DOWNLOAD FESTIVAL 2022 – THE BIG REVIEW!

Photo credit: Ⓒ Beth Miller for Download Festival

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.

Friday

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.

Photo credit: Ⓒ James Bridle for Download Festival

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.


SATURDAY

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.

Photo credit: Ⓒ  Sam McMahon for Download Festival

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.

SUNDAY

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.

Photo credit: Ⓒ Sam McMahon for Download Festival

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.

Photo credit: Ⓒ David Dillon for Download Festival

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.

Round-up

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!

Download Festival 2022 – Iron Maiden REVIEWED!

Photo credit: Ⓒ James Bridle for Download Festival

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.

DOWNLOAD FESTIVAL IS BACK WITH PACKED LINE UP FOR 2022

Download Festival, the world’s premier rock event, is coming back with a bang in 2022. The first major festival of the summer will be headlined by the mighty KISS, Iron Maiden and Biffy Clyro, with other huge acts on the bill including A Day To Remember, Deftones, KORN, The Distillers, Funeral For A Friend and many more. As the first full-capacity Download Festival since 2019 and following last year’s phenomenal Download Pilot, which paved the way for the return of live events, it’s pulling out all the stops for 2022 with a gargantuan line-up of the world’s most exciting bands in rock, pop punk, hardcore, metal and much more. 

Announced today are 14 new acts joining the packed bill, including the likes of Skindred, YONAKA, Will Haven, Kid Brunswick, Bimini and Dana Dentata. The three-day festival takes place on 10-12 June 2022 at the spiritual home of rock in Donington Park, LeicestershireTickets are now on sale via www.downloadfestival.co.uk/tickets.

Iron Maiden, hailed as one of the greatest live acts of all time, will return to Donington to headline Download Festival on Saturday night, in what will be one of only two UK festival shows in 2022, while the legendary KISS will storm the stage on Friday night to perform their only UK show of the summer. After their fantastic headline set in 2017, Scottish rock titans Biffy Clyro will also be making their highly anticipated return to headline the festival on Sunday night, showing off tracks from ‘A Celebration of Ending’, which topped the UK charts in 2020, and their most recent studio album, the critically acclaimed ‘The Myth of Happily Ever After’. 

Joining the already confirmed likes of The Distillers, The Pretty Reckless, Ayron Jones, Lacuna Coil, Loathe, Malevolence, Normandie, Static Dress and more, it is announced today that Download live favourites Skindred will be back to tear things up after an epic performance at the Download Pilot in 2021, having been described by many as their highlight of the entire weekend. The Welsh reggae metal band will be bringing back their iconic ‘Newport Helicopter’ and are guaranteed to have the crowd going wild once more.

Skindred frontman Benji Webbe says: “Playing the Download pilot after being locked down for a year and a half was an amazing experience so being invited back to our favourite festival and spiritual home to play alongside the likes of KISS and Maiden is a dream come true. Plus we have some amazing rockin’ new tunes which we cannot wait for you all to hear.”

Brighton rock band YONAKA also made a splash at last year’s Download Pilot, and that was just the beginning, as they’ll be causing chaos once again this year. Frontwoman Theresa Jarvis says, “Aghhhh Download! Some of us have been going since we were 14 so it’s an absolute pleasure to be performing there again. The energy is always amazing and such an exciting lineup of music.”

Drag sensation Bimini rose to fame on Ru Paul’s Drag Race and released their punk non-binary anthem God Save This Queen last year. That was only the first step on their musical journey, because Bimini will be gracing the crowds of Download with their presence in 2022 for the very first time.

Also added to the bill are Canadian rap-rock-horrorcore artist Dana Dentata, self-described grunge lord Kid Brunswick, industrial rock band SKYND, Oregon stoner rock band Red Fang, legendary Californian noise metallers Will Haven, Swedish melodic death metal band Orbit Culture, Australian five-piece Banks Arcade, Colorado retro revisionists The Velveteers, UK heavy music newcomers Heriot, LA rockers Dirty Honey and Scottish swashbucklers Alestorm.

Highlights across the weekend include the previously announced Spiritbox, one of the hottest bands in the world at the moment, who have been upgraded to the Avalanche Stage due to huge demand. Post-hardcore break-out stars As Everything Unfolds have also upgraded and are now set to bring their invigorating take on the genre to the Avalanche stage on Friday 10 June.

Download is THE place to see the brightest rising stars. Other ones to watch at Download 2022 include the hell-raising Wargasm, nu-metal pop provocateur Cassyette, Liverpool nu-metallers Death Blooms, pop punk trio Meet Me @ The Altar, as well as Holding Absence, Those Damn Crows and Venom Prison all flying the flag for rip-roaring rock from South Wales.

With more than 100 acts already confirmed to return to Donington in 2022 for the first major festival of the season, Download Festival could not be more ready to reunite with its incredible community for the first time since 2019. For further information, please visitdownloadfestival.co.uk


ANNOUNCED TODAY

Alestorm
Banks Arcade
Bimini
Dana Dentata
Dirty Honey
Heriot
Kid Brunswick
Orbit Culture
Red Fang
Skindred
SKYND
The Velveteers
Will Haven
YONAKA

DOWNLOAD FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES ADDITION OF 20 BANDS AND DAY SPLITS FOR 2022 LINE UP

Download Festival, the world’s premier rock event, has announced 20 new bands for 2022, including the mighty A Day To Remember, Shinedown, Black Veil Brides, Mastodon, Code Orange, Ice Nine Kills, Creeper and more. They join the already stellar line up, headlined by KISS, Iron Maiden and Biffy Clyro. The three-day festival takes place on 10-12 June 2022 at the spiritual home of rock in Donington Park, Leicestershire. September is the last chance fans will be able to purchase Early bird tickets  – with prices increasing from October 1st – fans are encouraged to secure their weekend and instalment plan tickets now and join the celebratory return of the full scale Download Festival they know and love. downloadfestival.co.uk/tickets
 
Announced for Friday are Floridian fan favourites A Day To Remember fresh off the back of seventh album ‘You’re Welcome’ and having flipped the script multiple times over their career, they remain at the top of their game. With a bottomless trickbag of scene anthems from “I’m Made Of Wax, Larry, What Are You Made Of?,” “The Downfall of Us All,” through to their trap pop punk meldings they are set to receive a hero’s welcome.
 
Joining them are Californian glam stalwarts Black Veil Brides to deliver a visceral set of arena ready rock led by Andy Beirsack alongside MYLES KENNEDY & Company, whose stratospheric vocals and powerhouse guitar playing has seen him lauded as one of rock’s finest frontmen. Bury Tomorrow have cemented their spot as one of the UK’s finest metalcore exports and U.S. newcomers Meet Me @ The Altar promise a buoyant frenzy of pop punk bangers in their UK festival debut. Also announced are Swedish alt-metal act Normandie and Brighton’s brightest indie punks and purveyors of grunge tinged riffs Gender Roles.
 
Saturday has got even more exciting with the addition of the world beating Shinedown.  The immaculate showmen and Download veterans have been a dominant force in rock music since their inception and their ascension shows no signs of slowing down. They are joined by progressive metal goliaths and metal icons Mastodon are onboard to showcase the true mastery of their craft.
 
The Game-changing Code Orange are also set to join Saturday’s line-up and promise to engulf the crowd the throws of their industrial laced hardcore and goth-punks Creeper will step up as as the ‘Sex, Death and the Infinite Void’ era resumes in full swingHorrorcore icons Ice Nine Kills are set for a gore-drenched metalcore assault, Sheffield quintet Malevolence will bring burly riffs by the bucketful and the living embodiment of death metal’s gruesome spirit Obituary make their grand return.
 
Also announced is rising metal-pop provocateur Cassyette who is ready to take her place as a breakout star as well as  raucous Seattle punk five piece  Dragged Under and Liverpool  hardcore outfit Death Blooms who return after a triumphant set at Download Pilot where they historically became the first band to play a UK festival in 15 months.
 
Sunday additions include Danish rabble-rousers Volbeat, with their unmistakable chugging metal-meets-rockabilly as well as the fearless Grammy award winning Baroness. The Fourth Stage is set for a very special headline set from Myles Kennedy on double duty with an acoustic set not to be missed and future feminist punk icons THICK join the bill all the way from Brooklyn, New York with the raw defiance of punk in tow.
 
 
ANNOUNCED TODAY
A Day To Remember
Baroness
Black Veil Brides
Bury Tomorrow
Cassyette
Code Orange
Creeper
Death Blooms
Dragged under
Gender Roles
Ice Nine Kills
Malevolence
Mastodon
Meet Me @ The Altar
MYLES KENNEDY & Company
Myles Kennedy (Acoustic)
Normandie
Obiturary
Shinedown
THICK
Volbeat
 
Download 2022 Line up so far
 
Friday 10 June 2022
KISS, A Day To Remember, AA Williams, Airbourne, Ayron Jones, Black Veil Brides, Blues Pills, Bokassa, British Lion, Bury Tomorrow, Cellar Door, Dead Poets Society, Electric Wizard, Gender Roles, JJ Wilde, Lacuna Coil, Meet Me @ The Altar, Moon Crow, MYLES KENNEDY & Company, Normandie, Press Club, Sleep Token, Tempt, The Distillers, The Ghost Inside, The Scratch, Theory, Wayward Son.
 
Saturday 11 June 2022
Iron Maiden, Black Label Society, Blackout Problems, Bleed From Within, Bush, Cassyette, Code Orange, Creeper, Daughtry, Dead Label, Death Blooms, Deftones, Dragged Under, Dying Fetus, Funeral For A Friend, Grandson, Higher Power, Holding Absence, Ice Nine Kills, Joyous Wolf, Loathe, Malevolence, Mastodon, Megadeth, Monster Truck, Obituary, Salem, Sepultura, Shinedown, Temples On Mars, The Faim, The Pretty Reckless, The Raven Age, Those Damn Crows, Venom Prison.
 
Sunday 12 June
Biffy Clyro, Alestorm, Anchor Lane, As Everything Unfolds, Boston Manor, Cemetary Son, Dead Posey, Fire From The Gods, Gloryhammer, Jamie Lenman, Kill The Lights, Korn, Marianas Trench, Modern Error, Myles Kennedy, Phoxjaw, Powerwolf, Rise Against, Spiritbox, Static Dress, Steel Panther The Darkness Skillet Baroness Of Mice & Men Wednesday 13 Massive Wagons The Last Internationale Control The Storm, The Descendants, The Hara, The Injester, THICK, Trash Boat, Twin Temple, Volbeat, Wargasm.

Download TV announce virtual festival lineup

Download Festival, the UK’s premier rock event, announces the massive line up for Download TV, a virtual festival available via Download Festival’s official social channels, and YouTube across 12-14 June 2020, for one weekend only!
 
Whilst Downloaders might not be on the sacred grounds of Donington Park, the weekend will not be lost as Download Festival brings hours of music, special interviews, unseen performances, exclusive footage and so much more to screens of any size. The weekend will be split into day and evening, where the day will be everything that celebrates the spirit of Download Festival, and the evening brings 2 to 3 hours of tailormade programming where Downloaders can tune in and rock out.
 
Headlining YouTube on the Friday night will be KISS, giving Downloaders a replay of standout moments from their mammoth 2015 set. On the Saturday, the mind-blowing Iron Maiden are bringing something very special to your screens, with nostalgic performances, Legacy Of The Beast snippets, and something just for Download TV. Finally, on the Sunday night, we take you through System Of A Down’s history at Download Festival with performances from 2005, 2011, and 2017, proving why they’re one of the best metal bands in history. Fans can subscribe to Download TV on YouTube here now.
 
Other performances across the weekend that will be shown exclusively via YouTube will come from KornDeftonesBabymetalFrank Carter & The RattlesnakesCreeperThe OffspringBlues PillsAlter BridgeThe Pretty RecklessFuneral For A FriendVolbeatThe DarknessBowling For Soup, and loads more, including some very special guests.
 
The day time activities are for the fans to be as interactive as they can be. From cookalongs with MasterChef Simon Wood, vegan superstars BOSH, and the hilarious Nat’s What I Reckon who comes to us from Australia, LIVE artist Q&As, lockdown performances, tutorials, mindfulness sessions, and even content that the Downloaders themselves have provided.
 
Downloaders are encouraged to put tents up in the garden, wear Download merch, dress as your favourite hero, send in photos and videos – the weekend is about the fans and celebrating the Download community.
 
Download Festival would like to remind everyone to stay safe, stay home and save lives – practice safe social distancing and follow government guidelines.
 
For updates, please visit Download Festival’s WebsiteFacebookTwitterInstagram, and YouTube.
ARTISTS APPEARING IN DOWNLOAD TV
 

KISS
IRON MAIDEN
SYSTEM OF A DOWN

Alestorm
Alter Bridge
Babymetal
Baroness
Black Futures
Black Veil Brides
Bowling For Soup
Bush
Creeper
Deftones
Disturbed
Employed To Serve
Fozzy
Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes
Funeral For A Friend
Gojira
Holding Absence
Killswitch Engage
Korn
Lacuna Coil
Loathe
Mastodon
Motionless In White
NXT UK
Periphery
Poppy
Powerwolf
Skillet
Steel Panther
The Darkness
The Hara
The Offspring
The Pretty Reckless
The Wildhearts
Theory
Twin Temple
Volbeat
Wage War
Wayward Sons

DOWNLOAD FESTIVAL Announces Second Run Of Bands For 2020

Download Festival has announced more bands to join headliners IRON MAIDEN (Legacy of the Beast Tour), KISS and SYSTEM OF A DOWN next year. The world’s premier rock event takes place 12 – 14 June 2020 at the spiritual home of rock in Donington Park, Leicestershire. Tickets are on sale now at downloadfestival.co.uk/tickets.

Headed to Download are Denmark’s VOLBEAT with their hybrid of rock ‘n’ roll, riffs and rockabilly, making for an explosive and certainly unpredictable live show. Their seventh studio album Rewind, Replay, Rebound dropped in August 2019 and landed at #7 in the UK album charts.

Volbeat said;
We are very excited to return to Donington Park once again to rock with all of our friends in the UK alongside so many great bands. See you in June!“Defining the Metalcore genre with anthems such as ‘My Curse’ and ‘The End of Heartache’, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE have had three consecutive Top 10 debuts on the Billboard Top 200, landed several Grammy nominations, and have had half a billion streams.Jesse Leach from Killswitch Engage said;
We are honoured and excited to play the mighty Download festival once again! We are ready to kick out our new songs and play the old anthems as well! Download crowds are always incredible and we are eager to bring the mother f*****g ruckus!

Leaders in Japanese kawaii metal, BABYMETAL will land at Donington following the success of their latest album Metal Galaxy. Formed in 2010, the band fuse metal with J-Pop and are a global name in heavy music, renowned for their flawless and unique performances.

SU-METAL said:
“The crowd at Download Festival always welcomes us with a lot of energy so I can’t wait to perform there again! We hope to bring even more power and energy so please look forward to our performance!”

MOAMETAL said:
“To have the opportunity of performing at one of our favorite places is incredibly exciting for us. Can’t wait to see everyone there!”

THE PRETTY RECKLESS are a bruising blend of ferocious rock’n roll and blues, with huge singles such as ‘You Make Me Wanna Die’ and ‘Heaven Knows’ in their discography, and their explosive shows have earned them legions of new fans all over the world. AIRBOURNE’s first album Runnin’ Wild was one of the most talked-about and best-reviewed debuts in recent rock history, and their classic rock inspired hits are expected to create a thunder at Download.

Joe O’Keeffe from Airbourne said;
“Do you wanna rock? Then let’s f****n’ rock!”

Named one of the best-selling rock bands of the 21st Century SKILLET will bring their stadium sized anthems backed by multi-platinum selling albums to Donington next year. BARONESS have embodied a DIY ethic since the beginning. With five innovative and highly creative albums under their collective belts that swerve genre barriers, they consistently keep fans on their toes and are expected to do the same at Download next year.

LIT are considered one of the preeminent bands to have come out of the post-grunge era of the late 90’s, defining an entire generation of power punk with hits like ‘My Own Worst Enemy’ and ‘Miserable’. Since their warmly-welcomed return in 2011, British alt rock titans BUSH have shown no signs of rest as they have since released two albums and appeared on the John Wick: Chapter 3 soundtrack with a heavier new sound inspired by System Of A Down.

The Duke of Spook WEDNESDAY 13 has been added to the line up following the release of eighth album Necrophaze. Expect the unexpected from the original horror punk enigma who is infamous for theatrics. Also performing are BRITISH LION, the side project of Iron Maiden’s Steve Harris that’s stamped with his unique style.

With a cult-like and fanatical fanbase as well as being referred to as “the heaviest band in the universe”, ELECTRIC WIZARD will perform at Donington with their uncompromising style of ‘70s inspired doom and detuned guitars. They’ll be joined by PERIPHERY who are at the forefront of the djent movement with their blisteringly technical and heavy prog.

Since their inception in 1984, OBITUARY are a fundamental act in the development in death metal and have made one hell of a dent with ten colossal albums and ear shattering riffs under their name.  Joining them, are death metallers DYING FETUS who will be heading back to Donington in 2020.

Toronto punks PUP have cemented themselves as one of the most energetic and exciting live bands in recent years, and with their noisy, biting and a recklessly fun ode to nihilism, they’re not to be missed. The self-dubbed ‘family band’ TINY MOVING PARTS formed in high school and have worked tirelessly to create the band’s trademark blend of math rock, punk pop, and emo – they have been added to the already monster line up,

Most known for ‘Youth of the Nation’, ‘Southtown’, ‘Boom’, and the triple platinum record Satellite, San Diego’s P.O.D. join the line up with their infectious hybrid of punk, heavy metal, reggae, rap and Latin music.

Making their debut last year with bold album Ain’t Always Easy on Spinefarm Records, STONE BROKEN’s energetic live shows have fuelled their desire to take on the world and are ready to take on Download.

Returning to Download are the retro-inspired blues of quartet BLUES PILLS and their vintage style.  Fronted by hard rock veteran Toby Jepson (G.U.N., Little Angels), WAYWARD SONS dropped their second album The Truth Ain’t What It Used To Be last month and are a much welcome addition to the line up.

Self-proclaimed Kings of Stonerpunk, BOKASSA make their Download Festival debut from Norway following a summer opening for Metallica on their European Wordwired tour. With a sound as bold as their name WARGASM may only have two singles under their belt, but the captivating duo are sure to make their Download debut one to remember.

Also added are BLACKOUT PROBLEMS, BLEED FROM WITHIN, CELLAR DOOR MOON CROW, CHELSEA GRIN, DEAD LABEL, DEAD POSEY, LOTUS EATER, MARIANAS TRENCH, POWERWOLF, PUPPY, THEORY, THE LAST INTERNATIONALE, THE WILDHEARTS, and UNCURED.

Download Festival is the home of rock music and takes place on the sacred grounds of Donington Park, which have been associated with rock since the eighties. The festival attracts icons of rock and metal to its main stage, plus some of the best and hottest new acts in the world.

Download Festival announce 2020 headliners

Download Festival, the world’s premier rock event, has announced IRON MAIDENKISS and SYSTEM OF A DOWN as its 2020 headliners, plus Deftones, KornThe Offspring, Disturbed and more of the world’s most exciting bands in rock, pop punk, hardcore and metal yet to be announced. The three-day festival takes place 12 – 14 June 2020 at the spiritual home of rock in Donington Park, Leicestershire. Tickets will be on sale at 2pm on Wednesday 25th September via downloadfestival.co.uk/tickets.

IRON MAIDEN will return to Donington next year to headline Download Festival on Saturday night, in what will be one of only two homecoming UK festival shows in 2020. The London band have had countless No.1 records, including their most recent studio double album, 2015’s The Book Of Souls, in over 40 countries, as well as being hailed as one of the greatest live acts of all time. They’ve spent the summer on their historic and critically acclaimed Legacy Of The Beast North American tour, based on their award winning mobile game of the same name, which has been deemed by fans and national and rock media alike as ‘Maiden’s most monumental show and best setlist ever’ so get ready Downloaders, this is one performance you won’t want to miss.

 

Maiden vocalist Bruce Dickinson says, “Next year we will play a number of countries and cities we have yet to visit on this incredible tour, so it is terrific to be able to accept the invitation to return to Download in 2020 and we will certainly go to town and add a few extra items to the show. This will be our seventh time headlining at Donington Park. It’s home turf and we all really enjoy playing this Festival, the vibe from the crowd is always fantastic.”

After an epic and well documented 45-year career that launched an era of rock’n roll, the legendary KISS will perform in the UK at Download Festival 2020, in a UK Exclusive. They embarked on their final ever tour earlier this year under the appropriately named END OF THE ROADand known for their trademark larger-than-life blistering performances, KISS have proven for decades why they are hands down the most iconic live show in rock’n roll, and one of the best headliners Donington has ever seen. With more than 100 million albums sold worldwide, it won’t just be KISS Army fans who will be blown away with their final Download performance next year.

“I’ve said it before, Download Festival audiences are the best. They are up for whatever is thrown at them.  KISS is going to come fully prepared to rock their world in 2020 to say Thank You for always showing up for us.” – Gene Simmons, KISS

“Download will be the culmination of 47 years of unapologetic bombast and spectacle. We will make this a fitting farewell to a country and its people whose music remains the blood in our veins.” – Paul Stanley, KISS

Also headlining Download Festival 2020 will be SYSTEM OF A DOWN in a UK Exclusive. With just 5 studio albums, the Californian/Armenian band have earned themselves a worldwide following, never failing to put on a mind-blowing performance.

Shavo Odadjian, System of A Down said: “From our appearances to many of my favorite bands’, Castle Donington has always had a special place in my heart. We’re proud and excited to continue its legacy.”

Since Deftones’ inception, the multi-platinum, Grammy-Winning alternative rock band from Sacramento have released seven albums and sold over 10 million albums worldwide which include fan-favourite tracks ‘My Own Summer (Shove It)’, ‘Change (House Of Flies)’, and ‘Swerve City’.

Drummer Abe Cunningham said: “Download has been a big part of our history.  The fans and organisers have always shown us so much love and support, so when the opportunity to play arises, we answer the call!”

With the release of their 13th studio album, THE NOTHING last week, Korn will be joining the Download 2020 line up. The two-time Grammy Award winning band have toured the world countless times and have continued to push the limits of the rock, alternative and metal genres, while remaining a pillar of influence for legions of fans and generations of artists around the globe.

Korn guitarist, James ‘Munky’ Shaffer: “I’m extremely anxious and enthusiastic at the same time, but I’m looking forward to getting back out there and returning to Download!”

Punk rioters The Offspring are heading to Download Festival bringing with them punk rock anthems that include ‘Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)’, ‘You’re Gonna Go Far Kid’, ‘Self Esteem’, and dozens more.

Also joining the line up are Gojira, the French metallers who have become famous for their sonically dense sounds and bludgeoning heavy rhythms. The hard-hitting, multi-platinum-selling Disturbed are returning to Donington with their aggressive blend of hard rock, alternative, and nu-metal. The band exploded onto the scene in 2000 with ‘Down With The Sickness’, and last year released their seventh album Evolution which reached the top 10 around the globe.

Hollywood hard rock act Black Veil Brides will make their anticipated UK return. Renowned for their explosive live shows and tenacious fans, the five-piece have worked tirelessly to create a scene of their own. Last year saw the release of their fifth studio album Vale, which landed at #1 on the US Top Hard Rock Billboard Chart.

Grammy nominated US alternative rock band Daughtry also join the line-up, following the success of last year’s album Cage To Rattle. Fronted by American Idol finalist Chris Daughtry, the band has sold over 8 million albums and 16 million singles, alongside selling out tours globally.

With a new album looming this Friday, Of Mice & Men have been dominating stages for over a decade and have had a disciple like following every step of the way that will undoubtedly follow them to Donington next year.  Everyone’s favourite pirates, Alestorm are jumping ship to the hallowed grounds of Download Festival once again, bringing with them their pirate metal and perhaps their giant inflatable duck.

Download 2016 – FULL REVIEW!

You can’t deny it, something out there really has it in for Download Festival. It’s the same story every year – burnt for the first two days camping and then incessantly soaked for the rest, it’s like… metal is the music of the devil… or something…

Campers have been steadily pouring in since Wednesday, setting up epic tent-collectives with all manner of décor (bra-bunting is a particular favourite of mine) and it’s set to be a belter of a weekend, even though we’re probably all going home with trench foot and hypothermia. The Village, the hub of the camping area, is home to weird and wonderful acts such as The Wall of Death, The Inflatable Church, The Circus of Horrors, Zorbing and the fire-wielding Area 51. Oh and hilariously British pursuits like Bogan Bingo, a quiz and five-a-side football, if that’s more your speed. Head over there at night for after-hours bands, DJ’s and even catch a movie in the Cinema or laugh your arse off in The Side Splitter comedy tent.

It’s clear Download’s commitment to becoming a bit more of a well-rounded festival is working, the out of hours entertainment, things to do and see and the much improved food options mean a nicer festival experience for all, without taking the emphasis off the music at all. With the now extensive shopping and food outlets you’d better have cash on you this weekend, as despite last years’ ‘breakthrough’ technology claiming to take all the hassle out of on-site payments (which of course did not go to plan) Download have well and truly ditched the idea of RFID tags and have gone over to… er… all normal methods that you can do in the real world.

 

FRIDAY

Friday sees a dry start and Alien Ant Farm are failing to get anyone interested in anything other than Smooth Criminal, and Babymetal (half an hour late) draw a massive crowd for their J-Pop inspired metal, which is frankly just about the oddest thing ever. They’ve stuck to their goth-loli look and eardrum piercingly high vocals for Gimme Chocolate but actually the new album tracks seem a bit more developed and musically interesting rather than gimmicky. We do wish Herman Lee could have popped up for Road of Resistance, but the two girls down the front who have made a massive effort to dress like the band seem to be loving it, alongside some very big bearded men who appear to know ALL the words.

On the Encore stage, Christian rock band Skillet are killinit (see what I did there?) but the Lemmy/Motorhead tribute video on the main stage is in all honestly a bit lame. We all know Lemmy partied hard, but is it really necessary for people to recount exactly what variety of drug he offered them? Only Brian May appears to talk about him in a painfully honest way, saying “I miss him very badly”. Apart from a stage naming and a tshirt on the merch stand, it’s weirdly unspoken for the most part… maybe it’s all a bit soon for most of the bands.

Grabbing possibly the most English food available for lunch (Duck fat roast potatoes with gravy, followed by apple crumble…) we hit up the absolutely packed Maverick stage for Geordie rockers The Wildhearts who have everyone jumping to I Wanna Go Where The People Go. Over on the main stage we’re treated to a dose of Jonathon Davis’ chicken dance (hold mic, flap arms) as Korn blast out the likes of Coming Undone and Freak On A Leash. The rain is absolutely hammering down now and it kinda fits the grungy nu-metal feel, the arena is full of swamp-people whipping their hair everywhere. Amidst the seriousness of purpose that Korn portray, it’s hard not to giggle at the Lebowski-esque rug that has been laid down to stop Davis stacking it in front of everyone.

Finally it’s on to the main event, and the bedraggled but excited masses have gathered for the ever sinister yet playful German powerhouse that is Rammstein. Running through scores of hits like Sonne, Du Hast, Ich Will and Feuer frei there’s nothing missing from this incredible set. The expected but always insane pyrotechnics just keep coming, with fire breathing face-cages, firework body suits and a giant pair of angel wings, there’s just nothing these guys won’t do for a show.

Check out our full Rammstein review HERE

SATURDAY

Entering the arena today it’s obvious some effort has been made in the way of soaking up the sludge, using a ton of hay and woodchips, there’s a much boggier/safer quality to the underfoot feel, but it probably won’t last.

Over in The Kennels area, a queue is already forming for new addition WWE NXT stage, live wrestling shows hosted by Triple H, whilst self-proclaimed Swedish circus freaks Avatar are bringing some life to the main stage. Wearing what I can only describe as resplendent outfits inspired by the Vatican Guard and yelling “Bang your heads English men!” they put on a rowdy first set of the day, and gain a few more followers with their tight riffs and synchronized hairwhipping.

Beartooth’s punky tones soar across the arena to a decent sized crowd for In Between and Black Peaks are totally smashing the Maverick stage. Turbowolf take the baton next yelling “For the next half an hour, this is our home” before tumbling headlong into the likes of Rabbit’s Foot and Solid Gold.

Danko Jones starts out with classic Play The Blues which actually gets kind of a cold reception from the crowd, but soon he’s telling us “…everybody at Download gets to call me… delicious” and saying “I am a whore for that sound you make with your hands” everything starts to get lively. A fan in the front row passes up a flag requesting Sex Change Shake but Danko goes on to play Cadillac instead citing “…it’s the same three chord structure anyway… so this is like, Shake Change Sex”. There is something ridiculously fun about Danko Jones, in an overwhelmingly cheesy way. They are so uncool they’re cool. They’re the Fonz of rock.

Lawmower Deth however, are exactly the kind of godawful rubbish we should (and do) love, this time with an added Brucey Bonus of being joined by… and I can’t believe I’m writing this… Kim Wilde for Kids in America. It could not be more bonkers and everyone LOVED it.

Rival Sons bluesy cali rock has the arena up and dancing with their beers, soaring vocals and a stellar set – we loved closer Keep On Swinging. On the Encore stage Juliette and the Licks hit hard with Hot Kiss and Credence Clearwater Revival cover Proud Mary, J-Lew is just as enigmatic on stage as on screen. Megadeth are joined on stage by Nikki Sixx for Anarchy in the UK before Nikki steps out with his own band Sixx: AM for a completely different sound. It’s a strong set and a hell of a lot of people have come out to watch. Despite the sea of hair and black tshirts this weekend, it’s clear the pop-punk kids have been hiding in plain sight as the hoarde heads towards the Maverick stage for rowdy Welsh band Neck Deep, but they aren’t even going to win Taffy of the day with Skindred tearing it up over on the Encore stage. Despite the now constant rain, Skindred have drawn a huge crowd for their completely-weird-but-totally-works reggae-metal and the whole crowd is getting down and dirty for Doom Riff and Pressure. With an unsolicited play of Bieber’s ‘Sorry’ mixed into Trouble, they’ve singlehandedly outlined exactly which people we should push in the mud later, but not to worry as there’s an epic and extremely wet swirling of tshirts for Warning. We love a bit of a Newport Helicopter we do.

The rain is now unashamedly heavy and regardless of the plastic ponchos, raincoats and really fucking annoying golf umbrellas, pretty much everyone is soaked through. The crowd is built right up the main stage hill and the anticipation is palpable. Fan or not, there’s no denying that seeing Black Sabbath on their last ever tour (no really, it will be the last this time… right?) is pretty special and important. Though it’s clear throughout the set that Ozzy’s voice isn’t the best (was it ever?) the songs are heavy and hit the nerve of nostalgia so hard. Snowblind, War Pigs, Iron Man and Paranoid are obvious highlights, but no less great because of it. With the downpour drastically thinning the crowd, the views are spectacular and it’s the kind of closing show you hope for – full of hits, none of the new stuff. They will be missed.

Check out our full Black Sabbath review HERE

SUNDAY

With the early morning news that GHOST have cancelled their set today and nightmarish state of the main arena (seriously, it’s the kind of goop bodies arise from in the Walking Dead) today’s bands have to compete with the drowned-rat temperament of all those who’ve camped. Luckily there’s crepes for breakfast, a champagne tent and… hold up, what? I’m down with crumble but there’s no place for Moët in Metal. Come on.

Looking about as country as you can get, Whiskey Myers ease us in gently with Early Morning Shakes on the Encore stage before Amon Amarth give us growly Viking battle tunes from their dragon longship style stage set-up and giant fire canons. It’s even more awesome than it sounds, honestly. Whiplash back to bluesy rock with an inexplicably American sound for Glasgow vocalist Phil Campbell and The Temperance Movement. It’s an unrelentingly great set with a few tracks from the new album but finishing up with Ain’t No Telling from their first, we’re glad to see them back at Download.

On the Maverick stage, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes are, well, doing what they do. There’s a huge mosh pit and lots of people seem to be enjoying themselves, but lots of other people seem to be screwing their noses up and walking away. So we head on over to the main stage for the eponymous Halestorm who have grabbed a massive crowd and are belting out Amen, I Am The Fire and I Miss The Misery. There’s no doubting Lzzy Hale’s vocal prowess but there’s something very Nickelback about them, massively produced and clean, it’s hard to put your finger on it.

Shinedown have that crowd-participation approach that we Brits love to hate, like panto – they want us to jump, so at first we do it sarcastically… then again to reinforce the joke… before you know it everyone is pogoing like a complete tosspot to a band they don’t even really like. Either we’re a very very susceptible nation, or Shinedown are actually doing a good job. I’ve no idea at this point. Delain on the Encore stage have drawn all the raven haired goth girls for a good old headbang but there’s a bit of power missing behind it all. On the Maverick stage Electric Wizard are heavy in a way that makes your stomach drop but it's Gojira who really make our skin crawl, in the best kind of way.

Disturbed are actually forcing joy out of otherwise non-fans today with the likes of Simon & Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence – a stalwart of their tour repertoire. In an epic hit-to-hit continuous play we get; U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For with Lzzy Hale, The Who’s Baba O’Riley with Blaze Bayley and RATM’s Killing In The Name with Benjamin Burnley of Breaking Benjamin. Where else are you gonna see that kind of mash up? Let’s be honest though, we’re all waiting for Down With The Sickness, and Disturbed give it to us with a cry of “I think it’s apparent the entire United Kingdom has been infected with sickness…”

Nightwish are plagued from the off with the heaviest downpour of the weekend but that’s never done anything to quiet this truly epic band before. Lords of the symphonic circuit, Nightwish have been the subject of more drama than any other band, public shamings and bootings aside – they seem to have bounced back each time. In Floor Jansen they’ve found a vocalist capable of traversing Tarja Turunen’s operatic realm and the rock sound they’ve been moving steadily towards over the last few albums, and she hits the stage dressed like a Valkyrie, which I guess, is the point really. With giant bursts of fire from stage canons, Nightwish (and the now extraordinarily drenched fans) power through some of the strongest numbers of the entire weekend. Nemo’s the one everyone has been waiting for, and though it will never quite be the same without Tarja, it packs a punch and remains a fan favourite. It seems Download loves Nightwish, no matter who’s fronting. Especially that dude vogue-ing the shit out of it at the back.

Headlining the Maverick stage Saxon get more than they bargained for – the tent is bursting at its seams with the soggy and groggy, warming themselves up for Maiden with the Yorkshire boys. 747 (Strangers in the Night) is melodic-shreddingly amazing, And The Bands Played On is the perfect description of what Saxon seem to intend to do… forever… and Wheels of Steel has every single person singing along. Biff’s voice and determination is as strong as ever.

As is typical of Sunday headliners at Download, there is very little crossover of other stages, and Iron Maiden also joining us a little later than intended means the arena is absolutely COVERED in bodies. Thankfully the rain has stopped just in time for the screens to switch over to Eddie TV and Bruce Dickinson to emerge from centre stage for If Eternity Should Fail. Through a Book Of Souls heavy set we are well and truly smacked with the fact that Bruce’s throat cancer surgery has done nothing to dull his vocals or his enthusiasm, he races the stage with the same wild abandon he has always had. In the wake of Black Sabbath’s ending, it’s sort of comforting to know that Maiden have no plans to quit any time soon. Hell, they just got a new plane.

Old favorites The Trooper, Hallowed Be Thy Name and Fear Of The Dark are every bit as heart-stoppingly brilliant as we’ve come to expect, the stage sets and animatronics just can’t be rivaled. With an epic encore of The Number Of The Beast, Blood Brothers and Wasted Years, Maiden came, saw, conquered. With a long speech regarding this weekend’s tragic events in Orlando, an incredible set and more energy than any one of us can muster after three days in a field – Bruce may as well have done an actual mic drop.

Read our full Iron Maiden review HERE

So what to make of Download 2016? As always controversy over headliners is rife for this sort of festival. With a genre so diverse, with arguably warring factions – there’s always going to be something you love, and something you hate. That’s kind of the point right? If you loved the whole lineup everything would clash. If you hated the whole lineup, you wouldn’t buy a ticket. This year, Download seemed to have secured bands from a whole heap of genres without one heavily dominating the others and let’s be honest – seeing Rammstein, Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden on the same bill is really pretty incredible when you think about it. But who the hell is going to top this? Roll on DL2017’s announcements and the ensuing forum arguments we will inevitably be part of…

All photographs © A. Hyams, please do not use without permission.

Iron Maiden – Download 2016 Review

Well, the arena is awash with the kind of sludge you dream up monsters emerging from and everyone we pass is in varying states of ‘fuck-it’ at this point. Little has been done to calm the quagmire overnight it seems and as the rain poured steadily throughout the day (and then horrifically during Nightwish’s set) there are actual rivers becoming moats between the stages. If you were the guy throwing yourself down the hill with wild abandon after the first falling-over incident, because why the hell not – you sir, I salute you.

However, it is with sheer luck that we stand here tonight waiting for Iron Maiden and only a tiny speckle of rain is upon us… obviously the weather-gods knew that we’d need to ditch our umbrellas to properly rock out for this. As the sky begins to darken and the thousands upon thousands of bodies cram the main stage area, a Mayan temple backdrop and stage set are unveiled which look rather like a section of The Crystal Maze. Bruce materializes from the centre stage gangway for If Eternity Should Fail and below him Nikko takes to his drum nook to begin the show. Seriously – a drum nook. It sounds like something I should have at home.

Yelling “England, how the fuck are you?” was probably only going to incite sarcasm at this juncture, as the soggy crowd snark back “fucking wet”, but Bruce has probably spent his afternoon in a cushy hotel following his flight over on Ed Force One. With visuals of the plane being hurled out of jungle vines by Eddie and a raft of fire cannons going off, it’s clear Maiden are going to put on the kind of show we were hoping for and as the notes ring out for Children of the Damned it’s pretty much a given that Bruce has lost none of the power or range after his surgery for throat cancer.

Dubbing it ‘Downpour festival’ Bruce seems to be keen on interacting with the crowd more this tour, quipping “I usually have a go at people texting in the pit… and I look down and it's our fucking manager! What a cunt! He has a hotline to the weather… we said please stop the rain for Maiden”. Though we are British and used to a rain-lashing at Download, it is pretty nice to not watch through the crackle of a crap poncho.

Next up is Tears of a Clown – a song written about and dedicated to the late Robin Williams, a song Bruce says the band “never thought they’d play live”, followed by The Red and The Black. I mean, I know it’s a stop on The Book of Souls tour, but they really are going heavy on the new album songs. It seems a shame that anyone new to Maiden here won’t get to fully experience the complete rush of hearing 85 thousand people singing along to every single word of every single song. The new tracks just haven’t sunk in yet.

Not to worry too much though, as The Trooper – with Bruce in his red jacket racing around the stage with his flag, is absolutely brilliant as always, leading into heavy Powerslave. Hallowed Be Thy Name is shouted into the night by everyone in the arena and Fear Of the Dark is accompanied by the traditional ‘ooohs’ and what once were lighters held aloft is now a sea of phone screens.

Some joking about monkeys, a very unstable Eddie (on stilts) and many “Scream for me Donington”’s aside, it’s been a non-stop show, and as a flipping GIANT Eddie head emerges from the back of the stage to stare his red eyes out into the crowd, we know that we still have twenty minutes and an epic encore to go.

Joining the band on stage for Number Of The Beast is… well, the beast. Sporting a sometimes crooked set of horns and a countenance reminiscent of battle-worn teachers during ofsted, the giant bust oversees a rampage of fire from the stage and sound tent. There’s something cathartic about screaming “666” into the sky with thousands of other people, maybe it’s the teenage rebel inside.

Bruce tells us “We’ve done this six times… frankly it’s got to stop.” to a rousing ‘boooo’ from everyone in the arena, but a promise of a giant stadium show next year for 80 thousand people (it’s definitely Wembley then…) raises a roar of appreciation. Going on to talk about the fresh news of the awful mass shooting in Orlando this weekend as “Senseless and stupid” Bruce assures us that “Maiden is one big musical family…. I don’t care what gender, what colour, what creed, what religion…” which gets the biggest applause of the night from this crowd many of whom are on the margins of society in everyday life themselves. Bruce also speaks of the Bataclan attack and urges everyone to not be like that and retaliate but to spread “music and love” instead, saying “…my friends, we are all Blood Brothers” bringing them around to one of Maiden’s grandest showpiece songs. The magnitude of the meaning is not lost on anyone, after the horrific reports we have seen on the internet today.

With a starry night backdrop and a circle of stars around Eddie’s head (which could be mistaken for an EU reference if we were looking for one…) Maiden finish up with Wasted Years which also seems especially poignant. “It’s more of a heavy metal waltz this one” jokes Bruce, but it does seem odd to end on such a sombre note, without fanfare or fireworks, just a quick “We will be back next year” and the standard Monty Python Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life, to usher us from the arena. Traipsing through the sticky mess of swamp and chair-graveyards towards the exits, we are leaving with a sense of elation that always comes with Maiden shows – you know you’ve just seen something extraordinary, and that is worth all the mud you could have thrown at us.

All photographs © A. Hyams, please do not use without permission.

Download Festival announces even more bands for 2016

Download Festival, the world’s premier rock and metal event, adds another 14 acts to an already huge bill, including All Time Low, The Temperance Movement, The Wildhearts, and Napalm Death. Download Festival takes place on 10-12 June 2016 in Donington Park. Tickets are on sale now.

Joining headliners Rammstein, Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden for three days of unmissable rock are All Time Low. With over 1.1 million sales and more than 100 million Youtube views, the US pop-punk rockers are riding high after the last album, Future Hearts topped the UK charts at the end of 2015.

Returning to their Midlands roots are British grindcore pioneers Napalm Death. Since forming in 1981, Napalm Death have gone on to influence a legion of hardcore fans and musicians alike, they’ll be joined by Geordie punk rockers The Wildhearts whose original member Ginger will be returning to the line up after various solo projects.

Californian skate punk legends, Pennywise, will play Download Festival for the first time in over 10 years, headlining the third stage on Saturday. Their speedy and infectiously catchy punk anthems will ensure everyone knows why they are still one of the most relevant forces in punk today.

Bringing some powerful blues-rock to the festival’s Lemmy Stage, will be critically acclaimed The Temperance Movement, whose recent UK tour was lauded as one of the highlights of rock already this year. Currently one of the rock community’s most revered underground bands Glassjaw, will be making their debut Download appearance in June. The post-punk innovators have recently debuted six brand new songs and will be bringing their unmissable east coast underground sound to Download.

Texan hard-rockers Scorpion Child will be joining the line-up to showcase their 1970s Krautrock and Psychedelia inspired metal sound as will Scandinavian garage-rock band Royal Republic. Making their Download debuts are trans-Atlantic blues, rock and soul quartet Buck & Evans. Joining them and tipping their hat to the likes of Mastodon and Avenged Sevenfold are Scattering Ashes and psych-rockers Weirds who will be bringing their trademark energetic and eclectic show to Download.

Metalcore supergroup, Devil You Know, brings together John Sankey, Francesco Artusato, Howard Jones and Logan Mader to create a blinding sound. Their latest album Stay of Execution was released at the end of last year, ready to be executed to the Download crowd this summer.

UK’s own The Raven Age will be joining the line up fresh off the back of supporting Download’s own headliners Iron Maiden on their 2016 world tour as will The Shrine who’ll be bringing their LA skater vibes to Donington.

Download Festival is the home of rock music and takes place on the sacred grounds of Donington Park, which have been associated with rock since the eighties. The festival attracts icons of rock and metal to its main stage, plus some of the best and hottest new acts in the world. AC/DC, KISS, Metallica, Aerosmith, Guns N’ Roses, Rage Against The Machine, Slipknot, Linkin Park and many more have all headlined its main stage.