Download has gotten easier each day as I’ve learned the ropes.
First and foremost is proper footwear. Namely Wellys! A must for getting around. I awoke at 8am Saturday and went on the hunt. Surprisingly I located a pair of American men’s 11’s. The last pair of any men’s at the local recreation store, Millets. I couldn’t have been luckier. Download with Wellys was a real treat. I was now able to move about at ease and navigate the thick, gluey mud. The day was pretty cold, but completely dry so thank God for that.
I’ve also been finding the least crowded sets of port-o-loos. Even if you have to walk a bit further, it’s worth it as once you crack the seal on a bout of serious beer drinking, you seem to have to go after every pint. I have my favorite food stands as well and have a general area where I like to hang about. People seem pretty territorial and hang in the same spots daily. I’m familiar with the blokes around me and we share words or the occasional international signal for metal; \m/.
The set changes between bands are very quick through the day and only get a bit longer at night time when the bigger bands come on. Most changes are under 30 minutes which gives you just enough time to grab a beer and a piss. In fact I’m writing this on pad and paper while waiting for Anthrax to set up. It’s Sunday about 2pm.
Having been on my feet 12 hours yesterday, the other necessary item is a camp chair and I picked one up this morning at Millets on the way to the festival bus. I am in rock and roll heaven today. I decided to spend most of the day camped out with the other chair people just about 300 feet from stage which is still plenty close to the action. This festival is truly multi-generational and that’s very cool. I see many father/son/grandfather trios all sporting the shirt of the band they most support. The moms and grandma’s are all here too.
The massiveness of the whole thing is astounding. Especially moving further back today you can see the insane number of fans cheering the bands on the main stage. The second stage must have 10,000 people per show. The main stage has to be closer to 80,000. It’s an unreal site, looking down on it. One big family united in rock. I have never seen so much facial piercing, tattoos, and multi-colored hair at one time. It’s quite the circus with the everyday Joe’s & Jane’s mixing with the free spirits, but it’s great to be a little tiny piece of it. For the most part, the crowd is well behaved and polite. It astounds me there is no security to speak of within the arena. It’s all at the perimeter, nothing in the massive middle. And everyone seems to police themselves. That would never happen at home. It’s a bit strange, but I didn’t see any violence or anything even close. Just people having fun.
Of course, when you put 85,000 people together there’s bound to be some assholes and there are, but a very, very small percentage. Fortunately, I’m not one of them as I have made myself a gracious guest my entire time in England. I’ve purposely been en guard to not be the ugly American and believe I’ve succeeded.
Yesterday was a blur of beers and bands and I swear I was asleep before my head hit the pillow. I was completely wiped out. Metallica ruled the stage and the band looked fantastic and sounded better than ever. Also enjoyable were Jack Black’s band Tenacious D as well as Steel Panther. Both adding a bit of humor to the metal scene that the crowd ate up. Another thing I really like is the “Boobie-cam”. Apparently, the rule is, if they put a chick on the big screens, she has to flash the fans or suffer a tremendous booing by the horde. Fortunately, most gals comply rather than suffer the public indignation of being a prude. Fine rule I think. I’m also enjoying some new bands I’ve never heard before including my new favorite, Norway’s Turbonegro.
As I mentioned, today is much more relaxed as I have my easy chair now and it is a lovely, mostly sunny day. I just heard Black Label Society take the stage over at the main stage and it’s deafening over here at the 2nd. I’ve elected to see Skid Row instead. Anthrax was every bit as awesome as I’d suspected they’d be. Upcoming tonight is Ugly Kid Joe, Megadeth, Soundgarden, and the Godfathers of Metal, Black Sabbath in undoubtedly will be one of their last shows ever. Going to stay sober today and just relax and dry out a bit. The temperature is warm and it’s a beautiful day in Donington. Having now gotten me feet wet and learned from a couple of mistakes, I couldn’t of had a better time (once I figured out what the bloody hell I was doing.)
True Rock & Roll heaven if there ever was such a place! I love Download!