Download Festival – Castle Donington, UK: Day Two

Download lineup

I like being in early to an empty festival arena; the main stage with its welcoming wide arms enticing you down into big open area that later on will be filled by up to 80,000 pairs of feet. But at 10.30am, while taking it all in, there were pressing ablutions-related priorities while the facilities were still clean…

Having completed the exiting part of the cycle, it was time to begin filling up again. Running a ring round the perimeter of the whole arena is van after van of greasy and fast food vendors, and this is next port of call – though the stomach was not up for any of the kebab or burger related fare, fortunately there are a couple of recommended less greasy options – the ‘Vegan and Vegetarian’ stand doing a fine falafel and hummus and coffee (and I’m not even a veggie) to kickstart my heart (or at least brain). If you can be bothered to search off the beaten track as we did later in the day there are some decent food stalls in the “Kennels” by the acoustic stage, and right over by the far side of the second stage, where I picked up a very tasty and unsaturated teriyaki chicken noodle feast.

With all of the “main” three stages running simultaneously throughout the day, there are choices to be made… Heart of a Coward was, by all accounts, the right choice to “wake the fuck up” with. At 11 o clock, in front of only a hardy few in the rain (the opening of gates had been delayed to allow the site to be tidied and made safer by the laying down of straw following the previous nights’ downpour) you feared for the Milton Keynes boys, but by the time the set ended people were sprinting down the hill to catch them, hangovers forgotten as circle pits, choreographed headbanging and angsty shouts over slab-heavy grooves well and truly kicked things off.

With Funeral For A Friend completing their slide from the grace of being main support only a few years ago to the same slot they appeared in at the first Download with a performance as gray as the skies, it was time to wander away from the mainstage for another coffee and something different.

I had meant to see Malefice, but I benefitted from that most festival of experiences of accidentally seeing  a new band. Stage three at Download is a good one for that; not only does it shelter from the rain by driving in hundreds of people out of the elements, it provides up and coming bands with a  captive audience, and Stray From The Path won over some cold, wet new fans.

Saturday arvo was all about the second stage. Apocalyptica offered something different, and won over the inquisitive; Ace Frehely was, by all accounts, a surprising success that occurred while I got drawn into the unmitigated fun of Hollywood Undead instead, who had the main stage eating out of the palm of their hands. Brilliantly entertaining, which is, surely, what mainstage festival bands should be all about.

Back over second stage, Testament crushed with a consummate set of testicles and big fucking riffs, before Carcass continued the smackdown laying. Motionless In White drew the youngest crowd of the day (by the time we left to not be able to get in to see Dub War in the oversubscribed tent of the fourth stage, TeenFest 2015 was in full swing) as Chris and the boys delivered. While wandering to and from others, I caught the first and then later, the last songs of A Day To Remember (‘Downfall of Us All’ and ‘All I Want’), their best two, and all you really need to see, before taking up a good vantage point for Faith No More and Muse. I’d have liked to have seen Body Count, Marilyn Manson, Andrew W.K., and Black Veil Brides – all of whom played during Saturday’s Main Stage one-two knock-out blow, but from the first peals of the massively catch ‘Motherfucker’, to the dying Western-meets-Maiden/Queen of ‘Knights of Cydonia’ the main stage was where it was at.

Faith No More, by Hillarie Jason Photography

During FNM we had lounge jams, 50,000 people singing to Lionel Ritchie song (‘Easy’, natch) casual abuse of one pissed-off looking bedraggled girl in the front row, a set list that held enough back for their upcoming headline show while still showing how far above most other bands they are, arrogance and a performance of excellence; Mike Patton note perfect and enticingly sardonic. It even stopped raining.

People in the UK get particular about their festival headliners, and Muse weren’t selected from the normal pot. However, they were absolutely the right choice. Matt Bellamy is a sickeningly talented individual, nailing Eddie Van Halen guitar techniques while simultaneously hitting falsetto notes that could crack glass, all to the back drop of videos, a stunning light show, pyro, fireworks, streamers, big bouncing black Prisoner balls and a cleverly tailored, dark, heavy set that saw them fire out rarities like ‘Dead Star’ and ‘Agitated’ and epics such as ‘Hysteria’, ‘Micro Cuts’ and ‘Citizen Erazed’, which had even the most sceptical won over even before a last forty-five minute hit-factory, with fervent reaction all the way back as far as the eye could see. Muse more than matched up to Slipknot, the first two days at Download further proving that there are bands, and there are “bands”. And then there are bands. And then there are BANDS.

With things a lot dryer , even the walk back to the tent was alright, though I’m far too old to be lying in a field kept up until 4am by a bunch of young pissheads blasting out Slipknot. Hotel next year for me, methinks!

 

MUSE SETLIST

Psycho 

The Handler 

New Born 

Interlude 

Hysteria 

Micro Cuts 

Dead Star 

Agitated 

Citizen Erased 

Dead Inside 

Supermassive Black Hole 

Mercy 

Time Is Running Out 

Reapers 

Stockholm Syndrome 

 

Encore:

Uprising 

Plug In Baby 

Knights of Cydonia 

 

STEVE TOVEY

Download Festival: Day One – Castle Donington, UK

Download lineup

Download Fest, with its roots in the Monsters of Rock festivals that ran from 1980 until people decided rock was dead in 1996 (and Kiss and Ozzy’s shambolic co-headliner of that year pretty much proved that point) is the Grand-Daddy of Euro festivals. It’s a behemoth that dominates the rock landscape in the UK (note “rock”. This is a rock festival, with some metal, not  a metal fest. Bloodstock, Temples, Damnation are metal fests). It suffered in the 90’s from bands putting on their own outdoor all-dayers (and nicking all the support bands, too), and from being a predominantly rock festival that suddenly seemed to lose all its headliners. However, since it’s rebirth and rebranding in 2003 it has seen off European juggernaut festival Sonisphere to stand as the UK fest of choice.

Having redesigned its layout a few times, and no longer held inside the iconic Donington Park racetrack but just to the south of it, Download seems to have settled into a format that, while works, is a little familiar and perhaps would benefit from a little spicing up next year. Enter the arena, and with the main stage resplendent in front of you, to your left the second stage, and in the far right corner lies the third stage, a huge blue marquee tent. With boobs on top. Tucked to the side of the “Maverick” third stage is the relatively quiet and chilled press and guest area.

History has seen the main stage opening slot at Castle Donington act as a kingmaker opportunity; Trivium for one owe their success to a scintillating opening set in 2005. It’s fair to say All That Remains will not be joining the list of legendary openers, particularly by including that dreadful wailing ballad halfway through a twenty-five minute set.

A pleasant stroll in the sun over to Krokodil in the tent results in seeing a band doing it right; great energy, big riffs and bludgeoning hooks winning over and gaining them plaudits, before hot-footing it via the bar (where the cashless system was working perfectly in pretty much eradicating queues) back over to the main stage for At The Gates, Lacuna Coil and Clutch, ATG and Clutch in particular delivering. If you’d have said twenty years that the main stage at a mainstream fest would be hosting those bands, going down to a slavering reaction, you’d have been laughed out-of-town. Instead, ATG and Clutch showed how diverse things are these days, and how influential they’ve both been on others over the years.

 

You’d have thought a choice of Corrosion of Conformity versus Five Finger Death Punch would have only had one winner (and spare a thought for Sylosis who were on #three at the same time), and you’d have been right. Five Finger Death Punch mauled, maimed, murdered and munched down on COC with a blinding headliner-worthy show full of big riffs, sing-a-longs and making a statement. Unfortunately, I was over at the second stage watching a rather tame COC limp through a set it didn’t seem they could really be bothered with themselves. Shame, cos they’ve got some great songs.

Judas Priest did exactly what you’d want of a main support, anthems to the left of me, anthems to the right and left you wanting more, with newer tracks ‘Valhalla’ standing toe to toe with ‘Hell Bent for Leather’, ‘Painkiller’ and a particularly joyous ‘Living After Midnight’.

A bite to eat, a quick dash round the corner to see the lacklustre continue over on stage two with Black Stone Cherry phoning it in, before heading back in time for Slipknot, whose 2009 show has gone down in Donington folklore alongside Iron Maiden in 1988 as one of the UK’s all-time best metal festival headline experiences.

Slipknot,  photo by Susanne A. Maathuis

Slipknot, photo by Susanne A. Maathuis

I wasn’t there in 2009, but if it was better than 2015, then it must have been some set.

Opening with ‘Sarcastrophe’, what followed was an outpouring of whole-other-level excellence, as hit after bloody hit flew from the stage in an unbridled making of a fucking statement. That statement? There is no one better than Slipknot in metal right now. No one.

As all the hits followed, interspersed with a very cleverly chosen set including more reflective moments of darkness, such as ‘Killpop’ and ‘Vermillion’, their catalogue stood tall. And don’t even get me started on how fresh and violent ‘Eyeless’ was. As fellow GC scribe Mat Davies uttered “Shit the actual bed…”

With ‘Spit It Out’ seeing 80,000 people crouch in the mud, as the torrents of rain began to pour (rain that wouldn’t let up for 20 hours), before leaping to their feet to start one enormous mosh pit, Slipknot confirmed what we’re known for a while.

As I ran back to the tent, through the torrential downpour that marked the end of day one, as I dived into a tent, shedding sodden clothes (sorry for the image) and cursing the Peak Download of it chucking it down on the Friday night (after a sunny and hot day) I couldn’t help reflect that despite all that, I’d witnessed something above and beyond what most bands are capable of.

Surely, the list of standard bearers and true greats in metal now reads. Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Slipknot.

 

SLIPKNOT SETLIST

XIX 

Sarcastrophe 

The Heretic Anthem 

Psychosocial 

The Devil in I 

AOV 

Vermilion 

Wait and Bleed 

Killpop 

Before I Forget 

Duality 

Eyeless 

Spit It Out 

Custer 

 

Encore:

742617000027 

(sic) 

People = Shit 

Surfacing 

 

 

STEVE TOVEY

 

Hey! Hello! Book Download Warm Up Show

hey hello june 11 underworld show poster

Hey! Hello!, featuring Ginger Wildheart, have been headlining the fourth stage at this year’s Castle Donington racetrack on Saturday, June 13, 2015. They will be doing a warm up show at the Underworld in London on Thursday, June 11, 2015 with Alive As Eyes, an acoustic set by Ginger and a secret fourth special guest to be announced at a later date.

This will be the first show with new singer Hollis Mahady (Love Zombies), who will join Ginger, Toshi (Antiproduct, The Ga-Ga’s), The Rev (The Howling, Towers Of London) and Ai Sugiyama (Trip To Miami) on stage.