Why Aren’t There Any Newer Bands Capable Of Headlining Festivals Anymore?

In the wake of the UK’s Download Festival announcing the headliners for their 2019 extravaganza, in which all three bands are considered veterans of their craft, it bodes the question- are there no newer generation bands worthy of getting a headline slot at a major festival anymore?

Let’s start off by saying that witnessing Def Leppard perform their ‘Hysteria’ album in full is most definitely worth seeing, Slipknot as a live band are always worth seeing, and Tool- the surprising headliner of the three, will, without doubt, put on a mesmerising performance, but with HFTB being a UK based brand, we’re taking a look at Download Festival as a prime example of how when on the odd occasion a “lesser band” has headlined, the Donington three-dayer has had to come back the following year with a need to make it up to disgruntled festival-goers with bands that have been there and done it before. 

2019 will be Def’s third headline slot since the festival became known as Download (also 2009 and 2011), Slipknot’s FOURTH (2009, 2013, 2015) and Tool’s second (2006), and clearly the expectancy of a new album by the two latter bands has made the festival organisers minds up for them, but are we now starting to get a feeling of the same old, same old when the rumour mill begins, as we can pretty much put at least 20 names in the hat andmost likely get two out of three, at least, correct? 

Here’s a little look at other multiple time headliners from Download’s past- Iron Maiden (four), Metallica (three), Black Sabbath (three), Aerosmith (three), System of a Down (three), KISS, Rammstein, Guns n’ Roses (all twice), as well as other legendary (and great) one-time headliners such as Faith No More, AC/DC, Rage Against the Machine and Ozzy Osbourne. 

While there are at least four stages across three days which feature a phenomenal amount of diverse bands who cater for any rock and metal fan alive, people are instantly drawn (most of the time) by who is headlining, and with our beloved festival getting plenty of attention all around the world, are others starting to see a trend too? 

Since Download began in 2003, there have only been a small selection of what you would consider “surprise choices” to close the show and often these bands were met with a huge thumbs down as well as a lot of booing during their actual performance. My Chemical Romance closed day one in 2007, where the likes of Megadeth and Velvet Revolver performed before them (very brave move) and Korn headlined the smaller second stage, Lostprophets ended the whole damn thing in 2008, The Prodigy were arguably an intriguing choice in 2012 and Scottish rockers Biffy Clyro had a Saturday night party in 2017.

Whether people agree or not, there are some great bands out there that fully-deserve their chance to shine. Some might think it’s too early for who we are about to mention, some wouldn’t even want them at their festival, but statistics don’t lie and here we look at a few potential bands that are, in our opinion, worthy of closing out a day at Britain’s best rock and metal festival. 

Bring Me The Horizon-

Maybe their image isn’t right.

Maybe their image isn’t right.

The Sheffield lads have a new album out at the start of 2019 and although their sound is a million miles away from their early deathcore dwellings, BMTH’s popularity hasn’t wavered one bit. Heavy, melodic, absolutely brutal when they want to be, this band have what it takes to take a festival by storm and keep 50,000+ hanging on every word they say.

Parkway Drive-

We’re pretty sure the Aussie metalcore bruisers will headline one day, but should they have done it on the main stage already? This year they were absolutely incredible as they closed the second stage at a criminal 7:20pm so Guns n’ Roses could hog the limelight, and had this show been on the main stage, their performance would have gone down as one of the greatest Download slots in history. 


Scarier looking than Slipknot?

Scarier looking than Slipknot?

As divisive as they are, Ghost are absolutely huge, and put them on a big stage, you can only imagine what their show would be like. Heavier live than on record also, this is a band that would hold the crowd in the palms of their hands, playing song after song of captivating demonic rock & roll that only they can pull off. 

Killswitch Engage-


Another metalcore band that have been around for yonks- in fact they could be considered one of the very first and definitely most successful bands from the scene, they have plenty of great material to create the perfect headline slot setlist, and you can guarantee that everyone would know at least a few songs whether it be ‘My Last Serenade’, ‘Rose of Sharyn’ or ‘My Curse’, for example.

Five Finger Death Punch-


Yep, we went there. They have a lot of haters but A LOT more lovers, and FFDP’s modern metal stomp would be perfect as the sun goes down. Anthem after anthem, one of the best frontmen in rock and metal, a huge sound- this Las Vegas behemoth would not disappoint, given the chance of having all eyes on them for a couple of hours.


These sludgers have been breaking boundaries left, right and centre since their inception, and on the back of their incredible ‘Emperor of Sand’ album from 2017, as well as a back catalogue packed full of musical genius, who wouldn’t want to hear ‘Oblivion’, ‘Blood and Thunder’, ‘Iron Tusk’ or ‘The Motherload’ whilst standing amongst a jam-packed crowd? 

Asking Alexandria-


If you wanted to go for another ‘Best of British’, York’s Asking Alexandria returned to form when Danny Worsnop came back on board last year, and their self-titled fourth album was also very, very good. A metalcore/hard rock party for the younger generation- certainly, but they have plenty of weapons in their arsenal to be able to pull it off. 


Hard rock at its finest, Shinedown returned to their heavier ways on this year’s ‘Attention Attention’ album. They have many great songs that would get the crowd bouncing, and Brent Smith’s vocals were made for a huge crowd to stand, admire and enjoy. 

Black Veil Brides- 

Yep, we went there too. Say what you want about them but they know how to throw a rock & roll party. Infleunced by the classic rock days of Motley Crue and so on, BVB are capable of writing some great and catchy songs. Imagine the Download crowd singing along to ‘In the End’ or ‘Fallen Angels’… it’s quite possible. 


If Green Day and The Offspring can headline Download, why not Blink? They’ve arguably been just as good as either of those bands in the last 20 years and this would be a fun performance rather than intense and intriguing, but Blink would certainly be able to make Download their own. 

And what about some of the other bands that have been going for years, have headliner quality music, yet for some reason never had the chance.

Korn- the godfathers of Nu Metal, Deftones- one of the most obscure but imaginative bands there has ever been in heavy music, Anthrax, Slayer (before they finish up), Limp Bizkit (just for fun), Alter Bridge (damn can Myles Kennedy sing!), Gojira (they headlined Bloodstock, why not Download?), the list literally is endless. 

Maybe 2020 will be somewhat of a changing of the guard, and while 2019 will no doubt be a great festival (less than 20 bands have been announced so far so there’s going to be plenty of great additions), it certainly would have been nice to have a bit more of a refreshing three at the top of the bill.

Maybe one day. 


Head For The Barricade