10 things we learned on the Saturday of Download festival 2017

Biffy Clyro
Biffy Clyro (Image credit: Kevin Nixon)

With System Of A Down’s Friday night headline set still ringing in the ears of Downloaders, it’s time to crack open another warm beer and baby wipe away the mud from your face, because Saturday is here AND IT STILL HASN’T RAINED! With Biffy Clyro topping the bill tonight, there’s a lot going on around the site to get everyone in the mood for dangerous levels of partying. Here’s what we learned from our Saturday experience.

The weather gods are still on Download’s side

This time last year, Black Sabbath had played their final festival show in a near-deluge, and people were beginning to sink into the swamp. This time around the rain has almost entirely stayed away, there’s firm footing underfoot, and the punters are working on their tans. Bonus weather trivia: the lack of rain effectively makes the site more compact, as it’s much easier to get around when every step finds solid ground. More of this next year, please.

Devin Townsend would make a good Prime Minister

While Theresa May attempts to form her “coalition of chaos” with whoever’s willing to listen, the Right Honourable Devin Townsend is better placed than many to unite the nation, even if he is Canadian. He’s modest - the “Lower Mid Tier Prog Metal” t-shirts show both humour and humility - but he’s also a natural leader, talking to the crowd about strength and unity and the brotherhood of metal. He ends it all by asking strangers to embrace, and all the way up the hill people do just that. His set’s pretty good, too.

Devin Townsend

Devin Townsend (Image credit: Kevin Nixon)

Alestorm are going to need a bigger boat

Everyone’s favourite pirate-themed novelty metal act draw a vast crowd to the second stage, many of them dressed for the occasion in pirate hats, eye patches and parrots. Saturday isn’t stuffed with bands you’d necessarily think of as “party acts”, so perhaps it’s only a festival thing… or maybe it’s part of something bigger. Either way, we can imagine the boozy Scots will find themselves further up the bill when they return from wherever their adventures take them next. Batten the hatches! Blow the man down! Etc.

We still don’t know what the deal with curly fries is

We asked this question yesterday, and no one has been able to supply a satisfactory answer.

If you’re not headlining, pretend that you are

It might sound obvious, but the main stage is a big place, and it requires a lot of personality to fill it. SikTh hit the boards at lunchtime, and while the wind might toy with their sound, they act as if they own the festival. They use the runway that extends into the crowd to its fullest extent, and Mikee Goodman acts like he’s been coming here and dominating for years. Ballsy.


SikTh (Image credit: Kevin Nixon)

The UK might have forgotten about AFI

Heading into the final straight of Saturday, California goth punks AFI stride out onto the main stage to remind everyone why they were such a formidable force in the mid-noughties. Having barely set foot in the UK for the best part of a decade (aside from the recent dates with Deftones), you’d expect thousands of fans to be down the front calling for blood… but unfortunately that isn’t the case. Despite putting on a devastatingly good greatest hits set (and Miss Murder still sounding just as fresh as it did in 2006), there’s a poor turnout from the Download contingent. Maybe AFI’s reluctance to play the UK has led to apathy from music lovers, or maybe it’s because Max and Iggor are levelling the second stage at the same time by playing Roots in full. Hopefully Davey Havok and co. will come back soon, though.

Bobby Roode is a wanker

Wrestling fans have been packing out the WWE NXT tent all weekend and tonight we see NXT Champion Bobby Roode take on Kassius Ohno in the main event. And of course, with this being Download, the chants aren’t the ones you usually hear on TV, with hundreds of fans chanting “Bobby Roode is a wanker, is a wanker” - much to his annoyance. This eventually morphs into chants of “Glorious wanker!” which sends Roode into a rage, storming out of the ring. However, during the match, while holding Kassius in an abdominal stretch, he tells the crowd to “wank on that!”, to the delight of everyone in the tent.

Rob Zombie is still king

Rob can be hit and miss at festivals, but today is was a solid stone-cold hit to the face. Schlocky, B-movie visuals and gallons of fire blast out from the Zippo Encore stage to a capacity crowd, all enthralled at the mere sight of everyone’s favourite master of horror. Living Dead Girl, More Human Than Human, Never Gonna Stop all send the unwashed masses into spasm, with even newie Everybody’s Fucking In A UFO receiving a hero’s welcome (and two crowdsurfing aliens). Covers of Blitzkrieg Bop and School’s Out only add to the fun factor, and Dragula hammers home just how many tunes Zombie is actually responsible. This is very much how it’s done.

Rob Zombie

Rob Zombie (Image credit: Kevin Nixon)

John 5’s guitars are better than yours

Guitars that illuminate, guitars made of stained glass, guitars full of green slime that moves – Rob Zombie guitarist John 5 makes everyone else’s six-strings look beige by comparison. Even John’s teeth light up different colours! Something slightly different to just another flying V.

Biffy Clyro love a bit of pyro

While Friday night’s closers System Of A Down opted for strobes and thick coloured lighting, Biffy have brought a ridiculous amount of production, complete with a mesmerising light show and screens that engulf the entire main stage. But they’ve brought some extra goodies to end things with a bang. As Stingin’ Bell rings out across Donington, the sky is lit up like the Fourth Of July as fireworks rocket into the air from behind the main stage and on platforms either side of the sound desk. Suddenly the sky is ablaze with colourful fireballs, burning a mark into the retinas of everyone present to remind us that Biffy are one of the greatest bands in the UK right now.

10 things we learned on the Friday of Download festival 2017