Among the established bands which cover so many of the stages at Download Festival, it’s always one of the best places to discover up and coming bands.
Across the three days of music we managed to catch a whole load of new bands, ones we had never seen before, and we’ve narrowed down six of our favourite up and comers!
Zoax- Fri- Maverick Stage
There’s few bands who, no matter how many times you’ve seen them, still make you sit up and think “wow, these guys are good. Zoax are one of those bands. Surprisingly, this is the five pieces’ third time playing Download Festival, but today’s crowd is pretty special. Frontman Adam Carroll works through the crowd in his ever charistmatic way, with an urgency to everything he does, screaming, moving and slaying the stage during each and every track. ‘The Devil Dance’ brings a mass party vibe to Download, ‘Roses All The Way’ shows off that big chorus, and ‘The Wave’ showcases Carroll’s impressive vocal range. Zoax remain as one of the most underrated bands out there, but hopefully this won’t be for long. 8/10 [RW]
Fort Hope- Fri- Maverick Stage
We’re going to hold our hands up and say that we hadn’t planned on seeing Fort Hope, and in all honesty we were pushed into the Maverick Stage tent due to the extreme Friday weather, much like a lot of the crowd. Thankfully, though, it was a little nugget of joy admist a grey exterior. The homegrown trio might be relatively unknown, but with a vocal range as sensational as frontman Jon Gaskins’, it’s only a matter of time before people realise the power behind this band. Gaskin is a man of many talents, taking on the role of frontman, singer, guitarist and keyboardist, showing off with relative ease. A sing-a-long from the bands’ tight knit fans comes when ‘That’s The Way The River Flows’ and the ever popular ‘Plans’. 6/10 [RW]
Counting Days- Fri- Dogtooth Stage
Homegrown hardcore/metal outfit Counting Days are a band that have been on our radar for a while, in part due to the fact that guitarist Curtis Ward is an ex-Bring Me The Horizon member. The band are rising stars in their own right, however, and have steadily built up hype since the release of their debut album Liberated Sounds. Today they tear up the Dogtooth stage with their fast-paced riffs, neck-snapping breakdowns and death metal undertones. There are pits aplenty, with many screaming back the lyrics to ‘Burned By Faith’ and ‘Die Alone’ as loud as their lungs will allow. Counting Days’ sound is simply too huge to maintain a small cult following – we’re sure we’ll be seeing them on much larger stages soon. 7/10 [DC]
Black Peaks- Sat- Maverick Stage
There’s been a bit of a buzz surrounding Black Peaks over the last couple of months, and after seeing them on the Maverick stage today, it’s not hard to see why. The tent is packed out, as more people join the crowd upon walking past and hearing the glorious noise issuing from within. The band open with the epic ‘Glass Built Castles’, a gargantuan wall of sound delivered with raw passion. Their slightly dissonant melodies send shivers down the spine, like on closer ‘Say You Will’, which begins on a serene note and builds up to a crushing conclusion. In their more progressive and experimental moments, Black Peaks are reminiscent of Karnivool and Muse, and if they keep churning out class music like this, we reckon they could be giving them both a run for their money in the years to come. 7/10 [DC]
Slaves (US)- Sat- Dogtooth Stage
It can be hard to keep track of what band Johnny Craig is in, but latest brainchild Slaves (US) are ready to show Download what they’re all about. The usually hot headed singer is strangely down to earth today, constantly thanking the crowd for their attendance and saying how grateful he is to the loyal ones who ventured to the Dogtooth Stage. The frontman has already built a repuation for himself, and his unique vocals are the draw to any band he happens to be a part ofmwith a falsetto similar to Years & Years’ Olly Alexander and a melodic nature similar to Tyler Carter of Issues. With song names to challenge Panic! At The Disco, such as ‘Those Who Stand For Nothing Fall For Everything’ and ‘Death Never Lets’ Us Say Goodbye’, the band cruise through track after track with perfect melody and enough passion to make their half hour set disappear in a flash.
People might have doubted Johnny Craig before, and focused too much on the past, but Slaves prove with no hesitation that they’re one of the best new bands out there. 8/10 [RW]
Against The Current- Sat- Zippo Encore Stage
As a last minute replacement for Architects, who sadly pulled out due to family problems, Against The Current were never going to be a welcome addition to the Download lineup, with their bubble gum pop sound and pocket sized front woman. But after the initial exodus of people heading out once they realised this wasn’t Architects, the crowd really took to the band’s sense of fun. There was no practice, no real rehearsal for the show, and somehow the New York based band pull it off, nearly seamlessly.
With a bunch of tracks from their recent debut album In Our Bones, it’s a set of pure fun. With screams and a reasonable amount of participation from those in the crowd happy to see the band, it shows that you don’t need to be ‘metal’ to have a good Download set. You need catchy songs (check), passion (check) and masses of energy (check). The only negatives come from the sound; usually frontwoman Chrissy’s vocals hold their own live, but tonight because the rest of the instruments are so loud she has to push her voice to be heard that it’s not quite as razor sharp as it usually is. Overall, for a last minute replacement with less than 48 hours to prep, the band did everything they could have and put in a great performance. 6/10 [RW]