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Download 2015 reviewed

Dog tags, rain, mud and wind - but nothing could dampen the Download spirit

Well it’s that time of year again…time to polish off the doc martens pull on the combats and head up to Castle Donington for this year’s Download festival.

This year Download organisers went all out booking 3 major headline acts opening with Slipknot on the Friday, Muse on the Saturday ending with Kiss on the Sunday evening, so with all that to look forward too this festival was shaping up to be a weekend to remember.

The Download site was laid out slightly different to last year with Jakes stage now to the right of the main entrance. Where the Iconic Download sign once stood and the kennel area seemed a little empty this time around but overall not a great change in set up.

Ready to rock
Ready to rock

The introduction of the dog tag scheme was a new feature for this year; this meant that there was nowhere on site that you were able to use good old hard cash for your festival burgers booze and merchandise. The tag system meant that you had your own personal data card that you swipe across a screen for payment. It was easy to use but I’m still in two minds to weather going cashless is for me.

After arriving early on the Friday to bright blue sunshine and lashings of sun cream the day started with a bang with Rival State kicking off the Encore stage complete with a stage full of Maori dudes blasting through their rendition of the Haka. Then followed by Fearless Vampire killers and Blues Pills 

Rival State
Rival State

The first headliner of the weekend kicked off main stage with Americas finest the mighty Slipknot. Now a solid arena band playing throughout the world finally arrive back at Download with their new look and huge stage show. Although a major worldwide act Slipknot still stay humble to their loyal followers and that showed in their set. An epic set and a hard act to follow.

Ready for the headliners...
Ready for the headliners...

With Saturday the heavens opened and rotten weather set in for the rest of the weekend, it certainly tried to dampen the spirit of Download but in the end it failed miserably.

The lounge Kittens opened braving the downpour for the stage that was to host the likes of Testament, Carcass and Marilyn Manson. The headliners for Saturday were Muse who, as expected, put on one jaw dropping show.

Sunday was still wet until the afternoon but the expected mud pits didn’t really happen which I have to say was a good thing! Lamb of God ruled the second stage, being the second headliner to Enter Shikari.

Lamb of God
Lamb of God

Sunday also saw the great Motley Crue playing their last ever Download festival to a massive afternoon crowd. It’s been many years since I was lucky enough to see the Crue and this year’s show was no disappointment.  An epic performance accompanied with pyrotechnics and dancing girls was produced with the band playing a great mix of material from the bands back catalogue. It was indeed sad to say goodbye to this iconic band but they leave a great legacy for the younger rock generation.

The final act of the week was the epic Kiss and the arena was a sea of people waiting to see this now historic and global act. As they entered the stage the atmosphere harped back to what I imagine the band would have been like back in the 70s’s. Fireworks makeup, lights and great songs brought the arena to life. In a nutshell Kiss have been a major influence on bands throughout the decades and it was a true privilege to see them doing what they do best.

Bring it on...
Bring it on...

The two Highlight bands for me from this year’s Download were Hey Hello, with singer Hollis J, From the Love Zombies and Ginger from the Wildhearts. Pulling in a huge crowd in Jakes tent with Ginger’s punk guitar sound and Hollis J’s haunting vocals, they were damn awesome. It’s really worth checking out their album, especially notable tune, 'The thrill of it all', is still flying around my head a week later.

Hey! Hello!
Hey! Hello!

The second band that really impressed were The Pink Slips, also on Jakes stage. Fronted by Grace Mckagan (Duff Mckagan’s daughter). They reminded me of Juliette Lewis coming across as both raw and emotive. This for me is like a breath of fresh air; the Pink Slips have brought that grittiness that many bands today lack, it felt like I was transported back to the days of the Ramones in the early 70s. Top tune from The Pink Slips? 'Foxy Feline'.

Grace Mckagan, The Pink Slips
Grace Mckagan, The Pink Slips

This year’s festival was undoubtedly a great one but even so I felt it lacked the sparkle of Download 2014, sure the weather was better last year but l did miss the performance artists which were all over the site last year. It was also a shock to see the Download sigh missing from the main area, in all honesty this is a fairly iconic structure for Download and should have been there. The colossal scrap metal entrance gates were also missed, another thing that typifies Download and is probably more important than the organisers think.
I did encounter a few people that had problems with their dog tags, call me old fashioned but I prefer hard cash in my pocket, not saying tags are bad but I like to keep my cash in 3d form.

Let it rain blood...
Let it rain blood...

Still all in all Download 2015 is best remembered for its die-hard fans braving wet and windy weather, once again making this iconic festival one of the best out there...Bring on Download 2016!

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Sebastian Schofield
18th June 2015
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