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Live Review: Download Festival, Donington Park, Saturday 15/06/2013

It’s already halfway through Download Festival and we caught up with as many bands as could on Saturday. Check out what we thought right here.

Everyone has made it through Day 1 of Download and the trenches from The Village to the arena to Saturday morning. There isn’t a lot more that the rock devotee’s in Donington Park need to prove aside from going mental at bands. We pulled our heads out of our tents and manned out the morning rain to check out as many bands as we could. Check out what HTF thought of Saturday at Download.

Heavens Basement – Zippo Encore Stage – Words: Natalie Gardiner

It may be early for a festival, 11:50am to be precise, but there’s already a reasonable sized crowd gathered around the second stage to watch hard rock connoisseurs Heaven’s Basement. Its threatening to bucket down, but luckily the weather just about holds for the Brits to tear through their adrenaline fuelled set. The band don’t seem intimidated by the scale of the stage, with lead singer Aaron Buchanon jumping into the crowd mid-song. They exit the stage with the promise of a new tour this summer and a quick snapshot of the view, leaving the crowd hungry for more. 7/10

straight lines

Straight Lines – Jagermeister Acoustic Stage – Words: Natalie Gardiner

It’s not normal to see a conga line in the midst of a Download crowd, especially while most festival-goers are busy watching Mastadon, but somehow Welsh alt-rockers Straight Lines have managed it. Playing a fairly upbeat acoustic set on the Jagermeister stage, the band have drawn in a good crowd and have them quite literally dancing at their feet. For their finale, the audience descends into snaking conga lines from the front to the back, merging into one mass of dancers and the flashing cameras of wowed onlookers. 7/10

Astroid Boys – Red Bull Studios Stage – Words: Rhian Westbury

We were surprised when we turned up at the Red Bull Studios Stage and it was packed, it wasn’t even like it was raining. Maybe the buzz around Astroid Boys is finally settling in. If you hadn’t heard of them before then it may take a little while before you ‘get it’ (if you do at all). This band are difficult to place, they are a like Rizzle Kicks on acid mixed with the raw sensibilites of The Beastie Boys. For those in the crowd whose ears don’t burn at the sound of rapping and don’t mind dancing away their morning hangover them Astroid Boys might well be the band for you. 7/10


Crowns – Pepsi Max Stage – Words: James Paul Matthews

On a boggy Saturday lunchtime, there are a fair few people evidently trying to shake off hangovers. But what better way than to watch the brilliant Crowns on the Pepsi Max Stage. They come across as if The Clash decided to go pick up mandolins and acoustic guitars, rather than electric guitars. A curious crowd are left with a pleasant and jig-worthy collection of great tunes to which they manage to successfully pull off. Another pleasant surprise to this weekends festivities. 8/10

Mastodon – Main Stage – Words: James Paul Matthews

Over on the Main Stage, Mastodon arrive to quite literally (yet sonically) tear apart everyones senses in support of their latest album ‘The Hunter’. Whilst (as ever) low on the talking side of things, the guys let the music do the talking. They play a great number of songs off of their latest release, with a mix of old classics such as ‘Oblivion’ and ‘Blood And Thunder’, the latter whipping up circle pits quicker than a tornado. Once again, Mastodon prove once again just why they are at the forefront of metal music that continuously pushes the boundaries further and further. 8/10

Empress – Pepsi Max Stage – Words: Amber Carniage

As much as we love Empress, and we really do, there is always a little something missing from their live shows that stops them kicking as much ass as their recordings. As we move into the Pepsi Max tent we were consumed by all that is Empress and their progressive medley but when the band themselves don’t look very comfortable it is hard to want to move yourself. They pack so much into their music we just want them to scream in our faces a little bit. Here is hoping to next time as recent ‘Deeper In Disguise’ disorders our ears we want to feel that vibe in their onstage performance too. 7/10

Alice In Chains- Main Stage- Words: James Paul Matthews

Another notable presence on the Main Stage today is the return of Alice In Chains. Their first UK show in a good while, they arrive to a heroes welcome. Whilst only playing a couple of tracks off of their terrific new album ‘The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here’, they have no backdrop to promote the album. It is the bare basics, which proves one thing… they are here for a one off and to play as much as they damn well can to the masses. And bloody hell do they deliver. Finishing off with a haunting rendition of ‘Rooster’, they leave just as quickly as they arrived. Hurry up back over here lads, us lot in the UK miss you! 8/10

Motorhead- Main Stage- Words: Amber Carniage

It is probably impossible for Motorhead to ever disappoint, defining rock and roll as they flood Donnington . Lemmy coaxes the crowd to snarl louder and louder as the band charge through their hits. It is amazing to see the crowd in eating out of the palm of his hand showing that Motorhead are truly a part of Download history.  9/10

Bury Tomorrow- Pepsi Max Stage- Words: Rhian Westbury

There’s no hiding the fact that after the hundreds of amazing Bury Tomorrow sets we’ve seen over the years that the bar is set bloody high. But with a rammed out tent and a whole crowd of fist pumping head banging metal heads today’s another one of those shows to add to the list. With every riff of ‘Lionheart’ and every beat of ‘The Redeemer’ it’s the perfect showcase of exactly why they’re at the top of their game. It won’t be long before Bury Tomorrow are smashing the crowds of mainstage at Download Festival. 9/10

Uncle Acid and The Deadbeats- Pepsi Max Stage- Words: James Paul Matthews

Over on the Pepsi Max Stage, Uncle Acid and The Deadbeats play a set that is quite literally louder than hell. Delivering a kind of sound that makes Black Sabbath sound like a bunch of pansies, their bass-heavy groove riddled sounds spark a true delight among the crowd, even if we leave with a slight bit of tinnitus. Another lot to keep a close eye on. 7/10

Press To Meco- Red Bull Studios Stages- Words: Rhian Westbury

Press to Meco impressed the Red Bull Studio judges enough to get through to the final stages and play Download and the fruits of their labors were smashed into this twenty five minute set. With a mixture of tracks from their debut EP ‘Affinity’ including self titled track and ‘Wasting Time’ the unique arrangements and strong vocals sound huge in the Red Bull Studios Stage. Keep your eyes peeled for Press To Meco. 8/10

jimmy eat world

Jimmy Eat World- Zippo Encore Stage- Words:  Natalie Gardiner

Arizona’s own Jimmy Eat World seem to have brought the good weather with them. Taking the stage in the still glorious sunshine of the early evening, they proceed to pour out a carefully chosen selection of their best tracks. Making good use of their extensive back catalogue, ‘Sweetness’, ‘The Middle’ and ‘Bleed American’ predictably go down a storm, with the crowd joining together to sing each ‘woah’ moment. ‘Pain’ and new single ‘I Will Steal You Back’ have the audience dancing blissfully en-masse in the fading light as the band play the last notes of their bittersweet melodies. 9/10


Queens Of The Stone Age- Main Stage- Words: Amber Carniage

Basking in the sun at Download we were ready for some sleazy rock and roll, and Queens Of The Stone Age brought it. The band have this sadistic edge to them, they know we want them and they just keep teasing us with Josh Homme’s deep voice crawling up our spines till we are begging for more. It seems that QOTSA can do everything simply, and with such a theatric line up it is interesting to see the band pull in such a vigorous crowd. As the band drift through their back catalogue the main stage sees them rock tracks from ‘Sick, Sick, Sick’, ‘No One Knows’ and the recent ‘My God Is The Sun’ Queens Of The Stone Age have brought a laid back approach to main stage that left us begging for more. 9/10

Chthonic- Pepsi Max Stage- Words: James Paul Matthews

Probably the most surreal set of the entire weekend, Taiwanese art / death / fantasy (I struggle to find words to describe) metal quintet Chthonic bring in tow a small ensemble of orchestral musicians, playing a variety of Asian folk instruments to bring a new level of dynamics to their live sound. It works extremely well, but in all fairness the sound is a little bit patchy. Whilst it is highly entertaining on all levels, there is far too much going on. Maybe if the sound was a little clearer, his could have been spectacular. 6/10

Kvelertak- Pepsi Max Stage- Words: James Paul Matthews

However as night falls, a storm is brewing on the Pepsi Max Stage. Before even arriving to the tent, chants for the bands name can be heard from afar… Norweigan punk rock and roll crew Kvelertak are about to arrive on stage at any given moment. After much anticipation of waiting to see this band live for 2 years, this is finally the opportunity. But holy fucking shit, this set goes BEYOND expectations and then pushes the boat out a little further. The entire set is a chaotic affair on stage, and especially in the pit. With a mixture of songs from their self titled debut album, and their sophomore effort ‘Meir’, Kvelertak not only play the sonically loudest set of the entire weekend, but absolutely enchanted the audience with their pulverising take on rock / metal. What we witness here is something truly special, and for those who were there… you know exactly what happened. Kvelertak stepped up their game… big time. With each song the crowd and band escalates, and it ends with ‘Blodtorst’, withvocalist Erland Hjelvik waving a monumental flag bearing the bands logo on it. A sea of crowdsurfers, and a casualty of moshers emerge from the chaos bewildered. Set of the weekend, hands down. Amazing on every level! 10/10

Rat Attack- Red Bull Studios Stage- Words: James Paul Matthews

Over on the Red Bull Studios Stage are party punk crew Rat Attack. They play a decent high energy set full of tunes that keep the crowd on their feet. But not for one poor sod who got carted out of there because he was too drunk to dance and ended up pissing himself. Regardless for this dude who was partied out, there were 99.9% of the audience who got their party on for sure! Nice one lads! 8/10

last witness

Last Witness- Red Bull Studios Stage- Words: James Paul Matthews

Next up are Last Witness. Already mentioning their last show to the audience, they play a very chaotic set, even though they seem somewhat monotonous and disinterested. maybe it is just another day on the job for these guys, but unfortunately there just seems to be a crowd which contains a bunch of rather materialistic posers who only care about their ‘Hail Satan’ beanie hats, ‘Obey’ peaked caps, Pat Butcher earrings, and drawn on eyebrows rather than the music itself. Which is a shame, because Last Witness deserved a little better than this. 6/10

Enter Shikari- Zippo Encore Stage- Words: Rhian Westbury

It was heavily rumoured that Enter Shikari spent a ridiculous amount of money on the lighting for their set tonight. It takes about half of the set though for the sun to set and the true spectacular of the lights to come out (and they are bloody amazing!) There’s always a huge sense of theatrics during an Enter Shikari set, Rou preaches about all manner of world problems whilst the band bound around stage like crazy people on acid. They now have a heavy shedload of tracks behind them from the infectious clapping of ‘Sorry You’re Not A Winner’ to the remixed ‘Sssnakepit’ right through to brand new ‘Paddington Frisk’. We may not be a fan of the consistant preaching but with all the beats of a late night rave and some killer tunes Enter Shikari are worthy second stage headliners tonight 8/10

The Hives- Pepsi Max Stage- Words: Amber Carniage

The mariachi swathed Hives had the Pepsi Max tent splitting before their name had even been spelt out on stage. Usually preaching to the crowd starts to rub up the wrong way but front man Pelle Almqvist has the ora of cheekiness that allows him to get away with it, or we just all think he is a little bit crazy. As we are constantly reminded of who we are watching they obliterate their discography alighting every hit all the way to the end. As they encore with ‘Tick Tick Boom’ we are all sunk to the floor before the tent uproars. The only band who could have taken on Maiden truly split the seams of Donnington. 10/10

Iron Maiden- Main Stage- Words: James Paul Matthews

Over on the Main Stage are headliners Iron Maiden. Resurrecting their ‘Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son’ stage show from 1988, they decided to give it a proper up to date makeover, and it does make for a very cool stage show to which the Irons perform songs from the 1980-92 era only. As always, they never fail to please musically speaking. However after much speculation and hype, the stageshow was slightly underwhelming. But with such blinding hits such as ‘The Clairvoyant’, ‘Fear Of The Dark’, ‘Run To The Hills’, and ‘Phantom Of The Opera’, you can ll but let that slip. A true honour to have Iron Maiden back, and judging by the amount of people joining in with Bruce Dickinson’s falsetto vocals, it is a sure fire hit with the crowd. 8/10

Photographs curtosy of the Official Download Photographers.

Reviews by: Amber Carniage, James Paul Matthews, Rhian Westbury and Natalie Gardiner.

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