Download Festival is forever etched in history as one of the UK’s biggest festivals and arguably the world’s greatest ever Rock festival. With blistering heat, shredding performances and a great atmosphere through-out, 2017 was no different. We sent our Music Officer Scott Hastie down to Donington Park joined by Fly FM’s resident Rock chick Jen Thomas to report from the weekend.
You can read their review and listen to their podcast below.
Lots of bands graced Download 2017 but perhaps the best booking of all was the gorgeous, beaming sunshine that was pretty relentless on the Friday and Sunday and showed up often through-out the Saturday. After last year’s downpour, it was certainly a welcome sight and put the whole arena in a good mood through-out the weekend.
Performance-wise the likes of Motionless In White, Mastadon & Five Finger Death Punch pulled in huge crowds on the main stage on the Friday. There were also student radio legends Good Charlotte and Sum 41 gracing the top of the day’s bill on the Zippo Encore stage which was a lot of fun.
The day was rounded off by Prophets of Rage who performed a sleuth of Rage Against The Machine and other rock/rap classics. Perhaps the most touching moment of the whole day was when guitarist Tom Morello let the crowd sing Audioslave’s Like A Stone in tribute to the incredible vocalist Chris Cornell.
The Saturday gifted us so many student radio favourites starting early with Creeper. Easily one of the hottest bands across student radio stations all year, they played popular tracks like opener Black Rain, Hiding With Boys & Suzanne. It was common feeling in the crowd that this would not be the last we’d see of Creeper on Download main stages. A Day To Remember was also a late day highlight, playing hits from their latest, Bad Vibrations.
Sunday again started strong with the awesome Fozzy gracing the main stage. New single Judas went down a storm. Later in the day, Steel Panther had what seemed like one hundred girls on stage with them dancing to their comedy rock before Alter Bridge delivered a performance deserving of future headliners.
All three headliners were terrific in their own rights. System Of A Down cracked through almost two hours of their classic hits to a really loving crowd. Biffy Clyro played a perfect festival set filled with sing-a-longs, all of their biggest songs and a few surprise numbers such as There’s No Such Thing As A Jaggy Snake, the first time they’d played it at Download in ten years!
Download 2017 was all about Aerosmith closing on the Sunday night though and the band well and truly delivered. The crowd adored seeing Joe Perry & Steven Tyler play through ballads and scorching guitar tracks. It was a performance for the ages.
What we loved most about Download though was the great array of student radio loved bands playing. The Dogtooth Stage played host to the fantastic Yonaka and Otherkin on Friday whilst The Lafontaines and new post punk band Idles took to it on Saturday. The Avalanche Stage on Sunday had a student radio line-up to die for with the likes of Dead!, Touche Amore, The King Blues, Basement and Moose Blood on back to back before The Dillinger Escape Plan tore it up.
We actually had the opportunity to catch up with Joe Talbot from Idles as he came off stage. Scott speaks to Joe:
JT: We never would have thought about playing at Download, but it works. Loved it.
SH: We’ve loved your album Brutalism at student radio. You’re a very good live band, how has been showcasing it live?
JT: It’s transformed it. The whole tour we did across the UK, we’ve met so many beautiful people…it’s something that we’ll never forget, it’s wonderful.
SH: There are a lot of great punk bands cropping up as we’re going through a tough time in the world. Do you think we’re about to enter a Golden Era for punk music?
JT: I hope there’s a Golden Era for consciousness in all kinds of music. I hope there’s pop music that means something again. I want there to be metal music that means something. I don’t want to be part of a scene…it becomes stagnant too quickly. After the General Election, I want the youth and everyone that didn’t feel like they had a voice to realise (they need to) ignore what’s in front of you. Go out there and express yourselves exactly how you want. It’s about being conscious, and about being energised, and having a voice and believing in something that is yours.
Download isn’t just about the music though. The festival perhaps more so than any other in the UK understands its fans enough to provide entertainment in a variety of forms that fits your usual rock fan. Having WWE bring NXT Live to Download was a great highlight. It was forever packed out with fans who were buying merchandise, going to Q&As and having photos taken with wrestling’s biggest stars.
There were also plenty of options for buying clothing and accessories at Download, from band t-shirts to denim jacket patches to jewellery.
Lastly, and most fun, was Demolition Download. Once per day, people would gather in the fields to watch people dressed as knights go to war with each other, fighting in swordplay for points, whilst being heckled and cheered by Download’s finest. It was a different experience for a festival, but a welcome one.
All in all, it’s clear to see why Download is so popular around the world. As a festival it always delivers on the music and it also gets what rock fans love aside from music.
Tickets are now on sale for next year’s and you do not want to miss out on the best rock show of the year.