[LIVE REVIEW] Download 2018 @ Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne 24/03/2018

The build-up has been massive to the inaugural Download Festival that took Melbourne literally by storm on Saturday. The weather gods were not looking kindly upon us, in fact they were giving us the big middle finger as we made our way to Flemington Racecourse for a day of mayhem and madness. With storms descending on us right from the get go you had no choice but to pull on your poncho and embrace the rain. Download is notorious for the rain and Melbourne proved to be no exception to the rule, with small rivers running throughout the venue in no time.

  

My first stop was the inflatable church with its priest spruiking his wares out the front, dragging unsuspecting punters in for a mock marriage or maybe a prayer or two to cleanse their sins before they hit the stages. The Crypt was open to RIP pass holders, it had easy access to the bar and great food options. There were plenty of tables to have a rest at while you took advantage of the free phone charging and even get a free tattoo at The Original Sailor Jerry’s. But you better get in quick next year if you want RIP access as they sold out in no time this year.

The Avalanche Stage had Clowns opening the day’s proceedings, the crowd went from zero to hero in a matter of seconds and the circle pit was instant. Singer Stevie Williams taking to the crowd for a surf then having a sing from the middle of the mosh while he was there. It really set the tone for the day, it was going to be crazy!! I plotted my course and tried to stick to it, I will do best to give you a snippet of what I saw. Ocean Grove didn’t disappoint on the Black Stage, then it was over to the neighboring Red Stage for Northlane. It can be equivalized to the world’s most metal ping pong match as the bands bounced from stage to stage, the crews working overtime to set and reset over the duration of the shows. Thankfully the rains had eased as Of Mice & Men brought their big sound and also a terrific cover of Pink Floyds Money, then Sabaton gave a killer set, decked out in camo, their melodious metal sound a winner, complete with their hero’s salute on completion of their set. Gojira had the go big or go home approach with smoke cannons and pyro, and I hope the photographers still have some eyebrows left after getting caught in the pit when a burst of flames descended on them.  They had the crowd surfers and circle pits running at full force and loving every minute.

Amon Amarth had the fans in a flurry, with one punter in full Viking attire taking to the top of the crowd for a sing-a-long, add to this a wheelchair crowd surfer who was absolutely losing his mind on top of the mosh. Singer Johan Hegg advising us all to Skol!! as he drank from his horn. His parting words Party On, Be Safe and Raise Your Horn!!! Mastodon had the crowd in overdrive with fists pumping and circle pits travelling at warp speed. The swelling crowd leaving nothing in the tank during their 40-minute set. I paid a flying visit to Falling In Reverse on the Dogtooth Stage who slayed their fans with high energy and unending stamina, they went down a treat.  Back to the Red Stage for Good Charlotte who wowed the pants off everyone. The fans came from everywhere flooding the stage unlike anything I had seen so far during the day. They gave us all the favourites with the crowd singing back with gusto. I know people had doubts if Good Charlotte fit the bill for Download but the fans spoke with their feet and it was a resounding yes. As the clouds broke and the sun warmed our backs you couldn’t help but think that only in Melbourne could you need a raincoat and sunscreen in the one day.

The lines for the mech tents were unending all day, on talking to people they were disappointed in the wait times and I think there definitely needs to be more merchandise stands available for the next instalment, we love to buy our piece of history albeit a shirt, stubbie holder or a skateboard deck if that takes your fancy, but we don’t want to miss bands in the process.

Suicidal Tendencies lived up to their name with madness taking over the Avalanche Stage, many punters having a death wish as they crowd surfed with reckless abandon. I pitied the photographers in the pit as the metalheads relentlessly flew over the barrier. A little bit more security would not have gone astray. A quick rush back to the Black Stage saw Limp Bizkit whipping the fans up to fever pitch with Fred Durst taking to the crowd for a song, not just up the front but way into the crowd, a real treat for the fans as he sang from their shoulders. The guitarist in full black body paint was quite eerie and I pity him later trying to wash it all off.  The crowd was crazy loud with chants and fist pumps seemingly on and endless loop to which Fred said “this is definitely Melbourne!” Our wheelchair crowd surfer popped up again and made the journey over the top loving every minute. One fan treated to a song on stage with Fred as they did their best rendition of George Michael’s Faith. A lucky day for that fan, a moment he will never forget.

Time for a quick refreshment as I ducked over to the market place, and with so many options available it was hard to pick. After a spell in Rare Records picking up a few gems, my decision was made with Hell’s Kitchen right next door and finally their endless line was short enough for me jump in. It was a great decision and I enjoyed a delicious Mary’s Burger as I headed back to check our Prophets of Rage. They gave a spectacular performance wowing the insane crowd, who by this stage were well inebriated, with many paying more than one visit to the Beer Hall to enjoy a cold frothy or six for that matter. With plenty of beer on offer it seems to be a favourite watering hole over the duration of the night. I made the decision to duck across to see Arch Enemy at the Dogtooth Stage and I was glad I did. While there were a few sound issues early on they gave a sensational performance with singer Alissa White-Gluz flinging her trademark blue hair with neck breaking force as she rattled our bones with her growling vocals.

I dashed back to the Red Stage to catch Killing In The Name by Prophets of Rage, a blistering end to their one hour set. Fans screaming for more but knowing tonight there would be no encores just a quick trip next door to the Black Stage for Korn or off to the Avalanche for NOFX. I chose Korn to see out my night at Download but I have it on good authority that NOFX tore the roof of the Avalanche Stage, having a blast and enjoying every minute. The swell of the crowd for Korn was immense, it was evident that this headliner brought a huge presence to Download and the metalheads turned out in force to witness the sensational show they delivered.

To all the bands I missed, I look forward to catching you next time, after this year’s success I would imagine Download Festival Melbourne 2019 is almost guaranteed!

As we filtered out of the festival the vibe was amazing, while many were sore and sorry, some missing shoes, some missing clothes for that matter, everyone was completely satisfied with how the festival had unfolded. A hugely successful event which brought out the fans in massive numbers, not just from Melbourne, many travelling from all parts of Australia and Overseas to be part of the first Download Festival in Australia. While we had four stages to choose from over the course of the day, only in Melbourne would we also had four seasons of weather to match. The rain certainly didn’t dampen any spirits, it made memories that will never be forgotten, and I am proud to say that I came, I saw and I survived Melbourne’s inaugural Download Festival, let’s all raise our horns to next year!

Review Contributed by Cassandra hale