(reviewed by The Goth)
With every intention of leaving sunny Bethesda at 5.00 am Friday morning, I made the obvious decision on getting rather intoxicated Thursday evening…terrible mistake as the metal heads joining me on this quest were overexcited. This led to the unexpected, un-appropriate and immature decision of leaving at 12.00 a.m. Staggering around the back of a transit van for four hours, through the night, to Donnington, but who gives a fuck? Lets all live like pigs and have a fucking party; we’ll sleep next week.
We arrived around 5.00 am and after a bit of getting our bearings, and trying to sober up with more beer it was time to enter the dark metal abyss. One of our crew was a total gig virgin, apart from the likes of Anti-Life Theory, Entity and general local-to the north-gigs, so as predicted he was spraying everyone in sight with his festival load as soon as we had gone through the gates. I was also in shock, as the sheer size of this event was ridiculous… Snickers Tent, Gibson, After-Shock, Skating, Nintendo DS, a tent showing the football for the sad pricks that had paid to watch ITV on a “big screen”, a village with stools and countless “legal high” tents (legal? My ass!!! Oops! Ermm poppers!), a fair ground, the main stage and I’m sure I’ve forgotten some. It was clear to me that this event wasn’t just about the music, if it was, why have a fair ground? Comedy tent? No, this was all for the atmosphere and that general festival feeling. I was glad I had made this realization so early on as the idea of attempting to review the music in any conventional press sense was absurd (cheers Hunter S Thompson). There was just too damn much going on, I knew there were going to be many bands I would miss, so I was here to rate the overall sense of well being that Download incinerated rather than just the music, either way…
SOULFLY was the first band I remember witnessing on the Friday, jetlagged, hung over, coming down and back up again like a bitch. For me, having that bit of the legendary Sepultura influence right in front was enough, regardless of the quality of their set. One comment I overheard from a passer by: – “Their not as good as last time”. In my opinion watching Max bounce around the main stage, and struggling with his version of Brazilian English was fantastic, all that I’d expected and hoped for.
Musically this event was a bit of a turning point for me as so many of the bands playing over the weekend, I’d respected for years and grown up on. Countless trips my mother used to make up those council infested stairs, “turn that devil music off, and get it out my house you pagan!!!” My music has made me what I am today, a “chronic depressive”…and for that, I thank you all!!!! HAHA!
Another highlight of the first day was TOOL. They headlined the Friday, and quite-fucking-rightly so. I’m ashamed to say I haven’t heard all that much of Tool but what I have, had my expectations very high. Having always been a big fan of the only other band I can describe as emotional metal, Perfect Circle (coincidence), I was very pissed off to hear a mutter of “they don’t move about much do they?” The pre-puberty reply was “ No. They’re not very interesting to watch”. Knowing the guitarist designs many of their videos, and how fucked up they are, they NEED NOT LOOK LIKE SLIPKNOT or BOUNCE AROUND LIKE WOUNDED DUCKS!! (Yeah, I saw your band.)
The five screens surrounding the stage were showing the videos that accompany the songs, that in Tool’s case very often mimic the beat. The way this enhanced their set was disturbing. Tool achieved all their music means and satisfied every emotion that’s too strong to put words to. Talk/words are cheap. “Him” is apparently love metal, this is emotional metal. Write it down, it’s the way it is.
Saturday I woke on the front seats of our trusty transit, medium to well done! Who needs a sauna? I recall completely fucking off the idea of pitching the tent in the early hours, so this was the bed I’d made myself. Lets all just live like pigs! Some stool worker took advantage of my state the previous night and made me buy “devil sticks” for £20! At the time, anything was a good idea. They turned out to be a very good purchase though, as they kept me occupied through the remainder of the weekend when I was too damn mashed to uphold a mature conversation.
Devil Driver was the first band I saw on the Saturday, and they were the most important band to me over this “live like pigs fest”. Dez Ferera, the infamous Coal Chamber vocalist now fronts the DD. Coal Chamber for me was the band I never got to see as an angry teen. So, this to me was GnR to the old skool fans. Regrettably I only caught their last two songs (grrr-fucking-grrr) but the stage presence of this man was intolerable. They were playing in the snickers tent so I’d estimate their audience at around 5000-6000, but never before have I seen the following… Dez called for a circle pit from this pillar to that post. We are talking about 30ft in diameter worth of pit. But in order for this to happen their audience had to make room. Picture if you will (or can?) EVERYONE taking seven or eight paces backwards in the most orderly and responsible fashion possible. The gothic growl from this so-far underrated band and vocalist uttered “ THE BIGGER IT IS THE SAFER IT IS, AND I DON’T WANT NO KICKBOXING/KUNG-FU SHIT GOING ON IN THE MIDDLE!!” Which led to an enormous applaud of respect and appraisal. Basically, consider all my expectations pissed on. Fucking brilliant.
Due to an excessive amount of poppers and beer I remained near horizontal for most of Trivium’s set. Nevertheless a very talented young band and musically so very accomplished. A statement from their vocalist/lead guitarist on RR united DVD: – “fame doesn’t just happen, it takes years and years of fucking hard work and we deserve to be where we are.” Agreeably arrogant but that’s a man in a position to be so. Muchos Respectos.
Korn were the pre-headliner of Saturday. Unfortunately Jonathon Davies was apparently in hospital and unable to perform, or do the set. Monkey and Head insisted “if he could do it in a fucking wheelchair, he would “. But they committed themselves to a half an hour set at least with guest vocalists from Skindred, In flames, and, oh yes, Devil Driver! To be completely honest they all sucked but every fan seemed to really appreciate the efforts made. Each one of those vocalists will undoubtedly respect Jonathon that much more after falling so very short on his unique vocal skills. (Very nice to see Dez on the main stage. Yes, I did musically jizz.)
Forgetting the “St Anger” album, METALLICA headlined the Saturday. Again quite rightly so. Their show was all you should expect from a band that’s been doing it years and years. Having claimed my space to the left of the stage but right at the front. I was level with the M, had plenty of room to get my embarrassing, intoxicated gothic groove on and practically had the same view of the crowd as did Metallica, so when “Nothing Else Matters” kicked off the sight of 50,000 lighters swaying was something else, something that did matter.Thank you Metallica.
All bets were off on Sunday. It was the last day and I felt I had the right to get as “happy” as possible. Although my happiness was too much for some Brits to handle (as we are all naturally arrogant pricks). The people that could take me in, and acknowledge an excessively happy twat, gave me an intense sense of well being and confidence. This led to five shows of stand up comedy from The Goth in the Nintendo DS tent. The word “sheep” had been mentioned a few times, all be it innocently, by previous comedian Nick Dooley. Each time some pubeless twat in the audience of around 5000 thought it humorous to shout “WELSH!” I felt it appropriate to remind everyone present that we all eat the same meat, so if the rumour were true, theoretically “YOU’VE ALL BEEN MUNCHING WELSH CUM FOR YEARS, IECHYD DA!” Fucking one nil.
I literally stumbled across a young couple obviously to afraid, or ignorant, to get rid of the “too happy for Brits” bastard (me). Very innocently they showed an interest in the “devil sticks”. Part way through my demonstration, I felt a familiar sound and gazed up in to the fucking sky, knelt and pondered for a moment…“nymphetamine” I said. No, this was not a random use of literacy but the dark lords themselves, CRADLE OF FILTH! “I don’t know you, and I don’t trust you. But I really need to go enjoy this tune, so I’m off. Stay here, I’ll be back and please don’t run off with my devil sticks.”. Whatever their nervous reply was I contently left to get some gothic shit on. I would have liked to endure Babylon A.D but the important Cradle tunes to experience for me were nymphetamine and “her ghost in the fog”. As satanic fate would have it, they came in succession. Hitting poppers in a way a junkie would warn against I stood all Cradled. Through their entire set an over attractive gothic chick was 30ft above the stage hanging by black satin drapes performing, what can only be described as, a sacrificial lap dance to 666 completeness. If the music was not your cup of tea, their show fucking well was. The sound was so clear and precise that along with their image, hatred and blasphemous ways left not a single thing to be desired. I have three words for their set… BLOWN, A, WAY.
Feeling very deluded I returned to the fearful young couple and my sticks. I was very proud to find 15 to 20 metal heads watching ma sticks! I didn’t know them, but they knew they were my fucking sticks! Give or take five shadows approached me, one said “I clocked your sticks and made sure those little pricks stayed put!” How many new friends did I make exactly?! I blame this occurrence on one very pitiful display of dancing with sticks in the Nintendo DS tent, and one idea that my head came across… here’s one for anyone. Ingredients: – 2x can, (one empty, one full) 1x head full of beer but also 1x straight enough to pull THIS shit off! Step one. Find a semi-secluded area with frequent passers by. Step two. Lie your empty can neatly within your radius, clutch tightly to the un-opened bastard and lie there completely fucking motionless. Step three. Wait for it……… “Fookin ell, look at the state of this one!!” You will need some serious stamina to lie still once you hear the cheeky pricks taking picture after picture of you in a “state”!!!! Hahaha well, I enjoyed it! (Honestly, it was just an act!)
THE PRODIGY played in the Snickers tent, which was so correct. It was the Prodg that headlined this smaller tent so heaving was not the word. The crossover from outside to inside the tent and under their bass was so obvious, instant sweaty bastard was me. I scrambled my way to the back to ensure I had room to jig. The vibe there was like nothing before. With my beverage on the floor, fag in hand it felt so right for a religious but discreet few inhalations of poppers. Obviously not discreet enough as they ended up being passed around six or seven other right minded individuals… Hence the heavenly vibe. We all became the music during “Smack My Wife” (oops) I mean, “Bitch” up. I can honestly say I didn’t see Keith, or even the big screens, but this is P, all we needed was the bass. When they left the stage I managed to reach some railings just outside this tent where I hung myself. Imagine if you will your washing, wet and dripping, draped over the line. You know when you’ve been PRODGED, and I was, to the brim. A good 20 minutes it took for me to realize that the remainder of my life can’t be here, I will HAVE to move sooner or later. So I began my trek, passed the piss wall, to the main stage for…
GUNS AND ROSES. Don’t get me wrong, it was good to see the unpleaseable oral sex, I mean, AXL ROSE in action, but they were really quite shit. I enjoyed the solo to “ November rain” but that was as far as it went. Call me cynic? Or maybe a critic! Regrettably a short paragraph is all they deserved.
Some events are good, some are fantastic. This was special. And my genuine appreciation goes to all 75,000 (give or take) new friends who made it the weekend it was for me (you all know who you are). Stories from many locals were that their friends came back all “loved up” from the Download experience. I can do nothing but agree.
Were all the riots due to Glastonbury not running this year? Or just because GnR sucked shrub? There were countless bonfires around one campsite. Some “considerate cocks” decided to move one tent that was a little to close to flames. For some reason this particular tent was too heavy in the middle…yes, there was some poor bastard sleeping in it. All they done was call for more cocks to help them pick up the over weighed tent and throw him in to safety. And “safety” was just more tents! From me to all the cunts who thought it a good idea to burn everything that’s too big to throw at police and security. Stay at home next year. Party pooping dick heads.