Reviews

Download Festival 2017: Saturday Review

After a tiresome yet utterly awesome first day at Download, it’s time to kick into the second day’s affairs, and to the naked eye this appears to be the weaker of the three days, but there are in fact some deep and very interesting offerings.

Saturday

With an already cult like following behind them, Creeper (9) take to the main stage to give things a gloomy start. The band are on peak form, with the majority of the songs coming from their stunning Eternity, In Your Arms debut. Older tracks like VCR still hit with considerable force but the true power comes in how fantastic a front man Will Gould is. Captivating the crowd with a rendition of I Choose To Live to close, his voice and presence are second to none. Trash Boat (7) deliver a strong set over on the Avalanche stage, bringing with them their unique hardcore kick to the pop-punk blueprint. They bring plenty of energy and it’s well received. Something of a surprise is how well Sikth (8) sound over on the main stage. Their ridiculously technical affair can often sound either far too thin or just maddeningly uncontrollable. Their performance is tight and surprisingly well balanced, with the guitars sound clear and the bass hitting hard. Both vocalists utilise their small crowd and get everyone involved whilst playing a diverse set with fresh cut Golden Cufflinks that brings some heavy grooves to their set.

Trash Boat photo credit; Ross Silcocks, Download 2017

If you’re fancying something different, there is always Junior (8) on the Dogtooth stage, bringing not only a selection of professional wrestlers, but limbo AND some proper good tunes. Its undoubtedly one of the most blindly enjoyable sets of the weekend and the trio also pack some mega tunes, like newest release Veronica. Bristol Punk band IDLES (9) are a band that are taking the festival scene by storm with appearances at SXSW, Download and Leeds and Reading Festival. These guys are known for being an angry band but after the General Election result 2 days prior, the band were on another level. Adding more anger, more fury and with a relatively small set these guys had to show this excited crowd what they have in just 6 songs. Kicking the set off with the incredible 1049 Gotho this was definitely set to be a band of the weekend. The rest of the set didn’t slow down in the slightest ending with the tracks Well Done and Rottweiler. For all that punk rock excitement, Of Mice And Men (6) deliver a pretty by the number set of their own melodic metalcore. Opening with Bones Exposed, the band hardly seem to grab the set by the bit, instead playing things rather safe. After the departure of Austin Carlile the band might still need time to rework their on stage chemistry in order to start delivering sets we all know they’re capable of.

Idles photo credit Sarah Koury, Download 2017

In the middle of the festival leg of the Misadventures tour, Pierce The Veil (6) have been very busy lately. This year’s Download Festival has been much lighter than anticipated. Although hardly anything to get excited about, Pierce The Veil were actually one of the better rehearsed main stage acts of the weekend. Whilst they were nothing outstanding, their timing and tuning was perfect. Their 8 track set was short, starting with Texas Is Forever, Pierce The Veil performed material from their latest album Misadventures for half their set. Whilst the main stage sees a metalcore invasion, the Zippo stage plays host to Suicide Silence (7) who play a ferociously intense set. Clearly feeling liberated by their newest album, the band interweve new songs like Run and Doris in amongst classics like No Pity For A Coward and of course Unanswered. The set is confident and aggressive but it loses a lot of momentum when an ill timed Conformity completely loses the crowd and brings their set to a grinding halt. Over at the Avalanche stage Knuckle Puck (8) display why they’re probably the best band on the planet at the moment. With smart song writing and relatable lyrics that the crowd sing back with gusto, the Chicago punks play through an enjoyable set that sees the crowd go nuts for them . Ending on a sombre Untitled allows for their set to settle and really create a great moment for the weekend. Where pop-punk might not be your thing, Max Cavalera and his son Iggor play their Return To Roots (8) set with frightening aplomb. Despite his age, Max refuses to let the crowd lose any energy throughout their set, demanding they clap along or simply lose their shit with him. Ratamahatta and the opening Roots remain brilliant staples in the history of heavy metal and all those present for this set got a true glimpse at that.

Every Time I Die photo credit: Ben Gibson, Download 2017

If we’re talking about possible sets of the weekend, Every Time I Die (9) need to be in that conversation. It’s getting to the point where we all need to question whether they even know what a bad show is, as their energy arrives and immideatly sets the crowd off. As always, the set is relentless and all members frantically dominate the stage whilst tracks like Underwater Bimbos and The New Black send the crowd barmey. Ending on Map Change simply solidifies the thought that Every Time I Die are just fucking brilliant. The Lounge Kittens (8) performed to an huge, unanticipated crowd in the Dogtooth Tent on Saturday. The popular female trio opened with their cover of Bodies by Drowning Pool, providing a fresh performance and perspective on three part harmony in metal. They performed their Pop Punk Medley, including covers of Good Charlotte, Sum 41, Panic! At The Disco, Fall Out Boy and more. They probably could have picked a set list that catered more to the people that frequent Download Festival, however they went down a storm with the crowd. Despite being one of the most popular new acts when they came about, The Story So Far (6) have slipped in favour amongst the pop-punk scene, which is a shame because the band are still genuinely great, writing memorable and catchy tunes that translate very well live. Its just a shame the band are utterly boring to watch live, unless you are there to purely listen to the songs. With little to no interaction the band play their set, thank the crowd and then leave. Luckily their set was a well-balanced and well performed set, otherwise one might wonder what the point is.

A Day To Remember photo credit: Ben Gibson, Download 2017

Fresh off their Bad Vibes World Tour, A Day To Remember (7) were one of the most anticipated bands of the weekend. Immediately the lead singer Jeremy McKinnon‘s voice could be heard, and it was clear the singer struggled throughout the set. However the group had a good mix between new and old material; the crowd at the front were clearly huge fans of A Day To Remember and despite the tuning issues, were one of the most popular acts of the weekend. They were also one of the few main stage acts to include pyrotechnics, however they weren’t always timed correctly and near the end of Paranoia they missed the beat entirely. It was a shame to see a group that had performed really well on tour struggle at Download.

Biffy Clyro photo credit: Paulo Nuno, Download 2017

With this said though, Biffy Clyro (9) play through easily the best headline slot of the whole weekend. When announced, most of the average Download punters seemed a little put off, seemingly forgetting that Biffy are one of the most consistently brilliant live bands, and given the chance like they are tonight, they are more than capable to steal the whole weekend. With a stunning stage show that immediately focuses the audience towards the band centre stage, they open with Wolves of Winter before a truly triumphant Biblical brings the whole house down, and they’re barely 20 minutes into the set. From here the Scotsmen run through a huge setlist, with beautiful moments like an acoustic Medicine played side by side to the mule kick of a song That Golden Rule. As their encore runs through and the band begin Stinging Belle, the skies are paitned with a spectacular fireworks display and Biffy Clyro do more than earn their keep, they shut everyone up who said they can’t punch with the best of them.

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