Download Festival 2010: Rated!

United Kingdom United Kingdom | by Ruth Booth | 15 June 2010

Click here to discover the top ten bands and worse five acts over the weekend.

Overall  - 8/10
The 2010 festival was a significant outing for Download. Not only did it mark the 30th anniversary of live metal at Castle Donington but the passing of a number of industry figureheads such as Ronnie James Dio, Pete Steele and Paul Gray could have given the festival a nostalgic melancholy. Instead, Download 2010 felt more like a celebration, and one that kicked off early thanks to the festival's ace in the hole, AC/DC, and their no holds barred stage show.

Other coups came in the form of the second ever UK show from The Damned Things and Rage Against The Machine, as well as sterling sets from Them Crooked Vultures, Aerosmith, Stone Sour, Bullet For My Valentine, Dillinger Escape Plan, Coheed and Cambria and more. While some may have found certain choices like Tiger Please a little unusual, the festival's full circle commitment to quality meant that most tastes were catered for. Likewise, sticking to last year's basic layout ensured free movement around the festival, as well as plenty of room for the pit monsters and sun worshippers alike. The vibe was a surprisingly easy mix of catharsis and leisure, and even the later start on Friday, due to AC/DC's appearance, felt more like suitable relaxation time than an annoying delay.

It can't be stressed enough how far Download has come in its six year history. While many other hard rock and metal festivals have sold their cutting edge status in return for popularist band choices, Download has handled that tricky compromise with style. Changes to the facilities and the introduction of classic band line-ups alongside both cutting edge underground acts and mainstream metal choices make the festival a choice not just for student metallers, but families too. As their recent decision to move AC/DC to their own stage shows, Download's organisers are not only sharp cookies when it comes to band choices, but the logistics as well. Some may have decried the lack of online streaming this year, but Download continues to prove itself the most innovative and sideways-thinking of metal festivals, without losing sight of who they're dealing with: meaning the festival retains that all important credibility factor while still catering to almost the full spectrum of hard rock and metal fans. And that's an impressive feat in any festival-goer's book.

Getting there and back - 7/10

Download Festival's transport links have always been pretty good, whether you wish to travel by public or private transport. National Express coaches were available from most major destinations. Those travelling by train were particularly well catered for, as they were met by shuttle buses coming from both Derby and East Midlands Parkway Stations. However, the inability to buy single tickets for these shuttle buses may have frustrated some.

The relocation of the taxi drop off point, and coach and shuttle bus stations to a field just across the road from the festival site proved to be a smart move, allowing much more room for the predictably large queues on Monday. The later kick off of events on Friday did little to ease the usual long queues for drivers trying to reach the site, but otherwise Download's access remains suitable for most punters.

The site - 8/10

Since the move of the festival from the old site on Donington racetrack itself to the fringes of the site, Live Nation have been tweaking the layout of Download. This year saw little change in that respect, and after 2008's nonsensical layout, this year was a repeat of 2009's successful arena plan. The festival site itself felt compact enough to feel like distances between stages were small, and yet the width of the festival easily catered to 100,000 people filling the main arena for AC/DC's lone headlining slot on Friday - as well as the second stage their set required. It would have been nice to see more made of the AC/DC stage across the weekend, perhaps hosting a larger version of the side of stage screens. However, the late addition of the stage most likely would have made this tricky to do.

In terms of food, most tastes were catered for, whether you fancied burgers, falafel, hog roast, noodles or chilli; while the (mostly) good weather across the weekend ensured that finding somewhere to sit and enjoy your meal was rarely a problem. Campers had plenty of room, with plenty of toilet facilities, communal showers and the option of paid luxury toilets, though VF felt that paid luxury showers would also have been well-received.

Atmosphere - 8/10
In recent years, Download has tried to move towards a more Glastonbury-esque communal feel. They've added more Glastonbury style cafes, and a larger variety of food, but the continuation of the line-up's "classic day" from last year has also widened its appeal. As a result, this year Download became a lot more family-friendly, with a greater spread of ages across the festival crowds. Download punters are generally up for it - beered up for it, for the most part - and with the more well-received bands, there's a Somme mentality when it comes to handling the rain. While you'll still find fights in some corners, the majority of Download festival-goers are good-natured, friendly folk, making this the least intimidating and most open of Britain's metal festivals, without losing any of its precious scene credibility.

Click here to discover the top ten bands and worse five acts over the weekend.

Random Events
- Walking to the campsite on the first day, VF spots a group of people dressed in giant banana costumes. As one of the stewards in a fluorescent orange jacket appeared, they yelled "tangerine", and all ran over to hug him.

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