The last time I went to a festival at Donington Park was Monsters of Rock in 1987, not that I haven’t been to many others all over Europe in the 25 odd years since then, but this was my first time back to the hallowed race track. My, how things have changed!
The first thing that surprised me was the volume of flesh on display, it really was a sight for sore eyes – and I’m not just talking about the sunburn.
The second was the sheer size. I did more exercise walking from stage to stage, from one side of the festival to the other in this last weekend than I have in the past year!
It was hot, hotter than I had dressed for (never trust the weather report!) and by the sea of pink skin, sunnier than most others’ sun cream could take.
The first band I watched was Crossfaith, who hail from Japan. Considering they were only the second band to hit the main stage, there was a sizeable crowd and they truly rocked it. At the end of their set they thanked the audience, who had made ‘their dreams come true’. It was incredibly sweet and you could tell they genuinely meant it.
Welsh metallers Skindred not only managed to get the audience to take part in a massive Harlem Shake but also the Newport Helicopter – this involved thousands of people twirling shirts, hoodies, blow up dolls or whatever they had to hand above their heads.
The absolute stand out band of the day – if not the whole festival – was Bad Religion. They formed before half the bands on the bill were even born, but age and time has not withered their punk rock spirit or the ability to hold an audience in the palm of their hand.
Bizarre sight of the day:
Not the woman with the homemade cheek exposing jeans or the Lego men, but the bloke in a work suit who honestly looked like he’d just left the office.
The day that almost didn’t happen thanks to the previous night’s beervado and three little words that any festival goer should fear and approach with trepidation… mixed meat noodles.
After a swift trip to the chemist, a very large bacon butty and half a bottle of the sweetest fizzy pop I could find, I was ready to go.
Loz from While She Sleeps not only completely disregarded the no flag rule but also a fair few health and safety directives by climbing the sound tower in the middle of the crowd, much to the delight of the audience.
Bury Tomorrow had something I’d never seen before: two circle pits! One for the boys and another for the girls. Mr Blobby ignored both of these and crowd surfed his way straight down the middle.
In honour of my dad, who loved them, a swift hand on hip rock out was had to Status Quo before legging it over to Polish black metallers Behemoth on the Pepsi Max stage. I was surprised how much I liked them and didn’t find them at all scary, despite their reputation, until I checked my photos afterwards and came across one with Nergal staring straight down the lens with a look that could turn you to stone.
Linkin Park were highly polished, even when sporting a furry red wig. This brought about a debate as to whether they were miming or not. – I think not.
Band of the day without a shadow of a doubt was Bring Me The Horizon, just superb.
Bizarre sight of the day:
The group of guys dressed as jockeys came a close second to fellas in the mankinis – it wasn’t that warm!
Back on top form today and the first person I bumped into was Atom Willard, who is the drummer with Against Me! I knew Atom from his days in Rocket From The Crypt but hadn’t see him for close to fifteen years. Like many bands, Download was a whistle stop for him having played the Netherlands the night before and then travelling down to Madrid straight after finishing the set here.
Memphis May Fire completely owned the stage. Afterwards my friend’s daughter Ciarrai managed to meet Matty Mullins, who was so charming and even had another little chat when he bumped into her again later on in the day.
The band that I had been most excited to see all weekend was Steel Panther. If their session at the signing tent and the amount of people sporting wigs was anything to go by, a lot of others felt the same. I don’t think I’ve laughed so much at festival band before. To be honest, they could have talked the whole way through the set – it was that entertaining.
Boobcam appeared to be banned this year, much to the chagrin of the men in the crowd. This was swiftly rectified during ‘17 Girls in a Row’ when a number of girls were invited onto the stage, and it didn’t take much persuading for them to peel off their layers.
Aerosmith crowned an exceptional weekend, although because my friends had to leave early to catch their train home, I did feel very lonely when they played ‘Don’t Want To Miss a Thing’ and everyone around me sang along arm in arm. On the upside Michael Starr from Steel Panther came out to watch the band and I had, an albeit very brief, chat with him.
Bizarre sight of the day:
Two half naked men wearing empty boxes of beer on their heads, standing right behind others who were relieving themselves against the fence and scaring the living daylights out of them when they turned around.