Arriving at Download, I realised just how large the site was. 90,000 people crammed in (although ‘crammed’ we were not) and headed for their coloured camp. After having a minor heart attack putting up the tent, we took a few beers and joined the army of people on route via Donington’s race track for the main site.
Arriving to thousands of people screaming for ‘rock’ and throwing the horns every which way, downing their beers before entering the site and flashing their Download wristbands to the security, really made me realise just how many people we were amongst. My ears were ringing, and the music hadn’t started yet. Yet, this didn’t last all that long.
My first band of the weekend was a moderately unknown hard-core punk band called Palm Reader. Having only been around since 2011, they managed to obtain a pretty decent and rowdy crowd of head-bangers. The lead singers’ vocals gave a truly roaring voice to what was sure to be the loudest weekend of my life. A few bands later, we were standing in the same Pepsi Max Tent stupidly close to the mosh pit, for London-bred metal band Hang The Bastard. Bringing out the energy in the tent with songs like The Year Is One and Rivers Edge resulted in a friend of mine getting elbowed in the face, an indie kid going nuts and losing his hat in the mosh pit and my beer getting tipped down my top. The rain smashed onto the ground outside, which only added to the epic nature of the 45 minute set.
With sweat dripping down our faces and hearts beating out of our chests, we headed straight to Europe whose set had begun on the Zippo stage. The sun had come out by this point and it seemed to have a strange effect on lead singer Joey Tempest who gyrated against his microphone stand. They were as good as I thought they’d be – which means, they were perfectly alright. After seeing some of the heaviest bands I’d ever had the chance to witness, they put a little bit of a downer on the afternoon. That is, until The Final Countdown’s opening trumpet solo kicked in and the crowd went wild.
While friends ran to catch Turisas, I took a rest before catching the end of Korn’s set. Having heard bad things from past concerts, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Jonathan Davis’s vocals were immaculate. Though, sadly, I couldn’t stay long – as gypsy punk’s Gogol Bordello were about to begin on another stage. I ran with every inch of enthusiasm and found a spot by the front barrier. With camera in hand, they opened their set with Ultimate which set the whole crowd bouncing. After incredible performances of some of their most renowned songs including Immigraniada (We Comin’ Rougher) and Start Wearing Purple, I was left bursting with excitement for what Saturday could bring to the table.