Where the hell is the blog post I spent 45 minutes on this morning? I uploaded pictures from last night, commentary and everything. Drat it!
26th October 2013
Yes, you are getting a cheesy title for this review; I am, after all, reviewing an incredibly cheesy band.They are fantastic fun though. I’m half deaf and can’t speak either from all the singing I did. Plus I got really close to the front!
Down to the serious stuff though.
Rock City, Nottingham
Support: Laura Wilde
This is the band that all the drunk teenagers appear to have come to see. They were here last year apparently. I must have missed them.
They’re not half bad, tackling The Beatles and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. And plenty of Green Day.Still waiting for some original stuff though; it’s another covers band, albeit a lot younger than the previous two.
It’s still disturbing that there’s kids here who weren’t born when I first heard these songs and they’re singing along so happily.
While they are really good at the songs they’re covering, I wonder just how far they could go with original material; they certainly have the talent. I had videos of them, but something went wrong and I can’t find them on my phone to transfer. It’s most irritating because I played them back earlier to check they were okay and the quality was actually quite good.
In all I enjoyed my evening, especially spending time with my sister and niece. The bands were not bad, for a free festival. I was soaked, because it began raining again, hungry and cold. I also really needed my bed. But I saw it out.
The evening finished with spirited rendition of ‘Highway to Hell’. And shouts for more; unfortunately the organisers didn’t agree.
This was the next band that came on, there name is, er, I don’t know, they haven’t said. But the keyboardist is one of the RMQA’s at my day job.
It took them some time to warm up and they had some technical problems with the drums, but once they hit their stride they were enjoyable to listen to. Even if they are bit ‘pop’ for me.
It’s started raining.
[I freezing, and soaked, but it’s stopped raining!]
And it doesn’t do to badly either.
So far The League of Mental Men have entertained us with covers from a variety of bands, including Papa Roach, Guns n Roses, My Chemical Romance, The Foo Fighters and The Darkness. They’re apparently really popular in the local pubs and I can see why; the singer is fairly good. He manages to hit the notes 95% of the time (he’s not no Dave Grohl but he’ll do for Immingham) and the musicians are competent.
They were enjoyed by the whole crowd, even my sister who’s leery about this sort of music.
Back soon with a review of the next band. Provided my phone plays nice and I don’t lose the network again.
Well, I’m back on-line and trying to write this review while watching the series ‘Hannibal’ and being sociable. Look at me multi-tasking!
I saw a few more bands on Saturday than Friday. I saw a range of bands, some I hadn’t thought to see, and I missed some of the bands I wanted to see, for various reasons.
The first band I saw was:
Katatonia on the Zippo Encore Stage
In my notebook I’ve summed them up as ‘loud Scandinavians with long hair. They’ve been around for a while’.
I really enjoyed watching them. They are quite heavy, which I like, but I couldn’t actually discern the words.
Next I watched Lit play, again on the Zippo Encore Stage
One of my friends used to really like them when we were kids, back in the 90’s/00’s. According to Shelley, at some point they dropped off the face of the Earth. Their appearance at Download therefore made Shelley quite happy. I don’t know what I thought to them, some of the songs I liked, most of the set I found a little insipid. I only recognised one song; I must have heard it at some point.
After Lit I went to the Main Stage to see
Alice In Chains
I was looking forward to seeing them but was in the event actually quite disappointed, though they seemed popular in the Arena.
Next up Motorhead
Oh, I was looking forward to seeing these legends.
They were really fun to watch, although it did drag slightly. The two drum solos, while incredibly good, made the set seem unnecessarily long.
Returning to the Zippo Encore Stage to see Jimmy Eat World
By this point in the day I was tired and hungry, so I probably wasn’t listening as closely as I should have done, which is not great when you’re writing about bands and their music. Anyway, eventually I did manage to raise a bit of enthusiasm for the set.
I staggered on through to QOTSA back on the Main Stage
They were okay, I couldn’t really hear what was being sung, but I liked the music.
I had planned to stay to see Iron Maiden but all the cigarette smoke set off my asthma, and it was too much for me. I ended up going back to my tent. Due to the acoustics of the site I could hear Iron Maiden anyway. I could hear the crowd’s reaction as well; they went down very well with the people who managed to make it through the second day of Download.
And on to Sunday
Sunday was great.
I started off the day right down the front of the main stage singing along to Sacred Mother Tongue. They happen to be one of my favourite bands, so I was in heaven, just a little bit.
I first saw them at the Halestorm concert I went to in Nottingham in March this year and only saw half their set. Since then I’ve kept an eye on this Northamptonshire group. I waited impatiently for their new album and reviewed it (see https://rosemariecawkwell.wordpress.com/review-sacred-mother-tongue-out-of-the-darkness).
They lived up to my expectations entirely. It was so good to see them on a larger stage and in front of an appreciative crowd. Clearly people had made the effort to drag themselves out of their tents, probably with a hangover. And they appreciated the bands efforts as much as I did.
Next up, because my friends wanted to see them, Cancer Bats, still on the Main Stage
As good a front man as Liam Cormier is, I can’t say I particularly like this band. The band have a devoted following but their style of music doesn’t appeal to me. Again, I prefer singing to shouting. I just don’t like that sort of punk, though I know it’s quite a common genre these days.
Next, another band I really couldn’t wait to see, Stone Sour, played their set in the evening. We sat up on the hillside and watched. I could just about hear. The problem was that someone over in the Pepsi Max Stage were rather loud and it was irritating. They acoustic set, which I would love to have heard properly was practically drowned out.
It was still enjoyable, Corey Taylor is an excellent singer and can write a good song. The crowd certainly liked him.
After Stone Sour came Gaslight Anthem
They’re okay, I’ve never seen or heard their music before but I quite enjoyed the set. It was easier, marginally, to hear them than Stone Sour. Mainly because the racket from the Pepsi Max stage had ended.
30 Seconds to Mars
After Gaslight Anthem came Jared, Shannon and Tomo. The Echelon were very excited, and I had a few friends down their. When Jared started getting people on to the stage one of them was feet from getting up there. Then there was an accidental crowd surfer and they refused to let any more people onto the stage.
The new songs were definitely tighter in performance than the older songs; Jared seemed to get bored of singing then and got the audience to do the work instead. Shannon is still a talented drummer, and evem Tomo had a go at drumming at the start.
They announced their UK tour in November. I’m going to the Nottingham gig.
Jared’s voice isn’t as strong as I thought it would be. To be fair, we got distracted.; I’ll tell you why later.
In between 30STM and Rammstein we took a trip to the Zippo Encore Stage to see a bit of Limp Bizkit.
They played their ‘classic’ Rollin’ – it was practically a sing-a-long. After listening to a couple more songs we got distracted by the arrival on the Main Stage of
I only saw the first half-hour or so – I was tired again – but impressed by the pyrotechnics. I’m not sure what I think of their music though.
And now for the most entertaining part of the evening.
During 30 Seconds to Mars’s set a person got stuck on the zipline. They cot bottled while they waited to be rescued. The a bottle fight started. There are videos somewhere on you tube. I shall go and find one.
Disappears to YouTube to find said video.———————————-
Returns from YouTube
Thanks to whoever recorded that and put it on youtube.
Right, it’s getting late and I have to be up for work in the morning (I’m doing overtime this week – expect random sleep-deprived blog posts). Sorry that this post is a bit disjointed and not as detailed as I would like or expect, but it was a busy weekend and I was trying to take it all in. Problem with that is I didn’t write as much down as I should have.
On Friday afternoon we finally got in to the Arena and had a look around before we started listening to a few bands. Mostly we wanted to see Papa Roach and HIM on Friday, everyone else was incidental.
The first band we heard, at least a little bit, was
Emperor Chung on the Pepsi Max stage
This band is a heavy rock five-piece from the Midlands.
I quite liked what I heard, although we didn’t stay long, because even outside the tent the bass made my chest hurt. They definitely lived up to their description ‘heavy rock’. They’re very heavy, but in a way I like.
Eventually we retreated to the main stage.
At the main stage we got ourselves comfortable on the grass under our ponchos, and settled down to listen.
And fell asleep.
And that is a mark of how unimpressed we were by the acts on the main stage on Friday.
About three in the afternoon we decided to join the queue for the HIM signing at the Kerrang! tent, and watched
Papa Roach on the Main Stage while we did.
Jacoby Shaddix gave a very good impression of an over-excited child, just to be at Download Festival. He kept calling everybody ‘Mother fuckers’ and bouncing around. The crowd didn’t seem to respond well to his attempts to get circle pits opening up. They played a mix of songs from their new album and some older songs that everyone recognised.
Later, after some wandering around, tea, collecting a further friend, we returned to the Arena to see
HIM on the Pepsi Max stage
I’ll be honest, HIM were one of the main reasons I decided to go to Download this year. They packed out the tent, despite the competition of Slip Knot on the Main Stage. But then I suppose if a band disappears for three years then their appearances will be popular. It was only their second show in the UK since they came back with ‘Tears on Tape’, (the first was at the London Barfly on 26th April 2013). They performed a mix of songs from the new album and their classics, including ‘Wings of a Butterfly’ and the ever-popular ‘Funeral of Hearts’.
As ever, from what I’ve seen – I’ve never seen HIM live – HIM’s stage show is not showy but enjoyable. They looked like they were having fun; Ville made jokes with the audience, Linde, Mige and Gas had fun with each other on the stage.
Ville’s acoustic guitar has been making an appearance at recent gigs and Friday night was no exception. It was pretty much constantly in hand, and when it wasn’t he was clutching his mike stand. Something has to replace his old crutches of cigarettes and booze, now that he can’t smoke on stage and has had to cut down on the drinking. He was even sober, as far as I could tell from a distance.
One thing I did notice was that Ville couldn’t quite hit some of the notes these days. It was still a great set, and I wish it had been long.
They are touring here at the end of October. I’m going to see them at Rock City in Nottingham, I can’t wait.
I had a good time on Friday, especially in the evening, I soaked up a few bands though I didn’t exactly take in names. It was an experience, being surrounded by all the different bands, hearing bands I’ve heard of but never listened to. I now know what bands I don’t like, as well as the ones I do.
Back tomorrow with a review of Saturday and Sunday’s bands.
Now that I’ve had a few days to recover, and arrange my thoughts I’ve decided that the Download Review will be a multi-part job. Today I’m going to write about the campsites and ‘The Village’.
I will be covering camping conditions, any ideas for what I’ll do differently next year, the general nature of the Village, it’s contents and examples of the price of food and other goods for sale.
It’s a fair trek from the drop off points and car parks to the entrance to the Village/campsites. The route had plenty of stewards directing people and they are quite helpful. There are a couple of companies offering the rent of barrows and trollies. We tried both types. The barrow was cheap but a little unstable and we could only get our tent in to it; the trolley came with bungee cords and a very helpful young man who packed most of our bags onto it securely. Drawback: £50 including a £40 deposit, so we could only afford it one way, and we had a time limit of 90 minutes. It was enough time but I still felt a bit rushed considering how long it took to get our tent up.
TIP: Take your own trolley. Collapsible trollies are available in diy shops and garden centres and they can be used around the garden as well as for Download.
In order to get to the campsites you have to go through the village, ignore it all until you get your tent up, there will be plenty of time to explore later. The stewards inside the Village will know which campsite has the most space and will direct new arrivals. We ended up in White campsite.
There are metalled tracks running through the campsites that lead from one campsite to the next. They provide a road that you should stick to and they allow emergency vehicles in and out (not to mention the lorry that cleans/emptied the toilets). They get a bit slippery in the rain but they are easier to walk on than churned up mud.
We found a good spot to camp, there was enough room for our tent, we were near the path, toilets and water supply, but not too near. There was also a coffee and doughnut stand and a corner shop. The campsite information hut was also nearby. It was manned 24 hours and there was security about at all times.
The information point staff were very friendly and tried to be helpful, but they didn’t know where the water points were.
The toilets were plentiful and cleaned regularly. There was a queue in the mornings when people started to get ready for the day, but generally it wasn’t as horrendous as I’d been lead to expect.
TIP: Taking your own loo roll and babywipes is a must. Really. Loo roll does get supplied to the toilets but it goes quickly
TIP: Anti-bacterial hand gel is a necessity. A bottle small enough to fit in your pocket is a godsend.
The water supply is adequate, there are raised sinks that can be used for washing and filling small bottles and also points for filling larger containers. We filled a five litre container fairly quickly and it tasted alright.
TIP: The water points are busy in the morning, going in the evening and filling a large container means you’ll have water for the morning without having to queue. We took a collapsible water carrier, they carry a decent amount easily and don’t take up much space in your bag.
The tents were quite close together and as the weekend went on the amount if litter became offensive. I took a black bin liner and we put all our rubbish in that. On Monday morning I took it to the bin by the coffee shop.
IF YOU WOULD BIN IT AT HOME BIN IT AT THE FESTIVAL. Just because some normal social rules don’t apply doesn’t mean all civil behaviour should go out of the window. Someone has to tidy up that field when we’ve all gone home, it’s good manners to make their job as easy as possible, after all it’s because of their hard work that the festival happens at all.
TIP: Take a couple of black bin liners, it makes keeping the tent tidy a lot easier.
The campsites are not quiet places, but most people are friendly and will help if you ask a question. Don’t expect to get too much sleep; the shape if the valley funnels the sounds of the arena and village, and joy of joys it’s right underneath the flight path of East Midlands Airport. Expect low flying aircraft. People also continue the partying until four or five in the morning.
TIP: If you actually want to get some sleep, take earplugs. Failing that you can always nap during the day.
It got cold at night, but once I’d acquired another hoody and blanket I was fine. On the subject of suitable clothing I would suggest taking proper wet weather gear. A poncho works fine for showers but we had thunderstorms and got soaked through.
Take a couple of spare pairs of undies, socks and jeans, because no one likes being stuck in wet clothes for five days. A clean t-shirt a day is also a good idea. Hoodies are a must, at least two. You can wear them during the day and sleep in them at night. They are practical and comfortable as well.
As to footwear, wellies are traditional for these events, but good solid walking boots work well. Take a spare pair of shoes though, there’s a good chance you’ll be dumping your boots on Monday morning if the weather is really bad.
Don’t forget your bed socks. Like I said, it gets chilly at night.
I also took my swimming costume and a towel. I won’t bother next year; the showers are in the village. I washed my hair and face in the tent and wetwipes took care of everything else.
Only solid fuel cookers are allowed, hexi stoves and single use barbecues are stipulated on the Download website. The BBQs are good if you plan to cook outdoors, but if you want to boil a kettle in the morning, the hexi stoves are better. One fuel block boils a kettle, and they warm the tent up nicely, just make sure you are safe. Keep stoves away from the tent walls, have plenty of ventilation and be on stable ground, and have water on hand.
We lived on porridge, tea and noodles, with the occasional burger or bacon panini. But more of that later.
I recommend getting waterproof kit bags and packing your clothes into them before putting then in to your main bag. If it rains (which it will) the extra protection means you will have some dry clothes to change in to. If you do get damp a spare guyline can make an improvised clothes line.
One part fair, one part shopping centre and one part cafe. All covered in mud (and eventually straw).
This is where you’ll find the shower block (huge queues) and secure lockers (also huge queues to get locks and wristbands). The lockers are small but the safest place to charge your phone up. At just over twelve pounds for the duration if the event, compared with what some of the stalls were charging, it is worth it. Three of us used my locker. It cost £2 for each additional person using the locker, but we all agreed it was an acceptable cost.
I didn’t go on any if the fair ground rides, because I didn’t feel up to it, but they seemed to he fairly popular. There was entertainment available in the village until 3am in two large tents, comedy and music.
Selling everything from camping essentials and clothing to onesies, jewellery and band merchandise, the Village has pretty much everything. It also has a supermarket supplying bread, fruit and tinned goods, as well as sweets and you can get cash back if you spend over a fiver.
Shop around and take note if where things are cheapest. I needed a hoody. We found a place selling them in a range if sizes and colours for £10. I basically lived in it for four days. It’s very warm and I wouldn’t have been able to get one cheaper anywhere. Also socks, three pairs for £10, for long socks at one stall, two pairs for £5 at another.
The silly hat stands did a good trade as well from what I could tell.
Food and drink
Is expensive, as you’d expect, but there us a wide range available. Here’s some examples
Bottles of water £2
Chicken chow mien £7
Bacon Panini £5
Choros and chocolate £4
Cheese burger £4.50
Doughnuts and coffee £7
Next year we plan to take tea and porridge, and then have a separate food budget. The supermarket isn’t Aldi, but for bread rolls, tinned hotdogs and eggs, it’s not too bad. Also, really cheap Pringles! Fruit was a but expensive though. People with their own transport went into Castle Donington for shopping trips, so that is also an option. If I have my license by next summer we might do that.
TIP: There are drinking water points in the campsite and arena, take refillable bottles and use them. It’ll save you a fortune and prevent dehydration.
In general the people on the stalls are friendly and helpful. If it’s quiet they’ll have a natter and wish you a good festival.
And that’s all for today, I’m working for the next ten days but hopefully I should he able to get my reviews of events in the arena online in Saturday night.
I hope this post will be helpful to people going to their first festival this year or planning to go next year. Anyone with other advice is welcome to add it in the comments.
Thanks for reading,
I’ve been trying to decide where to start with my posts about Download Festival. I think I’ll start with my impressions, since I want to add videos and such to my reviews.
I definitely enjoyed the experience, although I did keep noting things to do differently next year. That will be the subject of another post, I think. I was very tired by Monday morning and napped in the car on the way back. It was quiet when I got home and that felt weird, after several days if constant noise.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning rather than the end, shall we?
Thursday morning arrived and I was incredibly nervous, scared something would go wrong, or I’d forget something vital. I knew I had everything, because I’d packed, checked, repacked and rechecked it all.
Getting there wasn’t too stressful as we had sat nav and Download is well sign posted once we got close enough. Once there we had to get everything to the campsite. It’s quite a walk from the drop off point to the campsite. Getting through the check in process was easy, as there was quite a few people available to do bag and ticket checks. The only problem we had was convincing the stewards that we didn’t have any alcohol with us (we didn’t, because we hadn’t been able to get any on the way) and the bag checker deliberately missunderstood me when I said my bag contained food and boots, insisting I’d meant booze. I know my dialect can be a bit odd, and my accent strong, but if I’d had alcohol with me I’d have said precisely what I was carrying. My companion was asked if we didn’t drink. Why do people make assumptions like that?
By this point I was tired, frustrated and losing patience with the world in general. But, I remembered that the next few days included HIM and Sacred Mother Tongue, and soldiered on with a smile.
Even the thunderstorm didn’t get me down. We were at Download, we’d got our tent up with the help of a neighbour and had a cup of tea. I resorted to having a quiet cup of tea and doing some writing whenever things got a little too much.
The most overwhelming aspect of it all was the constant noise, even early in the morning, and the lack of sleep. I coped with it all better than I thought I would, especially once the rest if our group arrived and I stopped stressing about their safe arrival. We discussed it on Sunday morning, and came to the conclusion that because I was with people I love and trust, was fairly happy, taking my medication regularly (they made sure I took it when I had my breakfast) and was able to escape to the relative solitude of the tent when I needed to, I could cope with the experience better than most people predicted.
One thing I did though was religiously tidy; having a tidy environment helps me feel better. I felt uncomfortable on the campsite because everyone else just dumped their rubbish around their tents.
The familiarity of drunk people also seemed odd. Download is a place where the normal rules of social interaction no longer apply, so being drunk at 9 am and spending three days wearing a pikachu onsie is perfectly acceptable but refusing to high five or hug random drunk strangers makes you a bitch. I didn’t speak much to people I didn’t know, though I made polite small talk while waiting in various queues and at various stalls.
So, all in all, for a person who struggles with social interaction, loud and aggressive people/situations and strange places, I don’t think I did too badly. It is possible to go to a festival and enjoy it if you concentrate on one thing at a time, are with people you trust and know that you have a place to retreat to if necessary. Next year I’m going to try actually getting to know the people around me.
I’m going now, I need to get a few things done today, now that I’m home.
Later today: lessons for next year.