Riding the Big Truck
So, Mr Black asks can I do like a tour diary from the trip to Download, quickly I scan through the events in my mind, yes I dare say there’s probably enough that doesn’t need censored to fill a page lol And if my wife’s reading this, obviously I’m joking!
Leaving the confines of East, East, East Belfast for a trip that would take me through 4 countries, across a sea of water and into the hallowed land that is Donington, I wondered what lay ahead, what, if anything would go wrong on the journey, and how the hell a near 40 year old bloke who hated the idea of camping would cope on very little sleep, lots of alcohol and whatever else the elements threw at us!
Glenn picked Tom and myself up at Tom’s house, where we then headed to Portadown to pick up Terry and Simon, arriving at Terrys to discover the planned roof box wasn’t gonna go on the roof quickly called for some rethinking and repacking the car! Thankfully Glenn is an expert, and soon 5 blokes, 3 guitars, cymbals and a load of tents sleeping bags and clothes hit the road for Dublin, all in one car!
So, hiccup number 1 overcome, and we made good time to Dun Laoirghe port for the crossing to Wales. Must be approximately 12 years since I was on a boat, and I still live with the mental scars of being on the old Larne Stranraer boat with my dad as it did its best to try to overturn in rough winter seas. Thankfully boats these days are a lot more comfortable and the sea was like glass, so the boat journey was pretty uneventful.
Sat Nav – I’d never considered it necessary in Norn Iron, but this trip it definitely proved its worth, off the boat, postcode for DONINGTON entered and off we go! I haven’t been in Wales (country 3 of the trip) for about 30 years and I have to say the scenery as we drove through its North Coast area was stunning, different to our own but beautiful all the same. Food stop and free wifi used we continued on our way, looking impatiently at the Sat Nav estimated time of arrival of 10pm, might just make some of the headliners set we thought. Well, that was until about half an hour out of Donington a fuel I mean beer refill was required, car emptied, much alcohol and the odd food item purchased and we’re back and running, eagerly looking out for any mention of Donington or Download on the roadsigns…….
Eventually we rolled into Donington to the strains of the last 3 System of a Down songs, even as we drove in around the rear “artist/media” entrance it was pretty apparent what a huge operation and organisation this festival is. Time to find our bearings and our camp site for the night, interesting thing to do as its getting dark and you’re walking in the opposite direction to everyone else lol! Group decision was made, leave everything in the car lets go get a beer and catch up with a few people!
As you’re probably aware Phil Black and I went over to Twitrfest back in February, which Trucker Diablo were also playing at, and funnily enough a lot of people from that were the first ones we ran into! Dave Fens who was managing Furyon at Twitrfest got us into the Classic Rock soiree where we ran into our old mate, the now almost legendary Dom Lawson, who as well as being a journalist for Metal Hammer and Classic Rock had also played Download on the Friday night with his band Oaf! A lot of the people we knew was predominantly through Twitter, and was great to finally meet Sami from Roadrunner who I’ve been harassing for years about why not enough of their bands come to Belfast! After seeing the Madina Lake guys into a party she talked with Tom and I for a good 10 minutes before we let her go lol! The next few hours were spent drinking (but at £4.50 for a TIN of beer not too much drinking!) meeting a few more friends, making new friends and checking out the stage Trucker were going to be playing on the Sunday.
The bars and tents closed at 3am, time to head towards the campsite, however the 24 hour burger/breakfast van seemed like a good place to congregate for a while with Matt from Furyon and anyone else Glenn could accost from the queue for food! Around 4am the woman in the burger van moved us on, apparently we were blocking the non existent queue……suppose sleep would be a good idea……..well it would have been if Glenn could stop talking lol! Somewhere around 5am with the sun already making its way up into the sky I fell asleep.
7.30am, as good a time as any to need a toilet visit, now where exactly are they? Toilets located, utilised, quick wash and whats the point in going back to bed? Cider for breakfast? And why not….
Troops gathered, band checked in for the festival, transport to backstage complete, a young lady called Nephalia or something shows the guys to their dressing room – a small mobile with a fridge, mirror and a large container of alcohol and water! Time for proper breakfast, as many bacon or sausage baps as you want (for your £4!) now that’s a good way to start a Sunday off. Free tattoos were available, I resisted the mid life crisis urge to get one! Lots of people milling about but nobody that jumped out at us as hugely famous. I had a bit of a walk round the dressing room area, saw a few of the signs for other bands, and of course the entrance to Linkin Park’s compound for later on, however by this time the blistering sunshine had changed to continual rain and drizzle, so chances of anyone famous walking about would be slim.
Trucker were due to be collected by Nephalia around 12.10 to be taken to the stage for their appearance, so for around an hour before it everyone hung out in the dressing room, relaxing, tuning guitars, jamming. At the appointed hour Nephalia arrived, and everyone walked the couple of minutes to the backstage area, readying guitars and watching the end of Knockout Kaine’s set. At this point we realised we’d left something back in the dressing room, so I went to fetch it and on the way accosted, I mean met, Dee Snider from Twisted Sister, a quick hello, thrust a cd into his hands and recommend he visits the Pepsi Max Stage in about 20 minutes, and on I go. Item collected, and I return to the stage and the guys are sound-checking and re-arranging the drum kit. As I stand at the side of the stage and watch the activity it occurs to me a few people have arrived up the ramp, and lo and behold its only Dee Snider and family! Dee introduces everyone to his wife and daughter and the band introduce themselves, and as you’ve probably seen had a couple of great pictures taken with Dee.
And then it was time……….partially due to the rain the Pepsi tent was absolutely crammed with people, but to be fair to Trucker a fair few of the front couple of rows already knew who they were through internet promotion, Classic Rock cover mag etc. Kicking off with Red Light On, followed by Not So Superstar and Rock Hallelujah, 3 songs written since The Devil Rhythm was released, might be regarded as risky by some, but the guys are super tight, the sound is superb and the crowd response is magnificent. Watching the front rows singing back Drink Beer, Destroy while beach balls were flung from one side of the audience to the other, must have been great for the guys. The short 25 min set was finished off with a quick shout out to Dee Snider who was still sidestage rocking out to the band, and then the Amazon #1 selling song Juggernaut. If you’ve seen reviews on Trucker’s facebook or on various websites, you’ll know the guys went down a storm and hopefully this is another step on the ladder upwards for them!
The rest of the afternoon was spent taking gear back to the car, Tom did a couple of interviews and then actually catching a couple of bands, My Darkest Days and Starseed while catching up with other friends out in the crowd, including Stef Murray. We also saw one of the guys from GWAR getting interviewed in full GWAR kit, slightly weird! Following that, more cider, an average lunch and general hatred towards the rain we decided to join the throngs of people leaving Download who had had enough, and when we returned to our tent it was clear we’d made the correct decision, tents were soaked, items in it wet, but hey at least my box of Magners was untouched! Car loaded, goodbyes said and we were on the road looking for a hotel for the night. A short but intense visit to Download, I finally made it before I turn 40! The camping wasn’t that bad and I might even go again next year as a punter!
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Last Updated (Tuesday, 21 June 2011 19:10)