Review: TwoBeatsOff at Download 2013

Traditionally, I do big reviews of whatever festivals I’ve been to that summer. I’ve done Reading since TBO’s inception. I’ve done a few mini ones across the UK. I’ve never done Download in its full glory before. For that reason, and for others which will become clear, it’s kind of impossible to give it the same treatment. Did I watch a lot of bands? Well, yes. I certainly didn’t approach it in the same way as other festivals though. So this isn’t a review – it’s more like a retelling, a recreation. In essence, it’s a glorified blog post, but people make money out of that these days. Any remorse that I have is buried under my filthy festival lanyard.

I rocked up on the Thursday on a ridiculously late coach. In all fairness, this wasn’t Big Green Coach’s fault, and their operators on the other end dealt with my panicky self very helpfully. The return journey is another thing entirely, but we’ll get to that later. Fuelled by caffeine and sausage rolls, I hauled my camping gear through the Village and into the White campsite to discover that I was the first out of my friends to arrive and proceeded to set up. Have I told you that I hate camping before? I probably have, but just in case – I hate it. I especially hate festival camping, with its lack of viable showers, the people roaming around the campsite yelling ‘BUTTSCRATCHER!’ until about 6am and the fact that I never drive so I can’t bring an airbed and end up with a rock in my back at some point. It’s not cool. This festival, I was a total dumbass and only brought half a tent, so my Download experience began with me sitting on top of my rucksack, my head in my hands, deflecting blame onto my sister and father for not putting the tent away properly and swearing lots. Eventually, the rest of the team showed up and I went with Kate to go and buy a tent for the extortionate price of £50. I made sure it was purple to compensate for my fuck up, because what do I do when I’m in a bit of a jam? Accessorise. Surprisingly, the two man wasn’t that shabby. We built a gazebo. Beers were consumed. (still edge, in case you were wondering). New people were met. It was nice and chilled, and I don’t just mean the temperature. I can’t go to one of these things without a stupid amount of stress normally; there’s always some catastrophe, or it’s raining like mad, or I get panicky about something because I’m a hotbed of social anxiety when it suits me. This time was really great though, and perhaps it’s the huge difference in attitude to other places I’ve been to. I’m not saying that metalheads can’t be elitist pricks – they can be the biggest of them all, but it stems from a passion that indie hipsters just don’t have a handle on. And the less flowery headbands I have to see, the better.

Friday was for one thing, and one thing only – HIM. Throughout my adolescence, I became obsessed with the Finnish five piece. From 2002-2008, they rivalled AFI in my affections. I still can quote the entirety of the HIM vs Bam DVD verbatim, and do so far too often with Kate. And yet unlike her, I kind of grew out of HIM. I was disappointed by Dark Light and subsequently didn’t dig Venus Doom that much, I dove deeper and deeper into Midwestern beard punk and I went through a massive break up – the significance being was that HIM was the reason that we connected in the first place. HIM became a relic for me, albeit a fond one, and I placed their albums with the reverence they deserved back onto the shelf. Kate never quit though and she arguably boasts one of the biggest HIM collections in the UK. The girl ordered twelve different versions of Tears On Tape. TWELVE. Just let that sink in. When we found out that they were doing a signing… sweet Jesus. The arena opened at midday, we went straight to the signing tent, we queued for four hours in the pouring rain. I was kind of nervous though. What could I say to Ville Valo, the man who sang the soundtrack to my teenage emotions? To Linde, who was the reason that I chose an SG for my first guitar? In the end, with Kate quaking behind me, I was ridiculously polite, but to Ville, I said in what can only be described as a vaguely sleazy tone, “‘Iya Ville, y’alright? Looking forward to the set later, it’s been a while.” I regret nothing. They were lovely gentlemen. I met some really fantastic people in the queue, even if I felt like a bit of a charlatan stood next to them. These were kids whose favourite band ever was HIM – and I certainly wasn’t a lifer. With a signed copy of Razorblade Romance clutched in my grubby mitts, we headed straight for the Pepsi Max stage.

I got the opportunity to check out some new bands that afternoon as we waited for the HIM set. In This Moment, a female fronted metal band with some crazy stage set ups and costume were there when we arrived. The dress was a little bit Lady Gaga, but if there’s one thing I love about metal, it’s the pageantry. Sweaty boys in sweaty basements are definitely my thing, but sometimes, you just need to go all out, and In This Moment were certainly a lot of fun. Turisas’ self-styled ‘battle metal’ proved to be just as compelling. Sometimes, you just need songs about being a Viking. The kids liked it anyway – a little boy who couldn’t have been more than about eight sat proudly on his dad’s shoulder, battleaxing to every song. Hero. I was pleasantly surprised by Motionless In White, having previously dismissed them as ‘scene trash’ akin to Black Veil Brides. However, their specific brand of metalcore is heavy with synths and light on the bullshit. Lead vocalist Chris Cerulli looks much better in a skirt than I do, and their live performance has an energy that’s infectious. To use my dad’s classic catchphrase (note: you have to say it in a Cumbrian accent), ‘great stuff!’ I shamefully had never seen Converge live before Download, and it was a decision that I immediately regretted. Jake Bannon and co have an intensity that’s hard to capture and even harder to channel – those time signatures were not made for headbanging – but is impossible to take your eyes and ears off. These guys were the pioneers of metalcore, and they showed everyone how it was done.

I never did see HIM that many times in my youth. Twice – once at Ozzfest at Download in 2005 and then on the Dark Light tour in 2006. It felt so good to sing along to songs I had forgotten I loved. Less talkative than I’ve seen them before, but no less charismatic, they went for a setlist filled with classics as well as newer material. The best thing though, asides from the rugs on the floor and the mirrorball, was the inclusion of It’s All Tears (Drown In This Love). Arguably my favourite HIM song, I was screaming along like a right little fangirl. Having cut down on the cigarettes somewhat, Ville instead took to playing an acoustic for a lot of the set. The more frequent inclusion of acoustic elements in their tracks is a direction that I’m really liking, and I’ll definitely be picking up Tears On Tape when I’ve got some spare cash to flash. My camera is filled with more pictures of HIM than of anything else, and skipping through the half blurred shots, I stumble upon one of Ville with a look of deep contemplation on his face and it just sums the whole set up completely – HIM are ready to take back the throne. I’m excited for the autumn tour, to say the least.

We decided that we’d take Saturday fairly easy. There would be sitting – we had stood up for a total of about thirteen hours without taking a break the day before. Do you remember when you were sixteen, and you’d get to the venue about five hours early, queue so that as soon as the doors opened, you’d run and get to the front centre barrier and it wouldn’t even cause you to think twice? I don’t really, as the searing pain in my calves indicated. One thing that Download made me realise is that I need to get back to the gym. Oh boy. We spent a rainy morning in the tent reading Pick Me Up and doing the arrow-words while battering a packet of Jaffa Cakes. What can I say? There was nothing great on until later. Our first band of the day was Empress. They weren’t too shabby. Your basic kind of alt-rock, slightly Muse influenced but with a heavier edge. They all looked so young! Heart Of A Coward were typically raucous and bouncy. I wonder if all hardcore/deathcore bands get their banners and graphics designed by the same person, because they all look the same except with different letters. Either way, lots of heavy breakdowns, lots of fun. Bury Tomorrow carried on that theme, and it’s easy to see why they’ve had so much praise heaped their way lately. Slamming their way through a stellar set with lots of energy and a knack for killer hooks, they had the crowd pleading for more at the end of their set – the first time I’d seen that weekend. Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats have a very 70s feel. Stoner doom with a touch of rock and roll, they were loud. There was a lot of bass. It’s great chill out stuff, but not necessarily the kind of thing you’re that enthused about seeing at a festival. Chthonic were a total surprise. The Taiwanese metallers had brought a mini Thai orchestra with them and proceeded to hammer out anthem after anthem, all while dressed up like space age warriors. Because why the hell not? My highlight of the Saturday, and indeed, one of my highlights of the whole festival, were Kvelertak. I’d been introduced to them in passing a few months prior; they’d appeared in someone’s Spotify notifications on Facebook and I’d thought ‘huh, why not’. The best way to describe Kvelertak is to imagine Andrew WK singing in Norwegian with less piano and more black metal. It’s party rock with a terrifying intensity. Vocalist Erlend Hjelvik showed up with no shirt and a freaking owl helmet, and was diving into the crowd at every opportunity. That’s not to say that the rest of the band weren’t rocking out just as hard, but they didn’t quite have the same disregard for personal safety. The next morning, my bangover (you know, that horrible neckache you get the morning after a night of proper headbanging) was in full force, but it was so, so worth it. And then we went back to the tent because we give no fucks about Iron Maiden. Sorry, Bruce, I like your son better.

Sunday was hot. And I had donuts for breakfast. These are two excellent things. We went to the arena early to catch The First. The King’s Lynn five piece are well on their way to greatness, combining their wonderfully melodic and layered take on pop-laced post-hardcore with an absolutely explosive performance. Especially well done as it was proper early. Nice one, lads. We decided to do a bit of festival shopping before winding our way back into the crowd for Five Finger Death Punch. I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan. If the vocals didn’t have any clean bits, then maybe, but they have too many so I’m generally like ‘whatevz.’ However, lead singer Ivan did pull up a bunch of kids – and I mean kids no older than 12 – on stage who sat there flipping the bird and singing along to every word, and I couldn’t help but think that was pretty cool. But they’re no Parkway Drive. I fucking love Parkway Drive. I have ever since the Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em EP, and it’s been an absolute pleasure watching them rise and rise. Atlas was totally my favourite album last year and if you’ve never been to a Parkway show, then I implore you – get on that. It’s always a ridiculous amount of fun. The band themselves are flawless – every note is dead on, every drum beat is precise, Winston McCall’s vocals are just as brutal as on record. And they do it all with a massive smile on their faces. We didn’t really watch Stone Sour. We ate pulled pork sandwiches and I complained about how Corey Taylor didn’t know what he was doing with his hair. (For the uninitated, one time when we were coming back from a night out, in all seriousness, I announced “So, Corey Taylor has long hair when he’s in Slipknot and short hair when he’s in Stone Sour. This is a conscious decision. Right? Right?” For the record – still straight edge.) I had my mind kind of blown by Ghost. I wasn’t expecting a parade of dudes in massive black cloaks, and then a singer dressed up like some kind of satanic reverse Pope. And I certainly wasn’t expecting doom and black influenced metal with some proper soulful vocals and a ton of synths. But I liked it. I liked it a lot. I didn’t like it enough to purchase the special edition of Infestissumam with the butt plug, but enough to plump for the regular one. Sorry, Papa Emeritus. We hung out on the grass while Airborne yelled loudly – they’re alright, and highly preferable to AC/DC because there are no twenty minute long guitar solos, but it’s not really for me. Neither are A Day To Remember, no matter how hard I try to like them. Theoretically, they’re my ideal band – they’re like New Found Glory but with heavier breakdowns. I just can’t get on with it though! That’s not to say that I didn’t appreciate their set at all – t-shirt cannons, toilet roll wars and the most insane display of crowdsurfing I’ve seen in years were all a lot of fun to witness. They clearly love what they do and a lot of other people love it too.

Limp Bizkit, on a scale of one to awesome, were the shit. From the minute Fred and co bounced out and slammed into the opening riff of Rollin’, it was clear that we were in for the best party of the weekend. And party we did. Throwing some serious shapes, Kate and I shook our booties through a classic Bizkit set. They even brought up a guy who sang on stage with them at Download FOUR YEARS AGO to do it again – and he picked Half Nelson. Hero. Otherwise, Break Stuff! Nookie! Faith! My Way! Take A Look Around! Fred Durst’s MASSIVE beard! Wes being cool as! Sam’s light up bass! SO MUCH TURNTABLE! How much more do you need to know how brilliant this was?! I don’t think I’ve had so much fun outdoors before. We missed most of Rammstein, but we got there just in time to see Till spraying some dude dressed up in BDSM gear with fake jizz. There was a small girl dancing on top of a bin that saw it as well. Aces.

If my Download experience had ended there, it would have been the best weekend ever. Alas, it didn’t, and I had to wait an hour and a half for my coach because Big Green Coach were so disgustingly disorganised. We could have left at least half an hour before we did, and after being loaded onto the wrong coach twice (!) and then missing my bus home because I got to my drop off ninety minutes late, I spent my Monday being ridiculously miserable. I guess that’s a lesson learnt – check your tent properly, drive there instead and potentially pack appropriate reading material. But otherwise, I think that Download will become my festival of choice. Varied enough to keep even the most sceptical rock fan happy and with a spirit of fun unlike any other, Download rocked pretty hard.

Download Festival 2011 (by Joe)

Guest writer Joe’s written a lovely Download review for you. Get in touch with him – Fancy contributing yourself? Email me at!

I got to the arena just in time to see the second half of CKY’s (3) set. They were just ripping into ‘Flesh Into Gear’, seemingly intent on playing only songs that they will have been remembered for back in their ‘glory’ days, following up with their most famous number, ’96 Quite Bitter Beings’ which went down a treat with the core of fans gathered around the front of the main stage. They then ended their set with a double hit of ‘Inhuman Creation Station’ and ‘Escape From Hellview’ from the band’s best known album, ‘Infiltrate. Destroy. Rebuild.’ The overall impression was that whilst this was a strong opening to Download, it was let down by a crowd that, other than the core at the front, seemed rather uninterested in the band. Next up was PUDDLE OF MUDD (3) who seemed to fare better in the crowd support section. Opening with a bang with ‘Out of My Head’ and ‘Control’ they seemed to have their audience much more involved in the festivities they were providing. They kept the crowd’s attention through their set and finally got everyone singing when they unveiled a brilliant cover of AC/DC’s ‘T.N.T’ before closing their set with one of their better known songs, ‘She Hates Me’. The third band up for me was YOUNG GUNS (1) on the second stage who, despite having a couple of songs the crowd seemed partially familiar with, came off as bland and very predictable; the only refuge from this being closing song ‘Weight of the World’ which still remains their best. Overall though, this was a quite boring set, which was disappointing as I at one point expected this band to get only better – it felt like they’ve done only the opposite in the couple of years since I first made that prediction.

Next up was a trip to the main stage, where I was in for a treat with three great bands up in a row. Firstly was BLACK STONE CHERRY (4) who stuck one of their anthems, the fantastic ‘Blind Man’ into the first two songs of the set, and carried on from there, unfurling great song after great song at their audience. BSC classic ‘Rain Wizard’ along with newbies ‘Blame it On the Boom-Boom’ and ‘White-Trash Millionaire’ all went down a treat with the crowd, and they only topped that when they got the biggest sing-along of the day in their closer, ‘Lonely Train’ from their self-titled debut album. THIN LIZZY (4) were next and they were just as good, if not better than BSC, filling their sets with such classics as ‘Jailbreak’, ‘Rosalie’, ‘Black Rose’ and their most well-known songs, ‘Whiskey In the Jar’ and ‘The Boys Are Back in Town’ which both got mass sing-alongs, orchestrated by new lead vocalist Ricky Warwick, who seemed to be well-received by the band’s core fans. ALTER BRIDGE (4) were next up, once again proving why they are about to embark on an arena tour in November. They opened with just lead vocalist Myles Kennedy (who I believe to be the best singer in the world right now) on stage alone, singing the intro of ‘Slip to the Void’ from latest effort ‘AB III’. They chose to do their most anthemic numbers for this set, including ‘Metalingus’, ‘Come to Life’ and ‘Ties that Bind’, before ending with what seems to have become their regular set closer, ‘Rise Today’, sending the crowd mental and begging for more Alter Bridge, which they will get in November!

Next I saw the first half of THE DARKNESS’s (1) set, which started off well, with lead singer Justin Hawkins proving he still has a fantastic voice, but quickly descended into another bland performance. Even after half an hour of the set, it still felt like the first song – such is the band’s repetitiveness in a live arena. I arrived at the second stage in time to see an hour of KORN’s (3) set, who were impressive, playing what was essentially a greatest hits set with a few classics thrown in for good measure. A great line up of tunes came to follow with a compilation of ‘Coming Undone’, Queens’ ‘We Will Rock You’, ‘Twisted Transistor’, ‘Make Me Bad’ ‘Thoughtless’, ‘Did My Time’ and ‘Clown’, before they sent it home with a full rendition of ‘Y’all Want A Single’.

The entertainment for the night was closed out by DEF LEPPARD (5) who played a set that can only be described as magical. The whole crowd was captured by just how amazing this band still are, singing the words to all 19 songs that the band chose to perform, which, among other memorable moments, included a 2 song acoustic set comprising of ‘Two Steps Behind’ and ‘Bringin’ On the Heartbreak’, an encore of ‘When Love and Hate Collide’ and ‘Wasted’, and an awe- inspiring speech from Joe Elliot about drummer Rick Allen’s losing of his arm and return to Donington Park for his first gig since, which was given despite Elliot’s fears of ‘repeating himself from two years ago’. All I could think of to describe the moment was that it was even more amazing the second time round, just as this band’s whole Download headline appearance was.

THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA (1) and ALL THAT REMAINS (2) opened Saturday’s proceedings. Both bands play a heavy style, with DWP leaning towards the more ‘scene kid friendly’ of the two. Not only do they pander towards the ‘scene-kid’ crowd these days, their set has suffered immensely, unlike three years ago, when they were a lot more energetic and exciting to watch. ATR were also rather bland, but their set was saved by the fact that they have a couple of great sing-along anthems that got the crowd into them; ‘Two Weeks’ and ‘This Calling’ being the highlights of their set. The first real energy of the day was seen with ESCAPE THE FATE (4) who from their opener, ‘Massacre’, injected new life into Donington and kept it going by breaking out ‘Ten Miles Wide’, ‘Issues’, ‘Day of Wreckoning’ and ‘Gorgeous Nightmare’ from last year’s self-titled effort. They close things with ‘This War is Ours’ and ‘The Aftermath’ which comprise parts two and three of their ‘The Guillotine’ trilogy. The most impressive thing about this set though is the fact that they went down so well with their audience, despite not performing any songs from their days with Ronnie Radke as frontman, showing that band and fans alike have moved on from that tainted stage of their career. I saw ROCK SUGAR (4) next, who seem to have amassed a healthy cult following in the twelve months since I last saw them blow away a Download crowd – more than double the number of people watching this year. Their blending of different songs is still completely fresh and original from a rock and metal standpoint and gained sing-alongs every time they broke into a number, even on the ‘old new song’ they performed for the first time to a UK crowd. They topped things off with what they claimed was the photo shoot for their new album, posing in front of the crowd, leaving everyone feeling like they had been involved in something special.

HOLLYWOOD UNDEAD (4) were next up. Opening with ‘Undead’, they kept the party vibe going in their 40 minute set, proving to be the highlight among the afternoon bands and new singer Danny was comfortably fitting in with the other five members of the band. They closed things out with the first single from their second album ‘American Tragedy’, ‘Hear Me Now’, leaving the crowd still feeling the aftershock of the party-vibe they had injected into the arena. Next, I witnessed a great little acoustic set from BOWLING FOR SOUP (4) which will be remembered more for the banter between band and crowd, and the multiple mid-song drinking breaks, than the songs themselves. Jaret and Erik were intent on making the crowd laugh, which they did. Later on, I made my way to the Pepsi Max stage to catch SEVENDUST (3). They played an energetic set from the word go and from opener ‘Splinter’ to closer ‘Face to Face’, they were intent on getting their crowd to enjoy themselves whether they were familiar with the songs or not. AVENGED SEVENFOLD (4) were a notch above though, I arrived just as they started ‘Afterlife’ and, even though I had hoped to see Twisted Sister, was not left regretting my decision as Sevenfold played an energetic set that was filled with crowd pleasers; the highlight of which being when they dedicated ‘A Little Piece Of Heaven’ to former, and now deceased, drummer Jimmy Sullivan wanting to ‘keep the mood up’, before closing with another crowd pleaser in ‘Unholy Confessions’ and ’Save Me’, the final track from their latest album ‘Nightmare’. Finally, it was time for headliners SYSTEM OF A DOWN (4) who opened with ‘Prison Song’, immediately sending the whole crowd mental with a 27 song set that had mosh pits and bodies moving the whole time. The only small let-down that left this set from being a ‘5-star classic’ was the leaving out of ‘Violent Pornography’, one of their more widely known, and better, songs. However, the overall feeling after their set was that the audience had just been to a huge party, feeling the effects well into Sunday morning.

I was up early on Sunday morning as I wanted to catch SUICIDE SILENCE’s (3) set. Despite all of their songs sounding very similar to each other, they played a set that was brutal enough to cure most hangovers, whilst incorporating enough mind-blowing sub-drops to bring them back again. In comparison, YASHIN (1), who were second up on the second stage, did well not to put everyone back to sleep again – the most likely reason nobody actually did go back to sleep is that the rain had started falling constantly during their repetitive and really quite boring set which would have been so much better had they included their cover of ‘Everytime’ by Britney Spears. The fact they didn’t left closer ‘Get Loose’ as the only real stand out moment of their set, other than the rain, of course. I went to hide in the Pepsi Max tent while I waited for another band to take main stage and was very pleasantly surprised by TRUCKER DIABLO (3), finding their Southern American style slice of rock ‘n’ roll pie to be the perfect solace for the rain, which had hit quite hard out of nowhere.

I then made my way back to the main stage for MADINA LAKE (3), who were another pleasant surprise, despite sounding fairly flat at first, slightly killing opener ‘Let’s Get Outta Here’. However, when they had warmed up, they sounded great and played songs from their first two albums, highlights being ‘House of Cards’ and, even more so, ‘Here I Stand’ before treating the crowd to a new song, which sounded great and ending their time with a rendition of ‘True Love’. Next was the full band set of the weekend for BOWLING FOR SOUP (4) who were even better than on their acoustic set the previous day. They played a set full of anthems, which included ‘The Bitch Song’, ‘Almost’, ‘My Weiner’, ‘1985’ and of course, ‘Girl All the Bad Guys Want’ (Jaret even went as far to claim it was ‘the greatest song ever written…’). Despite all the BFS classics on display, the highlight of the set came when Jaret requested an inflatable penis was passed onto the stage and placed in the anus of one of the band’s inflatable sheep, deflating it in the process. Jaret claims that the sight of ‘the sheep laying there dying while the penis is laying on the floor [being] the story of [my] high school career’, which just about sums up the BFS experience – it may not be clever, but it sure is genius. I was at the second stage next for GWAR (3) who, despite not actually being very good musically, kept the crowd’s attention by ripping off Osama Bin Laden’s head, tearing the breasts from the Queen of England and by having multiple ‘fights’ with robots and other monsters, all of which resulted in the first few rows of the audience being showered in (hopefully) fake blood. TURISAS (3) were a bit more focused on their music than their stage show, but with the quality of songs they have, they didn’t need a stage show to make this an enjoyable set – not that it stopped them, having dressed up in Viking battle gear as usual! The highlight came during the chant war between the two sides of the the audience during their cover of Boney M’s ‘Rasputin’ (which by the way sounds better when performed by Turisas), as well as lead vocalist Mathias “Warlord” Nygård claiming that in every country they visit they try local beer, which led to him insisting on referring to Donington as Denmark, as the band were drinking Tuborg. BUCKCHERRY (2) sounded good at first, playing Rescue Me and All Night Long second and third in the set, getting the crowd singing along early, but their set faltered from there and seemed to drag along, before being partially rescued by their closer, the forever great ‘Crazy Bitch’. BLACK VEIL BRIDES (4) were the best band of the day up to that point when they left the stage, as from opener ‘Love Isn’t Always Fair’ until closing number ‘Fallen Angels’ they had the crowd that had turned out to see them enthralled, even with the new material from then-unreleased album ‘Set The World On Fire’. The performance, along with the personal introduction from Download promoter Andy Copping, served to show the audience, and the world, that BVB may well be the next big thing – and deservedly so. My final main stage band of the day was BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE (4) who were great as usual, providing just over an hour of sing-alongs and circle pits for a very willing audience, beginning and ending with songs from last year’s ‘Fever’. ‘Your Betrayal’ at the start and ‘Alone’ wrapping things up, they had the whole crowd in the palms of their hands, just as they did last year and throughout their recent arena tour.

The final act of my weekend was ROB ZOMBIE (5) who was nothing short of phenomenal, emerging from a giant robot to the first song of his latest album ‘Hellbilly Deluxe 2’, ‘Jesus Frankenstein’. He provided another great stage show, which will surely keep his stage show battle of sorts with Alice Cooper alive and well. Of course, it wouldn’t matter if he didn’t have the songs to do it, or the band to play them, and he does. John 5, formerly of Marilyn Manson on lead guitar, Piggy D, formerly of Wednesday 13 on Bass and Ginger Fish, also formerly of Marilyn Manson fame, on drums played Zombie’s songs perfectly, with the video screens behind them flashing up lyrics which helped even members of the crowd that didn’t know his songs get involved. Zombie performed many of his classics, including ‘Superbeast’, ‘Living Dead Girl’ and ‘Never Gonna Stop’, as well as newer crowd pleaser ‘Sick BubbleGum’ seamlessly, as well as throwing in a few White Zombie classics, ‘More Human and Human’, ‘Super-Charger Heaven’ and ‘Thunder Kiss ‘65’ just for older Zombie fans. John 5 also performed a great solo to plenty of support and applause from the audience, and it was all topped off by the band returning for an encore, complete with Rob on top of a giant robot podium, leading the crowd in a stunning rendition of his classic ‘Dragula’ to send everybody home (or back to their tents) amazed, having witnessed what must surely go down as one of the classic performances in Download Festival history. Overall a fun weekend, even if hampered by the bad weather, that left everyone excited for next year!

Festival Haters Gonna Hate.

I promised myself that after last year, I wouldn’t ever bother with Reading Festival again. There was too much rain, too many bad bands barring the Lock-Up and the company was goddamn awful. But somehow, here I am, being suckered up back into its warm musical bosom. And well, the lineup this year is, to be honest, great for me! The Lock-Up is yet to be announced but when it is, I’m sure it’ll be fun. The Friday is pretty much my teenage dream – MCR, The Offspring, Rise Against and New Found Glory are sure to keep my adolescence happy, with Bring Me The Horizon to suit some of my new found tastes and 30 Seconds To Mars to fulfil the eye-candy proportion of the day. Jared Leto, you are a beautiful man. But that’s just me. I appreciate that while I am not alone in my musical selection, I am limited – hardly any of my friends are making the trip down there this year. Perhaps it’s because they have limited funds. Perhaps it’s because they’re otherwise engaged. Or, just maybe, it’s because they’d rather be festival misers and shit on pretty much every line up that’s available.

There is one guy in my friends list on Facebook who has taken it upon himself to be the anti-Reading crusader. Any and every status, he’s in there with a “NO, IT’S SHITE” or a “SO GLAD I’M NOT GOING HURR HURR HURR”. I just don’t get it. Does he get some kind of smug satisfaction from attempting to shoot down people’s glee and then failing? Because trust me, it’s a failure. I am happier about this line up than I was about the news that Panic! At The Disco were releasing a new album and if only you could have seen me on that day. If only. There is nothing wrong with liking the popular choice once in a while. Bands get to be famous because they are good at what they do. For example, I may not like You Me At Six at all but I can appreciate that people like them because they’re ridiculously well practised at their particular brand of pop-rock parading. There is but one band I reserve unadulterated hatred for and that’s a story for another time. My point is, I can appreciate it when bands are good at their craft, even if I don’t like those bands’ music. If I don’t like the line up poster, I won’t click buy. I’m not going to moan about it. There’s enough variety for everyone!

But sadly, that’s not enough for yet another of my Facebook friends. Metalhead syndrome is his curse, and anything that isn’t Sonisphere/Bloodstock/Download is up for abuse. Every line up announced, he’s just got to have his say in his poorly spelt and badly constructed statuses. Fair enough if you can at least put an intelligent-ish argument together about why it’s rubbish (e.g. it’s too expensive, the genres aren’t fairly represented, too many dicks there last year), but if all you can say is “lol reading is shit this year, So glad Im going to Download” and respond with the same stock phrase to any and every Facebook post about Reading, then are you really in the position to complain? If you argue with him, he’ll just respond with the same insipid smiley face. I’m not sure if he’s a bit simple or if he’s a tactical genius. Either way, come on guys! Festivals are about fun! You can’t be fun if you’re being elitist and grumpy. In the last few years, I’ve found out about new bands that have gone on to be my favourites and had a great time dancing along to stuff I wasn’t really into, purely because I was there with a good group of people and having a ball. I’ve been hugged by random gingers. I’ve been part of one of the biggest group chants ever (“WANKER!” at the P!ATD bottler, anyone?). I’ve been almost knocked out in a Rise Against pit, only for some big burly bloke to pick me up, wink at me and toss me back in. The music is great, but it’s all the little things as well that make a festival. Who wants to decry that for everyone?

The thing is, there’s plenty out there for everyone. If you’re a festival fan, there’s no doubt at least one that you can go to and you’ll more than likely have a fantastic weekend. This year, I’m hoping, will be a definite improvement on my one last year. No brats, plenty of good bands straight off the bat and a couple of good friends seem to be opting in. Plus the Coffee and Cakes stall will be there. Those cappuccinos are to die for.