About time I updated this again. I actually have loads of weird / obscure stuff I could write about sitting around. Like a Chinese-English dictionary from the 60’s, full of communist slogans. Or a book about an evil Wizard from 1870’s Spain. But oh well, I’ll write about something slightly more recent, Download! This year it ran from the 11th – 15th of June, and was headlined by Slipknot, Iron Maiden and (at last!) Rammstein.
I was in Camp Loner, as most of the other people I used to go with now have “proper” jobs and need to “be serious”. This time, Camp Loner had it’s own small camping field, right near the campsite village (and the loud rides that are never turned off). Camp Loner had a ‘central area’ with a load of gazebos stuck together, but me and some other people set up our own one. We never learned each other’s real names (XD). I can remember ‘Arris, Liverpool, Onesie man, Dude… and a bunch of others. I was Hobgoblin, because that was what they saw me drinking once I’d set the tent up XD.
I got up early, having packed all of my stuff. Dad drove me to where the bus would pick up, the company was called “Big Green Bus”, so he stopped next to a green bus. Of course, the name “Big Green Bus” doesn’t actually have any relation to the colour of the buses, but the green one was the one I wanted. I was the only person on it, until about 10 seconds before it was due to go, then loads of people who had been waiting further down the road all came wandering up and piled on, so it was actually full XD.
The fake money to put in a cheap wallet and leave on show in the tent. But Camp Loner was “secure”, so it didn’t get taken. I also had a bundle to throw at the band Chthonic XD.
All me stuff
I made this t-shirt to find fellow Camp Lonerers, but didn’t encounter any in the qeue XD. Then it started to rain, so I had to wear a hoodie over it.
For some reason the campsite village was besieged by hordes of Bananas and Pikachu’s. Later on there was a football tournament, with Banana and Pikachu teams XD.
After getting set up I talked to the people near me for a bit, then it rained a little and I got under the main gazebo area. One girl had her tent set up so the door opened directly out into it. She soon moved XD. I found a few people that were into anime and Japanese stuff, so I talked to them for a while. I also swapped a can of Hobgoblin for one of Bombadier, it was pretty decent.
Thursday is usually the “interesting” day at Download. There’s no bands on (apart from a few in the campsite village, at the Boardie Takeover, and one at the third stage, where the Boardie BBQ is held), so people wander about and socialise, or else go into Donington village and get some beer and supplies. I did the village walk, and found some people selling burgers in their gardens, which where usual fairground prices, not festival prices.
I saw the football match on the way out, too.
I got back to the camp, drunk a bit and sat around chatting, either with the people at the camp, or the crowd in the main Camp Loner area. Got talking to a Hungarian who said he went to a festival there, overslept, and woke up to find the inside of his tent was about 50 degrees. They get super hot in direct sunlight!
About the only picture I got of the camp I was in. The dilapidated state of the gazebo can be seen, we added extra ropes to hold it in place XD.
The weather at this stage was fairly changeable, and cloudy. We often kept our eyes on the clouds in the distance, to see what was coming next. As the afternoon went on, we saw this!
I was also faffing about trying to get a cheap MP3 player (filled with nothing but V8 wankers!) and some crappy battery powered speakers that hadn’t been switched on in 4 years working. The MP3 player would only play about 5 of the 50-odd tracks on a loop, for some reason, and the speakers weren’t all that loud. Anyway, the storm was getting closer and closer, and finally hit! The crappy gazebo was certainly put to the test:
After that little bit of entertainment, it got sunny and warm again.
These people on the other side of the fence from Camp Loner were playing some strange game involving running backwards and forwards, wrestling, and downing cans. Inevitably, somebody broke an ankle or something (well if Michael Owen managed it just by turning around too fast…):
Personally, I was making home-made flags with marker pens, and attaching them to the fence with a bunch of mini cable ties I’d “obtained”.
There was also one saying “Scream if you want to fuck Herman Li”, with the hastily coloured-in colours of the Kaiserreich flag. Because his name is Herman, so he must be German.
Late on Thursday a very cute, tall and short-haired girl called Lotus showed up. Shame one of her tent poles and many pegs didn’t XD. I helped her out with a ton of spare pegs I’d ended up with, for some reason. Later on I also went for a campsite wander and found her a spare pole, but it was too big.
That was the end of that day. Though actually the campsite wander was done late at night.
Thursday was also the last decent night’s sleep I had at the festival >.<, though they did put the cinema screen, just outside Camp Loner on. Shame they only had about 3 films, one of which was Terminator. There was a huge cheer when he said “I’ll be back” XD.
On Friday, Lotus’s friend from Malaysia arrived. I mentioned that a Malaysian likes me… though she’s a bit different to him. I don’t think he spoke a great deal of English, and also seemed angry a lot of the time. Probably because it seemed like the only things he’d bought were a cheap tent, a few spare clothes and a glass bottle of vodka XD. No airbed or mat either… he must have been freezing! Especially as my other Malaysian friend considers it “chilly” and doesn’t even put her fan on when the temperature hits 26 degrees XD.
Soon it was arena opening time, I dashed down there, only to have to line up outside anyway XD. I got in, looking at the still-pristine grass… it wasn’t gonna be like that for long!
Still, if you get to the arena first thing, you can “christen” an un-used bog! Who needs to pay for comfy crappers when you can just use yer loaf…
And after that, I parked myself at the second stage, waiting for the music to start. I had been planning to watch some bands, then leave and come back for some others. But I had a good place near the front, so just stayed there. The music began with Monster Truck:
Then onto Dir En Grey, who I’m not really a fan of, but the singer is cute because he’s so tiny. He has to stand on a box… haha. I thought one of their crew was fit, but when I zoom in on the pics he doesn’t look all that… though it could just be unfortunate camera timing. I once went to some superbikes, and took a pic of my dad with Shakey Byrne, but dad decided to talk about cameras at just the wrong moment, and there was a big queue behind me, so the resulting stupid pic had to do.
It tipped it down on and off for the first few bands
There was a load of Japanese people around for Dir En Grey, I even asked some woman if she’d heard of B’z. It’s seriously about time they played Download, in quite a high slot too! They sell out arenas in Japan, but nobody outside has even heard of them. With the departure of the Japanese people, I was able to get right on the front row! For Uriah Heep… who I was only barely aware of. Liked what I heard though. I had to pretend to be a fan to not annoy the megafans behind me (they got me holding some banner at one point XD). It contained to rain, but my ‘coat’ (such as it was) was sandwiched between me and the barrier, so I got wet.
After that, it was time for one of the bands I really wanted to see that day, DRAGONFORCE! …Shame I still only had one album of theirs at the time, still, the theme of their songs is not exactly hard to grasp. Oh and they have a Hong Kong Chinese guitarist who is very fit… though he looks as if he’s getting on a bit, but is only a year older than me XD.
But then again, I am “getting on a bit”.
I think I may have gone back to the campsite at this stage, possibly for hayfever medicine or something. But I’ve lost the clashfinder now, and plumb can’t remember the timings. The weather warmed up, anyway. I got a bottle of Trooper and watched Europe from near the sound desk, waiting for them to play ‘the’ song.
Didn’t take much good pictures of them XD
After Europe it was Volbeat, who are relatively new, but steadily building up a good following. They seemed to be playing a load of short cover versions, though. It was like the world’s best game of Beat the Intro.
And after them, I actually left the second stage! I went to the fourth stage to catch a new punk band called Zico Chain. I didn’t really get any decent pics, but one of the guitarists came out into the audience and then played while riding the crowd!
Some nutters got bored during their set, and decided to start putting long grass stems in some girl’s boots. Then tied a cup to her bag XD.
Punk as fuck
Then it was a strange band called The Algorithm, who play electronic music sort of like Pendulum, except the drums are real! Yes, it’s one guy with a laptop and one with a drum kit XD.
I was starting to feel pretty shitty by this stage, and went back to the campsite for a while. Probably boiled up some lemsip, or tried to drink something strong to ease my sore throat. Every other Download I go to gets fucked up with illness, at least in 2009 it waited until the last day!
But there was no way I was missing the headliners, so dragged myself up and through the semi-deserted village:
And got to the arena just in time for the start of Slipknot! I got pretty far forwards, but the rain kept coming on and off, and I had only a really crappy poncho to keep it off. Plus the flu was fully kicking in now, and I felt freezing. The pits further forwards were insane, though. They had to cut the power twice because the sections of the front barrier came apart! (some guy shouted “somebody put 50p in the meter!” the second time it happened XD).
The whole thing, I think, is sick. Thewholethingithinkissick. The whooole thiiiing IIII thiiiink iiiiis siiiiick
I didn’t stay for the encore because I felt so bad, just trudged back to the tent and went straight to “bed”. Except I needed a piss for hours. I couldn’t face putting my clothes back on, and walking to the toilets and lining up. So I pissed in a pringles tube (very carefully, I couldn’t see the level!) and lobbed it against the fence. Unfortunately I still couldn’t sleep, the loud, random music (bits of Star Wars and assorted cheers and beeps) from the rides just DID NOT STOP. I think I finally passed out from sheer exhaustion at about 7 in the morning, and woke up again at the ‘late’ (by festival standards) time of half 8.
I didn’t want to make my throat feel worse by drinking lager. Next time I also take vodka, and drink myself into a stupor!
The Gazebo got further ‘modifications’, which made things a bit awkward. It was a handy shelf, though XD.
I felt awful today, and missed loads of bands because I kept going back to the tent for hayfever pills or lemsip. I also had a pounding headache, was really tired, and couldn’t remember where anything in the tent was. I even stirred the lemsip with a pen because I couldn’t find the spoon (though later found I could have used chopsticks). There was two bands I couldn’t miss, though!
I managed to get down the arena fairly early, though not as soon as it opened today. On the way I talked with a woman who looked maybe mid 30’s, but she said her first Donington festival had been 1981! She was pretty cwute too, but I didn’t see her again XD.
I got the arena just in time for the start of a smaller old band called UFO. The sun was shining and it was pretty dry and warm, the arena was still fairly empty, if I’d been feeling better I could have got right down the front, but instead stood fairly far back near the sound desk.
After them, it was time for one of my highlights of the festival (or would have been, if I’d been feeling better), Black Star Riders! They’re basically Thin Lizzy, and play a lot of “covers”, but they also have some new songs. And yes, they did play The Boys are Back in Town… it was about time that echoed over the fields of Donington! Of course, if Phil hadn’t died, they’d probably be headlining and playing it for their encore.
Feeling pretty terrible, I wandered about aimlessley, thinking about buying vodka or jager, but unable to face the qeues for beer tokens. There was a huge Download sign, which people were climbing on XD
I also saw my first (of many) instances of somebody getting stuck on the zipline that goes across the arena. Later on, some bright spark had the idea of chucking bottles and cups at people who get stuck, but this guy was able to just hang around XD.
I went up and bought the festival-exclusive ‘maiden t-shirt (too big for me, but they were running out before the band had even took the stage XD). There was also a huge cloud coming, though the rain it bought didn’t last very long. It hit me on yet another walk back to the campsite for a waterproof coat.
I picked that up and came back to the arena to see Thunder, who played their last ever festival show at Download 2009 XD (I was ill then too). Unortynately I was still shivering, and had to sit down well away from the crowd. I could hardly see or hear the band. Hopefully they’ll play another last ever festival show next year too.
I made yet another trip back to the campsite, for all three of my coats and more lemsip. The lemsip warmed me up, and it got a bit sunny too. By the time I got back to the arena for Chthonic (whom I wanted to throw some fake money at, see the first pic. In their native Taiwan, they actively encourage people throwing “good luck” money at them. It’s normally burned as a symbolic sacrifice to the gods, in the hope of receiving real money. Throwing it at people is normally considered an insult, but Chthonic think it’s funny XD) I felt a lot better, and really warm. Unfortunately I couldn’t get into the pit, or near the front, because I had a huge bundle of 3 coats to carry.
Chthonic also play with a traditional oriental orchestra, and the sound check took ages. The cute bass player with a short skirt got a big cheer from the front row, though XD.
I made YET ANOTHER trip back to the camp, to drop off the heaviest (and warmest) coat, and rest. Then it was off to the arena for IRON MAIDEN! They were the first metal band I really got into (though the first MP3 I ever downloaded was by Annihilator). I’ve been wanting to see them ever since I first heard them properly, in GTA Vice City. They started the set while I was still walking… and they started it with a flypast by a Spitfire! I think it actually took off from the infield of the race track (though there’s also an airport nearby). Later on, the pilot was driven to the festival and came up on stage with them. I tried to video it (going into a mock attacking dive… flown the way it was meant to be!), but I fucked up the button presses and got a few nanoseconds of my feet instead.
Unfortunately, without the bulky warm coat, and with flurries of rain, I was absolutely freezing and had to sit down and bundle myself up right at the back of the arena.
A bit later on, some really loud band started up on the third stage, and drowned out the main stage. I left well before the end of the set (before it was dark, even), and went straight to bed. What a disappointment >.< (I’ll just have to see them some other time, before I’m on the complete poverty line).
I actually slept… well, I actually slept, lets leave it there XD. I felt a bit better on the Sunday, though still had to wear a warm coat everywhere even though it was sunny and pretty hot. I was even able to stand up for fairly extended periods, though my throat was very sore and I couldn’t shout.
Blah blah got down the arena early for clean bogs again, then went to the second stage for Hellyeah. No getting into the front 3 rows this time, I hung back at the D barrier.
I got some more trooper and sat down on the main stage hill to catch a little bit of Coal Chamber, who I probably should have got into back in 1999, when I started paying attention to music (I was at just the right place and time to catch nu-metal, but instead I only listened to “non capitalist” classic punk. I didn’t even listen to Slipknot until 2009).
I then caught a bit of a band called Huntress at the fourth stage. They’re REALLY FUCKIN’ OSSUM, but the tent stages are getting way too crowded at Download these days, and I couldn’t get in. I did get fairly near the ‘door’ though.
After that, I crammed myself into the fourth stage as other people came out, and watched Buffalo Summer, who sounded like a pub band. Oh well, it was the fourth stage.
I went over to the second stage (possibly after another campsite return trip) to watch Ghost, who are just plain weird. The second stage area was crowded, so I was fairly far back. If I’d mustered the arsed I could probably have gotten closer on the far side, but they’d already started and aren’t all that loud, so I couldn’t be bothered to force my way around either side of the disabled platform.
I’d heard The Gaslight Anthem were pretty decent. The name makes them sound steampunk, and I absolutely despise steampunks. But instead they’re just plain rockin’. I even got pretty close but could still sit down. There was some bloke in a crusty pedophile costume (as in, a flesh-coloured onesie with a perverted old man mask and a fake cock flapping about) cockslapping people in the crowd, which was funny.
After them I went into the third stage for POD. I thought I had a pretty good place, but just before they started a bunch of really tall middle class cocks barged their way through, making some comment about “sorry, i’ll let you have intimate relations with me if you’ll let me in”. I tried to find another place to watch from, but couldn’t When I got outside I could see huge crowds snaking away from both doors of the tent. I thought Saxon in 2008 was “dangerously overcrowded”. It seems like that sort of overcrowding is now the norm at Download’s tent stages. They ought to make the third stage the old second stage tent from before 2008. Or at least have screens on the pillars, which are visible from outside the doors.
I went back to the campsite for yet more lemsip, water and a rest. I actually accidentally fell asleep for about 45 minutes >.< but a plane going over woke me up. I filled up my 20L water container, just in case nutters ran riot and started fires on the Sunday night again. Then it was time to walk back to the arena for Rammstein. For the first time at Download 2013 I actually got to the main stage before a headliner started, and watched the whole set! There wasn’t actually as much pyro as I’d been led to expect, but there was still a huge amount. Including a guy being properly, genuinely set on fire… after being ‘cooked’ in a pot with a flamethrower. Plenty of ‘ordinary’ fireworks and effects too.
Finally,a non-blurry, not-washed-out picture!
I joined in the mass trudge back to the campsite, fearing the “rioting” (which is never as bad as my imagination). I could see an orange glow and ‘smoke’ from the campsite village, and worried people had set the hay which had been scattered around on fire. Except actually it was just lights and the exhaust of generators. The campsite was actually pretty quiet, though the Camp Loner gazebo areas were all busy with chatting. Me and one guy got back to the camp and were more or less speechless at Rammsteins performance. Then wandered about a bit and chatted to various people. I talked to Lotus a bit more (:3), and one guy re-contacted a girl he’d pulled.
Another member of my nearest gazebo area had been robbed earlier in the festival, and had left early, but his tent had been left behind. Some girls had also gone, and we used their huge tent as a toilet and graffiti zone. The next morning I felt guilty about it and diluted all the piss with 20L of water, as well as writing a warning on the door XD. I finished up all my beer and went to bed fairly early, Sunday at Download speaking, to try and sleep and get the bus the next day. I was briefly woken up by people trying to read my (by now faded and run) flags from the other side of the fence. But they didn’t throw anything burning over, so I went back to sleep (though later I saw they’d tried to set some other thing that was draped over the fence alight).
Anyway, during one of my walks back to the tent, when I was still really tired and slightly out of it from flu and drink, I’d dropped some nail scissors “somewhere”. Woke up at about 5 in the morning thinking the air bed felt rather soft. I laid on it diagonally and it puffed up a bit more. Woke up again at just gone 6, and it was entirely flat. Great. Oh well, wasn’t going to sleep anyway. I chucked the bed, got up and started to pack up. Except I actually spent most of the time helping other people to pack up, especially cute Lotus. And I got her number :3 Then I realised there wasn’t much time before my bus went, so had to rush to cram all my stuff back in the bag. I’m glad I left the air bed behind, everything else only just fit! Of course, some people do something else with stuff they can’t be bothered to carry:
I quickly stuffed everything else in my bag and started walking for the bus. Even though I’d shed all of my cans and the air bed, everything else weighed a ton. Must have been the 5 days of flu and bad eating. I was in a hurry, innocently assuming that the buses would work like they did in 2008 (IE you get to a stop, the bus arrives, you get on it, and it goes). I also missed out on buying one of the bootleg t-shirts. I always prefer their simple designs to the overdone official ones (also the best of the official ones sold out by Saturday XD).
However, the bus departure system was a bit different in 2013. It was the worst-organised thing I have ever seen (and I went to Lincoln University!). I was greeted with what appeared to be qeues, but actually they were just snaking lines of confused people. I could see parked buses in the distance, but it turned out they were just waiting their turn to come down to the ‘boarding area’. I tried to shove my way through to waiting buses, asking one of the staff which one was going to Cambridge. Of course the answer was “I don’t know”. The time for my supposed departure came and went as I trudged my way back through the crowd (a crowd on an uneven, gravelley car park, with random barriers all around, and of course everybody was carrying / sitting on several huge backpacks and cases).
I finally found somebody with a clipboard and asked them where the Cambridge bus was going from, fully expecting to be told that it had already gone. In common with everybody who has a clipboard from which they can impart information, she looked surprised and confused that somebody had come up and asked a question. She said it “hadn’t gone yet” and to “just wait”. Eventually, and entirely on my own, I discovered that the buses I could see lined up near the exit were the ones people could get on, and their destinations were being shouted out by a few people. Shouted out! That’s all. If you weren’t right at the front of the “qeues” you couldn’t hear them at all. So I worked my way through the crowd and got right up to the barrier. ONLY AN HOUR after the supposed departure time, the bus I wanted to get on pulled in. I worked my way to the (one, tiny) gateway through the barrier (and somebody there tried to stop me because “I haven’t heard Cambridge being called yet”) and was finally on the way home. Then I slept all the way, and until about 12 in the afternoon the next day, too!