FESTIVAL REVIEW: DOWNLOAD FESTIVAL 2017 Live at Donington Park, UK – Day 2 (Saturday)
After awaking on Saturday morning having seen Code Orange and Prophets of Rage absolutely smash Donington Park and watched System of a Down deliver a performance that revolved around up and down quality over the course of the previous day, it was time for the second day of music at Download Festival.
The day started with the UK hip-hop/metal band Hacktivist taking to the stage at approximately 11am, and the field was surprisingly busy considering how early the band were billed to perform at the festival. The performance in general definitely justified Hacktivist being booked to play, as well as actually going to see them perform. It is definitely no easy feat getting people to take in your stage presence at such an early point on the day itself, but it was clear there were Hacktivist diehards present when lead vocalists Tim Beazley and Jermaine Hurley both shouted ‘fucking circle pit now!’ and the audience descended into organized chaos – a wicked way to start things off.
Now, time for one of the standout performances not just of Saturday but of the entire festival weekend. Over the course of the last couple of years Creeper, a band from Southampton, UK inspired by AFI, David Bowie and My Chemical Romance as much as the Misfits and Iron Maiden, have emerged to become possibly the single most exciting band in recent times. I’ve been fortunate enough to see this band grow since their inception, and to see THAT set on that stage in front of that amount of people was truly awe-inspiring. “Black Rain”, “Misery”, “Hiding With Boys” and the rest of the songs they played sounded genuinely huge and to look around and see that band come from playing in front of 10 people in a basement in my hometown to what they produced that afternoon is the exact reason why rock music rules. If you haven’t checked out Creeper, I implore you to do it.
After Hacktivist and Creeper both delivered fantastic sets, I strolled over to the second stage and was able to catch a bit of Alestorm. The last time I saw this band was with Sabaton on their joint UK tour at the beginning of last year and since then Alestorm has released a new record ‘No Grave But the Sea’. While I tend to stay away from bands of that nature, watching the crowd in the distance lose their minds to “Drink” and the new song “Fucked With an Anchor” was quite something. If it weren’t for Creeper I would have watched more of Alestorm but you know, priorities and that.
Suicide Silence eh? A band that throughout the duration of 2017 so far has suffered an extraordinary amount of criticism, and while now is not the time to speculate whether that criticism is deserved, what I do now is that band still crush live. The new songs, especially “Doris”, sound much better live than they do on record but really, them opening with “You Only Live Once” was something I did not see coming. “Unanswered”, “No Pity for a Coward” and “Disengage” satisfied me especially considering I prefer the Mitch-era albums as opposed to the more recent work with Eddie but seriously, I was not ready for how good Suicide Silence was. One of the best live bands in modern heavy music, that band undeniably is.
Kvelertak gave me some time to chill out for a bit, and were next to play on the second stage at the festival after Suicide Silence and before the next band I’m going to talk about. Even as someone who is admittedly not too experienced with their discography, they were somewhat entertaining in an ‘I don’t know what’s really going on but I guess I like it’ sort of thing, and they did bring out the owl thing even though apparently it was not the same one they had on previous tours. Kvelertak were decent but I really only saw them because there was nothing else on I wanted to see. Third time seeing them with Metallica later in the year will be interesting to see as well.
By this point the sun was properly out so it was boiling, which made seeing Max and Igor Cavelera both formerly of the mighty Sepultura playing material from their old bands classic album ‘Roots’ even more enjoyable. Opening with “Roots Bloody Roots”, the band hammered through a substantial portion of the record before unfortunately having to abruptly cut the proceedings due to an understandable time limit on how long they could perform for. An impromptu cover of Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades” brought things to a close, making for another great performance and one of my favourite sets of the entire day.
If you read my review of the bands I saw on Friday (which you definitely should, just saying) you’ll know that Code Orange in the larger of the two tent stages were genuinely brilliant. I returned to that stage for the first time since Code Orange to see Every Time I Die, one of the gems of modern hardcore albeit on the lighter end of the spectrum one could say. Regardless, Every Time I Die delivered a brilliant set despite it not being as instantly jaw-dropping as Code Orange was, but that pit went round faster than I think any circle pit I’ve seen in my time of going to see bands. Also shout out to the guy who brought his kid along and had him sat on his dad’s shoulders the whole time. The rock community in full force there that is ace to see.
Saturday, the second day of music at Download Festival, started to draw to a close when A Day to Remember took to the stage, bringing their unique mix of catchy melodic pop-punk tinged with elements of hardcore and beatdown to the mass amounts of people who had gathered to see them perform. While they’re definitely not the most ‘metal’ band in the world by any stretch of the imagination, songs like “All I Want”, “2nd Sucks”, “The Downfall of Us All” and “Have Faith in Me” really were great to see live again. I did feel like it took A Day to Remember a few songs to really get going but once they were at 100% they did not slow down, and the Amon Amarth style rowing during the acoustic ballad “If It Means a Lot to You” was awesome.
Biffy Clyro headlining Donington Park is a thought many would consider blasphemous granted the renowned status of the area as a place where AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Slipknot and others have arrived as stars and left as legends. Many chose instead to go and watch Rob Zombie headline the festival’s second stage, but I decided to hang around and give Biffy my time. First of all, the fact that they drew such a noticeably small crowd was really sad mainly due to the fact that they’ve been bunched in with the 21st century British radio rock bands when they’re so much better than nearly all of those other bands, but that’s a discussion for another day. “Many of Horror”, “Animal Style”, “Mountains”, “Who’s Got a Match?”,“Bubbles”, “Wolves of Winter” and more meant that watching Biffy Clyro that night was a real treat, all concluding with a spectacular firework display. If you saw Rob Zombie, wicked and I hope you enjoyed it, but Biffy should’ve felt more like an event than it did and that’s disappointing.
That’s my review of day 2 of music at Download. Biffy Clyro, Suicide Silence and Creeper delivered superb performances, with many of the other bands I saw on the day definitely being worth watching.