Sunday marked the final day of 2014’s Download Festival and we really didn’t want it to end. Walking around the festival you could tell it was Steel Panther day as we were greeted by so many dodgy wigs, tattoo sleeves and cringing tight leggings that we couldn’t avoid it. Across the stages today marked the UK live debut of new Suicide Silence frontman Eddie Herminda, the rise of female fronted bands led by The Charm The Fury and The Pretty Reckless culminating in a frantic set from The Dillinger Escape Plan and the return to Download by Aerosmith. Check out what we thought of the day here.
Viza- Pepsi Max Stage
Viza were a surprise to the majority of us, half of us didn’t realise they were on the bill, and the other half didn’t know what to expect. What we eventually found was an incredibly fun and unique band to open up the Pepsi Max Stage. Drawing from mainly their latest album, ‘Aria’ the Armenian/Greek influenced band hit out track after impressive track in order to wake the crowd up. Everyone who decided to catch their breakfast set were pleasantly surprised with the cheery guitar tones and fast paced drum beats. If you think of a more rock orientated System of a Down and you won’t be far wrong. 9/10 CT
The Charm The Fury- Pepsi Max Stage
We don’t know if it was Caroline’s impressive vocals or whether or not the heavens had briefly opened but the tent had started to fill up for The Charm The Fury’s early set. Either way it was nice to see such a new and admirable band get as much support as they did. The band had a solid set, with Caroline always trying to rile up the crowd and wake everyone up. The tracks certainly didn’t give any one any excuse not to jump around, the beats were hard and the overall sound aggressive, even if Caroline’s clean vocals weren’t quite as refined as her screams. The Charm The Fury will certainly have big future in front of them, keep an eye out, they’ll certainly be hitting up your town or city very soon. 8/10 CT
Buckcherry- Main Stage
American hard-rock badass mofo’s Buckcherry fight the overcast weather to bring their raw yet catchy arsenal of tunes to the masses. Whilst musically they really cannot be faulted on any level, their stage presence whilst energetic seems a little reserved, and frontman Josh Todd seems a little quieter than the usual. But bearing in mind that it is the turn of the afternoon, you can get the impression that there seems to be a missing element to the performance. Maybe they should have played later on in the night who knows. But what can be attributed for, is that when you have tunes such as ‘Crazy Bitch’, which send the crowd in to a chanting frenzy, you cannot really help but fall for the charms of Buckcherry! 7/10 JM
We Came As Romans- Zippo Encore Stage
It’s really disappointing that We Came As Romans had sound problems, as every time we’ve seen them within four walls they’ve been really impressive, but the sound issues certainly took away from the experience. It’s not entirely surprising that the band have decided to take from their hugely successful new album above all else. ‘Tracing Back Roots’ is the album that has really launched them out of obscurity and into the front of everyone’s minds. The band tried their hardest to get everyone involved and were on point with their stage presence, vocalists Kyle Pavone and David Stephens tried everything to make it a set to remember, but unfortunately the one thing they couldn’t control let them down. Maybe a tent set would have been better for their first Download performance. 7/10 CT
Feed The Rhino- Pepsi Max Stage
The lads from London certainly have this air about themselves. It’s a tense air, because you know that when they do get out onto the stage that it’s going to start to get messy. You’re never disappointed when Feed The Rhino play, you know things are going to get loud, and you know bodies are going to be flying everywhere. The only problem being, the volume of everything – the intensity can sometimes draw away from the music – and it becomes less about the band and more about the crowd. This isn’t always bad though, the fans can in actual fact make a gig, but the tracks themselves just tend to bleed into one during the set, and you almost forget where you are. A Feed The Rhino show is certainly an experience, we’ll give them that. 7/10 CT
Sepultura- Zippo Encore Stage
Out in the crowd, there still seems to be that slight nostalgic sentiment that “it isn’t Sepultura without the Cavaleras”. Well this writer says fuck that, and get over it! Sepultura play a short but sweet set which sees a mixture of old and new material, including a very hectic version of ‘Propaganda’, and a skull crushing ‘Roots Bloody Roots’. The band are on fine form today, and whilst they arguably are not at the successful heights that they once were, that does not matter one iota. They are a fierce live act to be reckoned with, and with the scarily menacing presence of Derrick Green, the classic shredding and chugging from Andreas Kisser and Paulo Jr., and the quite frankly mind-blowing drumming from Eloy Casagrande, how can you not be impressed? Very well play chaps, very well played indeed! 7/10 JM
Volbeat- Main Stage
Volbeat are a very unique band. They clearly take a mix of influences from the likes of Metallica in their guitar tones, to Johnny Cash in the voice and song writing. In actual fact the influence of Johnny Cash isn’t a secret, as lead vocalist Michael Poulsen points out a good number of times throughout the set. The latest album hasn’t received as much praise as the earlier releases, but thankfully not much time is dedicated to last year’s outing. A number of the now classic Volbeat tracks were played to a rousing crowd response, the likes of ‘Hallelujah Goat’, ‘Sad Man’s Tongue’ and ‘The Mirror and the Ripper’ are all played with pin point accuracy, and it’s clear to see why Volbeat is a festival favourite. Michael is classy and the tracks are infectious, but there is a feeling creeping in that perhaps we need a break from them now 8/10 CT
Memphis May Fire- Pepsi Max Stage
Memphis May Fire, regardless of all their talent and stage presence have never really risen above obscurity in the UK. Regardless the band give it all, and their small band of devoted fans are clearly having the time of their lives. Their six track set list focused primarily on their popular third album ‘Challenger’ with only a single track devoted to their new album ‘Unconditional’, but that is clear vision on how to play to the crowd that’s placed in front of you. Whether or not people were watching them out of curiosity or out of love is besides the point, the band clearly had a large audience, although admittedly not as big as Crazytown, but that’s a hard target to hit that weekend. A nice large crowd makes for a better show, and the boys in Memphis May Fire played an absolute belter, winning a number of new fans throughout. 8/10 CT
Steel Panther- Main Stage
It’s the time of the day we’d been waiting for, Steel Panther time, or in other words party times. It’s always a performance when Steel Panther play and today was no difference. Beginning with two tracks from latest album ‘All You Can Eat’, ‘Pussywhipped’ and ‘Party Like Tomorrow Is The End Of The World’ but then we have a massive gap in the music where the band chat. There is no doubt the band are hilarious, our faces hurt so much from laughing but sadly there wasn’t quite as much music as we’d have liked. The music we do hear though is nothing but perfect although we’d like to strangle whoever was in charge of the sound, it just wasn’t anywhere near loud enough. Steel Panther loses some of it’s intensity when it’s quiet. Download seemed to have a no boobs on camera rule so Panther brought topless girls onstage for the world to see: because it wouldn’t be a Panther show without boobs would it?! Ending on ‘Death To All But Metal’ is the fitting end to a great set. 7/10 RW
Suicide Silence- Pepsi Max Stage
It’s been a turbulent 18 months for Suicide Silence but Download marks a special event for the band. Today marks Eddie Herminda’s UK debut on vocals and everything about todays set seems energised, powerful and heartfelt, this is more than just a band out to prove something this is a band looking to do someone proud. And we’re sure Mitch Lucker would have been proud of todays set. There’s nowhere to stand still as pits erupt throughout the Pepsi Max Stage as Eddie screams with such intensity. The bands upcoming album ‘You Can’t Stop Me’ is set to drop next month and after hearing ‘Cease To Exist’, full of heavy drops and even heavier screams we can say without a shadow of a doubt that everyone needs to grab the album when it’s released. 9/10 RW
Alter Bridge- Main Stage
Myles Kennedy really is one of the greatest front men in rock music today. He oozes charisma, his musical ability is fantastic, and he can hit every note going. That alone can make any set good, but the tracks themselves, and the music ability of the rest of the band altogether makes the set fantastic. The set is clearly there to help support their latest release ‘Fortress’, as their backdrop serves to prove, and there is definitely a number of new tracks involved, but that doesn’t stop the band from letting fly some absolute classics. ‘Metalingus’, ‘Isolation’ and ‘Blackbird’ are all must have tracks for and Alter Bridge performance. Overall you can’t fault the performance, it’s just a shame that during the quieter periods of the set there was noise bleeding over from The Pretty Reckless’ set on second stage. 9/10 CT
The Pretty Reckless- Zippo Encore Stage
Sub headlining the Zippo Encore stage on Sunday night were The Pretty Reckless. Taylor Momsen and Co. took to Download festival’s second stage with a point to prove, due to the fact that they’ve long failed to be taken seriously as a legitimate hard rock band, garnering a devout band of haters in the process. But boy, did they blow the haters out of the water from the get go. Opening with the anthemic, ‘Follow Me Down’ The Pretty Reckless just about managed to get every soul in the vicinity on side with their throwback classic rock sound. The band deliver blistering renditions of ‘Sweet Things’, ‘Heaven Knows’ and their current album’s title track, ‘Going To Hell’, before finishing with a bang with their first ever release, ‘Make Me Wanna Die’. Judging by their set, Tay and the guys can rock with the best of ‘em. 8/10 LH
Jon Gomm- Jagermeister Stage
Wondering around the festival site led to one of the most wonderful discoveries of the entire weekend – enter the acoustic wizardry of Jon Gomm. Performing what was basically a beyond enchanting set of jaw-dropping acoustic compositions, complete with a very unique performing style in the vein of Andy McKee, he not only plays his guitar like it is his own artists palette, but he also is able to perform some percussive rhythm on the base of his guitar whilst playing and singing in unison. Finishing off the set with a beautiful rendition of ‘Passionflower’, for an artist who is not normally suited for a metal / rock festival, he even seems to be surprised and truly moved just as much as the audience, as to how well received his performance was today. Even at the end of the set, he came out in to the crowd, due to the amount of people wanting more, or to meet the man himself! Diversity and respect does not get any better than this! 9/10 JM
Polar- Red Bull Stage
Ever-rising British hardcore / metal outfit Polar are once again stepping up their game, with what seems to be a very special set for them, as they are second to headlining on the Red Bull Stage on this humid Sunday evening. There are those who are the dedicated fans of the band, but there also seems to be a lot of curious heads here today as well. But it is very safe to say that they have won a new legion of fans over today as well, as their brutal yet melodic anthems of fury resonate with a very accepting crowd.
Whilst the crowd is seldom lively, it is not until some of the older material such as ‘Tonight Matthew, I am The Batman’, gets the crowd in to a brutal frenzy. Ending the set with an intimidating pit of epic proportions, Polar whip up a storm with their frenetic stage presence led by frontman Woody, and with such conviction that their lives depended on it. Whilst there was a couple of sound level issues that at times made either the vocals or Fabian Lomas’ guitar sound a little too quiet, the set providing a promising glimpse of a band who are very near to breaking out in to a wider mainstream audience. A promising performance from a very, very determined band of brothers in arms. 8/10 JM
The Dillinger Escape Plan- Pepsi Max Stage
With a stage production of some immense strobe lighting, and two screen projectors playing some very unnerving subliminal messaging and black & white film clips, it set a very tense, atmospheric, and almost paranoid feeling in the air… the calm before the storm, if you please. Roaring in to life and kicking off with a blistering rendition of ‘Prancer’, this crowd kickstarted in to life within seconds. Of course the crowd feeding off the ‘mental on toast’ stage presence of TDEP, it was when ‘Panasonic Youth’ started that the hinges of the crowd’s energy really came flying off the handles.
The Dillinger Escape Plan have one of the most ferocious, compelling, and frighteningly precise presences, levels of musicianship, and enigmatic qualities that has ever been seen in metal music for many, many years. The rabid howls, shrieks, and vocal tones of tonk-as-fuck frontman Greg Pucciato, the almost schizophrenic jerkings and acrobatics of lead guitarist Ben Weinman, as well as the menacing bass playing of Liam Wilson, and the drool-inducing ferocity and speed of Billy Rymer’s drumming, all collectively make up for a very mind boggling performance. Complete on stage with second guitarist James Love.
The set leans heavily towards their latest critically acclaimed effort ‘One Of Us Is The Killer’, with a couple of dashing of earlier material from ‘Miss Machine’, ‘Ire Works’, and ‘Option Paralysis’ – including a rare performance of ‘Sunshine The Werewolf’, which not only sees the pit open up to the point of no return, but also sees two lines of ‘rowing the boat’ dances in the middle of all the chaos! But ending the night with a scathing version of ‘When I Lost My Bet’, Pucciato and Weinman end up absolutely trashing the stage with anything they can find.
To summarise, The Dillinger Escape Plan are that of a master class elite of bands that very, very few will ever really be able to mimic, nor capture the essence of twisted genius and brilliance they perform at. But their headline set at Download this weekend – whilst not as chaotic as previous performances we have seen them in – totally wiped the floor with pretty much ever band not just today, but possibly the whole weekend. Stunning beyond words! 10/10 JM
Aerosmith- Main Stage
To close a festival is a huge deal and this year the honour fell upon Aerosmith. Now we’re not going to lie, personally I only know the ‘big tracks’, we were definitely excited to hear ‘Love In An Elevator’ and ‘Jaded’ so early on in the set, but we were pretty sure we’d still be captivated by the set whether we knew the songs or not. So many bands do it well; who knows that many Crazy Town songs other than ‘Butterfly’, and they were still incredible, right? . Steven Tyler still has the charisma and moves that he had decades ago when the band first begun, but sadly we didn’t feel the excitement, there was little crowd interaction and just too little to keep us interested.
We just wanted to know when the well known tracks would appear. And, by track 12, our questions had been answered. Hearing ‘I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing’ live is certainly one of the best live moments we have ever experienced. The crowd sing-a-long is spectacular as everyone sways, power grabs and screams their hearts out. The band look truly in awe at the crowd reaction. We’re going to be honest, if this track didn’t exist the set just wouldn’t have been the same. Throw in a Beatles cover of ‘Come Together’, and a massively dance worthy ‘Walk This Way’, and Aerosmith have begun to redeem themselves.
Aerosmith are one of those bands that unless you know every word to every song you’d probably have only seen the band for the same few songs that we did, but fortunately the big tracks are exactly that: massive! 6/10 RW
Reviews by: Callum Thomson, Rhian Westbury, James Matthews and Laura Halbert