WELL THEN. Three whole years since the last proper Download Festival. Yeah yeah there was the Pilot last year, but it’s not the same. This is it, this is the return. Was it triumphant? Let’s discuss.
Donington Park opens its doors for the hoardes of giddy metalheads on Thursday, with the newly situated campsites filling from West Carpark quickly. Let’s have a moment for the new site layout; the campsites are now located considerably closer to the arena (they used to be at the opposite end of the racetrack) and the arena is accessed by travelling through the brand new Village area which is now on hard-standing.
There are a few things to note about this arrangement though. If you’ve managed to park in West Carpark, you are indeed only a shortish walk to your camping. However, once this is full the East and North Carparks are utilized and they are predictably – on the other side of the racetrack, a journey of epic proportions to your campsite. I suppose the question is, would you rather walk further to the arena every day, or have to cart all your camping stuff further on the way in and on the way out?
It must also be noted that whilst quiet camping does still exist, they’ve chosen to back the brand new (and considerably larger) Doghouse stage onto it. With music going on until 3am, it seems sort of redundant but hey, hopefully you brought earplugs.
The Village itself is a thing of beauty. Despite this being a rare good weather Download rather than a washout, it really is just such a good move to have the entire place on a tarmac surface. Immediately as you enter the area there is an enormous pop-up Co-Op selling practically everything you might need for the weekend, including fairly priced crates of beer and the cheeky sandwich meal deal which costs about a third of the price of a soggy burrito from the arena. Even for non-campers this is a short walk from the arena to keep your costs down, and I think its really important to stress that this is a great way of ensuring that people aren’t entirely priced out of coming to this festival, when food and drink prices seem set to continue to rise exponentially.
As for entertainment, this year we have an entire arcade replete with coin machines and Dance Dance Revolution, as well as the traditional fairground rides such as minor-whiplash-dodgems and possibly-the-worst-ghost-train-in-the-world. The new Doghouse is the real MVP though, a huge square post-apocalyptic shipping container park with a stage and a bar. It’s worth noting that this whole move really improves accessibility for everyone. RIP and Disability Camping guests are no longer miles from the night-time action, and the tarmac makes getting there much easier, a huge step towards making Download a much more inclusive festival.
For morning people you can give yourself a boost by joining in with some Rockfit, frame trampolining or rock aerobics – flashback to Download’s at-home content during Lockdown in 2020. In the evenings there’s stand up comedy in The Sidesplitter, and then the infamous Doghouse clubnights returning with a bang. I must give a mention here to Thursday night’s Punk Rock Factory who honestly I’d love to see hitting up the main arena next year, a punk Disney cover band. There is just something joyous about seeing a group of big burly dudes belting out songs from Encanto, truly they absolutely slap, and seemed to have the full support of a packed Doghouse.
Aside from this we also have another attempt at implementing a cashless festival, thankfully without a return to the RFID fiasco of a previous Download, though it does seem most of the shops are still accepting cash regardless. We also have renamed stages for 2022 – Apex and Opus in place of various previous names such as Lemmy and Dio, but let’s face it, everyone calls them Main and Second anyway.
It’s Friday, the gates are open and the sun is shining. Not packing a raincoat feels absolutely reckless for this festival, but the weather app assures me that everything will be ok so sun-cream it is. As seasoned Download goers, we head straight for a merch tent because everyone knows they can and absolutely will sell out of stuff. As per usual nothing has changed and there are simply too few staff to appropriately manage the volume of people queuing, and we wait a solid hour and a half to get our stuff. I think I’ve said this in every review but really, just drop more staff on for the first day, I beg.
The merch options are outstanding though, apart from the regular tshirts and such, there is a plethora of weird shit you can buy and I am HERE FOR IT. Download Monopoly for campsite mornings? Got you covered. Cafetiere and laser engraved wooden cups? No problem. We also love the fully embroidered denim jacket, the extremely handy new tote bags, and of course the plushie deranged Download Dog. There’s also a whole section for babies/kids which is nice, considering there seem to be a lot more of them in attendance this year. Mini metalheads everywhere you look – this is the next gen, teach them well.
Luckily the queue for said merchandise is situated right alongside the hill-top Dogtooth Stage, where we manage to catch a sweaty but brilliant set from The Scratch. Acoustic Irish folk music overlayed with heavy metal and a dedication to getting the crowd involved, makes for a unique and undeniably fun experience. Yelling “…if you’re really confused about what we’re doing, that’s fine, we’re confused as well… but we can still have fun” the band really sum up how it is to watch their show. I would absolutely go and see them again.
Over to Kris Barras on the Opus stage for some melodic rock and roll in the sunshine, playing bluesy summery riffs to a huge crowd. It’s perfect beer-drinking, feel good summer music that makes you feel like you’re in an 80’s TV show driving the Sunset Strip.
Skynd’s unique ‘true crime’ industrial rock sound is testament to the expansion of genre Download have been working towards over the last few years, something a little unusual and interesting, with songs named after infamous death events. Skynd’s unusual vocal style ranging from effeminate cheerleader-esque chanting to deep rasping creep is really something different, and sets the tone for how many new and challenging female artists we’re about to see this weekend.
Bury Tomorrow pull off a convincing enough set, but hero vocalist Myles Kennedy over on the Opus stage is just beyond compare – I genuinely believe he’s one of the best rock voices of all time. Dead Poet Society on the Dogtooth stage play to a jammed tent, and even spend a little time after their set taking photos with fans.
Firmly established Download regulars Black Veil Brides are tearing up the Apex stage to a mass of sweaty face-paint melting goths and some early crowd-surfers, but it’s Skindred who take the crown for band of the day with their energetic and powerful set. Whilst it’s true that we see them pretty much every year at least once, they never seem to disappoint. Benji always has a fun outfit, this time a lightning bold studded red leather set with a plumed hat, and they roll through a mix of old and new making sure to hit the highs of ‘Pressure’ and ‘Nobody’, as well as joking around with extremely British singsongs of “if you’re happy and you know it clap your hands”. “2 years without any fucking music” as Benji puts it, is enough time for everyone to get really amped up for ‘Kill The Power’ in which they also voice support for Ukraine, and a right old rowdy Newport Helicopter of windmilling tshirts during ‘Warning’. Oh Skindred, we’ve missed you.
Over on the Opus stage, the Aussies are at it again. Reckless wonders Airborne, who were once lambasted by security for climbing the stage rigging at Download sans harness – for shits and gigs, yell out “…if we’re still here, and you’re still here, metal still exists…”. Which when you consider their death-wish antics, is perhaps not the most solid flex.
A Day To Remember blast punky metal across the main stage area as the sun shines, before Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes take on the Opus stage with their classic punk rock sounds and social commentary. Frank, ever the cheeky chap shouts out “Moment of silence for all the bands that we just murdered” before clambering out onto the shoulders of fans to continue singing.
In a bold but timely statement Frank says “This is a ladies and non-binary only moshpit for this song. Fellas on the sidelines, protect this space. This is a safe space for those people to have a good time without getting groped or punched. For too long rock and roll has been unequal. I’m sorry I didn’t have the mindset to do this sooner, in 10 years time I promise you this will be a very different space for our children”. Whilst this may be somewhat performatory in practice (it’s one song in a weekend of bands), it does send a message that people are listening and beginning to take notice of what female and NB metal fans have been saying for years. Though generally pit-etiquette is known to be good at Download, it’s really refreshing to see how the festival is evolving into a more inclusive space for everyone to enjoy the music.
Frank also takes a jab with “This song is about Rishi [Sunak] telling me to get a fucking job. I’ve got two you bastard, how many am I supposed to have?” as massive ticker-tape explosions flutter over the crowd. It’s been an interesting set, and I’m all for artists using their platform to highlight important issues – it’s punk’s legacy.
After hitting up the legendary Bunnymans Bunnychow for dinner (South African firey chilli shoved into half a loaf of bread, the stuff of festival dreams) the Apex hill is filling up in anticipation of tonight’s headliner KISS.
The stage is draped with an enormous KISS banner, the sides flanked with KISS ARMY insignias, and the roof a hive of ring shaped lighting like something from sci-fi. Giant inflatable metallic effigies of the band members stand either side of the stage, blowing in the wind threatening to squash the puny worshippers below. As a tape begins to roll on the screens, of the band making their way through dressing rooms and corridors to get to the stage, I can’t help but giggle. We’re in a field, miles from anything solid, with only tents and tour buses back there. It’s all part of the KISS schtick though isn’t it.
“You wanted the best, you got the best!” yells Paul Stanley, aka The Starchild as a rain of sparkly pyro falls from the centre of the stage and the banner is dropped. As usual, they are dressed to the nines in, well, quite possibly bigger than nine-inch platform shoes and their signature shiny glam get-up – and there’s a part of me watching this, that is just a bit sad that nothing comes after this. We won’t witness this level of ridiculousness again, it’s an ending era. KISS are known for keeping it strictly performance. They have a script and they rarely step outside of it, which is professional I guess, if a little wooden sometimes. “This song is about putting something in your mouth…” comes before they drop into ‘Lick It Up’ but it’s the same sentence we heard last time we saw them here. I’m not sure whether I enjoy this from a nostalgia perspective – like re-watching your favourite movie when you feel down – or if I wish they’d break character just once, for this one final time.
‘Calling Dr Love’ is followed by ‘Tears Are Falling’ and then the more recent ‘Psycho Circus’ pulls up to a long drum solo from The Cat, who is raised up onto a giant platform. Presumably giving the other band members a much needed breather. I don’t hate it, it isn’t obscenely long… but the following instrumental really is. The solo is another thing from an older time, new bands don’t do it, or it’s a few seconds while someone grabs a drink. Another nail in the coffin of what it meant to be a headliner.
Luckily the band put on a great show regardless, Gene Simmons bleeding from the mouth whilst flapping his monumentally long tongue is an image burned into the rock retina for life. Jamming his iconic axe shaped bass whilst high up on a platform amongst the mysterons covered in images of his own face… you can’t get more Gene than that really.
“It’s the last time we’re gonna be together… and because it’s the last time, I’m gonna come out there and be with you. But you have to invite me… count to three and say my name…” calls Stanley, despite the fact that this is precisely the same way it went down the last time they played here, which obviously many of the fans remember all to well. Regardless, it is really fun to see him whizz from the stage to the sound tent on a circus ring zip wire to play ‘Love Gun’, and the epic ‘I Was Made For Lovin’ You’, amongst the sparkly light of a giant projected disco ball.
Closing out with three song encore, the end finally comes with ‘Rock and Roll All Nite’. Big inflatable KISS branded beach balls are thrown into the crowd, ticker tape explosions go off, and fireworks erupt from the top of the stage as they lament “We’re gonna miss you so much, we bow to you. It’s so special every time we come here”. Now, plenty of bands have said it’s their ‘final show’ before (cough, Aerosmith, cough Black Sabbath). KISS have been one of them… over 19 times according to Steve Tyler. This time though, it really does seem like they’re done. Some of the vibrancy was missing, it was too rehearsed.
It’s testimony to their skill as musicians and performers that the show was still great, and I will be forever sad that my child won’t get to remember seeing one of, if not the most iconic bands in the world, but maybe it is time to open the gates for new things. KISS have done thousands of gigs, sold millions of records and have the weirdest and most diverse collection of merch on this earth (KISS condoms anyone?) so… fair play to them. I’m glad I was here for the last show… probably.
Opening the Apex stage this morning are The Raven Age, good hearty metal despite the thin arena at this time, but Cassyette edges them out as the Opus stage opener with an absolutely huge crowd. Swinging her long blonde Pippi Longstocking braids as she thrashes around the stage, you can see exactly why she’s been booked – what a bloody epic voice. Again, it’s awesome to see more women hitting the big stages at Download this year, and absolutely smashing it. Those Damn Crows keep the vibe going, but there’s definitely an element of crowd fatigue in this heat – us pasty Brits are just crap at sunshine.
Sheffield lads Malevolent come in with their full force, pulling out all the stops in their exceptionally heavy set. “This goes out to anyone who has ever told you, you can’t do something because of how you look or who you are” says frontman Alex Taylor, before they muster up three massive circle-pits in the crowd.
Ice Nine Kills may have a bit of a gimmicky schtick when it comes to band theme, rocking up in suits to mimic American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman, these guys are a self-professed Horror Metal band. However, there is nothing gimmicky about their musical talent, these guys absolutely kill it – if you can excuse the pun. Yeah sure they have some Alice Cooper-esque snuff theatre going on, stage knives and a creepy clown… but I defy anyone to try not to join in with the likes of ‘Hip To Be Scared’ and ‘The American Nightmare’. They’ve gone straight to the top of my post-Download playlist.
Black Label Society, owners of very lush hair, gather a huge crowd at the Apex stage. With Zakk Wylde’s signature sound resonating across the arena, this just feels like peak Download. There are so many memories tied to that sound at this event. Later Shinedown absolutely tear it up, yelling “Ladies and Gentlemen, we made it, we are here and we’re all alive” and treating us to the hits we want to hear ‘Second Chance’ and ‘Cut The Cord’. The “Freedom” refrain really has some topical context for this crowd, after a couple of years of strict lockdowns and Covid worries.
Deftones are predictably great but we’ve been round the block a few times and I’m really only in it for ‘My Own Summer’ at this point, so it’s time to take a walk around the site and grab some food. One thing I really want to mention is that the quality of stuff you can buy from Download shops is actually really exciting. You can grab your next pair of skate trainers for a fraction of the cost of online stores, get hold of some unusual patches for your battle jacket, and there’s the likes of Mysticum Luna selling some beautiful jewellery. If that’s not your jam, you can queue up in the morning to book yourself a tattoo slot at Old Sarum – I wonder how many people now have a Download Dog tattoo?
On the Opus stage Megadeth have the most ridiculous set of mega-stacked amps (there is no way at least half of those aren’t just for show, come on now) and Funeral For A Friend are bringing back those nostalgic emo kid vibes on The Avalanche stage. Sepultura play to a bursting at the seams Dogtooth tent, it’s hot, it’s heavy, it’s everything it should be – I just wish I could get further into the tent than the gate.
Looking at the arena tonight, it’s pretty clear there are a lot of day-ticket holders here specifically for this. It’s twice as packed as last night, people shoulder to shoulder right to the back of the hill and spilling out both sides around the sound tent. To say Iron Maiden are an institution at Donington would be putting it mildly. We’ve been waiting three years for this, let’s go.
As the traditional UFO ‘Doctor Doctor’ heralds them onto the stage, we take our first look at the set up for this ‘Legacy of The Beast’ tour, which centres on Japanese/Shinobi imagery due to their newest released ‘Senjutsu’. The stage is all green-roofed pagodas, Nikko’s brand new drum set is covered in the beautiful album artwork, and as the band take the stage we note that Bruce has gone full top-knot presumably in a nod to the theme. Rocking some almost spray-on leather pants (he does it better than Ross Geller though) Bruce is immediately and unwaveringly as brilliant as ever. If you think there’s a more iconic vocalist in metal I can’t hear you over the sound of Bruce belting the living shit out of ‘The Writing On The Wall’. You’d think after 34 years playing here, and the 7th inning as headliners, that something would eventually dip… the speed, the sound quality, the theatricality, the energy. No. Not our Iron Maiden. They are the lifeblood of this festival and all those before it on this hallowed ground, and they truly sound better than ever.
Eddie makes a surprisingly early appearance dressed as a Samurai, in order to go about executing the band members with a giant katana, and Bruce quips “You alright? That was bit fucking casual… you alright?” as the crowd warms up a bit from their viewing stupor. If you haven’t seen Maiden before, it’s a lot to take in. If you have, it’s a lot to take in.
Multiple set changes are expected with Maiden for sure, but wow is it slick tonight. Using curtain structures to create background sets means they basically drop away in seconds to be replaced by another – something that really just adds to the magic of their show. This next one is a full on church, replete with stained glass windows and flaming chandeliers.
Calling out “The last three years of all our lives, has been largely fucking shit. In this field is where it fucking stops. We’re one big family, the Maiden family. We don’t care what colour, size or anything you are… you are our Blood Brothers” they drop headfirst into the anthem. Not to get too corny, but there is something so uplifting, so uniting about hearing this after the hard couple of years we’ve just been through.
Now, Bruce has always been known to be a bit… extra. But tonight he really doubles down, in a floaty veiled cape, he capers about the stage brandishing a giant disco cross for ‘The Sign of The Cross’ and then in a bonkers turn of events, trying to brandish a Ghostbusters style dual flamethrower, AND his mic beneath an enormous winged angel for ‘Flight of Icarus’.
Fear of The Dark has always been my favourite, since I saw Maiden for the very first time at the very first Download festival in 2003. My friend lifted me up from our spot 10 or so rows from the front, so that I could look across the crowd at the sea of lights. At that time it was proper lighters, not blue phone screens, and it is one of my most magical memories. Tonight, I was watching from the side, much further back, with my 2 year old daughter – doing a small cry, thinking about how grateful I am to be back here, after everything, and it was perfect.
‘Hallowed Be They Name’, ‘The Number of The Beast’ and the eponymous ‘Iron Maiden’ are just beyond reproach, it’s ridiculous how Iron Maiden manage to gut punch us every time, they just get into your bones. There’s a giant inflatable beast Eddie… everyone is singing, everyone is headbanging, everyone thinks they’re in the band too… “Scream for me Donington!” elicits the monumental roar of thousands of metal fans in their element.
The stage lights dip, but no-one moves an inch. The encore is spectacular, with Bruce admitting “Wish I was down there with you, it’s fucking cold up here” into the amazingly clear moonlight night, before donning the signature Redcoat and flag for ‘The Trooper’, and the return of Eddie for a duel.
‘The Clansman’ (another chance to yell FREEDOM into the sky) and ‘Run To The Hills’ are magnificent, but there’s nothing quite like the closing gem ‘Aces High’ complete with a fucking massive Spitfire flying, in my opinion, terrifyingly close to their heads, on stage. Bruce gives it his full force, rocking a flying cap and goggles as the band wheel around the stage delivering the most powerful, energetic performance you can imagine. They are just such pros, I genuinely don’t know what we’ll do when they finally call time. With their outro of Monty Python’s ‘Always Look on the bright side of life’, there is a collective sigh and we all begin to leave the arena. The hour plus queue to leave the car-park tells you that everyone stayed for this, what a bloody amazing night.
Kicking things off for today at the Apex stage are homegrown electro-rock duo Wargasm, who sponsor a pretty brutal circle pit for so early in the morning. Two guys dressed as bananas are gleefully smashing into each other, as Milkie Way kicks and screams her way through the excellently named ‘D.R.I.L.D.O’ and ‘Backyard Bastards’. A live debut of ‘Fukstar’ and an N*E*R*D cover of ‘Lapdance’ also go down well with the crowd.
On the Dogtooth stage, drag artist Bimini serves us a fucking stunning outfit and an equally fun mash up of The Prodigy’s ‘Breathe’ and Britney Spears’ ‘Toxic’ gone metal. It’s very very weird, and I like it. “This is my first festival… You know what, we’re a queer fucking band, and we’re gonna fuck it up” they say, with new music being debuted ‘Don’t Fuck With My Groove’ which is undeniably outside of what we are used to hearing at Download. A cover of Peaches sends us over the edge, I want to see Bimini bring a bigger, more extravagant show next time. Spotted in the Bimini crowd: Zoe London, having an excellent time!
We’ve decided to sit down and have some lunch at the main stage, which means catching Alestorm today. Somewhat unwillingly. If you haven’t heard about their recent controversy over leaked group chat messages which highlight some pretty stark racism and misogyny – just take it from us, it was not ok. These messages were authenticated/claimed by lead singer Chris Bowes at the time, and apologized for, but when you’ve been talking about competitions to see who can sleep with the most barely legal fans on tour… it’s gonna fuck up your reputation as a fairly wholesome fun band.
It’s actually a bit of a surprise that they were still booked for Download following this. There’s a bit of a disconnect between what looks like the purposeful move to give more female artists stage time, and having Alestorm back on the bill. Between bands Download has opted for screen messages about consent and respect all weekend, a purposeful effort towards changing the culture of festivals and making them safe for everyone – which I fully endorse and applaud. So yeah… it’s strange.
They’re on stage anyway, giant inflatable duck in tow, yelling “We’re only here to have fun” and while there is a decent crowd, it’s markedly less than I would expect them to pull at this festival. They play their hits (indistinguishably all about drinking, it’s the schtick) ‘Mexico’ and ‘Fucked With An Anchor’ to a sea of crowd surfers, but there’s definitely a flatness to the performance compared to other times we’ve seen them. Around us a lot of people are looking unimpressed, and it’s probably not just to do with the show.
Conversely, The Hara absolutely rip it up on the Avalanche stage, with their really interesting tech fuelled set. As a three-piece alt rock outfit, I did not expect their sound to be so complex, but with all the extra electronic fills, it is a serious sucker punch. I totally expect to see more of them at Download in the future.
Rise against are coming back with a new album, but the familiar punk-rock feels we love, “…this is a song about what we’ve all been doing the last two years… it’s called Survive” and closing ‘Saviour’ in the sunshine is just bringing us all happiness as we sing along.
Over on the Opus stage, Baroness as expected put on a fantastic show, and on the Apex stage Volbeat give us what we want with ‘Lola Montez’ and ‘Still Counting’ as well as their cutesy ‘I Only Want To Be With You’ Dusty Springfield cover.
Up next Korn give a blistering performance worthy of a headline slot, Jonathan Davis careening about the stage in leather pants is giving us the big 90’s nostalgia. There are bagpipes, there’s a snippet of ‘We Will Rock You’ in ‘Coming Undone’, they serve up ‘Falling Away From Me’ and ‘Freak On A Leash’ at an eardrum bursting level. It’s such an energetic performance, mirrored in the sheer number of crowdsurfers who are heading towards the front, and it seems like the whole crowd is into it.
Steel Panther are divisive. They started off as a joke band… but they have some catchy hits… they’re clearly joking… but the type of jokes they make are tired and largely misogynistic…
Yelling “That crowd reaction was pretty good for a Hoobastank concert” garners a laugh from only those old enough to know who Hoobastank are, but the zebra leggings and 80’s hair never fails to make me smile. “England is my second home. I speak the language. My Grandma is from here in Leicester, she used to cook for the whole family… crystal meth” is exactly what we expect from them, as well as their penchant for pulling ladies from the audience to dance with them. They do in fact have 17 girls for ’17 Girls In A Row’, and they are joined by guest Justin Hawkins of The Darkness – who just played the other stage – for ‘Party All Day’. ‘Asian Hooker’ and ‘Death To All But Metal’ are meant to be silly, but that’s part of the charm – it’s possibly the most packed this stage has been all weekend.
So, right up front I have to note going into this headline review, that the arena is stunningly under-filled already. You can basically walk to the front in a couple of minutes from either side. This shouldn’t happen for headliners.
Scot-rock stalwarts Biffy Clyro are no strangers to Download Festival, having headlined here in 2017. Given the fact that we’ve been in Covid central for a couple of years, this actually feels more recent than the five years it has actually been. There’s no doubt that the band are musically brilliant, and the stage set up is impressive in its own way, but perhaps overshadowed by the previous two nights of high production headline sets.
The hometown crowd is representing at the front with giant Scottish flags flying, and ‘Wolves of Winter’ is a soaring masterpiece which absolutely deserves a place here. Yelling “We’ve waited three years for this, I know you have too. It’s wonderful to be back together again” frontman Simon Neil is clearly having an excellent time up there, but I can’t help but see the crowd is thinning even further. I wonder if they can see this from up there, and feel a little sad for them.
‘Space’ and ‘Bubbles’ come before an encore of ‘The Captain’, ‘Cop Syrup’ and ‘Many of Horror’ – all of which are performed beautifully and confidently, but it obviously isn’t hitting with a huge proportion of the Download crowd who are opting to be elsewhere. The band finish up with a set of stage top fireworks, but it’s not the crowning finale it should have been for this, the triumphant return of Download festival. If Download wants to sell enough tickets next year, those headliners had better be closer aligned to the main formula than Biffy were this weekend.
In other entertainments, The Doghouse is bumping for another few hours yet with the likes of Lais MW & Lauren Cornelius serving up fun bouncy mixes and Limp Bizkit dance renditions. Here we’ll leave everyone to the wild abandon of the final night at camp.
So what did we think of Download festival 2022?
Firstly, we were served an unusual dose of good fortune with the weather being dry. This festival is no joke when it’s wet, so it was nice to not have to think about boots and raincoats this year. The new site changes are a huge step in the right direction to making this festival more inclusive and accessible, as well as just generally better for everyone. It would be great to see some companies like Vodafone with their Haptic suits there, to deliver unique experiences of the music to deaf fans in the Download audience in the future.
There were a lot more kids this time around – a lot of lockdown babies and toddlers in attendance, which yes, changes the vibe a little sure, but ultimately this music is for everyone – and that includes parents without childcare options. There’s nothing like indoctrinating the youth into metal anyway.
In the news following the festival it has sadly been reported that two men have died (in unconnected incidents) and police are appealing to contact a man who had helped one of them. Contact details can be found on the BBC website if you have any information. The deaths are not being considered suspicious at this time, our thoughts go out to them and their families.
Next year is the huge 20th anniversary of Download and Andy Copping has stated that all headliners have been booked already – an unusual feat. The anticipation and anxiety over who it will be is already gut wrenching. With a lot of the big legacy bands shutting up shop, I simply can’t imagine how this will play out, but for myself – I’m hoping for a Rammstein return, and the yet-to-play rock legends Pearl Jam.
I’d also like to mention that every staff and security member we came across this weekend was friendly, helpful and genuinely nice. It really makes a difference to how smoothly the weekend runs. On top of that, the general effort into turning Download into a more green space, and a more diverse space is really good to see. It’s time for the rock and metal scene to evolve into something more inclusive – and I don’t think Download loses any of its integrity as one of the worlds’ best rock festivals by doing so.
In summation, this weekend has been characterised by a return to familiarity, pure joy and a feeling of freedom. There has been something intensely healing about being back at Donington, for a lot of people I spoke to over the weekend. It has indeed been three years of shit, but thanks in part to Download Festival – I feel like I’m on the road to recovery. Roll on the big anniversary in 2023, see you there!