Culture, Music, News

Download Festival 2023: Day One review – 20th anniversary special kicks off with explosive energy and an unforgettable Metallica performance

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Featured image: Sarah Louise-Bennett


Within the first hour of this year’s huge Download Festival, it was clear that the twentieth anniversary special had brought with it an even stronger community. Black-coloured t-shirts dominated the queues and campsites as campers carried crates of alcoholic drinks alongside their equipment. It was easy to see that the weekend was going to be exciting, not to mention hot.

Whether festival goers arrived on Wednesday and enjoyed the late-night fun in the Doghouse Tent or decided to pitch up during the day on Thursday, the atmosphere was already lively and had a strong sense of friendliness between people that had just met.

To kick off the UK’s most famous rock and metal festival, many were lucky enough to catch Snayx’s set on the Dogtooth Stage and definitely did not miss out. Fans gave it their all, unsurprisingly since it was one of the cloudier days, leading to an increase in mosh pits and energy throughout their set. Hits like ‘Boys in Blue’ and ‘I’m Deranged’ caused a scene of chaos, especially when frontman Charlie stormed into the crowd and created a pit of his own. I had the chance to have a chat with bassist Ollie and drummer Elaina after the show about their upcoming UK tour, which sounds as though it is not one to miss!

Other unmissable earlier acts included the legendary Alter Bridge, The Bronx, and midwestern-emo icons Mom Jeans and Caskets; however, the unexpected standouts were New York’s own State Champs. As a band I have seen numerous times before, they have always given great performances, but they pulled out all of the stops for Download and provided a burst of fun to Thursday’s line-up. They were the perfect pop-punk breath of fresh air in preparation for the headliners, Metallica.

It finally got to the time of the evening to start securing a good spot in the crowd to watch the band that most people have been waiting a long time for: Metallica. With two headlining sets this year, the people were already talking about which songs they expected to hear: “Do you think they’ll close with ‘Enter Sandman’ or ‘Master of Puppets’?” echoed around the Arena. Walking through the crowd towards the Apex Stage was like being swarmed by a sea of Metallica t-shirts- so much so that I couldn’t help but purchase one myself. The 18-song setlist amped up the crowd, preparing fans for the incredible weekend they were about to have and left them longing for more. 

The first day of music was better than anything we could have prepared for, and there was no better way to celebrate than spending the evening in the Sidesplitter Tent in the village, hearing the best alternative DJ’s warm up the crowd for the sunny weekend to come.

It finally got to the time of the evening to start securing a good spot in the crowd to watch the band that most people have been waiting a long time for: Metallica. With two headlining sets this year, people were already talking about which songs they expected to hear: “Do you think they’ll close with ‘Enter Sandman’ or ‘Master of Puppets’?” echoed around the Arena. Walking through the crowd towards the Apex Stage was like being swarmed by a sea of Metallica t-shirts—so much so that I couldn’t help but purchase one myself. The 18-song setlist amped up the crowd, preparing fans for the incredible weekend they were about to have and leaving them longing for more.

The first day of music was better than anything we could have prepared for, and there was no better way to celebrate than spending the evening in the Sidesplitter Tent in the village, hearing the best alternative DJs warm up the crowd for the sunny weekend to come.

Check out our Download Festival 2023 Day Two review.

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Rianna Ram

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