The eventual line-up that played this weekend was very different to the ones that were initially announced, and changes were still being forced on the festival right up to the wire. Jinjer, Sylosis and Loathe were all forced out at the last minute – the former due to travel restrictions from Ukraine, and the latter two due to a combination of COVID-19 contact notifications and positive test results. In the case of Loathe it must have been particularly gutting, as they’d been drafted in as a sub for Dark Tranquillity in the first place. There were even bands having to pull out day by day, with the likes of Party Cannon and Black Tongue also dropping out during the festival.
“We’re having to do the lateral flows, the COVID tests and we obviously won’t allow anyone onsite if they’re positive,” said Vicky on the Sunday afternoon. “What we’re dealing with this year is completely unprecedented. We’re handling it in the best way we can, but there is no rulebook for this unfortunately. So it has been difficult, but fingers crossed we’re rising to the occasion on this.”
The whole Bloodstock team did indeed rise to the occasion magnificently, drafting in replacements, juggling running orders and still putting on a killer festival in the most trying of circumstances. And, to some extent at least, it almost didn’t matter who was on the final line-up. Bloodstock is about great bands but it’s also about the easy-going vibe and sense of community. When the 2020 event was first postponed, the organisers expected maybe half of the ticket holders would request a refund. Instead, in the face of great uncertainty, 94 per cent decided to roll over their tickets.
“The community itself has been so supportive,” Vicky nods. “Even when we had to postpone bands – big bands – people turned round and said, ‘Look, we’ll be happy to see anybody play in a field.’ The fact that you’re putting it on is what counts, and that is the community spirit that we’ve always been lucky enough to have at Bloodstock.”