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Review: Download 2015

By Sj.Cliff
Review: Download 2015

We’re at it again! TheStudentGuide.com’s Sam set off on an adventure to Download 2015!

Regardless of your age, Download 2015 was a once in a lifetime experience. Rock stars old and new came together and turned an otherwise wet, miserable weekend into a show that even the most committed pyromaniac would be proud of.

We showed up on Saturday to have a look at what the weekend would hold…


The excitement surrounding one of the best alternative festivals in the calendar started off pretty damp to be honest – in both the literal and metaphorical sense.

Just so I don’t have to remind myself of how wet it was, or ever mention it again; it rained the whole time. Pretty much none stop. That kind drizzly rain that doesn’t really look so wet, but ends up soaking you through.

Shit weather aside, we got off to a good start. The arena was starting to fill up with the hangovers of Friday nights Slipknot performance, the ground wasn’t too soggy yet and feelings were good.

First stop was the Maverick Stage. If memory serves me correctly, this huge blue tent used to moonlight under the name Pepsi Max stage – but who can be sure?

Despite the stage being just under a third of the size of the main stage, the atmosphere was electric. All of the bands performing there (not just when we visited but when we walked past) seemed to have bought their entire fan-club with them to get as rowdy as possible.

One of my favourite all-American punk bands, Rise Against, strolled onto the stage and belted out an amazing collection of classics. A feature of a lot of American groups seemed to be praising the rain, making the festival as dirty it’s “supposed to be." I was too happy to start arguing by the time they’d left.

It was at this point that we called it time and wandered off to get food from a quaint pulled meat wagon located near the press area. Both hearty and delicious, my pulled lamb bun totally hit the spot, and my mate informed me that the rosemary salted chips were so good that I wasn’t allowed to have any. Gutting.

Muse closed the show on Saturday, combing stunning on-screen visuals with Matt Bellamy’s musical genius. At the risk of sounding like a video-snob, the way the screen display (we weren’t tall enough to see the stage) actually blew my mind a little bit. "Knights Of Cydonia" featured awesome desert and wireframe, overlaid with footage of the band that created a great experience for those of us who aren’t 8 feet tall.


After a night in the car, I woke up feeling pretty good about the events to come. I mean, who else can say they saw Kiss and Mötley Crüe in one night…aside from the 85,000 other visitors that descended on Donington Parkway last weekend.

Stretching the cramp out of my neck, the sun shining, we headed off into the VIP area to grab a bite to eat. All of the food vendors looked absolutely amazing but in the end, we decided we needed a breakfast muffin. This little beauty came from Original Fry-up Material.



It was as delicious as it looked.

Seeing as it was early, we had a bit of time to put the new cashless payment system through its paces. Good old retail therapy!

Stalls were ranged from alternative clothing and socks to tattooists and piercing jewellery. Oh, and top hats… LOADS of top hats – more about that later. Despite all of the issues being reported by festivalgoers on Twitter, our tags worked perfectly. All the joys of making a contact-purchase with your bankcard but with the ease of it being attached to you at all times! Top up points got a little hectic at times, but it was still better than messing around with change.

After grabbing a few bits and bobs, we took our places near the sound desk of Main Stage.

We arrived just in time to see Billy Idol, cue every woman over 40 to LOOSE THEIR SHIT. Which is fine, I think Billy is in great shape for his age. But I think we, and Billy himself, need to remember that he’s 59. At 59, performing is awesome, taking your shirt(s) off and broadcasting giant videos of your crotch looks creepy.

Stoke-on-trent’s finest was next to grace the stage, along with Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators. Guns and Roses hits were interlaced throughout the set, giving the star a chance to shine from underneath his top hat (thus why so many were sold at the stalls).

Mötley Crüe’s performance was full of production notes nodding back to 1980’s rock and roll – beautiful dancers, smoke and a lot of fire.  The platform Tommy Lee was drumming on burst into a pentagon of flames mid-way through and bassist Nikki Sixx pulled out a flamethrower instrument during Shout at the Devil.

Kiss took almost an hour to set up which really lead me to wonder if the hype surrounding the headliners was worth it. It took around 10-seconds of the set to take it all back.

The rockers came out as badass as they looked 30 years ago.

Lead singer Starchild (so much cooler than his real name of Paul), made sure all 85,000 people watching the gig felt as awesome as they did, constantly playing and interacting with the crowd between songs, illuminating the stage with spotlights to see all the “beautiful” people present.

Half way through, the real magic started to happen. After joining Gene Simmonds on a 30-foot platform to play guitar, Paul hopped onto a BLOODY ROPE SWING and flew over the audience to perform on a custom built plinth right in the centre of the audience.

The close had to be the highlight of the show.  After a 90 minute set and an encore, Kiss wasn't done with us. Confetti, fireworks and smoke filled the night sky, essentially creating a little bit of daylight before midnight. It was actually amazing and totally worth the wait.

Here was the best video I could grab because if I was honest, the sheer magnitude of the display overwhelmed me.


Our Verdict:

Lovers of rock and roll were truly treated to a weekend they’ll never forget. For the price the event it was amazing value; a new high of 5 stages combined with Sunday’s musical royalty should definitely have cost more than that!

There were only really two downsides to the weekend. One being the shit weather, but you can’t really blame Donington for that. The other was something a little forward planning could have avoided – clashes.

I’m not asking for the world or for bands to all be on at different times, that just isn’t feasible. But then again, neither is putting all headline acts on the same timeline! I’d have killed to see a couple of songs from Enter Shikari before wandering into the super-show that was Kiss!

For those of you that missed the action, we were thinking of you the whole time… NOT! Check out the official Download Festival YouTube account to get your fix until next year!

Or you can have a look at my adventures on our socials!


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