Download 2019 – Slayer’s final UK show REVIEWED!

Ahh, it’s that time of year again. The last stand of the big bands. With Black Sabbath, Aerosmith and countless others over the last couple of years doing their ‘final’ tours and including Donington as a must-do stop, we seem to have these epic/ sad endings coming thick and fast. Honestly though, given I’m about half a generation behind the curve of these bands, I’m pretty glad I’ve had the opportunity to see them at all. Tonight it is the turn of the mighty thrash merchants Slayer to bid us farewell, in their last ever UK show, and the Zippo Encore stage area is awash with black tshirts as far as the eye can see. This is hands down the fullest this arena has ever been in the whole of Download history, and I can see half a dozen kids-on-shoulders who have yet no idea how insanely lucky they are to be at this show, given that these guys have been playing for almost 40 years.

The stage is set with all the trappings you’d expect of metal royalty, pentacles, skulls, chains, fire… and the crowd are already chanting ‘Slayer’ in unison. Walking onto the stage with all the clear purpose and confidence of a band who have made performing live their home, it’s a sobering moment to think that we are about to see this for the very last time, that this is our metal history we’re saying goodbye to. We can’t wallow for long though, ‘Repentless’ is wild and immediately gathers a hot and chaotic mosh pit, before the band break into early track ‘Evil Has No Boundaries’. It’s certain that tonight we’re getting a history lesson.

We’re spoilt with a list of raw, furious shredding from ‘Disciple’ to ‘Seasons in the Abyss’ as pyro cannons shoot flames across the inside of the stage and inverted crosses burn in the darkening night. Rocking a ‘Kill the Kardashians’ tshirt, guitarist Gary Holt is ripping Donington a new one alongside Tom Arya and Kerry King in his signature belt chains, and as the first ominous notes of ‘South of Heaven’ shimmer across the arena, I feel actual chills. Slayer played at the first festival I ever went to – here at Donington for Ozzfest 2002 and those notes, that moment will be forever etched into my memory – now, alongside this one. As the band scream into the iconic ‘Raining Blood’, thousands of people are windmilling their hair and headbanging like their necks aren’t over 30 and going to be immobile by work on Monday, it’s a sight to behold.

Shutting Donington down with ‘Dead Skin Mask’ and ‘Angel of Death’ is exactly the fire fueled, gut-punch of an ending I expected of Slayer, they are masters of their craft and Gods of the genre, that much is undeniable. With a final “Thank you for being here” and Tom Arya reluctantly leaving the stage, with what looks to be tears in his eyes, we in the crowd can only chant their name in appreciation and thanks. I think it’s testimony to their legacy that everyone is just still standing, still throwing horns into the air – instead of legging it straight to the main stage. This night is too important to so many, and I hope we gave Slayer the farewell they deserved.

© Photo courtesy of Download Festival, do not use without permission.
© Photo courtesy of Download Festival, do not use without permission.

Download 2019 – Slipknot REVIEWED!

Ok. Confession time. I’m not a Slipknot fan. I am standing in a field full of Slipknot fans eagerly awaiting this much anticipated show. Flanked by overall-clad bodies, every face a grotesque mask (some quite obviously homemade), a through-the-ages tour of Slipknot’s style back catalogue, the excitement is palpable. Of course, this UK debut of the bands’ new masks is just a part of it, but the forums and news stories have been filled with ire towards the new choices – with many describing them as boring or thoroughly non-theatrical compared to previous iterations.

Indeed as the giant stage banner drops and the majesty of the stage set up is revealed – all industrial turbines and Mad Max-esque landscaping – frontman Corey Taylor appears in a black trenchcoat in place of a jumpsuit, and gives off a distinctly corpse dragged-from-the-river vibes in his bloated mask. Instantly I am reminded of the terrible ‘dream machine’ mask from the ultimate cheese-fest Bond movie ‘Die Another Day’, which levels on funny rather than creepy for me.

Sporting a more traditional Slipknot look, the rest of the band hit the stage in black boiler suits and their own new masks for an undeniably powerful opening trio of ‘People = Shit’, ‘(Sic)’ and ‘Get This’ with Corey yelling “This is where you fucking scream for me”. New release ‘Unsainted’ is a strong introduction to what we can expect from Slipknot going forward, as Corey screams “…are you happy to see Slipknot back in your beautiful fucking land? It’s amazing to be back HOME” to an almighty roar back from the Download crowd.

I’ll admit, they bring a great show – the pyrotechnics, the crazy percussion podium made of steel industrial hazard drums, the mysterious extra member who still hasn’t been revealed… and it’s clear the crowd are absolutely loving Slipknot’s return to Donington. Growling “…bunch of crazy motherfuckers over here. You feel good?” we head into a brutal assault of ‘Psychosocial’ and ‘The Devil in I’ while Corey muses “…this is the kind of Download I wanna see right”.

‘Duality’ comes with a side of the clown smashing up some of the stage set with a bat, and we’re treated to “something fucking special” which turns out to be a bit of a mishmash of ‘555 to the 666’ and ‘If Rain is What You Want’ at possibly the only time this weekend it isn’t actually raining. It’s kind of a shame to be honest, if there’s any band that the rain would have benefited in terms of atmosphere – it’s Slipknot. Regardless, the entire crowd is singing along in a rowdy chorus before going headlong into ‘Spit it Out’ for an arena-wide bounce… on the floor… before the song breaks and everyone goes absolutely berserk.

Corey leads out with a heartfelt speech on Download/the fans being family and making the statement “We are not their kind”, before heading into closer ‘Surfacing’, and a quick message to ‘take care of each other’ as they exit the stage. There may be thousands of raised horns in the arena, there may be a mass chant of ‘one more song’ but it’s clear as the house lights come up that the band are done for the night. Despite a bit of initial disappointment in the crowd, as the black video screens change to display ‘SLIPKNOT LIVE 2020’ a guttural roar of appreciation begins to ripple. Slipknot are coming back, and the sweaty hordes are abated as they head out into the night.

Photograph © Matt Higgs – Courtesy of Download Festival. Do not use without permission.
Photograph © Matt Higgs – Courtesy of Download Festival. Do not use without permission.

Download 2019 – Rob Zombie REVIEWED

Forced once again to choose between the Zippo Encore and the Main stage for tonight’s grand entertainments – we have opted for Rob Zombie, master of the macabre and fringed outfits. Immediately upon turning the corner to the Zippo Encore stage it is clear that mistakes have been made. When Rob last played Download in 2017 the area was pretty jam packed but this year the arena is so ridiculously full th­­­­­­­at some people are actually almost standing in the shops at the back to watch. As much as I applaud Download for the booking – why oh why can’t we just have him on the main stage? He’s got the back catalogue, the energy and the showmanship to fill the main arena, never mind the sardine-can Zippo.

Anyway, aside from the spacing rant, Rob Zombie was an absolute highlight of the weekend, as expected. Rocking up with his signature screen boxes/dance podiums and immediately storming through ‘Meet The Creeper’ and ‘Superbeast’, Rob is resplendent leaping from box to box in as much fringed clothing as I’ve ever seen on a person. His style is sort of… the creature from the Black Lagoon, meets deep South in the 70’s, and I’m here for it. Anyone who can pull off such spritely moves in tight ass flares gets my respect to be honest.

Down the rabbithole we go with Rob for the iconic ‘Living Dead Girl’, as he yells “Good evening everybody, welcome to the Zombie show! Download, you ready to fuckin go?”. People are shrieking the lyrics all around us and throwing down some good old fashioned cyber goth moves for good measure. If you were gonna put a soundtrack to Vampire porn, this would be it – and Rob Zombie would have probably directed it to be honest.

Calling out “Everyone down here in the front, in your muddy shoes… jump jump” he rolls into the epic White Zombie track ‘More Human than Human’ and the crowd goes absolutely berserk. There’s nothing like a festival arena full of sweaty writhing bodies just dancing with wild abandon, it’s not something us Brits are usually especially practiced at but we’ll give it a damn good go, even in the rain and mud. Rob quips “Well we travel all around the world, and I must tell you… you win the award for the muddiest place on earth. I’m sure its cosy in those tents after the show… I’m sure when you’re sitting in those tents freezing you go… do I really wanna see these bands that fucking bad? And you guys just say fuck it, let’s get high and do this shit” as a set up to ‘In The Age of the Consecrated Vampire We All Get High’.

Manson clip backdrops herald Beatles cover ‘Helter Skelter’ and Rob turns stage side to ask “Can we keep playing? Do we have time?” eliciting a roar from a crowd who simply aren’t ready to end the night there. Rob muses “I was thinking the other day about Stone Henge. I believe I’ve solved the mystery. It’s one big landing pad for ufo’s” and calls us all to wave at an aeroplane passing overhead during ‘Well, Everybody’s Fucking in a U.F.O.’ whilst his guitarist rocks a flashing rainbow grille to grin at the crowd.

White Zombie (and Guitar Hero) classic ‘Thunder Kiss ‘65’ is punctuated with a little Ramones ‘Blitzkreig Bop’ for the “…punk rockers in tonight” and Rob heads down to the pit to meet his front row fans. Finishing up with the gut-busting ‘Dragula’ to strobing images from Rob’s ‘House of 1000 Corpses’ is unreal, there’s something undeniably visceral and sort of tribal about a Rob Zombie show. It makes you want to move, be part of the throng, takes you right into that horror movie realm. Honestly we could have gone another ten rounds with Rob Zombie and it still wouldn’t have been enough – so my message to you Download Festival: please book him for the main stage so we can headbang without the fear of breaking our faces on the person in front of us next time. Rob Zombie is undeniably rock royalty and deserves the throne.

 © Matt Eachus 2019 - Photo courtesy of Download Festival
© Matt Eachus 2019 – Photo courtesy of Download Festival

Download Festival: last minute larry guide!

DOWNLOAD 2019! Are you a last minute larry? Have you just drunkenly spent your wages on a weekend ticket because your mates are going, but have no idea what you need? Ok, so – you’re probably screwed in all honesty. The weather is tracking to be vile (cue Drownload jokes) and if you haven’t sorted out a tent and sleeping bag you need to leg it to a camping shop immediately. For everyone else, here’s your last minute mini checklist for the DL2019 weekend!

  1. Rain poncho – yeah these come in clear, or funky colours… but everyone wants to swish about like a Dementor in the rain right?
  2. Absurd leggings – Sure, you’ll never have occasion to wear these ever again but they’re comfy, and they afford you ample lunge-ability for appropriate headbanging stance. Oh and Whitesnake are playing so you’ll be paying tribute to a better time, when hair and dreams were bigger.
  3. Wellies – Don’t pretend you’re too cool for wellies if it’s raining. Your mates aren’t going to be sympathetic to your self-induced trench foot.
  4. Inflatable guitar – hear me out. It’s a multi-use item in my opinion. Obviously you’ll look rad/tragic rocking out with it, but it can double as a waterproof/comfortable arena seat that folds back up to pocket size. Can also be used to smash the bonce of any friends who dare to snooze.
  5. Battle jacket – Ok, not essential buuuut… how else are you meant to proclaim your love for Nickelback? Extra points for covering it past festival wristbands, instead of keeping them on your wrist, you filthy bastard.
  6. Beanie hat – Categorically the best way to retain heat at night. Cover in studs if you’re precious.
  7. Bandana – Stylish, tames greasy day three hair, can be used over the face when entering offensive portaloos.
  8. Tissue packs – Small enough for the pocket and in a handy water resistant pouch for when you spill your beer all over yourself trying to throw horns at Slayer.
  9. Power bank – We all used to make it work without mobile phones back in the day, just meet back at the Dog right? But you’ll probably want to use your phone camera to capture some memories of your pal Dave mud surfing naked soooo, keep that battery charged for those magical moments.
  10. Sun cream – Yep. The forecast sucks. It doesn’t matter. For some inexplicable reason, Download is THE festival where you can get simultaneously burnt and soaked. I don’t know how or why. It’s just how it is.
  11. Foldable drinks sac – Download is going green, which means a ban on water bottles/single use plastics. These lil babies are about a quid from Sports Direct and will roll up in your pocket while you’re not using it. Also good for your ‘walking whisky’ between the campsite and the arena.

So, grab your stash, prepare yourself for mud and madness… see you at Donington!






Download Festival, the world’s premiere rock event, has announced that a full mindfulness
programme will be implemented in 2019 for the first time. Announced ahead of Mental Health
Awareness week next month, the Mind The Dog initiative will run morning, afternoon, and evening
sessions where rockers can share a fully immersive, live music and mindfulness experience, from
Thursday 13 – Sunday 16 June. Day and weekend festival tickets available at

One in six people in England report experiencing common mental health issues including anxiety and
depression in any given week (1) and by 2030, it’s estimated that two million more adults in the UK will
experience mental health problems than there were in 2013 (2). The recent loss of music legends
including Keith Flint (Prodigy), Chester Bennington (Linkin Park), Chris Cornell (Soundgarden), and
Scott Hutchinson (Frightened Rabbit), calls for action to open up the conversation surrounding mental
health, something Download organisers are committed to.

Festival Republic’s Melvin Benn said:
“Download Festival has gone from strength to strength in its sustainability and accessibility offerings.
We have been awarded 4 star Creative Green Result by Julie’s Bicycle for the second year running, and
level gold from Access Is For Everything last year, which is highest possible award for accessibility, so
it only made sense to offer an on site programme for mental health, as well as physical. By introducing
Mind The Dog this year, we are hoping to provide a mindfulness haven in The Doghouse across the
weekend, with meditation, sound baths, and more. I couldn’t be prouder of how much Download
Festival has accomplished already.”

Fans can channel their zen under ambient lighting and atop woven tapestries, before immersing
themselves in hour long classes under the roof of The Doghouse which will transform into Mind The
Dog by day, offering FREE mindfulness gatherings. Morning meditation will host curated live music
sessions, designed to ready campers for the day, whilst the afternoon offers a healing sound bath, encouraging fans to pause, connect, and tune into themselves, and the evening class brings a calming
focus to elevate fans state of consciousness. Designed with conscious breath work sessions, the
programme aims to bring fans together in the now, becoming closer to themselves, the music, and
each other. Full schedule details can be found in notes to editors.

Recent studies show music can prevent feelings of loneliness and provide social connection (3), whilst
the global heavy metal community provides a strong sense of “belonging and acceptance”(4). In line
with the success and return of on-site DO.OM Yoga (yoga to Doom Metal music), and the thriving
return of Camp Loner, (the campsite dedicated to welcoming individuals attending the festival solo),
organisers are now excited to bring their elevated mindful offerings for Download fans in synergy with
the festival spirit.

In support of the programme, Rou Reynolds from Enter Shikari, who headline The Avalanche Stage at
this year’s festival said: “We often go through life on autopilot, getting caught up in the stressors, the anxieties, the intensity of it all. We’re rarely consciously in control of our turbulent mind. Mindfulness allows us to regain
control as we learn to observe our thoughts instead of getting caught up in them.
It has been an incredible help to me and I couldn’t recommend it more. Not only does it help with
anxiety and depression, but it also improves focus, emotional intelligence, compassion, tolerance and
objectivity and has even been proven to help boost your immune system. Big up Download for
introducing this programme to the festival”

Improved changes for 2019 include a new devoted entrance for day visitors and non-camping
weekend ticket holders, weekend campers will also have their own dedicated car park, plus The Village
is moving close to The Arena meaning festivalgoers can go from mosh to party with ease. The NXT
Arena moves closer to the guest area, where NXT UK will be live taping to broadcast as part of a weekly
show on the WWE Network, and the introduction of Metal Movies, a new open-air cinema with
hammocks and lounge areas, will allow fans to kick back and watch music documentaries including
being a metal band from Nepal with Underside along with a Q&A with the band afterwards, and
Pursuit Of The Vikings with Amon Amarth.

Download continues its commitment to provide the best experience for fans, with accessibility
improvements implemented in 2018, resulting in the awarding of Gold Level status by Access is
Everything ahead of this year’s festival.

Sustainability remains a priority for Download Festival. Car parking donations last year via Energy
Revolution raised £15,811 for Solar to Schools, a project which funds schools with solar roofing panels
across the UK, and the festival continues its zero waste to landfill policy, as recycling points in the
campsites will double in 2019. Last year saw the recycling and composting rate increase to 46% from
2017’s 41%, and single use cups were reduced by a million with reusable alternatives. The Eco
Campsite opened in 2018 which saw zero tents left behind and returns this year with an increased
capacity for a total of 2000 campers, a 33% increase from last year.

Additional water points for 2019 will be introduced across the arena, refillable Download Festival
metal water bottles will be available for purchase the first time, and Co-op are excited to continue
their Deposit and Return Scheme with their reverse vending machine returning to Download, which
proved popular last year with festivalgoers who want to recycle plastic bottles, in return for a coupon to spend in the on site Co-op shop. Since 2016, all single use plastic cutlery, containers, and straws
have been banned from traders, caterers and bars.

Donnington Park, the spiritual home of rock, has always called for international talent to grace its
stages, with 2019 as no exception. With over 100 bands performing across the weekend, hailing from
18 countries including Australia, Canada, England, France, Finland, Japan, Mongolia, Nepal,
Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Scotland, South Africa, Sweden, Ukraine, United States
and Wales, Download Festival remains the King of rock festivals.

(1) Mind
(2) NHS Mental Health Network

(4) Journal of Community Psychology


Download Festival the UK’s premier rock event has today announced the winner of Kerrang! Radio’s
Finding Fresh Blood competition as grime-punks PENGSHUi. Crowned by Download Festival promoters
and a panel of Kerrang! Radio presenters, the London trio triumphed over thousands of entries to come
out as champions of the hottest new talent search for the festival. The band are now set to open
The Avalanche Stage and guarantee to bring their unrelenting, raw mix of rap and riffs to the crowds for
an utterly unmissable Download debut.

Download Festival’s Andy Copping said: “A big thanks to everyone that applied, and to the Fresh Blood
team who had to narrow down thousands of bands to the shortlist we were given, but PENGSHUi have
something special with their effortless blend of metal and grime, they are the perfect opener for The
Avalanche Stage this year. Get yourselves down on Friday afternoon, and watch history being made as I
can see big things for them!”

Hailing from London and made up of Illaman on vocals, Fatty on Bass and Pravvy Prav on drums, the trio
have made already made huge waves with their unique sound.

Kerrang! Radio’s Alex Baker said: “Pengshui are without a doubt one of the most exciting bands on planet
earth today and their win is a testament to their unbelievable, powerful, innovative sound! Ultimate vibes.
They are going to light The Avalanche Stage UP!!”


Download Festival, the UK’s premier rock event has today announced a plethora of extracurricular
and extra spectacular rock n’ roll activities and entertainment for fans in The Download Village.
Alongside the world’s biggest rock bands; including headliners Def Leppard, Slipknot and Tool and the
high-flying WWE NXT UK, fans will enjoy a stunning array of unique performances, experientials,stalls,
food, drink and more at the three-day rock extravaganza. Day tickets for the festival have also now
been released and are on sale from £79.50 + booking fees from

For those looking to get revved up in moshing shape, Download is proud to welcome heavy metal
exercise class RockFit™ to make its festival debut. The classes will see fans throwing shapes and
working out to an energising soundtrack featuring AC/DC, Guns N’ Roses, Metallica as well as acts
from the bill like Slipknot, Def Leppard, Slash and Rob Zombie and more. The classes are suitable and
adaptable for everyone and fans are invited to take part.

DO.OMYOGA™ is back after an incredibly successful first outing, where fans can perfect their asanas,
practice their downward facing Download Dog, and reconnect to themselves through the ancient
Indian practice of Nada Yoga where music and sound become one. Welcoming all to taking a leap into
the heavier world of wellness and fitness in a slow vinyasa based practice, set to a selection of dark,
‘vibrational’ end of the music, along with up to 250 other Metal Yoga enthusiasts, experts and curious
beginners alike.

The SINDROME Arena will be back this year playing host to a programme of death-defying stunts,
bohemian freaks, mechanical madness, Viking battles and a heavy dose of love, peace and air rock n
roll. Fan favourite, Area 51 and their wandering Caravan of Lost Souls are back with their dark circus
sideshow and human curiosities to hype the crowds. In an Official World Premiere The Thunderdome
comes to Download, where Young Wall of Death stars Luke and Kerri Fox defy death right before your
eyes on a 9m mesh wall in their brand spanking new adrenalin fuelled stunt show. The hugely popular
‘Demolition Download’ from Battle Heritage are making the charge back to Donington for a sixth year
where medieval fighters from all over Europe will gather to take each other on in battle to be crowned
champions in this full force, full contact sport. By popular audience demand, festival goers will be able
to try their hand at this most ancient of sports, at the Demolition Download workshops featuring
Battle Heritage Fighters in the SINDROME.

Fans are invited to make air, not war as the UK Air Guitar Championships makes its grand return to
Download. Festival fans are invited exclusively to enter into this internationally recognized
competition and to gain the chance of becoming the UK’s ultimate 2019 Air Guitar Hero and a shot at
the world title in Finland. DR HAZE the Undead Ringmaster of The Circus of Horrors hosts the
competition and at the end of each heat, performers from the Circus of Horrors will hit the SINDROME

The beloved Doghouse features a stacked bill including fan favorites Circus of Horrors, who are back
with two wild new shows ‘Asylum’ and ‘Welcome To The Freak Show’. Each featuring an amazing
amalgamation of bizarre, fantastic circus acts and the darkest of magic. Expect unbelievable sword
swallowers, whirlwind acrobats, flaming limbo twisted contortion, blade walkers, fiery hula hooping
divas and lots, lots more in this roller coaster of a show, hosted by undead ringmaster Dr Haze with a
metal soundscape of devil driven rock n’ roll.

The World’s Greatest Wall of Death returns to The Download Village providing non-stop high-risk
performances from the legendary Luke and Kerri Fox and team that will leave the Download audience
utterly awe struck and totally exhilarated. Deep in the Woods in the heart of the Village, The Metal
Den can be discovered – where revellers can lay in hammocks and savour Download’s very first
Outdoor Cinema The Metal Screen and its hand curated Cineprogram. From noon to midnight each
day an awesome collection of Arthouse, classic, comedy and documentaries will be screened. As the
witching hour strikes the Metal Screens’ resident metal VJ Harry K will take to the decks spinning
metal & rock classics into the early hours. Download’s revered resident tattooists, Old Sarum are on
hand ready to ink the masses, for those who want a more permanent memento of their weekend.

The Download Village also plays host to delicious food and drink stalls fairground rides and lots of