Download Festival 2014 was a tamer affair than in previous years, largely owing to the event's tightened alcohol and drugs searches, bands being instructed not to encourage the crowds to mosh, more mainstream main stage headliners, fewer boobs being shown on the live camera feed, and the sombre tone of the renamed 'Stephen Sutton Stage'. Instead of holding a silence for the cancer-struck teen, festival attendees took part in a minute of respectful applause, which was paralleled by comedy pop punk band Bowling For Soup's tribute to the late comic, Rik Mayall.
In memoriam sections aside, the festival managed to transform what could be perceived as a weaker line-up compared to its preceding year into a three-day celebration of a broad range of the rock spectrum, filled with bespoke performance gems and quality heavy metal memories. First night closers Avenged Sevenfold brought a larger stage to Donington than they'd ever taken out of the US and combined imposing crypt-inspired adornments with an explosive set that proved on a world stage that they are worthy successors to titans Metallica and Iron Maiden.
The beady-eyed punter will have had a ball spotting the odd and hilarious happenings across the weekend, including a "face-melting" washboard solo from Berlin faux cowboys The BossHoss, punk's immature popsters Bowling For Soup asking a knight to decapitate a giant inflatable sheep, full contact medieval fighting from Battle Heritage, and Killswitch Engage's Jesse Leach inviting the crowd to "dance responsibly" to a particularly heavy breakdown. Ribs were probably broken in the latter instance.
Continue reading: Download Festival 2014 Review