Download Festival is the UK’s premier Rock and Metal festival, built upon its heritage of the former Monsters of Rock Festival, today it boasts over 120,000 punters and covers every inch of the Rock genre. So today I travelled 2 and half hours to Download Festival to see one band play their phenomenal debut album played in full and live! Linkin Park playing Hybrid Theory , it’s sold 30million copies globally, inspired thousands to pick up an instrument and it’s the first album I truly loved listening too. Before that though it’s time for an AMBY run down of all the bands I managed to catch.
First up was the enigma Iceman Thesis, this band were billed at 11am on both the third and fourth stage simultaneous. This smells like a secret set on paper, so naturally like curiosity caught this cat’s attention! I headed over to the Pepsi Max stage (3rd stage) at 11am to see what the fuss was about and who it was. The band dressed head to toe in black and wore identical black masks to conceal their identity, their tech team wore bandanas to cover their faces, and their mascot which was a dummy dressed identically with a sack on its head with a drawn on face akin to scarecrow off Batman. Their set consisted of one song, raising their middle fingers in the air to everyone; it was a big Fuck You! Followed by a Post-Hardcore racket that was energetic, fierce and aligned with some the grooviest riffs heard all day. The band left after one song and went to play the Red Bull Stage (4th stage) for the exact same set, but not before passing their mascot into the crowd and letting it crowdsurf out of the tent. One of the best buzz’s in recent festival history, and no-one was any wiser to the people behind the masks. Check this video out if you want to discover some more:
As much as I ran across the site to catch Press to Meco on the Zippo Encore Stage (2nd Stage) I only caught the last minute of their set, loved what I heard but not enough to give them a review sadly, but check out their SoundCloud to hear one of Britians great new Alt. Rock starlets. Then it was off to the Main Stage, named after Steven Sutton, this year after an inspirational teen who sadly lost his battle to cancer before the festival and has currently raised over £4million ($6.8million) for charity, read this amazing story here, it’s moves like this that Download do every year not out of press but out of the goodness in chief promoter Andy Copping’s heart that make it such a classy festival. Former-WWE superstar Chris Jericho was presented with his biggest UK show to date with his cheesy-metal band Fozzy, who was as charismatic on-stage as he is in the ring. Musically solid and as tight as an air-sealed jar of pickles, retaining the spirit of Classic Rock and Metal before them with some nice riffs, punch-a-long choruses and some solo’s jam packed into every song. A hard-working band who have built a great fan base, however dated and little cheesy seems at times, its 100% pure fun at this festival. Then it was straight over to the Red Bull stage to catch Breathe In The Silence, one of 8 competition winners to play the stage and it got off to a rocky start. You could tell they were fuelled on Adrenaline and probably some Red Bull too, so energy levels were high for their biggest show ever and they got lost in the moment understandably by accidently breaking a microphone. After this one mishap and the boyos regained composure it was clear why their melodic Post-Hardcore riffs, hooks and great vocals were onstage, their influences of the likes of A Day to Remember and their hometown heroes Funeral For A Friend were clearly shown in their music. Some nice breakdowns and a great live show to boot, the only way is up these boys they went from lost in the moment to living in the moment. Their EP is available on the pay-what-you-want format on bandcamp and when they threw their physical copies out into the crowd I did chuckle when one hit an unfortunate lady just behind me square in the face, ouch! So this is the safest option to listen to it.
Next up were Colt 45, signed to Visible Noise who has broken many UK bands into the global music place from Bring Me The Horizon, Bullet For My Valentine and current hot-shots Blitz Kids. Julie Weir the woman behind the label, has ‘IT’ when it comes to picking new bands to sign. The Cumbrian 3-piece Alt-Punk Rock trio are certainly one of my favourite new bands, full of chorus’s that just make you want to sing-a-long, upbeat and just make you want to dance with that burst of pace that runs down the court like LeBron then immediately slams home for a dunk. The finesse of their melodies and the distinct vocals of their lead singer who has that gritty sound that just makes everything so effortlessly cool. My favourite new band of the weekend, check out their new single O.K. here:
After re-fueling with some ice-cold refreshing cider that somehow tastes better in the sun and at a festival with some over-priced food that you’ll only pay at festivals it was time to plonk myself in front of the main stage for the perfect festival band the Pop-Punk almighty Texans Bowling For Soup. Why did I just say that? Well they have big singles that you know and then some songs that you’ve forgotten were them. For example take the satire-sque High School Never Ends, classic guy looses girl The Bitch Song and then the Disney cartoon Phineas and Ferb theme tune. They bring a tone of fun, case two: In a fitting tribute to the late Rik Mayal they had a knight onstage to slay a giant blow up sheep, the banter between them and the crowd was the best all weekend and stopping mid-song for a photo opportunity as they strutted down the centre walkway in America’s Next Top Model style. Weather? Well if the sun was out, instead of it threatening to rain it would have made it a classic festival set. As the three chords of their mega-hit Girls All The Bad Guys Want, started strumming in their penultimate song it all came together as a crowd took a ride in Marty Mcflys Delorean at 88mph, the crowd erupted into the biggest sing-a-long of the day. Then whilst the crowd were still in the Delorean we all travelled back to 1985 was a triumphant finish and the sunshine breaking out.
After this it was quickly over to the near-by Pepsi Max stage to catch Lonely, The Brave an Alternative-Rock band from Cambridge who were so intense it was such an engaging to watch, even though the only crowd engagement was to say thanks as their singer Dave shunned the normal limelight of centre stage. Their music was magical, gimmick free and exhilarating to listen to it their short set. Imagine The National in their glory and add crank up the sound to heavy and this is it, still full of richness, gruff guitar riffs and lyrics that are smart not stupid. Next up were Westfield, MA metal-core titans Killswitch Engage, in which lead vocalist Jesse delivered some vicious screaming vocals whilst keep his clean parts crisp as a sunny winters air delivered with some slaying riffs which opened up the afternoons biggest pits through their biggest hits including My Curse and This Fire Burns in which served up some mass hysteria sing-a-longs by some sweaty males predominately in attendance. The surprise of the weekend came from Sheffield steel Metalcore upstarts Bring Me The Horizon, by stepping up to the Main Stage and putting a show that not even the most hardcore of fans expected. They’ve been the easy-targets for the metal audience to bottle, but have always won fans through their ingenuity of their approach to the genre by adding heavy electronic bass, Oli’s easy to look at face or simply they have a reputation for a killer live show. BMTH were out to prove and celebrate their status as second from top, drawing a ridiculously huge crowd they roared their way through a set based upon their latest release Sempiternal filled with pyro, pissing off organisers by inciting moshpits and the two walls of death and injected with aggression not seen in the UK since 1977 birth of Punk. Incredible set by a band who are defying haters in every moment.
Main support tonight came from Chicago, IL Rockers Fall Out Boy and they brought their arsenal of hits and superb new material from new album Save Rock and Roll and the Young Blood chronicles video series, which has grown on me to become one of my favourite material of 2013. Opening up with The Pheonix, which set the anarchic mood with its frantic pace that announced their presence at the festival and backed up with fan favourites such as ‘I Slept with Someone in Fall Out Boy and All I Got Was This Stupid Song Written About Me’ and ‘A Little Less Sixteen Candles, A Little More ‘Touch Me’. Slowing the pace down with their new material Just One Yesterday and Alone Together which retain their killer knack for a chorus, especially the latter which just makes you fist pump every ‘yeah’. It was their older material from ‘Cork tree’ album that was obvious that people had turned up to hear and the ultimate hits, ‘Dance Dance’ and ‘Sugar We’re going down’ received the biggest reaction of the set, both blistering slices of Pop-Rock done so incredibly well it still sounds box fresh and on a height that has yet to be matched by any of their peers. The only criticisms of the set, well as much as the members appreciated the prestige of the festival and said they enjoyed it didn’t feel sincere and finishing on super-early fan favourite ‘Saturday’ was a sure fire way to deflate a crowd that knows they aren’t a secret anymore. Besides this FOB nailed the hits in the sun and you can’t really ask for much more.
It’s on to tonight’s headliners Linkin Park, the Nu-Metal/Rock legends in their 4th Download festival headline appearance and its an extra bit special as the band talk about their past experiences at the festival, their new album and how they found revisiting Hybrid Theory. Very American but a stylish video package to get you in the mind set of what’s to come. The entire festival lights go out, the turntables start throbbing the opening beats to Papercut and it’s #ThrowbackThursday (just two days later)at Download festival. 90,000 people lose their minds as if its 2000 again. Mike Shinoda reappears with a red Mohawk wig which replicates their One Step Closer debut video. The singles One Step Closer, Crawling and In the End are undoubtedly the best received songs of the day that are served to the audience on a plate with such dynamism and tenacity they are cemented as classics within rock and are staples of any Rock DJ set. The rest of Hybrid Theory is just as well received with Cure for the itch getting its first ever airing and Forgotten since 2002, whereas fan favourites Runaway and Points of Authority are lapped up just as well. Chester Bennington and Mike’s chemistry is a strong as its ever been, and it’s quite easy to see the impact that this album has had! Once the 40minute mark of the album had been reached, Linkin Park delved deep into their extensive back catalogue which lacked the bite to the first half of their set. Yes Numb/Encore was fierce, passionate and a raise the hair on your arm moment and set closers What I’ve Done and Bleed it out bring the gigantic sing-songs leaving the crowd happy and the new material from The Hunting Party such Wastelands sees LP retain that bite that the Living Things album lacked. LP proved tonight that their class has always been permanent.
Review by Richard Samuel |