula 1 rule book made a bit more sensible, because this is just stupid.

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30 Day Song Challenge – Week 3

<< Week 2

Day 15 – A Song That Describes You

In order to choose this song I need to ask myself if I want to chose a song that describes me in words or in terms of music. For me, personally, lyrics are secondary to the music and the vocals themselves, possibly the main reason why I find it hard to enjoy pop music. Based on this I think I’d have to pick a song that describes me musically. Luckily, this song also has a title that describes my mentality in regard to most things: fun and retarded. It’s one of my favourite songs by this band (one of my favourite bands too) and it’s almost tagged onto the end of the album it’s on. It’s got some of the best riffs I’ve ever heard and defines the kind of guitar music I love:

The Fun Machine Took a Shit and Died – Queens of the Stone Age

Day 16 – A Song That You Used to Love but Now Hate

I don’t know why I used to love this song, it’s shit, but I did, so it’s perfect for day 16:

Big Sur – The Thrills

Day 17 – A Song That You Hear Often on the Radio

It’d be pointless to pick a song for day 17 that’s simply one that I hear regularly on the radio; I should pick one that I hear regularly on the radio that I like. I find it strange that I like this song so much, having said what I did a couple of songs ago, but the music is good (and it’s catchy, but for me, more often than not, music being catchy is annoying and therefore a bad thing) and the singer’s voice is sublime:

The Golden Age – Asteroid Galaxy Tour

Day 18 – A Song That You Wish You Heard on the Radio

Ah! I like this one! Seeing as I like to listen to rock radio when I’m cooking, there are plenty of songs I used to wish were on the radio that now are, thanks to DAB technology. I assume that most songs these days are played on a radio station, that’s the nature of things, right? Well, there’s one song I can think of that I know definitely has never been played on a radio station. It’s by my band and I feel that I have the right to plug my endeavours on my own blog every now and again:

Catroque – Drive-By Blessings

Day 19 – A Song From Your Favourite Album

In order to pick a song from my favourite album, I have to pick my favourite album. My opinion, and one that is shared with a lot of people, is that Dark Side of the Moon is the best album of all time, but this doesn’t necessarily make it my favourite album. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that my favourite things change regularly. My favourite album since about Christmas-time however has been Crack the Skye by Mastodon. The song I’ve picked is my favourite song on my favourite album. This doesn’t make it my favourite song overall, but it’s a genuine eargasm in music form. The best songs build up, hit a crescendo and leave you reeling, and this song does exactly that for me. Goosebumps galore!

The Czar – Mastodon

Day 20 – A Song That You Listen to When You’re Angry

My friends from Basingstoke will vouch for me here, I had awful music taste at college. Fortunately for me, I’ve retained this and I can still enjoy the music I loved when I was 17. I almost picked Dillinger Escape Plan for day 20, but I realised that there’s music I haven’t listened to in a while that I listened to regularly through my angry, angsty teenage years. This song is a good example, and I’d forgotten how much I love this band:

Concubine – Converge

Day 21 – A Song That You Listen to When You’re Happy

There surely can’t be a song I’d rather listen to when I’m in a good mood than one that keeps me in a good mood for the rest of the day. This artist is a fucking genius. And this is my favourite of his many, many covers:

Creep – Richard Cheese

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Football 2.0 (or maybe 1.1)

It’s becoming more apparent recently that there are a few outstanding problems with “the beautiful game” that are hindering my, and many other people’s, enjoyment of it. It’s something that people have been talking about for a long time now and since last week’s frankly ridiculous Champions’ League match between Barcelona and Real Madrid it’s something I’ve been pondering.

Football, as a sport, has been criticised a lot recently for being very conservative in regard to television refereeing, a concept that has improved every sport I’ve seen it used in no end. This, and a few other issues, is a thing I plan to address here and now.

Things I Think Would Improve Football

  1. Introduce video refereeing. So many matches are televised these days, all the way down the league, even into the non-league games in certain cases, that it seems silly to let a sport in which millions of pounds can be awarded to a team by virtue of a single goal, that it’s simply unreasonable that all the equipment being used in the game is going to waste. Referees are constantly hounded for bad decisions (which, of course, is usually just human error) where a 30 second break for the fourth (or fifth) official to look at a screen would do no harm whatsoever.
  2. Scrap penalties. I can’t believe that something as chance-based as a penalty can decide football matches, where, as I mentioned before, millions of pounds can be at stake. Of course, it’s not a reasonable solution to do as they do in ice hockey’s Stanley Cup and play indefinitely until someone scores; this was the case decades ago and games sometimes went on for hours upon hours. Ice hockey can be an example though. Ice hockey has a shootout system where a player starts with the puck in the middle of the rink and has to try to beat the goalie in a one-on-one situation. The MLS in the States used to use a similar system for “soccer”, called a 35-yard shoot-out, just like the arena feature in later FIFA games. I think this would be a step in the right direction as it more accurately tests a player’s (and a goalkeeper’s) footballing skill. There’s more to football than hoofing a ball in the right direction.
  3. Bring in harsher diving rules. Diving is the biggest problem in football at the moment, as I see it. It’s the reason I originally considered writing this post, having watched the two “best” teams in Spain writhing around a field for 85 minutes (in the other five minutes Messi had the ball, a truly great player who seems to be above this phenomenon). It’s ugly, it’s dirty and it’s cheating. Realistically, there’s not much a referee can do during the match, so there’re two options: either the referees clamp down on it during the match, which isn’t going to work since referees make mistakes and, unless absolutely sure, would never deal out harsh punishment; or they could award harsh post-game punishments. If a player is punished in such a way that he wouldn’t consider diving again then it’s a just punishment. It’s not something that could happen accidentally, it’s a conscious decision and it stinks. Personally, I’d like to introduce an “eye-for-an-eye” rule: a concept developed by my good friend Charlie and myself. If a player dives, whatever the player is trying to simulate should be done to that player, i.e. if a player simulates being elbowed in the face then the opposing player would be allowed to elbow the offender in the face. This would be better. Yes.
  4. Simplify the offside rule. We all know it’s far too complicated these days, what with the removal of the daylight rule. And whether a player has interfered with play or not. The rule should be simplified. Massively. If a player is offside and the ball is passed in front of or over the halfway line, then offside should be called. Or they should just introduce electronic monitoring and they could make the rule as complicated as they like.
  5. Pushing should be legalised. What’s the problem with using your strength to get the ball? How does it make sense that you can push someone with your shoulder but not your hands. As long as you don’t push someone’s head or punch them, then it should be OK. One of my pet hates that no-one else seems to understand is players shepherding the ball off the pitch. How boring is that? Push the fucker over!
  6. Make the pitch smaller and make the goals bigger. Everyone likes it when more stuff happens. This would definitely make more stuff happen. Maybe put a board around the goal like in basketball so there are more ricochets in the area and players are more likely to shoot from distance.
OK, so I understand that 5 and 6 are a bit far-fetched, but I don’t think anyone could argue that these rules would make the game more fun to watch (and possibly play).

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30 Day Song Challenge – Week 2

<< Week 1 || Week 3 >>

DAY 8 – A Song That You Know All the Words To

I love this song, needless to say. It was my favourite song for years. I’ve already used a song from this album which says a lot about how I feel about this band. It’s such a dark song about such a miserable subject and the emotions involved are captured perfectly within in the lyrics and the (excellent, as always) musicianship:

Wolf at the Door – Radiohead

DAY 9 – A Song That You Can Dance To

This is a hard song to choose, mainly because I can’t dance. I can jump around a lot though, so I chose a song that I’ve known since I was three, and that everyone dances to whenever it’s played in the presence of alcohol.

One Step Beyond – Madness

DAY 10 – A Song That Makes You Fall Asleep

Sorry the descriptions for these songs this week are a bit short, but there’s really not much to say about them apart from that I love them. I love this song too. Make sure you step up the volume on your subwoofer before you press play.

Battle – Blur

DAY 11 – A Song From Your Favourite Band

This band aren’t so much my favourite band any more, for that, you should listen to day 1 (your favourite song), but this band were easily my favourite for years. Unfortunately, they’ve “sold-out” with their last couple of albums and I can’t see them ever reaching the quality of their earlier material again, which is a massive shame. In fact, I tend to find that I enjoy listening to their b-sides more that anything from their albums. My personal favourite from their library of b-sides is an almost perfect cover of an already over-played song, but Bellamy’s singing is unsurpassable and this song proves that.

House of the Rising Sun – Muse

DAY 12 – A Song From a Band You Hate

I took this heading as a challenge find a song I like by a band I hate. My first impulse was to search through Blink-182’s back catalogue, but I couldn’t find anything even approaching good there. I can’t help it, I just think they’re shit. Not my fault. Actually, the whole pop-punk genre gets my back up. A disproportionate amount of people love this genre more than anything else. It’s not that I don’t understand why people like it and I can accept that people have different tastes, but so many people a positively enamoured with pop-punk that I struggle to see why it’s as popular as it is. There are a few songs in this field of music that I can tolerate, but I wouldn’t describe any of them as good, in my opinion (of course).

So I moved on. Who else can’t I stand? Well, I hate Bob Dylan too, but there’s one song in particular I quite like. It’s Subterranean Homesick Blues. I listened to it through though. By about 45 seconds in it started to grate. I think his voice is an abomination against music (I realise I’m not making any friends with these comments here by the way, they’re pretty controversial opinions in various groups of my friends).

Where else can I look then? What bands do I hate that have a song I like. And then it hit me. I don’t have to hate the band because their music is shit. I fucking hate Machine Head, they’re a bunch of egotistical motherfuckers and their behaviour at Sonisphere ’09 (amongst other things) proved that to me. But I love their music, and that’s what matters.

“CIRCLE PIT! SHOW US WHAT YOU’RE MADE OF!”

Aesthetics of Hate – Machine Head

DAY 13 – A Song That’s a Guilty Pleasure

I’ve been dreading this day. Being a bassist who loves progressive rock music, musical integrity means a lot to me, and there are songs that I still enjoy listening to that I would never listen to in the presence of others. This band are the subject of much ridicule and I feel like an absolute tool whenever I turn the volume up to listen to the album this song’s on. Let’s just get it over with:

Woke Up This Morning – Nickelback

DAY 14 – A Song That No-One Would Expect You To Love

Once again, I’m going to assume that this means a song I love that no-one would expect me to. This is a difficult song to choose since I have no idea what people expect me to like. I have to go into how people interpret me musically and it’s always hard to guess what people think of you.

I can’t immediately think of a time when I’ve put a song on and someone’s said that they didn’t think that I’d like it. I’m sure it’s happened in the past, but I’ve got a god-awful memory for things like this. So I have to ask myself what I outwardly dislike. As I said before, I hate Bob Dylan and I’m not so keen on pop-punk either, so maybe I should think of something from there, but I also mentioned that I couldn’t think of anything. Well, I held back one song for this day in particular:

Welcome to Paradise – Green Day

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