We’ve just about recovered now. We think. So here’s a bunch of things we learned this weekend…
THIS COMMUNITY IS THE BEST
Have a wander through the Download site, take a look around at the attendees and what you’ll find is a diverse spectrum of humanity. This year was no different, with folks of all shapes, sizes, persuasions and peculiarities welcome to enjoy themselves as they pleased, so long as it meant no harm to anyone else. It’s a festival for first-timers decked out in fresh merch, as much as it is battle-jacket wearing Donington veterans and everything in between. If you want to dress up as a wizard and walk around with a plastic staff with hairs on all weekend, go ahead. If you want to celebrate a hen or stag do and forget most of the sights, smells and sounds you’ll experience over the weekend, there’s no better place. Maybe you want to sip Prosecco and partake in the woozy fairground life, while waiting on the headliner each day instead? Download is that festival. And not a single person will judge you here. There are many other festivals that would kill for such inclusivity and warmth.
SUNSHINE PUTS SMILES ON FACES
The other day, an email popped into Kerrang! inboxes declaring Download Festival as the “dirtiest” of its kind in the UK, making a multitude of claims about the weather and the conditions and using some sort of pseudo science to back the point up. And fair enough, in years gone by the grounds of Donington have been torn to shit by inclement weather turning everything into one giant trench and as a result the experience can feel like a huge endurance test, but this year, for the second in a row, the sun came out to play. Aside from a few spits of rain on Friday and overnight across the weekend, blue skies and near-tropical heat dominated, only adding to the all-round celebratory vibes spread across the site.
THE SCENE IS IN RUDE HEALTH
There’s a lot of noise made about the rock and metal scene’s need to produce fresh talent to replace the older headliners that seem to take turns every other year. And while that remains true, there were a number of outstanding sets from relatively younger acts this year. We’re looking at you Parkway Drive, Bullet For My Valentine, Avenged Sevenfold, Neck Deep et al. And that’s before we factor in the burgeoning brilliance of the likes of Knocked Loose, The FEVER 333, Employed To Serve, Puppy, Higher Power, Greta Van Fleet and Dream State. That’s no slight on Ozzy or Guns, either. The legends delivered and then some. All in all, from top to bottom, there’s a hell of a lot to be proud of, headbang to, get your mosh on to or simply enjoy from a safe distance if you’re so inclined. Save the inane tweets and thinkpieces about this music’s decline, you’re boring.
BIG UPS ALL YOUR BOWELS
Going back to that point about Download’s supposed reputation as the UK’s dirtiest for a moment, we had embarked upon this year’s with the full intentions of compiling a light-hearted ‘bog atrocities’ blog and gallery (yes reader, we were willing to go that extra journalistic mile, just for you) over the weekend. But it turns out that the toilets were all relatively well maintained for a three-day music festival held in a big old field. For the most part, people seemed to aim for the bit with the hole in, flush where appropriate and functionality afforded and only once did we spot someone not wash their hands after doing their business. So well done you lot. You might not have realised it, but you’re doing wonderful work to help improve the reputation of greebs everywhere. Every hygienic gesture helps.
YOU LOT MAKE ALL THE HARD WORK WORTHWHILE
The K! team are currently in the midst of a stretch of several consecutive short weeks to bring you the best weekly rock music magazine in the world (alongside all of our banging digital content and assorted events). We wrapped up work on our Download review issue (buy it here, please!) at almost exactly 2am on Sunday. It’s not always easy, but when we see you lot turning up in your thousands to meet your heroes, have things signed and to grab photos at our signing tent, it genuinely makes all of the effort, the build up and the stress of getting it all right on the site more than worth it. If you dropped by the K! signing tent this weekend past, give yourself a hearty pat on the back.
‘THE FOOD AT FESTIVALS SUCKS’ = WRONG
Oh you want proof with that? We had an ostrich burger on site this weekend that was so damn good that we went back and doubled up. Sorry vegans. And hey, if your diet is plant-based there are lots of options available nowadays too. No longer is it a case of chips for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And a huge thanks to all the folk who sweat and toil behind the counters to keep everyone fed and watered throughout the event. They are the realest of the real MVPs.
Tickets for Download Festival 2019 are on sale right now. See more info here!
For a way more insightful and detailed take on this year’s festival be sure to pick up a copy of this week’s Kerrang!, which is in UK shops from today and can be ordered online and delivered anywhere in the world via this link. It looks like so: