Bangkok: Amsterdam, Birmingham, DOWNLOAD then home pt 4
Friday morning, a day during Download when i’ve historically been quite excited to start seeing the bands… This year, it’s different… This year there aren't many bands that i’m actually excited to see… In fact, if I be honest there’s not really ANY band this year that i’m excited about… Yes, I want to see Anthrax, a band i’ve never seen live… Die Antwoord are also a band i’m interested in, I want to see Slash and Myles Kennedy, but I saw them back in 2015 and I also saw them in Bangkok… When it comes to headline acts, nothing here appeals to me… I’ve never been a fan of Def Leppard, the same goes for Slipknot… And I have no intention at all in seeing Tool. As bands go, this years Download in my opinion, is poor… But maybe i’ll have some surprises… Maybe, as in previous years, a band i’ve never heard of will amaze me with a brilliant show… Let’s see shall we?
Friday at Download traditionally is fancy dress day, a theme is chosen earlier in the year, and some folks dress up (not everyone sticks to the theme… There’s always a few Stormtroopers wandering around regardless of if the theme is Star Wars or not) the theme this year is “Video Games” a theme, that doesn’t really interest me, it’s funny that the one year when i’d sort of decided that i’d let myself go and actually throw myself %100 into the “Download experience” that the organisers choose a theme that I really can’t be bothered with… Download 2019 isn’t looking great for me is it?
So yeah, video games… Jo had decided that she wanted to dress up, we discussed a few ideas a while ago, when in a flash of inspiration I suggested “Pokemon”… An internet search later and Jo was ordering an inflatable “Pikachu” costume… So, here we are, Friday at Download, the ground is thick with mud… And Jo is dressed as Pikachu as we head to the arena for the first day of bands at Download.
Halfway from our campsite to the guest area and “Pikachu” isn’t looking good… There’s an air leak somewhere and Pikachu is somewhat deflated… A little bit of investigation later and I discover that a locking nut that holds the air pump in place is missing, every time Jo walks, the air pump moves and lets the air out of the costume… We head to a stall and ask the man behind the counter if he sells tape, he doesn’t sell tape but offers to let us use his own tape to fix the costume… A few minutes and a bit of duct tape later and Pikachu is heading off to the guest area.
The weather has eased a little, it’s not currently raining, but the ground is muddy due to the previous days bad weather… We stand in line, waiting to get into the arena… The gates officially open at 12, we wait in line, chatting, Jo is posing for photographs with lots of people… The costume so far is a success.
Gate opening time has come and passed… Still, we wait in line, there’s a little delay in us getting into the arena, people are still asking for photographs with Pikachu, a second Pikachu appears and they pose for photographs together, the day is starting off pretty well…
Later than planned, the gates open and we head into the arena… Despite the arena having only just opened, the ground is already muddy, Jo/Pikachu is holding onto my arm, the costume and mud are making walking difficult… as we walk (slowly) we are stopped by various people asking to have a photograph taken with Pikachu, Jo is loving it, we meet up with Nick and he walks with us for a while… The day sours slightly when, as Jo is having a photograph taken with someone, an idiot walking with his girlfriend tries to shove Pikachu (in an effort to knock her over) i’m standing at Jo’s left, by the time i’ve got round to her right I can see the idiot is already being given a hard time by his girlfriend for being such a prick, she’s dragging him off screaming at him, I return to Jos side, she’s unaware of what happened, i’m feeling less happy about her being in fancy dress, the actions of one idiot have put me on edge… We walk on… More people are having photos taken with Pikachu, we join the queue to get some drinks and I can see people taking photos on their phones of Pikachu buying booze… I’m still on edge… I try to convince Jo to ditch the costume, but she’s enjoying herself too much… Pikachu lives on.
Bands are now playing, but no band that we really wanted to see, so more wandering around with Pikachu for us… Skidrow are playing on the second stage… They no longer have their original singer… The bloke singing for them is terrible… we are not impressed… So we go for a walk… During this walk we encounter a second idiot… From out of nowhere he tries to rugby tackle Pikachu, Jo sees him coming and moves, avoiding injury, but still I am by now demanding she ditches the costume… I’m tired of idiots, i’m tired of being on edge… I don’t want our day being ruined by Jo being hurt or us being dragged into a fight with drunken idiots. Jo wants to be Pikachu for a while longer… We walk for a while, but we notice Pikachu is delating… The rugby tackle idiot has managed to damage Pikachus tail, ripping the costume, causing it to delate… Jo ditches Pikachu… I can now relax a little…. A little.
I’m pissed off. There were people at this festival who were genuinely happy to see Pikachu… Yet two fucking idiots managed to ruin it. Oh, I hate people.
So… Pikachu is dead. We head off to get some food… Nick buys himself a sausage, I end up having chicken nuggets with curry sauce… We later find out it’s vegan food and we never knew.. Maybe our planned vegetarian adventure won’t be too hard after all?
The rest of Friday is a mixed bag of queuing for drinks, eating food and seeing bands… Some good… Some not so good….
Blackberry Smoke, a country rock band… They were good but I found their show somewhat lacking… Clutch, as always were musically brilliant, my issue with Clutch is that they tend to have an indulgent set list, too much new stuff, not enough older/classic stuff… Whitesnake… Oh dear… This was bad… Very bad… A band stuck in the 1980s... A frontman who can no longer sing the songs and relies on his guitarist to sing for him.. We did sing along to a few classics tho... So maybe it wasn’t too bad?… Slash with Myles Kennedy, were the best band of the whole festival in my opinion… I love this band, absolutely brilliant! Me and Jo wander around for the rest of the night, we drink, we catch a little bit of Friday night Headliners Def Leppard while eating a delicious meal of mashed potato, pulled pork and gravy in a Yorkshire pudding… Not my cup of tea (Def Leppard not the food.. the food was lovely), but actually not as bad as I thought they would be… we leave then we head back to our tent… Not a great day at Download, the weather has been hit and miss today, it’s rained on and off and the mud is annoying me…
[Insert easy listening music here]
I’m not enjoying writing this…. I’m really not.. It’s becoming a struggle to write and i’m guessing it’s bloody unbearable to read…It’s ok... Be honest... I can handle criticism… In moderation of course…
I wanted to blog about our trip back to England and I REALLY wanted to blog about Download festival… But here I am.. part 4 is it? And bloody hell it’s becoming tiresome…
But yeah, I started out writing this as a multipart blog so I guess I have to finish it… However much i’m not enjoying it.
So I’m thinking that I may just jump straight from Friday at download and then just go through the rest of the weekend pointing out highlights… So yeah, this blog will change… Will it become more entertaining? Probably not… But at least i’m aware that this one is shit… I wonder if Shakespeare ever had days like this… Quill in hand at his desk, the candlelight casting shadows around his room… Shakespeare places his quill back into his ink pot and exclaims “fuck me, this is shit.”… And on that day ROMEO & JULIET PT2 : THE REVENGE bit the dust… As this blog should. Trust me, if you stop reading NOW I wouldn’t blame you.
So yeah, Download festival… The weather is shit, it’s not getting worse but it’s not getting better, we have cloud, a little bit of sunshine then rain… The mud is getting worse, the line up isn’t inspiring... Download 2019 is not good… There have been some interesting bands.. Die Antwoord were interesting… South African dance/rap/ madness will ( and did ) divide people... But I enjoyed it... Slipknot were Slipknot, no change there, same old stage show… Musically i’m not enjoying the festival, the weather is really pissing me off… On Sunday i’m wandering around the arena… At which point in a womans life does it become “cool” to wander around a festival with (I presume) your family, your husband, your son, your daughter… walking hand in hand, through a muddy field… Wearing nothing but a leotard, with your arse hanging out and your tits on full display? How do your kids feel? Yes Mom, you’re cool, but Tiffany here (yes I just named the daughter) is wearing jeans and a T-Shirt and you Mom (who i’m ageing to be mid-forties) is walking around dressed like lap dancer in a low-end gogo bar… Maybe i’m just boring.
Slayer on Sunday should have been on a bigger stage, Tool on main stage (a band I don’t think are headliner level anyway) are playing to a field that only looks about 1/3 full, whereas the Slayer crowd are crushed together… Slayer are putting on a good show… Tool are pretentious prog rock bollocks… Not good…Two words that sum up this festival for me... Not good. There is a saving grace tho… One thing that has made this “not good” festival into something enjoyable… Professional wrestling.
Yes, it’s fake… Yes, it’s silly… Yes, it’s pantomime… But I love it… God bless wrestling.
Did I mention that Jo is friends with a wrestler? I’ll not give his name… All I’ll say is that he’s doing quite well for himself and is signed to one of (actually THE) biggest wrestling promotions in the world *COUGH* WWE *COUGH* and I honestly believe that he is going to be (well he’s actually quite well known as it is) going to be a big star further on down the line .. Anyway, Sunday night as the festival is dragging it’s arse to a close she’s texting back and forth with a WWE wrestler discussing meeting up for a drink next time we’re back in England… So that’s how our lives have changed in the past year… We live in Asia, we travel 6000 miles to visit a festival... And my wife is arranging drink meets with WWE wrestlers…. Yeah, life has changed.
*SCREEEECH of brakes*
Something else that had been good… Indian food, and Masala Chai... There was a food stall in the guest area, the food was amazing, the girl that worked there was friendly (and gorgeous.. Just saying)… One one of the nights they were selling something called “Masala Chai”.. A milky tea infused with spices… Me and Jo tried it (nervously) but loved it... Masala Chai became our go-to drink before bed… On Sunday night we went to the stall for a hot cup of Chai and the girl who worked there (Did I mention she was gorgeous?) handed Jo a box of Masala Chai sachets.. She explained won’t be the same as they sell (as her Mom made it) but she thought we’d like it.. A lovely gift and a lovely thought… Masala Chai... Try it!
Monday morning arrives, Jo is packing our stuff away and I draw the short straw and have to walk to yellow camp to help the boys put away their (my) tent.
I’m tired, i’ve not had a great festival, it’s cold, it’s muddy. it’s wet… And i’m walking toward yellow camp to help two lads put down a tent on a muddy slope. Great.
I get to the tent and find the boys have not started packing stuff away, i’m in a bad mood, I don’t hide it too well. The tent eventually is taken down and here on this muddy slope, we attempt to roll it up and get it back into it’s bag… Anyone that has ever attempted to pack a tent away will know that tents NEVER go back into the bag they came out of easily… I honestly think that tent bags shrink as soon as the tent is removed… Tent bags are a universal practical joke being played on campers the world over. I’m cold, i’m muddy, i’m fighting with a tent… On my knees, in the mud I spy a black bin liner on the muddy slope… The wind blows gently (or gale force if you’re fighting with a fucking tent) and the bin liner opens... To reveal that some delightful soul has taken a shit in a bin bag.
Bad mood escalates to fury rather quickly... “FUCKS SAKE!” I shout, occupants of the tents around me can hear my tirade “SOME DIRTY CUNTS HAD A SHIT IN A BIN BAG!” .. Shitter, I’m 99.9999% sure you’re not reading this… But let it be known, you sir, or indeed Madam are scum and I wish that all manner of evils befall you... You absolute cunt.
Other, non-scummy readers (are you still here?) I apologise for the bad language… Sort of.
Tent, eventually packed away, we head to the carpark and thankfully head home.
I will be attending Download 2020... But That Download will be the decider for me... If I don’t have an amazing time I will not be attending Download festival again. But (here’s the good news dear reader) i’ll not be blogging about it again.. Or at least i’ll not be blogging so bloody much about it… Promise!
Our flight back to Bangkok was worlds away from our flight FROM Bangkok… Jo had no nerves… In fact, she slept for most of the flight… No panics… No tears... I am really proud of her… I’m not dreading our next flight. i’m actually looking forward to it (flights that are currently already booked… All WILL be revealed)
Back home in Bangkok… A suitcase full of muddy clothes… A festival that has left me feeling a little bit anti-festival…
Download festival 2019 is a bit like this blog (or series of blogs) it could have, and SHOULD have been entertaining… But it wasn’t. And someone took a shit in a bin bag.
So until next time…