Australia's inaugural Download Festival...
Held in Melbourne on March 24th this year, Download in Australia has proven to be a massive success. Not only did it show that Aussie punters still have a thirst for music festival events such as Download, but it also demonstrated the breadth of talent that this country has on offer.
After the disappointing demise of the Big Day Out and Soundwave festivals, a giant chasm was left in the Aussie music calendar. Thankfully, after a few false starts, another giant festival tour has seized the opportunity and dipped its big fat toe in our waters. Download has been enormously successful since its inception in 2003. This annual summer heavy metal event held, at Donington Park in Leicestershire, England, has hosted some of the genres' biggest names, including Saxon, Black Sabbath, Slipknot, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Aerosmith, AC/DC, Def Leppard, Kiss, Motörhead, Judas Priest, Status Quo, Mötley Crüe, ZZ Top, Whitesnake, Thin Lizzy, Faith No More, Journey, and Guns N' Roses.
The move to include Melbourne on its 2018 roster has seen the festival venture into the Southern Hemisphere for the very first time. And what an impact it had!
HIGH TENSION (Melbourne's own deathcore tyrants) were the first to hit the stage as the queues outside the venue slowly but surely filtered in, to grab a space at the front of the enormous "Red" and "Black" stages. Four stages were used for the event, with 29 bands scheduled to play over 10 hours.
A crowd of approximately 30,000 attended the event, ascending on Flemington Racecourse as the first Melbourne rain in months belted down from the heavens above. Instead of dampening the spirits of the throng of fans that had made the pilgrimage from all corners of the country, an atmosphere of excitement and anticipation quickly grew. By mid afternoon the rain had stopped and the clouds were smashed apart, probably a result of the unbridled energy coming from GOJIRA during their unforgettable set on the "Black" stage.
Food stalls, beer halls, vendors of all kinds and sideshow events all provided a distraction for those needing a break from all the moshing and crowd surfing.
A throng of photographers raced from stage to stage (including 'yours truly') in an attempt to capture as many bands as possible. This was definitely an endurance event of marathon proportions for all of us, but boy was it worth it!
I managed to capture many bands that I had not previously seen or heard and I must say, most have left a positive impression and a desire to hear more! Across the event I photographed 15 bands and came home with 8000 images as well as some aching muscles and blistered feet. And again... it was all worth it!
Stand-out highlights for me were Arch Enemy, Gojira and Prophets Of Rage, with Of Mice & Men, Northlane, High Tension, Make Them Suffer and Clowns also high on my 'best on ground' list...
From CLOWNS to ARCH ENEMY... MASTODON to LIMP BIZKIT... there was plenty going on to keep all punters happy... I even witnessed a same sex wedding take place in the inflatable chapel, complete with surreal soundtrack provided by "System Of A Down".
So, in the wake of Download's Melbourne success in 2018 an announcement has already been made regarding the festival's return for 2019, as well as an expansion north into Sydney. If this year's event is anything to go by, I will gladly endure the blisters, sweaty arse and sore shoulders that come with this amazing photography gig!
Bring it on!