Sure, the weather may not look entirely in our favour this weekend but we can pray for a miracle – either way it’s going to be a bucketload of fun as Download Festival makes its return. With so many incredible acts set to grace four stages in the grounds of Donington, here are our top picks for the weekend. We’ll see you in the pit!
WWE NXT Live! – Main Arena
Friday 20:00-21:00 | Saturday 13:30-15:00, 17:00-18:30 | Sunday 13:30-15:00, 16:00-17:30
WWE’s rising developmental superstars are heading over to Donington to showcase their high-octane brand of competition. Tickets to the festival also grant you access to some of the best wrestling America has to offer – perfect if you fancy a change from the live music at any time during the weekend. Download will be building a purpose built ring which’ll see the likes of NXT Champion, Samoa Joe, NXT Women’s Champion, Asuka and fan favourites America Alpha, Bayley, Finn Bálor and Shinsuke Nakamura perform. What can you expect? Lively, thrilling athleticism, pure enjoyment, and with any luck a chair shot. The NXT roster will be in action Friday, twice Saturday, and then twice Sunday.
BABYMETAL – Main Stage – Friday 15:00-15:40
Sadly, Download’s Main Stage has very few new acts this year, and by ‘new’ we mean bands that have existed for less than ten years and bands that don’t sound like bands that were new 20-30 years ago. However, even with a more varied Main Stage lineup, Japanese band/entity BABYMETAL would still have absolutely no problem standing out. One of the most polarising rock acts of the last decade, BABYMETAL may have been perceived by some to be a gimmick at first, but with a headline show at Wembley Arena this year and a critically acclaimed new album in Metal Resistance, you’d be foolish not to at least have a look.
Glassjaw – Second Stage – Friday 18:15-19:00
Over on the second stage are post-hardcore heavyweights Glassjaw who are gearing up to release their long-awaited, third full-length record later this year, 14 years on from their excellent sophomore record Worship & Tribute. Whilst Glassjaw have always been either really great or really underwhelming live (often depending on vocalist Daryl Palumbo‘s ongoing struggles with Chron’s disease), they were on fire when they came over to the UK earlier in the year with Coheed & Cambria, and when a band have as many great, innovative songs as Glassjaw you’ve always got the potential for a great festival set. You Think Your John Fucking Lennon and Tip Your Bartender are always a treat to see live.
Korn – Main Stage – Friday 19:00-20:00
When it comes to great festival sets, Korn know what’s up. Morphing through a plethora of sounds in their 20+ year career, the Bakersfield quintet can blast through an hour long Main Stage slot without even the tiniest of dips. Despite having recently toured their debut album in full, the band are no strangers to playing greatest hits sets and party bangers in Here To Stay, Got The Life and the dubstep infused Get Up! are made for the Download Main Stage as has been proved time and time again.
All Time Low – Second Stage – Friday 20:55-22:05
A bizarre choice, and a far cry from some of the bands that Download has previously been heavily associated with, but headlining the Encore Stage on Friday are Baltimore’s pop rock favourites and rock’s nice-guys All Time Low. Although atypical of the line up, the band have been grafting in the UK for almost a decade now, culminating in their most recent album Future Hearts reaching number 1 in the UK last year. Known for their humour, the set is likely to be hilarious, and the band are super tight live, so it’s not one to miss!
Architects – Second Stage – Saturday 18:05-18:45
A band currently on the form of their lives, Download Festival will be one of the first opportunities you’ll get to witness cuts from the Architects’ critically acclaimed new release All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us. Having last played Download in 2013, the band were only just beginning to take steps away from the commercial misfire of The Here And Now, and with live favourites such as Black Blood and Gravedigger now under their belt, expect this to be one of the Second Stage’s standout sets from one of the UK’s greatest metal exports.
NOFX – Second Stage – Saturday 20:45-21:55
Headlining the second stage up against the mighty Black Sabbath is a daunting task for most bands but if any band can take on that challenge and win its punk rock legends NOFX. With a back catalogue of hits spanning three decades, Fat Mike’s fantastic lyricism – which blends humour and scathing social & political commentary better than any other band around – and some of the funniest stage banter you’ll find at Donnington Park this weekend, NOFX can easily be counted as one of the best bands you’ll see at Download this weekend. Interestingly this will be one of Fat Mike’s first shows since deciding to take a break from drugs and alcohol, so given his reputation of often playing shows drunk it could be really interesting to see how he is playing sober. Whilst NOFX have been known to be a bit hit & miss at festivals in the past, if they play anywhere near as good as they’re capable of us this will be a worthy alternative to Sabbath.
Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – Third Stage – Sunday 14:34-15:05
At a festival host to so many iconic frontmen including Ozzy Osbourne & Bruce Dickinson this weekend, it might be somewhat of a controversial statement to say the best you’ll find at Download this year is located over on the 3rd stage on Sunday afternoon. Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes have only been a band for just over a year but already they’ve taken the UK rock scene by storm with their fantastic debut album Blossom and a relentless touring schedule, which has seen them conquer tiny venues all over Britain – and bigger stages such as at Alexandra Palace – with ease. Carter is one of the angriest and most passionate vocalists in rock music today, and the man puts everything he’s got (both psychically and emotionally) into every set he plays. Whilst it’s a bit of a shame that they haven’t been given the opportunity to play the Main Stage and represent everything that’s great about this current crop of new British rock music, this set in a tent will no doubt be chaos. Juggernaut was one of the finest songs of last year and it’ll sound massive in this tent.
Written by: Cameron Law, Josh Graham, Gavin Sheldrake and Jo Howarth