Download festival. Something since secondary school that to me conjured up ideas of debauchery , drinking, rock chicks, camping fun, banter and of course great music! The mecca for rock and metal lovers alike, all across the world people came to this home land of rock to sample some the best music from this genre (and this is not a guess the tent next to me had two Dutch brothers with the last name of Van Damme)! But due too many unfortunate circumstances the 2012 Download was destined to be my first. But what a year could I have chosen to start my Download journey! First and foremost it was the festivals 10th anniversary of existence. But to me even more importantly the line-up and even more importantly than that, the three main headliners. On Friday it was the insane “Prodigy”, on Saturday it was the incredible “Metallica” and on Sunday, resurrected from music and Metal history, the invincible, the legendary, the Grandfathers of Heavy Metal themselves “Black Sabbath”!
Now down to the serious stuff, the event itself. I am going to tell you now that for me it was nothing like I imagined, but do not take that as me say it was amazing because, I’m sorry to say, it wasn’t. It was average at best. The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Download is mud, then secondly mud with shit, piss, beer, people and hay in it and then thirdly more fucking mud. Oh and the rain, we shouldn’t forget about the rain. But we can’t blame the organisers (as much as I would like too) for the weather but the mud I whole heartedly do place all the blame upon their dry washed haired heads.
Please understand, I bought a five day camping ticket and the first two days had no music at all, to my genuine surprise, because although I knew this before I went I thought they would have some unsigned stuff going on or smaller bands, but no apparently they want us all bored to hell and back so when the bands do start (late) we appreciate them all the more. But that meant that I had 2 days of rain, mud and depression to contend with, I nearly went home in those first two days more times than I care to remember. What seemed to make it worse was the fact that everyone else around me loved it. They had money to buy things like food, drinks and chairs, I did not. They had plenty of food and space in their tent to spread out and be in genuine comfort, I did not; I had a nylon cocoon of claustrophobia and, of course, mud. They had fun. I did not.
Then Friday came, with nothing more than a glimmer of sunshine all day, I was so excited that I woke 2 hours before anyone else, although again that is more likely down to the fact that they were all pissed the night before but never the less I was excited and more so by the fact that I could use a reasonable decent toilet. The walk down to the stages was exciting, long, muddy and crowded but I was, for the first time in 2 days, excited. However big disappointment waited when, not only was the start postponed by an hour and a half, I missed a band I wanted to see “Cancer Bats”. Typical I thought, is this how this weekend going to go? I was annoyed to say the least and when we did get in the band on first “Fear factory” was shit. The sound was all wrong, it was too quiet, they didn’t seem comfortable on stage and most of all I was still annoyed by the fact “Cancer Bats” would have wiped the floor with this band and this point was proven when they got to play one song on the “Billy Talent” set. It was fantastically good, filled with energy, power, anger and most of all charisma; they did in many ways out do “Billy Talent”.
Fast forwarding a few hours of shitty bands playing play shit we get to (as the fans like to shout) “MACHINE FUCKING HEAD”. They were as you would expect technically brilliant, just as good as the albums. But that was the problem, they were just as good as the albums, nothing special as you would expect of a band on the main stage, if I wanted that I could have saved a few quid and just listen to their CD, which I already own. “Chase and status” were on after that and they were good but shouldn’t have been at download, some may call this closed minded but after many high school dreams of this glorious rock weekend they just didn’t fit into it. And then the moment I was watching for “The Prodigy”, they were fantastic, great stage presence along with a great back catalogue, well-chosen and played brilliantly.
Then the muddy and depressing walk back to the tent.
The next two days I’ll Try and sum quickly because I sense you getting a bit bored and you have stuff to do. So here we go.
Saturday, wake up. Go toilet. Go stages. “Skindred” acoustic set was good, “Steel Panther” and “Tenacious D” were a bit of a joke but that is the point of them so they were good however “Steel Panther” were infinitely better, how could you not like seeing the lead singer shove his microphone into a sex dolls arse and sing out of it, plus every woman in the close vicinity of the cameras got their tits out, so I’m not going to complain about them one bit. I then got rather drunken thanks to the financial aid of a couple of Dutch guys and there car boot filled with lovely Dutch beer. I pushed my way to the front of the tent and fell in love with “Corey Taylor’s” acoustic outing, he was phenomenal. And then it was “Metallica’s” turn to try and wow me, they did, you’ll never go a bad “Metallica” concert. Plus their full Black Album! Just wow. I walked back and got Muddy.
Sunday, wake up. I Stopped, and looked at the sky and nearly cryed with happiness, was that warm sun light I could see and feel upon my skin? Anyway I put my shorts on for the first time. Went to the toilet and then went to the stages. And typically in the first day of sun light I got very sunburnt and nearly got sun stroke. I hate weather. Anyway “Shinedown” seemed to fade into nothingness in the weekend it was that dull. The “Refused” were something spectacular, angry, punkie and most of all fresh. The “Dropkick Murphy’s” up next with their fun and unique mix between metal, punk and folk. It was well performed and very fun. It was the highlight of the weekend next, “Black Sabbath”. They were the legends you would expect, Ozzy singing with remarkable talent for what’s happened to him over the years and Tony playing like the god he is, an amazing end to a perfectly average, long, muddy weekend.
I think the problem many people now face when going to festivals or even some gigs is that you now pay so much you feel like you have to enjoy it. If you don’t force yourself to enjoy it then you feel like you have been ripped off. I’m not like that, it’s their job to make it fun for me, not the other way round I’m sorry to say, I’m the one paying, near enough makes no difference, two hundred pounds of my well-earned student loan. After being around, as they like to constantly declare, for ten years they could somehow help the atrocious mud issues instead of throwing down a bit of hay and hoping for the best. Just because you pay a lot for something doesn’t mean you have to enjoy it and to make yourself seem more fun to other people!
Oh and one last thing, it was very muddy.