A crowd of eager metal heads marched in unison to the gates of Download festival. Doc Marten boots, Vans plimsoles and DC trainers were the footwear of choice for this week.
They each wore band t-shirts with an assortment of famous names on;
Korn, Iron Maiden, KISS or some death metal band names written in font only people in the know could make out.
There were some choices with this festival, come on Wednesday and power through to Monday morning?
Some came at the weekend and had to deal with the enormity of the well established campers!
Camping equipment in hand we made the journey across rocky terrain and through the fields of uncut grass. When we had finished gawping at the race track that the entirety of the festival surrounds.
Once settled in our camp we began to explore. Reaching “ The Village” the place where you’re suddenly introduced to the buzz of the festival to come.
Fun fair rides for the nocturnal, large shipment containers made up the walls for semi enclosed D.J club venues.
First on our list was Dead Poet Society, all the way from California this band we’re playing one of the marquee tent stages during the day.
They were so grateful and excited to be playing and had brilliant fan interaction after the gig.
Posing for photos and not forgetting who got them to where they were.
Next up was Skindred, now having seen them before at a different festival it was intriguing to see how they dealt their hand to a venue with a more enthusiastic crowd.
A truly unique experience, with the lead singer sporting a steam punk themed bright red hat and the performance to match, at one point everybody took their tops off and whipped them in a helicopter propeller motion above their heads!
This Welsh reggae metal band are well worth a listen!
Next up was Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes, previously in band Gallows, his sound has become more like a heavier version of Jamie T. You could tell his excitement to be back performing at festivals after a two year wait, he was encouraging the crowd to go and get a tattoo at his tattoo studio Rose of Mercy. Promoting a safe space for all genders, religions, races and ages.
Headlining that night were KISS. An iconic, theatrical performance with throwback classics.
They had giant inflatable versions of themselves as their stage backdrop throughout their performance. They had their iconic face paint and classic throwback songs, audience participation was at a all time high during their show.
The next day brought another iconic band to the stage, Iron Maiden, who were forced to delay their performances due to the risk of Covid put on a spectacular show.
There were large stage props like ‘The Beast’ a plane and even flame throwers. It was incredible to see such a charismatic display of talent.
The crowd were very restless and in awe of the mouth dropping guitar solos. One of the most interesting to watch as each song told a story a true theatrical performance.
The final day brought crowds in from all around the main arena, it was full to the brim to watch KORN. Awaiting in disbelief of believe how many people had flocked to one spot. At least three mosh pits had opened up amongst the crowd with all kinds of spectacular sights being caught on the overhead camera footage linked to the large screens either side of the main stage.
Biffy Clyro were the final performers at Download and were such a great family friendly finisher to the overall weekend. Opening their set to a sequence of quirky, off key fan fares. Then going in with a heavy guitar solo immediately. Even repeating Iron Maiden’s “Scream for me Donnington” phrase as a nod to the greats.
Some may say it was a controversial move to have a younger band as the final act. We’d had the likes of iconic 90s bands on followed by a newer wave of rock music. It’s a hard footprint to follow in, yet they exceeded expectations.
Their remakes of their well known songs brought a new perspective to their music, a harder and heavier rockier sound. This could bring them a consistent following form the metal community turning them away from previous pop rock sounds. Then to finish it all off their were long red streamers, fireworks and longing for next year.
Photography Alice Wales
Musik Magazine 2022