Bangkok: Amsterdam, Birmingham, DOWNLOAD then home pt 3
Wednesday morning, Download festival day one is here!
Sadly… So is the rain.
It shows no signs of stopping, it’s been raining constantly, some times heavier than others… But raining non-stop, this does not look good for the festival.
We pick the boys up and load the car, the drive to Castle Donington is fun, driving along listening to loud music, passing other vehicles full of people all heading to Download festival… But still, the rain continues to fall.
We arrive at Castle Donington,we drive into the festival and drive our car into a waiting area as a drugs/bomb search dog wanders up and down sniffing cars (I do hope all that carbon monoxide doesn’t do him any harm) we then drive for what seems for an age through various checkpoints, before arriving at the second security point… We exit the car as security search our car for contraband, luckily they complete their search without finding our glass bottles of gin and whiskey (glass is banned at Download)… A short time later and we arrive at the carpark, the boys get out of the car with their camping gear and head off to their campsite while Me and Jo head off to our site, for the first time at Download we would be camping in different sites, the boys would be in normal camping while Me and Jo would be in the more expensive RIP site, We’ve been to Download every year since 2015, every time camping in the “quiet” camping area, every year spending time putting a tent up, setting up a camp and every year on Monday morning struggling to pack the camp down and carry our gear back to the car… This year will be different, this year we’re having a bit of (admittedly quite expensive) luxury, this year once we get to our camp, our tent will be ready and waiting for us… Bliss!
We carry our bags to our site, we could have used the onsite golf buggies but the queue was quite long and the camp didn’t seem to be too far away, we get to our site and Jo heads off to find where our tent is, she arrives back a short time later and leads us to our tent, tent number 39, we go inside and discover it doesn’t have a double bed, it has four single beds, Jo is convinced we’ve been given the wrong tent so we head off to the organisers tent to double check, it turns out Jo was right, tent 39 isn’t our tent, we are taken to tent 113 and settle in… Still, the rain keeps falling.
We sort our bags out and make our tent into a home (sort of), we rest for a bit (we may or may not have had a drink or two) Jo messages the lads and they tell us they’ve found a camping spot in yellow camp, we’d previously given the boys a few pointers on where to put the tent, close enough to the toilets for convenience, but far enough away to avoid the smells, don’t pitch your tent under a tree or too close to a barrier fence (or as it’s known at a festival the public urinal) and don’t pitch your tent on a slope… Good camping advice right there!
We decide to go and meet up with the boys, we walk for an age, passing hoards of people pitching tents in the (thankfully lighter falling) rain, we find yellow camp but no sign of the boys, Jo calls them, it turns out they are not in yellow camp, they’re actually in GOLD camp, we walk a little further and the boys and the tent come into view… Despite all of our advice, they’ve managed to pitch the tent quite close to a barrier (urinal) wall and they’re also pitched on a steep slope… There was also some confusion on the part of the festival organisers where instead of camping in quiet camp they’re also camping in the noisier, rowdier “standard” camp… This could be interesting.
Camping criticism voiced, we head off to the “the village”, the village is the area of the festival where folks meet up before the bands, after the bands and sometimes during the bands, it has food stalls, shops, bars and other attractions, due to some new airport laws (Download festival is located very close to an airport) the village has been moved this year, the layout is different, we don’t think we like it… The rain has begun to fall harder again, already the ground in the village and the campsites is thick with mud… This is not looking good… But still there is hope, the weather reports still say the weather will get better.
We have some lunch then head back to our tent, leaving the boys in the village… Walking back to our tent we see people trying to pitch tents in the rain and mud.
As part of the “RIP” package we have access to a bar within our camp, it’s a nice place with actual brick walls and a roof… Take that bad weather!
We buy a couple of drinks and find a couple of seats at a table occupied by a family… I recognise the man sitting opposite me… During the build-up to Download last year I looked on Youtube for videos reviewing previous festivals and found a video posted by the man sitting opposite me, it was an ok video, he seemed quite nice, I later saw another of his videos where he’d visited the site of the festival before the stages had been set up, letting folks know what condition the campsites were in prior to people turning up, during the build-up to this years festival he’d posted a video giving details of a press meeting and some of the changes to the festival and what to expect…
So i’m looking at this man, I whisper to Jo that I “know” him and that i’m going to tell him i’ve seen some of his videos… Jo tells me not to say anything… Jo was right.
We sit opposite this man for a while, the conversation is flowing (sort of) drinks are drunk, over the course of the next hour(ish) my opinion of him changes. He’s not nice… In fact, he’s a bit of a wanker. If a conversation is not being led by him, he sulks... He sits quietly and you can see he’s sulking, stewing, getting frustrated… Any discussion about bands he’s not a huge fan of, he shuts down quickly... He dismisses artists he doesn’t like and gears conversation back to HIS favourite bands… He’s self-centred… He’s a prick.
We leave the bar and head back to our tent, we discover that we can buy the lads a guest entry to our site, which we decide we’ll do tomorrow.
Later in the evening we head back to the village to meet the boys, the rain is falling harder, the ground is now a muddy mess, still, people are arriving, trying to pitch tents in the pouring rain.
We meet the boys in the comedy tent, the comedian on stage is going down really well with the crowd, he finishes his act and another comedian takes to the stage, i’ve seen him before (last year in fact) I don’t catch his name but I remember him, a flamboyant gay comedian, I remember him because last year when he performed (and was loved by the crowd) I commented on how the world has changed… Would an openly gay man have been this well received at this type of festival (predominantly Rock and metal acts) 20 years or so ago? Possibly not, but back in 2017 he was applauded loudly and the crowd loved him… This year, not so much… He’s changed his act... Last year he was camp, he was clever, he was funny… This year he’s still camp, but he’s trying to be darker, he seems to be trying too hard to shock people… He’s getting a few laughs but nothing like he did last year… Maybe change isn’t better after all my friend.
We leave the tent and head to one of the bars, loud music is playing and people are dancing on tables, “We built this city” by Starship is playing and everyone is singing along, the floor of the bar is thick with mud, even here isn’t safe from it, we buy drinks and mingle with the crowd, more songs play, we sing, we dance and outside in the night the rain falls harder than before…
We leave the bar and head to the market stalls, to buy waterproof clothing, the weather is getting worse… We hope that Thursday will be better.
we awake early on Thursday to clear blue skies… The ground is still a muddy mess but the blue sky gives us hope.
Hopes are dashed less than an hour later when the rain falls again, we buy guest area passes and the boys join us for the day, we spend most of it in our tent, listening to music, drinking, playing cards… Kai leaves us for a while to visit the onsite video gaming centre for a while, when he leaves the rest of us fall asleep.
Later on we head to the bar to see some bands, we see a band we’ve seen before supporting one of our favourite bands in Birmingham, they go down well with the crowd, the second band we see are amazing, “Those damn Crows” from Wales… Brilliant! In the crowd, we see an old friend from England and spend a while catching up…
Today has been a good day… Despite the weather… Tomorrow is Friday, the festival properly opens tomorrow and the main arena will be full of people… We have been told that the ground inside the arena is a mess tho, even before it’s been trampled by thousands of people it’s already not in a good condition.
The boys head back to their camp, Me and jo end up sitting around a campfire with some other campers, everyone is chatting, everyone seems to be getting along, one couple have bought marshmallows, all is going well… Until we get joined by someone who can’t handle his drink… The campfire is roaring, logs are burning nicely, but his one idiot is trying to put plastic containers into the flames, someone stops him, he eventually sits down and behaves himself, but then we are joined by another drunk person, he’s in fancy dress (which isn’t a problem) but he’s acting like an idiot too close to the fire, his costume looks highly flammable, Me and Jo leave, the atmosphere has soured.
We buy hot drinks and head off to our tent…
So until the bands start playing… And Part 4…