Download Festival 2014 Preview – Aural assault of rock and metal

Download Festival

Download Festival

We are now in June, and one might wonder where the first half of 2014 has disappeared to. But fear not, for this means spring turns into summer, the sun starts to shine in full force (I write this article as it is raining) and most importantly the music festivals that we have been eagerly been counting down towards start to emerge. If you’re a bit like me, then you’ll be in attendance at one of the numerous rock festivals this summer.

Download Festival is back for another aural assault of rock and metal this week, and I for one am quite excited at the prospect of a great weekend of fun. If you like five days of getting pissed in a field and making bad decisions whilst also throwing the metal horns and starting the circle pit, then Download is definitely the weekend for you. This is my third time in attendance, and whilst I am ultimately dreading the long walk down Donnington raceway, I am looking forward to mingling with my drunken brethren. Last year I saw everything, from a poor, innocent man face planting it into the mud all the way to an impromptu conga line with about twenty people doing the dance to “The Bad Touch” by “The Bloodhound Gang”, and this year I hope to see more. Downloaders know how to have fun, so don’t be surprised if you see thirty people dressed in banana costumes chanting “LIBERATE! BANANAS!”

The music this year is looking good for the average rock fan in attendance. On main stage we have Avenged Sevenfold who have finally been given the chance to headline a mainstream festival off the back of a #1 album in the UK, Linkin Park who will be playing Hybrid Theory in full as well as a few newer tracks that no-one will care about, Aerosmith who will be playing their hits no doubt whilst Steven Tyler gives his infamous gurn, and a handful of various undercard bands such as Killswitch Engage, Opeth, Fall Out Boy, The Dillinger Escape Plan and The Offspring. If there’s one thing that Download does right, it’s the “something for everybody” factor that really reigns true for the small handful of bands mentioned.


If you are looking for a festival that offers much more than just the music on offer, then I would steer clear of Download and try a festival such as Glastonbury, Bestival or Latitude as they all do this well, although they more than likely won’t be selling Trooper Beer (Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden’s foray into the world of ale). Still with us? Good. The festival does still offer forms of alternative entertainment from the music; visit the tents in the village and you will be presented with a handful of mediocre to great comedians, rockaoke (karaoke mixed with rock, it’s the future!) and night entertainment such as DJ sets and a silent disco, which is staple to the festival experience these days. There is also a cinema showing recent films and classics, which is great, at least until it rains. I expect this year’s festival to show the World Cup matches at the cinema, at the very least England’s matches.

Camping at Download can be an interesting experience, but definitely for the right reasons. At last year’s festival I was camped near some people who would regularly ply me with free alcohol and play metal anthems out of their extremely loud boom box, which would in turn lead to some great singing along to some rock anthems (You’ve not been to a metal festival if you haven’t sang along to Bohemian Rhapsody at least once). Believe it or not, this is the general attitude that fellow campers will follow, and I am near certain that you will find an atmosphere like this in nearly every camp this year, for the metal community is one of the more welcoming out there. Sure, it will be a lawless playground at times, but unlike other festivals (Reading, I’m looking at you), I will be able to go to sleep safe after a day of drunken shenanigans and not have to worry about some moron chucking a gas canister into an open fire.

If the weekend is anything like it is at the moment, then pack gear for wet weather; bringing some hiking boots and a rain coat can be the difference between enjoying your weekend and being a grump. Nobody likes a grump. My biggest tip for Download newbies would be to take some drinks for the queue, separate from your main stash. You can be queuing for anything up to two hours if you arrive on the Wednesday. But please drink responsibly, otherwise you may end up getting drunk before you’ve even set up your tent, which is fine if you like sleeping in rain water (I learned this lesson the hard way)

All in all though, Download Festival is a great weekend that every rock fan and metal head should experience at least once in their lifetime, so why not make this year your year?

For more information and tickets click here.