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