Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Download Festival Day One Review

ANOTHER year, another torrential deluge of rain at Download Festival. But it takes more than constant downpours and lakes of mud to stop the metalheads from enjoying their weekend - and so it proved.

My weekend started with a trip down memory lane with Alien Ant Farm on the Lemmy Stage. I only have one of their albums in my collection - 2001's ANThology - and the Californians' set was almost entirely from that. A good start.

As the rain began to fall, I took in a bit of Zoax under the cover of the Maverick Stage tent and they did more than enough to hold my attention. 

Jesse Leach on the Lemmy Stage
Photo credit:
Matt Eachus

But then the rain took centre stage and stayed there for much of the weekend.

So heavy were the downpours that they delayed the start of Babymetal - but everyone knows by now that you can't hold that force of nature back.

I first saw Babymetal at Sonisphere in 2014 and didn't know what to think, and I still don't think I get it. It's OK. It's bat-shit crazy. It's a novelty act. It sounds bad, but also quite good. One thing is for certain, there is nothing else like it and that made it a refreshing addition to the bill.

I had hoped to see the highly-rated Heck, but a dash back to the tent for some dryer and more waterproof clothes was needed in time for Killswitch Engage

One of my big "ones to watch" for the weekend, the metalcore heroes did not disappoint. Their 11-song set carried a few of the best songs from most of their albums and a couple from new LP Incarnate. And Jesse Leach's vocals were superb.

As well as renaming the main stage after Motorhead frontman Lemmy, the slot the band were to fill before his untimely death instead carried a video montage with some past performances included. 

It's a shame, however, that with the huge assortment of talent hanging around backstage that no live performance was arranged that the fans could really get into.

Over on the Zippo Encore Stage, Long Islanders Glassjaw pull in a threadbare crowd considering they are third on the bill on the second stage and up against the end of the Lemmy tribute at the start of their set.

They look dwarfed by the stage and other than frontman Daryl Palumbo are static. Guitarist Justin Beck seems as if his shoes were superglued to the floor.

That said, Glassjaw's angular, uncompromising hardcore still sounds good and if the band were disappointed by the turn-out, they didn't show it. The performance was excellent and Palumbo's energy (and dodgy attire) made up for the rest of the band.

On a weekend where some top-billed performances underwhelmed, Korn delivered a triumphant set full of power and vigour.

They're meant to be washed-up, bloated nu-metallers who have had their day, right? Uh-urrrr! Think again.

Jonathan Davies looked in rich health as the band stormed through a collection of greatest hits. His voice and energy were superb. Everything I could have hoped for and more.

Heck in the Maverick tent
Photo credit:
Ross Silcocks

Here To Stay, Falling Away From Me and Coming Undone were in the early part of the set and an excellent drop in Shoots And Ladders into Metallica's One.

The set powered on and finished with Got The Life and Freak On A Leash. Mind-blowing stuff. 

I'd heard so much about Rammstein's live show. 'You don't have to like the music', they said. 'You don't have to understand the language', they also said. Well, I'm sorry to say that I think you probably do.

Yes there were costumes and fireworks and fire and silliness, but I found it so underwhelming. Maybe it was lost in translation or that I just didn't get it but I really didn't see what all the fuss was about.

So much so that I took a stroll up the hill to the Dogtooth Stage and poked my head in to watch Essex boys InMe. That I did enjoy.

I still had time after to go back to Rammstein for the tail-end of their set - including the encore - but like the weather, the day ended on a bit of a damp note.

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