16 Things You Learn at Download Festival

By on Wednesday, 20th June 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

Last weekend was the all-out metal mudfest known as Download Festival. A hundred thousand rock and rollers invaded the hallowed ground of Donington Park for 3 days of the best hard rock and metal bands in the world. TGTF was there in full waterproof regalia to throw horns and throw down with the masses, but what did we actually learn from this experience?

Mud sucks
On Wednesday it rained. On Thursday it rained even more. This meant come Friday afternoon when the gates for the arena were due to be open tens of thousands of cold and pissed off metallers were left queuing for hours because areas of the arena simply weren’t safe. This led to the cancellation of Rise to Remain and Cancer Bats from main stage.

Billy Talent are gents
In a true act of bromanship, Billy Talent helped out fellow Canadians Cancer Bats by letting them play ‘Hail Destroyer’ to a crowd who were still annoyed at the cancellation of the noisemongers. Luckily in the evening Cancer Bats were given a slot in one of the tents which apparently kicked major arse.

Machine Head rule the circle pits
Not only are Machine Head one of the best metal bands touring today, they managed to start a total of 29 circle pits at one point – which is a record for Download Festival.

The Prodigy are metal
Not in their sound, obviously, but the pits were still opening and the crowd going berserk for the almost 2-hour set. And what’s more metal than flares and smoke bombs going off in a mosh pit surrounded by 70,000 people?

A Game of Thrones is cool
As is the same every year, you can text in messages to the big screen for everyone to see. One of the most popular this year was “Winter is coming”, which (for those who don’t know) is the motto of the Stark family in A Game Of Thrones.

Skyrim is cool
Another favourite for the big screen was ‘I used to [insert random task here], until I took an arrow to the knee’. A parody of one of the stock lines used in conversation in Skyrim.

People still love 300
It’s a chant that’s been following festivals around for years. Someone shouts “Spartans! What is your profession?” and everyone in a 10 metre radius responds with “Aaaooh! Aaaooh! Aaaooh!” Clever, right?

People love wrestling
WWE, not actual Olympic-style wrestling. Chants of “Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!…” were rife throughout camp sites and the arena in relation of WWE Superstar Daniel Bryan. Similarly the odd chants of “Let’s go Cena!” and “Cena sucks!” could be heard.

Saxon still rule
This is just a fact. It doesn’t matter how old they are or how long it’s been since they had any notable success, Saxon have been tearing it up for years and still drew a massive crowd at midday. Middle-aged men with long hair dressed in denim and leather is what Download is all about.

Everyone loves boobs
Another trait synonymous with Download is the ‘boobcam’. Whenever a girl climbs onto someone’s shoulders the crowd camera will pan to them and more often than not the girl will bear her breasts to the cheering of all men present. During Steel Panther the boob-o-meter was off the scale. Constant unveiling of chests throughout the entire 50-minute set until all the teenage boys were left dazed and confused. A lot of bands were formed that night because kids want to grow up to be Steel Panther.

Bands love balls
A tactic that both Metallica and Black Label Society adopted was to drop balls on the crowd emblazoned with the band name. Not the most metal thing over the weekend, but it did look cool.

Backwards is the new forwards
Metallica played their legendary Black Album in it’s entirety to close the Saturday of Download. But decided to play it backwards instead of the correct order, meaning fairweather fans had to endure the whole record before finally getting to ‘Enter Sandman’.

It’s not just metal fans
During the rock karaoke on Wednesday night there was a version of a Florence and the Machine song. Then that night a group of acoustic guitar-loving guys were singing Kings Of Leon. Not cool.

MegaDave is bigger than post-hardcore
One of the most exciting reunions in the past year has been the return of post-hardcore pioneers Refused. Unfortunately, despite the buzz around the reunion and their legions of fans, the clash with Megadeth meant they didn’t receive the crowd they deserved. Catch them on tour!

Some things never change
Along with the aforementioned ‘Spartans!’ chant, it’s ‘Buttscratcher!’ that is still the festival favourite. Heard shouted at random over the entire weekend, as well as being texted to the big screen, it’s outlasted previous spontaneous exclamations such as ‘Timmy!’ and ‘Loud noises!’ Hopefully there’ll be something new next year.

Black Sabbath are the best metal band ever
That’s all you need to know. They destroyed Donington on the final day to what could have been the biggest crowd of the weekend. Ozzy, Tony and Geezer still have it. A very metal and very emotional performance.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

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TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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