Photo Credit: Ben Gibson
Helping to warm up the Avalanche Stage, biggest of the two tented stages, were hardcore hard-hitters Code Orange  from Pennsylvania. The four-piece are certainly not ones to shy away from shredding chugs, raw vocals and brutal pits and they did not fail to deliver. Opening with the title track of their new album, Forever, they plunged the Avalanche Stage straight into the deep end. Playing through the majority of their album, with anthems like 'Bleeding In The Blur' and 'Kill the Creator', the crowd were kicked from 0 to 100, back to 0 and to 100 once again, finishing with 'I Am King' to leave the tent steaming with, we imagine, blood, sweat and tears.
Over on the Dogtooth Stage, the smallest of the tents, our Cardiff boys Holding Absence  drew an impressive crowd; for a band so fresh and with only two tracks released, it was great to see so many people singing and punk-dancing along. Playing tracks mostly unknown, besides 'Permanent' and 'Dream of Me', the Welsh post-hardcore band made their mark on Download this year, and for years likely to come.
Headlining the main stage on the Friday night were the one and only System of a Down . Opening with 'Soldier Side' and 'Suite-Pee', they certainly received a warm welcome from the crowd. Towards the stage the crowd seemed energetic as always for a headline slot, however, for those who wished to stand back and watch, the guitars seemed drowned out by the drums and vocals throughout. The lighting set up was simple and uninteresting, with the occasional strobes and red lights flooding the stage. This being said, it’s undeniable that the crowd were loving the hits, with belter’s like 'Toxicity' and 'Chop Suey!' getting the hundred-thousand-or-so crowd sweaty.
System Of A Down - Download 2017. Photo Credit: Caitlin Mogridge
The Saturday was a nostalgia thrill-ride, spliced with the newcomers of modern pop-punk and metalcore blowing up the Avalanche Stage. British pop-punk fliers Trash Boat  performed an energetic set, opening with the riff-tastic How Selfish I Seem, drawing a sizeable crowd and heart-felt sing-alongs. Despite the upgrade of venue size from the usual, vocalist Tobi Duncan kept it real, interacting with the fans and ensuring an intimate experience.
Of course, the main stage was brought alive by the Ocala-born pop-moshers A Day To Remember . Returning to Donington for the sixth time since 2008, the lads did not fall short of raising the proverbial roof. Armed with bouncy balls, inflatables, t-shirt cannons and pyrotechnics, top tracks like 'Paranoia', 'Downfall of Us All' and 'All I Want' went down a treat with the crowd. A part of ADTR tradition, the sights of so many fans up on shoulders to 'Have Faith In Me' was as spectacular as always, and with the likes of 'Mr Highway’s Thinking About The End' thrown in the mix, the pits were a tasteful blend of brutal and hilarious.
A Day To Remember - Download 2017. Photo Credit: Ben Gibson
The Avalanche Stage on Sunday showcased some of the best British and international bands in the emo and hardcore scene, with the likes of Blood Youth, Touché Amoré, Basement, Moose Blood and The Dillinger Escape Plan blessing our humble tent.
Touché Amoré  led a heartful performance mid-afternoon, with Jeremy interacting with the average sized crowd for the end of 'Honest Sleep'; the band were as energetic as always and while the crowd somewhat mirrored their movement, it was disappointing to not hear some of their top hits like Flowers and You and Is Survived By.
Ipswich boys Basement  stirred up the chaos later on, a premonition of things to come with The Dillinger Escape Plan headlining Avalanche. Playing all the fan-favourite belters, like 'Whole', 'Aquasun' and 'Pine', Download Festival was christened with the first ever Basement Wall of Death following the groovy bassline drop of 'Promise Everything'.
Topping off the Brit band ticket before Dillinger was the Canterbury quartet Moose Blood . Opening with 'Pastel' and exploring both the old and new Moose Blood tracks, the packed tent was much more mellow, yet excitable nonetheless. Crowdsurfers and push-pits still greeted the lads throughout 'Bukowski', 'Swim Down' and 'Cheek'. Unsurprisingly, closing the set with 'Gum and Knuckles' went down a treat, leaving the stage with a lighter-in-air, warm feeling, all prepped to be shattered into pieces by Dillinger thirty minutes later.
Last, but certainly not least, our other Cardiff boys Casey  played a short but beautiful set on the last day over in the Dogtooth tent. Another band who have blown up recently, Casey attracted a crowd that almost filled the tent, though the pits appeared to be lacking with only a minority of the fans screaming the words back at them. However, the thought-provoking ambience, shredded with emotive lyrics and gorgeous melodies left the audience feeling connected with and moved by the traditionally intimate and personal music that makes Casey the extraordinary band they are.
Download Festival 2017 - Photo Credit: Ross Silcocks