Do you ever find yourself longing to surf along the heads of several thousand sweat drenched people? Does the idea of having to fight your way out of a circle pit excite you? Do you like to throw your head around at such velocity that your brain is in danger of haemorrhaging? If you answered yes to any or all of these questions then Download Festival is probably the place for you.
Last week the airspace around East Midlands Airport was filled with the sounds of screaming, heavy guitars and never ceasing double bass pedals as Donington Park celebrated 30 years of hosting live music and providing a Mecca to those ever-cheery black clad disciples of metal, screamo and all that is rock and roll.
The whole ordeal was celebrated on a suitably epic scale with Download boasting a high contender for the most impressive festival line-up of 2010, with heavyweight headliners AC/DC, Rage Against The Machine and Aerosmith, as well as impressive support from the likes of Motorhead, Them Crooked Vultures, Stone Temple Pilots and Slash. This old school line-up generated a very old school vibe with denim, leather and lined brows filling the site.
That isn’t to say that the line-up was aimed solely at dads whose tattoos turned green some years ago, and whose greying beards house all sorts of unknown mysteries. Bands such as 30 Seconds To Mars, Bullet For My Valentine and Stone Sour gave the younger generation fair chance to let loose, raise a fist in the air and scream their little black hearts out.
It’s fair to say that rock and metal fans get pretty bad press. In fact just outside the festival gates a group of brave souls stood and handed out flyers that listed legendary rockers who have died due to their ‘sinful lives’, warning festival goers of an eternity of hideous torture unless they save themselves in the eyes of the almighty by giving up their hedonistic lifestyles, boycotting their ungodly music and remaining eternally sober. This might not have been too difficult a task, with drinks inside the arena selling at an extortionate £3.75. Unfortunately for those pesky flyer fundamentalists this just resulted in the majority of attendees lingering at the campsite, desperately chugging bottles of spirits through funnels, pipe work and traffic cones before stumbling into the arena ready to dive headfirst into the most savage mosh pit they came across.
Ah, the mosh pits. What would Donington be without these allocated areas of unhinged aggression that send the weak reeling away in horror at the animalistic carnage within? And yet, despite the madness of the mosh pit, these self-governed areas provide an annual outlet for the aggression that would otherwise be spent in the sort of Sunday night riots and fires that any hungover tent-dweller dreads. Despite the anarchy of the crowds there is a sense of controlled violence and mutual care: if someone is unlucky enough to fall down they are quickly scooped to their feet before a fatal trampling ensues. It is this sort of camaraderie that enables thousands of seemingly brutish rockers to live in peace for five days – despite overpriced everything, excessive alcohol consumption and stifling mid-June heat.
Yes, despite reports of consistent clouds attendees were lucky enough to enjoy two and a half days of scorching sun before Billy Idol took to the stage on Sunday afternoon and, along with his brand of tacky ‘80s pop punk, brought a colossal rain that sent thousands of hardened rockers running for their tents in a desperate bid to stay dry, leaving the arena grounds relatively deserted for the bands unlucky enough to be billed in prime-storm time, just before the crowd returned to witness Steve Tyler’s mammoth scream send the clouds reeling into the distance, and beneath the awesome beat of ‘Walk This Way’, Download 2010 came to a suitably partied-out climax.