Download Festival 2017

When the offer of representing the UK’s finest postcode inspired rag at Download – undeniable behemoth for rock and metal heads – I donned my spiky smiley and relished the thought of four days back at Donnington Park. As all good festival goers know, you should never head into battle solo, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to introduce a fellow rock fan to life in the country with 80,000 others. He might be a festival virgin but, as we loaded up the wagon with last year’s festival set up (untouched since the carnage of Sector Six) and a small arsenal of supplies, we agreed to hit it hard and fast. This is BN1 after all. And it’s not forecast to rain. As it always does at Download.

Stilt Walker at Download

It might have been the sun, or the methodical testing of our aforementioned supplies but the site felt like a medieval camp, ready and waiting for the hard battle ahead. Friday’s battles saw clubs, axes and maces crushing down onto those skulls that were unfortunate to fall into their paths (no seriously, Download featured LOTS of warriors fighting, as you do). This only but set the scene for System of a Down that were charging up for the night. History was re-winded that night with recaps of the events of Tiananmen Square and the Toxicity of my City flew the crowd in to a frenzy. Bottles flew in and out of the mosh pit like rockets. The air hummed with rifts and killer base notes.

As the blistering sun was replaced by glimmering stars above I headed to the village to mingle with my fellow warriors – At this point, dear reader, I was travelling solo having lost my +1. The night got blurry and, with apologies I cant tell you much about the village other than I lost my +1 and I meet Donald Trump.

The relentless sun gave no fucks to our heads as we were forced out of our tents and into the Saturday morning carnage. After sourcing food (Why was my Rock festival burger vegan? I need to read the signs better) we started on the good stuff and sought out the music.

Download 2017

Of Mice and Men took to the afternoon stage as if they were the big headliner, pumping the adrenaline around our bodies, clearing our heads, and setting our path out for the day. Me and my festival companion attempted to sing along only to realise my voice had already disappeared and sounding like my voice was breaking again… Saturday in general was one massive flashback to teenage life – at moments deeply emotional, my voice squeaking like a 13yr old. I succumbed to a pint of water and a little sit down. That helped. Power naps people. Take heed.

Thus, the night shortly descended and Biffy Clyro gracefully entered the Main Stage of Download, the stage was lit up with vibrant colours of purples, blues and oranges. The battles for the day had come to a halt and we all joined arms, lighters up and sang along to what was the eye of the storm of Download… Simon Neil’s closed it down with a simplified version of God and Satan as their encore before a sound clash of Stinging Belle into Don’t wanna miss a thing reminding of us of the treats in store tomorrow.   Having lost my +1 on Friday to the messy blurriness of the village, I was determined to show him a proper Saturday night at a festival. We let our feet follow our ears to welcoming beats to pass the night away. However, dear readers, one toilet break later I had lost him. As we met on Sunday morning his fresh face confessed he ran away and passed out by 1am. Total snowflake. I forget that losing virginity, of any kind, is invariably messy and full of disappointments. I hope he changes gear for Boomtown. There is no safe place to sleep there…

Sunday awoke with questions of when it was acceptable to start drinking my companion had said now… it was 11am, great attitude! However I had only stopped drinking 4 hours previously… But bad ideas and festivals seem to be coupled up every year since I started my festival life, so nonetheless with little hesitation we cracked open a luke warm one and tackled the most heaviest day of the festival.

Download 2017

For breakfast! Fozzy was the scrambled eggs on toast and who better to lead them was ex WWE wrestler Chris Jericho, famous for The Walls of Jericho! The sound of Download was back and ready to go out with a bang. Now please, wash this warm up down with WWE NXT Superstars, watching hot, sweaty half naked men fight each other to mere submission… Sounds like home right?

Airbourne took to the air with their energetic, enthusiastic and very Australian style, the show witnessed a big entry to the UK for the Breakin’ Outta Hell tour, which is a must see if you are into your hard rock music. Seeing as they have arguably the best-reviewed debut album, it’s a no brainer. Catch them where you can.

download 2017

Alter Bridge, led by the legendary Miles Kennedy played songs of new and old, All Hope was NOT gone as the crowd clearly felt all warm and fuzzy… I’m sure it was the music and sun burnt faces still currently being re-burnt by the beaming sun. The crowd was clearly in love – The atmosphere they had set for Aerosmith was one of killer anticipation. And the boys delivered with an unending barrage of classics that mark them as gods, even with people like me who are young enough to be their grandkids. Sing with me, even if it’s just for today… Download, you beauty. May your festival season kick start as strong as mine.

By Rhys Stonely

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