"As we all know this year is Download Festival's tenth birthday and having been every year I thought it worthy of an article to reminisce over the last few years at Donington.
I'd never managed to go to a Monsters Of Rock Festival so my personal experience at Donington Park actually started in 2001 when Stereophonics had their 'Day At The Races' event. I wasn't a big fan of the band but liked them enough to go for the opportunity to go to the historic site. The line-up also included Ash, The Black Crowes, Proud Mary and The Crockets. Great weather all day and camping was available but when I lived seven miles away I thought it pointless. The Rock And Blues Festival was also held this year at the park too.
1 Day Ticket: £25 | Bands Seen: 5/5
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2002 saw the Ozzfest Tour take over the park for one day with two stages, opening with AntiProduct and headlining with Ozzy on the mainstage, but due to the outrageous bottle neck to the second stage in the exhibition hall, I never managed to see a single act there.
I was one of the lucky few that managed to get a wristband into the mosh pit area; an odd system of first X amount in get a wristband, you can then leave and return to the pit at any time. Nice if you wanna be in the pit, but it doesn't necessarily mean the people there were the best crowd to be at the front.
A big bottle fight ensued between acts with two groups in the pit area, and everyone else outside the pit attacking everyone in the pit area. The attitude was actually quite fun and nothing hurtful was thrown, just empty bottles. Generally the weather was pretty good, apart from a storm appearing only for Cradle Of Filth's set - to which Danni admitted he had requested it from God.
Millencolin had lost all their instruments in flight so had to borrow others and Slayer, although they killed it, were just a wall of noise. SOAD abruptly ended their set without reason. We later found out this was apparently due to some scaffolding collapsing.
Tool, whilst technically brilliant, gave an odd stationary performance on individual podiums then Zack Wydle and Robert Trujillo returned for a second performance to close with Ozzy, finalised with a massive fireworks display.
1 Day Ticket: £37.50 | Bands Seen: 12/26
My geeky collection of tickets from the previous years.
2003 - enter Download Festival, two days and two stages! I actually went to the festival on my own as no friends were going. I only had an arena pass and planned to just crash somewhere overnight. This proved to be very cold with no sleeping bag!
Because of this and having a good spot on the front row at the main stage I ended up only staying at this stage the entire weekend, missing Metallica's infamous secret set but getting my mug on the back cover of The Darkness' 'Permission To Land' (not that you can see my face properly though).
Marilyn Manson had an OK gig and Iron Maiden headlined the Saturday which I watched up the hill with a cup of tea.
Sunday, Less Than Jake, infamous for their crowd pitting antics, created the first horse shoe pit around the sound stage, due to the central crowd barrier preventing a full doughnut pit and as fun as it sounds, it proved quite messy when the crowds from each side met in the middle at full speed!
Evanescence performed their first UK gig whilst Disturbed kicked off playing an entire song with no vocals being projected. Whilst Slipknot themselves did not play, both Joey and Corey performed with Murderdolls and Stone Sour respectively.
The weather was great all weekend until Zwan came and brought the rain with them. I managed to tuck under the tarp walkway which had been ripped up, almost like a field long snake in the middle of the crowd, but that didnt really help. I dried off to Audioslave, who moved up to headline on the Sunday after Limp Bizkit pulled out, but unfortunately surfed as the tide went out and fell in a puddle of mud!
Tickets: £87.50 (2 Day Arena: £70, Camping £12.50, Parking £5) | Bands Seen: 25/57
Back page of The Darkness 'Permission To Land'. I'm there to the left of the cameraman on the front row - honest! 2003.
In 2004 Download festival brought us a third stage and I brought my flag! looking back at footage of Maiden and GnR you see loads of flags and it looked cool, but there were NONE last year, so I though OK, I'll take one! This proved to be a good umbrella, or target - depending on how I felt about the people around me, as the bottle fights returned!
If you were camping you wouldn't have been allowed into the arena until after The Dillinger Escape Plan had finished playing. Iggy invited the crowd onstage, Arch Enemy thundered the tent before Steve-O did what Steve-O does and also gave eggs to the crowd to throw at Electric Six, who took it very well, and this year's secret set came courtesy of FFAF.
On the Sunday Slayer swapped with Damageplan, due to airport problems, over filling the second stage tent which was a very enjoyable set enhanced by the fact I watched from the side with Nikki Sixx. He even poked a girl up the ass for blocking our view with my flag pole!
Slipknot performed for the first time and Metallica stole the headlines again keeping the crowd waiting over an hour until they finally announced they had no drummer. I'd already fucked off to see some music and caught a great set of HIM, in typical drunken lyric forgetting form. After which catching Metallica and wondering why the fuck drummers are changing. Maybe the big wait was worth it for not having to hear any 'St Anger' material!
Slipknot played for the first time. It's worth noting that Download held a second festival the same week in Scotland and if you watch any coverage from this year and you see a flag in the crowd, it's me!
Tickets: £100 (2 Day Arena: £80, Camping £15, Parking £5) | Bands Seen: 22/74
My flag captured in 2004.
In 2005 Download brought us three days. That's right, Live Nation teamed up with Ozzfest to give us an extra day, totally THREE FUCKING DAYS! I think this was the first sell out year too, if not it was the next year with about 90,000 in attendance and was fucking full!
It sure helped I was young at this point but man I was knackered after it but this year still remains my favourite year. In all I saw 39 bands, which I think worked out at just £2.40 per band. It really is worth just walking around and seeing someone else, or in my case - running!
The bottle fights got pretty aggressive this year with full bottles with lids on being thrown down the hill into the crowd. In fact I got a black eye from some twat throwing a full sealed bottle at head hight from about five metres away. It actually almost knocked me out.
Quite a few idiots also climbed the rigging of the second stage. One jumped and landed foot first into my other eye, another broke his leg. I ran around in a red kilt this year but due to the amount of dust it went home grey!
Friday was billed as an indie and alternative day which to be fair only Garbage and the headliners, Feeder, stood out as non-heavy. But credit due, they did a great job.
Trivium opened the main stage on Saturday morning and the second stage hosted a proper Metal bill that to this day is hard to top with American Head Charge, Every Time I Die, Uenearth, Meshuggah, BFMV, Lamb Of God, Chimaria and In Flames headlining.
Whilst In Flames were awesome in their two hour slot it was also quite fun playing football outside the tent with a giant ball about ten feet high brought over from Black Sabbath.
On Sunday Henry Rollins gave the morning's sermon, Society 1 swung their singer for the entire set suspended from hooks in his back, yuk! The rest of the Roadrage Tour performed, and more great acts such as Mudvayne, Caliban with a tent wide wall of death, Shadows Fall, Mastodon, Killswitch Engage, Slayer back on the main stage with a circle pit before they even strike a note: yes, that is me and my flag running in the circle pit.
Slipknot get the crowd to sit the fuck down again and although weather had been great all weekend, SOAD play a cold night! A lot of flags this year but all bought on site due to Leicester's street market flag man being at all the festivals in the UK that year, but you can still tell mine apart due to my customisation, awesomely exploited by Trivium on their third UK tour poster and by Roadrunner UK online. I also bumped into Pritchard and Dainton who told me to burn the flag!
Tickets: £132.50 (3 Day Arena £105, Camping £22.50, Parking £5) | Bands Seen: 39/68
My flag captured in 2005 and used on Trivium's tour poster.
In 2006 Download gave us an extra early day camping and two new venues; the Snickers Bowl and the Aftershock Tent. The former being an extreme sports arena and showcasing smaller bands, whilst the latter - well I have a rule; what happens in the Aftershock tent stays in the Aftershock tent.
All I will say is there was lots of Aftershock in my eyes, plenty of gore from the Circus of Horrors and from some Suicide Girls (please refer to rule no.1 on the SS's!).
This was also the year of the riots. I can't really tell you what happened as I missed it all, only emerging from the Aftershock tent at 4.00am to a very odd atmosphere; no security, no one walking about and a huge fuck off bonfire in the middle of the campsite with which anything near by was being thrown into - including some people's tents and possessions, very uncool.
But also a massive kind of tribal experience was happening with trash bins and tubs being used as drums and people dancing naked around the fire - I even saw Jesus! I left at 6.00am but it continued for a few more hours.
Band wise, I always remember this as the year of the S's; Strapping Young Lad, Soulfly, SikTh and Skindred. Corey returned with Stone Sour and guested a great skat with Korn who were a singer down and had last minute step ins, most needing an auto cue with the exception of Skindred's Benji, who without a doubt stole the set.
Avenged Sevenfold kicked ass much better than their tour earlier on in the year and Metallica had a playback of 'Master Of Puppets' for its 20th anniversary. That's playback - not performance!
In Flames returned with a midday slot on the main stage which meant they had to play a small slot of just twenty minutes whilst Guns N' Roses closed the festival with complaints to bottle throwers. Whilst The Prodigy went down really well and packed out the second stage tent, it also brought a lot of undesirables to the festival, specifically dodgy characters selling drugs and stealing. Our group got robbed twice but we actually managed to capture one of them and send him off in a van!
Tickets: £140 (3 Day Arena £115, Camping £20, Parking £5) | Bands Seen: 31/76
Previous year's posters.
2007 didn't have anything special to stand out though Lamb Of God's performance was put onto DVD and the controversial positioning of MCR closing the main stage and KoRn closing the second stage. Some knobends were planning riots in response to this but thankfully the Metal world condemned them and nothing came of it. This year the t-shirt printers I was working at happened to be commissioned to do the official merch, so I managed to get a top and laminate before the fest.
So Friday night, MCR did, however, finish and the arena emptied before KoRn even finished their set, which featured Joey Jordison on drums. Machine Head and Slayer ripped up the main stage on Saturday whilst Motley Crue gave a fantastic closing to the second stage with extended thank you's and dishing out of Jager.
Sunday was my big day but during a circle pit I started during Chimaira, my knee got dislocated and I was out for the day which I was gutted about, but thankfully no matter what I can still enjoy DevilDriver's massive football pitch sized circle pit, Mastodon and Lamb Of God whether I'm stood still or in the pit.
In a bizarre twist Reel Big Fish closing the third stage actually stole the festival for me - especially when some kid trying to see into the tent fell inside the biffa bin he was stood on (though I hope he recovered as he got stretchered away!).
Unfortunately the Aftershock tent didn't return but due to the success of an after hours site providing music the Duracell tent was introduced. Also the stalls were oddly positioned on the track outside of the main arena this year, probably in an effort to stop all those flags!
This was the last year I took mine into the arena - I do agree that they get in the way and I would only wave mine about in-between bands/songs or in circle pits. I actually got a good shot of me in the official coverage stood on the hill holding my flag up.
Tickets: £151 (3 Day Arena £125, Camping £20, Parking £6) | Bands Seen: 18/100
In the Duracell Tent, 2006.
2008 saw Download festival evicted from the track! Yes that's right, and apparently Live Nation also had little warning of this. GP bikers complained of grease on the track, which was also being upgraded to accommodate the F1, which in the end bankrupted the holding company and the Grand Prix stayed at Silverstone and also lost the GP to Silverstone too.
So the solution was locate the festival on the park's market site with the main stage being situated at the bottom of a hill creating a kind of amphitheatre and the second stage being upgraded to a full size outdoor stage on the tarmac. This was the first year that the LONG walk from campsite to arena came about.
Download Radio took a turn for the better. Where previously K! or the Beeb had been broadcasting, TotalRock took the reigns and DL radio to a new level with the 'tin can' studios located in the arena. Due to the long distance between sites the market area was duplicated at both the camping area and the arena.
The Duracell tent returned but due to some prat climbing the rigging, falling, and breaking his leg during a live DJ set on DL and TotalRock radios, the Thursday night was cut short. For some reason I decided to wear a pink leopard print dress and bunny rabbit ears. I went a bit mad on Jaeger and thus was dubbed Jaeger Bunny. I also got severely burnt before I'd even set up the tent on Wednesday.
Corey Taylor was due to guest with Apocalyptica but this turned out to be unrealistic due to his touring schedule and this became the first year he has not performed at the festival. Kid Rocks pulls out last minute due to his dislike of the festival giving Disturbed and Judas Priest longer sets - every one cheers.
The Dillinger Escpae Plan tear up the third stage whilst KISS headline the main stage and attempt to break the world record of largest crowd of KISS face painted fans whilst Ace Frehley plays the next day on the second stage.
Saturday, Throwdown create the biggest ever wall of death and Bleeding Through create the biggest ever doughnut pit whilst Airbourne Singer, Joel O'Keefe climbs the stage and HIM headline the second stage again, playing for the fourth time.
A pretty laid back Sunday with a classic set from The Wildhearts and Max Cavalera playing Donington in another band; Cavalera Conspiracy, for the first time reunited with his brother Igor, 15 years since they last both played together in Donington. The CC pitts killed the Jaeger Bunny and Jonothan Davies goes solo performing on a throne due to a bad back.
Tickets: £160 (3 Day Arena £130, Camping £20, Parking £10) | Bands Seen: 31/100
Bunnied up in 2008.
2009 saw Download festival relocated once again, this time to the car park! Another sell out with around 100,000 in attendance and the successful classic rock theme for the Sunday. A forth stage was introduced as the Red Bull Bedroom Jam stage for unsigned bands, although horribly located up the hill on the boundary of the arena. Support for the unknown bands was really strong. DL radio is hosted by Hard Rock Radio.
Due to last year's antics the Duracell tent is replaced by the Monster Arena, featuring God awful DJs from K! playing the same 15 songs on a scratched CD, constantly shouting down a distorted microphone thinking they're Fred Durst and telling people what to do; jump, scream, jump, lemme hear you, hands in the air SHUT THE FUCK UP!!! Twats.
Somehow we were actually camped in the same enclosure as the market so that was pretty convenient but annoying from those DJ tards. This year I ran around in a wolf hood and soon took on the name of Jaeger Wolf and bagged a photo in a festival guide on the Download page and a massive campaign on Myspace.
Limp Bizkit finally made an appearance with an odd persona from Durst but impeccable performance from the band. Another line-up change for KoRn but an amazing set followed by the newly reunited Faith No More.
A stella start to Saturday with FFDP, DevilDriver, Hatebreed and Down and some more dance-esque bands with Static-X who were invaded by bee's - apparently attracted to the bass (I think it was my ice cream), Pendulum and The Prodigy. Would have made sense to have them all on the same stage!
Marilyn Manson gave a truly shit performance, even spitting on newly returned bassist Twiggy Ramirez, and not realising his set was over and trying to do an encore. But without a doubt Slipknot highlighted the weekend. Although nothing new, getting the entire arena of probably 80,000 to sit down and jump up at the same time is an amazing site to be seen, which you can on their '(sic)nesses' DVD.
Today's rock really stood strong with the likes of Black Stone Cherry, Karma To Burn, Volbeat, Shinedown, Clutch and Steel Panther overfilling the third stage. Another stage mess up - they should have been on the second stage before Buckcherry instead of clashing.
ZZ Top, Papa Roach, Whitesnake and Def Leppard - what a night!
Tickets: £170 (3 Day Arena £135, Camping £25, Parking £10) | Bands Seen: 30/88
Wolfed up in 2009 on MySpace.
2010 and my tenth year at Donington. Download finally bagged AC/DC, a reunited Rage Against The Machine and for the first time in the UK in twelve years, Aerosmith!
For most, AC/DC stole the show with their own private stage, but for me it was seeing my idols Aerosmith for the first time. This was the 30th year of festivals (though not continually) at Donington and also the 30th anniversary of Saxon's 'Wheels Of Steel' album which they performed on the Sunday. They also performed at the first Monsters Of Rock.
The Jaegermeister Acoustic Truck is introduced as the fifth stage and I could potentially have played the fourth stage if I hadn't temporary turned down an audition with Imcus due to other commitments. This year, to help cover the cost of AC/DC, DL had introduced an extra charge if you want to camp before Friday and this system has remained.
Godsized filled the third stage tent and another first for me, seeing Dave Grohl drum with Them Crooked Vultures whilst his Foo Fighter buddy Taylor Hawkins plays the fourth stage. BFMV play for a fifth time.
Killswitch thought it unique to be invited a second year running but did appear last minute and performed well with, of course, their Dio cover in honour of the late legend. HIM play for a fifth time on the second stage on Saturday and another great set from Volbeat.
Reckless Love fill the third stage tent and RATM was just a dream come true. Saxon and Slash play brilliant sets on the Sunday Sun whilst Steel Panther and Stone Temple Pilots get given a rain along with Airbourne, whose front man Joel O'Keefe scaled the stage rigging regardless and solo's up high.
The sky clears for Corey Taylor with Stone Sour but for Aerosmith half the crowd had left to drive home. Very disheartening for the band but I loved every minute of their blinding set which spanned their entire history. Couldn't have asked for anything more but to have been on the front row, as the people there hardly looked like they were moving!
The night's entertainment in the village dwindled to a little van in a corner - gone were the fun days of the after hours disco.
Tickets: £190 (3 Day Arena £140, 3 Day Camping £40, Parking £10) | Bands Seen: 27/135
Suffering again from a bad case of heyfever, 2010.
2011 I went to Download working for my good friend's Starseed, so I got to see the other side of the festival - behind the scenes! As I had a pass I also bagged some interviews with friends playing this weekend.
There are many people who just like to hang out in VIP so they can look cool, and it goes on at every festival, but it pisses me off as there are many people who would love the chance to get a pass and actually watch the bands, such as myself. Gutted to miss cKy and a pretty chilled day for me. But good enjoyment with OAF, The Darkness rocked and KoRn got an odd second stage penultimate closer slot.
Saturday saw Skindred perform Donington for the fifth time with the main arena giving the Newport helicopter a go. Skunk Anansie and Avenged Sevenfold played awesome sets and SOAD finally give the UK a quality performance on par with their music.
Sunday sees the return of the rain, BFMV play for sixth time, Starseed play a full tent followed by Pub Landlord Al Murray's T-34. Gwar gore out with the Queen and Rob Zombie fills the second stage to a clear sky to close the festival. Corey misses the festival for a second time.
Tickets: £190 (3 Day Arena £145, Camping £35, Parking £10) | Bands Seen: 21/143
Getting long in 2010.
2012 Top Tips! Friday: Cancer Bats really rock and Fear Factory finally come to Download, Terrorvision should be wicked and if you like something a bit technical then check out The Safety Fire and get a good rockin' acoustic set with Million Dollar Reload.
But act of the day goes to the awesomely mighty legend Devin Townsend. The songs mix between loud, ambient, symphonic and bubblegum Metal filled with a geniously genuinely nice funny guy.
Saturday: Corey plays solo, Turbonegro, Ginger and Skindred are gonna have a good time on the second stage and yeah, Metallica are back playing 'The Black Album' (actually it's a self titled album but everyone just calls it black). Saxon and Steel Panther will be great but the legends are finally here, Tenacious fucking D!!!
Sunday: Some good female rocking at the Jaeger stage with Sanguine and Saint Jude, whilst Metal Hammer pinup Brittany Paige opens the second stage with Kobra And The Lotus. Later on reunited Refused and Irish jiggy Drop Kick Murphys are gonna really get things going, with more tech headlining the third stage with Periphery - love that shit.
Main stage sees DevilDriver and Kyuss Lives! (now down to two original members), Black Label Society and Soundgarden should hopefully be good as should Sabbath but Lamb Of God will steal the day for me!
Tickets: £205 (3 Day Arena £155, Camping £35, Parking £15) | Bands Announced: 149
2013? Well Download festival always strives to get the biggest bands that haven't played and reform others... and the list is shortening!
Punk is probably due to come back in soon so perhaps Green Day or Blink 182, DL is slowly catching on with progressive and tech so perhaps dutch legends Textures, newly reunited SikTh or UK rising stars TesseracT and Chimp Spanner? I'd love to see Dweezil Zappa, The Agonist, Protest The Hero and Queens Of The Stone Age at Donington and how about Rolling Stones - now that's something legendary!
Rammstein still haven't played DL and Queen have never been to Donington! Time will tell, until then have a good tenth birthday and remember the sun screen!