A few observations about this year’s Download…
Download 2016 may be over, but the memories – not to mention rogue aches and pains in our legs/backs – will live on. It was an amazing three days of music which gave us a lot to savour and even more to think about, stuff like:
1. WAS THIS THE BEST IRON MAIDEN SHOW EVER?
Could well have been. At least top three. The cauldron, the massive Mayan Eddie, the fact that they included six new songs and you didn’t even notice they didn’t do Run To The Hills until after they were finished… This was a classic, ladies and gents. Let’s just hope they were recording it for Live At Donington II.
2. WIND AND RAIN MAKE BLACK SABBATH BETTER
Black Sabbath (the band) opened with Black Sabbath (the song). No need for the usual forboding stormy intro on a tape, we had it all live. Which, actually, was quite an enjoyable way of getting sucked into Tony Iommi’s monolithic intro riff.
3. RAMMSTEIN’S NEW SONG IST WUNDERBAR
And catchy to boot. ‘Ja! Nein! Rammstein!’ By the second chorus, we were all at it, talking German like we’d been living in Berlin our whole lives. And they opened with it as well. Ballsy, but they were right to do it.
4. BIFF BYFORD HAS A NEW NAME FOR THRASH METAL
The Saxon vocalist introduced 20,000 Ft as, “A thrash metal song we wrote in 1980. We didn’t call it thrash metal then – we called it Crazy…Fucking…STUFF!”
5. JOE DUPLANTIER HAS THE MOST FRENCH WAY OF TELLING A CROWD THEY’RE NOT LOUD ENOUGH
It’s pretty standard for rock frontmen to enquire after the wellbeing of their audience, then pretend that the reply isn’t suitably loud and request another, more vociferous attempt. Most do this by implying that last night’s gig-goers, or possibly their grandmothers, could do better. Joe Duplantier sums up the Gojira crowd’s initial response as “comme ci, comme ça”. He gets a louder reaction second time around, implying that there are many Francophones in the tent. Or just that everyone gets how this works by now.
6. DEFTONES ARE STILL THE COOLEST BAND ON THE PLANET
Additional to this: has Chino ever looked as happy onstage as he is right now? Also: Stef’s shirt. Amazing.
7. NAPALM DEATH.
Even after all these years, they are still the heaviest band at every festival they play.
8. NOTHING CAN STOP AGAINST THE CURRENT
Even as the least metal band at the festival, their irresistible melodies and charisma are bulletproof.
9. GRACE JONES HAS, TECHNICALLY, APPEARED AT DOWNLOAD
One of the more leftfield celebrity cameos in bizarro rock movie Gutterdammerung, screened on the Maverick Stage on Friday, comes from ’80s pop star and supermodel Grace Jones, in the suitably imperious role of an African goddess from Hell.
10. NIGHTWISH FANS ARE…
Awesome. They’re just awesome. Look at him go.
11. HALESTORM DON’T FUCK AROUND WHEN IT COMES TO DRUMSTICKS
12. BABYMETAL ARE GETTING VERY GOOD AT MAKING CIRCLE PITS
They just ain’t settling for no half-arsed circle pits…
13. POTTYMOUTH ENGAGE
Yep, when it comes to bad-taste, Killswitch Engage’s guitar hero Adam D is still the king of the dirty-minded castle.
14. VIKINGS ARE EVEN MORE METAL THAN WE THOUGHT
Short of Iron Maiden’s Eddie and Tony Iommi’s fingertips, Amon Amarth’s dragon-head drum-riser was the most metal thing onsite.
15. JUMPSUITS ARE AWESOME
That said, maybe only Juliette Lewis can wear an Evel Knievel-style jump suit with white heels and still look cool.
16. JANE’S ADDICTION DON’T MIND HANGING AROUND
We still can’t get over this. Or just HOW much swagger Perry Farrell has.
17. THE MEN THAT WILL NOT BE BLAMED FOR NOTHING HAVE THE MOST RANDOM SING-ALONGS
Not only do the London steampunks have songs about chimney sweeps and Charles Darwin, they managed to get the crowd bellowing the name of 19th Century celebrity engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
18. LAST, BUT NOT LEAST: DOWNLOAD 2016 WAS AWESOME…
And so were you guys!
Don’t forget you check out our list of The Top 10 Greatest Download Performances Of All Time below!
The 10 Greatest Download Performances Of All Time
That headline is pretty self-explanatory. So welcome all (especially YOU) to our countdown of the 10 greatest Download performances of all time. The competition was tough. Warning: we couldn’t even fit in Rage Against The Machine’s killer 2010 set. Or letlive.’s security scuffle in 2011. What we did fit in, however, were the sets that got everyone talking at the time. And that everyone’s still talking about now…
10. Faith No More
Well, wasn’t this just a bit special? Ok, a LOT special. Faith No More reunited and it felt so good as they took to headline Download in 2009. It started with a totes chilled vibe, Mike Patton walking onstage in a blood red suit and a walking cane and covering Peaches & Herbs soul classic Reunited. And then they started playing the classics. The Real Thing. From Out Of Nowhere. Evidence. Midlife Crisis. Cuckoo For Caca. Epic. ALL OF IT. Incredible. Oh, and Mike performed parts of We Care A Lot while doing sit-ups with the mic in his mouth. And sang a bit of Lady Gaga’s Poker Face. Seriously, how brilliant were Faith No More at Download? Really, really, really brilliant.
It wouldn’t be true to say that this was the set that made Trivium huge. After all, it was their burgeoning popularity in the UK that saw them migrate from their original third stage billing to open up the mainstage. And yet… hmm… it still seems apt to say that this is the set that made Trivium huge. Few bands have managed to play an opening set that goes down in history, but Trivium did. Creating a cloud of dust at 11am, they got seven circle pits going. Seven. Before lunchtime. It will forever be the show that they have to top.
8. Iron Maiden
This being Iron Maiden, we’re completely spoilt for choice about which of their incredible Download sets to choose from over the years. BUT let’s go for last year’s shall we? Not only did it see them reprise tracks from their Maiden England tour of the late ‘80s, resurrecting the likes Moonchild for the first time in years, they also packed fan-favourite Afraid To Shoot Strangers. Wait. There was something else, too. We just can’t remember quite what it wa… OH YEAH! THEY BOOKED A FUCKING SPITFIRE FLY OVER DOWNLOAD JUST BEFORE THEY PLAYED!
Nothing says big like having YOUR OWN STAGE at a festival. Ridiculous. Plonked beside the regular ol’ main stage that Rage Against The Machine and Aerosmith were playing on was another one built exclusively to house AC/DC in 2010. They opened with Rock And Roll Train, and had a big fucking train exploding out of their backdrop! They were reportedly paid $4 million for their performance, which according to our maths, is fucking loads of money. Totally worth it.
6. My Chemical Romance
It was possibly the most controversial sets in Download history. At the height of their Black Parade fame, ‘emo’ titans MCR took to headline the Download mainstage in 2007. Metalheads were furious, planning and executing a systematic bottling session, but it didn’t stop MCR from proving themselves. Also, the fact that MCR were on the mainstage pushed Korn into a headlining tent slot. Korn in a tent? It was chaos. There were ambulances outside for God’s sake. So there you have it: MCR proved themselves and gave Korn one of their best sets ever!
5. Lamb Of God
Let’s make this very clear: 2007 was a very, very, very good year for mosh pits at Download. Megadeth. Slayer. Machine Head. Killswitch Engage. Mastodon. But none of them - not one of them - could even hold a candle to what Lamb Of God pulled off on the mainstage. Constant circle pits as far as the eyes could see… no wonder they put the whole damn show on their Walk With Me In Hell DVD in 2008.
This? Arguably the best Download set ever. For years and years, the question had been: who could pull of a headline set of the same calibre as Iron Maiden and Metallica. Which band could ever even hold a claim to carrying their torch when they finally decide to pack it all in? The answer was Slipknot. Their first ever headline Download set in 2009 has passed into legend. The simple truth was that even Slipknot couldn’t believe what was happening, Corey Taylor constantly shaking his head in disbelief and saying ‘holy fucking shit, are you kidding me?’ as the crowd destroyed itself time and time again, culminating in the biggest mosh pit the UK has ever seen: the ‘Jump the fuck up’ routine during Spit It Out. Seriously just look at that footage.
3. Korn Karaoke
In keeping the tradition started by Lars Ulrich the year before, Jonathan Davis fell ill with a blood disorder (immune thrombocytopenic purpura) in 2006, which notably left Korn with a Jonathan Davis-shaped hole to fill. And so Fieldy and co wandered the backstage dressing rooms asking for guest vocalist. ‘Aaaaaaare you ready (to help us)?' they asked. And M. Shadows, Benji Webbe, Dez Fagara, Matt Heafy and Corey Taylor replied, ‘why certainly!’
2. The Three Horsemen
Not content to make all the headlines in 2003 with their secret set, Metallica’s first Download headline set in 2004 hit a slight problem when Lars Ulrich fell ill and was rushed to hospital. Did they cancel? Nope. Never a band to let their FAMILAAAAAY down, they recruited the likes of Slayer’s Dave Lombardo and Slipknot’s Joey Jordison to play drums for them. It was a Metallica set like no other.
1. Metallica In A Tent!
Yes, you read that right. Iron Maiden and Audioslave may have been the headliners for the first Download festival back in 2003, but it was Metallica’s surprise set in a tent that passed on into Download folklore. Not only was it Rob Trujillo’s first UK appearance, but it was also METALLICA IN A BLOODY TENT. It. Was. Fun.
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