All the Things We Overheard at Download Festival This Year

"He’s only just got into pop punk from TikTok. So he’s a fucking fake."
Hannah Ewens
London, GB
photos by Bekky Calver
Overheard At the Download Festival Test Pilot
All photos by Bekky Calver

Get 10,000 people in weather-inappropriate attire together in one wet field, feed them lots of Carlsberg and blast them with metal, and you’re going to hear them say some strange things. 

The VICE team usually does this “overheard at” exercise when we go to festivals, as much for our own amusement as yours. Sometimes it means trailing hardened punks at Riot Fest, other times it’s shadowing hippy dads on their weekend of the year at Glastonbury.


This weekend, at the Download Pilot festival in Donington, we knew it’d be different, because rather than Download’s usual capacity of 80,000 people to spy, we had an eighth of that. But the small sample size was made all the more interesting because of the context of these ~ unprecedented ~ times. 

On the way into the festival, stragglers were sharing not-really-that paranoid thoughts about catching a deadly virus and imagining that they’d faked their negative test to get in, and that continued to be very much the flavour of the weekend.

Here’s everything we overheard at the Download Pilot 2021:

Overheard At the Download Festival Test Pilot

  • Person A: We’re the only 10,000 people here. We’re the chosen people.
    Person B: Chosen by absolutely no one.
  • [whispers] Did you say Hayley Williams is doing a solo tour?
  • Just because I’ve got tattoo lip liner doesn’t mean I’m not alternative.
  • We had a ceremonial burning of the masks before.
  • I want to be a doctor of memeology.
  • I actually know a lot about music, before you start. I did music tech at college, actually.
  • [As Bring Me The Horizon – “Paradise Eve” plays] This Bring Me The Horizon song absolutely slaps, to be fair… bad vibe with the pandemic lyrics, but song’s alright.

Overheard At the Download Festival Test Pilot

  • Alt guy: I love how your tongue is so white.
    Alt girl: Omg is it.
    Alt guy: Yeah, have some water. It’s all the cokey scum or something.
    Alt girl: It’s a forest. There’s colonisation on the Petri dish.
  • I told him I don’t do pills anymore, which was true yesterday.
  • He’s only just got into pop punk from TikTok. So he’s a fucking fake, don’t worry about it.
  • Dude 1: [eating burger at 10AM] There was an incontinence pad in the toilet.
    Dude 2: What did you do?
    Dude 1: Well, I put loo roll around my hand and picked it out like any normal person.
    Dude 2: That’s not normal, mate.
  • Do you actually own anything that costs more than £10? State.
  • I thought Abraham Lincoln was famous for inventing the penny.

Overheard At the Download Festival Test Pilot

  • Emo girl: I need to be back in the tent, just swinging my tits around.
  • Maybe I’ll get the Download dog tattooed on my face.
  • Lad: My armpits are the only part of me that’s dry.
    His girlfriend: Don’t lie, they never are.
  • It was really nice going to the bars in Mexico and seeing all the bullet holes.
  • The other Chuckle brother has died! Did you know that?
  • You’ve gone a year-and-a-half without it, you can’t be a sex addict.

@hannahrosewens / @bekkycalverphoto