Live: Download Festival 2013

On the weekend of the 14th to 16th of June 2013, Download Festival returned to Donington Park for the eleventh time. Whilst the eager fans opting for a five day camping ticket had to endure some inclement weather near the beginning, the festival as a whole got off pretty lightly and the drizzle did little to dampen spirits.

The Friday offered up festival regulars such as Korn and Bullet for My Valentine, who then handed over to Slipknot to finish the opening day in style. Always a favourite at Download, the arena was packed with fans screaming the lyrics that, in a lot of cases, would have provided their first introduction to rock and metal back in the early 2000’s.

Intermittent showers on the Saturday frequently sent people running to relative safety of the Pepsi Max (third) and Red Bull Studios (fourth) Stages, providing a welcome sight for whichever bands were lucky enough to be playing them at the time. On the Main Stage up and coming outfit Young Guns gave their fans a decent performance, followed up by solid if slightly generic efforts from some more established acts including Mastodon and Motörhead. Over on the Zippo Encore (second) Stage, Thunder were excellent as usual, despite splitting up every two days or so for the past five years. Warming up the stage for headliners Enter Shikari were Jimmy Eat World, who weren’t put off by a relatively small crowd and gave a respectable performance. The reasoning behind the small crowd became evident when checking out the Main Stage, where Queens of the Stone Age were putting on a decent show that deserved the impressive turnout. Closing the stage were heavy metal legends Iron Maiden. Many people had extremely high expectations of them and they stepped up to the mark phenomenally. Opening with a flypast from a Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Spitfire, they kicked into a set filled with classic after classic that the crowd simply lapped up. A fantastic end to the day.

Sunday brought some more festival regulars in the guise of Five Finger Death Punch as well as Corey Taylor’s second outing of the weekend, this time with Stone Sour. The day was unfortunately marred by some poor performances by The Gaslight Anthem, who couldn’t rediscover the spark of their rain-soaked 2011 performance, and 30 Seconds to Mars, whose frontman Jared Leto seemed more interested in squeezing about twelve rock ‘n roll clichés into every song than giving a decent performance. Fortunately headliners Rammstein more than made up for it. If you haven’t seen Rammstein it really is hard to describe the experience. The fire and explosions are just the beginning of it, with certain parts of the show taking an entirely different turn. Truly a perfect band to end the weekend.

Now settled into its fifth year with the same layout the festival ran smoothly and comfortably. The weather was dealt with exceptionally and the ground was kept in excellent condition considering the situation. Food was predictably pricey but with a bit of searching there were plenty of high quality stalls to choose from to almost get your money’s worth. Transport to and from local stations was efficient with the queue to leave on the Monday morning a lot shorter than it has been in the past.

All in all, Download provided a fun weekend with decent bands and great organisation. The overall line up was perhaps a little predictable and lackluster in parts, but it says a lot about the festival that a good time can be had regardless of what bands are playing.