Distortion Fest 2002 - live in Nottingham, UK (Cover Artwork)

Distortion Fest 2002

live in Nottingham, UK (2002)

live show

Matt Andrews

We woke up early and got dressed, then spent half an hour on the gamecube, feeling a bit nervous, just wanting to go there. After half an hour, we had set off, and arrived at the concert venue, seeing hundreds of other similarly-dressed teens making their way to the park.

It was quite a walk up to the entrance, and even more of one to get to the end of the queue to get in. After half an hour of queuing, we were within a few hundred metres of the entrance. My friend Joe came at this point, and managed to skip out half the queue by joining us where we were. After another half hour or so, we were there.

Once we were inside, we were really excited by the whole atmosphere. We walked around all the stalls and attractions for a bit (as no bands were onstage at the time), until the announcer told us 'Snuff' were about to play.
Snuff's set was OK, but from where we were, we couldn't see them so well, and their sound wasn't the best (the bass drowned out the guitars and horns). They seemed OK though.

After Snuff came [spunge]. We decided to go in the pit for this, and this would be my first time in one. It was cool, when the band came on, the drummer ran on first and jumped onto his stool and made hand motions like 'come on, show some support' Everyone cheered madly, then after, Nathan asked me 'who was that, anyway?' which was quite funny. The band started off, and everyone started skanking, it was great, if a little hot too. As most ska music follows the same pattern (LOUD START - quiet verse - LOUD CHORUS - quiet verse - LOUD CHORUS - really quiet part - REALLY LOUD CHORUS) it was easy to tell when we were gonna jump some more. Unfortunately, people were pushing us around a lot, so we felt a bit at risk. We left the pit after that, and got a drink.

Next up was Face To Face. I think these guys were underrated, they were playing on a smaller stage and not as many people watched them, even though we did. They were only three members, but they seemed to have some good songs, a band to watch out for?

Following them was one of the best bands of the day, The Levellers. They were introduced with the description 'acoustic punk', which didn't do a lot for them, but upon seeing them, my mind was changed. They had a violinist too, so that made them seem like an Irish folk band, but instead they had some great, melodic songs that everyone (including me) joined in with (at least on the chorus) as they were so catchy. The bassist was the most interesting of the lot, he has bright red dreadlocks down to his knees which he swung around while he was playing - he really got into it. I'm going to be looking into their music, they were great.

After these was (I think…) Hundred Reasons. I wasn't in the pit at this point, as I left mid way through The Levellers set as it was raining heavily. I was in the crowd but far back. The band were good, the singer has a great voice and he spoke to us a bit too, telling us to check out the other bands. Their bassist crowd surfed too.

Next came the worst (in my opinion) act of the day, Raging Speedhorn. Power to you if you like them, but I could honestly not understand a word they were saying, and it seemed to me that their music did not involve any chord changes, and that they only used the bottom two strings on their guitars to play. They were on for a while, but they finally finished, and we made our way down to the pit again for…

…A! They were great; they really got involved with the audience. They opened with one of their older songs, and then played Starbucks, which got everyone singing. Then Jason, their singer, got on a little trapeze-type thing and swung out into the crowd a couple of times, that was great too. They finished with Nothing, which got everyone shouting the chorus out. They also said something about 'if there was no Green Day, there would be no A.' which was nice.

Next came Rival Schools. They were great, although again, not as many people watched them because of the rain. They seemed good, I'm going to listen to more of their stuff. This sounds stupid, but I'm convinced Walter Schreiffels (the singer) spoke to me... they were doing a quiet part in a song, and everyone was getting ready to jump for the chorus, and he looked out, at me, and mouthed the words 'wait for it' to me. At the end of their set, they threw out Frisbees to the crowd, and I managed to catch one. I spent the rest of their set avoiding two or three tall guys who were trying to get it off me... morons.

After them was Idlewild. I'm not a fan of theirs, so we just wasted time and ate while they were on.

Up next came The Wildhearts. Again. We didn't watch them either. They seemed like a good band though, they had some decent songs.

After them was Iggy Pop. He made me laugh. He's an old man, but he has a really 'tight' body, really toned, tight muscles and a six pack, but it looks bizarre on him as he's small and old.. When he came on, he was jumping about everywhere and screaming, and someone threw a bottle at his chest, which just seemed to make him more insane. I didn't stay to watch him, even though I started off in the pit, as he wasn't really that good, he just spent most of his time swearing at the audience.

It was getting later now, and we were wasting time between the next act. Joe and Nathan had gone to do some shopping, and I was left with two people Joe knew from his school. We were talking, when we heard a roar from the crowd who were already by the main stage. I looked down there and I could see the guy in the pink rabbit suit. I shot off down there and made my way to the front, not wanting to miss anything. Suddenly over the PA, The Ramones' classic Blitzkrieg Bop began playing, and everyone was singing.

Here comes the bit you've been waiting for…

Sirens began wailing everywhere, like air raid sirens, and flashing lights were all over the stage. Everyone by that time knew who it was, and the cheers were deafening. Over the noise, the band ran out of the wings, and shot straight into Maria. Everyone was jumping around as though they were on pogo sticks, and it was an amazing atmosphere, even though we'd all been there for almost 12 hours in total. Green Day was easily the best band there. After the opening, Billie shouted out 'HELLO NOTTINGHAM!!' and everyone went crazy down in the pit. For almost every song, Billie stopped singing and had us all chanting things, 'HEEEEEEEYYYYYY!!' or 'Heeeeeeeeyyy-ooooo' and 'OY! OY! OY!' etc. It was amazing how he got everyone jumping about and shouting. During Maria, a ton of explosives went off, it looked amazing. This happened again in another song, only it was fire, and I felt the heat from it as theyw went off, it was amazing.

When they first started, there was a huge cartoon skull banner as their background, but when the chorus started to one song (it may have been Longview or Welcome To Paradise, I can't remember), this dropped away to reveal their logo from the International Superhits cover.

When I was watching them, I felt really weird, like in awe. This was my favourite band and they were currently playing live around 10 metres away from me. It was hard to believe at first. I could see Blue (Billie's famous guitar) which, up until now, I had seen all over the internet and magazines, and now it was onstage, metres away from me. I was loving the whole show, I sang every word to every song and I was jumping around like a kangaroo to everything, regardless of how stupid I might have looked to anyone else.
When it came to Knowledge, the band did what I knew they would, and got some audience members up to play. First they got the drummer, and Tré taught him the beat. After a shaky start, he picked it up and the crowd went wild for him. Next they got a bass player, and me and some friends from school were trying to get a girl we knew to volunteer, although she didn't really want to. They ended up with a girl, and again, once she picked it up, everyone went wild. Finally, they chose the guitarist. This made me feel sad a little, I play guitar, and I would have loved to have played, but I'm not quite good enough yet to play the barre chords needed for that song, so I stood by and watched. Once more, the crowd cheered as the guitarist joined in, then Billie sang and they all played their hearts out. After they finished, Billie asked the boy who played guitar his name, and then announced 'Everyone, James (or whatever his name was) has just won a guitar!' and gave him the one he had played. Lucky boy..

When King for a Day was played, Billie did his usual, dressed up as a king in a crown and robe, and ran about the stage while two trumpet players dressed like The Three Amigos played. There was also a bee and a rabbit (i think..) dressed up playing horns too later on.

Sometime during the set (I forget when), the International Superhits logo fell away to show their Japanese style logo made up in lights.

They played Minority at a faster speed, and everyone was moshing all over the place to it, and singing the chorus like a football chant.

Waiting was great too, and Tré got onto an amp stack and danced about on it for a bit, which was cool.
For most of the songs, the band needn't have sang. The audience sang almost every word, and it showed in the bands performance how cool it must feel to have an audience sing the words back at you.

Billie shouted at one point, 'Are there any old skool Green Day fans in the house?', and I cheered madly. Although I'm too young to be 'old-skool', I love all the old material, as much as, if not more than, their newer stuff. Where I live, owning Nimrod is pretty underground, so in that context I guess I am old skool… After this, they played 2000 Light Years Away, and I noticed that not as many people sang this one.

They also did a cover of that Shout song, ("You know you make me wanna SHOUT! Put my hands up and SHOUT! Etc..) Which was great and funny too.

In the middle of another song, Billie got a water gun and soaked the crowd, which was cool, while Jason played guitar.

Another cool song they played was Platypus, which isn't one they do a lot. It was great, they played it furiously and everyone was moshing. Next to me, one of those gaps in the crowd opened up and all these people were jumping into one another and going insane… I was on the edge, trying not to get pulled in.

Towards the end, all of the lights went off and only their 'Japanese' style logo, illuminated with lights, was left lit up. The band went offstage without a word. Quickly, everyone began to chant 'GREEN DAY! GREEN DAY!' or 'WE WANT MORE! WE WANT MORE!'. They then ran back on again, and played a couple more songs.

Strangely, they didn't play anything slow, like Macy's Day Parade, or Good Riddance, but I didn't care, just seeing them was enough. At one point, I swear Mike saw me, during one song I was the only person in my little area jumping about and with my hands in the air, and he looked into the crowd in my direction and made a stupid face. Oh, and whoever said he is growing a mullet, damn right.

At the end, about 8 strobe lights came on while Billie strummed the last chord of the song for ages, and then the siren noise came on again, but really warped. I didn't see how (I had to stand on tiptoe to see the stage as it was, and the strobe lights made it harder) and Mike's bass was on fire. He started slamming it onto the stage, and eventually stopped when he was left holding the neck on its own. Tré then dived over his kit, and picked up the bass drum and smashed it up more, then repeated this with the floor tom. After Tré threw his drumsticks away, they all then ran offstage, and after a few minutes, the logo went out. People hung around still, shouting for them to come back, but they didn't, and then the between-acts music came on, and some roadies appeared onstage and started packing away.

I found Nathan and Joe, and we left the grounds, feeling absolutely fulfilled and in a hyper mood (no surprise, the smell of weed was predominant everywhere we went). It had felt so great to be so close to my favourite band, and to have them perform for me, so I felt really amazed after the show. It was a perfect end to a perfect day, and it was easily the best day of my life.


This is in no particular order, and it is only what I remember:

Basket Case
Welcome To Paradise
Platypus (I Hate You)
2000 Light Years Away
When I Come Around
King For A Day
Shout (cover)