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.
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.
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.
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!
Rain poncho – yeah these come in clear, or funky colours… but everyone wants to swish about like a Dementor in the rain right?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Beanie hat – Categorically the best way to retain heat at night. Cover in studs if you’re precious.
Bandana – Stylish, tames greasy day three hair, can be used over the face when entering offensive portaloos.
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.
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.
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.
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 DEBUTS MINDFULNESS PROGRAMME – MIND THE DOG
ON SITE IMPROVEMENTS FOR 2019 INCLUDING NEW DAY ENTRANCE, CAR PARKS, AND MORE!
FIVE CONTINENTS OF ROCK TALENT TO DESCEND ON THE HALLOWED GROUNDS OF DONINGTON PARK
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 www.downloadfestival.co.uk
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
(3) Reachout.com (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 www.downloadfestival.co.uk.
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 Stage.
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 surprises!
Download Festival, the champion of rock events, is pleased to welcome WWE NXT UK to the hallowed grounds of Donington Park across 14-16 June 2019, as well as SEVENTEEN further bands including supergroup Simple Creatures, The Wonder Years, and Dinosaur Pile-up.
WWE United Kingdom Champion Pete Dunne, NXT UK Women’s Champion Toni Storm, and Tyler Bate will be among the NXT UK stars parading thrilling displays of dynamic athleticism during the bonafide full-scale ring bouts in the festival arena, which for the first time ever will be taped and aired as part of the weekly NXT UK show on the WWE Network. Superstars Trent Seven, Walter, Rhea Ripley, Jordan Devlin, NXT UK Tag Team Champions The Grizzled Young Veterans, Travis Banks, Gallus and many more to be announced, will descend upon Download for a weekend of high flying maneuvers, action-packed matches and unexpected surprises. NXT has made a massive impact at the festival in previous years, performing to capacity crowds throughout the weekend, featuring impressive debuts, shocking returns and exciting moments. This is the ultimate win for wrestling fans!
Joining headliners Slipknot, Tool and Def Leppard and a host of acts already announced for the annual rock spectacle, are SEVENTEEN other amazing acts. In a UK Festival Exclusive is supergroup Simple Creatures, comprising of blink-182’s Mark Hoppus and All Time Low’s Alex Gaskarth, who will headline the Avalanche stage on the Saturday night. Known as legends of the pop-punk scene, the pair will give an unmissable exclusive and first UK Festival performance at this year’s Download. Already releasing two infectious singles ‘Strange Love’ and ‘Drug’, Simple Creatures will release their debut EP Strange Love on March 29th. Simple Creatures said: “An evening of Trash-Pop reverie awaits you at Download Fest. There will be Creatures. They will be Simple. There will be singing and dancing in a big tent. What more could you possibly want?”
Also added are Dinosaur Pile-up who have spent the better part of two decades as purveyors of riff laden ginormous rock and are well versed in whipping the crowd into a frenzy, the powerhouse blend of psychedelic with grunge from Allusinlove, and Liverpool’s Queen Zee who are ready to cause a commotion with their inspiring anthems through their fluid expression of brash queer punk. The Wonder Years will smash a punk shaped whole through Donington with a raucous set of anti-suburban anthems, and they will be in good company with UK pop-punk upstarts Roam, known for their energetic and frantic live shows.
Norway’s Kvelertak are on their way to lead the crowd through a relentless onslaught of exciting ‘black n roll’ and join this year’s line up, as are the aptly named Hot Milk who are one of the hottest upcoming names in UK rock, Finland’s own thrash prodigies Lost Society bringing with them their relentless insanely fast metal for head banging aplenty, the grime meets punk London duo Nova Twins, and dirty blues rockers The Picturebooks. Graveyard will be making their welcome return seamlessly blending rock, soul, 60’s acid fuzz and of course a big dash of heavy metal into an infectious musical stew, alongside Mongolian internet sensations The Hu which is a genre you didn’t know you needed in your life. Goodbye June, Vambo, Cloud and Kim Jennett also set to play.
DOWNLOADERS! It’s time, your first announcement is here and we’re hyped to reveal that your #DL2019 headliners are Def Leppard, Slipknot and Tool! Plus, SEVENTEEN of the most awesome bands in the world including Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators, Whitesnakeand Rob Zombie are also coming to rock Donington Park to its metal core on 14th-16th June 2019.
Classic rock powerhouse Def Leppard are making a spectacular return to headline the Main Stage on Friday at Download and we cannot wait.
In what will be their ONLY UK appearance of 2019, the Sheffield legends will be playing their seminal album ‘Hysteria’ in full and more.
Def Leppard front man Joe Elliott has said: “We are delighted to be going back to headline Download in 2019! The festival has a very special place in our hearts and it’s such a great place to play. We will be playing Hysteria in full – yes, in full! – plus a load more of the hits, and we are going to put on a very special show for our UK fans. Can’t wait to see you all there!”
The forerunners of the new wave British heavy metal movement, Def Leppard have sold over 100 million records. Donington is going to be the ONLY place in the UK this year where you can watch them rip through a full-throttle stadium-sized show and scream along to classics like ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’, ‘Love Bites’, ‘Rock Of Ages’ and countless more.
So, get set to rock like an ‘Animal’ as it’s going to be unforgettable Main Stage headline set for the Download family.
Meet your next headliners, the mighty masked metallers Slipknot! One of the most defining acts of the last two decades, the sheer power of Slipknot’s live sets have gone down in Download legend.
With a back catalogue of rock club classics – ‘Duality’, ‘Spit It Out’, ‘Before I Forget’ and ‘Psychosocial’ – Iowa’s sickest sons are going to bring the mosh for their Saturday headline set.
An appearance thirteen years in the making, we are totally psyched to announce that Tool will be making their grand return to headline Sunday at Download.
The Grammy award-winning, multi-platinum, prog-metal titans are set to take you on a grandiose career spanning journey of classic albums ‘Undertow’, ‘Lateralus’, and ‘10,000 Days’.
If those legendary headliners weren’t enough we’ve got SEVENTEEN more bands to announce today.
After slaying the Main Stage with Guns N’ Roses at #DL2018, living guitar god Slash couldn’t stay away and is riffing his way back to Donington for #DL2019 with Alter Bridge frontman for Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators.
Fresh from releasing their phenomenal third album ‘Living The Dream’, Slash and Myles Kennedy and The Conspirator’s set is going to have you wailing to signature slick solos and out of this world rock anthems.
“Here I go again on my own, Goin’ down the only road I’ve ever known!” is going to ring out loud and proud over Donington Park as Whitesnake are coming to Download 2019.
Whitesnake front man David Coverdale said: “Once again, we’ve been honoured to be invited to participate in the legendary DOWNLOAD 2019…Can’t Wait To See You All & Kick Arse Together!!!…So Ready 2 Rock!!!”
If metal is your lifeblood, get ready for a large transfusion as Rob Zombie is once again going to turn Download into his own twisted carnival with a set bursting with stomp-laden classics and new tracks.
Plus, Trivium will be taking Donington by the horns to turn your stomachs with their roaring metal, Swedish death metallers Amon Amarth are going to pack a deadly punch with their Viking inspired cinematic metal and Carcass will remind you why they’re the gore-grind forefathers.
Still want more? Dutch outfit Delain, led by the world-class frontwoman Charlotte Wessels, will be a must-see for all of you symphonic metal fans. Whilst, in a Download first Die Antwoord will be getting you bouncing hard to their Zef style hip-hop.
And, punk rock covers supergroup Me First And The Gimme Gimmes, featuring members of NOFX, Foo Fighters, Lagwagon, Swingin’ Utters, are going to have you and your mates gasping for breath shouting along to their rapid-fire covers.
If you’re looking for a one way ticket to prog paradise, Sweden’s Opeth are going to deliver a set filled with classics and tracks from their 2016 acclaimed album, ‘Sorceress’.
New-school thrashers Power Trip are going to make their Download debut and get you headbanging to tracks from their sophomore album, ‘Nightmare Logic’.
And, Californian ska-punk heroes Reel Big Fish will get Donington bouncing to some solid rocksteady riffs.
Download Festival favourites Skindred are going to shake the Donington hills with their ragga metal. The unmatched energy and exuberance of frontman Benji Webbe is sure to see the return of the Newport Helicopter originating at Download 2011.
Hotly-tipped sci-fi, conceptual rockers Starset also join the line up with an ambitious, gigantic rock set that is destined for the stadiums in the future. And, Tesla will serve up classic hard rock anthems in mammoth portions for you to sink your teeth into.
Ready to give us a surefire singalong are Queensland metalcore veterans The Amity Affliction with syrupy hooks, melodic metalcore and ferocious breakdowns.
And, finally open your arms wide to welcome back post-hardcore pioneers Underoath as the trailblazers make their first appearance back at the festival since 2005.
Would it even be a Download weekend if there wasn’t at least the threat of rain? It’s grey but holding off as we head into the arena for a day of pure rock and metal shenanigans. The first notable difference is the somewhat extreme, and numerous bag checks. We’d been warned via the site and social media that only A4 sized backpacks and smaller would be allowed into the arena, but didn’t realise that there would also be multiple check-points between the car-park and actually getting in to see the bands. Not to worry though, the checks are pretty quick and efficient, and soon we are cresting that hill for the first amazing sight of the arena.
I’d also like to do a quick shout-out at this point to Download’s ever evolving experience enhancements. Big plastic tracks have been installed around the second stage area making both walking in general and getting to the Accessibility platform via scooter or wheelchair easier than ever, and they have employed professional BSL music performance interpreters for the Main and Zippo Encore stages, giving even more fans access to this incredible event. They have also increased accessibility shuttles from the campsites, provided a wheelchair charging station and increased their accessible portaloos by 50% on last year. This continual thought and attention to feedback is impressive, and Download is one of the few festivals out there who seem to be really improving access year on year, in all kinds of different ways. Bravo.
So, the Arena. If you’re a rock or metal fan and you haven’t been to Download before, all I can say is, it’s like coming home. All the beautiful freaks are right here with their astral hair, their pleather and fishnets, jackets covered in patches and piercings in every available inch of spare skin, tattoos blooming from black tshirts and ripped jeans. Oh and at this point in the day, approximately half of them are jammed in a never-ending queue to buy merch. Bah. Tips for next year DL – employ at least twice as many staff for this please, it was obnoxious.
Extortionately priced t-shirts in hand, we stride down the hill to catch up with the mighty Dragonforce who have gathered a massive crowd for ‘Cry Thunder’, prophetically as the rain begins to spit. Thankfully that’s where the correlation ends, but it is still pretty ridiculous when they yell “We are Dragonforce… we come from right here in sunny England…”. Frontman Marc Hudson also lets us know that they “…are filming every single song of this set… so the rest of the world sees how fucking crazy the UK is” which obviously sparks a frenzy for the next song, only to fall foul of technical difficulties. If sod wrote a law, the page would be titled ‘Dragonforce’ today. Laughing “It’s so great when your mic cuts out in front of thousands of people…” they deal with it gracefully and end on a high with ‘Through the Fire and Flames’. Oh and no, I’m still not over Herman Li’s majestic hair swishing. Werk.
Yorkshire band Marmozets fronted by enigmatic Becca Macintyre are straddling the line of hipster rock, almost too current-cool for Download but they certainly know what they’re doing. Yelling out “Last year I was camping with you lot” Becca hops around in bright pink trousers whilst a Darth Maul in the crowd is going absolutely mental with his inflatable lightsaber.
Over on the Zippo Encore stage, self-professed king of the party Andrew WK has amassed an army of bemused onlookers, if not actual fans. Yes he’s kitschy, yes he rocks up in pre-dirtied white jeans and yes he pulls faces like a more demonic Jim Carrey, but well, he’s our weirdo. The rock community is strangely proud of him. Fan fave ‘She is Beautiful’ is silly and fun and I really rate a dude who can build anticipation with the line “…and now it is time… for me to play a guitar shaped like a slice of pizza”. No really, damn I love that pizza guitar. As if he wasn’t margarita-cheesy enough he calls “It’s not Andrew UK… it’s Andrew DOUBLE UK, double the power!” and then proceeds to do an actual 100-1 countdown for anthem ‘Party Hard’. It is frankly ridiculous that everyone likes this terrible track so very much. I of course am bouncing around with them.
Now for something completely different, in the form of Danish metalheads Volbeat. Now Volbeat are no strangers to DL but they never seem to be hyped up either, someone you know but wouldn’t flock to. Not so today my friends, Volbeat are here to slay. The enormous crowd that has surrounded the main stage is singing along to ‘Lola Montez’ and frontman Michael Poulson’s Elvis-esque lilt is refreshingly different to your standard screamer vs. power vocal camps. As if to highlight the difference in fact, Barney of Napalm Death fame (who have a set later on) is brought in for a quick collab on ‘Evelyn’ with his distinctly unintelligible shrieking, but oh we do love a bit of Barney don’t we. ‘Still Counting’ goes down a storm for their last song and honestly, I think they are arguably the band of the day for me.
On the zippo stage, Hell is for Heroes have about 30 people down the front watching them, which is kinda sad actually as they were by no means awful at all, and their cover of The Cure’s ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ was decent. However, I think they definitely fell foul of their timeslot – everyone seems to be getting their food and booze situation sorted before tonight’s headliners.
That’s something we should really mention actually, the food. It’s been getting steadily better every year at DL but this year was off-the-charts excellent. An incredible variety but also quality, gone of the days of rat-burgers and CMOT-Dibbler style saugages-inna-bun. Truth be told, you can still buy a box of suspect noodles if you want the real Doningtons-past experience but why would you? We instead grabbed ourselves a stack of butter-milk chicken in a brioche bun and a side of poutine. Effing decadent.
In the Avalanche tent Bad Religion are shutting it down, rocking on to an intro of ‘My Sharona’ and looking decidedly less punk than they used to. No worries though, they sound exactly as good as they ever have with the likes of ‘Recipe for Hate’ and Tony Hawk Pro Skater hit ‘You’. Yelling “Everyone gearing up for a big weekend huh? I got some bad news… we can’t stay for the whole weekend… there was a backstage clause, Axl kicked us out…” the band head into the excellent ‘Anesthesia’. ‘Infected’ is the sound of the 90’s and the packed out crowd is straight up loving it.
As we head back out to the main arena for Avenged Sevenfold, as huge crowd has already gathered and though we are donning toastier clothing for the chilly night, we’re still damn thankful for the minimal rain today. To read what we thought of A7X’s headline show, click the link below!
Weather report: still holding, patches of sun spotted but we’re keeping quiet because we don’t want to jinx it. Still packed a poncho.
Monster Truck are providing the heavy rock sounds as we head into the afternoon, already drunk people are taking enormous risks with their phones on the high-flying sky-swing (do it for the ‘gram y’all) and lunchtime calls for another foray into the plethora of nourishment offerings. Seriously, vegan sushi, paella, duck fat roasted potatoes, a bowl of crumble and ice cream, wings, burritos, tapas, full roast chicken dinner? You want it, they have it. Oh and the now famous Motley Brew are serving up an array of hot beverages in real mugs, and they even have seats. You can take your Coachella VIP champagne and caviar and shove it up yer arse, we’re British. We like a CUPPA and a GOOD SIT DOWN.
One very notable thing on walking/squeezing around the arena today – it is RAMMED. Day sales for G’n’R must have been good this year because it is truly packed. Local lads The Struts give it big on the main stage shouting “You know we used to live in Derby just down the road… and we used to come to this festival and stand where you’re standing now… it’s incredible to be up on this stage” to a roar from the crowd. We love a hometown hero, but I’m less convinced on their actual show. I mean, they’re not bad as such, just a bit wet compared to everything else I’ve seen this weekend. The Temperance Movement however, muster all the southern soul a grey afternoon needs to get with the programme, and indeed they seem to bring out the sun a little. ‘Trouble’ and ‘Midnight Black’ are phenomenal and it’s more than a little hard to believe boho frontman Phil Campbell, with his maracas and tambourine, swaying in a lace shirt – is actually Glaswegian.
Thunder step on stage to AC/DC track, er, Thunderstruck. Well, why wouldn’t you. ‘Wonder Days’ and ‘River of Pain’ are pretty epic, it’s so great to see a band who are just absolute pro’s at what they do. Joking “Hands up who wasn’t even born in the 90’s” makes for disturbing viewing (thanks for that, Thunder, so kind) but they are absolutely killing it so I’ll let them off.
Over at Zippo Encore, there is no longer any visible section of floor. This is the busiest I’ve ever witnessed this arena without it being a headliner for sure. It seems like Babymetal’s fan base is a lot larger than anticipated and to be honest, sheer fascination seems to be driving a large portion of people in rather than actual fandom. Podium platforms for dance showcase the three firecracker leads who are sporting gold and black Xena-warrior-princess style outfits. Yeah it’s super kawaii nonsense but the music is actually decent and hit ‘Chocolate’ is both ridiculous and annoyingly catchy. I sort of love them.
Onto something we can pretty much all agree on. Kentucky kings Black Stone Cherry are Download’s biggest love story. A band championed by fans ever since their first showing here back in 2008, a decade of repeat requests for their billing, and it’s no wonder why. They are honestly flawless, vocalist Chris Robertson is arguably one of the best rock and roll singers going, he soars through ‘Blind Man’ in the now blazing sunshine, and everyone around us is singing their hearts out alongside him. Thankfully this time ‘Rain Wizard’ doesn’t coincide with a hideous downpour, as it did a few years ago, and ‘Me and Mary Jane’ has the entire crowd bouncing. A cover of Hendrix’s ‘Foxy Lady’ is made for this Wayne’s World worshipping crowd – yes, we did dance like Garth, yes it was magical. ‘Like I Roll’ and ‘Blame it on the Boom Boom’ see crowd-surfers flailing towards the front and ‘Lonely Train’ is just, incredible. Closing up with ‘Family Tree’ from the new album, this has been yet another epic showing from BSC and we hope to see them back again soon.
With a huge chunk of time before Guns’n’Roses we lope off in search of sustenance, beer and portaloos as the evening draws in. It’s been an incredible day here at Donington and we are suitably amped up for the closest we’ve ever been to a full G’N’R lineup…
WOAH. It is HOT today. Not England hot, like equatorial hot. Everyone either has the sheen of well slathered sunblock or is already burnt to a crisp and the whole place after three days of booze and no showers, smells like an armpit. A rowdy afternoon starts with the likes of Turbonegro and Kreator on the Zippo Encore stage and Hatebreed are throwing down on the main stage, yelling “This is for Dimebag, Lemmy, Chris Cornell, Chester (Bennington)… I wanna see every fist in the sky” for ‘Perseverance’. It is at this moment that a small bi-plane flies overhead with a banner reading “Jesus loves every 1 of U” and the fists become horns. Hard to tell whether it’s a joke or we’re actually the subject of some local zealot’s fear, but either way everyone is laughing and trying to take poor phone photos of it.
In This Moment bring the strange and unusual next, with everything from priestess costumes, skulls and pentagrams to choral music and interpretive dance. I don’t really know what to make of them if I’m honest. They sound like metal-Bjork. Is it a good thing? I mean I do like the toilet-paper costume, but their mini cover of Metallica’s ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ is a little upsetting. I did laugh at the Game of Thrones Cersei-style ‘Shame’ poster situation, but there is a nice sentiment behind it all; “…this is what I was told when I was just a girl, that I would amount to absolute shit, that I would become nothing at all… this last song is about rising above other people’s perceptions” – for ‘Whore’, accompanied by huge white balloons being batted around the crowd.
Black Veil Brides sport pyrotechnics and screaming, standard. It’s decent but they are eclipsed by next up: Shinedown. Super appropriately it is scorching hot right now and they are smashing their way through some straight up great rock and roll. Motivational as ever, frontman Brent Smith invites everyone to shake hands with a stranger next to them, and hit ‘State of my Head’ goes down a storm. “Take a look at the history you’re making this afternoon… ladies and gentlemen you look absolutely spectacular today” yells Smith, and I must sincerely disagree, we look fried, tired, sweaty and smashed. But I do appreciate the love.
Over in Avalanche, happy pop punk legends A are playing to a packed out tent, which is suspiciously full of pale people avoiding the sun-monster. Riffing on their age “hands up if you’re over the age of 30… hands up if you’ve got 2 properties… you know when bands re-form and they’re like 20 years older and you’re like why are they bothering? We just really fucking enjoy this” the band speaks to a place in all of us, who are genuinely here for the same reason – even if we’re sort of proper grown ups now. Oh and they start an over-30’s circle pit, cause it’s funny to go home to your office job with two black eyes, right?
Now, was anyone else truly alarmed by the sight of Marilyn Manson in daylight? I was. I thought he was going to spontaneously combust, burst aflame, incinerated by the power of sunlight. I mean he’s so pale as to be almost translucent – at one point he turned sideways and I swear I could see a passing plane through his face. However, it’s an absolute treat to have the master of the macabre here at Donington and he does not disappoint, rolling in with ‘Irresponsible Hate Anthem’ backed by a giant inverted monochrome crossed American flag.
Sporting a knuckle-duster mic and a long black trench, it takes all of about two minutes before he looks as though he’s sweating his ass off and has to ditch the look, pogo-ing down the runway he calls “Thank you for coming out in daylight… it’s like the opposite of our lives… do you like daytime? I don’t… we’re kind of stuck here together with daytime… let’s deal with it” perhaps displaying a little animosity towards the scheduling. It’s true, his show and music both lend themselves to a dark and brooding atmosphere, it’s a little hard to get caught up in the bloodlust when the big tattooed bloke standing next to you is eating a 99 with a flake.
‘Disposable Teens’ is obviously solid gold but it’s more than a little amusing that due to there being no option to control the lighting, we get to see people rush on an off stage during the show to dress Manson in various different outfits. More amusing still is that it is genuinely too hot for any of it and he keeps having to peel it all off himself within minutes. He’s clearly frustrated about it too “It’s very difficult, but together we can accomplish it… like having sex with the lights on”.
‘mOBSCENE’ comes with a vampiric Manson backdrop and during ‘Kill4Me’ he drags a crowd-surfing mega-fan on stage with him. She’s head to-toe Manson-merch and is sporting an “I’d Kill 4 you” flag, obviously ecstatic to hug him as he slaps her ass and sends her on her way, before togging up in an enormous Howl-like (of Moving Castle fame) black feathered trench-coat. Think, demonic Big Bird.
Talking to us as he emerges from a corner of the stage “I was just having a moment with my personal physician, with my eyesight and the sun…” it’s not clear whether that’s a joke or he’s ahem, getting medicated, but it seems extremely apt that we head into ‘The Dope Show’. ‘Sweet Dreams’ is breathy and brilliant, there’s some writhing around a smoking podium which looks rather uncomfortable, and a little bit of using drum sticks to hit a bass guitar. It’s a bit off, and I can’t put my finger on why. Dani Filth joins the action for ‘The Beautiful People’ and unfortunately he finishes up a little slow with ‘Cry Little Sister’. I’ll be honest – Download have definitely seen him better, and I hope next time we can at least give him the night.
Closing up the Avalanche for the weekend are Sweden’s mischievous mayhem peddlars – The Hives. We’ve seen them in white suits, we’ve seen them in black suits, and today – they’ve sown them together for half and half suits. Aesthetic on point. Yelling “Did you miss us? It’s good to see again isn’t it? Did you miss this face?” it’s clear they are here for fun, and they have lost absolutely none of their famous energy and life. ‘Die, Alright’ is awesome and ‘Hate To Say I Told you So’ brings back a wave of college memories, of afternoons in dingy pubs and cover bands. “We have come to the part of the show where we expect way more applause than we are getting…” garners a massive roar from the absolutely packed tent, and “…this is reparations for all the shit we stole from you in Viking times… we’re giving it back in the form of musical treasure!” makes everyone laugh. They are an unstoppable force, jumping from amps and swinging mic stands around their heads with wild abandon, they just look like they’re having the absolute best time, and so are we.
As the sun begins to set we head back to find a spot in the main arena, cover up our burnt bods and grab a beer before our final headliner – Ozzy Osbourne. It has been yet again an incredible weekend and if you’ve never experienced Download before, I can scarcely describe it to you without gushing. It’s a well-oiled machine and you don’t get this kind of bang for your buck anywhere else, I have witnessed a host of the best in rock and metal, in a field with my friends. Does it get better than that?