The tenth Download Festival started under a leaden sky. Inclement weather showed the festival goers bulldog (Download Dog!) spirit in abundance and saw 30,000 take to the campsites by the end of Wednesday while torrential rain all day Thursday battered the arena drainage system and efforts to make it safe saw a delayed start on Friday, leading to a couple of bands being bumped off the bill and others hastily rearranged! Tractors sunk into the mud and Fear Factory kicked off the festival playing to a half open arena as a toilet cleaning truck vacuumed up the swamp covering the other half. Meanwhile a 3 hour traffic cue prevented Europe from getting to Download from East Midlands Airport (all of half a mile away!) even though their stage set went up and was hurredly removed.
That was the bad news. The good news was that The Prodigy lit up the clouds, Metallica brought their Snakepit and played the “Black” album backwards and Black Sabbath showed everyone that they are as relevant as ever when Tony Iommi – recovering from a cancer scare – received the loudest cheer of the weekend and played like a band with something to prove.
Any other year Soundgarden & Biffy Clyro would have been considered for headliners but had to make do with “special guest” slots while controvertial booking Chase & Status earned the crowds approval and their rock spurs. Machine Head, Lamb Of God, Devildriver, Fear Factory, Saxon, Megadeth & Anthrax kept it metal while Steel Panther & Tenacious D kept us smiling. And that was just the mainstage!
Slash cemented his living legend status with a second stage headlining slot along with You Me At Six & Rise Against. The old school had an outing with Little Angels, Terrorvision, The Quireboys, Ugly Kid Joe and Sebastian Bach all proving that there is life in the old dogs yet. Killswitch Engage had their first Download outing with original singer Jesse Leach back in the fold. Skindred rocked the joint (as usual the Newport Helicopters were flying) while Nightwish, Opeth, Ginger Wildheart, Fozzy & Dropkick Murpheys all showed that the 2nd stage was full of 1st class entertainment!
The third stage had a diverse selection of bands as demonstrated with headliners The Devin Townsend Project, The Mission and Periphery. The variation continued with comedy thrashers Lawnmower Deth, Trance Metallers Silent Descent, the etherial Ghost and power metallers Edguy all sharing the stage. The top third stage moment came when Download Promoter Andy Copping & Metal Hammer editor Alexander Milas snuck onto the stage at the end of Corey Taylors set to present him with an award for Slipknots 2009 headline set.
With all that you’d be forgiven for overlooking the great sets on show on the fourth & fifth stages – 2012, despite the weather, proved to have one of Downloads strongest lineups ever. Add to the above a smattering of punk legends – Anti-nowhere league, Cockney Rejects & Refused got the crowds pogo-ing across the 2nd, 3rd & 4th stages. Cancer Bats followed planned headliners Gallows (due to conditions) and lets not forget the Jaegermeister acoustic stage – often overlooked but home to great shows from Breed 77, Skindred, Tyla (Dogs D’Amour frontman and all round legend), Toby Jepson, Saint Jude & Fearless Vampire Killers.
So Download begins the march into its second decade – 2013 beckons and is off to a strong start…
Corey Watch: Corey performed solo and received a Metal Hammer Golden God award – Best Download Moment – for Slipknot’s 2009 performance
Forum View: Bad weather on the Thursday cancelled the football Tournament. Boardie BBQ featured a wedding proposal (Accepted!) from boardie Elkaye & music by DJ Apocolypse. Boardie Takeover played to a rammed tent with Seven Deadly, Huron, Allerjen & Lazarus Syndrome. 2009/2010 Boardie Takeover headliners Silent Descent made the leap to the “big leagues” when they played the 3rd Stage.
Words by Phil Hull (HullHellHalifax)