DOWNLOAD 2017: The gates of paradise are nearly open

 

By Eric Mackinnon

eric@newrocktimes.com

 

Black Sabbath's last ever UK festival appearance? Check.

Guns N' Roses on their unstoppable upward trajectory? Check.

Metallica as a surprise band in a tent? Check.

AC/DC recording an infamous live DVD, Slipknot rising from the underbelly as festival underdogs to bona fide global giants, David Lee Roth's final UK show with Van Halen, numerous historic sets, classic albums played in full, music videos filmed on site?

Check, check, check, check, check, check.

The turf at Donington Park is the holy land for rock bands and rock revellers alike. Over the years the great site has hosted Monsters of Rock and latterly Download Festivals which have shaped generations and left deeply engrained rock horns on the musical hearts and souls of so many.

The Download Festival sits proudly on the premier site for rock music in the UK, and arguably across the world. The rock star's playground and home to the annual Download Festival - the fist-pumping, head-banging phoenix which rose from the ashes of the fondly remembered Monsters of Rock.

There is literally nothing quite like it. Festival season brings out the best in rock fans and Download brings you the best in the planet for your musical pleasure.

In just five-odd days I will be alongside 80,000+ like minded rock revellers on the sacred turf for the 2017 edition of the best weekend of the year.

I can already see the scene as the sun sets and the sky moves from deep sea blue to purple in the East Midlands sky while the legendary Aerosmith will take to the stage for their final UK festival appearance on their Aero-verdici farewell global trot.

On subsequent nights System of a Down and Scottish rockers Biffy Clyro will follow suit as the headline acts, playing in the fading light to an ocean of happy, grinning rock fans – Downloaders scattered throughout the vast expanses of Donington Park.

Standing in a field full of your musical brethren, shoulder to shoulder with your best friend or other half with the sun (hopefully) bearing down on your back, a cold drink in your paw, the other arced skywards in the traditional rock horns shape.

And on the stage, any one of over 100 bands to tickle all your rock and metal fancies.

As the gates open to the promised land on Friday, June 9th, we will charge onto the turf like an army of paper cup and grin wielding Spartans.

Finding a spot to settle in as the bands plug in and the music … begins.

As the opening bars crank in, a wall of noise rushes forth from the stage like a ravenous beast looking to reclaim its territory.

Pic by Ross Silcocks

Pic by Ross Silcocks

In the crowd, you begin to stomp your foot, swing your hips, raise your spirits and break into a face splitting smile – Download Festival welcomes us home.

This is a cycle which repeats over three glorious days but for most it passes like a motion-blur, over too quickly but it leaves its musical bootprints on your soul until the countdown begins for the next visit to the hallowed turf of Donington Park.

This June the metal masses, the rock rebellion and the festival fun-seekers will descend on the sites around Donington Park for this year's musical marathon which pumps up the volume for one gloriously, unforgettable weekend.

Aside the headliners who I mentioned earlier, the likes of Five Finger Death Punch, Rob Zombie, Sum-41 head up a bill stacked to the rafters with the kind of bands you'd happily drive over a one-eyed oprhan kitten to see and others? Well they are just new favourite bands waiting to be discovered by you.

The beauty of a festival with five stages and a huge number of bands is there is always something to see and for every band you haven't heard of is just a new band for you to fall in love with.

Rewind 12-months and I was one of the thousands who stood ankle deep in the mud hell of Download – or Drownload 2016 – and I didn't give a shit about the weather.

Despite her best efforts, Mother Nature's latest furious moodswing couldn't dampen or dull our enthusiasm and love for the Download Festival.

Torrential downpours brought raindrops of biblical dimensions which spread and soaked clean through to the skin with every direct hit.

Within hours most of the grass had been turned to mud which was ankle deep before the end and running like the Amazon River down slopes in other areas.

Pib by Jen O'Neill

Pib by Jen O'Neill

Having attended 10-times in the past 11-years, I felt 2016 made an emphatic case to take the prize as the worst conditions yet.

But as always it didn't deter any of the metal army who packed onto the hallowed turf, ahem mud, of Donington Park over the weekend.

It all started so encouragingly with Thursday seeing the mercury rising comfortably above 25 degrees.

There is nothing anyone can do about the weather but we are due a dry Download surely this time around. If my maths teacher was being honest with me in those double periods every Monday and Thursday then the law of averages exists and the mighty Lord of numbers, Maths herself, dictate we will have a dry Download sooner rather than later.

At the risk of repeating what I said earlier – Download is the best weekend of my year every year. 2016 was no different but this summer's festival is now appearing as a dot on the horizon.

In a little over five-days we will be nesting down in East Midlands all over again. Time to start stocking up on baby wipes, portable power banks for your phones and preparing to make another head and heart full of unforgettable memories.

After all Aerosmith – 'Dream On,' 'Back In The Saddle,' 'Crazy,' 'Angel' are the kind of songs from a legendary band which turned so many of us onto this gloriously muddy path to festivals like these in the first place.

It's festival season, the gates to paradise are almost open and it's time to go the promised land once more.

Horns up and see you in a little more than five days - no rain this time though Mother Nature you moody old boot.

 

eric@newrocktimes.com

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