Mud. A word synonymous with music festivals throughout the land; a scourge for the organisers, a bond of camaraderie amongst festival goers, and the weather of choice for this years Download Festival.
After two days of torrential rain, and several sludge related hospitalities, the relief felt by the weather-beaten revellers when Friday arrived and the festival officially began was infectious. For about 5 minutes anyway. Due to poor foresight (or maybe even just poor common sense), organiser Andy Copping had decided not to do anything about the mud in the arena until about an hour before the gate was due to open. As a result, no-one was allowed into the arena until a full two hours after the first bands were scheduled to be on. This meant openers Rise to Remain and Cancer Bats had no crowd, and were therefore not allowed to play.
So unfortunately, Friday kicked off with more of a whimper than a roar, leaving the rest of the line-up to try and appease the simmering, slightly mutinous atmosphere. The annoyance didn’t last long though, as ‘new’ Jim Marshall Stage opener Fear Factory kicked the crowd up the arse with a great reminder of what Download is all about; hard rocking, jaw-shocking music. After being snapped out of their malaise, the crowds were treated to punk-rock demi-gods NOFX sticking their fingers up to the weather with their mix of mariachi brass and sleazy teenage riffs, with ‘Arming the Proletariat with Potato Guns’ spreading some much needed cheer.
Billy Talent followed, and whilst they weren’t the most engaging of acts, they won some brownie points by bringing on the previously unlucky Cancer Bats to play their song ‘Hail Destroyer’, although when another band is the highlight of your set, it kind of says something. It was here that it was announced that Cancer Bats would be allowed play their full set later on in the evening, following RedBull Bedroom Jam Stage Headliners Gallows. Machinehead produced the first truly stellar performance of the festival so far, perfectly demonstrating just how melodic their aggression can be, and just why they are held in such high esteem by fans and fellow musicians alike.
Then came the real contentious point of this years festival, Chase & Status. Granted they were here at the request of headliner The Prodigy, but regardless, they just didn’t work. Playing tracks like ‘No Problem’ and telling metalheads to “Start fucking skanking, lets gets some moshes on the go” just seemed ridiculously out of place. Elsewhere, The Pepsi Max Stage burst beyond capacity as people crammed in to see the much anticipated Soil, and over on the Zippo Encore Stage (the traditional ‘second’ stage) Finnish metallers NightWish paraded the most impressive stage so far, especially considering they weren’t even headliners. Flamethrowers and an ornate gothic backdrop accompanied crowd favourites such as ‘Nemo’.
Back on the Main Stage, The Prodigy brought Friday’s proceedings to an end. Unlike Chase & Status, Keith Flint and Co. knew just how to work the alternative crowd. With ‘Warrior’s Dance’ and the classic ‘Out of Space’ being the only noticeable absences, they hit the audience with a huge, single heavy set. They even snuck in some brand new exclusive material, which sounded massively reminiscent of The Prodigy of the 90’s, loud, gruff, bass laden and aggressive. By the end of the set, the unpleasantness of the morning was long forgotten, and the general consensus was, the sooner the gates opened on Saturday, to continue this incredible celebration of music, the better.
Click here to read our review of Saturday.
Click here to read our review of Sunday.
About Luke Deakin
Music is awesome. Well, some isn’t, but most is. I personally approve of Foo Fighters, Weezer, Sum 41, The Cure, Metallica, The Sex Pistols, Muse, NOFX and White Denim amongst many others