After the death of Soundwave, heavy music fans were left with a hole in their calendars, and in their hearts. Download Festival’s first pilgrimage down under saw a chance to relive the Soundwave glory days, and many a studded belt, chain wallet or battle jacket was dug out and dusted off for the occasion.
Donnington brought their weather with them
In true Melbourne style, the BOM predicted “shower” was actually a downpour, with the roads leading to the festival resembling rivers. Some punters lined up had the foresight to wear ponchos (or garbage bags with holes in them), most had just accepted their muddy fate and were absolutely drenched. Happily, by Mastodon’s mid-afternoon set, the rain had cleared and the sun was out for the rest of the festival.
You didn’t have to be embarrassed to like Good Charlotte
Even at their peak, it wasn’t that cool to like Good Charlotte, but in 2018, it is DEFINITELY uncool to like Good Charlotte. Now that they are judges on The Voice, it seemed the Madden brothers had hung up their punk rock roots, making them a bit of a surprise entrant to the Download announcement. Despite this, they opened on The Anthem, and had a pretty large crowd singing along with them (whether deliberately or not) for their whole set.
Korn’s anti-climactic ending
Playing their first Australian shows since 2014, Korn did not miss a beat. Slamming through hit after hit, we heard Got The Life, Here to Stay, Twist, and a finale of Freak on a Leash. But the festival was given a pretty anti-climactic ending when Korn left the stage with 15 minutes still scheduled to play. Expecting an encore, the crowd hung around for Jonathan Davis to return, sing Happy Birthday to their sound guy, and then leave again. It wasn’t until roadies started to dismantle the drumkit that people actually started to walk away, leaving a strange feeling of non-completion hanging around.
Along with the standard festival gozleme, Dagwood Dogs and Chip on a Stick, for those with a more sophisticated palette awaited Hell’s Kitchen. Featuring burgers from some of the best restaurants around the country, Hell’s Kitchen was hot, and packed out all day – https://www.facebook.com/downloadfestAU/videos/556019064773242/
Prophets Brought the Rage
Filling out the main stage as the sun went down (and unfortunately overshadowing Hot Water Music and Arch Enemy, who had the short straw of being on stage at the same time), Prophets of Rage blew Download away. Playing mostly Rage Against the Machine covers in their 60 minute set and closing on a huge rendition of Killing In The Name, 20 000 people chanting “Fuck you I won’t do what you tell me” was enough to give anyone goosebumps, and left everyone wishing they had a longer set time.
It was a welcome throwback to the Soundwave glory days to see so many black shirts, battle jackets, cargo pants and mohawks making their way around the festival. While there was the odd realization of “Where are these people every other day of the year?”, as you don’t really see the guy with the stretched facial piercings working at the bank – there was no denying the palpable sense of community
in the festival grounds. From the rose garden that became a hotspot for smoking another kind of bud, to the guy crowdsurfing in a wheelchair for the end part of Amon Amarth’s set – the whole festival felt safe and inclusive. To put it simply: Download felt like home.
Words by Britt Andrews.
Photos by Josh Groom.