Ya know, I’m looking back at all this stuff I did last year, I’m wondering how the hell I did it all! Seriously, most people would have probably keeled over at the half-way point! Mind you, I live by one saying; sleep is for when I’m dead. With that in mind, let’s aptly move on to the next big event I partook in… Download Festival
Download Festival – 8th-12th June 2016
Having previously attended in 2009, 2013, and last year, I was definitely up for round 4, especially with my all-time favourite band being the headline act (but more on them later.)
Having opted for the five-night camping on the Wednesday (the bands didn’t start until the Friday), the first two days of glorious weather involved lots of festivities involving silly drunkenness with awesome people. Long story short, the start of a festival is always a massive party, and it’s great fun!
This lasted until Friday, when the bands started… and then came the rain. Tons of the fucking stuff. Drownload all over again. Amidst all this, we still went to check out Babymetal. I’ve enjoyed listening to them, and seeing their videos, but to see them live was something else. Even with the rain pouring down, they still danced around stage effortlessly, and injected some well needed energy into the festival. Definitely the strong start that was needed.
Babymetal braved the rain, and showed everyone how it’s done!
With the weather being a bit crap, I needed to change into something a bit more waterproof, so didn’t get back to the arena until Korn. Needles to say, as with all their performances, they were on-point. It was great to see them perform their hits. Even after all these years, they still manage to nail it!
Korn, still on top form, as ever
Remember how I said I was there for my favourite band of all-time? This was the main reason I was here, Rammstein… and mein gott, they were great! Opening with a new track ‘Ramm4’, they stormed onto the stage with a fantastic set. I do admit, the first half was a bit slow, and they picked some weird tracks to play live, but it was clearly a set for more hardcore fans (I was happy to finally see ‘Hallelujah’ and ‘Zestören’ live.) Of course, it all built up to a blistering second half filled with pyro and epic stunts galore, including epics like ‘Ich Will’, ‘Sonne’ and ending with the massive ‘Engel’! I’ll be honest here, this is mostly bais, and even though I absolutely loved to see the return of my heroes, it still felt like there was something missing. I guess it’s fair to argue that bands like Rammstein run their own show, the festival atmosphere doesn’t suit them all too well. Besides, they’re probably saving the big guns for their inevitable world tour (whenever that bloody happens.)
Rammstein bring the flames!
Saturday came…. and so did more rain. For a change of pace, I decided to check out NXT with some mates. For the first time ever, the festival was hosting wrestling events over the weekend, and they boasted some pretty big superstars too. I’d never checked out any wrestling live before, and only knew small details here and there. I enjoyed every minute of what I saw, and walked away really impressed with it! It’s all a blur, but I got to see some great! Whilst we were waiting, we managed to catch Rival Sons at the main stage. I’d never listened to them before, but I liked what I heard, and they had quite a strong presence. Having released a new album literally the day before, they seemed to resonate well with the crowd. I appreciated the bluesy, southern style sound they have, and I’ll be keeping an eye on these guys in the future.
Megadeth’s epic stage set-up
Megadeth stormed onto the stage next with ‘Hangar 18’, and they were clearly pulling all the punches. It was a pretty epic set, even including a cover of ‘Anarchy in the UK’ with Nikki Sixx. The set ended with, of course, ‘Holy Wars…’ and it was a superb finale. Lemmy, having sadly passed away last year, naturally meant that Motorhead wouldn’t be there (they had previously been scheduled a slot the day before.) However, in tribute, Dave Mustaine presented the first ever “Spirit of Lemmy” award to HHH, who gave a very moving speech about our fallen hero. It was a fitting tribute. Deftones were up next, and they were pretty awesome too. For a band with such a name, they were pretty much spot on! Lead singer Chino Moreno was really going for it, and jumped and pranced around the stage like a grasshopper on steroids, making it one of the most energetic performances of the weekend.
Chino Moreno was mental during Deftones!
Black Sabbath brought an end to the Saturday, and they were pretty good. Ozzy Osbourne’s skills as a performer is a pretty controversial topic, as the opinion on his skills these days is 50/50. Personally, I do think he’s not in top-form any more, but he was still rather brilliant. In fact, the entire band was brilliant. This, being their last ever show at a UK festival, was a very emotional moment. I’m pretty gutted I actually missed the latter half of the set. It absolutely pissed it down, and my waterproof stuff stopped being waterproof, so I had to evacuate. If anyone has any tickets going for their final show in Birmingham on February 4th, let me know. I need to make up for this!
The place was rammed for Black Sabbath, and rightly so
Sunday arrived, and it was one last chance to rock. Although I admit, I was really feeling the punishment from the parting and weathering of the past four days. First band I checked out were Breaking Benjamin. This was the first ever time they had been to the UK, and having been a fan for many years, I was really excited to see them. Needless to say, they were amazing, I could feel my teenage self inside of me screaming with absolute joy! Opening with ‘So Cold’ they broke into hits such as ‘Blow Me Away’, ‘Sooner or Later’ and ended with ‘The Diary of Jane’. There was even a section where they covered segments of ‘The Imperial March’, Tool’s ‘Schism’, Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and Pantera’s ‘Walk’. It was all great fun, but an odd choice in a (criminally) short set time. Back to the main stage, I went to check out Halestorm. Having seen them before, I knew to expect a great show, and they didn’t fail to impress. They belted out their hit tunes, and lead singer Lzzy Hale truly gave it her all. They even managed to fit in the usual Arejay Hale drum solo. However, I’d have liked to have seen them perform ‘Freak Like Me’. It felt odd in its absence.
Lzzy Hale, during Halestorm’s performance. Awesome stuff!
Next up, another band I’d been really looking forward to, Disturbed. They powered on stage with such force, that you wouldn’t have even known they’d been on hiatus. The effortlessly glided through some of their biggest hits, with an energy that packed a massive punch. oddly, there was a cover section in the middle (what’s with bands doing this?!), with snippets from U2’s ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’, The Who’s ‘Baba O’Riley and Rage Against the Machine’s ‘Killing in the Name’. Each track they also had a guest singer (Lzzy Hale, Blaze Bayley and Benjamin Burnley respectively.) Again, another odd choice for a short set, and it was a bit lost on some people, but I found it extremely good fun! The biggest highlight had to be their cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘The Sound of Silence’ that was performed half way through their set. It was a massive highlight off their latest album ‘Immortalized’ , and I honestly teared up at hearing it live. In natural Disturbed fashion, the set ended with ‘Down With The Sickness’, and sent Donington into a frenzy. They drew a massive crowd, and put on such an epic performance, that it was criminal to see them so low down on the bill. This hour slot proved that they were easily headline material!
Disturbed perform The Sound of Silence, a truly beautiful moment.
Whilst I know Nightwish and Iron Maiden were yet to come, I’d had enough at this point. For me, that was the perfect finish, so I packed my things and left. Did I enjoy myself? Yes, it was epic! I saw my favourite band, some bands I’d never seen, and some I’d only dreamed of seeing. Plus it was awesome fun with great mates! However, if it wasn’t for the weather, I’d have had a much better time. I know it can’t be helped, but I did miss out on a lot of bands that I wanted to see because of it. Even with all the fun, there were still bleak vibes in the atmosphere. Will I do an outdoor festival again. Well, maybe not a British camping one, but I’ll answer that in a later post…