LIVE: Download Festival @ Donington Park – Friday (08/06/2012)

Date: June 8th, 2012
Venue: Donington Park, Derbyshire


Now celebrating the 10th year since its inception, it’s obvious that to mark this important milestone in the event’s history, Download Festival was going to make it truly special weekend to remember. If we weren’t there, we would have thrown a tantrum. Here’s our review of what we thought of the opening day of what would undoubtedly be a fantastic weekend of rock, metal, punk and alternative music:


Thanks to mother nature being a gigantic dick, Rise To Remain and Cancer Bats lose their opening slots on main stage, so the first band on is Fear Factory. Now, one thing about festivals that you need to know is that when it gets windy, everything goes to shit. The sound is rubbish on main stage, at times cutting out completely and other times sounding like an acoustic set (yes, an acoustic Fear Factory set… how terrifying is that?). Of course, it doesn’t help that Burton C. Bell can’t sing for toffee any more, but nonetheless the rest of the band make a good effort to play on as usual and sound problems aside, it’s a tight set. [MS]

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

What Canadian punk rock maestros bring to Download is tight melodies, bags of energy and a look of real enjoyment. Only months ago, their drummer Aaron Solowoniuk had open heart surgery and you can see that all the guys still have a real enthusiasm for their songs. They tread through their set pretty fast, opening with ‘Devil In A Midnight Mass’ and ending on fan favourite, ‘Red Flag’. Overall, a great set and they even found the time to let Cancer Bats play ‘Hail Destroyer’, as their early set had been moved to later in the day. [GS]

Machine Head are loud, very loud. A few sound issues doesn’t stop them from giving one of the best shows of the day to a crowd who lapped it up and moshed quite literally ’til they dropped in the mud. Playing a handful of songs from their 2011 release, ‘Unto The Locust’, mixed with a few older songs like ‘Aesthetics Of Hate’ and ‘Halo’, their set is perfectly balanced and as the circle pits gathered pace the band thrived. [GS]

This year’s jimmie rustling band are Chase & Status, who achieve an impressive crowd despite the occasional grumble from the elitists near the back. Drawing comparisons to Pendulum a couple of years back, it’s very strange to see the crowd being the spectacle rather than the band. With more bouncing than Katie Price’s tits on a crosstrainer, they certainly surprise a few folks and many-a leather clad metalhead will reluctantly agree that they had a good time. [MS]

The Prodigy pull out all the stops to prove anyone believing they shouldn’t be headlining a metal festival wrong. Their set comes complete with hit after hit, alongside a great stage set up with fireworks and strobe lights. The staging provides the ear-splitting tracks with a fantastic backdrop, and when tunes like ‘Omen’, ‘Firestarter’ and ‘Invaders Must Die’ are being cranked out at earth shaking volumes, it’s impossible not to go with it. [GS]


Sadly, we were unable to catch any bands performing at this venue/stage.


Thanks to the twattish weather, Impaled Existence play their set to about six people until the droves start to enter the arena. It’s the most leisurely death metal crowd you’ll ever see, which is a shame, because the music is pretty intense. Maybe they’d be better placed at somewhere like Bloodstock. [MS]

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

HOUNDS – 4/10
The Pepsi Max Tent was completely full of punters ready to be wowed by the fairly obscure Essex quartet, Hounds. The crowd weren’t completely thrilled, but that might have been due to the mass feeling of sinkage. However, the strange hybrid of punk rock and dance may have alienated the audience, although they weren’t able to leave even if they wanted to. ‘The Wicked Witch’ provoked some response from the crowd, but unfortunately the energetic performance seemed too disjointed as a whole. [GS]

To be frank, the music isn’t the best, there has to be an acceptance of that… actually, Lawnmower Deth‘s music is pretty terrible on all accounts. The live show however redeems them, as they really did engage with the crowd more than most bands you’d see at the festival, throwing beach balls and other items into the audience and having a mascot who surfed on top of the crowd. What they lack in musical ability, they certainly make up for in enthusiasm. [GS]

It’s great when the expectation level for a band isn’t so high and they surprise everyone – that’s exactly what happened with The Defiled. People were mulling around for the most part, and it didn’t seem like anyone was too excited to see them. When they took to the stage however, and performed such songs as ‘Call To Arms’ and ‘Black Death’ from 2011’s ‘Grave Times’, the audience really took to them and the fist-pumping quickly began. Their set was accompanied by theatrics, fake blood and underwear-clad girls, and it’s obvious they will have made many new fans after that set. [GS]

When the fans catch sight of frontman Lawrence Taylor, it feels like the whole place is ready to erupt… and it does. This is a band whose live shows are ridiculously important and it shows, with most of the people watching hanging on every word and singing each lyric back to the band. ‘Hearts Aside Our Horses’ gets the whole crowd singing as well as new stuff, including ‘This Is The Six’ and ‘Dead Behind The Eyes’. Although, in truth there wasn’t a dull moment. [GS]

SOIL – 5/10
Soil only have one song, let’s be honest. While the majority of the turnout are here for ‘Halo’, there are still a bunch of hardy fans at the front that singalong with the rest of their set. When it comes to ‘Halo’ however, the tent comes to life, and it’s a real bummer that the microphone goes to shit when Ryan McCombs tries to go into the crowd. [MS]

Playing in what is now the first time Cancer Bats will be on stage this weekend is AxeWound. Matt Tuck gets more cheers than the rest of the band as he strolls out, but if it brings more fans to the main band then it can’t be all bad news. AxeWound only have a couple of songs out, but there’s more than enough people going nuts to what they hear. Liam Cormier from Cancer Bats is highly impressive in a more metalcore orientated band, and he’s not overshadowed by Tuck at all. It’s a pretty standard chug band, but it’s the personalities that will make AxeWound when their album drops. [MS]

Providing an alternative to the crush of The Prodigy is the ambrosial The Devin Townsend Project. This man can actually do no wrong with his variety of genres, ranging from death metal on ‘Juular’ to an acoustic love song on ‘Ih-Ah’. For some reason, it’s okay for metalheads to become soppy at a Devin show and this only adds to the fun atmosphere. Ziltoid delights us with his meme-filled movie while the band set up and reappears throughout the set to blurt out random remarks. ‘Bad Devil’ finishes out Friday night and is sure to be stuck in the heads of everyone who took the gamble with the alternative headliner. [MS]


Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Thanks to the late start, stage times are fucked festival wide, meaning that all bands on the Red Bull Bedroom Jam stage play one hour later than expected. It’s Dead Harts that follow Fear Factory on main then, with their in-your-face attitude and youthful exuberance. Heights were the band most comparable that played here last year and Dead Harts sound exactly like them, even if they lack a bit in the power front. [MS]

On record, Reachback are excellent. They sound like Avril Lavigne but a little heavier, but today they sound more like McFly. Minuscule frontlady Ruby Williams is decked out in a Geri Haliwell esque Union Jack dress and looks peachy with her pink hair. Dropping in a cover of Jessie J‘s ‘Price Tag’ may not have been the best idea at Download, but they seem to get away with it. More disappointing though is the exclusion of arguably their best song, ‘Butterflies’. Hopefully they’ll be better on a different occasion.

Without a doubt the biggest prettyboys of the festival are Dive Bella Dive, who look like they’ve just fallen out of a Schwartzkopf ad. The music isn’t particularly pioneering, but there are a few pluses to take from the performance. Their ‘Fuck’ stickers will leave more of a mark on the Red Bull Bedroom Jam stage than them or their music themselves. [MS]

Thanks to the time changes, many miss Upon A Burning Body, and what a band to miss. Dressed smartly with slicked back hair and waistcoats like mafia members, they raze the tent to the ground in their half hour set. Their two albums both have all the songs named after crime movies, like ‘Once Upon A Time In Mexico’ and ‘Carlito’s Way’, but the best song is clearly ‘Sin City’, with its lyrics of “Life sucks and then you die / so live it up, who gives a fuck? / Let’s tear it up tonight”. When ‘Texas Blood Money’ comes around, ex-As Blood Runs Black vocalist Danny has every last member of the crowd screaming the words back at him as he towers over us. Gutted for the people who missed it. [MS]

With a collective age of about twelve are Marmozets. Hyped as a band to see live, it’s obvious why; the energy on stage is massive, with axemen Sam, Jack and Will running all over the place. Vocalist Becca Macintyre works with a sort of Rolo Tomassi vibe, but without the cuteness. Tracks like ‘Onemanwolfpack’ sound good, but there just doesn’t seem to be any enjoyment on stage. Maybe that’s a harsh assertion to make, but today Marmozets disappoint. [MS]

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

GALLOWS – 8/10
Frontman Wade MacNeil completely owns the Red Bull stage and it’s easy to forget he only joined Gallows a year ago. The packed-out tent feels like a proverbial volcano, which the band itself are the fire as they smash through old tracks like ‘Abandon Ship’ and ‘In The Belly Of A Shark’, but it seems like newer songs like ‘Mondo Chaos’ are perfect for the live show. It’s easy to tell that this band is going to go from strength to strength, and pretty quickly too by the looks of things. [GS]

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.


Sadly, we were unable to catch any bands performing at this venue/stage.

Written by Martin Savage [MS] and Greg Spencer [GS]