I woke up properly around 7:00 on Saturday and it was still raining, which was a good 12 hours of precipitation by that point. The sound of it pattering against the tent had provided some nice background white noise throughout the night, which meant I had slept more or less undisturbed. That is, of course, not including the time when I lay very still and ignored the officials who turned up outside, complaining about the huge tent that had mysteriously appeared next to mine. I am still not certain why they didn’t moan about where I had pitched mine, but I am fairly sure it had a lot to do with not actually being able to get hold of me. Rock up, pitch up, fuck off – there’s a lesson there for all of us.
While I sat hoping that the rain was going to subside, I rustled up some breakfast in the form of spicy noodles – which probably meant I was going to have spicy noodle flavoured coffee the next morning, but hey-ho.
Next on the agenda came the portaloos. Oh god, the portaloos. Since you’re here in my blog, you may already know that I am not going to spare you the details, but if you wish to skip forward a paragraph or two, frankly I wouldn’t blame you.
The portable toilet facilities were really badly designed in my opinion. In the past, I have been used to the toilet being a big plastic box with a big hole, and a toilet seat perched on top of it all. Grim, graphic, but does the job. This year the design included a built-in toilet bowl – a very shallow toilet bowl – with quite a narrow hole at the front for your DOINGS to get flushed into.
The fundamental design flaw became apparent when there was not enough water pressure on the flush, and your DOINGS didn’t go anywhere… Now, the toilet roll that I carry around with me when travelling has a load of polythene sandwich bags stuffed into the middle of the cardboard tube, from last year when I was out in the middle of the forest…
You can see where this is going already, can’t you?
YES. I had to put my hand inside a sandwich bag and encourage my own shit into the hole in the front of the portapotty bowl. They say childbirth is a real leveller; I am fairly sure this was pretty much up there, as life-events go.
I had been debating earlier whether I was even going to venture out to the arena that early in the day due to the weather. By this stage of the game though – with the toilet experience under my belt – rain was simply not going to be a problem. I left my hoodie in the tent because it wasn’t cold outside, and anyway, bare arms would dry quicker than clothes. On went the wellies and the plastic poncho, and I set off for the arena.
I was very clear that I had absolutely no intention of wandering back and forth from the tent like I had the day before, so anything I thought I might want went with me…
The extent of the mud that had appeared overnight was pretty shocking.
Based on the lessons learned from the previous evening, I decided that I needed to buy a hat to hold the poncho hood down – and remembered one that had caught my eye the day before but I hadn’t had an excuse to buy at the time…
As for the rest of the day, I had a full schedule marked up, of course kicking off with – and punctuated regularly by – pints of Tuborg. First up, the Maverick stage. [As usual, where I didn’t get pictures of my own, I have used other far better photos and linked the source page]
Chunk! No Captain Chunk! (11:55 – 12:25 Maverick Stage)
I went to see these guys on the strength of their name alone. They are young, French, and the singer knows how to work a crowd. Inoffensive – if I was 20 years younger I would probably really like them.
Mallory Knox (12:50 – 13:30 Main Stage)
I was a bit taken aback by Mallory Knox. I can only name one of their songs – Getaway, which is a total earworm, by the way – but I have a bit of thing for ginger’s and I totally fancy the singer now.
It was partway through being in a ginger-trance that I realised that the TeamRock cowbell-off was supposed to be happening. I hurried my arse on over to the TeamRock trailer in time to join in with enthusiasm to the end of what could generously be called “a fucking racket”. I did manage to meet JRock and Pete Bailey, who very nicely pretended to remember me from Twitter-spamming the station.
Then I came across my first scheduling dilemma of the day; Apocalyptica (13:30 – 14:40 Encore Stage) versus Emp!re (13:30 – 13:55 Jake’s Stage). On the basis that I already knew I liked Apocalyptica, and I had only heard of Emp!re on a list of 10 recommended drummers to see at Download, I decided I would head off to Jake’s stage to check out the band I didn’t know. I was not disappointed.
I will very definitely be keeping an eye out for more Emp!re shows, because I liked them a lot.
Hands Like Houses (13:45 – 14:15 Maverick Stage)
Based on the running joke amongst my friends that I have massive man-hands, I thought it was only appropriate to check out Hands Like Houses. They didn’t set my world alight, but they didn’t upset my ears either.
Hollywood Undead (14:00 – 14:40 Main Stage)
Hollywood Undead are what we in the UK would refer to as a Marmite band; you’ll either love them or hate them. I always liked them, but thought that they were a bit of a joke band, sending up a lot of rap and youth culture. I think that’s still true, but I was impressed with the live show and I thought that a lot of the lyrics were quite clever and ironic. I have since discussed them with a friend who is also a fan, and his interpretation is that they are just showing off… I had of course been drinking for the better part of 4 hours, so perhaps best not to take my opinion too seriously.
I then had a bit of time-killing until Rise Against, so I’d highlighted a few more bands that I’d only heard mentioned on the radio;
Upon A Burning Body (14:40 – 15:10 Maverick Stage)
I was due to go and see Testament (15:20 – 15:50 Encore Stage) but I genuinely have no idea what I was doing. I did eat a lot of food that day, and I think that a vegetable burrito from Goodness Gracious Healthy Foods was probably involved. Followed by some chips. And an ice-cream.
Northlane (15:35 – 16:05 Maverick Stage)
I feel like I should have enjoyed these more, but without my full buy-in, the pain from my feet was really beginning to overwhelm my thinking, and I just ended out fidgeting my way through the set.
Rise Against (16:25 – 17:15 Main Stage)
Now this who I had been really waiting for. I saw Rise Against back in November last year for the first time ever, and was blown away. Despite being blinded by the lighting guy at Brixton Academy who has a massive hard-on for really bright sweeping lights, it was probably the best gig that I had seen in years – this was no less slick a performance. God, I love Rise Against.
Dub War (17:40 – 18:05 Jake’s Stage)
Dub War were basically the forerunners for Skindred, and since I had missed Skindred themselves at Camden Rocks a fortnight previously, I was looking forward to getting to see Mr Webbe do his thang at Download.
…not a fucking chance.
Bodycount (18:45 – 19:25 Maverick Stage)
Bodycount are dark as fuck. Heavy metal, rap, thrash, hardcore motherfuckers, and Ice T is a legend. Had to chip off early for FNM which was a bit of a shame.
Faith No More (19:05 – 20:15 Main Stage)
I saw Faith No More for the first time last year. I spoojed about it in another blog so I won’t go on, but this gig was better – felt a lot more like they were being themselves, where I get the impression they were told to behave a certain way last year… for whatever reason, as good as they were musically, there was an element missing that was only apparent seeing them again at Download. I fucking love FNM.
Marilyn Manson (21:00 – 22:10 Encore Stage)
This was probably the biggest clash of the weekend for me. I had to decide between this and Muse (21:05 – 10:50 Main Stage), and while I know they put on an awesome show, I’ve seen them before where I hadn’t seen Mr Manson.
I wasn’t able to get very close, but I don’t think that made much difference in the long run. I was actually quite disappointed. There were a lot of lights and noise and fanfare at the start, and he flounced out seeming very pleased with himself. Oddly though, the stage kept going dark and silent between tracks; I don’t know whether he was off powdering his nose, or having a self-congratulatory wank between songs. It seemed very much about him celebrating himself, without any crowd interaction that I noticed – yes Marilyn, we’re all here because we like you, but it needs to be a bit more of a two-way exchange for my money. It might have picked up later, but at the best of times I have all the focus of a 5 year old child drinking blue Panda Pops.
I very quickly wished I had gone to see Muse instead. There was a stone-baked pizza stand facing the Encore stage, and I wandered off for yet more food while I was watching. Once the Margherita was gone however, I had run out of things to keep my attention. I did stick my head around the corner at the other stage, but there was no way I was getting close at all, and I decided it was time to pack it in for the night.
The blister I had picked up the day before had grown and was now working its way up between my toes. The urgent message from my feet was that I needed to sit the fuck down, as soon as realistically possible, and I was inclined to agree.