We haven’t been to Download Festival for a few years now so we were very excited to be back, even if it was only for the day… we wanted to see whether our 12 year old daughter enjoyed it before taking her for the whole weekend. But we needn’t have worried – she loved it! And why wouldn’t you?!
Due to other commitments (school!), the only day we could go to Download was Saturday (which wouldn’t have been our first choice)… So we headed off to Donington Park on Saturday morning and were surprised to find that we got parked, through security and into the arena really, really quickly – well done Download crew!
We had a quick wander round, then found ourselves at the Avalanche Stage where Tigress were playing… I’d not heard of them before but they were very good – the female singer sounded similar to Hayley Williams of Paramore at times (which can only be a good thing!) and the crowd seemed to love them. What a great start to the day – I love discovering new bands!
As usual, the food and drink was pricey, but you expect that anywhere where there is a captive audience… and the merchandise was also pretty expensive. However, the tops we bought were good quality and Freya was VERY happy with her Download Dog, so it was all good!
Unfortunately we didn’t get chance to watch the wrestling as there were too many bands we wanted to see but we did manage to check out the sword swallower who was very entertaining (although things like that freak me out a bit if I’m being honest!).
We managed to catch a number of bands throughout the day: Lawnmower Deth (definitely the most amusing band of the day), Asking Alexandria (we really enjoyed their set), L7 (awful sound so we gave up watching them), The Pink Slips (great look and sound), Thunder (a flawless performance as usual), and many more…
But the highlight of the day for us was Parkway Drive headlining the Zippo Encore Stage – they were fantastic! We have seen them a couple of times before and thought they were great but this time they totally smashed it! It was an epic performance and the crowd loved it – they definitely had the best crowd interaction that we saw all day. At the end, all three of us agreed that they were the highlight of our day.
But it was a different matter for the Main Stage headliners, Guns n’ Roses. I have not seen GnR for many years so was really looking forward to seeing them again. But a 3 hour set was just far too long… At least 1 hour was made up of Slash’s guitar solos (yawn – unless you’re into that kind of thing, which some people are of course), another half hour or so was made up of covers (why – I don’t remember any other headliners doing so many covers?) and then about an hour was their own tracks. To be fair, the crowd reacted enthusiastically to their big hits such as Sweet Child o’ Mine, Paradise City, November Rain, etc… but in between their big numbers the atmosphere was pretty flat (unless you were right down the front by the look of it). We were stood fairly far back as Freya wouldn’t have been able to see closer to the stage and I have honestly never seen such disinterest and so many people flooding out of the arena during the headline act. It was a slightly disappointing end to what had otherwise been an amazing day at Download…
I have to admit, I had been a little worried about taking Freya to Download as I wasn’t sure it was particularly family-friendly… but whilst I don’t think I’d have taken her when she was any younger, she coped well with it and my concerns proved to be unfounded (although I’m sure she learnt some new words that I wouldn’t want her to use in front of her grandparents!!).
So as GnR ended we, and thousands of others, headed out of the arena. As usual, getting out of the car park was nowhere near as smooth as getting in (as expected when you have that many people trying to leave at the same time) and it took us a good hour to exit but we didn’t care – we’d had a fantastic day! See you at Download Festival 2019…
What festivals do you love and why – let me know?
*The opinions expressed above are my own and reflect my taste in music and my personal experience of Download Festival 2018.
*All images in this post were shot on my iPhone 6