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DOWNLOAD FESTIVAL 2024 REVIEW

Download Festival 2024 was a wild mix of dissapointment and excitement...

Welcome to Novacaine's official Download Festival 2024 review. This year was an interesting one, it was a wild mix of dissapointment and excitement, some things couldn't be helped by the organisers such as the rain, some things could've been handled alot better such as technical issues throughout the entire festival and the layout of this years event.


This article will go through our personal experience of Download Festival 2024 as both an access customer and by someone who has attended this festival since 2018 and other festivals prior.


Advanced warning, this article is quite a long one as we dive into both the experience of staying in this years access camp and the bands that performed at Download. Below is an anchor menu, you can skip ahead to the section you would like to read.




ARRIVING AT THE FESTIVAL



With us attending Download since 2018 and even attending their 20th Anniversary event last year, we knew to expect traffic and we knew we would be waiting in the car for a few hours before we could get to our campsite. This years traffic organisation was far better than previous years, we managed to get to the purple gate for access parking within an hour, admittedly though we did leave Donington Services at 8am and car parks where not due to open until 9, but even with that factor in place, usually it would still mean waiting in a queue, this year that did not happen and I applaud Download for listening to the locals and organising things better this time around.


However, from this point onwards it was not smooth sailing. We was told we needed to stand in the queue for the box office at the access car park to get our wristbands, of which at first I thought fair enough, it sounded better than rushing around at camp trying to unload my car and then rushing to get my wristbands. We waited in the queue for 1hr 30mins, which for me is quite a while due to my disabilities and we saw lots of others in the queue also struggling with this, but hey, we cannot expect to never queue even as access customers. The bit that bothered me, was after we collected our wristbands and drove on to the race track to head to our camp, there was hundreds of cars waiting to head to the access camp, we was near the front of the queue so we was thinking, how can that happen? Well it turns out we was told the wrong information. You could join the queue on the race track when you arrived at Download and collect your wristbands from the campsite itself, I was not a happy bunny, but I thought okay, it is what it is, atleast we have got it out of the way, oh how wrong I was.


After collecting our wristbands at 11:30am (we was in the box office queue around 9:30am) we waited on the race track for the campsite to open at 12:00pm, we knew it may take a little while to get in as there was people already infront of us. However, we did not expect to be in the car for almost 6 hours moving at a snails pace. By the time we got to camp, the campsite was already filled with loads of tents but we saw lots of space towards the back, so we thought okay let's get the tent up and relax, but instead we was pointed in the wrong direction by stewards. One person asked us how big our tent was and when we told them, they walked off with no further information, and then we was directed all the way to the bottom of the campsite towards the exit, of which we then had to turn round and drive the wrong way as there was no way I was rejoining a 6 hour queue to get back in just because someone directed us the wrong way.


Whilst we was unloading the car into a pitch that was right alongside the track where cars where driving down (we could not go anywhere else according to the stewards), we struggled to put the tent up as the poles where stretching into the track and it meant my PA was standing infront of oncoming traffic. We was also rushed to move the car off the site, which I completely understand, but with me being the only driver and needing someone with me, only one person could wait at camp which meant the tent could not be put up until we returned and the stewards on site would not help them put the tent up, whereas previous years this was something they did.


Fast forward an hour or two, the tent was put up and we was able to finally relax, that was until the heavens opened up above, but again this isn't something that Download could exactly control, we just wish they put down more plastic tracks around the site, especially near toilets and showers, those camping near the access arena entrance had to battle with a slippery bog in front of the toilets near them and even though there was plastic tracks near these facilities, the toilets themselves where on the mud so they sank slightly and some of them could barely open.


Despite these issues, Download had massively improved on how they handled access camp, it was somewhat more organised in terms of where tents where pitched, whereas before it was more of a free for all on the race track and some struggled to find anywhere to put there tents, with this new organised mindset it also meant we could have gazebos due to them already knowing what size tents people where bringing this year, which is lucky because as you know, this year was another drownload and I am thankful I was not being forced to sit inside my tent all the time to avoid the rain whilst at camp.


The remainder of our campsite experience was quite pleasant, we had some friendly neighbours, and after the first day of setup, the stewards where also friendly and even said good morning to us everytime they walked past. We know the first day is stressful for both customers and the staff, and by the sounds of it, it was more down to the staff not being told the same information by those organising which just caused frustration for all. The only thing that could've certainly have been sorted was the choice of vendor at our campsite, they only sold toast, bacon and sausage rolls, brownies and tea or coffee, which of course isn't really ideal if you are unable to get to the village or into the arena to get proper food and this year we foolishly decided to only go to vendors for food as it was something we avoided previous years, but we managed and had a pleasant time at camp.


THE BANDS

Buzzing, we was absolutely buzzing to get into that arena and see the incredible artists that we had waited for so long to see. First up, was the incredible Hanabie and oh boy did they put on an incredible show. For those who do not know who they are, they are a Japenese Nu-Metal Act, similar to BabyMetal but they have their own unique sound and it was absolutely incredible and it was a fantastic start to our weekend.


Despite Hanabie not being an artist that I would personally listen to as it's not my personal music taste, they put on an awesome show and I would love to see them return to the UK in the future.


Novacaine Rating: 9/10


VUKOVI

Next up on the agenda, was the almighty VUKOVI. VUKOVI is a Scottish Rock Act reigning down from Scotland and is a band that I have been following since the release of their self-titled debut album in 2017.


It was clear how popular VUKOVI is as I struggled to even get into the tent, but even from the back I could witness the madness that was unfolding and hearing Janine Shilstone's stunning vocals absolutely blew me away and there crowd interaction was insane, with Janine even crowd-surfing and continuing to sing, was definitely their Frank Carter moment.


VUKOVI was definitely a highlight of our weekend, these guys deserve to be performing on the mainstage very soon!


Novacaine Rating: 10/10


At this point I should probably mention, there was unfortunately a lot of bands we did not get a chance to see due to the difficult terrain battling with my disabilities, we wanted to catch Make Them Suffer, Dream State, Those Damn Crows and Soft Play, but I had to head back to camp a few times to rest up, if it wasn't so difficult I'd of been able to get between stages, but this year was too much of a challenge, but I am sure the bands we missed put on some epic performances.


With that being said, we did get to catch Black Stone Cherry whilst heading out from VUKOVI, this is a band that I had seen twice already, once at Download 2018 and in concert the same year in Wembley. As usual, these guys smashed it out of the park!


Black Stone Cherry is a band that I will always go to see when I can, every single time these guys perform brilliantly and always spreading positive vibes.


Novacaine Rating: 10/10



To finish off on Friday, we of course went to see Queens of the stone age (QOTSA). This again is a band that I'm not particularly a fan of, but seeing as they was the headliner and the last band performing that night, we wanted to check out what the fuss is all about.


QOTSA put on an okay show, I had a good time but Josh Homme was stoned out of his face to the point where parts of songs just sounded mumbled, at one point I wondered if I was witnessing the decline of QOTSA. Nonetheless, I made sure to just vibe with it, had a good time with my friends but in my opinion, there wasn't much to be excited about.

Novacaine Rating: 7/10



Oh but wait, Friday was not quite over yet. We decided to go and check out District X and headed straight for The Doghouse Tent where we had an absolutely mint night. Here's a clip of everyone singing along to Slipknot's 'Duality':



Moving onto Saturday, waking up with a belter of a hangover from the night before, we slid our way back to the arena to catch an artist that peaked my interest during the Eurovision Song Contest earlier this year with there single 'Doomsday Blues' and I got met with something I was not expecting at all at 11am on a Saturday morning. Of course, I am talking about Bambie Thug.


Bambie Thug is an Irish artist who is not defined by genre and instead created their own term 'Ouija-Pop' which if I'm honest, sounds about right from what I witnessed Saturday morning, and I am not saying that negatively either. Bambie put on a positively outrageous performance, accompanied by incredible choreography and an outlandish outfit, but it all came together to put on what I personally think was a good performance.


Novacaine Rating: 8/10



As well as Bambie's live performance, they also made a political statement by performing The Cranberries 'Zombie' as a protest for the war in Gaza. Bambie Thug, Tom Morello, Enter Shikari, Speed, Scowl and Zulu forced Download Festival to drop their sponsor, Barclays, with some acts dropping out of the festival all together. This is due to Barclays providing financial services to defence companies supplying Israel.


Learn more about the Israel Gaza War - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/newsbeat-44124396



After that, we made our way to witness the almighty Karnivool perform live. I discovered Karnivool because of their appearance at Download Festival and I have quickly become a fan of their music. They remind me of TOOL in a way, but they certainly have their own unique sound and I find myself listening to their track 'Themata' on a daily basis.


Karnivool put out positive vibes during their performance, and the vocalist looked like he was having the time of his life, the guy could not stand still and I am not complaining. If it weren't for the fact my boots where pretty much stuck in the mud, I myself would've been dancing. Incredible band, incredible vocals and insane talent was upon that stage.


Novacaine Rating: 10/10


Once again, on the Saturday we missed more bands that we really wanted to see due to the difficult terrain for myself, we would have seen: Holding Absence, Bleed From Within, While She Sleeps, Pantera, Enter Shikari and The Offspring.


Next up for Saturday though was one we battled to get to, which was BabyMetal. We have seen BabyMetal before at Download but this time they were on the main stage and we was so excited to see them absolutely smash it. However, due to the weather BabyMetal was cut short and performed 4 songs in total. We really do not understand what went on this year, Download has faced worse weather conditions than this but for some reason this year their production capabilities failed. But enough complaining.


With the time that BabyMetal did have, they still put on a fantastic show, and is a band that I would definitely like to see again on the main stage or perhaps even headlining the Opus stage, they most certainly deserve it.


Novacaine Rating: 10/10



Next up was Saturday nights headliner, one of which I would not have expected to be performing at Download Festival, but is one that I have been wanting to see live for quite some time.


As expected, Fall Out Boy put on an awesome show, making sure to perform a mixture of songs from their albums over the years for both the fans, the oldies (hii) and the newcomers! Once again, if it weren't for the mud I would've definitely been closer up and moving a bit more!


Novacaine Rating: 9/10


Sunday. Sunday, Sunday, Sunday. Sunday was the one day I was f*cking excited for, and that was all because I was going to see Electric Callboy. However, my dreams were shattered when they announced the day before they could not perform due to health reasons. Obviously, I'm not going to sh*t on the band, they should always put themselves first, but man was I so sad to hear they wouldn't be appearing at Download.


Nonetheless, we pushed forward and despite Sunday being the better day for the weather and the organisers trying there best to dry up the grounds, the previous days left the Arena in a swamp state, which meant once more, I could not get to see some of the bands, one of which I am still desperate to see live, that being Of Mice & Men as they are a band I grew up with and even still listen to their new music to this day.


Other artists such as Lord of The Lost, Harper, Delilah Bon, Atreyu, Sum41 I could not get to see due to the reasons stated earlier, I had to reserve my energy which p*ssed me off but hey, just means I need to get myself some concert tickets when the time comes!


Kicking off Sunday for us was Imminence, this is a band that I was introduced to by YouTube recommended a few years ago with their track 'Infectious' and I was in awe by not only the instrumentals but the vocal abilities of Eddie Berg, that man is just unbelievable.


This was no different live and in fact it blew my tiny little mind. Playing a violin, singing and screaming just sent me into the stratosphere, I was that much in awe that I almost forgot to record, and the only reason I was recording was because I am writing this review, this is a band that I am telling you to go and see, you will not regret it.


Novacaine Rating: 10/10


Next up on Sunday for us was the mental b*stards that is Limp Bizkit. I was so excited to see these guys perform live and I am still buzzing about the fact that I was there. This band was THE No.1 highlight of my weekend and they need to headline and when they do it better not be muddy cos I wanna party!


Whilst putting on a belter of a live performance, Fred Durst also made sure we was having a good time, cracking jokes and interacting with the crowd. Towards the end we also saw Andy Copping himself appear on stage. When, not if, they headline, it is going to be absolutely crazy!



To close the festival was the almighty kings, Avenged Sevenfold. This was another band I was super excited to see. Before I saw them live in 2018 headlining Download, I was not a fan, but after their 2018 performance I cannot stop listening to their music. However, in my opinion, Avenged did slightly disappoint this year.


Now I know bands gotta evolve and change their live shows to keep things fresh, but for some reason it felt very tame watching them this time around. There wasn't much production on stage as compared to 2018, all we really had was the screens with AI filters and absolutely no pyro. I don't know if this was a decision that A7X made themselves or if it was due to the technical issues that Download were having, but it really felt like it was reduced massively.

That being said, it was still an awesome performance and I am happy I got to see them perform live once more, and despite the lack of production, they made up for it just by ensuring their performance was tight and M Shadows vocals have massively improved since we saw them before and I would happily go to see them again.


I also wasn't a huge fan of their new album 'Life Is But A Dream', but after hearing the songs live it has changed my perspective, not a huge fan of the studio release but the live performance for these songs are pretty decent so I recommend that you go to see it live if you can.


Avenged was also another victim to Downloads technical issues, being cut off half way through 'Nightmare' which is most likely another reason why it felt a bit different this time around, for me its quite difficult to get back into the vibe when one of my favourite tracks are ruined part way through. But when they came back on they went straight for it and belted out track after track. One of the funniest comments came from someone in the crowd when it cut out 'It is a f*cking nightmare'.

Novacaine Rating: 9/10



OVERALL

Overall, we had a good time at Download Festival 2024 even with the difficulties we faced this year. We saw some fantastic bands perform live, good time with friends and experienced District X for the first time. It was this year though that I discovered that I am not able to handle the likes of Download Festival for 5 days anymore, not that the festival itself isn't good, it's more to do with my disabilities and if it rained again and caused the bog that it did this year, I would miss out on even more artists.


With that being said, if you want a true music festival experience and want to see some of the most incredible artists that the rock & metal industry has to offer, I highly recommend Download Festival. Bring some friends, make sure to prepare yourself for any kind of weather and make sure to check out District X once the headliners have finished if you like to party!


We will now only be attending festivals for a day and will be looking at attending even more gigs to showcase upcoming artists around the world.



Check out some of the funny portaloo graffitis that we saw at our camp:









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