Already expanding to another city in only its second year, and boasting a line-up that would make even the most diehard metal fan fall out of their seat, Download Festival Australia has boldly stamped its mark on the global festival circuit and is standing tall as one of the best places to experience live outdoor music on the Australian calendar. With a little under two months to go until Download Festival once again hits our shores, we thought it would be a good idea to tell you why we think Download is helping to put the Australian festival scene back on the map.
Managing the massive line-up expectations from Australian fans
While it might not boast the same line-up that its parent festival in the United Kingdom has had over the past few year, it is important to realise that it costs a tonne of money to bring any artist to perform in Australia. With that being said, during the festivals very short lifespan here the organisers have managed to snag acts such as Korn, Limp Bizkit, Amon Amarth, Mastodon, Gojira and Sabaton for 2018, and have upped the ante this year with Slayer, Anthrax, Behemoth and Ozzy Ozbourne, all while keeping our ticket price at a standard Australian festival fee. Adding to that this year with Australian ‘festival only’ appearances of Judas Priest, Rise Against and Halestorm and you can already start piecing together why Download Australia has generated a sizeable enough appeal in our pocket of the globe which fans are willing to travel to Australia for. While there is certainly room for expansion of bands should the event adopt a multi-day approach (more on that later), in its two year tenure the punk, rock and metal genres will have each been represented by some of their best bands from around the world.
Download has also put Australian acts like Psycroptic Ruins, High Tension, Ocean Grove and Northlane on the bill over it’s two year run which act as icing on the proverbial cake. Not only has this given these home grown bands a leg up in performing on a festival stage at home, but this has also helped promote the thriving heavy community that we have here in Australia in the process. This commitment to creating an event that is musically diverse, but filled with high quality local and international artists is just one of the reasons that makes Download Australia a must visit event.
Rising like a phoenix from the ashes
While it’s certainly no secret that for the few years following the demise of Soundwave and Big Day Out that the big festival landscape for hard rock and heavy metal in Australia seamed bleak. But this lack of monopoly in the festival market paved the way for smaller boutique festivals like Unify Gathering, Steel Assassins, and ProgFest, all of which stepped up to fill the void – and it was this thirst for festivals which got the attention of the Download Brand who already held successful events in the United Kingdom, Paris, and Madrid.
The successful arrival of Download in Australia has seemingly reinvigorated our rock and metal communities and has not only allowed the festival to expand to another city in only its second year, but has also spurred on the success of other recent events in the alternative space such as Good Things festival. The continued success of our smaller festivals, and the growing visibility on how successful these larger festivals can be in the Australian market is only going to be beneficial for consumers, and should continue to propel the Australian festival scene to a global audience back to the heights that it experienced during the nineties and early 2000’s.
To camp or not to camp?
While Unify Gathering and Splendour in the Grass have proven that there is definitely a niche for camping festivals in the Australian market, whether Download will become a camping festival like its United Kingdom counterpart is still a topic that floats around that when you bring up Download Australia. While there is certainly precedent for single-day events turning to multiple-day soirees, it’s a little tricky to see such an event unfolding for Download in our current Australian climate. While it might be easy to look at the success of other multi-day festivals both locally and abroad, it is important to distinguish that these events have cultivated their audiences from the very beginning, something which Download Australia hasn’t had much of a chance to do (yet).
Given that in only its second year Download has expanded from a single show in Melbourne, to shows in Melbourne and Sydney, it only seems logical that further expansions of the one day format to another city would be the next step as opposed to reverting back to a single location for a week or weekend. While it’s no secret that Download Australia could become even more of a global destination if it were to expand to a multi-day festival, it seems like the festival is mainly focused on cultivating their fan base and drawing the crowds before making any decision on whether to expand any further.
Regardless of where Download Australia goes in the next few years, its impact on the Australian market has already been felt. With its commitment to bringing some of the world’s best acts to Australia, Download is already drawing attention locally and abroad and it’s going to be exciting to see what sort of line-ups and format changes are made to the festival over the coming years. We should all be very excited about what is to come, and remain hopeful that the festival continues to build on its already rapid momentum to grow as an event that people remain willing to travel for.