LIVE: Download Festival @ Donington Park – Saturday (15/06/2013)

Date: June 15th, 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:

UFO – 6/10
The veteran UK rockers may have been around as long as Iron Maiden, but UFO don’t appear to be phased that they’re in such a lowly slot compared to their compatriots. Their opening to the second day of music is enough to appease the older fans whilst the teenagers are still crawling out of their tents from the night before. [MS]

YOUNG GUNS – 6/10
Dressed in full white attire, aside from frontman Gustav Wood with his leather jacket, today’s performance is the first one in the UK for Young Guns for a while now, and seems to be the case for a few more months to come. Needless to say, the hype spread across their fans for their main stage set was high on the hysterical gauge. It’s a shame then that to begin with, the sound across the band sounds a little muffled and disorientated. Things do eventually pick back up and the band are back on form with fan favourites like ‘Bones’ and ‘Weight Of The World’, but this coupled with their lacklustre cover of ‘Today’ by The Smashing Pumpkins sadly weakens their momentum for the rest of the set. [ZR]

BLACK STAR RIDERS – 6/10
Thin Lizzy‘s modern iteration, Black Star Riders, garner a large crowd despite their late addition to the festival. Their set includes numbers from their new album, ‘All Hell Breaks Loose’, alongside Thin Lizzy classics like ‘Whiskey In The Jar’, ‘Jailbreak’ and ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’. The batshit insane weather causes a short disruption in enjoyment as many fans head for the tented stages. [MS]

MASTODON – 8/10
Mastodon are a true man-band and don’t say a word throughout their set, they just let their music speak for itself. Armed with more guitars than your standard Dawson’s music outlet, it’s incredible to see them in action, especially on the more complex songs like ‘Oblivion’. However, if you’re not a fan of Mastodon, after the first few songs I can imagine that their set may drag a bit. Still, as always, the band deliver a superb performance. [AR]

ALICE IN CHAINS – 10/10
As the sun comes out for the first time on Saturday, Alice In Chains head to the stage to prove that they’re still one of the best festival bands. Every single song is fantastic, with the likes of ‘Them Bones’, ‘Again’ and ‘Man In The Box’, complimented by the newer ‘Hollow’ and ‘Stone’. An announcement that their set is being cut short is met with whelps of disapproval before they dive headlong into the superb ‘Rooster’ anyway. If Alice In Chains could play every day, then that would be pretty fucking sweet. [MS]

MOTORHEAD – 4/10
Yes, Lemmy is one of the more renowned frontmen in the world of rock and of course everyone at Download Festival is going to know who Motorhead are, but that doesn’t automatically make them a good band. If you watch South Park at all, you’ll probably agree that Lemmy‘s voice sounds like a slightly deeper and gruffer Ned Gerblansky. It’s true we all know he’s not the best vocalist in the world, but after several years in the business and songs that all sound just like ‘Ace Of Spades’ but not as popular, it’s come to the point where there’s little reason to have any interest. In short, dull and monotonous. [ZR]

QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE – 8/10
Incredibly, this is Queens Of The Stone Age‘s first visit to Donington, and it’s clearly long overdue by the looks of the thousands of fans singing along to every song. ‘Feel Good Hit Of The Summer’ has been providing the soundtrack to band changeovers all weekend, and it’s even better when the dashingly casual Josh Homme is crooning it out. Hit after hit follows, with the likes of ‘Millionaire’ and ‘Sick, Sick, Sick’ causing a ruckus right up the hill. QOTSA could easily headline and everyone would be okay with it. [MS]

IRON MAIDEN – 10/10
It’d be easy to write off Iron Maiden. It’s been 25 years since they first headlined Download (then Monsters Of Rock), but to say that they’ve lost it would be a bigger lie than claiming penguins can fly. Just when you think you’ve seen it all at a festival, the Spitfire flyover knocks you clean off your feet. Even that isn’t as loud as Bruce Dickinson‘s roar as the band launches into a seemingly bottomless barrel of top class songs. From ‘The Prisoner’ to ‘The Number Of The Beast’, there are no dips in the performance. ‘Afraid To Shoot Strangers’ is introduced by a passionate verse by Bruce about young soldiers at war and the visuals throughout the set on the large screens really do incite strong feelings of patriotism. Even though ‘Fear Of The Dark’ is performed as the sun is going down, it still provides one of the sing-along moments of the festival. Iron Maiden are, and always will be, one of the greatest heavy metal bands that has ever existed, and may they continue to headline Donington until they are grey and old(er). [MS]


ZIPPO ENCORE STAGE:

I DIVIDE – 7/10
Opening up nice and early on the Zippo Encore stage, it’s a huge step up in terms of size since I Divide graced the Red Bull stage as part of the Red Bull Bedroom Jam contest last year. However, from comparison, it’s clear to see the band’s progression from then to now. The British up-and-comers manage to draw a rather formidable crowd considering the early hour, and is no doubt another great step up the ladder for the band’s career. [ZR]

HEAVEN’S BASEMENT – 8/10
Heaven’s Basement have been chomping at the bit for the last few years and begging for a break, so it’s great to see that they’ve finally got it with a good slot on second stage for Download. A bumper crowd proves that they deserve to be noticed and encouraged. [MS]

HARDCORE SUPERSTAR – 6/10
Flying the sleaze flag after Buckcherry‘s withdrawal, Hardcore Superstar battle hurricane conditions to entertain the brave punters that have turned out for their appearance. It really is four seasons stuff as one song plays in thunderous rain before another in scorching sunlight. ‘We Don’t Celebrate Sundays’ is the highlight of a rather difficult set. [MS]

ESCAPE THE FATE – 8/10
Being battered by the rain whilst watching any band is enough to put you off and walk back to the safety and comfort of your tent, but with a performance like Escape The Fate‘s, you’re more than obliged to stay. Admittedly their rather generic take of modern metalcore is… well, generic, but as a live performance the American quintet keep things exciting. Of course, set staples ’10 Miles Wide’ and ‘Issues’ make an appearance and fresher offerings like ‘Ungrateful’ follow a similar path, but frontman Craig Mabbitt manages to keep the crowd moving until the sun shines once again at the end of their set. [ZR]

KATATONIA – 7/10
Despite their gloomy and depressing songs, Katatonia look like they’re having quite a bit of fun, even though their crowd turn out isn’t too great. They deliver their dark progressive metal which sounds much heavier live. They’re impressive and grateful, but there’s a sense of longing for a bigger crowd in the air. [JK]

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

LIT – 8/10
Oh Lit, you were a big part of my teenage soundtrack, as I imagine you were for most of us. Lit know exactly what the crowd want to hear and mainly play songs from their most popular album, ‘A Place In The Sun’. Songs such as ‘Four’ are just so awesome to see live and, of course, their signature track ‘My Own Worst Enemy’ goes down like a treat, to which every member of the crowd was belting out the words at the top of their lungs. [AR]

THUNDER – 7/10
Classic rock legends Thunder prove that age is indeed just a number and deliver a great and entertaining performance. Having been doing this for decades, they have managed to perfect their act and sound incredible. Though perhaps not as lively as other acts on the bill, they still put on a great show. [AR]

JIMMY EAT WORLD – 8/10
Coming onto stage by a bit of a surprise as everyone is too focussed on the barrage of boobs being flashed on the stage screens, alt rockers Jimmy Eat World come onto stage and burst right into new single, ‘I Will Steal You Back’. From here on out, there’s more than enough evidence at hand here for the band to claim the title of greatest non-main stage sing-a-long band. It’s the final moments of their set, with the terrific trio of ‘Pain’, ‘Sweetness’ and ‘The Middle’ which is the strongest moment of their set. A definite highlight of the weekend. [ZR]

ENTER SHIKARI – 10/10
Utter havoc is all that is on the agenda both on and off stage for St. Albans through provoking genre splicers, Enter Shikari. Frontman Rou Reynold‘s in-between song short lyrical bursts of short speeches are true to the tone and persona of the band, but none rings through the crowd stronger than the justification of the music across the Download Festival, stating “it’s good to have music that makes you uncomfortable. When you get comfortable, you stop thinking. When you stop thinking, someone else will think for you”. They play all their set classics, from ‘Juggernaut’ to ‘Destablise’ and even shove ‘Sorry, You’re Not A Winner’ into the set nice and early. It’s toward the end however that the band up the ante. All members of the band are throwing themselves across the stage, jumping across the stage speakers and generally securing themselves as one of Britian’s best live acts. [ZR]


PEPSI MAX STAGE:

BROKEN – 6/10
With the majority of the festival goers nursing their hangovers back in their tents, there’s only a smattering of people in the tents. Despite its small size, Broken‘s lead singer Steve Dillon tries to make the crowd move, but it may a bit early in the morning for that. Nevertheless, their bold metal anthems sound great, with Steve‘s voice belting out throughout the tent. Things pick up towards the end of their set with a few eager beavers head-banging away, ending Broken‘s set on a high note. [AR]

HILL VALLEY HIGH – 7/10
Likely to be one of the most pop driven bands on the entire festival bill, Chester’s Hill Valley High are mere youngsters on the scene, but this isn’t their first time on the hallowed grounds of Donington Park. Their tunes are straight-to-the-point with their hooks, and though admittedly there is a bit of work to be done, they’re a band worth keeping an eye on. [ZR]

CROWNS – 7/10
Slightly out of place at Download are Crowns, who thrust their ultra-Cornish folk punk on a less than impressed crowd. A disappointing reaction for such a brilliant band who’ve brought along an electric mandolin. Sounding like an acoustic Green Day, the foot-tapping increases to ‘Full Swing’ and ‘Four Walls’. [MS]

EARTHTONE9 – 8/10
One of the good things about playing in a tent is that when it rains, you’ll gain a vastly bigger crowd. Though they’re not really the type of band to utilise such a big crowd, they instead wow them with their brand of alternative, groovy metal. Having been around for more than 1.5 decades, they’ve perfected their sound to a tee and, not surprisingly, sound incredible. Even when the sun peaked its shy head from out of the clouds, the crowd remain to witness their excellent set. That has to say something, right? [AR]

NEKROGOBLIKON – 9/10
By far the most bizarre band on show over the day’s festivities are Nekrogoblikon from California. Nicholas Von Doom looks pleased to see us before removing a banana from his trousers and throwing it into the crowd before announcing “This next song is about goblins. It’s called bears. It’s about bears”. He goes on to ask for a triangle pit as the rest of the band play surprisingly heavy melodeath interspersed with breakdowns. Have I mentioned that there’s a goblin yet? He isn’t actually in the band, he just runs around the stage and bigs up the crowd. He even crowdsurfs during ‘No One Survives’. It’s easy for gimmick bands to sound pretty awful, but Nekrogoblikon are actually a damn catchy band. [MS]

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

EMPRESS – 7/10
Rising prog rock/metal outfit Empress seem to be appearing almost everywhere as of late, and the band are still yet to release a proper full-length album. It seems their regular appearances on the live touring circuit has definitely paid off, bringing to the helm one of their better performances and truly highlighting their potential. Frontman Ollie Loring‘s vocals are spot on throughout, especially in ‘Deeper In Disguise’, and if the band just build themselves upwards from here then there’s certainly a great future ahead of them. [ZR]

HEART OF A COWARD – 9/10
Over on the Pepsi Max Stage, Milton Keynes up-and-comers Heart Of A Coward turn in a tent leveling performance. With their thunderous low end stomp peppered with flashes of dizzying melody, the likes of new track ‘Deadweight’ and devastating closer ‘Around The Girl (In 80 Days)’ are not only skull flatteningly violent, yet also alluringly dynamic. Couple fearless frontman Jamie Graham with these slabs of searing metallic bounce and theirs is a set which is as fun as it is savage. [TB]

BURY TOMORROW – 7/10
Clearly the next big band to explode onto the UK metalcore scene are Bury Tomorrow, who introduce themselves to a heaving tent. This means, however, that there are more than a few dickheads trying to hardcore dance badly with the intent to injure and look like a tough guy. Cuts from ‘The Union Of Crowns’ sound good live, including ‘Sceptres’ and ‘An Honourable Reign’. ‘You & I’ is played to at least 30 people on shoulders at the band’s request. If Bury Tomorrow aren’t playing main stage soon, then something is seriously wrong with the music scene. [MS]

UNCLE ACID AND THE DEADBEATS – 5/10
Grimy yet groovy psycho-rock from these misfits blasts out to a sizeable crowd over in the Pepsi Max stage. Their riffs are so god damn reptitive and go on for fucking ages. Seriously, they just keep coming and coming, like when you’re violently hungover and you just can’t stop throwing up. Although they’re good at what they do and as far as sound goes they nailed it, performance wise I just found them more than boring. [AR]

CHTHONIC – 7/10
Not only have Chthonic gone all out on the costumes, but they also brought a Taiwanese orchestra with them too. As a consequence, they’re 15 minutes late to a 40 minute set but, my god, it was worth the wait. Opening with ‘Oceanquake’, the crowd are blown away by how rich and incredible their sound is, with Freddy Lim‘s screams sounding even more powerful live than on record. It’s an incredible performance from a truly talented band. On a side note, to the person waving a Chinese flag at the Taiwanese band, are you being deliberately provocative or are you just a drooling moron? Idiot. [AR]

KVELERTAK – 7/10
One of the most exciting bands in modern hardcore, Kvelertak are clearly liked by many. There’s a crush for most of their 40 minute set as they power through a setlist of endless bangers. Despite only having released two albums, they’re fast becoming one of the bands of this generation, despite their unintelligible Norwegian lyrics. The words that are decipherable are screamed back at them whilst the rest are lipread badly and hollered nonetheless. [MS]

THE HIVES – 7/10
Having a ninja for a roadie is an instant good point for any band. Coming on stage a few minutes late, The Hives are obviously one of the most smartly yet obscurely dressed bands of the whole weekend, walking on stage with a huge HIVES sign behind them. Throughout, it seems the timing is a little off here and there, but songs like ‘Main Offender’ and ‘Two-Timing Touch And Broken Bones’ get the cramped crowd singing and bouncing along as much as they possible can. Frontman Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist‘s between-song banter is rather comical, but it gets a little annoying when these short interludes begin to last almost as long as their songs. Still, a great an entertaining set overall from the Swedish quintet. [ZR]


RED BULL STUDIOS STAGE:

CYTOTA – 6/10
Despite having a combined age of about 30, Cytota clearly know what they’re doing in terms of catchy metalcore. Their Atreyu/Bullet For My Valentine hybrid provides the worst hardcore dancing you have ever seen in the small pit, but they nonetheless give a good impression of themselves. [MS]

THE WILD LIES – 9/10
Despite being a relatively young band, The Wild Lies are surprising well established and draw a big and keen crowd into the tent. Their classic rock inspired sound goes down a treat and has the whole tent moving to the likes of ‘Stone Cold Love’ and ‘Angels’. They sounded almost too good to be true, as singer Matt has one of the best live voices of the day and the guitar work from is just outstanding. It seems that these guys are well on their way to becoming superstars. [AR]

IDIOM – 10/10
After 8 years in the making, Idiom have finally popped, nay, destroyed their Download cherry and deliver a ball-draining, neck-breaking, in-fucking-credible performance. From start to finish, the sheer energy and ferocity present in the tent can only be matched by that of the first few rows of the main stage headliners, it was that good. Sound wise, they have the southern metal influences of Every Time I Die or Pantera and also possess the same level of showmanship too, with frontman Matt Sharland leaping around the stage and into the crowd like a Kangaroo on cocaine. [AR]

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

BLACK MOTH – 7/10
Female-fronted Leeds outfit Black Moth bring a hard rock sound into the Red Bull Studios tent, one of the first bands to do so for the Saturday bill of the stage. Though relatively new to the scene, the band possess the flair of a band more than twice their age, with offerings from last year’s debut ‘The Killing Jar’ undoubtedly drawing in a bunch of new fans to their helm. If they get the right push, Black Moth could be making waves over the next few years and, of course, frontwoman Harriet Bevan gracing magazines as one of the new hot rock girls a la Hayley Williams and Eva Spence, being the norm for that kind of thing, right? [ZR]

SILENT SCREAMS – 5/10
Sitting on a wave of hype, Silent Screams are disappointing in their short tenure on stage. The recent addition of new singer Joel Heywood is good on record, but he tries too hard in a live setting, choosing to go for the ultra brutal approach of cookie monster vocals. Not even ‘Pacific Highway’ is enough to save a set that really should be better. The admittedly ironic ‘When It Rains’ is accompanied by a barrage of wristbands thrown into the audience. [MS]

SKY VALLEY MISTRESS – 7/10
Sky Valley Mistress scream rock and roll with their bold sound. Vocalist Kayley “Hell Kitten” Davies has one hell of a powerful voice that nearly breaks the amps. Though the sound is only a little bit off in places, they still deliver a great set with spectacular guitar solos and well-written songs. Kayley has a real fuck you attitude too, which compliments their music really well. [AR]

WOUNDS – 9/10
Disruption is the main method of attack chosen by rising Irish hardcore mob Wounds, who from start-to-finish deliver one of the strongest sets to grace the Red Bull Studios stage throughout the entire Download Festival weekend. Frontman Aidan Coogan appears drunk yet in complete control and screams with ease through songs like ‘Dead, Dead, Fucking Dead’, standing as just one of many highlights throughout the Dublin outfit’s performance. At one point, bassist Aaron McGrath even decides to dive into the crowd mid-set. Cancer Bats gone more ballsy and Irish; that’s Wounds. [ZR]

SEARCHING ALASKA – 7/10
As one of the finalists for the Red Bull Studios contest, Essex’s Searching Alaska need to make the most of such a fantastic opportunity that has been presented to them. Thankfully, they do just that. Though there’s a few sound issues early on with the microphones, frontwoman Christina Rotondo finally manages to burst out her powerful voice through songs like new offering, ‘Forgotten’. Some tweaking needed here and there, but Searching Alaska look like a band who could sneak their way into music magazines in a few short years if they get the right push. [ZR]

PRESS TO MECO
Sadly, we were unable to catch this band’s set.

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

LONELY THE BRAVE – 9/10
Though the tent isn’t packed out straight away, Lonely The Brave soon draw a large crowd because, simply put, they sound out-fucking-standing. The vocals, the guitar work, the rhythm section, in fact every aspect of their set is incredible and not a single note or fret was missed. The sheer power of their songs genuinely moved me and recruited me as a fan right there and then. [AR]

RAT ATTACK – 9/10
Keeping up with the high standards of the previous bands, Rat Attack storm onto the stage with front man Mike Hodges sporting a gold sequenced shirt that would make a game show host cringe. Full of energy and sounding like a ballsy version of Don Broco, they have the tent in the palm of their hand. Songs like ‘Facebooked’ and ‘Alien’, whilst heavy, are also very danceable which is exactly what the crowd are after. On top of playing a bloody great set, they even throw some free shit into the crowd, you can’t get much better than that. A first rate performance from a promising young band. [AR]

LAST WITNESS – 9/10
This is a big night for Last Witness, as it’s their penultimate live show ever. However, they have split up once before and got back together, so you never know, if we’re lucky you could get a chance to see them again. Their furious and downright brutal shows are a sight to behold and so intense, I’m surprised no one got seriously hurt. Though they may sound like your standard hardcore band, they’re very good at what they do, leading to not only a collection of stunning songs but also to a fantastic live show too. [AR]


JAGERMEISTER STAGE:

THE AFTERPARTY – 6/10
The idea of having an acoustic set is strip down your songs, not just replace your guitars with acoustic ones which is what The Afterparty seem to have done. Don’t get me wrong, some of their songs come out quite nicely when they’re acoustified, like ‘Sticks And Stones’, but the majority of their set just sounds a bit off as fast-paced pop-punk doesn’t sound as good in this medium. They do, however, have a nice, upbeat and energetic atmosphere during their show and though the singing isn’t exactly pitch perfect, it’s a sweet little set either way. [AR]

THE KILLING FLOOR – 6/10
More bluesy rock provided from The Killing Floor who not only sound great with Marco Argiro‘s strong voice complimenting their sound, but they suit the acoustic stage so well. Though they struggle to get the crowd moving, admittedly mainly due to the shitty weather, they’re still widely appreciated by all, particularly with tracks like ‘Catalina’. [AR]

FAHRAN – 7/10
Again, Fahran aren’t really getting the concept of an acoustic set and just replace their guitars with acoustic ones. As a result, their hard rock sound doesn’t fully translate across and the bridges and breakdowns just sound like retarded chugging. However, their solos sound great and the verse and chorus of their songs are a treat to listen to, mainly on tracks like ‘Bittersweet History’ and ‘Serenade’. [AR]

STRAIGHT LINES – 6/10
Having to perform the first half of their stripped down set in rather miserable weather, Welsh outfit Straight Lines are crippled with ultimate bad luck, with a good portion of the crowd formed pre-set time moving to the nearby shelter of the Red Bull Studios stage tent. This, coupled with the fact that the band are having a blistering downfall of rain pummelling their faces head on definitely put a hinder towards what could have been a far more special set. Tough luck guys, seems mother nature is a bitch. [ZR]

CROWNS – 8/10
Feeling right at home on the acoustic stage, Crowns put on an optimistic and danceable show. Sounding like a cross between Flogging Molly and Mumford & Sons with their mandolins and country vibe, they’re exactly the kind of band you want at a festival. Though the vocals may not be as strong as they are on the record, Crowns still sound wonderful and have the whole crowd singing to their folksy ditties, like ‘She Swears Like A Sailor’. [AR]

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

ACOUSTIC TV – 8/10
No, this is not a wind up, this is an actual acoustic performance from UK rock legends, Terrorvision. Their set is a tad clumsy in places, and they did claim to have only been rehearsing in a pub the day before, but this adds to the charm of their set. Even though there are notably pissed off from the racket of the nearby Red Bull Studio stage, they’re otherwise unphased by it and give a good performance nonetheless. [AR]

DEVIN TOWNSEND – 9/10
The one and only Devin Townsend‘s appearance at this year’s festival is a solo acoustic set on the Jagermeister stage. He entertains from start to finish, with his quirks and charms amidst banter of how un-metal he is playing love songs whilst being pelted either side by Motorhead and Press To Meco. A strange acoustic rendition of ‘Juular’ is followed by ‘Hyperdrive’ and ‘Solar Winds’, as Devin claims “I’ve got a 2 inch by 4 inch cock, it’s like a thick dinner plate!”. With space for one more song at the end, he does as he always does and launches into ‘Bad Devil’. This will be the last we see of Devin for a while apparently, so those who caught him have been spoilt. [MS]


Written by MG Savage [MS], Andy Roberts [AR], Tony Bliss [TB], Jack King [JK] and Zach Redrup [ZR]