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Suspension at Download Festival

I have always been quite intrigued by suspension. It has never been a ritual that I myself have been interested in experiencing, but I have, with great interest, read BME members experiences of suspension. Like all mods/rituals I often find the stories behind them more interesting than the event or end result. I know that my personal mods(piercings) came about when I went through a great deal of emotional change.

In June this year I went to my first music festival, Download which is an annual festival based at Donnington Race track. As well as being overwhelmed by the amount of great music I would see I was especially pleased when a few days before the festival the Download website announced that American band, Society One, would be performing a suspension. This was a not going to be 'just' a suspension, but the lead singer Matt 'The Lord' Zane was attempting to break his own world record of singing an entire set of songs whilst suspended in front of the largest suspension audience. His original record was set at L.A's Key Club in March 2004. I believe that this is also the first time a suspension has been carried out at a 'mainstream' event in the UK.

So early on Sunday morning - well midday, but it felt early! together with my group of friends I made my way to the mainstage to watch the suspension and Society One's set. The weather was overcast and quite windy, in fact my friend Dan commented that the wind would probably make Zane swing around the stage due to its strength. We positioned ourselves at the top of the slope, away from the pits but close enough to get a good view. To be honest I wasn't sure If I wanted to be that close!

Just before the band came on the screens either side of the stage showed the insertion of 4 hooks into the back of Zane. There was an extremely high medical presence both backstage and side stage at all times before and during the set.

Zane made his way onto the stage and was attached to what looked like the lighting rig. His head was relaxed down onto his chest and for once the crowd remained very quiet, but as he was lifted up there were audible gasps from across the crowd and many people looked away. I may sound naive but from reading experiences from BME I viewed suspending as an often spiritual/emotional experience so I expected him to be hoisted up and for him to stay still....ha how wrong I was! Zane had a roady positioned at his feet who swung him out across the audience and around the stage as he launched into a 40 minute set of pretty heavy metal music. To be honest it was the suspension that kept me intrigued rather than the music. During the set he kept throwing water over his head while the roadie swung him quicker across the stage in wild patterns...twisting him up and letting him unravel.

As he swung across the stage he was also pretty active in his body movements, transferring how he would move on the stage up into the air. I was surprised that he did not somehow rip the hooks out of his back...its truly amazing what the human body and mind can achieve.

When the set was over Zane was slowly lowered and unattached from the lighting rig. I think this was when the adrenalin must have begun to wear off as he tried to stand up but kept falling down. It took the rest of his band mates to hold him up for the applause and cheering. He was then escorted off by medics for the removal of the hooks.

Although I have not found anywhere to substantiate the record, I have heard that he broke his previous record.

The event for me was very intriguing, but just that. I feel no overwhelming desire to try a suspension myself, but I do believe that the event at Download brought suspension out for the masses to see....many of the people around me had never heard of the ritual. Looking back at the news section of the Download website I found a news report about the event...

'Society 1 break 'meat hook hanging' world record before breakfast!

.. 'The Lord' even looked like he enjoyed it!

Society 1 singer Matt 'The Lord' Zane spent his entire Main Stage set suspended from the lighting rig by eight meat hooks through the skin of his shoulder, smashing his own world record.

The shock rocker spent half an hour quite literally swinging from the rafters, as thousands got out of bed early on a Sunday morning to catch the disturbing spectacle.

He performed an entire set worth of songs, beating the world record he himself set at LA's Key Club in March 2004, whilst onlookers tried desperately not to be sick!'

Credit: www.downloadfestival.co.uk

Although I am pleased they reported on the record achievement, phrases such as 'disturbing spectacle' and 'desperately tried not to be sick' inform me that although the festival accepted the event it seems that it was more for show, and in my opinion a general understanding of the ritual has been lost in all of the hype.


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 15 Aug. 2005
in Culture

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Studio: Download Festival
Location: Donnington Race Course, England

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