Heavy Music and Judgmental Goths: Download Festival


Hill Valley High – “Hipster Fags” According to Certain Download Fans

“A confused fashion parade for pricks. A music festival for people that don’t actually like music but still want to say that they’ve been to a music festival.”
Jordan Waller of the Sabotage Times there, poignantly summarizing in an incredibly entertaining article what many consider to be the antithesis of  Download festival: ‘V’. Many would agree with the idea of the two being complete opposites, and in terms of music lineups, they may be right. I would argue however, that in terms of attitudes of festival goers, and their mindset, the two aren’t that far removed from one another. The reason I chose Leeds Festival over Download this year can be sourced in the comments section of the Download Festival Facebook page. Far too many metalheads who aren’t happy unless they’re listening to something through a time machine. They care less about music, and more about fashion, or at least image, than the “hipsters” they criticize. The comments on photographs of the festival are littered with homophobic slurs such as “Faggot” and “Gay” directed at almost anyone who doesn’t dress like it’s 1989. These are the kinds of people who throw around the expression ‘hipster’ like it’s their day job. Ironically though, the ‘hipsters’ who know how to dress are the ones who seem to appreciate the music of a much wider range of sounds. The irony behind this lies in the assumption that these well dressed young 20 somethings are trying so hard to look casual, to look ‘cool’, yet the ones criticizing them are more concerned with how the bands they watch look than how they sound. This is detrimental to a persons development in taste. How can someone who claims to love music so much be so determined to inhibit their experience with the medium because of the skinny jeans the singer of a band may or may not be wearing? It’s baffling. Obsessed with ‘individualism’, the behavior of these types is reflected perfectly in a South Park episode, in which the ‘Goth Kids’ label anyone who doesn’t dress, talk and act like them “conformists”.

I should stress right now, that for me, the ‘coolness’ of a band does play into my liking them, their attitude is important and can really enhance a live performance, but that should never come between a listener and the sound of the band. If Slipknot stopped wearing masks, no doubt it would affect the stage show, but I’d still enjoy Iowa as much as I did when I first heard it. Leeds and Reading festival may draw in a much broader audience than Download festival, but (having been to both) it seems to strike a happy medium in which Deftones fans and Dizzee Rascal fans will happily get along whilst retaining a rock ‘n roll attitude and a real party atmosphere. More importantly however, it hosts an audience who generally see no problem with enjoying both Deftones and Dizzee Rascal, avoiding a lot of the music elitism of metal festivals. If you like metal, Download is a great festival, but there is no denying that it harbors a lot of music intolerance and close mindedness. Just because the singer isn’t wearing vambraces doesn’t mean he’s not metal.


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