Tag Archives: festivals

Download 2018: The Rock Festival That Sets The Standard For All Others

This time last week I was driving home from Download Festival 2018 reflecting on a weekend of great music, and on the funeral of my 35-year-old nephew who was to be cremated just two days later.

There is something about Download.  Few would argue that Donington Park in Leicestershire has become the spiritual home of rock music.  The place reeks of history, name a great rock band and the chances are that they have played Download.  The atmosphere is fantastic, a mixture of fun, craziness, and a love of music that binds the many thousands of fans together.

Let’s deal with the elephant in the room: Guns N’ Roses.  Hands up, I have never been a huge fan, Axl Roses’ reputation for being a total twat prevented me from really connecting with their music.  As soon as it was announced that Guns N’ Roses were reuniting for a tour, it was obvious that a headline slot for Download was inevitable.  I think I was more excited about this show than for any band I have ever seen.

 

So what did we get? Well Guns N’ Roses certainly didn’t shortchange the biggest crowd I have ever seen at Download.  They played a set of 28 songs in a show that lasted close to 3.5 hours.  The band even took the stage two minutes early!  What followed was a masterclass in how to delve into a large back catalog to create an interesting and varied setlist.  Of course, the old favorites like Paradise City, Mr. Brownstone, and Sweet Child O’ Mine were present, so too the famous covers like Live and Let Die, and Knockin on Heavens Door.  In fact, we had a total of nine covers in the set with songs by Soundgarden, The Who, and Pink Floyd getting an outing.

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This was rock royalty in every sense of the word.  So how was the show?

In truth, I thought it was a mixed bag.  Despite the huge numbers in attendance Axl Rose didn’t really interact with the crowd, at least over the course of the first two hours.  I felt that the atmosphere was strangely flat, though I wasn’t in the middle of the massive crowd.  Guns N Roses followed Black Stone Cherry, Thunder, The Temperance Movement, The Struts and Monster Truck on the main stage lineup.  I missed The Temperance Movement, but each of the other bands whipped the crowd into a frenzy, so I think Axl’s more aloof persona added to my feeling that things were a bit flat.

Axl sounded great.  I think he struggled to hit the notes on some of the songs, my friends disagreed. I must admit that I was a little taken aback to see Axl Rose make more costume changes than Beyonce!  Slash was a little self-indulgent at times but the band was as tight as a camels backside in a sandstorm.  Overall, I am thrilled that I finally got to see Guns N’ Roses.

I must mention The Struts and Thunder because for very different reasons they both blew me away.  Thunder passed me by first time around, and they last played at Donington in 1990.  They were just fabulous.  Good old-fashioned headbanging rock music that had the crowd bouncing for their entire set.  Definitely one of the highlights of a brilliant weekend for me.

I last saw The Struts at Reading a couple of years ago and I did wonder how they would go down with an audience of metalheads.  The answer, they went down a storm.  Struts frontman Luke Spiller, could be the love child of Freddie Mercury and Justin Hawkins from The Darkness.  He has that same flamboyance, the outrageous styling, and boy can he work a crowd.

My favorite moments on Friday’s line up came on the Avalanche stage, this year hosted and curated by Kerrang Radio.  Stray From The Path and Stick To Your Guns absolutely shredded the huge tent.  I simply don’t understand why both of these bands are not bigger than they are.  The sheer rawness and energy blow me away every time I see them.

Over on the main stage, Bullet For My Valentine and Avenged Sevenfold were simply brilliant.  BFMV have a new album in the offing and I talked about it with Matt and Jason before the show, watch out for that in the next few days.  Avenged Sevenfold always turn in a great show, and this was no exception.  They are worthy headliners for Download and are always worth watching.

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If I’m honest I found the Sunday lineup at this year’s Download a little uninspiring.  Of course many will disagree, but Marilyn Manson and Ozzy Osborne on the main stage just wasn’t my cup of tea.  Manson’s stage persona and music have never really connected with me, and I was so disappointed with Ozzy’s performance with Black Sabbath at 2016’s “Drownload,” that I decided to give his show a miss for fear of tarnishing the memory of a true icon in metal music.

That left me free to wander and to just soak up the festival vibe.  The evergreen Rise Against and the rapidly improving Milk Teeth were my highlights of the day.  Across a brilliant weekend of rock music, and aside from the frankly ridiculous prices for merchandise, food, and drink at this year’s Download, my one lowlight also came on Sunday.

I wandered past the Zippo stage to check out Body Count Featuring Ice T.  I really like bands like Enter Shikari who are adding elements of Rap and Hip Hop into rock music, Truth be told I quite enjoyed Body Count’s music.  What I didn’t like was Ice T bringing a two-year-old girl onto the stage and telling her that “if anyone ever fucks with you, tell them your uncle Ice will shoot them in the fucking face.”

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Whilst I welcome the positive influences different musical genres can bring to the world of rock, you can keep the negative influences so often associated with Rap and Hip Hop.  You can keep the misogyny, the allusion to gun violence and all the negativity to yourself thanks.

Finally, even the weather cooperated to make Download 2018 a memorable occasion.  A dry weekend makes for a much more enjoyable festival, same again next year please Mr. Copping.

 

 

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Ten Tips To Tempt You Away From The Main Stage At Download 2018

wo weeks today I will be making my annual pilgrimage to the home of Rock, Donington Park for the 2018 version of Download Festival.  As always Download has plenty on offer for those who like their music loud and heavy.  We will see Rock, Metal, Hardcore, Metalcore, and Punk bands from around the globe.

At large festivals like Download, there is always a temptation to camp out by the main stage to watch a seemingly never-ending lineup of big-name acts.  This year sees headline slots form Avenged Sevenfold, Guns N’ Roses and Ozzy Osborne.  Marilyn Manson, Bullet for my Valentine and Blackstone Cherry head up the main stage undercast.

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Marilyn Manson

I will, of course, be checking out Avenged Sevenfold and Guns N’ Roses, but Ozzy will get a body swerve.  I dread to think how Ozzy will cope, after all, when he headlined with Sabbath two years ago I was amazed that he had even managed to walk onto the stage.  No matter!  As with any festival, it is my firm belief that the real joy takes place away from the main stage.

Over the years Download’s Avalanche stage has become my personal favourite. It’s at this stage where you can be sure of a quality lineup of punk and Hardcore bands, and this year is no exception.  For me, at least, Friday evening at the Avalanche stage provides rich plunder for fans of Punk, Metalcore and Hardcore.

It is there that two of my top 10 picks for the weekend away from the main stage can be found.  Even better, Stray From The Path and Stick To Your Guns are playing back to back, and in this old punk’s estimation, both are unmissable, the Mosh Pit will be brutal and both bands are more than capable of getting you right in the mood for the rest of the weekend.

To be fair, with Cancer Bats, The Bronx and Bad Religion all on the Avalanche stage on Friday, you would be forgiven if you staked out a spot and stayed put all evening.  That won’t be the case for me though. If the timings work out as they should I will be checking out Zippo Stage Friday Headliners, You Me At Six.

I must admit, I caught You Me At Six a couple of years back and remember being totally underwhelmed.   I thought they were a bit lost on the big Reading stage, but since then they have become something of a guilty pleasure.

OK now, I accept that YMAS may not be the diehard metalhead’s idea of Download music, but these boys will rock the stage, and I must confess an affinity with the young pop-punk bands around at the moment.  The scene is flourishing and YMAS will draw a huge crowd of mostly younger fans.

With WSTR, Neckdeep and Mayday Parade on the Avalanche stage on Saturday, I could be tempted back.  However, the Zippo stage is where my top tips for Saturday are playing.  The stage has a quality lineup all day, but L7, Lawnmower Deth, and Asking Alexandria are where I shall be pointing my camera.

L7 played a blinding set on the same stage on 2015 (?) and as the only (almost) all-female lineup at this year’s Download, they certainly deserve our support.  Asking Alexandria are arguably the strongest British Metalcore outfit around, and they get better and better.  I certainly won’t be missing this one.  Anyone who has ever seen Lawnmower Deth knows that their stage shows are not to be missed.  Their 2016 set on the Avalanche stage was the highlight of a very wet festival for me.  FFS they even brought along one of my boyhood crushes, Kim Wilde to perform “Kids in America.”  Seriously what’s not to like 🙂

Sunday’s highlight for me is undoubtedly Rise Against headlining the Zippo stage.  The Chicago based punk outfit was sublime at Download in 2015, and I can’t wait to see them again.  Arguably the most underrated punk outfit of this millennium.

I will also be checking out Milk Teeth and The Hives over on the Avalanche stage.  I have seen Milk Teeth numerous times and have always been impressed by Becky Blomfield.  The bass player and singer has a great stage presence, and it is great to see a female fronted pop-punk outfit get another slot at Download.

I managed to catch some of The Hives set at Reading in 2016.  They were fabulous.  I must admit that was my first exposure to the Swedish punk outfit, but I was impressed and am looking forward to hearing more.

So there you have it, 9 bands to check out away from Download’s main stage.  But Wait!  Didn’t I promise 10?  Of course, I did, and my 10th is BabyMetal!  I know, I know – but here’s the thing, festivals are supposed to be fun, and no one can deny that BabyMetal are fun.  Check them out and see what all the fuss is about, you might even enjoy it 🙂

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Download Artists Friday

See ya there Downloaders, I’m ready to rock!!

 

Fans Should Forget The Glastonbury Ticket Resale And Go To Bearded Theory Instead

Every autumn we see the annual scramble for tickets to Glastonbury festival. On October 9, 2016 tickets for the 250,000 capacity Glastonbury festival sold out in just 35 minutes. Of course, that is not the end of the road for Glastonbury fans. The official Glastonbury festival lineup will be released in the next couple of weeks. Shortly after that, fans who now find that they no longer wish to attend, can cancel their attendance and their Glastonbury tickets will be offered for resale on the official Glastonbury website. There will, of course, be a scramble for the Glastonbury ticket re-sale, but would fans be better advised to go elsewhere, for example to Bearded Theory Festival?

Read More Here

Bestival: Tumblers – Photographs

Last weekend saw me at what will be my last music festival of this season.  One of the joys of festivals for me  is wandering around to find the weird and wacky things that are going on and I have to say that Bestival was a joy in this respect.

Sunday was a beautiful day and as I wandered around I came across a band playing New Orleans style Jazz rhythms, I watched fascinated as these two guys performed tumbles and somersaults to the musical background.  I was a mighty entertaining few minutes.  Enjoy the photographs.

Tonefest Dorset: Festival photographs

If you were at Tonefest this weekend you may have spotted me lugging my cameras around.  The chances are I may have caught you on film (well digital) when you didn’t expect it.

Please have a browse, if you spot yourself and want a copy of the photograph just drop me a line through the contact button above.  you are welcome to a free high resolution copy.

Glastonbury Disruption in Festival mud bath

Glastonbury festival of performing arts is undoubtedly the most famous music festival in the world. Tickets for Glastonbury festival go on sale months before fans know which acts will be playing. If you want to attend Glastonbury festival you need to be online at 9 a.m. on a Sunday morning in October. If you are a few minutes late you can forget it as millions of people from around the world scramble to get a connection to the ticket agents. Glastonbury sells out in minutes.
Read more at http://www.inquisitr.com/3235415/glastonbury-2016-a-festival-of-disruption-as-fans-towed-onto-site/#pibTL59Hbe9TGGQd.99

Download Festival – Artists Saturday

A week ago we were dodging the rain at Download Festival and watching some great bands at the same time.

Here are a few photos of the bands that captured my imagination a week ago today.