Download 2014 blew my mind; and my voice; and probably my ears as well.
But it was so worth it.
Pretty much everyone I have spoken to has agreed that this year at Download was one of the best- so if you missed it, make sure you get your sorry arses there next year. From the line-up taking me back to my youth, to camp Tippance hilarity, the only thing missing for me was Steve Tyler’s presence in my tent.
Last year I was unfortunately a late arrival, only catching Slipknot’s set on the Friday, so being able to rock up at 8am on the Friday this year was beautiful and meant I got to see the highly recommended Crossfaith who played early doors. As soon as these guys came on stage, everyone sat up and took notice- loud, brash, full of energy and determined to blow your faces off. Despite being overly synthy times for my liking, they played a good range of electronic influenced metal including their Prodigy cover Omen. They drew such a crowd despite their early slot, and finished off with the much heavier Leviathan to get all of the metal heads in the mood for the rest of the day. Clean, high energy and definitely due to be higher up the set times next year. 7/10.
Unfortunately these guys were then followed by Powerman5000. The name alone is truly awful, but it takes some skill to have a rather large, energetic crowd and make them all either want to sit down or run away. Which is what most people did. The industrial tone to the music itself was great, and I genuinely wanted to like it having not heard them before, but the delivery was shocking. Spider One just didn’t seem to have the drive and the excitement to lift his lyrics to match the music, and so the result ended up with him sounded bored, and the music sounding bland. 2/10.
Luckily for the enjoyment of my Friday, and for happiness everywhere over the Download festival site, Skindred were next. I have been lucky to see these guys a number of times, including a stripped back acoustic set, and I am never let down by them. Their funky blend of Reggae and Metal is truly unique, and Benji is such a larger than life character that even if it’s not your thing, you will genuinely enjoy their performance. They certainly did not let me down on that beautiful Friday afternoon, racing through a smattering of their best tracks and cheeky remixes. How the managed to make Harlem Shake go off at Download is still beyond me, but then followed it with firm favourites Pressure and Nobody. It was also fantastic to see Kenta from Crossfaith joining them on stage for Warning, and by the same Skindred had wrapped up their set everyone was bouncing off the walls, truly ready to get on it and go crazy. 8.5/10.
Letlive were the next band that we saw in full, although I did catch glimpses of various others including Black Label Society who did their rocking duties with their usual style. Letlive themselves were highly recommended to me, as my friend Holly names them as her favourite band, and they didn’t disappoint. Absolute chaos in harmony ensued, with the band throwing themselves around whilst delivering clean and glorious guitar work to back up Jason’s imposing vocal talents. Finish this up with him climbing up the lighting rig, and the crowd went absolutely mental. I can imagine they would be a great band to see in a dingy basement venue somewhere and I will be making an effort to go see them in one. 7/10.
Letlive's Jason Butler. Photo by Derek Bremner
I will now confess to making the biggest mistake of my weekend, aside from drinking cider that my evil Welsh friend Elwyn had laced with white wine. I only watched half of Avenged Sevenfold’s set, as I was adamant to watch at least some of the Offspring who were such an influence on me when I was much younger. Now I am absolutely kicking myself, as the Offspring’s performance was poor (5/10), whereas the entirety of A7X's set is being hailed as one of the best of the weekend.
What I did see of A7X was amazing, with M Shadows dominating the crowd with that huge presence and voice. They showed off a few tracks from the new album, Hail to the King, but in general kept to the older albums. Bat Country in particularly had everyone up to their feet, singing along and throwing themselves around. I wish I had been there to see the TWO encores- to finish on Unholy Confessions must have been carnage!
Avenged Sevenfold light up Donington. Photo by Andrew Whitton.
Instead, in my moment of madness, I moved over to the Zippo stage to catch the Offspring. I thought I would arrive to a crowd skanking around, all in good cheer of memories gone by. Instead most of the people around me were sullen, and I soon realised why- you could barely hear Dexter Holland. Perhaps right at the front you might have been able to, but from the middle of the crowd there was zero atmosphere because of it. Maybe the sound wasn’t good, but you would expect a band of that calibre celebrating 20 years of “Smash” to generate some enthusiasm and atmosphere. I was left highly disappointed, even if they finish off with Pretty Fly and The Kids are Alright.
Stay tuned to see what Rachel thought of the Saturday and Sunday of Download 2014. Also don't forget to check out what our other Scribe, Claire, thought of her weekend at Donington, with links to all three parts of her review available for your convenience below: