FESTIVAL REVIEW: Download 2014


Ever since I was a teenager, Download Festival was always the one place which I’d aspire to attend one day. The highlights which were aired on Kerrang! and Sky Arts always made it look like an escape from everyday life, a chance to let your hair down and have a little bit of way overdue fun. Have never been to the festival before, I was unsure on what to expect of the whole weekend. However, reality completely surpassed my expectations. I never knew seeing so many live bands could be that much fun! Download turned out to be not just a place of music, but a community where nobody judged anyone, everyone was friendly and free hugs/high fives were given on an hourly basis. This was definitely the place where I needed to be.

Waking up on the Friday was a glorious feeling. The sun was out, there was cider to drink and there was live music to be enjoyed – I couldn’t ask for anything better. Starting the day off were Ohio metalcore rockers Miss May I. Needless to say, I hadn’t listened to these much before, but they blew me away. Combining screamo/clean vocals with infectious melodies which leave you wanting more, Miss May I opened the Stephen Sutton stage terrifically. Playing their latest single ‘Gone’ and their hit track ‘Hey Mister’, Miss May I were a delight to see.


© Brendan Donahue Photography

Next on the main stage, were a Japanese metalcore electronica act called Crossfaith. Having toured with Bring Me The Horizon and While She Sleeps, this band have become a crowd favourite in the metalcore scene. Heading straight into a fast-paced whirl of anthemic dubstep infused hits, Crossfaith completely won the hearts of the early morning drinkers, the music addicts and those who were nursing hangovers.


© Carlos Clayman Photography

Up next, the eagerly anticipated welsh quartet Skindred take to the stage. Being a complete ‘out there’ band on their style of music, Skindred crash into a reggae infused punk set. With songs such as ‘Nobody’ and ‘Kill The Power’, Skindred are an asset to the UK rock scene. The charasmatic frontman, Benji Webbe got the audience participating in activities such as a festival Harlem Shake as well as the traditional ‘Newport Helicopter’. A sea of clothing spinning above the audiences’ heads is something which I’l never forget.


© Jody Kirton – Phlex Media

Within Temptation are a symphonic metal band which I’ve seen countless times, and they’ve never let me down yet. Having never seen them at a festival before, this was a new experience for me. Sharon Den Adel’s vocals always leave the hairs on my arms standing on edge. Her voice is so angelic, that it has the potential to break glass. Lucky, there was none of that around eh?


© Dorien Goetschalckx

As I’m not a huge Avenged Sevenfold fan, it was time for me to get out of the crowd and venture on down to the Zippo Encore stage. Here, Flogging Molly took to the stage. With their irish-infused charm, it’s difficult not to fall in love with them. Lighting the stage up with violins, tin whistle’s, accordions and banjos, this band was all about fun. Filling their set with some of the more popular singles such as ‘Drunken Lullabies’, ‘What’s Left of the Flag’ & ‘The Seven Deadly Sins’, the crowd let go into a mixture of Irish jigs, sing-a-longs and chants.


The headliner of the night,The Offspring were one of the bands which I had wanted to see ever since I went to high school. After hearing mixed reviews of their live performances, it was time to see what they were really like. Opening with their 1994 album ‘Smash’ in full, it’s safe to say that the Offspring were one of the highlights of my entire festival. With every beat, gang chants and crowd sing-a-long’s in place, they completely tore the stage apart.


© Ashley Beliveau

Saturday was the day I had been looking forward to ever since I bought the ticket. Linkin Park were headling. Being a band, that my mum and brother introduced me to and grew up listening to, the performance of Hybrid Theory was going to be something special. But until that moment arrived, I started the day off by seeing seeing Southampton’s finest metalcore outfit Bury Tomorrow. Starting their set off with flawless vocals, catchy chorus’ and complete riffage, there was no better way to start the day. Blasting out ‘Lionheart’ and ‘The Honourable Reign’ at 1pm was exactly what was needed to start the day properly.


Sheffield metallers While She Sleeps bring the noise with a set full of screamo anthems. Opening with ‘Death Toll’ and carrying on out with ‘This Is The Six’, ‘Seven Hills’ and ‘The North Stands For Nothing’, there was nothing more that these five lads could do to make their set any better. Being one of the first shows, since Loz’s throat surgery, they came back to the stage with an exceptional amount of confidence and smashed the Stephen Sutton stage into pieces.


© Giles Smith

Heading into the Pepsi Max tent to cool down from the sun for a few bands was one of my more good ideas of the weekend. In this tent, Marmozets slammed down some shapes, screams and serious fun times. Having not really listened to them before, they pleasantly surprised me. A female vocalist is sometimes a hit or miss in rock music, but Becca Macintyre’s vocals were definitely a hit. Filling the set with songs such as ‘Why Don’t You Hate Me?’ and ‘Move Shake Hide’, there was no chance that the crowd wouldn’t be moving by the end.


© Andrew Whitton

Lonely The Brave were the band up next in the Pepsi Max tent, and they’re one of them bands who I have fallen in love with ever since I saw them in 2013. Everything about Lonely The Brave is flawless. The vocals, the melodies and the dynamics were out of this world. As the majority of the people in the tent were there for Lonely The Brave, the atmosphere was undeniably magical. This band definitely have the potential to headline major small and large festivals in the near future.


Heading back to the main stage to let out my inner emo kid, Fall Out Boy took to the stage. These will always be one of my favourite bands to see live. Uniting people with FOB classics from ‘From Under The Cork Tree’ to the new hip, trendy pop-rock music from ‘Save Rock and Roll’. Every song was how I imagined it to be but with the complete crowd sing-a-longs. It’s safe to say that everybody loves a little bit of FOB once in a while, even if you are completely strictly ‘metal’.

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© Jack Edinger

The atmosphere and excitement grew in the air for the pioneers of nu-metal Linkin Park. Hearing Hybrid Theory in full was something which I’m going to remember for the rest of my life. Starting off with ‘Papercut’ and not stopping until ‘Pushing Me Away’ was finished; the crowd went wild, the beats got heavy and the sun shined more than ever. Not only did Linkin Park play Hybrid Theory, they also played hits from their previous albums such as ‘New Divide’, ‘What I’ve Done’ and ‘Bleed It Out’. All in all, Linkin Park were the cherry on top of the cake of one of the best days I’ve had in a long time.


© Adam Elmakias

The Sunday of Download was one of the hardest things to wake up for. My feet were aching, my back was aching and my head hurt, but the prospect of seeing a few of my favourite bands made life seem that much better. The first band that I saw on the day were Michigan favourites We Came As Romans. Blending metalcore with pop-punk and dubstep, WCAR started the day off with a bang.


© Joel Pilotte

Not really knowing many of the bands until later on, I decided to check out one of the lesser known acts on the Pepsi Max stage. Up first were the mental metalheads in Feed The Rhino. Filling their set with riffs, licks and fast-paced screaming, FTR started the party in the right way. Being one of those bands who always terrify me, they set that standard from the beginning. Whirling around the floor creatinng numerous pits and walls of deaths, their set had no boundaries.


The secret band for the festival was going to be one of the days highlights. Black Stone Cherry, a band who play arena tours, were playing a 25 minute set on the third stage. This excited me beyond belief as they were actually a band I’d never see before. Stepping out onto the stage, the crowd went wild for them. With the outstanding bluesgrass style vocals from Chris Robertson, shivers were sent down my spine. Opening the set with ‘Rain Wizard’ and going straight into songs such as ‘Rain Man’, ‘Lonely Train’, ‘Blame It On The Boom Boom’, Black Stone Cherry delivered the goods.


© Jonathon Newsome – Unsung Melody

Heading back to the main stage to see Steel Panther can only be described as glam-tastic.Their set full of comedy jokes, hair metal and boobs, there was no chance that Steel Panther weren’t going to be a hit at Download. With the family friendly rule in force this year, they got 17 girls up on stage to make out, strip and dance. Typical Steel Panther.


The penultimate band of the festival which I saw was The Used on the Pepsi Max stage. The Used are a band which I started listening to when I was 14 and will always have a place deep down in my heart. Tearing into songs such as ‘I Caught Fire (In Your Eyes)’, ‘The Taste of Ink’ and ‘A Box Full Of Sharp Objects’, The Used were a wave of nostalgia which hit me like a tidal wave. Bert McCracken (vocalist) couldn’t quite believe that the vast amount of the tent was singing and dancing along to the music that they produced 12 years ago. It was a sight to see and definitely something which these four lads from Utah should be proud of.


© Alexey Makhov

The last band of the festival was one I was unsure about. Not being a fan of Aerosmith, I sat on the hill to watch the performance. To my surprise, I knew most of their songs. Cramming in countless hits into their 95 minute set such as ‘Dude Looks Like A Lady’, ‘Dream On’ and of course the timeless classic ‘I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing’, Aerosmith were on top form. They even managed to play a cheeky cover of The Beatles’ ‘Come Together’. It was a damn perfect end to the festival, they got the crowd dancing, singing and are just a legendaric band. Not paying any notice to the curfew of the night, they played more and more songs as the night went on. Ending with ‘Mama Kin’, it has to be said that Aerosmith are truly America’s greatest rock n’ roll band.


© Zack Whitford

If you enjoyed Download Festival as much as our reviewer did, earlybird tickets for Download 2015 are already on sale!


Written by Nikki Limbrick.