09 June 2017 (gig)
15 June 2017
It feels now in this day and age that real music festivals are few and far between. In these dark times it can often feel the fantastical jam packed line-up of old, new, discovered and burgeoning is sacrificed for cloying glamping gimmicks and experiential, advertising led ploys. Where the catering for instagrammable photo opportunities over-takes its true purpose of immersing you with a packed line-up and facilitating organic opportunities to meet your musical comrades over a simple beer and muddy puddle.
One festival that certainly does not have this issue is Download.
With its roots deep in Monsters of Rock history, this Festival does nothing if not dedicate its entire existence to offering one of the best Rock and Alt-Rock line ups in the world. And 2017 is no exception.
Forever hosted within the Donnington Race track in Derby, this year boasted a plethora of all rock categories. Overall there’s 109 quality bands set over 3 days. Headline giants were System of a Down, Biffy Clyro and AeroSmith.
Others of reputable note were Slayer, Good Charlotte, Rob Zombie, A Day to Remember, Five Finger Death Punch, Steel Panther, Pierce the Veil, Alter Bridge. The list goes on and is exhaustive, but you get the idea. There’s something for everyone and if you’ve got good shoes on, you’re going to see most of it.
After the epic British-summer-weather catastrophe of 2016 that saw them renamed Drownload, they had made visible efforts to avoid such issues again. Of the 85,000 people in attendance there is visible effort to cater for all. A decent smattering of food (even some vegan) and merchandise stalls line the sizable arena that houses three stages. The Main Stage, set at the bottom of a hill, has a great vantage point no matter how far back you stand. Every effort has been made for safety. Crush barriers divide the main stage into four sections which makes it surprisingly easy to get front and center for any band should you wish it.
Download doesn’t take itself too seriously and certainly isn’t a place for fashion over function. Good wellies, jeans and a band tee are all you need. Fair warning, the Village Campsite is located some 20-minute walk away from the arena and the headline act finishes at 10.30pm; but this has been addressed by provision of some seriously great after-hours DJ sets every night, which keep the night going until the early hours. Other necessities such as Tattoo Parlour and Wrestling arena have been added in recent years.
Additionally, they have an new ingenious cup deposit scheme in partnership with GreenPeace. Rather than a million disposable cups covering every inch floor, you "rent" a cup for the weekend for £2. This is refundable at any point.
If you have the cash, their VIP packages (or RIP packages as they’ve cutely renamed it) are certainly worth the money. With prices scaled across an offering of premium car by tent spots, tepee’s, huts and pre-set up tents. This area offers more showers and toilets you can shake a stick at. All come with access to an exclusive bar area and access to the main arena with little to no queuing.
Our stand-outs were the anthemic AFI, who played a nearly exclusively historical set. Creeper, who despite only being in their band’s infancy, drew a huge sing-along crowd at midday on a Saturday. They played incredibly and looked adorably proud of themselves.
Good Charlotte and Sum 41 played with an expected ailing and curmudgeonly attitude, without which would have rendered them gauche. For us, the few hardcore stalwarts won out. Dillinger played their final UK show with such aplomb they refused to stop playing until their sound was cut off. Every Time I Die delivered one of the best festival sets we have ever seen, with near instrumental perfection, whilst still sticking to their off-kilter, adorable insanity.
In short, it’s a relief in these times of gentrification to have at least one festival dedicated to the sole purpose of British festivals. Drink beer, meet like-minded people and provide great music at every moment.