I’ve desperately wanted to go to Download Festival since I was about 13 or 14. However, I was prevented from going with some anxiety issues I’d had since childhood and a lack of money! When my husband won tickets, I was delighted and determined to enjoy a weekend of rock and metal!
I was desperate to go, but there was the issue of Autumn. Download Festival doesn’t allow you to take under 5s.
She has separation anxiety, so we couldn’t leave her with my parents. In the end, Dave (my husband) said he’d look after her for the weekend while my Dad and I went. Dave isn’t really into the music at Download anyway, whilst my Dad is into similar music to me.
She seemed quite happy and settled in the hotel room when we arrived. I was looking forward to a weekend of being pretty much child free and getting to be ‘myself’ again, not just mummy.
Stalls, loos & rides
I’d never been to a festival before, so everything was new to me. I was overwhelmed by the size of it and the sheer amount of stalls, especially food stalls! I was pretty much expecting lots of dirty port-a-loos, a couple of greasy burger bars and a beer stand.
However, there was lots of choice. There were stalls selling all kinds of foods, including sushi, fish and chips, bunny chow and pizza. There were lots of stalls with items of clothing on. I bought a bandana and a Download t-shirt, as well as a few vests and t-shirts for Autumn. The first day that I was at the festival, I’d actually put her in her AC/DC vest, so that she could kind of be there in spirit.
One stall had merchandise which had zombified looking Pokemon on. They had a giant Pikachu to promote it!
There was also a mini fairground in the middle, with rides including a ferris wheel!
Clothing & costumes
It was fun looking to see what everyone was wearing. Lots of people were wearing band shirts, but some actually wore fancy dress costumes! When we arrived at Download, we saw a man dressed as Bo Beep, complete with a crook. Of course, he had several men dressed as sheep following behind him!
Shortly after being security checked and getting into the festival, we saw these guys dressed up as Baywatch characters, complete with fake boobs and pubic wigs…sexy! They even had a shark with them.
There were lots of people in various other fancy dress and humorous onesies. One guy that particularly stood out was wearing a nurse costume and had his bum out. He was clearly having a good time!
While watching Slayer on Sunday, I also spotted Mario Kart characters behind us. My favourite was Princess Peach, just because he looked the funniest!
Music on Saturday
Of course, the main draw of Download is the music! Once I’d kicked anxiety’s butt, I couldn’t wait to go and rock out.
On Saturday, my Dad and I spent most of the day exploring the stalls. However, we did watch part of Of Mice and Men‘s set. We also saw Pierce the Veil and A Day to Remember, who were very energetic and had beach balls floating around the front of the crowd. I’d never listened to any of them, but quite enjoyed their sets. I was somewhat looking forward to seeing AFI. I hadn’t listened to AFI since I was about 15 or 16 and was pleasantly surprised to find out that I hadn’t outgrown their music after all. They’ve grown and evolved with the times, and Davey Havok looks better than he did 10 years ago! Singing along to Miss Murder at the end of their set, I could feel the 15 year old me screaming with joy inside! I’m disappointed I missed Rob Zombie though.
However, it was Biffy Clyro I was most looking forward to seeing at Download. I prefer their older music and haven’t really followed them in recent years and it seemed a bit of a strange choice for a headline act. However, that wasn’t going to stop me. We got near the front and waited, and waited, and waited…
When they arrived on stage, blue and white streamers flew everywhere! The set was a great combination of older and newer songs. A highlight for me was Mountains, as it’s one of my favourite Biffy songs and has a lot of meaning to hubby and I.
The stage effects were awesome and so was the crowd. People were getting up on each other’s shoulders and building human towers. The mosh pit got quite nasty though; there was blood!
I was buzzing; in seeing Biffy Clyro I had fulfilled yet another teenage wish.
Music on Sunday
As my dad put it to the taxi driver on Sunday morning, for us Saturday was a “warm up” There were lots of bands we wanted to see on Sunday!
The Cadillac Three
We stopped by a couple of stalls to get my dad a baseball cap and some paracetamol. It was only Happy Shopper, but I think he said he paid £3 for it! The fish and chips he’d had the night before hadn’t been great, but set him back £7. There is a captive audience and they know it! Anyway, I digress. Once we’d got headache helping items, we started off by seeing The Cadillac Three. My dad said he’d heard of them and I had too, although neither of us had listened to them. I’m afraid they weren’t really to my taste, and I’m not sure they were to my dad’s either.
In Flames were the band that really got me into metal, so I was looking forward to seeing them, although I much prefer their older music. I wasn’t entirely impressed with their set, but was pleased that they played Leeches, as that was the song that first got me into them! When thy spoke between songs, they were quite funny too. It reminded me of the bonus disc I had with the A Sense of Purpose album that showed them messing around in the studio, joking and participating in ‘naked Wednesdays’.
After In Flames were on, we had a little time to kill before Airbourne played. We headed up the hill, when I heard music coming from the Dogtooth stage and we decided to head there. It turned out the Love Zombies were playing there, a band who have been described as a blend between The Ramones and Blondie. I could definitely hear 70s and 80s punk rock influences in their music. With bright lighting and energetic performance with great stage presence, I was glad that I’d seen them performing by chance. They’re definitely a band I’m going to be doing some more looking into.
Once their set had finished, we headed back down the hill to watch Airbourne. Both my dad and I had possibly listened to them on the radio before, but never really set out to listen to them. After seeing them at Download, though, that’s changed. They were funny in between music, and the music was great too. At one point, they spotted a guy in a Dipsy costume in the mosh pit and said “What the f*ck is that? That’s what not to wear at Download!”
The vocals, drums and guitar were brilliant. I’m going to be finding them on YouTube and listening to them more. I think the highlight, though, was when someone wearing a kangaroo costume got onto the stage. The lead singer put his arm around him while he was singing, then ended up riding around on the kangaroo’s shoulders in the crowd WHILST STILL PLAYING GUITAR. Now, that takes some skills!
Next up were Steel Panther, a band that I’d never heard of, but my dad had. When they came on the stage, it suddenly made sense why I’d been seeing so many people wearing brightly coloured spandex and 80s mullet wigs. Let me tell you, I thought that 80s hair metal was dead, but these guys prove it’s not! They’re like an over sexualised Def Leppard, pushing EVERYTHING to the extreme. The entertainment isn’t just the music, they make innuendos and sexual jokes at every opportunity…which makes for some awkward watching if you’re there with a parent!
They don’t take anything seriously, and their music and performance was a LOT of fun. Definitely one of the highlights of the weekend!
Opeth, Alter Bridge & Slayer
We headed over to the Zippo stage to see Opeth, who were pretty good. We couldn’t get very close to them though, it was very busy over there.
After a while, we headed to get some food and back to the main stage to catch Alter Bridge. I’ve listened to Alter Bridge a lot over the years. Sadly, I didn’t enjoy them as much as I thought I would. I found the set all quite samey.
Once they’d finished performing, we went back up the hill over to the Zippo stage to see Slayer. As you may have guessed, we did a LOT of walking over the weekend, each racking up around 20 miles in two days. Slayer were really good, but once again we couldn’t even get anywhere near close. They must have been one of the most popular acts of the weekend!
The last act of the night we wanted to see was Aerosmith, as we had to drive back down to Kent as my mum and Dave (husband) had work on Monday morning. We caught the beginning of the set and it was fantastic.
I kept looking back as we left, not wanting to miss a thing (haha, see what I did there?)
On a serious note though, I was really disappointed to only get to see the first two songs. I even missed Dave and I’s first dance song! It’s Aerosmith’s farewell tour this year too, so I’ll probably never get the chance again either.
However, I feel so lucky to have had SUCH an amazing weekend that was so much fun!