So on 14th June to 16th we finally got to go to the highly anticipated Download Festival. How did it hold up? Well here’s a little summary of what happened.

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We had to get up early to get there in good time, roughly left about 8:00. We had a lot of bags packed into the car but luckily Kayleigh is a black belt at Tetris so she found a way to fill the gaps. The worst part really was when we got to our parking space we had to make multiple journeys to get all the stuff from the car to the campsite (including the heavy Mega Beast). As me and Jack were able to get disability tickets Jordan and Kayleigh got to go for free and we got to use the disabled campsite which had a more calm environment and better toilet facilities (a MAJOR plus). Putting the Mega Beast up didn’t take very long. It’s a multi-man job but as it turns out 4 heads are better than one. Teamwork helped us prop the tent up and nail it down deep so that nothing could take it down (or so we assumed). Once we dropped all the bags off and got refreshed a little bit we could head into the arena to start checking out the bands.

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The first band we went to see was Architects on the Main Stage. The rain had started so the lead singers request for everyone to “Get down” was met with mixed responses. Their performance was good but merely an appetiser for what was to come later. One of the most noticeable additions to this year’s Download Festival was a zipwire over the field. Me and Jack decided to have a go on it, it cost £15, but still it’s not something you do every day so what the hell. We had to wait around in the pissing rain which wasn’t pleasant but when we got our go the rain held off. When I went down I couldn’t resist quoting Eric Cartman’s “Zipliiiiineee”. Once we’d had that experience we waited round for one of my most anticipated acts of the weekend Papa Roach. As this is Papa Roach’s 20th year as a band they used their 45 minute time slot and did a greatest hits set along with 3 tracks off the new album. From Jacoby’s relentless energy to catering to fans of the old and new quite frankly they’ve never sounded better.

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The next act on the main stage were Down. Frontman Phil Anselmo looked right pissed off at something (or I assume it’s just his natural state). Their music was what you’d come to expect, angry heavy thrash rock. We caught the first half of their set before me and Jack set off to the Encore stage to catch the last of Europe’s set. We only heard about 2 songs from them but let’s be honest we only came for one, that one obviously being closer The Final Countdown. More anticipated though were Korn with the return of their former guitarist Brian “Head” Welch. Surprisingly they were probably one of the tamest bands we saw that day especially after bands like Down and Papa Roach, but long-time fans will still get some nostalgic kicks from classics like Falling Away from Me and Freak on a Leash. After that was an appropriate time for us to get food. Me and Jack went for pizza, I mostly remember this meal due to Jack’s constant moaning on how disgusting it was. Yeah it ain’t exactly Prezzos, although the cost is fairly close.

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Next up Bullet for my Valentine who are no strangers to Download as this was their 7th appearance. Right from their epic orchestral opening to the pyrotechnics they go all guns blazing through their set. The moment Your Betrayal kicked in I knew I would enjoy seeing them and it goes without saying they are now my favourite Welsh Band. After that set we then got refreshed and prepared ourselves for Slipknot. Me and Jack were quite far back for this one, but for Slipknot it doesn’t matter as the lights and big screen serve us well, plus they even go full beam with one of their lights. You know your band is big when the barrier broke due to a crazy crowd. Energetic, bright and embodying the chaos of rock n roll Slipknot here feel right at home. Once that was done we headed back to the tent. It was quite a nippy night and I initially found it hard to get a comfortable sleeping position, but I got to sleep in the end and all we needed was for the tent to stay up, which it did. With that night’s sleep out of the way bring on day 2.

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Now Saturday wasn’t without it’s hiccups. We got up, charged our phones for a bit, brushed our teeth outside. Whilst we were getting ready we were getting a heavy dose of metal from Broken in the Pepsi Max tent, they sounded proper loud. After that me and Jack then went to see rising British band Heaven’s Basement over at the Encore stage, but then Jack forgot his money, I tried to phone Kayleigh only to realise my phone had not been charging. It was up to Jack to phone her and try and meet up. We did meet up for the next 2 acts (Hardcore Superstar and Escape the Fate). As we’d only just found out we were allowed to use the viewing platform to have a sit down and watch, that was the good part, but the bad part was this was where it began pissing down with rain. This was where the weather was at its worst. After ETF we went back to the tent to get changed up and wait a minute, who’s this guy at the tent?

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Well this guy was one of the camp wardens and unbeknownst to us our tent had collapsed when we were away, and one of the poles got bent. We then had to nail it down tighter and stronger but also use it as sanctuary from the rain, when inside I felt like it was going to cave in. The band on at the main stage were Mastodon who were loud enough we could hear them from the tent. Once we got the tent up we went back and caught the end of their set. After the earlier mishap with us getting scattered me and Jack decided to not overcomplicate things and just stick by the main stage. Alice in Chains were next up. They weren’t as heavy a sound as Mastodon but their brand of grunge rock gave a different flavour to proceedings and was still enjoyable for fans and non-fans alike. I was in higher anticipation for Motorhead though. Loud music is their forte and we certainly got a dose of that. The middle did feature a couple of overlong drum solos which felt rather self-indulgent but Ace of Spades and Overkill ended very much on a high. After that we went and got some food, me and Jack went for southern fried chicken and chips. It was quite nice although Jack got beaten by his, but I managed to finish mine, proof that I have a stronger stomach.

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We then saw Queens of the Stone Age on the main stage. Whilst they currently have a new album out they mostly played old favourites from Songs for the Deaf like No One Knows and First it Giveth, it’s the album I’m most familiar with. They were good but they paled in comparison to what followed. After that me and Jack met up with Kayleigh and Jordan at the encore stage to see Enter Shikari. This band are just on a whole new level with their unique style of dance/rock/rap fusion music. It’s the kind you have to hear for yourself to see what I’m talking about. Potential main stage headliners in the future? Definitely. But for now we go on over to the main stage for the big one, Iron Maiden. Before the show even began we saw a jet fly over the stage (still questioning whether it was actually Bruce Dickinson), then Maiden came on and played through most of their classics like Run to the Hills, The Number of the Beast (personal favourite) and a very good version of Fear of the Dark, they also seemed to sport a different backdrop for all their songs along with a couple of giant props. Jordan also got us some of their beer Trooper for the occasion. If anyone needed proof that Maiden were still going strong after all these years tonight was the night, even the rain was nice enough to hold off. Once they’d finished we were shattered and needed to return back to the tent which was still up (was a little worried Maiden might’ve rocked it off the ground).

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Then came Sunday the final day. When we got up we did our packing so we wouldn’t have to worry about it later. The Mega Beast was no doubt the heaviest thing to carry back to the car. Once we got that done though we could go into the arena and enjoy ourselves. Firstly me and Jack saw Cancer Bats, well we got there late so we caught them finishing their set which included a very good cover of Beastie Boy’s Sabotage. As I had so much money to spare from the previous days I thought I’d treat myself with a Download T-shirt. After that was Coal Chamber who strangely decided to open with Halloween music. If you’re expecting them to be some kind of horror rock band you’d be mistaken. They boast a lot of noise but are a bit of a row. Fans of the band might get the biggest kicks out of it, others not so much. I prefered Five Finger Death Punch who are heavy but with a little more tune to their songs. Frontman Ivan Moody also made more effort to interact with the audience and getting some kids up on stage describing them as the future of metal.

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Next up were Aussie hardcore band Parkway Drive who are likewise mental enough with demands for a crowd surfing fox going from one end of the crowd to the other. But there’s more to look forward to with one of Jacks most anticipated bands Stone Sour, yep that’s right two days of Corey Taylor. Whilst they have a generally hard rock kick they also have their smoother ballads like favourite Through Glass. After that we saw the Gaslight Anthem, after all the heavy metal it was nice to slow things down with their pleasant brand of alternative rock. The sun coming out during their set was also a nice touch to brighten up the day. I think as far as I can recall they were also the only band we saw not to drop any F-Bombs. For food I decided to go for a giant Yorkshire pudding with pork and mash as I thought it would be more healthy (when I say that I obviously mean less unhealthy).

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One of the bands I was really looking forward to seeing was 30 Seconds to Mars who would get the award for biggest crowd interaction. Jared Leto now supporting the Jesus look may not’ve performed miracles but still made great effort to get the crowd involved and also played a great selection of songs. I liked it but long-time fans might be disappointed with their lack of attention to their earlier stuff (Why didn’t you play From Yesterday 😦 etc). If you want a party though that’s where Limp Bizkit come into play. As they kicked in with Rollin the mosh pit went into a frenzy of dancing and jumping. Whilst some of the crowd were leaving to catch the start of Rammstein many loyal fans stayed and had a super fun time. Plus we had a nice biscuit whilst watching Limp Bizkit (geddit?).

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The good part was that even when Limp Bizkit’s set ended we still had plenty of Rammstein to watch, and it was enough to get a taste of what they like, fire. They have fire coming out of the stage, from the guitars and they even set someone on fire. Plus they also have a great sense of humour (if a little fucked up I might add) with S&M gear and a giant dick cannon. I recognised a grand total of one song they played (Du Hast) but it was all about the show and why Rammstein were a great send off to Download 2013. After they finished we left, and leaving the car park was probably the most tedious part as we were all shattered and sad the weekend came to an end.

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So that was Download festival. Did I enjoy it? Hell yeah. I mean you don’t go for the facilities like the tents, toilets, festival food, weather, yeah it ain’t the Holiday Inn. But the music we saw was awesome so you put up with everything around you. I think we all enjoyed it very much. Same time next year?

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Comments
  1. Emily Wisniewski says:

    Great review Tom, felt like I was actually there! 🙂 and your tent looks fab 😀 x

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