During the first weekend of June we got the opportunity to go to Download Festival in Donnington Park and review not only the bands, but the full 5 day experience as a whole.
Even though the official Festival begins on the Friday when the Arena is open and thousands of fans flood through the gate to see the abundance of bands playing, there is a lot of fun activities and event tents for the 5 day campers. Among the vast amount of stalls, there are also the cinema and the doghouse tents both of which provide entertainment throughout the duration of the festival. A highlight of the Village is the silent disco which I strongly recommend to everyone who decides to camp.
Once the doors to the arena are opened the festival is in full swing, and everything is quickly thrown into chaos as fans find their way to the different stages to see their favorite artists. The Friday of this year’s Download was a personal Highlight as the Headliners of the night, ‘Avenged Sevenfold’ are my favorite band. However, before we get to the review of their set we went to some of the smaller stages to see Cancer Bats, Andrew W.K and Jonathan Davis.
Cancer Bats gave the crowd an amazing and heavy performance as they engaged the crowd and started a few mosh pits during the first couple of songs, they definitely knew how to play up their set for a festival crowd and how to quickly engage them. Even though at times the sound was not amazing due to small technical difficulties, they managed to play through it and give a strong performance. Halfway through their set we moved to the Zippo Encore stage to watch the last few songs of Andrew W.K who played some fan favorites such as “We Want Fun”, which is mostly known for appearing on the Jackass soundtrack. His fans seemed pleased with his performance and he was as energetic as usual. Once he was off the stage everyone rushed forward ready to see Jonathan Davis and his solo performance, it was a definite break from Korn’s style as the front man ditched the heavy drum beat and guitars for a more mellow and soft sound, giving him a very stripped down and raw vibe. The crowd seemed curious as to exactly what he was going to give them and many left pleasantly surprised, one longtime fan left after the set saying “This wasn’t something I expected from him but just like he does with Korn, he gave us an absolutely awesome performance, I will definitely give his solo stuff another listen.”
As Jonathan’s set came to a close we made our way to the main stage just in time to catch the first song from Bullet For My Valentine, and use their heavy and very active crowd as a way to get as close as possible to the barrier just in time for Avenged Sevenfold. Bullet for My Valentine gave a very strong performance, they managed to connect with the crowd in seconds as they stormed the stage and played some of their hits such as “Your Betrayal” and “You Want a Battle” in the first quarter of their set. The crowd was extremely active with some of the biggest pits of the whole day opening up. Once they left the stage the crowd was left electrified and ready for the Headliners to come on.
After an hour gap, Avenged Sevenfold finally started coming out one by on while the massive riffs of “The Stage” filled the whole arena. Synyster Gates’ solo looked effortless as he didn’t even look down at his guitar while playing, as fellow guitarist Zacky Vengeance was full of life and gave the crowd a dashing smile. M Shadows controlled the whole crowd during the whole set with his amazing crowd interaction and vocals. Avenged Sevenfold had brought their A game to Download with a larger than life presence and a stage show reminiscent of Iron Maiden. Their Set list was a good mix of old school hardcore California Metal and the Newer thought inducing content. Their set will go down in history as one of Download Festival’s very best.
Saturday was also full of incredible bands, in this review we will be focusing on Asking Alexandria, Black Stone Cherry and of course Guns N Roses. In the early afternoon I made my way to the Zippo Encore stage ready to see one of the bands which I have personally followed for years as a long time fan: Asking Alexandria. I have seen them many times and needless to say, had high expectation for their performance especially since the return of original front man Danny Worsnop. They started off strong (even though Danny took a tumble on stage in the first 20 seconds) with “Into The Fire” from their latest album, however as the set carried on it became apparent that the band had decided to cut many fan favorites and overall well known songs such as “The Final Episode” and “To The Stage” in favor of tracks from their newest album. The crowd was not as excited and as active as it would have been if they haven’t made that decision. However, the few old songs which they played were received very well.
Next up we had Black Stone Cherry a band which I was not very familiar with and wasn’t sure what to expect. Their amazing vocals and stage presence left many people including myself hyped and ready wanting to listen to at least another hour of them. However, it was finally time for one of the biggest bands on the planet to take the stage: GUNS’N ROSES. We were thrown into a three-and-a-half-hour long frenzy with an abundance of guitar solos and high notes, the monster of a setlist included many fan favorites and gave everyone more than enough reason to dance and sing along. Slash as always blew everyone away with his guitar playing skills and Axl’s voice complimented them amazingly. The whole set felt as if we were making history with Guns N Roses Making their triumphant return to Donnington.
It seemed hard to follow up such a performance after Saturday’s headliners took the stage, however the next day gave many outstanding performances, two of which I will be covering. As everyone awaited for the Prince of Darkness himself: Ozzy Osbourne to take the stage and close of this years festival with a bang, his longtime friend and well known goth icon Marylin Manson took the stage. Many were left surprised as he gave a very good performance, something which hasn’t been a common thing in recent years, however Manson seemed in good spirits while making jokes about coming out in the sunlight and pulling a fan onstage. He played some true emo bangers such as “The Beautiful People” and “This is The New S**t”. Overall it was a perfect prelude to Ozzy Osbourne as some fans even caught glimpses of his daughter Kelly standing side stage during Marilyn’s performance.
Finally it was time to close the Festival and what better way to do so that with Ozzy Osbourne’s possibly last ever festival run. The crowd was buzzing as he took the stage and guitarist Zakk Wylde played some larger than life riffs. The show was outstanding and a perfect end to an amazing 5 days as fireworks went off everyone was already talking about next year and speculating who we might see in Donnignton in only 365 days.