Returning to Donington Park for the 16th year, Download Festival returns bigger and better with headline performances from acclaimed rock stars, Avenged Sevenfold, Guns ‘n’ Roses and Ozzy Osborne.
As campers scatter from venue to venue, it’s clear a certain dress code is only accepted here… black, with a dash of black, and perhaps more black? “This is the first year since 2013 that it hasn’t pissed down with rain.” Says a fan passing by. Held in the South side of Derbyshire, Download Festival is an acclaimed British, rock Festival held for the masses.
Running from Friday 8th and ending on Sunday 11th, the Festival gave a warm welcome to fans as they opened up the campsite Wednesday afternoon, enabling fans to settle in days before the Festival.
Here’s a log of the 15 acts we caught at Download Festival this year.
- Jonathan Davis: Often referred to as JD, the American singer-songwriter was the first act we got a glimpse of at Download this year. Playing a hectic show at the Zippo stage, Davis’s audience filled every speck of open space and roared with excitement alongside each of his songs. Throughout his set he merged nonchalant, psychedelic, trance sounds underneath his screamed lyrics. Thrashing out a ton of tricks from under his sleeve, Davis rocked out a grunge-inspired, dark show when playing his 2007 hit, ‘Forsaken.’ Nicely accompanied by thousands of devil horns enthusiastically thrown from the members of his audience. Ending with his Gothic, metal track, ‘What it Is,’ taken from his debut album Black Labyrinth, the audience all sing with great passion and rage alongside him. “Download, it is what is it ya’ll.” Adds Davis.
- Bullet for My Valentine: With just five minutes left until Bullet hit main stage for a dominant set, a fan scatters through the audience and asks a stranger, “do you guys know where the mosh area is?” An encore of, “Bullet,” is bellowed from the audience as they all cheer for the band to come on stage. With theatrical music coursing through the background and a beam of daunting lights, Bullet rock on stage, alongside the gusts of fire that shoot out only inches away from their feet. ‘Your Betrayal,’ kicked up a storm as fans threw their arms around with rage and excitement, “Holy fucking shit Download 2018.” Says front man Matt Tuck before bursting into their next hit, ‘4 words.’ Fans crowd surf, cups of beer are being flung around in numerous directions, and a nude flash from a crazed teen appears on the main screen. “It’s been five long years… fists in the air!” Instructs Tuck, before introducing their next track, ‘The Lost Flight.’ Bullet played an intense set, with inflamed guitar riffs, powerful thuds from Michael Thomas on drums. Playing some of their best acclaimed tracks such as, ‘Tears don’t Fall,’ the band also played their newest single, ‘Letting you Go,’ taken from their latest album Gravity.
- Hell is for Heroes: We caught a glimpse of Hell is for Heroes playing at Zippo Friday evening. “This one’s called 5 kids,” Justin Schlosberg frontman says as introducing their next track. Schlosberg brought a great sack of energy to each track, skipping on stage, bouncing with enthusiasm and engaging with his audience. Walking off the stage and into the photography pit, the singer says, “How’s everyone feeling, we alright?” Returning to stage with a wheel of cartwheels, and head bangs, Hell is for Heroes thrash their instruments into their penultimate track, ‘I can Climb Mountains,’ taken from their 2003 album, The Neon Handshake.
- You Me @ Six: Playing a disappointing show at the same stage, the praised, alternative rock band set their show off with a river of poorly performed songs. A stream of fans descend from the main stage and head towards Zippo, it’s clear You Me @ Six have a large audience to please. As the band get on stage they start with a steady, adrenaline-driven introduction, applauding the attention of all fans. With a clear, engaging introduction, the track is shortly ruined by the company of poorly out of tuned lyrics screamed by frontman Josh Franceschi. The band set the show off with, ‘Room to Breathe,’ followed by, ‘Fresh Start Fever,’ and ‘Lived a Lie,’ all taken from their forth studio album Cavalier Youth. Unable to give their most acclaimed rock tracks any justice, it’s clear their full potential of putting on a good show just wasn’t executed this weekend.
- Avenged Sevenfold: Setting a far better influence were headliners Avenged Sevenfold closing off the Friday evening at main stage. Opening with their militant, hard-core track, ‘Hail to the King,’ with a encore of hails screamed by their audience, the heavy metal band threw some shade the moment they stepped on stage. With a roaring audience packed from the front of stage and almost stopping at the Dog Tooth venue, it’s fair to say Avenged Sevenfold had a meaty crowd amongst them. “How many of ya’ll are seeing Avenged Sevenfold for the first time? Welcome to our fucked up family.” Shouts frontman Matthew Sanders, otherwise referred to as M. Shadows. Playing at neck-break speed with beast-like guitar patterns, memorable lyrics and bursts of flame, the band illuminated the stage with a staggering performance ten minutes short from two hours long. Playing alongside a mix of great stage backdrops, the metal-band threw a militant show from start to finish with reels of energy.
- WSTR: The pop-punk quartet kicked up a fuss at Download’s Avalanche venue, hosted by Kerrang! Magazine. Originally formed in Liverpool, the band consists of frontman Sammy Clifford, guitarist Tom Hawkins, bassist Alex Tobijanski and drummer Andy Makin. “Download up,” screams Clifford. The band show great similarities to that of, Sum 41 and Blink 182. Their stage presence is manic, and wildly energetic. With melodic guitar riffs and fun, parody lyrics, they’re great fun to watch live. It’s been a while since a good pop-punk band took a stance in the music industry, but I can assure you, if you haven’t already seen them live before, they’re worth watching. “I wanna see a fucking circle pit, I’ve always wanted to make a circle pit at Download.” Roars Clifford. As demanded, the front of the venue divides from those not willing to partake, and a small mosh pit is formed ladies and gentlemen. Their crowd was wild, bright hair colours bobbed their way through the venue in t-shirts with WSTR written on them. ‘Punchline,’ went down a treat, their was one crowd surfer who was taken down, not once but twice during this number. WSTR, you must be doing something right.
- The Struts: Consisting of half a standing and seated crowd, The Struts played an awesome set. Entering In a dazzling gold suit, and black eyeliner smudge across his eyes, frontman Luke Spiller thrusted and skipped himself onto stage, with a wave of frantic hand gestures. I present to you Luke Spiller, the wonderful epitome of 21st century glam rock. Opening with,’ ‘Put your Hands Up,’ the band put on a flamboyant, fun and energetic show. “How you doing Download?” Says Spiller. As the crowd roar a response, the group move onto introducing their next track. Having mentioned working on a new album, for the third song, the band throw out an unexpected new single, ‘body talks.’ A sizzling, pop-rock track with melodically fetching chord patterns. The crowd took this single well. Ending the show on, ‘Where did She Go,’ it’s fair to say The Struts played a buyout show at Zippo stage that day.
- Asking Alexandria: Playing the same stage, and opening with waves of glitchy electronics, are metal band Asking Alexandria. Walking alongside a burst of flames shooting out from the stage (this happens a lot at Download,) the band make a powerful entrance before bursting into their first track, ‘Into the Fire.’ In the far distance of the audience, a set of banana costumed teens have all set up a small circle and mosh alongside the bands next track, ‘Run Free.’ Drummer James Cassells threw militant thuds, whilst thunderous guitar riffs bellowed. With lyrics roared with rage and passion from frontman Danny Worsnop, the England born group played an epic show.
- Parkway Drive: Trailing from down under, the Australian hardcore band walk on stage to a militant, enthusiastic and rage infused set of fans. Setting a long introduction, the audience all head bang with encouragement, as the band open their first track, ’12 Years.’ There’s only three words that can describe a band like Parkway Drive; Boisterous, hardcore and aggressive. The heavy roars of screamed vocals performed by vocalist and frontman Winston McCall were beautifully spoken. It isn’t often you see a hard-core metal band in this day and age who don’t show hints of punk, pop-punk or rock. Parkway Drive have stapled a strong and consistent heavy metal to their sound and they portray it so well. Screaming every inch he can give McCall is bright red with passion, fury and commitment. Playing acclaimed tracks such as,’ Prey,’ ‘Karma,’ and ‘The Void,’ it’s fair to say their set wasn’t short from a riot… A rock riot of course.
- Guns ‘N’ Roses: Closing the show with a headlining set of two hours and 50 minutes were acclaimed heavy metal band Guns ‘n’ Roses. Having recently reunited last year for the first time since 1993, Guns ‘n’ Roses returned to Download still fresh as ever. Having played over 100 shows in the past, Saturday nights performance was the reunion a lot of fans had been waiting their entire lives for. Opening with their first ever single, ‘It’s so Easy,’ taken from their studio album Appetite for Destruction; it’s fair to say their fans had an appetite for a hectic show of classic, Guns ‘n’ Roses anthems. Acclaimed tracks ‘Live and Let Die,’ ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine,’ and ‘Black Hole Sun,’ were also thrown into the mix, accompanied by vibrant, 3D production on stage.
- Neck Deep: With inflatable balls flying around, blistering stage lights beaming across the venue and a tent full of thousands of people- Neck Deep managed to catch themselves a giddish crowd. “Make some noise if you’ve had a really fucking good day,” crowd cheers, “that’s what I like to hear- we’re about to make it a whole lot better.” Says frontman Ben Barlow before thrashing into their next track, ‘Citizens of Earth.’ Throwing a burst of pop-punk energy onto stage, the bands backdrop graphics are bold, eccentric and fun. With bursts of confetti littering the venue and screams from crazed fans, it’s fair to say the north Wales, quintuple boy-band have a strong support system of fans around them.
- Black Veil Brides: Strutting unapologetically onto stage eleven minutes late are Ohioan formed, glam-metal group, Black Veil Brides. “How you fucking doing Download?” Says Andy Biersack after playing their first track, ‘Faithless.’ Skipping up and down main stage as he tries to engage with all corners of his audience, Biersack screams into their next song, ‘Coffin.’ Throwing a 60 minute show of Gothic metal realness, the US band threw in some of their most acclaimed tracks, ‘Fallen Angels,’ and ‘Rebel Love Song.’ In January this year they dropped their latest album Vale, on Sunday night they played us one of their newest singles, ‘Wake Up,’ taken from the album. Ending on, ‘In the End,’ Black Veil Brides successfully tug the hearts of many emo teens.
- Shinedown: Shinedown are a pretty mediocre, yet acclaimed rock band, with cheesy punchlines and basic riffs. “England have you brought your singing voices with you today?” Asks frontman Brent Smith, I hadn’t realised I was going to feel like I was at a school assembly at this performance, but perhaps I was wrong? Needless to say, Shinedown still tore up a good show, playing lauded tracks , ‘Killed your Consciousness,’ ‘Enemies,’ and closing the show with, ‘Devil,’ taken from their latest album, Attention Attention.
- Marilyn Manson: The king of controversy, Marilyn Manson took on Download Festival main stage Sunday evening. Heaven Upside Down and Remix and Repent were his two album backdrops on stage, until his encore, where the graphics reflected a distorted and delayed live stream of him on stage. Playing a set of his best Manson hits and some from his latest 2018 album, it’s fair to say a lot of us were sad he wasn’t the headlining act of the evening. Opening, ‘Beautiful People,’ by tapping a set of drum sticks amongst the strings of Tyler Bates guitar, the track was unclear for the first few taps, until drummer Gil Sharone stepped in. A roar of cheers and fists pumps- as people threw themselves into the air with excitement. Tracks, ‘BeOBSCENE,’ ‘Kill4Me,’ and ‘This is the New Shit’ kicked up a storm as fans screamed the lyrics back and forth. Setting a far better performance than his 2012 live show at Download Festival, this year Manson took back his crown and took ownership of main-stage.
- Ozzy Osborne: This is it, the end of an era… or perhaps just a three day rock Festival that I’m yet to come to terms with is officially over. Concluding a weekend of rock, metal and punk music is heavy metal, Prince of the Darkness, Ozzy Osborne. For many his show was astounding, the perfect end to a perfect weekend,
Here’s to Download Festival 2018, until next time.