Download of the legal variety pt.1

I am of course talking about the Download festival held at Donnington Park. I attended this year but with trepidation. The music Download plays is, for the most part, not my thing at all. I went mainly as a companion for my significant other who I strongly think may have died without someone to pitch a tent for him. Anyway, I shall just launch right into it.

We booked a coach to take us to Download for one simple reason – It would not matter how tired we were on Monday morning because we wouldn’t have to worry about driving/changing trains/getting a seat or anything else for that matter. We could just fall onto the coach and sleep. I have travelled to festivals on trains before and it was no where near as comfortable or easy as the coach. I think coach travel will be the only way I go to a festival in future. It’s just so convenient! We arrived at the festival grounds by about 12:30 on Thursday afternoon and started trudging across muddy ground to try and find a campsite. The first two sites we went past were all full so we ended up at the black camp site. It wasn’t so bad. It was quite close to the entertainment tents but far enough away to not hear them too much when it was time to sleep. We were also convenient for the water supply taps and toilets. By toilets, I don’t mean the horrible porta loo’s you get, I mean the Comfy Crapper toilets. We had purchased a wristband each from their website that entitled us to unlimited use of clean, chemical free toilets. It was the single best thing we bought all weekend. Festival porta toilets are things of nightmares so to know I could wake up in the morning and not be faced with a horror movie esq. experience was sheer joy. Thank you Comfy Crappers!

Anyway, tent got pitched, airbed got inflated and then we trotted straight off to have a walk around the campsite ‘Village’. It was basically just a mass of food vans and shopping tents. They had an off license though and it would sell you 4 cold cans of pear cider for £5. We wandered around with cans in our hands just soaking up the atmosphere. There really was a huge variety of stalls there. I say clothes places, shoe places, jewellery places, a supermarket, camping retailers, a chlamydia screening place, an all day breakfast ‘cafe’, a bar and many many fair ground rides. It was quite a sight! I didn’t take any picture of the village but I did make a video of a wondrous sight – Domino’s Pizza.

It was glorious! We held off a domino’s pizza until the very last day. We then caved and forked out the £15 they were charging but oh man it was tasty!

A stall that I loved very much was the flag stall. I loved it for 2 reasons. 1) they had some of the funkiest flags I have ever seen and 2) they sold me my Bee. Now my Bee is a beautiful thing. He was intended as a kite really but we strapped him to a pole and made him the navigation point so i could find our tent. I think you’ll agree he’s a charming fellow and quite possibly the only reason I wasn’t hideously lost all weekend.

So Thursday was mainly spent wandering round the village before heading back to the tent for a nice cup of tea. here’s my enjoying the festival luxery

We were fairly drunk and tired on Thursday night so we did just, well, we went to bed quite early. But that was ok because the music started the next morning.

As mentioned previously, I was not really very enthralled by the line up of music on the stages. There were maybe two or three acts I wanted to see. I opted to mainly wander around and have a listen to most things and to just stop and enjoy when I heard something I liked. So, we ventured out on Friday morning. The man knew what he wanted to do so we allocated a rally point and agreed to meet there for food later. I wandered off and into the Tuborg tent. It was here, early on a Friday that I discovered Sleepercurve.

What a joy they were to listen to! I have a very good ear for music. It’s an ear that earned my review privileges on the Roadrunner Street team many years ago and a spot on local radio reviewing bands. It’s never really failed me when I have hunted for talent and ingenuity in a band or single musician so when it liked Sleepercurve I thought I ought to pay some attention. Sleepercurve is the only band since Mad at Gravity that made my hairs stand on end in all the right places. Their sound was, basically, flawless. You can tell how much blood, sweat tears and grey matter have been applied to every song they played. There were completely polished in every sense. I would estimate less than 100 people were in the tent for their segment but that didn’t matter, Sleepercurve played it like they were on the main stage with 50,000 watching them. Here’s a snap I took of the singer/guitarist mid excitement

I really could not have asked for anything more. The start of my festival went much better than expected thanks to these fine fellows and their music. I could rattle on more about them but I really shouldn’t as there’s a lot more blog to get through so we shall leave Sleepercurve there with a single word. Awesome.

Next I tottered over to the main stage and caught the end of Hollywood Undead. Their music was unimaginative, samey and really just a lot like House of Pain. Thankfully I only had to suffer the last 5 minutes of their set.

The next band up on the main stage were ‘The Blackout’. These guys had something very interesting going on. They had one vocalist shouting at me, and one vocalist singing very well at me. I’m still not sure about how sold I am on this fusion of singing and shouting but it didn’t offend me by a long shot. I stood and listened to their whole set so I must take my hat off to them. I am normally very offended by bands that ‘shout’ at me but I forgave these blokes because the singing was enough to get my fingers back out my ears. The tunes were catchy and I tapped my foot but my ears remained confused. I can see these guys doing very well. Think Lost Prophets but not useless live.

By now we were pretty much in the thick of the main stage crowd so we just hung about and watched the next two acts on there. First up was Staind. I remember this band form years back. They were very miserable then and they’re still very miserable now. Catchy tunes but I like my wrists intact so i didn’t listen too hard for fear of an overwhelming need to kill myself. The members also just stood still on stage. All in all, a subdued and melancholy performance.

Billy Talent. Oh Billy Talent! How happy thou did make me! After standing through Staind and feeling like the sky might actually fall, Billy Talent were the explosion of energy and happy feelings the crowd needed. I thought they were bloody brilliant. The sound they make is completely mental, but they’re from Canada so that’s explained away fairly easily. The guitarists hair is also simply fabulous. It’s taller than most houses and perfectly sculpted. I do feel though that Billy Talent lose a lot when translated to disc. I enjoyed them much more live than I do their recorded stuff. If you have maybe a vague liking of Billy Talent from their album you MUST see them live. They will make you fall in love with them through sheer enthusiastic mentalness.

I exited stage left for Killswitch Engage. I remembered form my Roadrunner days how noisy they were and how big their fans normally are. I left my boyfriend in the middle for them and escaped to a safe distance for cider, beer and an ice cream. he said Killswitch were very good but you’ll have to take his word for it.

Next were the three big headliners. Limp Bizkit, Korn and Faith No More. I was looking forward to Limp Bizkit and Korn because my teens had been spent rocking out to songs like Nookie and A.D.I.D.A.S. I will admit that limp Bizkit did not disappoint. I had a sinking feeling that they would be utter rubbish but they weren’t. They seemed sincerely pleased to be back and playing a big show again. I thoroughly enjoyed their set and was surprised when Fred Durst pulled 2 fans out the crowed and allowed them to jump all over the stage and join in with the performance on 2 songs. Those guys really did look like every Christmas, birthday and New Year had just arrived at once. The elation on their faces was unmatched by anything else I saw that weekend. Truly inspiring viewing.

Korn made me sad. They made me sad because they were distinctly average. After a day of new discoveries and being surprised at the quality of music, Korn let the side down. Very little movement on stage, the same chit chat with the crowd that every other band had done all day long. nothing original, nothing exiting, nothing new but more importantly – not enough classics! the classics they did do weren’t delivered with much oomph either. How sad that made me.

Finally Faith No More. What a hype they had made for themselves. Only playing one show at Brixton before a massive crowd like Download. Kissing and making up especially to tour etc etc. I left after three songs. The singer was off tune and unsteady, the guitarist seemed to be off on his own planet. Only the drummer and bassist seemed to actually be on the stage and focusing. Such a let down! I tramped back to the tent with the distinct feeling that a promising start had been sorely let down by the 2 main headliners on the main stage. I wish i had gone over to the second stage for Motley Crue but by then I was beyond consoling.

Saturday had to provide better results…………………….to be continued!

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