I have a confession to make. Not so long ago metal music was my life, I gigged a lot and constantly explored new music with friends and on my own. So what changed? Life happened. I got caught up in work as well as other things so I lost the time i needed to explore music properly and my tastes slightly changed over the preceding years. So why, do you ask, am I reviewing a metal festival? I got offered the opportunity to attend this years download festival and review it at the behest of Scribes of Metal and I jumped at the chance as whilst Metal isn't my main vein so to speak, it is still in my roots. So even though my current knowledge of the metal scene of the last few years isn't perfect, I'm hoping this review will illustrate how some of the genres current heavy hitters appear to the uninformed while of course reviewing the traditional giants of the genre that were on show.
So Download Festival 2013; Over 150 bands spanning 5 stages sprawled across the huge Donington Park site over the 3 day festival; 5 days if you were one of those thousands choosing to camp from Wednesday when the grounds opened. Those who did got to make the most of 'The Village' which housed theme park rides, DJ and comedy tents as well as a whole selection of food and merchandise stalls, body art tents and even a cut throat barbers to keep themselves amused before metals biggest UK party commenced on the Friday.
Now my only previous festival camping experience was Reading in 2003, but the contrast of on site facilities could not have been greater. Download boasted extensive showering facilities for all campers as well as well maintained toilets, including the use of premium toilets brilliantly named 'comfy crappers', dubbed 'pootopia' by the attendants.
The Village also contained charging stations for those with smart phones with awful batteries (So the majority of people on site), and even though the price for this was extortionate, £8 for 2 hours, it was necessary for most. Useful lockers also existed for those not wanting to leave valuables in their tent. I don't have previous years to judge these facilities against but all in all I found that it was well thought out and well maintained.
The inevitable poor weather at the start of the weekend dampened moods a bit and turned the camping village, campsites and parts of the arena into a boggy mess (That said by Sunday with a mix of good weather and groundsmanship much of these areas were good as new). The standard extortionate prices for food and soft drinks was a bit too much even though the beer and cider was fairly reasonably priced for a festival.
My personal Download adventure didn't begin until Friday afternoon due to work commitments. Therefore Europe were the first band I managed to see, unfortunately missing out on Papa Roach & Dragonforce. I had planned to go and see.
Europe were on my list to check out if there was time and I was about, so due to arriving late I'd missed most of Europe by the time I'd arrived at the Zippo Encore stage, but from what I saw they were full of energy and clearly enjoying themselves as were the crowd. Obviously the massively crowd pleasing hit 'The Final Countdown' was pulled out as the set closer which went down a storm, and all night in the campsites all you could hear was people singing and whistling the chorus. One hit wonders maybe but what a perfect festival song. (N/A)
KoRn seem to be a staple of metal and festivals, mainstays of the genre that always seem to be around. So watching them didn't feel like anything particularly adventurous, decent music in solid hands that turned out to be a background distraction to catching up with some friends I hadn't seen in a while. So while I wasn't hugely invested in KoRns performance I still enjoyed hearing some favourites from Jonathan Davies and friends like 'Blind', 'Here to Stay' and 'Freak on a Leash'. Whilst KoRn certainly aren't fresh it was still enjoyable background music for me (6).
Bullet For My Valentine
I've never been massively convinced of Bullet, and aside from what now appears from them on mainstream radio don't have much exposure of them. None the less I still watched with interest as they galloped through their main stage support set with enthusiasm matched by the, what can't be denied, huge following they have amassed over the years. Whilst I can't comment on how they stacked up to their records or previous live performance the band was tight and the sound excellent and still enjoyable. Judging by how popular and how undoubtably talented Bullet for my Valentine are they could well be headlining this festival sometime soon (7).
This brings to end the first part of the review, but parts two and three will be coming up very soon and we'll put links in here when they are published, as well as announcing them on Social Media. Stay tuned!