The top five Download Festival gambles

Ryan Duggleby looks at those line-up gambles that Download Festival bookers have taken in the past and whether they hit the jackpot or made them look like a little crackpot.

Forget mobs with pitchforks and flaming torches, when Download Festival gambles on a booking they risk the wrath of furious Facebook fans, harsh online retaliation and, if it their luck really isn’t in with the devil that year, having to pick up hundreds of piss-rimmed bottles on show day that have been lobbed in disgust.

This year, the objections are over Chase & Status. Whether or not it’s the right booking ahead of The Prodigy remains to be seen, but here we look at the five gambles taken by Download organisers in the past and how well they fared.

Feeder – 2005

It was the year Download Festival went soft. Perhaps on a line-up that included Black Sabbath, the very founders of the metal, organisers were flirting with disaster when they booked radio-friendly rockers Feeder. However, a main stage crowd rather got into the soft rock swing of things and a hearty sing-along to ‘Just a Day’ saved the day and, ultimately, the organisers’ blushes.
Did it pay off? Jackpot!

My Chemical Romance – 2007

The boos began 30 minutes before they were due to arrive. If this gamble was roulette, the ball wouldn’t have landed on red or black, but bounced off of the table. Bottles, piss, apples and anything else not nailed to the ground soon followed. But a courageous showing from Gerard Way and Co., and perhaps a lack of missiles, soon had the Donington on their side with what went down as one of the most unsavoury yet unshrinking headline shows in the festival’s history.
Did it pay off? Jackpot (just about)!

Pendulum – 2008

Undeterred by the previous year’s risk, 2008 was the year of genre diversity for Download. The second stage hosted a, then much lesser known, Aussie drum and bass group called Pendulum alongside grime artist Lethal Bizzle. Again, this proved a two sided coin of Download attendee approval with Pendulum receiving a larger crowd than most bands could dream of over the weekend. Packed with a colourful assortment of some of the greatest, yet intoxicated dancing at any festival that summer, Pendulum destroyed all preconceptions.
Did it pay off? Jackpot!

Lethal Bizzle – 2008

Despite his greatest self-abusing efforts (“Say fuck you Bizzle”, he urged the crowd), rapper Lethal Bizzle proved a little too left-field for Donington to handle. There were bottle storm scenes reminiscent of My Chemical Romance a year previous, except this time a banana skin and tubs of free yoghurt were thrown at the stage. There was a nasty undertone of racism from a small section of the crowd as well. It was a worrying stain on the Download notebook.
Did it pay off? Crackpot!

Chase and Status – 2012

So with this in mind, what will become of Chase and Status this year? Will we see a drunken, joyful haze of tolerance and acceptance, or a far darker onslaught by the metal masses? Only time will tell, but if history is anything to go by, we can presume the dance act will provide strength to the community by relieving the ever present chugs of guitars with colourful, synth-laden songs which will have even the hardiest of metal heads jigging along. Our money’s on a risk-reward this year.
Will it pay off? We think jackpot!