The future headliners of Download Festival

Words: Jessica Howkins & Eddie Sims

For a while now the conversation about what bands will make the step up from arena fillers to future headliners of the prestigious Download Festival has been floating around. Its been in circulation ever since and even before MACHINE HEAD made big enough waves with The Blackening and rumours started to spread of their possible imminent breakthrough. Fast-forward to now and the pool of legacy bands is starting to become very shallow indeed. TWISTED SISTER, MOTORHEAD, AEROSMITH, BLACK SABBATH, all these mighty monoliths have now fallen, and the threat of more to follow is a very real one indeed.

Thankfully, there are enough bands now that are developed enough and at the right point in their careers to make the jump to headline Download Festival, but the question still remains as to whom it will be. We’ve come up with some suggestions along with some arguments as to why we’ve chosen who we have, because there’s a lot of things to consider when thinking about this topic. There are a few honourable mentions that we wanted to add in but had to bump off instead due to on factor or another.

30 SECONDS TO MARS have shown considerable talent in both conceptually writing records but also in putting on a damn fine show. Their last album Love, Lust, Faith and Dreams showed them to be willing to step out of their comfort zone and also showed them to be a dab hand at writing huge tunes that could comfortably fill an arena. We haven’t heard much from the band in the form of anything since they toured with that album so with no information and no momentum it seems unlikely they’ll be booked anywhere without a comeback. YOU ME AT SIX also showed themselves to be true contenders when they seemed to have the whole world behind them. Headlining Wembley Arena and looking on excellent form the band began to release material that didn’t resonate as well with the fans but also the bands front man Josh Franceschi has since started talking the issue of ticket re-sales that are conning fans out of untold amounts of money. There is still time for the band to make the climb but at this point it also seems unlikely.

With those two especially honourable mentions, it’s fair to say that SABATON and GHOST could be the next metal bands to make the step up to headline Download Festival, but both of which will need to cut their teeth on the smaller to mid sized festival circuits, with GHOST having an especially good opportunity with their slot at this years Bloodstock Festival. Anyway, without much more ado, lets get on with the actual list…


ALTER BRIDGE have quickly risen to the role of one of the leading rock bands to follow in the footsteps of our classic giants in recent years. They’ve gone from strength to strength with each release and showcased an immense amount of talent and charisma when performing live, always hitting new peaks and holding the attention with no effort at all, giving them a much deserved following of dedicated fans. Even those who aren’t huge fans have commented on their live performances as being the strongest they’ve seen in recent years from any band, even when playing next to giants such as AEROSMITH making them definite contenders for moving up that main stage slot by one more space.


Progression is key and that’s exactly what ENTER SHIKARI have done with envious success. Developing their techno-infused-math-metally-punk-rock assault into an accessible yet still utterly whacky sound is something genuinely brilliant to experience. With the big singles from their debut still resonating as well as they did upon first release and their newer music showing them to be proper brilliant song-writers; the St. Albans gang have shown a clear want to climb the mountain and have done so the right way, through graft and determination. The Mindsweep record was an angst infused journey through the bands best material to date and their live shows have only increased in grandeur resulting in a band primed for absolute stardom. ENTER SHIKARI only need one more release that matches the stellar standard their other albums have and they’ll be walking among the biggest and baddest.


Dominating this era since their debut studio album, And Their Name Was Treason A DAY TO REMEMBER have earned their right to one day headline the stage at Download. Initially the older generation of rock and metal fans thought that the American boys were just following a crowd of metalcore music that would die out eventually, but as time went on and their music reached out to listeners it was proven wrong quicker than it was said. ADTR have the ability to make people feel, you can either cry, sing your heart out or mosh to their music making them appeal to more than just one group of people and a lot of their songs mean something to those. If you’ve ever watched this magnificent band you’ll know that they can capture the ears of any person and invite them to share their experiences and to have them headline would be an incredible thing to see.

Bring Me The Horizon

Oli Sykes has become a bit of an idol for this generation. Smothered in tattoos and completely self made, he and his band of angry men became the most liked band on MySpace back In the day, with their ridiculous deathcore that is heralded now but was once laughed at. Suicide Season showed none of the seeds of the band that we now know, except maybe the outright confidence that has aided the band in reaching the colossal heights they’re now at. With the help of the frankly fantastic There Is A Hell… and the insanely successful Sempiternal the band were able to headline the first returning Warped Tour before being launched into the atmosphere. Headlining the Royal Albert Hall in front of a full orchestra since and displaying a monster stage show through main support headline slots, BRING ME THE HORIZON have garnered a huge following and their ethereal and easily accessible sound on That’s The Spirit proves they can write for the masses.


They’ve got the nostalgia, fans and a back catalogue of absolutely banging anthems that are iconic to our era. To see a band like GREEN DAY headline Download at Donington would be a treat to all even if they was your 14 year old loves and you’ve tried to move on in life. They’ve released some of the strongest albums in their career such as Dookie, Nimrod and American Idiot and even have their own musical show, if that doesn’t say that they deserve to have the Donington army singing Basket Case right back at them then we don’t know what does. GREEN DAY is about experiencing what you grew up with in a more modern world of rock as opposed to bands in their 70’s and will continue to grow with.

That concludes who we think will be fit for the headline slot at Download be it now or in a few years to come. There are still a ton of contenders who are climbing up the ranks but we’ll just have to keep our eyes peeled to see what happens next!


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Jessica Howkins

Co Editor-in-Chief for Distorted Sound Magazine, Music Journalism student.