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Editors Pick

Download Festival 2014 – Friday | Live Review

Download Festival was a fantastic weekend and we can barely believe it’s over. Join us to look back over the first day of the weekend right here.

Credit: Danny North/ Download Official Site

Friday 13th, unlucky for most, lucky for those in attendance at Download Festival this year, the sun was in full force, and it was the first day of music. Friday showcased Avenged Sevenfold’s rise to headliner status, The Offspring performing ‘Smash’ in its entirety. You’d have been missing out if you hadn’t caught the likes of letlive. and Baby Godzilla’s destructive and overall manic sets, as well as the likes of Skindred, Crossfaith, Flogging Molly and many many more bands. Check out what we thought of the opening day of music at this year’s Download Festival.

Miss May I- Main Stage
Opening main stage on the first day is an honour and this year Ohio based Miss May I are the chosen ones. Their energy is so high we’re surprised they manage to stay onstage for the whole set but sadly it’s a little early for the sound to be quite perfect. A common theme over the course of the weekend at main stage that the sound isn’t always spot on. Fortunately their energy makes up for the occasional sound issue and ‘Hero With No Name’ and ‘Echoes’ still have the same intensity live. 6/10 RW

Tax The Heat- Zippo Encore Stage
Kicking things off to a wonderful start were Bristol’s own Tax The Heat. Fairly new on the circuit, these guys demonstrated a grand show of classic & blues influenced rock music. Dressed sharply and accompanied with sharper riffs and melodies, these guys are most definitely ones to keep an eye on this year! 7/10 JM

Crossfaith- Main Stage
This was their first time ever playing Download festival, and to put it bluntly, they absolutely killed it. Crossfaith’s fantastic mix of metalcore and electronic music made for an incredibly entertaining afternoon. They kicked out a number of hits both old and new, ‘Monolith’, ‘Leviathan’ and ‘Countdown to Hell’ were all played with such ferocity and precision that anyone who was lucky enough to catch this extraordinary and high rising band wouldn’t help themselves from jumping about. The biggest response of the set though certainly came with their cover of The Prodigy’s ‘Omen’, which meant that even if you didn’t recognise any of their other incredible tracks, there certainly wasn’t a reason for you to be standing still. Crossfaith’s Download set was roof enough to keep an eye on them. 9/10 CT

Tesla- Zippo Encore Stage
There is a lot of 80’s glam rock / metal inclusions to this year’s Download Festival. But the first of these inclusions comes from Tesla, who are hot on the wings of their new album ‘Simplicity’. There is not really anything to shout out about in terms of originality or finesse, but Tesla do what they have always done – that is sticking to their guns and putting on a decent show. Even if Jeff Keith’s vocals do sound a little bit like Eric Cartman from South Park at times which made the listening experience a little bit irritating, Tesla’s performance is just about bearable to connect with. 6/10 JM

Brother & Bones- Jagermeister Stage
Opening the Jagermeister Stage are the ever-rising and frankly brilliant Brother & Bones. They gather quite a crowd which sees even the most curious of heads dancing along to their infectious brand of outlaw-country influenced alternative rock. Brother & Bones are a truly great band, and if today’s performance is anything to judge by, you can expect them to be playing a lot bigger stages on many, many festivals in the UK real soon. 8/10 JM

They Say Fall- Red Bull Stage
The Red Bull competition to play Download Festival is the mecca for a lot of small bands and gives them the chance to fulfil dreams. Friday saw They Say Fall play and they set the standards high for the other bands from the competition. Thrashing guitars and a beat fast enough to get the crowd moving ensue throughout the set. The band play a set full of stomping tracks including ‘Poseidon’ the track to feature in their Red Bull campaign. It’s only the start of things for these guys but we’re excited to follow them on their adventure. 9/10 RW

Skindred- Main Stage
The Welsh reggae rockers garnered one of the biggest crowds of the entire day, and rightly so, Benji Webbe has this incredible ability to control every single person who lays their eyes on him. The band’s mixture of on key tracks and downright hilarious mid set chats to the crowd made for an enjoyable time. The set list had a good mixture of Skindred classics and a couple of tracks off the latest record ‘Kill The Power’, with Koie Kenta coming on to assist with their performance of ‘Warning’. The surprise of the afternoon came when Benji ordered everyone to perform the Harlem Shake. It’s a performance which you would never have attributed to Download Festival, but was incredibly enjoyable and got pretty much everyone involved.  8/10 CT

The Amity Affliction- Pepsi Max Stage
‘Let The Ocean Take Me’ came out a little over a week ago and it finally seems that people are starting to take note of The Amity Affliction. We can see this through the sheer size of their crowd at the Pepsi Max Stage. Opening on ‘Chasing Ghosts’ it takes a song or so for the sound to level out and perfect but after this their set is a crashing whirlwind of riffs and screams. The combined vocals of Joel and Ahren really homes in to us how much we love this band. Latest singles ‘Pittsburgh’ and ‘Don’t Lean On Me’ hold the same intensity live as they do on record, a feat for a lot of bands. After this performance we can’t wait for the band to return later this year. 8/10 RW

Black Label Society- Main Stage
Black Label Society return to Download once more, and this is the first time they have done so since riffmaster Zakk Wylde’s new found sobriety. Musically, they are absolutely great – nearly flawless in fact. This is classic BLS, end they stay true to their sound and their principles. Whilst the set was quite dragged out at times and Wylde’s vocals were quite monotonous, you cannot deny their power and expert musicianship.  6/10 JM

Letlive.- Pepsi Max Stage
Letlive. are a completely unique experience but when we saw Jason Butler wondering around with crutches we were worried. After their set we are still worried, but only because we’re worried he may have hurt himself further. A damaged knee didn’t stop Jason from causing complete and utter carnage on the Pepsi Max Stage. Every second Jason isn’t screaming into his microphone or climbing things the look of pure ecstasy and emotion on his face is incredible, very few musicians look like it means as much to them as it does to Jason. The powerful set touches on their back catalogue including ‘Dreamers Disease’, ‘Muther’ and ‘Renegade 86’ and they are complete perfection. Letlive are more than just an incredible live band they are a feeling and a full on performance which is captivating on and off stage: because if you’ve seen them before you’d know that Jason was crowd surfing as much as members of the crowd. 9/10 RW

Flogging Molly- Zippo Encore Stage
It goes without saying – Flogging Molly are fucking brilliant. They are one of those bands that not only are they a great band to listen to in general or to see live in their own show, but they are also a truly great festival band. They know how to work a crowd, and they know how to have fun and whip the crowd in to a positive frenzy of dancing, jigging, drinking, and moshing. With tunes such as ‘Drunken Lullabies’ and ‘Seven Deadly Sins’, how can you not get down to their charming Irish folk-punk anthems?! Absolutely wonderful! 9/10 JM

Rob Zombie- Main Stage
Sub headlining the Stephen Sutton stage on Friday night was shock rocker, Rob Zombie. Given that it was Friday the 13th, a hoard of zombies descended Donington Park for one of the most hotly anticipated sets of the weekend. Rob Zombie didn’t disappoint. His set was packed with plenty of theatrics which made for impressive viewing. Not only that but musically, Mr. Zombie and his buddies were so on point. Faultless, even, delivering a set laden with mammoth crowd-pleasers such as ‘Living Dead Girl’, ‘Sick Bubblegum’ and ‘House Of 100 Corpses’. The zombie apocalypse had well and truly taken hold by the end of Rob Zombie’s incredible set, which he finished on a high with ‘Dragula’. 9/10 LH

Baby Godzilla- Red Bull Stage
Award for most hectic set of the weekend certainly goes to Baby Godzilla.  The entire thing was mental. Baby G have a reputation for going all out in their shows, destruction, mayhem and just plain chaos, often focusing on the destruction instead of the actual music. Download seemed to have told them to tone it down for the tent though as this time around there was definitely more emphasis placed on the tracks themselves. It didn’t stop the band for attempting to be the psychotic animals that they crave to be, with lead guitarist Jonny Hall being picked up and carried right out of the tent, with stewards quick to realise what was happening and give chase. Everything about the set was pure madness, but thankfully not a detriment to the music itself, which made for one of the best performances we’ve seen from Baby Godzilla. 9/10 CT

Jamie Lenman- Jagermeister Stage
Jamie had two sets on the Friday of Download, both of which were on the Jagermeister stage.  The earlier set being all of his newer, softer stuff, everything that was certainly more suited to an acoustic stage. The later one, which we caught, was certainly not acoustic. It was made up of his heavier catalogue, both from his new solo album ‘Muscle Memory’ and from his earlier Reuben days. His voice was incredible, the tracks were more or less on form, and all in all it was everything you could hope from the great man himself. He even joked to those who showed up, about his earlier set, and how different it was to the one he was currently performing. Jamie Lenman’s headline set was certainly one of the bigger bangs we saw at this year’s Jagermeister stage, it’s just a shame it was so limited time wise. 8/10 CT

Tyketto- Red Bull Stage
For this writer, probably one of the biggest surprises of the weekend! 80’s rock / metal band Tyketto were second to headlining on the Red Bull Stage, and by lord they exceeded expectations! You would have thought that for a band like this to perform, that they would sound at least a little bit daed by now. But strangely there is a kind of modern relevance to them which makes their set a lot more enjoyable than expected! With mixtures of material from classics to new, Tyketto surely do not disappoint in any way! 8/10 JM

Avenged Sevenfold- Main Stage
There was a lot of buzz around Avenged’s Friday headline set, would they be able to make the jump to proper headline status, or were they just not ready and we’d have to wait another year for a band to really make us think. The band have their fair share of fans, and haters, the ‘Why not Dying Fetus’ wagon come to mind. Overall though, I feel that the band really did prove that they have the ability and back-catalogue to sit on the top of a major festival bill and headline to thousands of people.  We have a hunch that the band may have been rather nervous coming onto stage that warm Friday evening as the set started off rather luke warm, decent enough, but without much interaction and showmanship, but soon after, the band found their rhythm and they finally looked like they were having fun. After their number one album ‘Hail to the King’ last year, Avenged Sevenfold finally had enough hit tracks to fill a full hour and a half set. Hits such as ‘Critical Acclaim’, ‘Bat Country’, and ‘Buried Alive’ all came within the first half of the set, and there were still hits after hit still to come. The band’s set was fantastically woven with a number of both new and old tracks, being placed next to each other. There were just a couple of moments which could have worked against their fantastic headline spot. The first of which being a Synyster Gates solo, which could have been cut down a little bit; although it was incredible technical and a wander to watch, it may have bored a number of those who aren’t as well versed with the band. Secondly, the band made a risky decision in having two encores. We noticed after the first encore a lot of people move to the exits, and if they made it out before M. Shadows returned for the second time they would have missed two of the band’s best tracks ‘A Little Piece of Heaven’ and ‘Unholy Confessions’, but in the end that would have been the fan’s mistake. In the end, festivals need to start pushing for new headliners to emerge, and by the end of the set anyone who saw them would hesitate before they say they didn’t deserve the slot. We are at a critical point for festivals and Avenged are the start of a whole new generation of headline worthy bands. 8/10 CT

Reviews by: Rhian Westbury, Callum Thomson, James Paul Matthews & Laura Halbert

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