Watch Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes headline first night of historic Download Pilot

The 10,000-capacity event at Donington Park is a three-day camping pilot as part of ongoing research into the safe return of live music

Last night (July 18) saw Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes headline the first night of the historic Download Pilot event, which welcomed the return of UK camping festivals – see footage, reaction and more below.

The 10,000-capacity event this weekend (June 18-20), which will see Carter and co joined by other headliners Bullet For My Valentine and Enter Shikari, signals the legendary rock festival making a small-scale return for a three-day camping pilot as part of ongoing research into the safe return of live music.

In advance of the event, organisers said that “moshing is allowed” for the event, and Carter predictably spent a great deal of his set crowdsurfing in the front few rows of the crowd.

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See footage and reaction from the headline set below.

Download Pilot
Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes perform during the Download Pilot Festival at Donington Park on June 18, 2021 in Donington, England. Download Pilot is a 10,000 capacity festival part of a UK government test event to examine how COVID-19 transmission takes place in crowds. Credit: Katja Ogrin/Getty Images.

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Download Pilot
Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes perform during the Download Pilot Festival at Donington Park on June 18, 2021 in Donington, England. Download Pilot is a 10,000 capacity festival part of a UK government test event to examine how COVID-19 transmission takes place in crowds. Credit: Katja Ogrin/Getty Images.

“This massive next step will help us understand and study the safe return of large-scale festivals with no social distancing or face masks over a full weekend…” said event organiser Melvin Benn, who also organised a series of pilot events in Liverpool over the May Bank Holiday weekend, where the likes of Fatboy Slim and Blossoms played to a crowd without any COVID restrictions.

Speaking to NME yesterday as the festival begun, Download boss Andy Copping said: “It’s looking amazing. Just coming on site and seeing everything set up is so cool. Obviously it’s like a miniature version of Download because we’re used to operating to 100,000 people every year and this year it’s only 10,000 – but it just feels so good to be seeing everybody.”

Of the safety of the event, he added: “The fact is that from those other pilot events that have taken place, there has been little or no sign of any infection. That shows that this is working. Whether that’s down to people having their jabs, the way that people have been behaving during lockdown, the safety of the testing – it all adds up.”

He continued: “We’ve been saying it for a while, but you’re actually safer at a festival than not being at a festival.”

Download Festival will make a full return in 2022 with headline sets from KISSIron Maiden and Biffy Clyro.

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