Arriving bright eyed and (surprisingly) bushy tailed this morning, its back to the guest arena entrance where the queue is somewhat slow owing to the security checks. Something I feel that I should mention, given the current climate of the world Download’s security procedure was nothing short of remarkable. Quick, efficient and on time I didn’t miss one band or interview owing to their speed so yet another big tick in the box. As I got out of being searched the thick eight stringed din of Hacktivist could be heard bounding from the main stage. The closer I got, the better it sounded! After the departure of longtime singer Ben Marvin’s departure from the band, they’ve found a suitable successor in the form of Jot Maxi who delivered with the combination of Jermaine Hurley at his side. It was a fitting if slightly unconventional way for Download to wake up!
Heading over to the Zippo Encore Stage the young guns in Tax The Heat were just warming up the stage for Saturday with the own brand of signature Blues. Though personally not quite my thing and it being rather early, the band managed to draw in a surprising crowd for what would be an 11:30am performance. No mean feat!
Flitting back over to the main stage were one of my most anticipated performances of the festival. Having just missed out on their sold out Electric Ballroom date in London, Creeper are already the next big thing. These violet sweethearts positively stole the (callous) hearts of Download with their sweet performance this morning. Performing a hell of a lot of material off new album Eternity, In You Arms, the band almost played the record front to back. Highlights were of course the Alkaline Trio style “Hiding With The Boys” and the anthem sting of “Misery”. What struck me however though was not only the huge turn out for the band but the ease at which Creeper were able to simply work the crowd. For a band so young to have such a large scale performance could be daunting but instead the band threw down the gauntlet for one of the highlights of not only Saturday but the festival itself.
Matt Eachus – Download 2017
Following up the young bucks is always going to be a challenge, with what could be seen as their biggest performance on UK festival soil to date, Sikth were batting next. Duo vocalist combination Mikee Goodman and Joe Rosser come out of the stage swinging. With Goodman screaming at the crowd “Look. At. The. Sky!” claiming they’re half asleep, its hard to blame them if they might not be able to take in the genius of “Skies Of Millennium Night” at face value. For one, the festival set up is already against the nature of what Sikth is. Incredibly technical, subtle nuances are lost in the wind at times, meaning punters’ heads are metaphorically being scratched. However dropping in the smart idea of new single “Golden Cufflinks” was a good move. With a groove that is easy to follow it wins over more fans than you might think. Though personally I would have loved to hear how the band would pull “Vivid” off live it was a set that despite their environment, Sikth overcame what they needed and showed that in 2017 they are more than just back.
Cancelling my gym membership after Download, the sheer amount of running I’ve had to do would get me ready to run a marathon! I arrived just in time on the second stage, everyone’s favourite punchline of current, Suicide Silence take to the stage. Yet, and this is what I love, the second the band kick that distortion into overdrive and start with “Doris” all keyboard warriors are silenced. All of the little specky Deathcore worshipping idiots that deem their new direction “garbage” (it seems to be their favourite word, check the comments on their videos) are all very rightfully proven wrong. No more “tee hee’s” Eddie Hermida has fast become of the most intriguing vocalists out there and I still commend him that he has the balls to do something different. Of course the band cater to the older classics the likes of “You Only Live Once“, “Unanswered” and even “Disengage”. Its a feast for the ears whatever kind of era you might be preferring your Suicide Silence portion.
Sarah Koury – Download 2017
Changing pace somewhat, AFI have come incredibly far since their 1991 beginnings. Embracing emo the band became an icon with their release Decemberunderground but for longtime fans its always going to be the likes of Sing The Sorrow and The Art of Drowning that get the heartbeats racing. Recently supporting Deftones on their UK run, AFI are no stranger to the larger than life performances. With Davey Havok working the stage like a pro you wouldn’t think for a second that this band used to be a small Punk outfit. Its interesting to see the evolution of AFI from these angst ridden youngsters to a band that have crafted their latest release The Blood Album. Retaining their integrity within the community whilst also growing, its a difficult tightrope to walk but at Download, AFI have once more proven that they are more than worthy of a main stage title.
Going completely one hundred and eighty degrees sees us witness the arrival of Buffalo’s most vitriolic Hardcore mob, Every Time I Die. Known for their high energy shows and their relentless work ethic the band are a force to be reckoned with live. Riding off the back of new ripper Low Teens, the band positively beat the punters at Download. Not knowing where to look, be it the high kicking ninja stylings of Jordan Buckley, the screaming philosopher that is brother Keith Buckley or the absolute man mountain that is Andy Williams. Regardless, the band blast out hit after hit from “Underwater Bimbos From Outer Space” to newer drowsy tune “It Remembers” of course the likes of the cowbell hopping “We’rewolf” are present as is the slump of “No Son Of Mine” but its the kinetic energy that is on stage that makes Every Time I Die, not only thrilling to watch but absolutely infectious as a live act. Having emerged black and blue, over the weekend I’ll speak to many a friend who will agree with me that Every Time I Die may well have given the best performance at the entire festival.
Ben Gibson – Download 2017
Swapping a bitter taste for more of a sweet tooth, we head back over to the main stage for Saturday’s main support that is A Day To Remember. Who would have known when the Metal community went mad for the likes of “Plot To Bomb The Panhandle” or “2nd Sucks” that the band would go on to be main support at Download Festival. Having already achieved a sold out Wembley Arena show date in their back pocket, A Day To Remember are quite simply brilliant entertainers. There’s no let up from when the band take to the stage here at Donington. The dress rehearsals of arena shows have prepped this band to be able to completely enrapture the audience here tonight. Making the likes of Homesick classics …. ring out across an ironically slightly drizzly field. Fighting the rain off with the Pop Punk summer tones the band defiantly ensure that literally everyone is having a good time. An absolutely brilliant performance for almost everyone but the fans of a more darker nature…
Ben Gibson – Download
Swapping a bitter taste for more of a sweet tooth, we head back over to the main stage for Saturday’s main support that is A Day To Remember. Who would have known when the Metal community went mad for the likes of “Plot To Bomb The Panhandle” or “2nd Sucks” that the band would go on to be main support at Download Festival. Having already achieved a sold out Wembley Arena show date in their back pocket, A Day To Remember are quite simply brilliant entertainers. There’s no let up from when the band take to the stage here at Donington. The dress rehearsals of arena shows have prepped this band to be able to completely enrapture the audience here tonight. Making the likes of Homesick classics of “Have Faith In Me” and “Mr Highway’s Thinking About The End” ring out across an ironically slightly drizzly field. Fighting the rain off with the Pop Punk summer tones the band defiantly ensure that literally everyone is having a good time. An absolutely brilliant performance, for almost everyone…
One of the brilliant things about Download is its ability to appeal to Metalheads all over the spectrum of what you would deem to be “metal”. Returning just a week beforehand with brand new album Condolences, Wednesday 13 has rightfully earned the headline spot to close out tonight’s Dogtooth stage. Having never seen the man live before, I was unsure what to expect in all honesty. As the lights dimmed and the Horror show began with fiery deities at their side making Wednesday 13 instantly come to life. Pulling out tunes from their older catalogue to the biting new releases of “Cadaverous”. The hulking weight of “What The Night Brings” was reason enough to be watching the man but it was his charismatic approach that would see him being the true star of the show. As the night crept in the man brought even more fire to stage, nevertheless it wasn’t a mere gimmick as the frontman could certainly hold his own. Sound on point and despite looking like the undead the man’s charisma was palpable there were certainly some heads that have been turned.
Paulo Gonçalvez – Download 2017
Quickly escaping Wednesday 13‘s ghoulish lair, I raced off over to the Zippo Encore stage to see if I could catch the last segment of Devin Townsend Project‘s set. Originally skeptical, as I have seen the man before, I was instantly rewarded with an absolutely phenomenal show and quite possibly the best I have seen the man to date. The theatrics of “March of The Poozers” worked wonders, not needing context along with the heartwarming love of “Grace” but the real highlight was Transcendence number “Higher”. Seeing both Townsend and band coalesce to form a kind of bond that a band that has been through it since the off together was something absolutely extraordinary. Like a zany Akerfledt, Townsend always has the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand. In part what is so brilliant about the man is that he is simply charming. “The crowd goes mild” a modest response it just makes him all the better. People say that when you know you’re good at something you don’t need to reinforce it and I couldn’t agree with that sentiment more with a brilliant performer like Devin Towsend. Needless to say, I am glad I got out a bit earlier.
Matt Eachus – Download 2017
Ah the Saturday Download headliner, a coveted spot amongst the bill and often the one tasked with the most pressure of the festival. Having previously headlined the likes of Reading and Leeds before, Biffy Clyro are no strangers to seeing the world on a massive stage. Way back when, the band were supporting this likes of Muse at their Summer Wembley Stadium dates ten years ago in 2007. How far the band have come is undeniable and tonight the band burst out on stage with brand new single “Wolves of Winter“. The stage adorned with a brilliant looking cube structure which if you looked at it for too long would definitely hurt the eyes is a good stage prop but doesn’t distract from the fact that the band just aren’t all that Metal for a Metal festival!
That being said the band deliver the goods with “Bubbles”, “Who’s Got A Match” though the band don’t pull out the likes of what would surely have been appropriate, “Saturday Superhouse” a personal favourite. Even opting for the route of a ballad it just doesn’t quite seem to fit in. Which is not because of the band’s set! As you might imagine the band ensure that every section, evidenced in the trickster tempo of “Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies“. It just seems that something is slightly amiss with the band. This is however just my take on the proceedings, with many others thinking that the band absolutely outdid themselves. For me though it seems that the temperament of the band is just slightly too indie.
Ben Gibson – Download 2017
Moving over to the second stage, its time for alien crowd surfing with Rob Zombie. No stranger to lavish, the man has clearly got an eye for the more morbid of details. Well established at Download Festival’s Zippo stage the man understands exactly how the layout of the stage works. After the tense Alien race to a noodle stall the man launches into new single “Everybody’sFuckin’ In A UFO” which goes down as you might think. The crowd lapping up every word of Zombie’s as our compare of Horror struts his stuff. Closing out Download’s second stage previously I have seen the man absolutely on fire, tonight however just seems somewhat lack lustre.
Of course all of the main accoutrements that you would expect from a Zombie show are present as are the classic singalongs of “Drugula” and “Living Dead Girl“. Not to mention the size of the gargantuan crowd would definitely prove me wrong but I just felt as though there might have been something lacking this time round. Regardless of what you might think of the man’s music, its undeniable that the level of showmanship and lengths that he goes to deliver his Horror laden message is exceptional.
Check back tomorrow for the final instalment of Download Festival!