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Stereoboard Predict Remaining Download & Sonisphere Headliners (Download & Sonisphere Feature)

Thursday, 17 November 2011 Written by Heather McDaid
Stereoboard Predict Remaining Download & Sonisphere Headliners (Download & Sonisphere Feature)

The moment I saw James, the editor of Kerrang! Magazine, tweet that an upcoming issue was going to feature all the Download headliners, but not announce it I immediately thought “I know, I’ll do a prediction feature. That’ll be interesting”. My plan was to buy Kerrang!, scour the pages and try work out the three headliners. I had it nailed, my friends and I even had a plan on how to work it out; then, last week, two of three headliners were announced. Being an avid festival goer, I spend far too much time trying to work out the line-ups regardless, so this seemed a good idea. 

While the feature isn’t quite as ground-breaking since two headliners have already been given, even the initial element of surprise was taken away from us by the sheer logic to it all. The first announcement was set to come at 7.20pm on Zane Lowe’s radio show last Thursday; conveniently his guest for the evening was Metallica’s Lars Ulrich. Albeit unsurprising, the Metallica announcement went down well with the news that they were set to play their self-titled album in full for their set. 
This, being prior to the day of the anticipated Black Sabbath announcement, led many to believe that Sabbath were set to announce they’d be headlining Sonisphere. Cue: next logical announcement. Download: “We’ll be announcing a second headliner tomorrow.” Now, when Black Sabbath were set to announce something in LA 10 minutes before a Download Festival announcement in the UK, it didn’t take much thought to put two and two together. But who really cares? Who really needed the element of surprise to make the announcement worthwhile? If I may, it’s Black – bloody – Sabbath. They could have walked out wearing t-shirts saying “We’re headlining Download” and we wouldn’t care. 
For 2012 being their tenth year under the veil of Download Festival, Andy Copping has certainly lived up to the expectation so far that this will be the biggest and best yet. I recall someone on Twitter, I believe from Metal Hammer, saying the two headliners so far are the respectively creators and perfecters of heavy metal. Now a lot of pressure lies on the third headliner to match up. 
To feel somewhat productive, I went out earlier today to buy the Kerrang! Magazine in question. Initially, it was supposed to come out on November 9th but James confirmed it had been pushed back a week, assumedly to allow the two announcements to come first. They may have taken away 66.6% of my task away, but there’s still one headliner looming who could make or break the standard and, damn it, I will not have my feature stolen away from me. 
On the contrary, Sonisphere won the best festival line-up of 2011 with their inclusion of both the Big Four and the mighty Slipknot. Where can they really go to next year to remotely compare to a Black Sabbath reunion? Well, I’m going to put forward a few guesses. Chances are I am completely wrong and my prediction will be heavily swayed by the fact I’ve had countless line-up discussions, all circling bands I just really, really want to see. 
Returning to Download, the question looms: in what way are they featured? Slayer is discretely featured on the cover, System of a Down is mentioned on a Kerrang! poll, Green Day are featured due to the magazine being highly dedicated to pop punk this week. Do we assume that they’ll keep up the metal theme or go somewhere totally different? 
I admit, Slayer wouldn’t be the worst headliner; in fact, they’d be fantastic. But it would seem a little too repetitive Festival wise. Having played Sonisphere the last two years, it wouldn’t be wholly repetitive for them to play Download but I think it would just be odd to feature two of the Big Four as headliners considering the fuss surrounding their presence together last year. One criticism of Metallica being announced was that they’ve headlined a major UK festival (again, Sonisphere) two of the last three years, so making it three out of four lacks variety. That’s why the playing of the album is such a quality addition. I love Metallica, the UK loves Metallica but Download nailed it when adding a quirk to their appearance. If – big if – the third is Slayer, they’ll have to have a similar quirk to avoid the same criticism. But then again, would people really care? I doubt anyone would ever turn around and say, “Ugh, not Slayer again.” 
Another solid rumour would be Green Day; year in and year out they’re speculated as headliners of one festival or another, so why not this? Of all bands featured they’ve got longevity and iconic status, although not quite as iconic as Metallica or Sabbath. Would it be a wise guess to say they’ll break the metal mould? Sonisphere did so by placing Biffy Clyro between two metal titans, so perhaps Download will build up from a more pop-punk day on the Friday to metal glory for the remainder. 
The Foo Fighters are another name being thrown around for the festival circuit. Admittedly, Reading and Leeds seems to be the lead prediction but following 2010’s performance of Them Crooked Vultures, wouldn’t Donington welcome back Dave Grohl in his main musical set? The Foos are the closest we have to the “icons of tomorrow” idea. Any conversation my friends and I have about bands that will maintain their longevity and capture that iconic status returns to the Foo Fighters. They’re a little more mainstream than Metallica and Black Sabbath (I hear the gasps; but yes, it’s true) but they’re such a quality rock band it’s hard to imagine people turning their noses up at the idea of them headlining. 
ImageThe alternative is to take a Sonisphere-esque risk; i.e. giving someone their first headlining slot. Biffy Clyro proved all the critics wrong last year by simply dominating Knebworth against adversity; perhaps the big one-oh is the year that Download does the same? 
Alter Bridge are touring later this month and, quite frankly, they were one of the highlights of Download this year. Myles vocals are just fantastic; it’s a little hard not to be awe struck. This being said, would they be suited to that kind of risk? Are they at ‘that level’ to get the slot alongside both Metallica and Black Sabbath? Some friends of mine wholeheartedly support the idea, others are adamant the slot should be reserved for icons.  
Iron Maiden headlined Sonisphere in 2010, but needless to say it would be fantastic to have a bit more British beef on the bill for Download’s 10th anniversary. Why not outnumber American headliners two to one? Or better, go elsewhere for a three way split. Rammstein smashed Sonisphere in 2010, so why not bring them in on the 10th birthday celebrations? In reality, we could give reason for about 50% of bands in existence as to why they should be on this bill. 
Turning to Sonisphere, there’s one band that reared its head throughout most conversations: KISS. With the band’s new record ‘Monster’ due for release in 2012 and Gene already confirming the band intends to hit 100 cities on tour in support of it (assumedly, this could just be the US but we’re hopeful...) they are a key possibility for a headline slot. Famed for their elaborate stage show and being, let’s be honest, a great excuse to embrace face paints, it would be the perfect time for the foursome to return to the UK festival circuit, having not headlined since Download 2008. If there’s one band I can say that I would place my money on performing next year, it would be KISS. 
Aside from headliners, there’s been a fair few festival predictions. With a new album due out next year, Lamb of God are a prime target for festivals. Following the vein of new albums, Machine Head released an absolutely sublime record recently (‘Unto The Locust’). If any metal band deserved the punt from day band to headliner, it is Machine Head. We’d suggest that while it would be fantastic to see them at Download, that Sonisphere would be more likely to bill them higher. 
Korn are set to release their highly experimental dubstep album later this month; why not take a risk on putting a highly experimental band at the top of the pile? Again, I’m just hopeful much like the rest of my friends. Mindless Self Indulgence are returning to the road after a brief hiatus. Albeit it America just now, we’d say they’re a good call for the Sonisphere/T in the Park weekend. I don’t have a fantasy football league; this is my thing. I plan my own private festivals. 
While it’s fair to assume who could and should headline based on new released or tours planned for 2012, the reality of the situation is it could be anyone. Download’s announcements packed punch in terms of quality but lacked the element of surprise to those who knew the fact that Lars was on Zane’s show and the Sabbath time differences. So, maybe it’s a nice idea to have some announcements without applicable logic – excluding KISS. The UK needs KISS back; I personally need KISS to return for a justifiable reason to walk the streets as Starchild once again. 
Maybe one of the festivals will have Queen headline. Why? Why the hell not?! Just pick out any random band and consider it possible; it’s far more exciting that way. 
While it’s fun to speculate who will be worthy of our money and travel in the summer of 2012, it’s just as much fun to be pleasantly surprised by the announcement of a band that totally slipped your mind during your hypothetical plans. It’s fair to say that if X, Y and Z were announced, people will be happy but there’s always going to be that one band on the bill you love and another you’re not fond of. With so many bands on the bill to be announced, both festivals will inevitably pull some fantastic punches. It’s just the headliners we can’t fathom; who can really be on par with Sabbath?

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