LIVE: Download Festival @ Donington Park – Friday (14/06/2013)

Date: June 14th, 2013
Venue: Donington Park, Derby
Website: www.downloadfestival.co.uk
Facebook: www.facebook.com/downloadfest
Twitter: www.twitter.com/downloadfest

Rating:

Another years means yet another Download Festival weekend, one of the leading British music festivals for all of your needs in rock, metal, punk and everything inbetween. With a stellar line-up which featured what could arguably be their best main stage headliners to date, we of course got stuck in with the mud, beer and fun that the festival is more than known for.


MAIN STAGE:

RISE TO REMAIN – 6/10
Returning after their cancellation thanks to adverse weather last year, Rise To Remain open the festival with a burst of energy. Lead singer Austin Dickinson is slowly but surely stepping out of his illustrious father’s shadow to form himself as a solid frontman. Bites from debut album ‘City Of Vultures’ go down well, including ‘The Serpent’ and ‘Nothing Left’. [MS]

ARCHITECTS – 8/10
Whilst everyone is buzzing about the other UK band yet to play on main stage today, many have made the mistake of underestimating an on form Architects. New song ‘Black Blood’ chews the strong crowd up and spits them back out, before the regurgitation is repeated with ‘Early Grave’ and the superb ‘Follow The Water’. [MS]

ASKING ALEXANDRIA – 4/10
There’s much hate surrounding Asking Alexandria, with some labelling them as “One Direction with guitars”, and it’s easy to see why with their matching uniforms of ripped jeans and name-badged jackets. Lead singer Danny Worsnop does nothing to belay his reputation as a wanker as he fleetingly attempts to form circle pits and walls of death. The setlist is weak and missing key songs, relying more on new material than proven favourites. It’s a gamble that doesn’t pay off, evidenced by the lack of crowd participation during new single, ‘Death Of Me’. How long AA will last like this remains to be seen. [MS]

PAPA ROACH – 8/10
Survivors of the short-lived nu-metal surge, Papa Roach over time have evolved and expanded into a more alternative/hard rock style, and as such this has definitely equipped the outfit with the tools to operate correctly on the Download main stage. With 20 years of experience and material now under their belts, the huge sing-a-longs of tracks like ‘Lifeline’ and ‘Scars’ affirms the band’s status, and even sees frontman Jacoby Shaddix choosing to get involved with the dirt of the festival and dives into a pile of mud in front of the stage. However, it’s the one-two closer of first album offerings ‘Dead Cell’ and ‘Last Resort’ that get the biggest praise. Truly a band who deserve to be on the main stage this weekend. [ZR]

DOWN – 10/10
Walking on stage just after 4:20PM local time, Down really need to do nothing at all to go down like a house on fire. Phil Anselmo is getting old, but he’s still as ferocious as a dog with rabies on centre stage. Senselessly heavy, songs like ‘Stone The Crow’ and new cut ‘Witchtripper’ are enough to snap your spine. America is all about doing it bigger, and that’s exactly the claim that’s backed up with set closer, ‘Ghosts Along The Mississippi’. [MS]

KORN – 9/10
A Download Festival favourite, Korn always deliver a worthwhile set which spans across their entire discography, and today is no different. Opening with ‘Blind’, pits immediately erupt during the slow building tapping of the cymbals before chaos ensues with Jonathon Davis screaming “Are you ready?”. From here on out, the Bakersfield outfit, including a return of original guitarist Head, bring forth a set that both die-hard fans and casual listeners would be pleased with, shoving in a few popular hits like ‘Narcissistic Cannibal’ and ‘Here To Stay’ alongside lesser known tracks, ‘Twist’ and ‘No Place To Hide’. Of course, set staple closer ‘Freak On A Leash’ sees them off on a high, and keeps their legend of nu-metal godfathers alive. [ZR]

BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE – 6/10
Slowly creeping their way up the Download bill, Bullet For My Valentine aren’t everyone’s cup of tea in between two predominantly 90s bands. New album ‘Temper Temper’ is disappointing, and the live cuts don’t really break that form. Older tunes from ‘Scream Aim Fire’, ‘The Poison’ and even ‘Fever’ are timeless however, and there’s plenty of movement amongst the younger fans. BFMV will probably be headlining Download in a few years time, but they need to get their act together and release some better music before then. [MS]

SLIPKNOT – 9/10
What’s left to say about Slipknot that hasn’t already been said? The Iowa veterans celebrate 18 years in existence by revisiting old tracks from ‘Iowa’ and ‘Slipknot’ that slot in seamlessly alongside fan favourites and newer tunes. ‘Gently’ and ‘Liberate’ are just two of the surprises that go down just as well with the audience as classics like ‘Duality’ and ‘The Blister Exists’. ‘Before I Forget’ is only the fifth song, but it causes a disturbance in the set when Corey Taylor halts the action to repair a broken barricade. That’s right, Slipknot have literally destroyed the arena. It happens again during ‘Left Behind’, but Captain Barricade shows his experience by calmly pausing again to explain his allegiance to his fans’ safety. It’s refreshing to see this during a band that many pundits call out as being too violent or crass, and this in itself is the biggest middle finger that Slipknot can give to those naysayers. 17 songs form the main part of the set, but an encore is forthcoming in ‘(sic)’, ‘People = Shit’ and ‘Surfacing’ to further reaffirm Slipknot‘s reputation as one of the most punishing metal bands on the planet. [MS]


ZIPPO ENCORE STAGE:

MONSTER TRUCK – 6/10
As one of the first bands of the entire festival weekend, Canadian newcomers Monster Truck may be almost virgins on British soil, but their appearance as openers for the Zippo Encore stage rested any doubts about their innocence on such a big stage. Despite their obviously small impression on the UK scene as of late, the wailing rockers managed to get many heads a-banging to tunes from their recent debut ‘Ferocity’ and set a great tone for the acts to follow across the whole arena. [ZR]

DIR EN GREY
Sadly, we were unable to catch this band’s set.

URIAH HEEP
Sadly, we were unable to catch this band’s set.

DRAGONFORCE – 5/10
Guitar wankery at its finest is over on the Zippo Encore stage, provided of course by the infamous DragonForce. They’re given 40 minutes to play, 30 of which are solos. Call me cynical, but I just find their set uninspired and boring. Yes, they’re phenomenal musicians, both vocally and guitar-wise, but when you’ve heard one of their songs you have heard them all. There are a collection of die-hard fans at the front, but it’s clear to see most of the crowd are just here to see ‘Through The Fire And Flames’. Though their performance is definitely a step up from previous years, they still have a bit to go to really grab people’s attention. [AR]

EUROPE
Sadly, we were unable to catch this band’s set.

VOLBEAT – 8/10
Volbeat‘s performance is flawless, with Michael Poulsen‘s spectacular voice ringing out loud and true. Having just released their fifth album, they have a massive back catalogue of tracks to choose from, but after years of gigs and festivals they know exactly which ones will get the crowd moving, with the likes of ‘Hallelujah Goat’ and ‘Still Counting’ doing the job just right. They even throw in a cheeky cover of Jonny Cash‘s ‘The Ring Of Fire’ before ‘Sad Man’s Tongue’ to win even more people over too. [AR]

3 DOORS DOWN – 6/10
Somewhat of a vanilla performance from these all American rockers, but nevertheless the crowd loves them anyway. As always, they sound great and hit every note and fret with ease, with Brad Arnold‘s spectacular voice coursing through the crowd like a bird in a canyon. Though the awkward pauses between songs hinder the momentum of their set, all is forgiven when they blast out their crowd pleasing anthems such as ‘Here Without You’ and ‘Kyrptonite’. They even throw in a cheeky cover of Megdeth‘s own ‘Symphony Of Destruction’. Well, when in Rome. [AR]

GOGOL BORDELLO – 9/10
Gogol Bordello are the perfect festival band. Think about it, their lyrics are either simple, like in ‘Not A Crime’ or ‘Break The Spell’ where you can sing along happily after one verse, or they’re in Ukrainian/Spanish/Klingon so you couldn’t sing along if you tried. Not only that, but their music is incredible with a plethora of instruments all played at such implausible speeds and to a ridiculous high standard. Frontman Eugene Hütz knows just what to do to work a crowd of any size, and does so in such a natural way. Live performances are in their blood and at festival shows like this Gogol Bordello really come into their own. [AR]

BLACK STONE CHERRY
Sadly, we were unable to catch this band’s set.


PEPSI MAX STAGE:

EMPEROR CHUNG – 7/10
With a large, music-hungry crowd gathered in the big blue tent, local lads Emperor Chung serve up a musical treat. With their beefy classic metal sound, somewhat similar to tomorrow’s headliners Iron Maiden, they’re well received by all. This band is exactly what Download Festival is about, with well-written songs, a great stage presence and butt-load of talent. What a great way to start the day. [AR]

PALM READER – 9/10
Following on from Emperor Chung‘s tribute of where music has come from are Palm Reader, where music is currently heading. Their angry, angry post-hardcore tracks seem to stun the crowd somewhat, as there’s little movement to begin with. However, as the band progress through their enthralling set, the crowd loosen up a bit. What’s also sweet is that they’re genuinely honoured to be here, as you can see it in their beaming smiles. Definitely a band to keep a watchful eye on. [AR]

PATENT PENDING – 9/10
It could be the shitty weather that draws a huge crowd into the tent, or it could be the fact that pop-punk’s latest stars are about to take the stage. Their sugar sweet tunes have pretty much the whole tent bouncing for the duration of their set. Not only that, but they have an awesome stage presence too like, for example, they have choreographed a cheeky little dance routine to ‘Anti-Everything’ and then they figuratively turn the entire tent into a pirate ship. I’m surprised that frontman Joe Ragosta hasn’t yet been recruited by the army to rally the troops. Good job guys. [AR]

HANG THE BASTARD – 7/10
It’s a good job that Hang The Bastard are protected by a tent roof over the heads, else they may actually explode the sun through their chunky riffs and vomit-inducing lows. The UK has a lot to offer in the way of heaviness, be it via hardcore rowdiness or sludgy mayhem. [MS]

THE SWORD – 5/10
Classic hard rock is the method of attack for Austin based quartet The Sword, and though the crowd are definitely getting into things the band appear to be just going through the motions and fail to leave any real lasting impression. Maybe just an off day, but it’s a shame it fell upon such an important date. [ZR]

IN THIS MOMENT – 2/10
Simply disappointing. Having seen them before at Warped Tour, I know how good they can be. Tragically, they’ve lost it completely and sold out 100%. It seems ITM have realised that lead singer Maria Brink is attractive, and as a consequence slapped her in some PVC lingerie and literally put her on a pedestal, eclipsing the rest of the band. It doesn’t help that the majority of the set is composed of their sex-driven songs. Given how she looks and the content of their lyrics, they should just rename the band Daddy Issues. A lot of time is also wasted with Maria changing outfit after nearly every song. This is time which could have and should have been spent playing classics like ‘All For You’, ‘Beautiful Tragedy’ or ‘Prayers’. At their own headline show this would have been acceptable, but not in a 30 minute festival slot. Overall, their performance was appalling, tacky and just downright stupid. [AR]

TURISAS – 6/10
There aren’t as many red and black faced fans thanks to the weather as usual, but Turisas are still as dependent as ever despite not being spectacular. Cries of ‘Battle Metal’ will never disperse, but the band ensure that they’re more than just one song with ‘Stand Up And Fight’ and ‘Holmgard And Beyond’. [MS]

MOTIONLESS IN WHITE – 8/10
Following a few visits to the UK over the past few years, Motionless In White are fast building a strong fanbase over on these shores, and their set on the Pepsi Max stage is a firm confirmation of their impression here. Newer songs like ‘Devil’s Night’ and ‘A-M-E-R-I-C-A’ sound far better live than on record, despite the more horror and Manson-esque vocals being constantly drowned out by the buzzing guitars. It is, however, still debut album material such as ‘Abigail’ and set closer ‘Immaculate Misconception’ which stand the strongest. [ZR]

CONVERGE – 9/10
Raging and incessantly angry and energetic metalcore/punk rockers Converge are one of the more anticipated bands to be gracing the Pepsi Max stage on the Friday. The screams and noises that come from frontman Jacob Bannon sound far from human and something you’d more likely come across in your worst nightmares or a David Firth animation. Songs like ‘Concubine’, ‘Axe To Fall’ and ‘All We Love We Leave Behind’ get the crowd moving like a bunch of mental patients, and once again Converge hold the title of one of the best live bands around today. [ZR]

HIM – 7/10
Unsurprisingly, the tent is totally packed out with Heartagrams plastered everywhere as if it were a cult meeting. Greeted by shrieks and screams from the many, many fan girls, Ville Valo lets a coy grin slip out before launching into ‘Unleash The Red’. Ville‘s live vocal range is outstanding, hitting notes lower than Barry White himself. The majority of their set consists of songs from their latest album, ‘Tears On Tape’, yet I can’t help but feel that at a festival you should stick to the crowd pleasers and classic songs rather than promote a new album. Luckily though, they did play some of their staple set songs, such as ‘Soul On Fire’ and ‘Rip Out The Wings Of A Butterfly’, which obviously go down a treat. [AR]


RED BULL STUDIOS STAGE:

HAMMER OF THE GODS
Sadly, we were unable to catch this band’s set.

FREE FALL
Sadly, we were unable to catch this band’s set.

AKORD – 7/10
Scottish outfit and one of the winners of the recent Red Bull Studios contest, Akord strike it lucky with mother nature as the onslaught of rain outside draws in a near full tent to shelter themselves. The four-piece use this to their advantage and their brand of alternative metal, which at times elements similar to that of Korn, gets many heads a-nodding and no doubt turn a few newcomers into fresh fans. [ZR]

SEMPERFI – 7/10
Keeping it Scottish, Aberdeen’s Semperfi come onstage dressed in kilts and deliver a set of hard hitting metal a la Metallica, Machine Head, Mastodon and everything inbetween. Frontman Gary Addison has a rather impressive set of pipes on him, being able to switch from melodic cleans to high-pitched screams with little to no effort. Definitely a band to watch out for in the future. [ZR]

ZOAX – 7/10
Zoax are fairly new to the scene, and they look like a damn intriguing prospect. They sound like Bullets And Octane mixed with Every Time I Die. Lead singer Adam looks like an in-shape Bill Bailey with a voice to match. Giving the crowd the thumbs up appears to have accidentally become the band’s trademark, despite their short time with us. Expect them soon. [MS]

PAGE 44 – 5/10
After winning the Red Bull Bedroom Jam contest a few years ago, Page 44 have managed to keep themselves on the radar and are once again back on the Download Festival bill. Though their pop-rock is indeed melodic, it’s all a little going through the motions and the band deliver a sound and set that is done by a plethora of bands, but half of them do it better. There’s a few dancers dotted across the crowd, but otherwise Page 44 need to try and freshen things up a little bit. [ZR]

VERSES – 6/10
Brighton pop-rockers Verses follow a rather similar path to the Red Bull Studios tent previous stage occupiers, Page 44, but things are a bit more lively and exciting. The band’s tunes are far more danceable and as a whole more thought out and interesting. Their live set still needs a little tweaking here and there to draw in a bigger crowd and more activity, but Verses are certainly on the right track. [ZR]

BLOOD COMMAND – 9/10
These guys are fucking incredible and give one of the best performances of the day. Even though the sound is a bit off in places, their music and execution of their songs is outstanding. Their terrifying yet danceable tracks sound insane and whip up a storm in the pit almost instantly. A special note goes to lead singer Silje Tombre, whose live screams sound utterly phenomenal. [AR]

ZICO CHAIN – 9/10
It seems that Zico Chain have come a long, long way since way back in 2005 when they were supporting Disturbed. Bounding onto the stage, they’re greeted by a massive crowd all eager to hear their hard rock anthems. Their set and sound are flawless, with Chris and Paul‘s voices sounding stronger than ever, especially on set closer ‘Case #44PQ_110807’.

THE ALGORITHM – 7/10
One of the more obscure arrangements, at least in terms of instrumentation and their approach, two-piece The Algorithm‘s instrumental only set is constructed by solely a live drum and an Apple MacBook. The French duo are basically what Skrillex would sound like if he replaced all of the dub-step with a more metal driven approach. Despite sticking behind a desk for most of the set, Rémi Gallego is continually pressing buttons and twisting dials, controlling the power and volume of each tracking in the songs and gets the crowd pumped and bouncing from start-to-finish. [ZR]

FIDLAR
Sadly, we were unable to catch this band’s set.

FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS – 8/10
Despite the fact that the big named acts are on the other stages, there’s still a sizable crowd gathered for these Beccles boys. With their cheeky smiles and floppy fringes, they remind me of a more ballsy Panic! At The Disco, as they have a touch of whimsy to their songs whilst still being able to whip up a pit. The young crowd love every minute of their set too, as they bounce and sing along to their catchy-as-hell songs. They even throw in a soft and tender cover of ‘Psychosocial’, just in case we missed it performed by the song’s creators on main stage. How nice. [AR]


JAGERMEISTER STAGE:

AVOSETTA – 6/10
Despite their placing between two other bands (Architects and Asking Alexandria) that take many of the same fans, Avosetta draw a modest crowd towards the acoustic stage. Their early start means fans are still rushing in as their set ends. [MS]

ROB LYNCH – 6/10
The sun is back out and with it comes the crowd, so to entertain them over on the acoustic stage is Stamford’s own Rob Lynch. His acoustic pop/punk/folk sound compliments the weather perfectly, though sadly he’s constantly drowned out from the distortion of Semperfi over in the Red Bull Studios tent. Nevertheless, Rob battles on and delivers an upbeat set and a neat little show. [AR]

TOSELAND – 9/10
World Superbike champion James Toseland returns to Donington Park, albeit in a slightly different guise with his new band. Holy shit, can this guy sing – and he can play the piano like a boss too. His voice outlives his keyboard though unfortunately, thanks to its untimely demise during ‘Renegade’. But, James takes it in his swing and continues unabated. Toseland have recently released their debut EP, ‘Life Is Beautiful’, that sounds a lot like Alter Bridge. It’s a band that will hopefully return in an electric guise, and by the looks of the strong and encouraging crowd they’ll be welcomed back. [MS]

HEAR KITTY KITTY – 5/10
Ballsy acoustic rock is all up in yo’ face from LA’s Hear Kitty Kitty, with lead singer Nikita La Tijera Meow strutting about like she owns the stage. What she lacks in clothes she makes up for in impressive, gruff rock vocals that really compliment their acoustic sound. Now, HKK claim to be an environmental band, though their lyrics are as depraved and sex-obsessed as late night Channel 5 and when she does delve into a between-song-small-talk, no one has a bloody clue what she’s saying. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t either. While they may sound good on record, HKK give a clumsy and below average performance today. [AR]

WALKING PAPERS – 8/10
Again, having to compete with the distorted guitars of the Red Bull Studios stage, Walking Papers still give a great little performance. Looking very dapper in their suits, they serenade the crowd with their bluesy/jazzy set, making a soothing break from all the metal and a chance to relax in the sun. Lead singer Jeff Angell looks quite at home in his fedora, whilst channelling the spirit of the legends of blues rock and, as a matter of fact, the whole band do too. [AR]

WE ARE THE OCEAN – 9/10
We Are The Ocean seem to be the only rock band on the acoustic stage so far that has understood the concept of doing an acoustic set. Rather than just replacing their guitars with acoustic ones, they have taken the time to strip down their songs and re-write them to incorporate a piano as well as making the riffs sound good on an acoustic guitar. Due to their high stature, there’s a massive crowd eagerly awaiting them and not a single one of them is disappointed. Even though they have to compete with the Red Bull Studio stage, they do so easily with a bit of help from the crowd. [AR]


Written by MG Savage [MS], Andy Roberts [AR] and Zach Redrup [ZR]

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