That’s right, DOWNLOAD FESTIVAL is almost upon us, and with less than a week to go until the campsite opens and the hoards of eager rock fans start streaming into Donington Park, we’ve compiled a list of the Top Ten Best Download Moments over the years. If you have any others you can think of, drop a comment!
10. AEROSMITH’S LAST UK APPEARANCE, 2017
Nothing strikes more anticipation than attending what’s been promoted as a band’s last ever performance in the area; that’s what brought all the attention to classic rockers Aerosmith. They made their mark building up to the weekend as billing their appearance as their “last UK” appearance ever. Looking back, their set is viewed as a hit-or-miss in the history of the festival, but there’s no lying that they did indeed make an impact – one way or another.
9. BABYMETAL JOIN DRAGONFORCE ONSTAGE, 2015
It’s exciting enough to have the pleasure to host London metal muses Dragonforce and bring their unique namesake force and power to the masses, but the hype doubles – perhaps triples – when they bring on a surprise right out of their back (stage) pocket! That surprise, of course, is their unveiling the appearance of Japanese rock then-trio Babymetal. A welcome shock, a working collaboration, and a sight to behold for every heavy metal fan that weekend.
8. MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE’S FRIDAY HEADLINE SET, 2007
If there was one band no one could avoid in 2007, it was the leaders of the 2000s emo movement, My Chemical Romance. Promoting the overly theatrical, philosophical and rock opera-esque record ‘The Black Parade’, the band took the first headline slot on Friday night and set the weekend to be one of catchy riffs, soulful lyrics, and true aesthetic pleasure. Love the group or loathe them, there’s no denying they were ideal Download headliners.
7. SYSTEM OF A DOWN’S COMEBACK SET, 2011
System of a Down had a whirlwind rise to fame through the late 1990s and early 2000s, but like the industry’s best, they needed space and announced a hiatus in 2006. There was no telling when the group would make their righteous return but then at Download in 2011, they got the gang back together and wowed the crowds with an unforgettable Saturday headline set. And of course, they received the warmest welcome back to the UK.
6. OZZY OSBOURNE’S CLOSING SET, 2018
Download has the greatest reputation for bringing both the newest blood in the scene, and the gods and legends of the past and the present. Bringing the best every year, the tradition continued when bringing the true prince of darkness himself, Ozzy Osbourne to close the weekend in the true unique style only the man himself could. Refusing to retire from the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle he’s grown accustom to, the world hasn’t seen the end of Ozzy yet!
5. AC/DC PERFORM ON THEIR VERY OWN STAGE, 2010
2010 brought a sight to behold for Download attendees, as when everyone gathered to the main stage that weekend, they were greeted by a massive shock: another stage! Attached to the main stage was an exact replica, and later that night it was confirmed that the extra space was indeed demanded by and used by headliners AC/DC. Diva-like? Perhaps, but did it make the set any less fascinating to witness? Not a chance.
4. KORN REFUSE TO CANCEL AND BRING IN GUESTS, 2006
Desperate times call for desperate measures! Korn refused to cancel their 2006 set when frontman Jonathan Davis fell ill unexpectedly, and instead decided to fill the Davis-shaped hole with a handful of guests. Ranging from Avenged Sevenfold’s M Shadows to Stone Sour’s Corey Taylor, the band managed to save themselves from one major unentertaining disaster and gave an unforgettable set with all bands involved, for all fanbases.
3. SLIPKNOT’S HEADLINING DEBUT, 2009
Bringing their talents back to the main stage ten years later, it’s evident that Slipknot will always be here to make Download the best festival of the summer. Making their main stage debut in 2009, the masked masters of music took the chance to show they had what it takes to command the crowd and make the night one to remember. Frontman Corey Taylor notably fell in love with the Download atmosphere that weekend – bring on Saturday night!
2. METALLICA PLAYS A SURPRISE SET WITH A LOOPHOLE, 2003
Let’s take it all the way back to the first annual Download Festival way back in 2003 and how Metallica saved the day (sort of). After a last-minute cancellation, the band were called upon to take the headline slot but after contractual commitments prevented them from taking the headline position, they pulled strings and abused the loopholes. They were pushed between two other acts on the stage and ended up giving the show that was originally deemed “impossible”. Metalheads have never been so thankful for legal loopholes than they were that very night.
Special thanks to Metallica for saving the day, saving the weekend, and helping to kickstart an annual rock adventure in Download.
1. LINKIN PARK PLAYS ‘HYBRID THEORY’ IN FULL, 2014
There are many moments that don’t feel so special or stand out so memorably until they’re looked back upon a great deal of time later. This is what makes this moment number one to hundreds and thousands of music fans, and especially to Linkin Park fans of then and now.
When the nu-metal pioneers took the headline slot in 2014, no one was ready for a real shot into music history the way they did it, and to this day the memories of this set are looked upon with nostalgia, pride, and yet tinged with tragic pain from the unexpected death of lead vocalist Chester Bennington. The band spent their time wisely reliving their rise in the industry by playing the entirety of their 2000 masterpiece, ‘Hybrid Theory’ to the many cheers and roars of the adoring fans before them. That was a night unlike any other, and it’s a tale to tell for years and years to come as a large part of the legacy that Linkin Park has built and is continuing to build with every passing moment of time.
Again, as stated earlier, at the time it was an epic sight – and sound – but wasn’t taken to be as pivotal as it is looking back at it five years later. Of course, it does strike feelings of sadness and despair due to Bennington’s death in 2017; but the night should be praised as a representation of his life, and not dampened by the events of his passing. As ‘Hybrid Theory’ was a record that shaped many people’s lives and minds, then and now, young and old, it should be a night that is kept alive as proof that no one is ever alone and especially that everyone is a big family at events like Download. Everyone loves and cares for everyone else, and no one is alone and deserves to be alone.
Linkin Park taking over the night with ‘Hybrid Theory’ will always be one of the greatest moments in the history of Download Festival – but truly, there will never be a moment that brings on so much emotion as this one.
WORDS: JO COSGROVE
Download Festival runs 14th-16th June at Donington Park.