It feels less than a year since the “put your tent up while drunk Crystal Maze level challenge” has been upon me. But here we are, and there goes a plane right overhead to remind us that sleep is not an option for the foreseeable future. The threat of rain hit hard but hit before we arrived avoiding us a soaking and for the rest of the day it stayed lovely.
I think. I don’t quite remember much after perhaps 6pm.
A cold beer can pressed against my head and the question of why are my hands completely covered in mud on my lips is how the first hour so of Fridays morning went, but soon we’re back on track for the first festival day itself. After some sitting and lying about listening to Download FM, painting faces (more on that soon) and eating an unholy amount of Pringles it was time to go on the march to the arena, and fuck me if that’s not a long walk. Eventually we make it in (after security inevitably claims a bottle of water as something we can’t take in…every fucking year!) and marvel at the mainstage in its glory. It’s still one of my favourite sights. The bands are already in action but my first port of call is British power metal giants DragonForce. DragonForce have suffered in the past with their ability, or inability as some claim, to play live. Now with a new singer they’re back and have something to prove. Herman Li and Sam Totman are on fire and vocalist Marc Hudson works the crowd like a champ. Unfortunately they are let down by the sound, the drums seem to overpower a lot and the guitars are muddy in the mix but we can’t blame them for that and they put on a hell of a show.
Next up come Europe who are returning this year after missing 2012s festival due to the freak weather conditions. They play a mixed set with some new material and a lot of the old classics. Set highlights include Scream of Anger and Rock the Night along with singer Joey Tempests amazingly white teeth. Soon enough their set approaches a close with the opening keys from The Final Countdown causing the place to go mental. A good jump is a great way to shake the hangover cobwebs, or make you sick, in this case it shook them. Europe left the stage with a lot more fans than they came on with which is what a band want from a festival. We also experienced the first near fight of the weekend, a crowdsurfer landed on a chaps head beside me and he was none too pleased. Unfortunately I was charging forth to the battle metal warlords Turisas to find out the results.
I entered the third stage tent with my face painted red and black and joined the throng of other painted up warriors, some wielding hammers and axes, thankfully inflatable. After a set up which included the drummer from the band helping prepare his kit and pretending to be invisible they entered to The March of the Varangian Guard. I’m sure they were holding back at first as when they chorus hit, the chorus hit; I was nearly blown back to my tent from the power that came and for the next 25 minutes or so that power kept up. The set took a strange turn during Holmgard where someone fucked up a tad and seemed to confuse the entire band. This did nothing to dampen spirits, if anything it won the crowd even more because of the good save. We were treated to an airing of a new song which sounds pretty outstanding , plenty of whoa ohs and I like a whoa oh. Sadly the set came to an end soon with Battle Metal, but a person cant be sad when Turisas are playing Battle Metal so it was back to the pit for a final hoorah as Warlord Nygard led us to the finale. Should add here, before the set started the second fight of the day broke out somewhere to the left of me but quickly died out.
After all that battling it was time for a break which was taken in the queue to meet Turisas in the signing tent. They, unlike they’re barbarian get ups, are surprisingly lovely people!
After the signing I caught a bit of Bullet For My Valentine who had some nice looking pyro as I enjoyed an overpriced burger and a prawn cracker some passing gentleman gave me.
HIM were headlining the 3rd stage that night where we witnessed the next few fights (if only I had a cowboy hat on to commentate like good ol’ JR). The band themselves played an impressive set, firing out a stream of classics and hits one after another, perhaps to compete with Slipknot who were burning up the mainstage with flying drum kits and beer kegs. I cant claim to be the biggest fan of Slipknot in the world, but the moment where Corey Taylor had the crowd crouch down then jump up was truly a thing of beauty to behold.
The long march back to the campsite followed; bringing day one of Download 2013 to a close.