Just over 10 years ago I was constantly being told I need to go to Download. Every year I’d see massive Headliners and never decided to go, this year I did it.
Having my doubts about Biffy Clyro being a headliner I decided this year I was going to try and get there. Airbourne, Massive Wagons, Iron Maiden, Lacuna Coil and Megadeth were drawing me there.
I assumed it was going to cost me an absolute fortune even though my ticket was press but was surprised how little money I spent. I booked a return train from Manchester to Derby in advance (£30) and planned to use a shuttle bus to Download.
The site was massive, I was bolloxed before I’d even started, my campsite took forever to get to but when I was set up…….adrenaline kicked in and I was sorted.
Usually I’d have access to a Photo Pit but this time I was shooting from the crowd which was going to take some adjustment. I was surprised how much the crowd didn’t mind me shuffling through to get a good vantage point. As I’m used to, Rock and Metal fans are the friendliest fans out there, always chatty. One woman even tapped me on the shoulder to let me know a Guitarist was posing in front of me, I had my camera pointed far away. Embarrassing really but Thank you.
Because I’m constantly moving from stage to stage to get shots, I rarely see Artists perform more than a few songs. I was determined to see Lacuna Coil for the lot, I got my pics and parked. I’ve only been a fan for about a year, since Swamped played on Spotify and I can’t stop listening to them………….they never played Swamped!!!!
With my bottom lip sticking out I spent the rest of the day soaking up Download, with Airbourne, Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes and finally KISS. I actually saw KISS play their final French show at Hellfest in 2019, well I say saw, heard, as I’d had an argument with my Girlfriend at the time and spent the set kissing arse.
This time I stayed for a good hour and they really are amazing, epic songs, epic performance from an epic band.
There was one thing I wasn’t expecting with Download, I stayed in the Guest Campsite and it was right on the path for planes taking off. When you are awake, you get used to it but when you aren’t, you pretty much wake up thinking you are about to skull fucked by Satan. All my clean underwear was used on first night.
The next morning I was a bit more organised, I managed to get myself a ‘breakfast on a baguette’ with a brew for £12 which In comparison to the day before I thought was a bargain. Saturdays line up was full of familiar bands……Bush, Iron Maiden, Megadeth and Shinedown. There were a few I’d never heard before and will be keeping my eye out for them in future especially Cassyette and Ice Nine Kills……these 2 really shone, I like different.
I’ve always wanted to see Iron Maiden live and sadly I could only get about 5 songs in before I had to leave to sort an issue out. A bit gutted but I will see them again. I got to see Eddie though.
Something I did discover that night was the Co-op. I’d heard there was one but clueless to where it was. I walked in to ‘firestarter’ booming, there were people all down the aisles dancing, was so surreal but brilliant.
Cheap food and drink with The Prodigy on full blast, perfect ending to Saturday.
I’m not going to lie, Sunday I was so tired. I knew I had to get home by Public Transport the next day and get to work by 2pm. Sunday was going to be at my own pace, getting as much in as I could without flooring myself. Massive Wagons was a must, seen them so many times and it’s almost like one of the family is playing Download!!
But prior to them were Wargasm on the Main Stage. I’d been told they were a bit out there, they were so good, again different.
By the time Biffy Clyro came on, I had been to see The Darkness, Volbeat, Baroness, Yonaka and Korn. Yonaka starred in the Dogtooth Tent.
I take back my misgivings about Biffy Clyro, I am used to festivals that are predominantly Metal, Download is more Rock, with Metal too. They fitted right in and were an excellent end to the weekend.
I will 100% be back, one of the best festivals i’ve been to, took me a while to find my feet but was great after that. I made it home the next day, had to go straight to work with my case, 10 minutes to spare…….Phew!!
Thank you for all letting me join your Download Family, see you next year.
Words and Photos by Philip Goddard