The amount of times you see the question about camping for the full five days instead of just for the three that the arena is open is still quite amazing. People wondering what the five dayers get up to other than sitting in a tent getting hammered. The fact is Download festival offers a massive amount to do centred on the village. This is an area set aside for shops including a mini supermarket and entertainment, mainly based in two large tents, The Side Splitter and the legendary Doghouse. This year we were also treated to the famous Wall Of Death motorcycle team. Here are mine and Mark Bestford’s personal views of what’s on offer before the arena open
While Mark sauntered of to the Side Splitter to have his fancy tickled I spent a couple of evenings at the Doghouse. Both Wednesday and Thursday saw the Circus Of Horrors put on two totally different shows featuring all manner of tumbling, sword swallowing, juggling and assorted mayhem. If anyone thinks hoop-la is a bit dull they ought to check out the amazing hoop girl from this troupe, she was sensational. Later on we were treated to the Suicide Girls Ballroom Blitz vs Uprawr show. This was a collaboration between two well known outfits providing great music along with fire and grinding that took your breath away.
Thursday plays host to the Boardie Takeover. This is a live music event this year featuring five young bands including Devolution stalwarts Hands Off Gretel. Going on at just after 6pm you’d think the odds were stacked against HOG. By the end of the set they’d just about blown the roof off the Doghouse. A full tent, a richly deserved encore and even a signing session after their show saw Lauren Tate and the guys become an instant hit with an audience full of people mostly new to their music. The Boardie Takeover gives new young bands a taste of playing a festival and is just one reason why those extra two days doesn’t have to be about giving yourself early alcohol poisoning. It was great to see so many people out supporting the event.
Wednesday and Thursday continue to provide entertainment into the evenings. While Gary headed off to the Doghouse I headed off to the Sidesplitter stage for the comedy. This year was another collection of great comedians from all over the world, including New Zealand and Canada. Andrew O’Neill once again brings his mix of black humour and heavy metal to Download and is still a firm favourite with the regulars. The biggest cheer from the crowd ironically comes from the exit poll to the election. Who knew a hung parliament would be so popular at Download?