FESTIVAL REVIEW: DOWNLOAD FESTIVAL 2019 Live at Donington Park, UK – Day 2 (Saturday)
With Def Leppard’s Friday night headline performance now behind everyone in attendance at Download 2019, it was now time for the second day of music to kick off. The prospect of a fourth headline appearance by Slipknot gradually crept closer and closer as the day progressed, but before then there were plenty of bands to occupy the tens of thousands at Donington Park before the Iowa nine-piece took to the stage that evening.
Starting things off in the morning was Alien Weaponry, a teenage trio from New Zealand who has gained significant attention recently due to their incredibly tight live performances for such a young group of musicians. Word of mouth can sometimes be the best marketing tactic out there, as despite the band’s early performance time a substantial crowd has amassed at the festival’s main stage to see what Alien Weaponry is all about. While I don’t think it was the absolute best performance of the weekend, Alien Weaponry are definitely a band to keep an eye on as considering none of the three members have hit 20 years old yet, they’re really really great. Hopefully, their success continues for a long time.
Saturday’s main stage bill for this year’s Download Festival was pretty impressive in my opinion with a super strong group of bands assembled for it. On the second stage, however, Bad Wolves delivered their own unique brand of riff-based metal to the festival, but perhaps it was the consistently unfortunate weather that dampened the atmosphere for their set, and that’s something that can’t be avoided no matter the cost. Back on the main stage came Power Trip who have definitely experienced a significant boost in popularity since the release of their 2017 album ‘Nightmare Logic’. Despite the fact that Download showcases a wide variety of music from across the spectrum of rock and metal, it is still pretty uncommon for a thrash metal band without a substantial amount of history behind them to secure themselves a spot on the main stage. Power Trip, therefore, took full advantage of their performance and hit their stride right from the get-go with a one-two punch of “Soul Sacrifice” and “Executioners Tax” kicking things off. Not only were Power Trip one of the best bands of the entire weekend but their crowd was also right up there with the most chaotic I saw across the whole festival.
Following up on the theme of main stage metal at Download 2019 came Behemoth, returning to the festival following their most recent appearance headlining the 3rd stage in 2014. With ‘The Satanist’ cementing Behemoth as extreme metal royalty until their dying day and ‘I Loved You at Your Darkest’ gaining extremely positive reviews, the Polish black/death metal four-piece felt right at home on a stage that would swallow a lot of their contemporaries due to the vastness that expands across Donington Park.
And then the rain came. But it came at almost the perfect time, as it coincided with the arrival of Skindred up next on the main stage after Behemoth. While not a complete washout, the rain perhaps would have derailed the atmosphere of many other bands, but definitely not Skindred. Benji Webbe is hands down one of the best frontmen in modern rock, and his on-stage energy is completely infectious and completely unforgettable. With a banger-packed setlist and a tribute to The Prodigy’s Keith Flint in the form of “Out of Space”, Skindred were again the kings in terms of turning up at a festival and making it theirs.
Trivium have had a long history with Download Festival in the UK, once again made clear by frontman Matt Heafy on stage that it was Download that propelled them to great things following their performance which opened the main stage on a June morning all the way back in 2005. A lot has happened since then for Trivium, allowing for this year’s performance to come together as a career spanning set of sorts – tracks from older albums ‘Ascendancy’ and ‘Shogun’ fitting in nicely with material from recent records ‘Silence in the Snow’ and ‘The Sin and the Sentence’. Like Power Trip and Skindred before them, Trivium’s crowd was also top notch and a testament to what Trivium means to Download Festival.
As the evening dawned and the bands gradually began to finish off for another day, the remaining acts still to perform had the ball in the court. Over on the 3rd stage – the bigger of the two tents – Philadelphian pop-punks/alt-rock anthem machine The Wonder Years arrived to perform at Download for the very first time since their formation as a band in the summer of 2005. Sometimes you just got to have a bit of variety to your music and given the musical extremity of some of Saturday’s acts, The Wonder Years were an absolute joy and a real genuine highlight of the festival. If you’re into the more melodic side of rock then I can’t recommend this band enough.
And with day 2 of music at Download Festival 2019 drawing to a close, it was time for the Saturday headliners Slipknot to punish Castle Donington once again following their last 3 headline performances. Their appearance this year in particular definitely felt appropriate due to two significant anniversaries: 10 years since their first headline performance at this festival and 20 since the release of their first album. Some things just come full circle in odd ways. Flying out the gate with a series of classic tracks “People = Sh*t”, “(sic)” and “Get This” before “All Out Life” and “Unsainted” demonstrated to everyone that this band is not going anywhere. Amongst this was a setlist constructed of perhaps the more expected material as opposed to any super deep cuts, but at a festival, Slipknot felt it wise to play it safe and please the masses, which they definitely achieved.
With the guitar feedback of “Surfacing” buzzing away as the night progressed, one more day of music at Download 2019 was all that was left following Slipknot’s Saturday savagery. With notable performances from the masked headliners plus Skindred, Trivium, Power Trip and others, the festival’s middle day was definitely one to remember.