The notorious Fibbers in York played host to a fantastic night of pop punk starting off with York’s answer to Neck Deep. Newcomers Safeguard certainly made a huge impression with the eager crowd. Frontman Declan Gough oozed confidence and drive that pushed the remainder of the band to deliver an enthusiastic performance. This show was new drummer Connor Dale’s first live appearance with the band and he did not disappoint. He created a solid and impressive base for the two guitarists and bassists to show their talented technical abilities. Gough’s vocals really got a chance to shine during acoustic song Better Off. The rest of their set consisted of a pop filled and lively mixture of original songs and covers of Sugar We’re Going Down (Fall Out Boy) and Still Waiting (Sum 41).
Next up was co headliners, Waco and their performance was just as colourful as their Hawaiian shirts. The Yorkshire crowd were treated to a flashback to influential 60s vibes with a powerful rock edge. There were a couple of tracks that particularly stood out, one of which was Nancy Guntrip. Frontman Jak Hutchcraft dedicated this one to “those who grew up in association housing.” Both the lyrics and delivery gave homage to this with a raw and humble feel. Waco’s set was full of high energy, flawless execution and inspirational speeches. All this built an excellent hippy atmosphere that left everyone feeling the love and put everyone in an optimistic mood for the next band.
Bring on mighty punkers The Kenneths. Anybody who was expecting just another generic pop punk band was mistaken. Safeguard offered modern pop punk, Waco gave us 60s and The Kenneths supplied the vamped up crowd with 80s punk. The band playfully joked around with the audience throughout their set making the experience memorable for all attendees. Audience participation did not end there. Several fans were asked to hold onto the microphone as Josh Weller bounced through the crowd playing guitar.
The Kenneths’ 22 years of experience was obvious as all three members seemed at home on stage sharing their art. The intimate chemistry between the three formed a warm and friendly ambiance throughout the venue. This review cannot go without mentioning Aicha Djidjelli who proved that she is one of the best female drummers that the rock genre has to offer.
Weller added to the fun of the night by doing the impossible of crowd surfing in a crowd of less than 50 people. But he made it work and looked damn cool while doing it. The performances of each song was like having a live visual of what goes on inside the band’s head, crazy, loud and passionate. This fit in perfectly with the song I Can’t Focus which Weller confessed was a song about his struggle with ADHD. A short but unruly piece that hooked everybody as Weller leaped around the stage hanging off the ceiling and connecting with the crowd. It really was an unforgettable evening for everyone lucky enough to be there.
London punks The Kenneths have been on a steep increase in popularity after appearing at Warped UK last year including support slots for artists even as big as Anti-Flag and Less Than Jake, and this is reflected in new single All Cried Out.
The track was produced by Bill Stevenson (Descendants, Black Flag), and marks a shift to a more produced sound than they’ve had in earlier releases.
Warped Tour guru Kevin Lyman said: “The Kenneths are a reincarnation of what got me into punk rock in the first place, I had to book them the first time I heard them.” High praise from the man who is at the top of the scene’s booking game today!
All good things must come to an end, and that does unfortunately include Download festival. Kicking off the festival season with an almighty bang, Download often saves the best till last, and as a result the Sunday line up is stacked with amazing bands. It’s pretty even across the board as every stage has some amazing bands playing throughout the day.
It’s been 4 years since Nightwish last brought their gigantic operatic prowess to Donnington Park, and it was on that occasion that there was someone different to Floor Jansen fronting the band. Having released their critically acclaimed LP Endless Forms Most Beautiful, Nightwish have been relentless in touring all over the globe, and have only just begun headlining arena’s here in the UK, following their spectacular Wembley Arena show. Many did not anticipate that they would open for the mighty Iron Maiden, but you cannot doubt that given the chance, Nightwish can and will deliver.
If you can’t headline a festival, opening for Iron Maiden is probably the next best thing. Disturbed are the penultimate band on the main stage at Download 2016, and they’re going to be ready to tear the stage apart. Disturbed’s career has spanned many years and many albums, and their 2015 album Immortalized stands among the best of them. You can expect to hear a set spanning their discography, from their earliest hits to the biggest new tracks like The Vengeful One. It’s likely that they will also pull out their awe-inspiring rendition of The Sound of Silence. At the end of the day though, this is Disturbed, and who doesn’t want to throw down to Down With The Sickness? PIT.
They may only be on their 3rd album Into The Wild Life, but Halestorm offer so much more than a simple 45-minute stage. The energetic powerhouse that is Lzzy Hale, along with skillful eccentric brother and drummer Arejay Hale, have helped establish Halestorm into festival favourites and hard rock heavyweights. Playing right before the likes of Iron Maiden, Nightwish, Disturbed and Shinedown, it won’t be hard to miss them, even when slotted in amongst some of those big names.
Billy Talent are a band that need no introduction, but here’s one anyway. A four-piece punk rock band that have earned their place in the rock hall of fame after over a decade of music releases. At the beginning of May this year the band released the new single Afraid of Heights and also announced that this was the title track of their upcoming album, which will be released at the end of July. With the potential for them to play some new songs from Afraid of Heights as well as the old favourites, Billy Talent are not to be missed on The Encore Stage this year.
Don Broco were probably the last band you were expecting to find on the Download Bill but the four piece will be bringing their catchy pop-rock anthems to the Zippo Encore stage this year. After huge success with their debut album Priorities and their latest installment Automatic, it is safe to say these guys won’t be short of songs to get the whole crowd moving.
Breaking Benjamin are a band who are by no means without controversy. After going on hiatus in 2009, the band released greatest hits compilation Shallow Bay, and ended up all getting into rights arguments after two band members had left earlier. The tensions continued until remaining member Chad Szeliga left too, leaving frontman Ben Burnley on his own. Proceeding to pull the group out of their hiatus with four brand new members to form a new look, Breaking Benjamin put out the stunning 2015 record Dark Before Dawn to rise from the ashes of what had come crashing down. See them as they start to prove themselves once more because you won’t forget it.
Djent/prog-metallers Periphery are back to Download for the first time since the 2012 conquest with nearly half of the band being debutants of the festival. With a 5th LP coming out mid-July titled Periphery III: Select Difficulty, the band are playing their first run of UK shows without bassist Adam “Nolly” Getgood after he departed the touring line-up earlier this year due to lack of ability to commit to the tours. The band will carry on with a touring bassist who is yet to be named, however given their track record of line-up swaps and touring with the very best, it’s pretty safe to say they will have a fill-in that more than carries their weight. They always put on a fantastic live show that demonstrates their technical abilities immaculately and are not to be missed.
Gojira are no less than amazing, and that’s generally all that can be said about them. The third stage will be taken for themselves as they prepare to simply slay the entire festival season. Their new album Magma has already received mass critical acclaim and sees the band complete re-invigorated to take on the world and probably win.
Ghost recently won a Grammy award for Best Metal Performance. If there was ever a better reason to see a band live, we’ve yet to hear of it. For such an obscure, non-conformist band to win such a prestigious award is a huge accolade for the band – Ghost are the real deal. At Download festival you’ll be catching Papa Emeritus III and his Nameless Ghouls in all their hooded, costumed glory for what promises to be one of the most atmospheric and entrancing sets the weekend has to offer
Electric Wizard are considered the pioneers of doom metal and for good reason. Tracks that make Black Sabbath shit themselves has made the band experts in slow tempo, bass heavy aural assaults. Whether you want to call it stoner metal, doom metal, down tempo etc., Electric Wizard are the best there is at making a transcendent racket that will be liable to steal the weekend.
The Dirty Youth
The Dirty Youth are a female fronted band from South Wales that incorporate Rock/Pop/Alternative/Dance/Drop Beat, basically name a genre and it’s influenced their music. Singer for the band, Danni Monroe, has one of the best female vocals around in the current music scene. It is rich in soul, tone and range and reminiscent of the nuances of Bonnie Tyler. The Dirty Youth are like musical chameleons that alter from song to song to suit the tone of each piece while still managing to maintain a strong rock undercurrent. They are the perfect band to go see if you want something a bit different in the day.
If headliners were chosen on criteria of how influential a band had been throughout their career, Napalm Death would headline everywhere. The British grindcore legends have seen their seed sown throughout many generations, as they pioneered an aggression never before seen in music, and along with fellow countrymen Carcass, basically influenced entire genres. Napalm Death are brilliant is what we’re trying to say, and if the power harmonics of Maiden don’t do it for you, these guys will.
London punks Kenneths are really making a name for themselves around the community at the moment and, although relatively unknown, have been noticed by Anti-Flag and recognised as good enough for a tour support slot at ANTIfest in Paris in June. The band first announced themselves to a large audience at Warped UK in October, which is where they met Anti-Flag and met all the new fans waiting for them at their merchandise table after their hugely successful set. The band released two EPs last year on their own label with a subsequent Warped Tour run and are looking at releasing a full-length in the near future. They are a definite must for any punk fans as they hit the Dogtooth stage on Sunday.
The King Is Blind
Sometime you forget that Download is actually a metal festival what with all the pop punk and electronics turning up nowadays. If at any point you need reminding over the weekend, go see newcomers The King Is Blind. Seething hatred, blast beats and massive, cleaving riffs is what you’ll be met with as these death metal bastards go for the kill. Proceed with caution.