10 bands that defined Download 2024

Download 2024 artists on stage
(Image credit: Alt Blk Era: Matt Higgs; Hanabie: Gobinder Jhitta; Heilung: Matt Higgs; Bambie Thug: Sarah Louise Bennett)

The mud, the sweat, the tears, the mud, the mud, the mud...Download 2024 was certainly one for the history books and not always for the best reasons, with a near-unprecedented deluge for the first few days of the festival, last minute band drop-outs and technical difficulties aplenty. Not that such things would stop 80,000 rock and metal fans from having the time of their lives, of course. Despite the setbacks, a classic weekend of Download mayhem was had, including some unforgettable performances and moments that will live with the festival forever. Here, then, are ten sets that defined Download 2024 more than any other.

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Hanabie’s own “Harajuku-core” is an unapologetic blend of styles and the Japanese four-piece attacked the Opus Stage with the exact same fearless energy. Giddily skipping between guttural metalcore, sugary pop, 90s rock and the occasional burst of high-octane rap, it was a relentless 30-minute set, big on fun. There were moments of slick synchronicity between the four-piece as the band unapologetically leaned into Babymetal-inspired territory, but there was also a whole lot of playful chaos as well. Vocalist Yukina started the show by waving a Union Jack flag, while bassist Hetsu proudly drunk a beer, cheersing the audience for making their festival debut such a success. It might have been their first time at Download, but Hanabie made themselves right at home.

The Callous Daoboys

Regular mathcore too logical for you? Give the Callous Daoboys a go! The Atlanta sextet don’t just play their genre at its wildest – they throw in some baroque pop singalongs and violins to make their delirium extra glorious. Memorable banter from frontman Carson “Never buy a car!” Pace and unhinged samples between tracks (Metallica’s Fuel and Pendulum’s Tarantula, anyone?) only confirmed this set’s place as a distinct Download debut. Plus, a rapt audience inside the Dogtooth tent suggests that these endearing wackos will return. The journey to hearing Star Baby getting blasted out from the main stage started here, people.


Calling Heilung a “live band” is almost as reductive as calling Martin Scorsese an “amateur filmmaker”. The Norse ‘amplified history’ trio expanded to a 30-person-strong lineup for their onstage ceremonies, which are painstakingly honed to include mass dancing, skin-shaking chants and faux-sacrificial rituals. In the daylight on the second stage, it would have been easy for the collective to lose their mystique. Instead, the light did nothing to damage their aura, and the show became another victory in the ascent of the Viking troupe. Glastonbury will not know what hit it when they head there next month.

Bambie Thug

Fresh from stunning Eurovision with their Wargasm/Cassyette co-write Doomsday Blue, Ireland’s ‘ouija pop’ artist Bambie Thug arrived in a quirky whirl of confidence, dressed like a performer from a Berlin fetish club - a welcome burst of theatricality on a dreary morning. But the best moment came when they deftly switched from the song Trash - performed while wearing a high vis jacket and actually getting inside a bin - to a cover of The Cranberries’ Zombie in solidarity with Palestine. Tears were shed.

Alt Blk Era

Alt Blk Era take great pleasure in ripping up the metal rulebook. Sure, other bands have bought together rap, rock, punk and dance but the Beckett-Messam sisters take each of those styles to the extreme. Nyrobi and Chaya didn’t waste any time easing the Download audience into this bold new world, either. From the moment they charged onto the Dogtooth Stage, the pair were leaders of a glitching, snarling rave that effortlessly bounced between genres, tempos and emotions. Catch Me If You Can is all dreamy and ethereal while the thunderous Freak Show is a fierce outsider anthem that sees Alt Blk Era refusing to take prisoners. The pair covered a lot of ground in their short, vibrant set but the Download crowd clearly loved every moment.

Bleed From Within

Thanks to lingering tech problems, Bleed From Within’s Saturday slot was reduced to a ridiculously brief 20 minutes. That Glasgow’s extreme metal firebrands were able to not only overcome but also prove a highlight of the weekend says everything about their craft, class and brutality. In a shorter timespan than an episode of Family Guy, Scott Kennedy and the boys ignited their Opus Stage onlookers, with pyro and killer hooks flying out like hellfire missiles. A cover of Enter Sandman with comedians Rob Beckett and Romesh Ranganthan singing only reaffirmed how great a triumph over adversity this set was.

Enter Shikari

After headlining Download Pilot, it feels like there’s an extra feeling of warmth extended towards Enter Shikari, who burst onto the stage on Saturday evening like the rainbows that appeared during their set, all positivity and inclusivity. After going down to the fans at the barrier, singer Rou Reynolds then turned back to the stage, and teetered before the soup of mud on the floor that separated them. “I’m tempted…” he teases, before allowing himself to flop into it. Even though it seeped into his in-ears, he gamely finished the set with a big grin on his face, just like us. 

Rou Reynolds in the mud

(Image credit: Andrew Whitton)

Limp Bizkit

No one throws a metal party like Limp Bizkit, and true to form, Fred Durst's nu metal warriors lay waste to Download's main stage for the first time in 15 years. Rollin' back the years with a hits-filled set, Jacksonville's finest even cheekily dropped hallmark anthem Break Stuff twice, making sure they milked every single possible drip of nostalgia from arguably the main stage set of the weekend. They're a certified festival headliner in the States at this point. Over twenty years since they pulled out of that very first Download, surely a first headline set at Donington is on the cards before all is said and done?


The youngest person to ever perform at Download, Harper was making history and laying the foundations for the future of the festival/heavy music. Admirably, she already has a fearsome voice and a commanding presence, her stagecraft reminiscent of Courtney LaPlante, who has been something of a role model/mentor. And while she’s still short on original songs, a cover of Bring Me The Horizon’s Chelsea Smile made the pit go off. Given her inexperience, it would be easy to make allowances for a sub-par set, but Harper didn’t need any. 

Parkway Drive

The announcement video went out on Sunday morning via social media, with typical Aussie charm. “Where are we playing today?” the boys wondered, standing in front of a tour bus. “I was trying to download the schedule, but it’s not downloading for some reason”… etc etc. So by the time the afternoon rolled around, the Dogtooth tent was packed an hour in advance for Download’s ‘secret set’. Instead of a backdrop, Parkway Drive had a cute surfboard sign with the initials PWD etched on it. Then they played all the big hitters, reminding us that even a year away from the UK is far too long. 

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