Note: As only two members of the site were able to attend the festival weekend, we were sadly unable to cover every band performing throughout the day.
It goes without saying that Download Festival is easily one of the pinnacle and most respectable festivals for rock, metal and alternative music in the UK. With years and years of success and acts gracing its grounds, such as AC/DC, Guns N Roses and Slipknot to name just a few of the more famous ones, 2011 is set to keep the festival’s sterling reputation strong and high. On its Friday bill of acts, there’s a range of names both old and new across its four stages, including a return from The Darkness after their indefinite hiatus:
PUDDLE OF MUDD – 3/10
Ever since their peek with their album ‘Come Clean’ in 2001, Puddle Of Mudd have more or less sank far into the background ever since, despite releasing a further three albums. Judging on their set, there’s no evidence of them returning back into the spotlight again any time soon. Though it’s nostalgic fun to see the band performing once chart bothering hits ‘Control’ and ‘She Hates Me’, there’s no natural buzz feeding off from the Kansas-based rock outfit, and front man Wes Scantlin‘s vocals fall flat constantly. Let;s not even get into their cover of AC/DC‘s classic hit, ‘T.N.T.’.
THE DARKNESS – 7/10
Since their recent reformation back into the rock scene, The Darkness have very much been one of the biggest buzz bands of the weekend. Running onstage wearing their usual attire of tight spandex and tiger prints wherever possible, it’s like the rock quartet have picked up exactly from where they left off. Despite how much stick the Suffolk-grown outfit may receive, they manage to pull off a rather fun and impressive performance. Justin Hawkin‘s vocals are stronger than ever, and the likes of ‘Get Your Hands Off My Woman’ and ‘Stuck In A Rut’ display it at its best. Set closers ‘I Believe In A Thing Called Love’ and ‘Love On The Rocks With No Ice’ confirm that with a new album on the way, The Darkness have a brand new lease of life that could bring them back into their game strong and fast.
DESTROY REBUILD UNTIL GOD SHOWS (D.R.U.G.S.) – 5/10
Lead by once Chiodos front man Craig Owens, post-hardcore super group D.R.U.G.S. are ones that are heavily watched, from both news fans and those transferred from the band members’ past projects. Though the nerves of an early set definitely aren’t an issue, the quality of their sound definitely is. Everything sounds a bit mashed together and messy, and Craig‘s screams on numbers like ‘If You Think This Song Is About You, It Probably Is’ are almost painful to endure.
YOUNG GUNS – 7/10
From the success of debut full-length, ‘All Our Kings Are Dead’, High Wycombe quintet Young Guns are one of the biggest poster bands that the likes of Kerrang! and Rock Sound magazine have been adorning for the past year. With their catchy and hook-filled tunes such as ‘Crystal Clear’ and ‘Weight Of The World’, it’s no wonder that they attract the youth-driven fanbase that they do, and this is only further affirmed by the barrage of screams thrown at them. With a new album also on the way in the near future, the next few months could well determine whether or not they soar even further, or come crashing back down.
CHILDREN OF BODOM – 6/10
Known for their super fast and intricate guitar work track in and track out, Finnish metal powerhouse Children Of Bodom should definitely stand heads and shoulders above most of the other acts gracing the same stage as them. Unfortunately however this is not the case. Though their work on the fretboards is nothing short of impressive, the quintet simply sound a little sloppy and incoherent for the most part. ‘In Your Face’ and ‘Blooddrunk’ brings in a lot of crowd participation, who otherwise don’t care about the below average deliverance from Alexi Laiho and co., but in the end Children Of Bodom just aren’t on full form.
BRING ME THE HORIZON – 8/10
Having always been polarized opinions and been one of the coolest bands to hate since they broke into the mainstream back in 2005, Bring Me The Horizon have evidently brushed such distain off their shoulders enough times to even care anymore, and their Download set proves the haters wrong with a captivating performance. Full of energy, vigour and swagger, Oli Sykes and the boys deliver a punishing set, shoving in old favourite ‘Pray For Plagues’ after promising to if circle pits are created. A fan even joins the stage to sing along to ‘Football Season Is Over’ and guitarist Jona Weinhofen even climbs high on the stage setup during ‘Chelsea Smile’. BMTH are clearly on top of their game right now, and definitely one of the best young British metal acts around today.
KORN – 9/10
Awashed with a sea of metal heads galore, collectively with probably enough hair in the crowd to wrap around the Earth, nu-metal grandfathers Korn bring their heavy, down tuned metal madness to Donington once again. Whipping out hit after hit such as ‘Freak On A Leash’ and ‘Blind’ upon their mass of fans, they look so invigorated as they tear a new page of history out of the proverbial band book. New dubstep track ‘Get Up’ displays Korn‘s ability to stick with what’s fresh in the music scene at the moment, and their several medley inserts showcases a band who are as strong as they’ve ever been. A new breath of life for a band that was looking like it was standing on its last legs just over a year ago.
PENDULUM – 8/10
Aside from a few technical hitches here and there, most notably with ‘Witchcraft’ which takes three separate attempts to get going, Pendulum pull out all the stops to the strong crowd with an intense visual and aural experience for all involved. Crowd pleaser ‘Propane Nightmares’ is a slick highlight of the headline set as the revellers lap it up in a clear fusion between both moshing and raving. A worthy set by the Australian self-proclaimed “only live band”, and definitely one worthy of their position of one of the festival’s headline slots.
JAPANESE VOYEURS – 7/10
Though they’re still without the release of their debut full-length ‘Yolk’, grunge tinted rockers Japanese Voyeurs still pull a rather impressive crowd over to the Pepsi Max sponsored tent. Front woman Romily Alice has a rather distinctive voice that sets her far away from the constant comparisons to Paramore‘s Hayley Williams that plagues other female fronted bands. Nine Inch Nails cover ‘Closer’ is a hard track to cover, but JV pull it off well, and set closer ‘Smother Me’ finalises that upon the release of ‘Yolk’, the quintet look to have a bright future.
LOWER THAN ATLANTIS – 7/10
Despite front man Mike Duce‘s guitar strap snapping off two or three times during set opener ‘(Motor)Way Of Life’, Lower Than Atlantis are most definitely worthy of the success and buzz they’ve been receiving off the back of their latest effort, ‘World Record’. Kids are singing back to the likes of recent singles ‘Deadliest Catch’ and ‘Beech Like The Tree’. The fast paced and slightly heavier offering ‘Bug’ gets a good number of crowd surfers into play, and older tracks like ‘Taping Songs Off The Radio’ and ‘Far Q’ are greeted with a warm welcome too.
ASKING ALEXANDRIA – 3/10
Undoubtedly one of the most talked about bands in the past year hits the stage to a sea of fans, with quite possibly the lowest demographic of the whole festival. With a plethora of sweaty, angsty teenagers and a constant wave of crowd surfers, people are fighting through the crowd in the packed out tent to get to the action throughout, most notably during the closing song, ‘The Final Episode (Let’s Change The Channel)’. Although their music may be absolutely dire, and Danny Worsnop‘s vocals shed light that a lot of studio magic is required in the recording studio, the attendees certainly seemed to be enjoying it, to my bemusement.
HYRO DA HERO – 7/10
Fusing the gruff and raw edge of punk rock and the grit of rap and hip-hop is newly approved hybrid act Hyro Da Hero. With only one album under his belt and a few short appearances on British shores, Hyro has managed to develop quite an impressive UK fanbase in such a short period of time. His venomous spit and unrestricted energy on the likes of ‘Ghetto Ambience’ and ‘Beam Me Up Scotty’ shows a passion and drive that’s not often seen in acts today. The middle-finger arm waves of ‘Fuck You (Say It To Your Face)’ show a moment of both humour and easy following that Hyro brings, and judging by the reactions, he’s managed to feel a good few new fans.
DON BROCO – 8/10
Known for their energetic and fun-filled live performances, Don Broco don’t stray away from or soil that reputation and deliver just that. Recent Radio 1 playlist maker ‘Beautiful Morning’ and the silly ‘Thug Workout’ both best display the range of material Don Broco have on offer at the moment, the radio-friendly success stories and the fun-filled almost comedic offerings. All the while, the band are jumping around and getting just as involved in the action as their crowd is. Most definitely ones to watch.
THE HYPE THEORY – 7/10
Gracing the Download Festival thanks to winning the Red Bull Bedroom Jam competition, pop-punk outfit The Hype Theory need to make the most of their one in a lifetime opportunity. Thankfully, the Essex quartet don’t choke up and vocalist Katy Jackson starts calling people to come over to the stage, and get involved in sing-a-long moments from start to finish. Their style is akin to the older work of now hugely established acts All Time Low and Paramore, and tunes like ‘Kid At Heart’ and ‘We Will Be Singing’ may not be instant chart botherers, but The Hype Theory definitely show potential of bigger and better things off the back of this and future festival appearances.
OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE – 5/10
Despite being added onto the acoustic stage of the festival weekend, Manchester goth punk act Obsessive Compulsive seem to be avoiding that idea and going electric for the most part of their set. Their performance comes across for the most part as a little dull and flat, with very little energy or conviction in their deliverance. Though there were many worse sets across the weekend, Obsessive Compulsive should’ve definitely made a little more effort to try and stick out as ones to remember.
Written by Zach Redrup and Dom Wyatt