LIVE: Download Festival @ Donington Park (Friday – 13/06/2014)

Date: June 13th, 2014
Venue: Donington Park, Donington
Website: www.downloadfestival.co.uk
Facebook: www.facebook.com/downloadfest
Twitter: www.twitter.com/downloadfest

Rating:

Gallery:
None available

Known far and wide for the hallowed grounds on which many of rock’s heroes of the past, present and in time future have walked and played on, Donington’s Download Festival is the UK’s most prestigious rock and metal festival. Back once again, as it is every year, equipped with a line-up that draws in an impressive crowd, we got into the thick of it for the whole weekend for what could arguably be the best weekend in music all year long.


MAIN STAGE:

MISS MAY I – 6/10
2014’s first band to play a single note on Download‘s main stage is Ohio’s metalcore favourites Miss May I, who understandably look a little unsure of themselves on such a big stage. Still, a rather reasonable sized crowd of early birds turn up, trying to shake off their hangovers in the pit along to ‘Relentless Choas’ and ‘Day By Day’. Frontman Levi Benton‘s screams and roars don’t quite hold their usual punch, maybe down to nerves, but bassist Ryan Neff‘s cleans soar clean through the mix. Not a bad start to the day by any means. [ZR]

CROSSFAITH – 9/10
For a band from Japan to be playing Download is a rare occurence. For a band from Japan to be playing on the main stage is an ever rarer one. Osaka’s Crossfaith grab the opportunity with both hands and never let go during their impressive 30 minute set. Their variety of music combines electronica, dubstep, and metalcore to fire up the diverse main stage audience. Songs like ‘Jägerbomb’ and ‘Eclipse’ will surely find their way into rock clubnight setlists soon, fitting in seamlessly alongside a cover of The Prodigy‘s ‘Omen’. Koie Kenta is clearly living a childhood dream today, and it just helps make the experience even more memorable. [MS]

POWERMAN 5000 – 3/10
Some may think that the arguably one hit wonder industrial outfit that is Powerman 5000 only managed to bag their slot, and a reasonably decent one at that, at this year’s Download is thanks to Rob Zombie, brother of band’s frontman, Spider One. This, coupled with a recent album in ‘Builders Of The Future’ as leverage, sees the quintet halfway up on the main stage bill. Aside from the band’s more die-hard fans, most people here are hanging around to hear their hit, ‘When Worlds Collide’, obviously saved for last. Disappointingly, the crunch the 1999 chart botherer held on video games like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 and films like Little Nicky is almost entirely abolished, and just like the rest of their half an hour set, resulting in Powerman 5000 holding very little ground to justify their appearance here this year. [ZR]

SKINDRED – 8/10
Skindred at Download is fast becoming a tradition. Practically every attendee in the past three years is now aware of the Newport Helicopter; an act where during the song ‘Warning’ you’re required to whirl an item of clothing above your head. Today, of course, is no exception, and it’s just as spectacular. The regular Skindred set, however, isn’t void of fun either. Talismanic frontman Benji Webbe commands your attention with his garish get-up, and he even manages to get the entire crowd to participate in a Harlem Shake (remember that?). Koie of Crossfaith joins the band onstage for ‘Warning’ to sound out another enjoyable set. Where now for Skindred but up? [MS]

BLACK LABEL SOCIETY – 6/10
Zakk Wylde‘s Black Label Society are one of those bands that are very easy to be blazé about given their obvious strengths. In the Friday heat they’re a very chilled band to watch at just after 4:20pm local time, mozying through a set of tunes that mainly centre around Wylde‘s demonic guitar skills. Most of the music is clearly lost on some of the younger faces of the audience, but those who have dusted off their old leather/denim jackets provide plenty of appreciation that will allow BLS to return year after year. [MS]

WITHIN TEMPTATION – 8/10
Not only are Within Temptation the biggest symphonic metal band in the world, but also one of the biggest on the rock circuit right now. Their last album, ‘Hydra’, charted all over the world and now they stand only two slots under headlining one of the grandest stages of them all. On record, Within Temptation aren’t for everyone, but live they’re undeniably good, packing a set of hits of which you probably know more than you think with slickness and finesse. With a pocket full of tunes and a great stage set up they take this huge opportunity and come through with a truly impressive set that isn’t even deterred when Xzibit‘s voice is blaired over the speakers for his bit in ‘And We Run’. [JK]

ROB ZOMBIE – 6/10
He’s nearly 50-years-old, but Rob Zombie will sure show you young whippersnappers how to put on a good show. Playing amongst an odd looking line-up in the lead up to headliners Avenged Sevenfold, Zombie provides a dose of whimsy to the various skeletons, zombies, and the rest on Friday 13th. You’ve got to believe that a lot of Zombie‘s appeal is lost on the younger sections of the audience that dominate the front of the crowd. Those waiting patiently for A7X and their parents to pick them up must make Zombie feel that his show wasn’t inspiring enough, but the rest of the crowd further back appear to be enjoying themselves. Songs like ‘Living Dead Girl’ and the new ‘Dead City Radio And The New Gods Of Supertown’ are easy to sing along to, and there’s even an encore consisting of ‘Dragula’. [MS]

AVENGED SEVENFOLD – 10/10
This is it. This is Avenged Sevenfold‘s chance to prove that they can headline a UK festival and make the same jump that Slipknot did with their 2009 set into headline status. The amount of build-up and questioning the set has received is ridiculous, but necessary. Even some A7X fans have their doubts on whether or not the international metal band of this generation can pull through. Opening with ‘Shepherd Of Fire’ from latest album, ‘Hail To The King’, is admittedly a slightly risky opener, but live A7X give it more of a punch. Their stage show is immense, there’s a silly amount pyro everywhere, and the stage looking like the inside of a throne room, with the huge skellington king that comes out to glare over the audience. It’s truly unlike anything that A7X have done before.

It’s when the band reel off their selection of songs from their six album career you that realise A7X have written a huge collection of some of the best metal songs in the past 15 years. They smash through the likes of ‘Bat Country’, ‘Nightmare’, ‘Second Heartbeat’ and ‘The Beast And The Harlot’, to name but a few, each one sounding colossal. Just when you think it’s over, the band return for not one but two encores, but it’s the 8 minute necrophillic epic ‘A Little Piece Of Heaven’ followed by rifforamma ‘Unholy Confessions’ that ensures A7X leave with this cemented as a crowning moment in their career. They’ve not only proved that they can headline, but also that they can do it better than most. Tonight, Avenged Sevenfold join Slipknot in becoming one of the headlining acts of our generation. [JK]


ZIPPO ENCORE STAGE:

TAX THE HEAT – 6/10
Bristol’s Tax The Heat are gifted the task of opening the festival’s Zippo Encore stage. Their amicable hard rock stylings are a perfect appetiser for the rest of the action. Most punters must be wishing the heat was indeed taxed as sweltering conditions sweep across the site. Despite the energy-sapping weather, however, Tax The Heat gain more than a few fans thanks to the strains of ‘Caroline’ and ‘Highway Home’. [MS]

TESLA
Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

DRENGE
Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

THE ANSWER
Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

THE TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT – 8/10
Glasgow’s The Temperance Movement are perfect for the sun. Their blues-y rock ‘n’ roll emanates good vibes from Donnington’s second stage, and their Clapton-like riffs combined with Phil Campbell‘s Steven Tyler-esque frontmanship make them sound like a cross between Cream and Aerosmith. The selection of songs taken from their self-titled debut put smiles on faces and beers in hand as they deliver the perfect sunny day soundtrack. [JK]

RIVAL SONS
Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

FLOGGING MOLLY
Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

BAD RELIGION – 8/10
In 2014, we’ve finally reached a point in time where all your favourite bands while growing up are becoming old and grey. Now that Bad Religion are approximately 8,000 years old, you’d expect that they’d be more interested in what’s on TV after Countryfile and Flog It!. Sub-headlining the Zippo Encore stage, they immediately silence their critics (me) and put on a show that makes you forget all about vocalist Greg Graffing‘s pipe and slippers at the side of the stage. Calling on an endless supply of excellent foot-tapping anthems, Bad Religion power through tunes like ‘Los Angeles Is Burning’ and ‘Infected’, throwing in a few new ones for measure in ‘Fuck You’ and ‘True North’. Bad Religion are 35 years old now, and let’s hope they live on for 35 more. [MS]

THE OFFSPRING – 8/10
The Offspring have arrived at a part of their career where they are so celebrated, they can pull a huge audience to every show without much effort at all. How do they change it up a bit then? How about by playing 1994’s ‘Smash’ in full, from start-to-finish? As darkness descends, the crowd roars into life, turning most of the hill on second stage into a battlefield for ‘Nitro’ and ‘Bad Habit’. As the album winds its way through, songs like ‘Killboy Powerhead’ and ‘So Alone’ get rare showings to the thrill of the onlookers. One song is skipped from the playthrough: ‘Self-Esteem’. That particular song is saved until the end as a weapon in Dexter Holland‘s arsenal. The band retire back stage after ‘Smash’ only to return shortly with a seven-song second set comprising the band’s other hits. All the classics are played, like ‘Why Don’t You Get A Job?’ and ‘Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)’. The Offspring headlined this festival not six years ago, and now they’re playing second fiddle to Avenged Sevenfold. It’s not that they haven’t progressed, it’s just that everyone else is moving faster than them. [MS]


PEPSI MAX STAGE:

NO HOT ASHES – 5/10
80s rock ‘n’ rollers No Hot Ashes kick off the Pepsi Max as a part of their reunion summer tour. Their slightly bland Belfast rock warms the tent and shakes some hips, but does also come across as more of a pub rock band rather than a fitting opener for any stage at Download. As their set goes on, they continue to deliver decent rock tunes, but turn out to be nothing exceptional or revolutionary. It’s just average rock ‘n’ roll. [JK]

IAMFIRE – 3/10
Denmark stoner rock outfit IAmFire make a rather bold claim on their Facebook page, stating that they’re taking the genre “to a brand new level, continuing where bands like Kyuss and Tool left off.” Sadly, the level the four-piece are taking the genre to is not one that it should want to dwell. Indeed, the band wander into some psychedlic-esque territory at points and this, coupled with arguably some sound issues, leaves for a rather confusing and very messy listen. Frontman Peter Dolving seems captivated into the role, but with instrumentation that fails to land, it’s really not enough. [ZR]

TURBOWOLF – 8/10
One of the most enjoyable UK live bands on the scene right now is Turbowolf. Charismatic frontman, Chris Georgiadis, promises that their 30 minute set will be an exciting one and then backs it up. Georgiadis conjures images of Dick Valentine of Electric Six as he prances about the stage, at one point leaving entirely to jump into the arms of the audience in his token way. Turbowolf are a very difficult band to dislike when their live show is witnessed, and their punk rock stylings will surely be returning to these grounds again if they keep performing like so. [MS]

RADKEY
Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

THE AMITY AFFLICTION – 8/10
Australian powerhouse in the making, The Amity Affliciton, are really beginning to carve quite a following into the UK, and an almost packed out Pepsi Max tent only affirms that further. Taking to the stage and opening with ‘Chasing Ghosts’, what is very clear is how much more confident the outfit have become since their last few visits over here. Frontman Joel Birch‘s scream have become a lot more intimidating and powerful too, and with a new headline tour just announced, it won’t be long until they become a regularly welcomed export to our shores. [ZR]

QUICKSAND
Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

ROYAL BLOOD – 9/10
Royal Blood are the new biggest thing in rock ‘n’ roll. To say that they’ve hit the scene with a bang is an understatement, they’ve well and truly blown a fucking hole in the scene. Despite the fact that there’s only two of them, Mike Kerr (vocals & bass) and Ben Thatcher (drums), there must be well over 2,000 people watching them inside the Pepsi Max tent. Kerr controls the audience’s every move as he and Thatcher somehow create a sound that would be difficult to replicate for a band with three times the amount of musicians. ‘Little Monster’ is your new favourite song, and many people can be heard singing along even though Royal Blood have barely even been a band for a year. If they carry on with this much momentum, they’ll be headlining Glastonbury next year, let alone Download. [MS]

LETLIVE. – 8/10
The Pepsi Max tent awaits with baited breath for the arrival of Los Angeles’ letlive. You never know what to expect from crazy frontman Jason Butler, but this time he hobbles out on crutches. Within a few seconds, he flings them into the crowd and begins galivanting about the stage in his usual energetic way. This is a man who truly lives the music that he plays. Now that letlive. have a solid back catalogue to choose from, they can surely begin their well overdue rise to the top. Songs like ‘The Sick, Sick, 6.8 Billion’ and ‘Banshee (Ghost Fame)’ hold an inimitable quirk that’s reminiscent of Rage Against The Machine, and the touching ‘Muther’ provides a sorrowful sing along. Seemingly belying his broken body, Butler climbs the side of the stage during ‘Renegade ’86’ to the terror of the security guards below. [MS]

ANATHEMA – 7/10
Liverpudlian prog legends Anathema fill the Pepsi Max tent with their dreamy and ambient soundscapes, made a tad heavier for their live performance. As a stage show, it feels more like watching a classical music outfit rather than a band that used to play doom metal, mainly opting for tracks from their previous two albums, ‘Weather Systems’ and this year’s ‘Distant Satellites’. Whilst fairly still on stage, the band aren’t a bunch of stagnant boring old farts. They’re smiling, laughing and showing nothing but humbleness, and ending with the drawn out 8 minute epic ‘Distant Satellites’, the band are overjoyed with their warm reception. [JK]

OPETH – 6/10
Swedish progressive metal quintet Opeth are a definite loved addition to this year’s line-up, and headlining the Pepsi Max tent for the Friday bill, they manage to pull in a sizable crowd. Now over 20 years into their career and on the verge of releasing their eleventh full-length album, it’s a tricky task for them to condense such an extensive backcatalogue into their set time and keep everyone happy. The thing is, when Opeth go heavy, they’re crushing, but when they opt for their more lighter material, it just doesn’t hold any excitement, at least not to a level a stage headliner should possess. Still, frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt adds a bit of humour between their set about playing a riff that sounds like King Diamond, until he bends the last note. Maybe not the best headliner to choose from today’s options, but the more die-hard Opeth fans would certainly be pleased. [ZR]


RED BULL STUDIO STAGE:

GOLDRAY
Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

BAD TOUCH
Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

BLOODY HAMMERS
Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

THEY SAY FALL – 7/10
As one of the bands turning up this year as a result of the Red Bull Studios Live at Download opportunity for young unsigned bands across the UK, Lincolnshire post-hardcore newbies They Say Fall have a somewhat young Funeral For A Friend vibe about them. Their trade-off of clean and harsh vocal work manages to whip up a bit of action in the pit and, perhaps if they get the right push in the right direction, They Say Fall could see a bit more notable success before the year is out. [ZR]

PAGE 44 – 3/10
This is Page 44‘s fourth consecutive year at playing Download, an undeniably great achievement, but there’s also a reason they’re still yet to make any kind of impression. Their hookless and lukewarm pop-punk is bland and forgettable, nothing really stands out or is punchy enough to remain memorable too long after their set finishes up which is, to be blunt, boring. Even to watch they feel stagnant and predictable. Better luck next year, lads? [JK]

DRONES – 7/10
Camberley punk rockers Drones have been on the circuit for a few years now with a couple of releases on their belt, and with the amount of their shirts spotted across the site today, it looks like they’ve got a pretty strong fanbase on the rise. The quartet burst into a set suitable for fans of Anti-Flag and, to some extent, Rise Against, to name but a few. They may still be young, but Drones definitely have potential to move up to a bigger stage in the next year or two. [ZR]

LYGER – 8/10
Just like their set at Nottingham’s Hit The Deck Festival in April, sadly London’s Lyger are greeted to a rather minimal crowd when they walk on stage. However, unlike Hit The Deck, this soon turns into something much more deserved for the post-grungers. Sounding like a mix of Nine Black Alps and The Xcerts with a slight tinge of Muse here and there, Lyger have a lot more to offer than people may realise. They just need people to pay them a bit of attention to see it for themselves. [ZR]

HUNTRESS
Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

BABY GODZILLA – 8/10
Baby Godzilla have been one of the most hyped live bands in recent years. They built their reputation on desolating toilet venues with pure chaos. Unfortunately, the Red Bull Studio stage is hardly a toilet venue, so it has rules. Did you think this would stop them from trying, though? Of course not. The Nottingham noisey rock collective climb, scrap, and crowdsurf as much as possible, leading to a cat and mouse-esque chase of guitarist Jonny Hall being crowdsurfed out of the tent with a team of security running after him. Whilst they were security’s worst nightmare, anyone who was becoming aggravated with Download‘s newly reinforced rules on crowd and band behaviour would have reveled in Baby Godzilla‘s small rebellion. [JK]

BATTLECROSS – 7/10
Taking things into metal territory, Battlecross are slowly becoming regulars over to our shores. The Detroit five-piece most certainly have a lot of hair, and when they all begin circle headbanging in unison, it almost develops a hypnotic effect. Frontman Kyle Gunther gives a shout out to all the fathers present who are treating their kids right before the band dive into a track dedicated to his own son, ‘Kaleb’. Again, the hypnosis hair whirling takes hold and, though admittedly rather generic as far as modern metalcore goes, Battlecross at least deliver generic well. [ZR]

TYKETTO
Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

DAN REED NETWORK
Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.


JAGERMEISTER STAGE:

BROTHER & BONES
Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

MIA KLOSE
Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

THE MERCY HOUSE
Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

NEW CITY KINGS
Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

DANNY VAUGHN – 7/10
Known for his main project of his band Tyketto, who are playing the Red Bull Studio stage just a few feet away later on, rock ‘n’ roller Danny Vaughn picks up an acoustic guitar and plays a couple of his band’s songs in a more stripped down setting. The more bare bones approach for the likes of ‘Seasons’ and ‘Walk On Fire’ really helps to highlight Vaughn‘s great voice, and the singalong to set closer and Guns N’ Roses cover ‘Used To Love Her’ rounds things off nicely. [ZR]

THE ANSWER
Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

JAMIE LENMAN – 9/10
The last time that Jamie Lenman was at Download was back in 2007, when his now defunct band Reuben took to the main stage. Seven years later, Lenman is treating us to not one but two sets, one after the other. Set number one takes the form of his more down-tuned and easy-on-the-ear workings. ‘I Ain’t Your Boy’ and ‘Pretty Please’ get singalongs throughout the crowd, with everyone in attendance, both fans and passers by, getting involved with the chorus hooks. Lenman‘s also a guy who brings humour as a part of his performance, joking that Huntress who played across the field just before him sounding like they were “raising witches from the dead”. Finishing off, the clapping, stamping and instrumental-less work force song that is ‘A Day In The Life’ leaves us waiting for part two. [ZR]

JAMIE LENMAN – 9/10
After stepping down for half an hour between the Jägermeister and Red Bull Studio stage trade-off, a slight bit of guitar trouble delays set opener ‘Fizzy Blood’ for a few seconds, but as soon as things are back on track Lenman and his Heavy/Mellow Band unleash carnage, portrayed as a Mr. Hyde to his Dr. Jekyll of his earlier set. From the intense fretboard masterful clusterfuck of ‘One Of My Eyes Is A Clock’ to the scornfully dense ‘All These Things You Hate About Me, I Hate Them Too’, it’s safe to say that Jamie Lenman leaves the Jägermeister laid to waste after day one. Only time will tell if this is just the first of many future appearances to follow. [ZR]


Written by Zach Redrup [ZR], MG Savage [MS] and Jack King [JK]

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