In my day, Monsters of Rock, as it was still called way back then cost about £15 to get in, had seven or so bands on a Saturday afternoon, then some fireworks, then it was time to grab a fish supper, a refreshing ginger beer and wend your way home, discussing with your chums about what a splendid time you've had.
Nowadays though, these callow, ungrateful, youths get three days of debauchery, ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY TWO BANDS! (Some of which I have actually heard of) all spread between five stages... Admittedly, they do pay £200 which, depending on how you divide it up either bloody expensive, or tremendously expensive.
(Actually, if anyone gets to see Dir En Grey or Chthonic over the weekend, let me know what they're like live.. I've always wondered)
But oddly, this short Blog post isn't going to be about Download at all... Well, the first bit was, but it was kind of just a pre-amble that got away from me a bit.
I live about ten miles from Donington Park and drive straight past the main gate every day on my way to work. I have an interest in motorcycles and rock music, so you'd think I'd be there every weekend wouldn't you? Well, I can count the times I've been there on the fingers of one hand (If we momentarily forget about MOR, that is). When I do go, there's always some kind of 'incident' though... I guess that I'm just one of those lucky people that dear old Fate often finds in her sights.
There was this one time, a mate of mine (Now sadly deceased) managed to score some free tickets for the Truck Racing. Don't know if you've ever seen it, but pretty much it's a bunch of complete nutters, driving 20 ton, 12 litre, turbocharged tractor units around a racetrack at 100mph with their brakes on fire - very impressive, especially when the weather's a bit dull.
There were about a half-dozen of us, four blokes, two girls, and we'd had a great day. A few beers, a few burgers, you know the drill. Anywho, we started hearing repeated calls over the tannoy, for about an hour, that said something like 'Would the owner of a green Vauxhall Vectra registration number Dee one cee kay haitch three ay dee, please move it immediately, it is illegally parked.' we didn't take much notice at first, but as it was repeated over and over, it started to get a bit annoying. We were all like, 'Why doesn't the d*ck just move his car?' and 'I'd just tow it away.' Eventually, on our way back to that parking area, we came across a young girl (steady!) who was sat on a wall, who had obviously be crying for quite some time.
Frank, one of our number, who was by far the nicest of us, went up to her and asked what was wrong - She pointed at her Renault 5 with the daisy painted on the side and said that she was a nurse and she was going to be late for a shift in casualty (or something, it was, like twenty years ago dudes - gimme a break) because someone had boxed her in with his car. We looked, and, to our surprise, there was a green Vauxhall Vectra TurboLeatherSeatMassiveSpoilerAlloyWheelsCretinSpecialEditionGSI
We looked at each other and walked towards the car. Another of us, Jock, who was the chap who'd gotten the tickets and was as huge and hairy as Frank was nice, turned to me and said 'Bounce?'
I nodded and replied 'Bounce.'
So, we took a wheel-arch each and started, gently at first, to bounce the car on its suspension. To enable you to experience the scene with more detail, I would like to point out that I am over six feet tall and weigh in the region of two hundred and fifty pounds... I was, by quite a margin, the smallest male in the group. The plan was to get the car bouncing just enough so that its wheels came off the floor and we could move it out of the way.
What actually happened is that we got somewhat carried away, I mean we moved the car out of the way first so the nurse could wander off and save some lives or whatever it was that she wanted to do, but we didn't stop there, we kept bouncing. At one point the car was bouncing to what felt like waist height, and making some very interesting noises when it hit the ground. It was then that we noticed him... He was wearing a silk suit and mirrored aviators, and his mouth was hanging open. We were wearing leather jackets, with no arms, some with interesting embroidered patches on the back, beards and stupid grins.
Someone asked, 'This yours?'
He nodded, his mouth still hanging open. As one, we gave the car one last bounce and then stood back. The noise of the cars last, fatal, impact with the ground was drowned out by the rapturous applause of the crowd that had assembled during our display. Jackets were straightened, sleeves were brushed, hands were waved at our appreciative audience and as we left, Jock turned to him and said, 'You really should me more careful where you park you know.' Which got us another cheer.
Another time, we were at some plastic-fantastic race weekend, I think it was sponsored by 'Fast Bike' or 'Superbikes' magazine and you can imagine the sort of people who were there. Most of them were wearing one-piece racing leathers where only the right-side kneeslider was scuffed.
(Right, the non-bikers amongst the readership might need a bit of an explanation there... Kneesliders are those things you see stuck to roundey-roundey bike racers knees for when they lean their bikes at insane angles, at lunatic speed going round corners - They help you gauge how far you're leaning, and traditionally, the more scuffed they are the more 'hardcore' you are... If someone has only got a scuffed kneeslider on their right leg, it means that they've been going round and round the traffic island outside their local Sainsburys trying to get their knee down, rather than racing.)
Anywho, historically, riders of custom motorcycles and riders of sports motorcycles have not always seen eye to eye on, well, anything really. Where one might find the exhilaration of speed to be important, the other may think that the look of the bike is more important than the handling. So there was a small amount on tension to begin with, which multiplied during the evening with the repeated addition of alcohol. It was decide that things were in danger of starting to turn ugly, so we all wandered back to our tents and broke out the crate of Newcastle Brown that we had thoughtfully brought with us.
Then it started... Something I've never really understood, that sportsbike rider seem to like to do when they get together (apart from wheelspinning until they blow their rear tires and doughnuts) is to sit revving their bikes higher and higher until they 'bounce off the rev limiter' - If you have never heard anyone do this, you are one of the luckiest people alive. It's a sort of BwahBwahBwahBwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa-BAh-BAh-BAuh-BAuh-BAuh-BAuh-BAuh! noise which usually turns into a competition. It was the early hours of the morning, and this had been going on for about an hour, when Chris, one of our number, asked them very politely, via the medium of expletive filled yelling, to shut the actual flip up. Their reply was of a similar nature, but concluded by an elongated bout of revving, during this, Chris stood up, and with the mating call of the extremely sure of themselves - i.e. 'Hold me beer youth.' set off into the darkness of the campsite.
We could hear the sounds of an argument, a small amount of scuffling and, as we all jumped up to give him a helping hand, there was a noise that was loudly mechanical, brief, and utterly indescribable - followed by complete silence. He came back into the circle of light from our tents, stuck his hand out for his beer and sat down. It turns out that he'd asked them to stop, they'd decided that sadly, they were disinclined to acquiesce to his request. At which point he'd picked up the first thing that came to hand and smashed the crank-case of the offending motorcycle to smithereens.
The first thing in this case being a three foot long King Dick Spanner, which he was still holding like Captain Caveman's club - going somewhere towards explaining why he hadn't been beaten to a pulp. When we pointed it out to him, he looked at it, shrugged and threw it back across the campsite in their general direction.
The rest of the night was blissfully quiet, until we all started singing 'Bat out of Hell' at the top of our voices that is.