Appalling weather conditions battered the site at Download Festival in the four days leading up to the rock weekend but, despite have to swap shorts and suncream for wellies and waterproofs, the Download faithful made sure their weekend rocked harder than ever. Thankfully the appalling weather subsided as we arrived on site and, despite the odd downpour over the weekend, we’ve picked some of our most memorable moments from the first day of Download 2019.
01. Skid Row making the youth go wild at 11am
– Quite honestly, we were a bit sad to see the name of New Jersey rockers Skid Row so lowdown on the second stage on a Friday morning and, given the fact that the site was recovering from a week long storm the kind of which has not been seen in these parts for a good few years, it would be understandable if the band rocked up to find themselves playing to two men and the food vendors. However, that was most definitely not the case as the band exploded onto the stage in front of a packed out crowd and blasted through a set laden with classics setting the tone for Download 2019 with a pummelling “Slave To The Grind”. Fuck yeah! Download Festival 2019, we have lift off!
02. Clutch’s biblical moment
– Clutch played a tight set and to the standards we’ve come to expect of them. They belted out hit after hit from their 11-song set list to the delight of fans who had suffered the previous day(s) camping. Thankfully throughout their set the sun did keep fighting its way through and for a brief moment during their set the clouds cleared to light up Download like it was the rapture! In a word, it was biblical! Although all kinds of weather took place this weekend, this single moment, complimented by Clutch’s exceptional tightness, a glimmer of hope that this was not going to be the full washout of the Drownloads of years past. Oh, and there was a circle pit too.
Clutch getting all kinds of “Evil” live at Download Festival 2019:
03. Eagles of Death Metal get up close and personal with the fans
– The Eagles of Death Metal gave an outstanding performance ranking it within the top 10 best Download 2019 performances. Jesse Hughes was on point demonstrating why he is such a terrific frontman from his banter with the audience between songs, to shining the spotlight on bassist Jennie Vee for an brief “Ace of Spades” riff/lyrics, to getting up close and personal with the audience leaving the stage for no man’s land almost climbing over the railings into the crowd. All this, and the man was still playing his guitar perfectly in time with the rest of the band.
04. Jinjer absolutely raging in the Dogtooth Tent
– We’ve all seen the videos of Ukranian technical extreme metal band Jinjer tearing up stages across the world and now was our chance to see the band up close in the confines of the Dogtooth Stage and they didn’t let us down. A packed out tent greeted the band as they smashed through their complex, brutal, layered extreme metal with vocalist Tatiana in particular sounding like she wanted to unleash a very different kind of hell on the Download faithful. Hopefully, next time the band grace the hallowed turf of Download, they’ll be shaking the ground on a much bigger stage.
Here’s one reason we were stupidly excited at checking out Jinjer when they played at Download:
05. Download becoming more eco-friendly than ever before
– Download has become way more eco-friendly over the last few years. This started with a humble little cup return scheme where if you returned x number of cups you were awarded with a free drink, something very much appreciated by those attendees on a tight budget. This became the recycled plastic cup you bought alongside your drink giving you the chance to either build up a collection of souvenir cups, or just turn it in when you buy your next drink. Now we have organisers actively encouraging the use of reusable water bottles and filling up at the taps provided, I suspect very soon, if not next year, there will be a total ban on plastic bottles, at least in the arena. Finally this year saw the creation of the Eco Camp, a campsite leaning heavily on reducing the waste left behind after a festival another great concept we can see organisers expanding over the next few years eventually covering the entire festival.
06. Rob Zombie and his psychedelic stage show
– I only caught a bit of Rob Zombie as I was in was desperate need to find somewhere to rest as the ground was an uneven minefield hell bent on causing a fall (and yes, I did see a fare few people take a tumble). Still, from what I saw, Rob Zombie went all out in his unique visual style and the sound was phenomenal, before leaving I witnessed mosh pits break out at several places during “Superbeast”, I experienced the ground move whilst “More Human Than Human” was blasted out from the Zippo Stage and heard hundreds of people sing along to a Beatles cover of “Helter Skelter” in unison refusing to let the mud hold them back.
Rob Zombie closed out the Zippo Stage with this kind of psychedelic madness:
07. Def Leppard’s hit-laden headline set
– It would be a crime if the mighty Def Leppard were not included in this list being a band that has influenced most artists on this year’s line-up. Bringing their Story So Far leg of their tour to Download, the clock counted down minute by minute with the cheers from the audience getting louder with each passing minute until they took to the stage which was awash with ever-changing lights. Despite the hardships of the day with the on / off weather and tricky to navigate ground, Def Leppard kept spirits high by taking every opportunity to acknowledge the fans, recalling stories from the past as well as delivering a set filled with hit after hit of classic songs from “Pour Some Sugar on Me” to “Hysteria”. A tribute was also paid to the late Steve Clark during a sombre moment when the guitarist’s memory held centre stage as “Hysteria” began live part way though. Drummer, Rick Allen also received his own tribute to overcoming adversary, 23 years on from losing his arm.
08. A more inclusive Festival experience
– Over the last 10 years or so, Download has become much more child friendly giving parents a chance to share something special with a whole new generation of fans. It’s a delight to see younger faces beam with joy at seeing bands they idolise play for them whilst they share the moment with their family. Over the years we have seen the creation and expansion of the RIP fields with a safer more relaxed feel to the lawlessness of the main campsite. It may not be realised to all, but by creating an alternative camping experience, Download has made itself more inclusive to all from families, to those who may suffer from conditions such as anxiety meaning that experiencing the main campsite may be detrimental to their experience. Ok, I know this is considered old news, but the continued improvements to these areas are bringing us all closer together more each year so it deserves highlighting.
Footnote: These are just some of the highlights from Day One but it would be unfair to miss out the many other great bands that play across multiple stages from the sight of Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler and his new band Deadland Ritual to the utterly brilliant Nova Twins to the iconic Slash, there was plenty for everyone but, quite honestly, if you missed The Interrupters, you frankly missed one of the best bands of the weekend.