Photography: George J Rockett & Zoe London / Edit: Zoe London
June is always a happy and exciting time for those in the rock community as it signals the start of festival season, with one of my all time favourites: Download Festival. I first went to Download when I was 15, so I have so much love for that hallowed Donington turf, and it’s always such a pleasure to go back. With a real mixed lineup on the bill and some epic headliner sets, George and I packed our bags and headed back to Derby with excitement. Mostly because George is notoriously famous for making a ridiculously incredible Download drive CD. No, really!
Honestly the weather at last year’s Download was so terrible it almost made me cry at one point. It was knee high mud, with no end in sight. Thankfully good karma came Download’s way and we had a totally dry year! YES! Look how many people stuck in their wellies the whole time though, ever the optimistic British, prepared for all weather right! Ha. We were so happy and everyone was in such good spirits, I know it’s nothing that can be helped living in England, but good weather days really bring out the best in everyone. The whole festival went off without a single hitch, and i’d honestly say hand on heart it was one of my favourite Download Festivals ever.
Friday saw us arriving in the mid afternoon, and with a right rocky ol’ start as I realised I had left most of my life at home. Dear me. However we headed in to watch Four Year Strong, who played a great set. To be honest I don’t know much of their stuff, but George is a big fan, and I really enjoyed the energy in the tent. They had a really fun vibe about them and it was a joy to watch. Unfortunately after that we then had to head back offsite again to go try and do something about my lost contact lenses (such a fail) and we made it back in for System of a Down on the main stage. I feel like i’d waited my whole life to see SOAD, and it was high energy from the get go. Those guys have totally and utterly still got it, and brought the biggest dance party i’ve probably ever seen in the main stage crowd. They played all the hits; Toxicity, Chop Suey, Sugar, Bounce, B.Y.O.B, Question…. need I go on! I was reminded just how many hits they had. So gutted they didn’t play Shimmy, though!!
Honestly after all the stress of Friday I was glad to see Saturday morning sunshine. Our day started with a bit of Pierce The Veil on the main stage, who are always good fun. The last time we saw them was at their own headline show, and the crowd was so young it kinda ruined it for me. In the festival atmosphere of the family and mixed Download crowd – it was better. I really like a lot of their tunes, and they sounded great. We then caught The One Hundred doing a secret smaller set on this tiny little stage, and it was my first time seeing them live too. They’re a really unusual genre of nu-metal meets rap rock, and I was impressed! The drummer Joe, used to be in a band with George (and also Hannah from Creeper!) so it was really nice for George to catch up with him and also get to see his new band. Speaking of George, he’d been waiting patiently all day for the highlight of his weekend, which just so happened to be Every Time I Die. I was a fan of ETID before I met George, but his love for them is really infectious and the passion has rubbed off on me, so I knew a lot more songs than I would have previously. There’s not many words you can use to easily describe an Every Time I Die set, so i’m just gonna go with: outrageous. They really should be on your list of bands to see live if they weren’t already!
Ah man I just ADORE Biffy. I think i’ve seen them probably about 15 times in my lifetime, from tiny tiny shows in London, to a random show in a leisure centre (really) to a 200 cap venue in Switzerland, I love those Scottish lads. They have evolved brilliantly over time, making their music more accessible for all without losing that Biffy sparkle. It’s great to hear them played on Radio One, and what a huge victory for them to be headlining Download. I know there’s been so many chats as of late about new headliners for Download, a traditionally ‘old’ headliner festival, always looking for bands of the classic ire, but in my opinion Biffy are perfect to step up and take that slot for a young band. We have to look to the Download of the future and Biffy proved they could do it. With a firework display second to none, and an incredible setlist, even including Jaggy Snake, to me they sounded great. There were a few problems at the start during Living Is A Problem… and the crowd really wasn’t remotely big enough for what it should be – although they were up against Download favourite Rob Zombie at the same time – but in my opinion they did a great job, and they showed Download the young (by Download standards young) talent we have in the UK at the moment.
I love outfit planning for Download because I can express the inner me a bit more freely there. I definitely am more punky inclined than I dress in day to day life, fearing i’m both too old and also fusing more fashion looks into my every day wardrobe outside of Download, Download is the one place I can dress as rock as I like. Ace. Saturday (left) I wore an XL mens Architects tee as a dress – you can’t see the Architects logo because of my hair, oops, with some little denim shorts underneath just incase of gusty wind! I tied it together with a waist belt, and loved how it was a modern take on MySpace camo fashion. Remember those days? On Sunday it was a bit colder so in the end I wore George’s thermal Every Time I Die bomber jacket, and underneath I wore a grey harness top with grey shorts and some wide fishnets.
It was such an epic friends-fest, under the sun for once, with amazing food, great vibes and a really, really good weekend. Man, Download, you knocked it out of the park and redeemed yourself after last year. Kudos!
Were you there? Who did you see? Let me know in the comments!