'Staggered sets? What are we supposed to do if we don't like the band on at the time? Tramp back to the campsite to drink perry for an hour?'
Imagine two heavily tattooed burly biker dudes comparing muscles. We shall name them Download and Sonisphere. Now imagine a long-legged beauty, piercings and Camden-certified stripey socks galore. We shall name her… about 200,000 rock fans. What happens when the men jostle and swear and try to get her attention? She opts for the skinnier, scarf wearing, fringed Reading and Leeds Festival bopping away at the end. Come on, we’ve all been there… when you’re the boring counterpart of the guy next to you, how can you offer the girl a bit of rockin’ variety in her life?
Yes, what may have the promoters worried is a certain problem of overlap. Before Sonisphere, one could clearly separate the Downloads from the Bloodstocks and Reading and Leeds’. But now there are two big bullies in the playground, who will emerge victorious?
This year, however, Sonisphere have managed to transcend the ‘samey’ by providing us with some metal encrusted gems, as they have managed to lasso a fair few acts that have never played at Download – a tough feat, considering the festivals longevity as ‘Monsters of Rock’. I speak of course of The Cult (who haven’t made an appearance since Reading and Leeds 2001), Iggy and the Stooges, Alice Cooper and Rammstein. Kudos Sonisphere for Rammstein’s first UK festival appearance, but are they really up to headlining?
I now pose another question of vital importance: what if one of the misunderstood mosher’s vying for the girl’s attention was successfully well endowed? With four stages that is, as Download will no doubt trump Sonisphere with the sheer amount of bands that will be playing. Prepare to sneer at the latter’s pathetic excuse of two main stages, ‘Bohemia’ and the staggered sets. What are we supposed to do if we don’t like the band on at the time? Tramp back to the campsite to drink perry for an hour? Not to mention the bottlenecks all the to-ing and fro-ing will cause; prepare to be more squashed than a tube stop on the Underground at rush hour.
Now look at Download. Rage Against The Machine, Deftones, AC/DC, the loyal Motorhead and Stone Sour are all bands worth ten times their salt. Okay so there may be nothing entirely new or striking, but the fact that you can see Lamb of God and Billy Idol is what whets fans… knickers. With a ton of new, exciting, smaller bands to be announced, Download is the place to get intimate with what’s emerging from the metal underbelly.
Besides, at their sister festival, you may think you’re going to headbang to ‘Feuer Frei’ but really you’re going to a fem-fest. By that I mean no disrespect; The Cult, a major influence in the creation of emo, will show how the whole ‘crying-into-your-eyeliner-because-a-girl-left’ is done, while bandwagonners Papa Roach, Madina Lake and even BMTH (I’ll admit, poached from Download Festival) can emulate this. And isn’t Alice Cooper a woman?
Download has history; far from being the McDonalds of rock with a chain of lucrative festivals all over the world, it is a safe haven for balls-out rockers everywhere. And if the idea of Corey Taylor taking his pants off onstage doesn’t swing it for you, well, I don’t know what will.