Live music history will be made tomorrow when metal heroes Korn, Limp Bizkit and Prophets Of Rage headline Australia’s first ever Download Festival.
The prestigious hard rock event, which usually takes place across five days in the UK, will debut at Melbourne’s Flemington Racecourse tomorrow (March 24), with global hitters like NOFX, Mastodon, Good Charlotte and Suicidial Tendencies sharing the bill with local acts like Northlane, Trophy Eyes and King Parrot.
Watch footage from Prophets of Rage’s show in New Zealand
Tomorrow will forever be considered momentous. Download’s co-promoter Unify Presents insisted Australia’s heavy music scene was in good shape following the fall of Soundwave, so the country had been looking to UNIFIED Music Group to fill the void for some time.
Aside from hard rock leading light UNIFIED’s involvement, the local debut was always going to be in good hands: Live Nation Australasia’s promoter Nigel Melder is right at the helm at festival programmer. Melder’s relationship with heavy music runs deep, he’d previously spent eight years as Head of Touring at Destroy All Lines.
Speaking to TIO, Melder talks teething issues, the principles he followed when selecting the lineup, and whether they’ll go national next year.
How did you land the role pf Download programmer initially?
I started with Live Nation over two years ago after promoting artists from this scene for years and years. Recently Live Nation had begun to promote more acts in this world and needed a dedicated promoter.
There is a strong history of course with Michael Coppel traditionally promoting acts heavy acts including the mighty Metallica right back to ‘Damaged Justice’ in ’89, I’m very lucky to be a part of this.
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Download is in its debut year. What teething issues did you overcome for this first run?
Some acts were tentative as a lot of people have lost money on Australian festivals in the past, agents and managers are going to be cautious which is understandable when embarking on a new play. Thankfully Download is an international name and we found most acts we approached wanting to be a part of history with the festival launching in Australia and couldn’t be happier with who we have on board.
What are some of the biggest differences in the way you operate compared to the overseas runs?
We’re a single day play, clearly that’s the biggest difference. A three day camping festival with that many heavy international acts would not add up financially and whilst it’d be a great first year, that’s as far as it’d ever get. We are ensuring that this is manageable in regards to not only budget but being able to have acts that are not being recycled every second year to keep the fans returning.
What principles did you follow to guide the lineup selection?
We needed to present a line-up with acts that hadn’t toured here recently as well as ones releasing strong albums, Mastodon with the Grammy! We also wanted a fair representation of Australian talent which wasn’t hard to achieve when we have so many Australian acts doing solid business both here and overseas.
Which set are you most excited to catch?
I’ll pick a single act otherwise I’ll end up listing half the line-up! I think NAILS will be one of those moments that people will remember. It’s not going to be pretty, they don’t play a lot and have never visited our shores. That’s my hot tip and not to be missed.
Can we expect a national run of the festival next year?
A national run? No. Is there a chance that we’ll expand into other cities? You’ll have to watch this space.
What’s your advice for those wanting to pursue your career?
Get out there and work hard, create opportunities for yourself one way or another. Be respectful, treat people as you wish to be treated and set yourself realistic goals. Learn from your mistakes, they’ll teach you more than your successes will.