Here we go, into the home straight, it’s the final day of Download festival. Having seen System Of A Down and Biffy Clyro sign off proceedings over the previous two nights, it’s now time for the old guard of Aerosmith to step up to the plate and show everybody just how it’s done. In a field filled with some of the biggest names in classic rock and the final sendoff of The Dillinger Escape Plan, eclecticism is the order of the day. Here’s what we learned.
Orange Goblin have earned their spot
Having been a mainstay of British metal for over two decades, it’s heartening to see the London wrecking crew on the main stage of Download. No, it’s not the largest crowd in the world, but it means so much to everyone on and off stage. Countless days of blood, sweat and tears have been poured into the Goblin machine by Ben Ward and his messy men, and seeing them blast out their whiskey-stained riffs for all of Donington to hear is a clear symbol of recognition from the metal community. Plus, they always rule live.
Tom Araya is your favourite cuddly uncle
Slayer operating at full-throttle are still a fearsome proposition — and there are few things as thrilling as Kerry King churning out those apocalyptic riffs — but as Tom Araya gets older and more grizzled he’s like a Satanic Santa, outwardly scary but ready to break into a broad grin at the slightest provocation. Spending most of Seasons Of The Abyss barely able to sing because he’s giggling at some unseen incident is one of the weekend’s highlights.
We’ll not see the like of Dillinger Escape Plan again
Chaos. Carnage. Bedlam. There’s always been lot more to Dillinger than their apparent willingness to sacrifice personal health and safety for the sake of the live show, but it’s a big part of the experience. As Greg Puciato dives into the audience one final time (“I wanna be amongst the people!” he shrieks, before clawing his way towards the middle of the tent), you know people will be talking about their shows for years to come.
We’ve figured out the curly fries thing
After spending two days pondering the point of curly fries — someone even suggested they tasted better, as if the shape of a fried potato increases its deliciousness by a noticeable degree — we finally have it figured. Despite their undoubted aesthetic appeal, we think Facebook commenter Pete Runcieman probably has it nailed. “They take up more space in the tray than regular fries,” he says. “So they’re giving you less for your money and they’re making a bigger profit as a result. Simple.” Thanks Pete.
Those £2 pint pots are good idea
Despite the initial shock of an initial round of four drinks costing £8 more than it might, and despite drinking from the same glass all weekend, and despite the occasional scramble for neglected glasses by those wanting to make a few quid on the side, we think it’s a goods idea. The arena is so much cleaner without tens of thousands of cheap plastic glasses littering the grass, and the redemption points are run by Greenpeace, so many people will donate their returned deposits to a good cause.
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Quiet is the new loud
We don’t actually mean that. But when so much of what’s on show is about non-stop, balls-to-the-wall, eviscerating volume, one way to stand out is to head in the opposite direction. Anathema stroll on in the middle of Sunday afternoon and play a gently restrained set with plenty of light and shade, and it makes them sound like no one else all weekend. Not everyone’s convinced, though: “What’s this lame shite?”, asks the man to Hammer’s left, before he stomps off to watch Airbourne.
Chris Jericho is a rockstar
Opening the main stage at Download is no easy task, but one that Fozzy relish in. The weather is still holding up and there’s a healthy crowd piling into the arena for the final round, all here to watch Y2J and co. do their thing. Flanked by fire dancers, the Ayatollah Of Rock N Rolla has Donington in the palm of his giant hands. Oozing the same magnetism as we see in his ‘other job’ it’s hard to take your eyes off the WWE legend. WWE Superstars Ember Moon and Trent Severn even turn up at the side of stage to check out the action for themselves.
Steel Panther are still the ultimate party band
While not everyone’s cup of tea, it’s hard to deny Steel Panther’s charisma and passion for putting on a show. Playing the Download main stage in the late afternoon, a place they look and feel most at home, it’s very much a greatest hits set from the glamorous ones. Eyes Of A Panther, Just Like Tiger Woods, Community Property… the list goes on. There’s crudeness, lewdness, and everything in between from the hair-sprayed veterans. Don’t be surprised if they move up the bill next time round.
There’s not enough spandex
When you consider than the whole day is headlined by Aerosmith and that Steel Panther are hitting the main stage hard, you’d expect the field to be flooded with catsuits and tight pants that leave very little to the imagination, but it’s not the case. Sure, there’s one or two die-hards here and there, but there’s a definite lack of ‘80s spirit this afternoon. C’mon guys, get your lycra out!
Aerosmith are our history
Was this Boston’s finest’s final farewell? Maybe they’ll end up touring until Tyler and Perry are bent double over bed baths and zimmer frames, but if this is the way they’re bowing out, then they’re bowing out in style. One of the greatest bands ever, led by one of the greatest singers ever. The oldest band on the bill, and still one of the brightest. A masterclass.