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Download Festival – Day 9 & 10

11 Jun

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!

These are my Wellys. I shit you not. LAST pair in all of Derby. Beggars can not be choosers. I was thrilled! These go to 11. Size 11 that is.

Me modeling my new Wellys. I’m a very proud papa.

This is the beer token. You buy them in blocks of four and you just break them off. When you want a beer, you grab the quick que and just trade a chip for a pint. Cool!

This….is Boobie Cam. It’s quite awesome.

Me rockin’ at Metallica!!

There are a literal fuckload of people here at Download.


Download Festival 2012 – Who do I see?

10 May

I am getting ready to travel to Great Britain in a few weeks to attend the 2012 Download Festival.  I have never been outside North America so I am really looking forward to this trip for a variety of reasons, but Download was the initial calling for me.  Being a mega-Metallica fan, they announced they were headlining this festival and playing the Black Album in its entirety.  That’s about the only reason I needed to start reading guide books and searching feverishly for airfare.  I’ll write more about the trip and plan to blog my entire adventure, but more about that later.

My metal journey officially began when my Boy Scout friend, Christopher Scott, loaned me his Motley Crue Shout at the Devil album.  (The actual record, most of us didn’t have cassette tapes yet.)  Smuggling it into the house, past my parents, I went into my room, shut the door, and dropped the needle.  I was in love.  Being a metal head since my early teens, I can’t wait to immerse myself in the music and culture non-stop for three days.  Head banging and beer guzzling is something I happen to be very good at through decades of practice.  (I am also a kick ass air guitar player.)  I’m an old man now, but I believe slow-n-steady wins the race and I plan to finish.  In preparation for this epic event in my life, I figured I better do a little bit of reconnaissance as a lot of these bands I have never heard of and I want to make the most of my head banging.

I’m planning on attempting to listen to 3-5 songs from each artist up until the  time of the trip and post my brief findings of each.  I’m doing this in efforts to figure out who I really want to see with so many bands to choose from.  There is no possible way to see them all.  I am a huge fan of Metallica, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, and Led Zeppelin to name just a few.  I like the old, traditional “heavy metal”.  Who do you think I should see?

This post will  be a work-in-progress for a few weeks.  There’s a shitload more bands than this, but I’ll start with the Mainstage acts.

Bands I LOVE = Green
Bands I LIKE = Red
Bands I’ve HEARD OF (maybe a song or two) = Blue
Bands I don’t know SHIT about = Brown (obviously)

Friday – June 8, 2012

  • The Prodigy
  • Chase & Status – Uhhh….at first I thought I was listening to the wrong band.  This is not metal.  Synthesizers, drum machines, and lots of tribal beats.  That is not to say I don’t like this, but it’s not what I expected.  This is going to be quite a stretch following Machine Head.  What I heard was pretty cool, but sounded more like the soundtrack at some sex dungeon party.  I don’t think this is my cup of tea.
  • Machine Head – Wow!  I really like this.  I hear a lot of Exodus & Testament, but amplified with a big arena-rock kind of sound.  Also picking up some Alice In Chains (an all time fav)  and System of a Down vibes.  Way cool.  I’m going to have to check out this band a little more for sure! 
  • Billy Talent – Solid alt rock band.  Very catchy tunes.  Singer has a unique voice.  I like this a lot.  Not enough to run out and buy the record, but definitely worth enjoying a live set.  Wonder why these guys aren’t bigger in the States?  Just as good as any of the shit our alt rock bands turn out, if not better. 
  • NOFX – This was like finding buried treasure for me.  Thinking it was hardcore, I was surprised to hear fun-poppy punk cranking from my headphones.  Listening along and grinning from the sarcastic and sometimes hilarious lyrics, it was easy to hear the Offspring and Green Day influence.  That’s when I discovered, I guessed backwards.  These guys were the trendsetters, cranking this gold out from the early 80’s.   After a handful of songs off of Punk in Drublic, I had to hear more and was thrilled to find a massive catalog of LPs and EPs enjoying each song more and more.  I got to this party late, but better late than never.  Who’s got a beer?
  • Fear Factory – Love it!  This is hardcore metal with infused synthesizers and it sounds awesome.  I immediately felt my neck loosen and start involuntarily moving up and down.  It’s 5:30am and I’m ready to crack a beer.  Usually don’t like all the yelling, but it’s ok when done properly a la Pantera.  This is a nice mix of the yelling and singing.  Reminds me a lot of Linkin Park, and there’s some groove a la White Zombie.  Something tells me these guys are awesome live.  Looking forward to this one!
  • Cancer BatsI just discovered this band yesterday.  I had heard of them and decided to give it a try.  I am not crazy about the vocals.  I hate that guttural, devil’s-in-my-ball-sack yelling, but this guy’s voice has grown on me and he actually does sing pretty well on a few tracks I heard.  I love the music and guitar riffs.  Heavy.  Looking forward to these dudes!  UPDATE – I had to change this band to green.  I LOVE them and am pumped to see em live!
  • Rise to Remain – I only found one song by these guys and it didn’t really grab me.  It was fine.  Unless I hear something else, I’ll probably mosey over to another stage during this set.

Saturday – June 9, 2012

  • Metallica – My fucking favorite.  I even like St. Anger.  ‘Nuff said.
  • Biffy Clyro – Fantastic alt rock band.  Another one I don’t understand hasn’t made it to the States.  I loved every song I listened too.  I believe the singer is Scottish and sings with that excellent accent for improved cool factor.  (At least for me.)  I just love finding all this new music and know I’ll get to hear it all live soon.  A lot of mellow songs, but there’s some rockers in there too.  All sounds great!  I hope I can find someone who’ll smoke me out or give me a hit to enjoy these guys.  Seems like good weed music to just lay back on the grass and enjoy.  Listening to one of their live albums and they sound amazing.  Crowd sounds high-energy and really into them.
  • Tenacious D
  • Steel Panther
  • Trivium – Hard and heavy, but nothing special or memorable for me.  I just couldn’t get into it.  I kept hoping the next song would be better, but the hook never came.  I hear nothing that differentiates this band from 100 other mediocre hard rock bands that came out mid 90’s to mid 00’s.  We’ll be in England so I can officially say “this is not my cup of tea.”
  • Black Veil Brides – Cool name.  I think this is what would happen if Lamb of God raped whatever hot alternative band happens to be happening now.  Not that it’s a bad thing because the metalcore goes pretty nicely with it.  I really like the harmonizing guitars a la Maiden too.  Do I want to hear more?  Yup!  I will almost certainly check out this set.
  • Saxon
  • As I Lay Dying

Sunday – June 10, 2012

  • Black Sabbath – OMG.  Original lineup.  Ozzy, Tony, Geezer, and Bill.  This will be EPIC!  The Godfathers of metal!
  • Soundgarden – Being a Seattle native, I knew of Soundgarden long before the world did.  Outrageously creative music, backed by power chords, and Cornell’s amazing voice.  What’s not to love?  So many great, great songs.  An all time favorite!
  • Megadeth
  • Lamb of God – PRECONCEIVED NOTION ALERT!  I saw this band on Ozzfest several years back.  I know they have legions of fans so I was curious.  Two songs and I was running to the beer garden never looking back.  I’ve steered clear ever since.  However, in the interest of being fair, I’m going to give them another shake.
  • Black Label Society – Balls driven rock & roll.  Zaak Wylde is a living legend and I really dig this band.  One of the few guys on the planet who can take his axe and make it a vocalist in the band.  Stoked!  Plus Black Label is like almost the shittiest beer on the planet.  A perfect pairing of beer & metal!  Praying for Ozzy to come out and sing Stillborn with them!  Fingers crossed.
  • Anthrax – Churning out killer thrash for decades.  Sergeant D and The Stormtroopers of Death, an Anthrax offshoot, is one on my favorite albums of all time.  I love these fuckers and can not wait to see them live for the first time!
  • Kyuss Lives!
  • Devil Driver
  • Stellar Revival