Unlike some dedicated rock and metal festivals, Download Festival has a bit of a head start when it comes to booking non-rock bands into its lineups. Although it was the successor to the 80s/90s rock and metal mega-festival Monsters Of Rock, appearances by The Prodigy (2006, 2009 and 2012), Pendulum (2008 and 2009), Chase & Status (2012) and even rapper Lethal Bizzle in 2008 showed that, albeit rarely, there’s room on the bill for heavier artists outside of immediate rock attributions.
With alternative music becoming an ever-widening spectrum in which more artists find themselves than ever before, there’s never been a better time for the UK’s biggest rock festival to consider booking something new. a little different for future programming. With that in mind, here are ten artists from outside the rock world that we think would be a hit at Donington.
If there was ever a rapper who embraced metal’s age-old tradition of courting controversy and scaring the mainstream, it’s Eminem. Considering that he is now an integral part of the hip hop establishment and is more likely to be seen collaborating with Ed Sheeran than doing anything particularly exciting or cutting edge. musically, the likelihood of him blinding everyone and showing up at a festival like The Download is minimal. Still, groan as some might, the temptation to head to Download’s main stage for an Em and rap track with the likes of The Real Slim Shady and You lose would surely be too much for the most hardened cynic.
Run the Jewels
For a more modern but heavy enough hip hop option, how on earth has Run The Jewels not been reserved for download yet? Killer Mike and El-P bring one of the most vibrant, compelling and direct fun live shows in music right now, and if you want rock cred, they’ve got it in spades. They have previously backed bands like Bring Me The Horizon and Queens Of The Stone Age at major outdoor rock shows in the UK, collaborated numerous times with Rage Against The Machine legend Zack De La Rocha and have performed on projects with Metallica, Foos and more in the US. Someone book this shit!
Those who have listened to Rina Sawayama’s excellent 2020 album Sawayama already know that the British alt-pop star uses a ton of rock and metal influences in his sound, rarely more than on the nu metal bounce of STFU!. Her live shows are quickly becoming must-attend events, and judging by her set at Coachella last month, she would be more than capable of setting up a few stalls at Donington. Plus, she can play that great cover of Enter Sandman she did it for metallica Blacklist project.
Denzel Curry is one of the most acclaimed modern names in hip hop, with 2018 Ta13oo album serving as one of the finest achievements of the genre in recent years. Live he’s a revelation, causing pandemonium on Glastonbury’s Stage of Truth when he performed there for a late-night 30-minute set in 2019. trap and the kind of raw, punk energy that’d bring the reader required to trigger the ruckus at the download; even those unfamiliar with his work would find it hard not to be moved by seeing him do this thing on a stage. Trust us.
Even if we hadn’t seen Danny Elfman’s Coachella set, we probably still would have included it in this list. How many download enthusiasts do you think grew up watching the likes of The Nightmare Before Christmas and Edward Scissorhands and love these soundtracks? Now that we know Danny also turns his live shows into a full-fledged heavy metal extravaganza, this one is an absolute no-brainer.
Mixing rap, industrial, noise and whatever else they fancy trying racketeering (a track on 2019’s masterful horror-themed opus There was a blood addiction is literally 18 minutes of a scorching piano), experimental hip hop trio Clipping is unlike any other artist currently in their genre or any genre. Frontman Daveed Diggs is one of the smoothest, most expressive MCs in the world today, and the pure, abrasive energy of bangers like Upside down would go down a treat to download.
The chemical brothers
The Prodigy, Pendulum and Chase & Status have shown that electronic music can have a place at Download, and while few can match the craziness of a Prodigy show, The Chemical Brothers have enough veteran credibility and hard-hitting anthems to bring down a storm should they ever set up a stage at Donington. Their live shows remain highlights of any festival they play, and the idea of a few dozen pits opening up at Hey boy, hey girl makes this notional reservation an easy win.
Speaking of veteran names we feel would break it on upload, who would challenge a Public Enemy booking? One of the most vital, aggressive and energetic bands in hip history, Chuck D et al’s metal status is forever sealed thanks to that Anthrax mixture. And yes we would absolutely book both groups on the same day so that a proper version of Bring the noise can happen and we get a moment of pure 90s rap metal heaven.
His relationship with Bell End billionaire Elon Musk may have made more headlines than his music in recent years, but the fact remains that Grimes was something of a pioneer in the cross-platform and genre approach of the music that many young singer-songwriters in the alternative scene employ today. She also puts on a delightfully eerie live show and has produced some great music – the haunting, militaristic bass of Violence or intergalactic roar of flesh without blood would no doubt turn Donington’s head.
While they may not contain the chaotic aura of a Prodigy or a Pendulum, Justice certainly still sits on the heavier, more propulsive end of the house spectrum, and they don’t have never failed to disappoint playing at Reading, Leeds and Glastonbury. We may not have Daft Punk with us anymore, but Justice is doing a great job carrying the torch – and they would definitely get people moving.