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I am reviewing (mainly) the Ozzfest day (Saturday 11th June) at this years download festival, but the whole festival will be mentioned.
Main stage- The main stage see's it 3rd show at download this year as class headliners Feeder, Black Sabbath and System Of A Down play this years 3-day event. The stage had the usual screens at either side for those who are at a smaller height than the rest of the crowd. The bands made the stage unique with their own stage design and personal touches!- My favourite stage design was Bowling For Soup's with the giant hands on stage forming the rock symbol that you rarely miss at all festivals. This years main stage had a barrier dividing the crowd in half, with a pathway in the middle for the lead singer to walk down if they wish to. Unfortunately there was no material on the floor of the crowd area unlike in previous years, this meant that every time a pit got going dust and dirt of or the floor was disturbed and puffed up into the surrounding air, this is especially bad for hayfever sufferers like myself.
Snicker Stage (2nd stage)- The idea of the snickers stage was to bring fresh talent to the rock crowds, so they claim anyway. The snickers stage was much better than last years with bands such as Billy Idol, Bullet For My Valentine, Motorhead, In Flames and Apoclyptica playing across the long weekend. Unless you are very tall or standing at the front (to have your stomach crushed) you are not very likely to get a good view and you definitely wont get a good picture! All the pictures I have of the snickers stage are rubbish, I have taken one of the screen when it was showing a microphone! The snickers stage is inside a large tent, at times it was packed to the brim. It has the usual screens at either side of the stage along with massive Snickers signs and various advertisements for snickers products and the Snickers Bowl that was also on the festival site.
Napster Stage (3rd stage)- The third stage returns for its second year at download at the top of the hill near the fairground. The stage had some good bands across the festival including Breed 77 and Therapy but the standard or music on this stage was no where near as good as the other stages. The stage is in a tent half the size of the Snickers stage, it has no screens at the side of it making it very hard to see, but that shouldn't be a problem as the tent is smaller and the bands are only on for 25-45mins each.
The toilets at download where the usual portaloo plastic things! By the end of the second day they were awful. In one of the many toilet areas dotted around the festival site, the toilet had leaked and you were literally standing in someone wee! All the loo's absolutely smelled of (well you can guess what they smelled of!). There were toilets and urinals for men and women, yes this isn't a misprint. I saw leaflets near the loo's for a device called P-Mate (also known as She-Pee), it is a device that allows a woman to urinate like a man
would!- (basically a funnel!).
The sound quality on the main stage was poor, the sound went high and low and the feedback was also bad, in Alter Bridge's set the feedback was so bad my whole body was vibrating! The echo in Velvet Revolver's set was really bad, it got to a stage where you didn't notice it because you were used to it. The sound of the snickers stage was a little better but still echo's occurred sometimes. The sound quality was best on the napster stage, this was because it was a small tent and the sound is contained, pity the music on that stage wasn't as good as the quality of sound!
Parking was straight forward and the queue to get in the car park wasn't that big, even though the signs were a little confusing about where to park, but found the right place in the end! On the way there ,in Donnington, we drove past ticket touts (as usual) and several pubs, some of which are expensive (they must make a fortune on the festival weekend). The problem with parking lies in the exiting bit, it takes about a hour just to leave the car park, to get out quick you have to be an arrogant person and cut round the cars and jump to the front of the queue where some soft person will let you out!
Food is available on site from those dodgy catering services and costs a bomb! I recommend bringing your own food or leaving the site and get some from the local Safeway to bring back to the site with you. Believe me it will taste much nicer, cost less and wont be left out all day.
Drinks- If you are looking for drinks of an alcoholic nature then be prepared to be ripped off! A pint of guiness cost £3, I don't know how people can afford to throw half of it into the crowd, it's like throwing £1.50 down the drain. Some people were carrying 5 pints, that's like balancing a cheque for £15 in your hand and hope it doesn't blow away in the wind!- The worrying thing is these might be people that will drive home the same night!
Things to do in between in the music-
Other then sit there listening to download festival radio sponsored by Kerrang and watching the Dimebag tributes on the screen, there are lots of other thing you could have done. Official mech stalls were there costing a bomb, £40 for a hoody, what's the point when you can get the same thing copied outside from the touts for half of the price?!? The only thing I got from the official merch stall is a Slash wristband costing £4, but a least most of that went to charity. Like the previous two years the shops and stalls selling a variety or different products were there but they weren't as good as last years and cost much more. The snickers bowl turned up again with the best skaters and bmxers including BMX-champ Matt Hoffman, this wasn't really my kind of thing but I am sure lots of people enjoyed it as much as the music. All this, going to the toilet and eating managed to keep us out of the bottle fights in between songs for most of the time!
The Day- I went on the Saturday, which was labelled Ozzfest day and I had a GREAT time! I got there just as 'A' had finished, we heard there last song as we got out of the car! we got in after a bag search (they didn't search the bag they just felt it and asked my if I had any glass bottles!) we had 10 mins before Bowling For Soup came on, just enough time to take a look around the stalls. Shortly after a walk to the main stage Bowling For Soup came on and played a good set with some hilarious comedy in between songs, here are a few quotes- "Don't go near Erik (bassist), he has herpes"! "(An inflatable nemo flies into the roof of the main stage) OH NO, we lost Nemo!" and "If you become so drunk you wee your pants then you have had on successful rock 'n' roll night! If you become so drunk that you wee your pants and your friend wee's your pants as well then you have had the best night of all"! Those really made me laugh! Definitely one of the best support bands on that day.
After Bowling For Soup finished on Girl All The Bad Guys Want we sat down and waited whilst the Dimebag tribute video played. By the way, I'm glad I didn't go earlier because apparently a band called 'The Dwarves' refused to go off stage and the plug was pulled on them mid-song!- Also the guitarist in the same band played the whole set naked! Anyway, 15mins later Alter Bridge came on stage. In my opinion the newest band at the festival, Alter Bridge, were far to heavy for my liking, the bass line took over in every single song, they did A Led Zeplin cover but it was so heavy you couldn't tell which Led Zep song it was supposed to be until about half way through! The lead singer nearly made a big mistake in saying that Black Sabbath were the second greatest band of all time after Zeplin, he soon realised that he was standing in front of a crowd looking forward to seeing Sabbath that night and took the statement back and rephrased it to "I'll take that back, they are equal".
Shortly after Alter Bridges set we went to the toilet and then saw the Anthrax reunion, well the first song anyway! They were introduced like so "For the first time in 18 years, Anthrax are returning to Donnington", our reply was- 18 Years, you thought they would have made time to practise?! Then we made our way to the Snickers Stage to see Bullet For My Valentine as they started on Hand Full Of Blood and one of my favourites 4 Words To Choke Upon, followed by a few new songs of their new album due out soon. After that I looked at the overprice official merch stall and bought a Slash Wristband. After the long trek back to the Main stage we sat down and ate our packed lunch whilst the awful Him were on stage. Their lead singer, Ville Valo (or whatever his name is), was scared of the many bottles thrown at him and he was definitely holding back on stage. after a bit we made another toilet trek and walked past the Kerrang Signing tent but nobody worth meeting was scheduled to be there, next to the Napster Stage
Pictures of Download Festival 2005 (Castle Donington)
to see a few songs by Breed 77 before Velvet Revolver, as Him were over-running on the other stage we had time to see most of Breed 77's set, with some excellent guitar throughout.Next it was back to the main stage for Velvet Revolver, other than Scott Weiland's chicken style dances and his skeleture frame their set was absolutely amazing and easily was the best thing that I had seen all day until that point. They performed excellent material including Fall To Pieces, Set Me Free, Slither, Sex Type Thing (Stone Temple Pilots cover), Mr Brownstone (Guns And Roses cover) and an okish Pink Floyd cover called Wish You Were Here. My favourite part of the show was when Scott Weiland (lead singer) came out into the audience and fortunately stood about 2 metres away from me! This together with Slashes guitar solos and great music left an experience that I'll never forget.
We then went further forward to witness the event everyone was looking forward to- Black Sabbath. Most of the 75,000 people were crammed into the main stage area to witness Ozzy Osbournes return to Donnington. Before Sabbath came on stage a bottle fight broke out and I got soaked :( but the throwing of bottles died down and came to a stop when Ozzy's voice start of a chant that could be heard all over Donnington. The chant went like so (pronounce the letters one at a time)- O A O A OA OA OA Ozzy Ozzy. Sabbath came on stage and the atmosphere was amazing. They played the following songs- 01. NIB 02. After Forever 03. War Pigs 04. Dirty Women 05. Fairies Wear Boots 06. Symptom of the Universe / Sweet Leaf / Electric Funeral 07. Iron Man 08. Into the Void 09. Black Sabbath 10. The Wizard 11. Sabbath Bloody Sabbath / Paranoid 12. Sleeping Village / Children of the Grave Ozzy's last words were "Don't do anything I wouldn't do..(everyone laughs)..That means you can do ****ing anything!" Black Sabbath were great!
The other days-
Friday- I didn't miss much on the Friday as it was labelled 'indie day' and didn't look good really! The only bands I would of like to have seen were Billy Idol and Feeder perform 'Just A Day' and the anthem 'Buck Rogers'.
Sunday- Big misses include Papa Roach (even though I have seen them before), Motorhead, Killswitch Engage, Therapy, Chop Suey and BYOB by System Of A Down and Duality by Slipknot. Would have liked to have seen Society 1 just for the Meat Hooks stunt, I hate their music though (in case you didn't know the lead singer of society 1 performed the whole set whilst hanging on meathooks from the lighting panel on the main stage!
Tickets- Friday day ticket £45 Saturday day ticket £50 Sunday day ticket £50 Weekend ticket £105 Weekend camping ticket £127.50 Parking £5 online £10 on the day -What a rip off! In the end it is worth it though, you only live once!
Merch- Was far too expensive but cheaper of the touts outside.
Food/drink- It was dodgy and left out all day, and cost loads.
Any Other Disappointments?-
The only disappointments were the long treks from stage to stage and the endless bottle fights, apart from that everything was great and I had a great time.