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Last week the official Download Festival Australia website went live. We now have a date, a location and, most importantly, confirmation that this is actually going happen. Backed by powerhouses such as Live Nation, Unified and Secret Sounds. Download Festival will take place at Flemington Racecourse on the 24th of March 2018.
Download festival is the biggest summer heavy music festival in Britain, and speculation over an Australian expansion has been going on for some time, after festival organisers last year suggested an Aussie leg was definitely on the cards. Speculation reached boiling point early last month, when the Australian website for the festival went live for a couple of minutes, offering codes that may suggest the identity of headlining acts for an upcoming festival, including progressive nu-metal legends System of a Down.
While the rumours spun and hype continued to grow, I found myself thinking what an Australian Download Festival would mean.
Soundwave is gone. Big Day Out - dead. No Sleep Til lasted a year. And while Yours and Owls is, rightfully so, gaining momentum, we are lacking a massive, internationally renowned festival.
I remember my first Soundwave like an elephant remembers the scent of a fellow herd-members’ urine. The 2008 lineup included pop-punk pioneers The Offspring, avant-garde rockers Incubus and Metalcore kings Killswitch Engage, as well as personal favourites, Motion City Soundtrack, The Matches and All Time Low. I had never been more excited for anything in my life than I was for this day, and it lived up to all expectations.
But what does this have to do with Download Festival?
We need Download Festival to work here.
We need a medium through which comparatively smaller international acts can visit Australia, and get deserved international recognition. Headlining acts of such festivals would sell out solo tours either way, and while it is always good to see multiple huge acts in one place over the course of a day or two, it is the smaller groups who will gain the most from it. With this will come a richer, more diverse scene in Australia.
Festivals give bands a chance to tour the world, while also giving the world a chance to witness such bands. I would never have purchased a Riverboat Gamblers album before the ’09 Soundwave. I researched every band that played these festivals, finding ones I would like to see; bands I would otherwise not have known about. This helped me broaden my musical repository, which then helped these bands grow their fan base. A win-win.
Access to a broader range of international bands will have a contagion affect on the local industry. Increased excitement around the alternative scene will get more people talking about it, and, subsequently, greater exposure to the music. This will flow into Australian music, and help grow our scene. More people talking about alternative music, will get more people at shows. More people at shows means more shows are put on. Which means more people will come to shows… You see where I’m getting with this.
We need Download Festival to work in Australia. Not simply because it will put a huge number of great local and international acts in one place at one time, but it will also help to promote a scene which, in all honesty, needs help.
We need Download Festival to work in Melbourne, so it can expand to other capital cities.
We need Download Festival to work in other capital cities, so it can stay for the long term.
Soundwave was massive for the heavy music scene in this country, and while AJ Maddah’s greed and poor business acumen drove it into the ground, we experienced an unprecedented age of alternative music exposure in this country. We need that back.
We need to grow this scene in Australia, and Download Festival will help this happen. For that reason I have already booked my flights to Melbourne for the weekend of the 24th of March. For that reason, as well as the fact there will be 29 amazing international and local acts, I will be attending Download Festival.
I hope to see you there.