Download 2007 Jun 27, 2007 15:38:25 GMT -5
Post by Nik on Jun 27, 2007 15:38:25 GMT -5
Download festival 2007
Wednesday 6th June
Being utterly unable to afford the extortionate ticket prices I was only able to make it along to the festival by working as part of the litter picking crew. This turned out to have several advantages including a separate campsite, free food and (especially) a nice cheque at the end. Arriving at around 6PM I spend the best part of an hour asking loads of people where I was suppose to go. The people on the gates didn’t know, they pointed me in the direction of security. Security didn’t know, they more or less told me that they didn’t give a shit. Thankfully I spotted some people picking up litter…however they didn’t speak a whole lot of English and sent me in a fun loop around themselves. Eventually one of them (god bless this person) was able to muster up the vocal ability to tell me where they were camped, this turned out to be quite a distance from the main entrance, a bit along from where day ticket holders get into the site. Finally in the right place I pitched up my tent (which I had brought that morning for a whole ten pound after realising that I’d given mine to the salvation army at Reading the previous year), signed in and then attended the shortest briefing in history before happily collapsing into sleep in anticipation of an 8AM alarm.
Thursday 7th June
Didn’t end up being all that difficult to wake up in the end and it wasn’t long before I was pushing giant red litter bins around the site. Those things don’t move all too well on grass. In fact they hardly move all too well at all. Ran into Sah sometime in the middle of my shift, whilst we were waiting around aimlessly outside the arena gates. It was our job to keep litter down within the arena…only it wasn’t open so there wasn’t anything to do. Eventually it did have to open of course, and I spent the rest of my shift picking up the meagre amount of crap people dropped. Wasn’t too hard a days work really. After heading back to the staff camp to change out of my work stuff (I had to wear the same t-shirt ever day, ended up smelling rank by the end!) I headed over to the public campsite to find Sah and Meech. This took a ridiculous amount of time, although this did give me the benefit of having a rough idea how the entire campsite was set out. Chilled out there for the night before embarking on the mission back to the staff camp.
Friday 8th June
It’s another early start and a few hours of litter picking around the site entrance to start the day. Taking advantage of the rather lax work policy of ‘take breaks whenever you want…and oh yeah we are not going to supervise you in any manner’ I managed to catch pretty much everything I wanted to see over the weekend. Kicking things off on the band front were Turbonegro over on the second stage. I’ve seen these lot many times in the past, oddly enough always at festivals, and they’ve never failed to deliver. Today was no exception as they delivered a blistering set of their ‘death punk’ tunes, including a few from their forthcoming album which easily holds up to their earlier stuff. Never one’s to take themselves entirely seriously there’s very few people without at least a hint of a smile on their faces as the band throw themselves around in absurd outfits and threaten to sleep with everybody present.
It’s over to the main stage to make my only real effort of the weekend to get close to the main stage in the later part of the day to catch the utterly fucking phenomenal Megadeth. Slight fears over sound quality are quickly laid to rest as the band are genuinely amazing, I really didn’t expect to enjoy it this much, and I was expecting to enjoy it a fucking lot. Mixing the old with songs off the recently released (and very good) album ‘united abominations’ the quality never dips throughout and it’s far too soon that they band leave me to wonder how the rest of the weekend is going to follow that without coming off as somewhat lacking. As it turns out I needn’t of worried.
In an odd move that I would soon learn to ignore I decided that I should really go and do some work, meaning that I had the unusual experience of watching a band whilst picking up cans, a task I soon learnt to do with the bare minimal of looking down. The band in question was Dragonforce, who whilst struggling to follow Megadeth still put in a decent performance. It’s a fair criticism that after a while it does all seem to sound a bit similar but with such a short set (less than an hour) this doesn’t become all that apparent to me, knowing most of the song they played kinda helped as well. At the very least it could be said that they were better than radio1, which is what most people seem to end up listening to at work (or so I’m told!)
Deciding that my shift is over I briefly head back to the staff campsite to change out of my work crap, which is already starting to smell rancid as fuck, before heading back to watch some bands without the distraction of people assuming that because I’m wearing a hi-vis jacket I must know the answer to all of life’s questions. Killing time I wander over to the third stage and end up seeing Job for a cowboy ramming home some seriously heavy metal. I’d recommend that if you have any interest in metal (of the heavy variety) that you check them out, as they were somewhat astonishing. The crowd had thankfully cottoned on to this fact and greeted every song with levels of energy and enthusiasm usually reserved for the main stage.
Which, oddly enough, is where I went immediately after. It was on the same stage that I last saw Velvet Revolver in 2005, then they were bollocks, the only reason that I forced myself to stay through their mediocre sub-sunset strip trite being that Sabbath were set to follow (just for the record, Sabbath were one of the best bands I’ve ever seen!) After that previous experience it was perhaps somewhat shocking that I bothered to give them a second chance. However even more shocking was that this time they were really great. While the highlights remained the guns covers the rest of the material was not too far behind, it was almost enough to make you think that given time they may even eventually eclipse that bands achievements. Perhaps it’s time that has helped improve the band so much, they certainly seem a lot more comfortable now, their interaction with the crowd seeming much less forced (although Scott Weiland still does talk some shit.) I suppose not being drug addicts may also have had some small role. The best sort of surprise, I even stayed to the end!
The only downside of this being that I arrived back at the third stage well after Hayseed Dixie had begun. I’ve seen this band a stupid amount of times over the last few years, but they still sound great so I’m gonna carry on seeing them I reckon! The bit of the set I caught mainly consisted of their own songs, which is no bad thing as these are increasingly becoming the highlight of their albums. Special mention should go to ‘the rider song’ as it is, quite bluntly, pure genius. I don’t make it all the way to the end of their set as I set off to catch Korn over on the second stage, however I may as well of stayed put as when I reach the second stage I can’t get anywhere near the stage, such was the amount of people desperately cramming their way inwards. Worse still I couldn’t get close enough to actually hear what was happening. So I left. Which was kinda annoying, but I’ll get over it! Wandering back across site I get the pleasure of seeing my chemical romance attempting to headline the main stage to a non-existent crowd. Seriously, why didn’t they just headline the second stage? I ended the band side of the night by catching a brief thirty minutes of Suicidal tendencies headlining the third stage. I’m still not sure what I thought of them, they seemed to swing between possibly the best band I’ve ever seen and being the worst kind of dull parody of themselves…it was somewhat unsettling to be honest.
After a bit of phone based confusion I eventually met up with my sister, it’s a sure thing when packing that you will always leave something behind, this time it was a towel, an item that it is somewhat handy to have if you plan to shower at any point. Thankfully I was able to get one brought up with my sister. My original plan to catch up with uni people went off course and I ended up taking advantage of the booze available in my sister’s campsite until the early hours of the morning. Walking back and forth to the staff campsite is starting to feel like a proper mission.
Saturday 9th June
Another early start, another brief amount of time spent picking litter around the arena entrance. Mercifully it’s not long before I skilfully vanish away into the main arena to see Hellyeah, who kicked off the day in serious style. Nothing like a bit of metal in the morning to blast that hangover away. Only downside to their set was that my hi-vis jacket was stupidly visible on the screens either side of the stage, although I doubt anybody from the company was watching, oh no they were obviously all hard at work… I did attempt to go back and put in a bit of work next but this only lasted for around about 40 minutes, it’s unreasonable to expect people to work in such weather conditions anyway. Oh yeah, it’s fucking ridiculously hot.
After a while hiding amongst the masses of people around main stage I manage to find the energy to stand all the long, long way up onto my feet to see the sight of two giant inflatable sheep on either side of the stage. I get the feeling that the coming band isn’t going to be one for pondering the deeper things in life. Bowling for soup also turn out to have a shocking inability to get all the way through a song without stopping to talk to the crowd. But fucking hell how much fun were they? Didn’t really expect to enjoy them all that much but they were fantastic, good, light hearted comedy tunes are pretty much perfectly suited for the roasting mid-afternoon. And who could possibility not see the funny side of simulating the birth of a lamb?
It’s a subtle change of style immediately after, with Machine head challenging Megadeth for best metal performance of the weekend. And they only went and pulled it off didn’t they! The giant crowd greet each and every tune with boundless (and towards the front violent) affection. The band deserve it , as they go all out, playing each song as if it’s their last. A rant about a conservative article that blamed Dimebag Darrell death on him playing metal, as violence is clearly simply part of that scene, gets people heated up for the song about the same theme. What’s really apparent is how much the band have turned themselves around, while their older stuff is great it’s arguably material of their latest album that gets the best reaction, justifiably too as it’s probably the best thing they’ve ever released. Who’d have thought it’d be possible to say that a few years back. Fuck it, they could (should!) have headlined.
After that Slayer could only come off badly, which is exactly what happens. Sure the songs are classics and well played but (just as at Reading 06) the performance is workmanlike, with the band seemingly just going through the motions. Even when they do bother to address the crowd all I can think of is the Bill Bailey joke, which is even more funny in reality. And really, funny isn’t what slayer are aiming for. Much of the crowd left after machine head, still more leave during slayer. I stick it out to the end, for the predictable run through of ‘raining blood’ but really slayer were (once again) a massive disappointment. Still, if machine head proved anything it’s that it’s not impossible to turn it around so maybe there’s hope for slayer yet…although that does seem unlikely on today’s performance.
Thank Christ for The Answer over on the third stage. I first saw this band back in 2005 at this very festival for what was their first ever festival show. Observing the difference between the size of the crowd between then and now it’s impossible to deny that progress has been made and it’s progress well deserved as, once again, the band are simply stunning. Moving beyond the inevitable zeppelin comparisons (yep their influence is obvious…but when did that become a bad thing?) this is a band with only one album who can never the less play a lengthily set (unfortunately only 40 minutes today) without there being a single dull moment. If there’s any justice (and they don’t balls up the next album) in another two years time they’ll have left the third stage behind.
Due to the unfortunate design of the site I’m forced to pass the main stage on route to the second stage meaning I’m inflicted with a long five minutes of Marilyn Manson desperately attempting to sound relevant. From a rich successful man endlessly whining I travel to the site of a former drug addict and escort playing the most life affirming music your likely to hear this side of the afterlife. Perry Farrel is without a doubt the heart of Satellite party, but there’s much more to this band than the former Jane’s addiction frontman. The whole band look like they’re having the time of their lives, an attitude reflected by the audience who eagerly dance away. It’s all over too soon by far, an ending which triggers a fabled event witnessed only rarely, the forward charge of the glam girls. It was somewhat disturbing and almost certainly infected with the widest array of STDs known to man, and several yet to be discovered.
The reason for this influx of the glam is the eminent arrival of Motley crue, a band with shit loads of amazing tunes but a band that I never the less expected to be rather dire live. I couldn’t have been further from the truth as they were actually great…if perhaps not looking quite as…intact…as they did in their prime. Hit followed hit followed hit (sing alongs all) throughout, the only real gripe being the decision to end on a three cover run when they had plenty more quality songs of their own. Mention must go to Nikki Sixx for actually looking like a member of the living, Mick Mars for looking worse than the living dead and Tommy Lee for the most absurd audience interaction ever with ‘I say Motley, you say Crue.’ This really shouldn’t have worked but really bloody well did. Same as the whole set really. Feeling somewhat like the living dead myself I collapsed into my tent not long after the music stopped.
Sunday 10th June
Not so difficult getting up today, but still bloody early. Yet another meagre amount of work around the site entrance until I wandered off to see Reuben over on the main stage. Playing to a sparse and mostly disinterested crowd they still pull off a decent show and eventually get most people at least looking in their direction. This would have been so much better off on a lower stage really. Still, they put in the effort throughout ands its reassuring to hear the songs from their incoming album sounding fantastic in a live setting. One to catch in a packed out club in the non-too distant future I reckon.
In a genuinely shocking move I’m actually collared into doing some work at thus point, we even had to head back to the staff campsite to receive instructions. It turns out that out grand mission would be to clean the disabled campsite. Which we then did. However this was difficult as it was almost totally spotless. The rest of the site meanwhile was increasingly descending into ever increasing levels of squalor. So yeah, out job made perfect sense. Next we headed over to the punter campsite to spend some time throwing the bags that people had (very kindly!) filled with rubbish over the weekend into piles on the road so that they could be collected by the rubbish truck. Apparently the logic behind this was that it would give people less stuff to burn during the eminent last night celebrations and as such perhaps decrease the chances of people tearing the site to pieces. After a while I decide that I’ve missed far too much of the action in the arena and so subtly head back that way.
Finally arriving at the second stage I catch the last fifteen minutes of Paradise lost, which is a great pity as they seemed to be putting in a great performance. Yet another band that I’ll have to track down touring at some point in reckon. After a brief trip for some stomach lining eroding food it’s time to get brutal. And they don’t come all that much more brutal than Napalm Death. True to form they do their best to kick the audiences collective head in, their rapid fire songs, often clocking in at less than the minute mark, inspiring many to dance in a manner that would likely lead to them being sectioned if they moved like that beyond the confines of the festival (in that scary place called the real world.) It’s fast, it’s ugly, it’s largely incomprehensible, it’s bleeding great. Oh, and their cover of the Dead Kennedy’s ‘nazi punks fuck off’ was also rather pleasurable to behold.
Feeling worse for wear I collapse on the hill over looking the main stage, which is convenient as down on that stage is where Killswitch engage are playing. Maybe I was just a bit knackered, or maybe they just seemed a bit tame in comparison to Napalm death (lets be honest, what wouldn’t?) but they didn’t seem all that great to me. My interest frequently wandered until the last few number, which were admittedly cool. Oddly realising that there was now a brief gap in which I didn’t really care about catching anything I headed back to the staff camp to drop off my working gear before heading back up to the second stage in expectation of some playing that could be understated as being ‘fucking complicated.’
Before this happens however I catch the last song of Dimmu borgir and (wouldn’t you just bloody well know it) it sounds utterly brilliant, I really need to stop catching the end of good sets, it’s somewhat annoying. Such feelings are short lived however as it’s not long until Dream theater make a welcome arrival on stage. Thankfully taking into account that they are playing Donington and not one of their regular shows they tailor their set towards the heavier end of their material, it wouldn’t have gone down all that well if they’d done a set of ballads I don’t think! That’s not to say that they’re pandering to the festival audience, most of the songs played still exceed the ten minute mark with ease. The first thing that becomes apparent is how unbelievably tight the band are, the next being how stupidly talented every single member is, it almost takes the piss really. Whether they’re playing stuff off their recently released ‘systematic chaos’ album or plundering their past for the minor hit of ‘pull me under’ it sounds massive throughout, getting this quality of sound in a field deserves praise enough, not even to mention that it sounds fucking astonishing from start to end. Incase you can’t tell, I was rather impressed with this lot. 50 minutes is really far too short a time for a dream theater show, just as your starting to really get into the flow of things it’s all over. Good thing they’re touring in November really, can’t wait!
It’s been a blinding weekend of music, there’s barely been time to stop between great bands, let alone bother to pick up any litter. It’s served as a good support act to Iron Maiden really. Let’s be honest, this is Maiden at Donington, there was no real way that this was ever going to be anything less than unbelievable. Oddly enough I don’t think I’d really cottoned on to how great this was going to be, I was just thinking of it as yet another time seeing Maiden. However it slowly dawned on me during the first few numbers just how fucking amazing this was going to do, it ended up being even better than that. The thing I’m trying to get at here is that this was good, yeah? With the same war-themed stage set as the ‘a matter of life and death’ Christmas tour what they play today could really be seen as the structure of that tour adapted to a festival environment. Instead of playing the whole of ‘..life and death’ they play only five songs from it, and re-introduce some of their more well-known (crowd-pleasers) back into the set, plus seeing as it’s twenty-five years since ‘the number of the beast’ they were apparently playing songs of that, although honestly the only change I noticed in this direction was the very welcome inclusion of ‘children of the damned.’ The stage show is flawlessly moved onto a festival stage, even the colours of the download posters and backgrounds either side of the stage seemed to be in keeping with the theme. Most of the songs had their own backdrop, Eddie’s tank made an appearance (for apparently the last time), Bruce ranted against an apparently thrown egg and the whole things gonna end up on a DVD at some point in the future. You don’t get a much better festival closer than this. In fact you simply don’t get any better festival closer than this. Building a pyramid for next year you say…Powerslave tour then? That or the pyramid stage at Glastonbury I guess.
It’s to the obligatory (but very welcome) backdrop of Monty pythons ‘always look on the bright side of life’ that a very happy crowd head back campsitewards for the final nights festivities. I was in such a good mood that I momentarily even forgot that the food tasted like shite. I rejoined Meech’s campsite and the alcohol did flow. In a quite surreal, ‘isn’t that the slingshot we take to reading ever year’ moment various stuff (including many water balloons) unexpectedly found itself flying through the air. This not being it’s ideal environment it inevitably tried to return to familiar territory, often to the surprise of those who interrupted its fall. I could not possible comment about an egg hitting a police mans head, this incident is clearly totally made-up and that’s the story I’m sticking with. Briefly (and after a little bit of a search!) I payed a visit to Simon’s campsite, where they were spending the night burning stuff. Which is a very fine idea indeed. Later I found my way back to Meech’s site, drank a lot more and eventually decided that seeing as this actually wasn’t my last night I had better attempt to find the staff campsite and pass out. This took longer than it probably should of, but did eventually come to pass.
Monday 11th June – Thursday 14th June
And then the work did begin. However not until 12 midday on the Monday, meaning I could have stuck around and drank a whole lot more the night before, but never mind I guess! The following three days took a more 9 till 6 approach to working, which was fine by me as it gave some nice drinking time in the evening. Not that there was a lack of drinking during the day, amongst the various massive piles of crap that all you scummy punters left behind was a hell of a lot of unopened booze. Picking up litter is thirsty work you know. Also left behind was plenty of food and disposable barbeques, which was handy seeing as the catering left Monday afternoon. So did the toilets. In an odd sort of way, we were living of the land. The definite benefit of this being that I didn’t spend a penny (in fact I found a few) and was pretty much consistently in various states of inebriation. Giant fences were miraculously climbed and racing cars thankfully avoided, well why would they be on the track? The decent weather lasted through till the Wednesday evening, when it proceeded to piss it down. At one point a buried fridge was found. Upon being returned to the surface it was found to contain much in the way of human excrement. Lots of other shit was found too. There were a worrying amount of piss filled bottles about. I didn’t find any needles, but needles were found. So thankfully I avoided the Aids bullet there. Drenched from a day of working in the pissing rain, which makes the job so much easier, I picked up my cheque on Thursday evening and promptly fucked off. Got quite a few odd looks in the service station on the way home, it’s as if I’d been living in a field for eight days or something. Upon getting home I quickly showered and headed strait down to the penny, no rest for the wicked after all.