Ah, Download – that festival where people from around the world come together on the undulating grounds of Donington Park, forgetting any political, cultural or personal differences they may have to celebrate the glorious tenets of metal as one.
Download 2013 marked my first international metal festival, and damn did it set the bar high.
I hadn’t set out to write a survival guide at all, it just sort of happened while I was reliving old memories years later. But amid all the tongue-in-cheek below, you might find something useful to take with you in 2017.
1) Don’t bring half your weight in stuff
Ok, this doesn’t really apply if you’re a tourist with a shite load of baggage and no choice in the matter. But look at us! Damn clowns. Make sure you travel light to avoid that “first-day-of-high-school” syndrome.
As a side note, do NOT – under any circumstances – buy canned macaroni & cheese. It’s basically old feet in a can.
2) Ponchos are advisable
Not only do they help protect you from Britain’s leaky ceiling, but they can also negate the damage caused by the curious festival tradition of urinating into a cup and throwing it forward, with great enthusiasm, into an unsuspecting crowd. Unless you’re lucky enough to have one of these “piss cups” land in front of you and explode upwards, into and around your face.
From a basic health and safety standpoint, do not eat the cups either. Bad dog.
3) Avoid this guy
Nice chap, just not too sure I want what he’s having.
4) Enjoy every minute of sunshine
Shortly after the drug-induced Queens of the Stone Age set, someone told me this was the longest stretch of constant sunshine they’d seen at Download. I estimated it had been approximately six hours.
By the time the sun started to sink the clouds were back, so enjoy it while you can.
Download is all about rolling with the punches – sometimes quite literally. You’ll drop things in mud. You’ll fall in mud. You’ll eat a Cornish pasty that threatens to put you in the ER. And sometimes an elbow will land flush with the ridge of your nose in a mosh pit, as this lad kindly demonstrates.
Don’t let the little things stop you from having a brilliant time. He didn’t.
6) Grab a power nap when the moment is right
Is that Coal Chamber set just not cutting it? No worries. Find a comfortable patch of dirt and catch forty winks. Wake up and head towards beer. You’ll feel magic.
7) The urinals are more of a suggestion
And once you actually go inside one, they’re usually off the cards completely.
8) Soak in everything while you can
You just never know when it’s the last time you’ll see one of your heroes on stage.
Download is nothing short of a brilliant experience, and if you haven’t been I strongly suggest you make a plan. Until next time, Donington …
PS – Wellingtons. Buy them.