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FESTIVAL PREVIEW: Download Pilot

This weekend a 10,000 capacity Download Pilot is set to take place featuring headliners Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, Enter Shikari, Bullet For My Valentine plus many more acts across the three-day test festival. The event is set to be utilised as a gateway to getting live music back on the road as part of the second phase of the Government’s scientific event research programme. Check out our top picks from the line-up of this very special music event, which you should definitely check out even if you weren’t luckily enough to get a ticket.

Hot Milk 
Main Stage 
Friday 17:30

One of the hottest rising bands to come out of the alternative rock scene right now, Hot Milk have made themselves known by supporting renowned bands like Foo Fighters and You Me At Six. But now the band are drivers of their own destiny as they are set to open the main stage on the first day of the Download Pilot, alongside being booked for other major UK festivals this summer including Reading & Leeds they will be rounding off with a headline tour later this year. The dual fronted band consisting of members Han Mee and Jim Shaw alongside Tom Paton and Harry Deller are a band that pack powerful pop and pepped up rock as shown in their debut EP Are You Feeling Alive and latest singe I JUST WANNA KNOW WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I’M DEAD; a song brimming with catchy choruses and a bright glow around the tracks energy that will translate seamlessly into Hot Milk’s set at the festival.     


Boston Manor 
Main Stage 
Friday 18:35

Photo Credit: Edd Taylor

Alternative Blackpool-based band Boston Manor whilst having only formed back in 2013, the quintets soundscape spans decades like the grunge of the 90’s to the heavy post-hardcore of the 2000’s. It’s this emo and pop punk-tinged take on these styles of genres that bleed into their albums Be Nothing, Welcome To The Neighbourhood and GLUE. Boston Manor will be third from the top on the Friday’s main stage at the Download Pilot event. 


Holding Absence 
Second Stage 
Friday 19:20

Coming out of their hometown of Cardiff some six short years ago, Holding Absence absolutely stormed their ascent in the alternative music scene, with their atmospheric amalgamation of belting anthemic choruses, battering drums and big guitar riffs on their monochromatic hard-hitting debut. To follow in the footsteps of such a strong self-titled takes some beating, but the band have done it with their sonically, lyrically, thematically and visually stunning second album The Greatest Mistake Of My Life. A beautifully colourful masterpiece from start to finish, with its heavenly, ethereal, heavy sound and emotionally complex storytelling, The Greatest Mistake Of My Life is a record that represents everything Holding Absence have said and stood by throughout their career to date. The Download Pilot will be the first time the band get to bring these new songs such as Beyond Belief, Afterlife, In Circles and nomoreroses to life in a live setting on the second stage. 


Neck Deep 
Main Stage 
Friday 20:00

Photo Credit: Steve Gullick 

Gearing up to bring their infectious pop-punk sound to the second from the top slot of the Friday’s main stage line-up, Neck Deep are bound to get the non-socially distanced kicking off the crowd surfing. 2020 saw Neck Deep drop their fourth full length All Distortions Are Intentional after a perfect hat-trick of records. The new album aims to take a deep dive into the personal aspect of Neck Deep, not just being a band but normal people with an abnormal job and moreover a burning passion for making raw and memorable pop-punk tunes like Lowlife, When You Know, Fall, I Revolve (Around You) and Sick Joke; songs surely set to make the band’s setlist at the Download Pilot.  


Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes 
Main Stage 
Friday 21:50pm

Photo Credit: Jenny Brough

At the first weekend festival in a long while and first headliners set to storm the main stage on the Friday of the Download Pilot are the mighty Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes. Hard-hitting punk-rock at its most audacious, bombastic and raucous, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes have never turned down their apologetic sound ever since their inception back in 2015 which was followed by the band’s first in-your-face album Blossom in that same year. Two years since the release of the four piece’s bruising third full-length End of Suffering, their most recent single My Town (a collaboration with IDLES vocalist Joe Talbot) is set to get its first outing at the Download Pilot this weekend. 


As Everything Unfolds 
Second Stage 
Saturday 12:30

Get ready to hear As Everything Unfolds’ euphoric and hard-hitting melodic post hardcore come this Download Pilot event. Fresh off the back of releasing their scorching debut album Within Each Lies The Other, this mammoth six-piece outfit are no strangers to live shows. Having previously opened up for Dream State and Our Hollow, Our Home, the band have just been announced as the support act for Holding Absence on their forthcoming UK/EU tour, AEU will bring their brand-new bangers to the second stage on Saturday. 


WARGASM 
Main Stage 
Saturday 14:00

Photo Credit: Haris Nukem

Big hitting punk two-piece WARGASM made up of members Milkie and Matlock are the up-and-coming London duo making their music heard right now. Dropping their banger of a brand-new single called PYRO PYRO ahead of this weekend’s Download Pilot festival it is set to join other new number Your Patron Saints released earlier this year. Catch what is set to be an explosive performance on the main stage this Saturday at 2pm.  


VUKOVI 
Second Stage 
Saturday 15:35 

Janine Shilstone and Hamish Reilly, otherwise known as VUKOVI are a UK duo absolutely and quite literally killing it right now. Scheduled to appear on the Download Pilot second stage, as well as being lined up for other UK festivals such as Slam Dunk later in the year, the band also has their own UK headlining tour coming up too. VUKOVI have a growing back catalogue of music, including a self-titled debut album, second album Fall Better and brand-new single KILL IT to pack out their upcoming live show sets.    


YONAKA 
Main Stage 
Saturday 16:10

Photo Credit: Dave East

YONAKA are a Brighton based band absolutely dominating the scene right now. Having already dropped a series of singles Seize The Power, Ordinary and Call Me A Saint, which have followed hot on the heels of the quartet’s incredible album Don’t Wait ‘Til Tomorrow back in 2019. YONAKA have already achieved stratospheric success in a short five years since the band’s establishment, but it seems there are even bigger things in the pipeline for the riff heavy four-piece, with this year’s ground-breaking appearance at Download Pilot being one of them. 


Twin Atlantic 
Main Stage 
Saturday 17:30

Photo Credit: Katie Cummings

Glaswegian alt-rockers Twin Atlantic will be taking charge of their main stage time at Download, with a plethora of pulsating songs including big hitters Heart And Soul, Crash Land, Barcelona, Novocaine and No Sleep plus many more. The band’s album Power is a punchy ten track alternative rock record with no limits whatsoever. Expect some charged up energy and euphoric sounds from Twin Atlantic this weekend. 


While She Sleeps 
Main Stage 
Saturday 19:05

Photo Credit: Giles Smith

Since the beginning, Sheffield outfit While She Sleeps have always been fearless with experimenting and reinventing their sound with new album cycles. Their colossal fourteen-year career has been crafted out of a brutal blend of crushing hardcore and killer metal anthems, that have been written, recorded and released on their own terms and innovation. While She Sleeps have defied and grown and this year’s SLEEPS SOCIETY is a true reflection of reinventing the wheel when it comes to While She Sleeps. Leaning into more electronic elements but immediately recognising the metalcore and hard-hitting sound fans often associate with them, be ready for a relentless pit opening performance come While She Sleeps’ set. 


Creeper 
Second Stage
Saturday 20:15

Photo Credit: Haris Nukem

Captivating collective Creeper have commenced a brand-new era in the band’s career and the upcoming Download Pilot is the perfect place to bring this important vision to life. Midnight, the latest single from the Southampton quartet is anthemic and hauntingly beautiful; the new single showcases some of Will Gould and Hannah Greenwood’s best vocal performances to date. Featuring on the band’s upcoming EP American Noir set for release July 30th, a body of work acting as the continued narrative to 2020 album Sex, Death & The Infinite Void; the EP will tell the tale of the death of protagonist Roe and it’s this strong lyrical narrative and visual aspect that Creeper are bound to bring to their second stage headliner on Saturday.  


Enter Shikari 
Main Stage 
Saturday 21:35

Photo Credit: Tom Martin

Saturday Download Pilot headliners Enter Shikari’s sound only ever gets more versatile and varied with every album release. The eclectic four-piece explore a spectrum of sounds from electronica to post-hardcore through to rock and added orchestral elements, this band are at the forefront of pushing the industries expectations and the bands own boundaries and their latest LP 2020’s Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible acts as an amalgamation of all of the above. Destined to be brimming with energy and staple Shikari songs spanning Common Dreads, The Mindsweep, The Spark and every release in between, Enter Shikari’s long awaited headliner status is deserved and not to be missed. 


Static Dress 
Second Stage 
Sunday 11:30

Getting ready to give you a much-needed wakeup call and shock to the system come the final day of any festival, Leeds four-piece Static Dress will kick off the Sunday at the Download Pilot event on the second stage with their modern emo meets post-hardcore brand. Despite the band, fronted by vocalist Olli Appleyard having only released a handful of singles, with the most recent being the noisy sweet. Static Dress have made such a first impression that the band will be opening up for Creeper and Dream State on the two respective bands tours. Expect to be invigorated with some loud, obnoxious and raucous post-hardcore first thing on a Sunday morning. 


Saint Agnes 
Main Stage 
Saturday 12:00

Photo Credit: Scott Chalmers

Providing disturbing horror-punk trash-metal in all the best possible ways, Saint Agnes will be giving a visual masterclass in the art of all things hauntingly spooky come their main stage set on Sunday. This year, the East London outfit released mini album Vampire, a captivating and compelling body of work that walks you through the world of Saint Agnes from opener Repent to closer Wish (Nine Inch Nails cover). Hear these songs plus many more from the band this weekend.


Trash Boat 
Second Stage 
Sunday 18:15

Having been branded as one of the UK’s most exciting up-and-coming bands for some time now, in 2021 it seems like this title is a little outdated for St Albans quintet Trash Boat. More like a band who have hit the big time with their recent single releases He’s So Good, Silence Is Golden and Don’t You Feel Amazing?, the band are also set to release their new album Don’t You Feel Amazing? in August 2021. Alongside the announcement of a UK wide tour and Kerrang! cover, being featured on the Download Pilot line-up is only adding to all the successes Trash Boat are deservedly enjoying. 


Bullet For My Valentine 
Main Stage 
Sunday 21:35

Photo Credit: Ville Juurikkala

Completing the trio of headliners for this first of its kind festival is Bullet For My Valentine. A band who needs no introduction, Bullet, now finding themselves five albums deep into their discography and having spent over two decades in the British metal scene, it seems five records just doesn’t cut it for a band determined to leave a legacy of music. With their social media platforms being recently wiped of any old eras attached to the group, Bullet For My Valentine could be bringing in a new era on Sunday, as well as spanning the breadth of their impressive back catalogue as a headliner would do.  


Download Pilot is set to take place in Donington Park from June 18th to June 20th. Tickets for the festival are now sold out, however you can find out more about the event here.

Written By: Katie Conway-Flood 

Katie Conway-Flood
Katie Conway-Flood is a music journalist, music publicist and general band enthusiast. For several years, since graduating university with a first class degree in music business, Katie has written single, album and live reviews, and regularly contributed to news stories and feature pieces for a plethora of online music publications. Katie is otherwise a pop-punk, pop-rock listener and ethical vegan.