Download festival 2014, an event I had longed to go to for years. This year Linkin Park were headlining…. a band that I love and tend to tour the UK, never.
So I bought tickets for me and my friend and booked a local campsite near by.
We were extremely lucky with the weather and had glorious sunshine.
We camped at Kingsmill Caravan Park. This was supposed to be around a 45 minute walk to the festival however, they offered a taxi ride to Download for £5. As we were already running late and had not the foggiest of how to put up the tent we booked on the last taxi of the day.
My best friend has never in her life been camping. I on the other hand have but not for many years so other fellow campers took great enjoyment and laughter in our efforts of fighting with someone elses tent that neither of us were familiar with, that smelt like a wet dog and that we didn’t have enough pegs for. However we, in some miracle, managed through the power of cider and we were off to the festival.
If you ever stay at this campsite my recommendation is do not book the £5 taxi. It takes you up the road and that is it, it doesn’t actually drop you off anywhere near the festival and you still have to walk a good few miles. We chatted to the two old dudes who were on our bus who had been loving metal since 1945.
When we finally got into Download we carefully stashed our hipflasks and casually walked towards the gates. We told the dude that searched us that we had unopened bottles of coke in our bag – to which he informed us he was only looking for hipflasks and glass. I must have a face of an angel as this guy clearly thought they is no way I would be using my delicates for smuggling Jack Daniels.
So we were there, finally DOWNLOAD. My excitement was at increased levels of peaking which only grew with the rumbles that could be felt through the ground and in the air.
We walked straight into pools of zombies who more than played the part, an overflow from the Fridays zombie fest, but we were not sure if they were workers, fellow rockers or people who had been hard at it for too long. It was a shame they didn’t continue the theme for the full weekend, a field of head banging zombies would have been quite something to be part of.
Rather than feel left out my friend and I decided to part take and get involved in the dress up, so we invested in some indian head dress attire. These were not cheap so I swore to get my monies worth and despite the itchy head of it, wear for the duration of the festival.
This was a brilliant buy, nothing enhances a head bob like an Indian head dress. I felt like my head was an extension of a tall swaying palm tree that elegantly moved in time with the music, much to the annoyance of all those around me.
This festival, as with most, operates a beer token boozy affair. I bought 15 beer tokens for £52. This seemed steep but this bought you one kick ass big cider for 1 token, so on reflection, this was bloody awesome.
We also had our hipflasks, that had been bestowed to us at a 30 Seconds to Mars gig like trophies of high measure. My friend, in her wisdom, poured these brimming hipflasks between two drinks resulting in me breathing pure fumes that, had they been lit, would have surly got us firmly removed from the fields forever. I bimbled my way through they rest of the event propelled in a buzzed fog.
My preconceptions around Download were completely unfounded. This is, by far, the cleanest festival I have ever been to. All toilets were manned with a steward per block, constantly mopping them out and replenishing loo roll. No need for luxury loos here – hurrahh! It seems lesson numbero uno was to be – rockers have nothing less than clean butts. Damn right too M/
I have to be honest, I wasn’t sure what the vibe would be at a prestigious rock festival like Download. Having previously experienced varied receptions I was a little intrigued as to how this would play out. However, Download was off the rictorscale friendly vibe. I have never met so many new faces at a festival, maybe the beaming sunshine helped, maybe it was the amount of beer tokens I had invested, either way, it was crazy amazing.
The first guy we met was from Poland but this didn’t stop me trying to speak French to him, even his declarations of ‘I don’t speak French’ couldn’t stop me. I was on a roll, to be fair to him, I could have been talking to a blade of grass – Jack Daniels has a lot to answer for.
We ended up meeting random groups and some how we merged us all into one big group. So we sat, smoked rollies, drank cider and made metaphorical daisy chains. The sun was beaming, the laughter was bellowing and the chatter was like a gentle buzz on a summers night. Then, out of nowhere, my ears pricked up to an all too familiar sound, but my head wouldn’t compute. I turned to my friend and to say that I thought the person singing sounded somewhat like Linkin Park, we giggled at the notion as it would be FAR too early for the band we had been waiting to see command the stage.
Another 5 minutes passed before I asked again, we synchronised watches and quickly realised that they had not only started but were a good ten minutes into the set. I haven’t sprinted that fast since I was forced into doing the 800 metres in sports day, running fast not for the enjoyment but because I just wanted the ordeal to be well and truly over so that I could go back to hiding out in the loos. Thankfully this sprint was for a better cause.
So we scrambled into the middle of the bouncing crowd and started what was to be one of the best gigs to date. I jumped around like a bouncy ball that had been launched into a small concrete room, hitting wall to wall and only gaining speed opposed to having an inclination of stopping. Linkin Park were amazing and lived up to if not beyond expectations and the crowd were equally awesome as we made further acquaintances, hugging strangers, with the feeling of being amongst friends whilst in unison screaming the lyrics into the summers nights air.
Linkin Park have been around for a while but they have all the sprite and spunk of a new fresh kick ass band. Chester Bennington demanded attention, owned that stage and completely delivered on all acounts. I was torn between standing in complete awe and giving into the desire to let my body fit as if being electrocuted by some invisible force, the latter won.
Linkin Park are by far one of my favourite bands. They spur me on when I run, draw emotion from the pit of my stomach when I am feeling sad and give me the strength when I am feeling weak. Many artists I love for providing me something when I need it, but it isn’t often I find a band which provides such a spectrum. They are epic… I love so many of their songs but ‘In the end’ always manages to stop me in my tracks.
After the gig they put on the World Cup on one of the screens. As this isn’t something I am into my friend bought me food to keep me happy, at least, she told me it was food. I am a lover of spice, I therefore mistakenly ordered a chilli burger, thinking it would consist of a spicy burger… I couldn’t have been more wrong. This actually was a burger, smothered in chilli con carne, sloppy joes is what sprung to mind… the challenge, should I accept it, was to eat this with just my hands…. this was to have a tragic outcomes.
We had to walk home to the caravan park due to lack of funds but we figured that a 45 minute walk, if nothing else, would do us good. How wrong we were, it didn’t help we walked to the Download campsite first but the walk was more like 45 miles opposed to 45 minutes.
It was funny at first but the booze quickly wore off and the more we went off the beaten track the more like I felt like I was due to star in a slasher movie. We had to navigate long twisty country lanes with no lighting that were blanketed with a thick fog. My mind started to wander and started plotting the scene, bushes that housed serial killers, every bend presenting a new danger – it was a bad movies paradise. I jumped around nearly as much as I had at the actual gig but this was much less enjoyable.
Towards the end we were both walking like geriatrics. My friends legs were hurting and my hip felt like someone had given me a stelth hip replacement and instead of giving me a new improved hip had slammed in a wooden joint that rattled around in a non responsive axle. This only heightened my already over active imagination – now I was certain we were going to die!
After what felt like an eternity of stiffling all mumblings of, who is there, what was that, to refrain from completely freaking my friend, we finally saw the light of our campsite. Our reward, a tradition of chowing down on cheese and biscuits.
As the sun began to rise we drifted off to sleep. We woke no more than two hours later to the clatter of other campers, who probably did the sensible option of taxis, packing up. The tent was stiffling, I felt like I was in the inside of a balloon that was being blown up with hot, clammy breath.
I had the hangover from hell coupled with sloppy joe gut rot. Sitting up I felt the colour drain from me like someone that had just thrown a bucket of water at a water colour painting. My friend, seeing the hell I was enduring, kindly started opening the tent doors to get some fresh air to my melting brain. The problem with double air beds is that when you walk on one side, it flings the other side into a tidal wave of uncertainty. I felt like a ship rearing enormous waves to then come crashing down onto the hard flat of the sea. Frantically being tossed from side to side, I was desperately holding onto my very being to prevent all being lost with my stomach getting thrown overboard. It was a hangover of epic proportions and I was at the height of it.
Once the fresh air hit me I could feel my skin flush from white to grey as my body glided into the next phase of cold sweats. This round… I won.
Download is a great festival. My only tips, ensure you book to stay on site. The tickets overall are not that expensive and it is worth it to ensure you are not waiting for taxis or having to endure the slasher movie walk.
Also if you do not like enduring tropical like illnesses – stay away form the chilli burger. It isn’t what you think.