My day was sheer madness. I headed out for the Download Festival about 11:15am this morning. Here’s the play by play:
- 11:15am – Step outside and make my way south through the beautiful town centre. It’s much busier than it was last night, but still has that story book quality. Just grand.
- 11:25am – Lost
- 11:30am – Back on track pointed towards the rail station.
- 11:35am – Lost
- 11:40am – Back on track pointed towards the rail station.
- 11:45am – Arrive at the rail station. Don’t see a single sign for Download Festival, but I swear it said to catch the shuttle here. I walk all the way to the right. Nothing. Back all the way to the left. Nothing. The steady morning rain has soaked me on the outside. Fortunately, I have the right clothes underneath and I’m toasty and warm.
- 12:00pm – Fuck it. Time for a pint and maybe a helpful local. I duck into a pub which name escapes me. I meet up with three fellows. Two are from Darby and one young guy who’s traveled from a small village near Reading. Three pints later and they’ve adopted me and lead me off to the coaches to take us to Download.
- 1:00pm – Back at the rail station now where there’s clearly several signs that say DOWNLOAD FESTIVAL with friendly arrows pointing to the rear of the station. I’m an idiot.
- 1:15pm – On the bus and headed to Download.
- 1:25pm – I should’ve pissed before I left the pub.
- 1:35pm – I REALLY should’ve pissed before I left the pub.
- 1:45pm – Traffic on this single lane highway is horrendous, most likely due to the gawd-awful weather and I’m going to piss myself. All the blokes are in need of the toilet and we have the bus driver let us off right at the start of the town of Donington. A few steps later, we’re at The Lamb freshly pissed and drinking another pint. Halfway through our pint, our bus rolls by finally catching up with us.
- 2:00pm – We head off to walk the rest of the way to Download. It’s a long walk uphill most of the ways I’d guess a mile and a half. Finally we make it. We pass our shuttle bus and leave it far behind us. Waiting about in this que and that que we finally get inside about 2:45pm. That was one hell of a journey just to get here!
- 2:45pm – I wore the wrong shoes.
- 2:46pm – It is a mud pit, inches deep. Thick mud that hangs onto your shoe when you try to take a step. Occasionally you’ll come to mud matted grass which allows you to get a bit of a better footing, but not much. It’s pretty difficult to get about.
- 3:00pm – I’m getting the hang of mud walking and moving somewhat quicker. I haven’t fallen yet, so that’s good. I’ve found the beer token line with my mates and we all drop 50 quid for beer tokens. That’s 13 pints. The reason they sell the tokens is pretty cool. In the beer line, you simply hand them the little plastic token chip, they hand you the drink of your choice. Fast and efficient! Get in. Get out. I like it.
Download is a sea of completely crazy people. I think most of them are totally mental. First off, I noticed all ages from grandparents to young teenagers. Everyone is here. The crowd is 85,000 strong I would guess scattered out amongst five stages which are all a fair walk from one another. About 98% of these concert goers are wearing “Wellies” which is slang for Wellingtons. They are simply cheap rubber boots. How I wish I had a pair today. Some folks are bundled to the hilt as it’s cold and very windy, but fortunately the rain stopped about 2pm for the most part. Some festival goers are wearing nothing but shorts and T-shirts. Many are in costumes. I’ve seen Waldo, Yoshi, Snow White (a guy), Fred Flinstone, and a million others.
There are cities that have been completely erected for camping which I guess is truly part of the Download experience. I say “Hell no”. I’m quite cozy laying in my hotel bed, with the Eurocup on in the background typing this to you. I’m showered, dry, and cozy. Even though the cities have everything you would need, I could not even imagine sleeping out there. I have never seen so much mud. Met several fellows who said it’s downright miserable even with all the beer in the world. Saw many others packed up and making their way out with their camping gear trying to find accommodation in nearby towns. Good luck. This city is booked solid.
When I left tonight after Slash (most excellent) there were still loads of concert goers rolling in with camping gear and completely clean. They were in for a big surprise! Pack on the back, sleeping bag under one arm, and a case of Carlsberg under the other. That seems to be the uniform.
I did make the most of it and even though I was worried my beautiful new Rockports would be destroyed, there really wasn’t much I could do about it. I’d shopped around the store area inside the festival and everyone was out of my size Wellies. It will be my first priority in the morning.
I did see some great bands today including NOFX, Billy Talent, Machine Head, and Slash. The last two blew the doors off the place although I had to go over to the second stage to catch Slash. He definitely should’ve been main stage I think, but oh well. I was curious to see The Prodigy who are huge on this side of the pond and they were the headliner for the night. There was definitely a buzz in the air as many were there for them. I could see them as I made my way back to the shuttle after Slash, but I was too exhausted to give it a go.
The ride home was nothing like the ride there. Quick and easy. I suppose as I think everyone went to Prodigy so there’s not even a full bus on the ride home and we make it back to Derby in 20 minutes or so. Jump in a cab, and 5 quid later, I’m on my way to my hotel room carrying my shoes.
Jump into the tub with all my gear on and strip down. Pull me pants back on with me shoes and just turned the shower on and had a bit of a cleaning party in half my getup. The water was jet fucking black. What a mess. I hope the shoes dry out quickly. They look normal again at least, just soaked. The pants are great hiking pants and imagine they’ll be dry in hours. I’m going to get dirty again tomorrow, so I’m just wearing the same thing!
All in all, that was some experience. I was perfectly prepared as I never got cold or wet really. Even my feet stayed dry. I was quite comfortable other than the extremely slippery ground and constantly watching my footing. The food at the show was quite tasty and I think 4 quid a beer for something like this is pretty reasonable although my mates bitched. I told them what we pay at the Seahawks games and they said we get “proper fucked”. I agree.
As I said, I’m getting up and heading into town about 8am to search for Wellies. And we’ll do it all again tomorrow for METALLICA!! \m/ Sunday’s going to really be the huge day for me though with Anthrax, Ugly Kid Joe, Skid Row, Megadeth, Soundgarden & Sabbath!