This time last week it was time for the music at Donington Park to begin all over again for the annual Download Festival. A place of rock, heavy metal, punk, and all sorts of the varying alternative music. It’s also a place of some of the muddiest times you’ll ever see.
Distorted Sound Magazine had a few of the team on site ready to review all of the bands for you! If we wasn’t hiding away in some shelter on Friday’s downpour however! Which band came out on top of Friday’s performances, Laura McCarthy, Jessica Howkins and Jack Fermor-Worrell reviews the first days acts!
RAMMSTEIN – Headliner – LM
RAMMSTEIN, as always, had some truly wonderful elements to their show. For a day plagued by poor sound and rain drops the size of small eggs still drowning the crowd, this was a welcome finale to Friday. Opening with the compilation track Ramm 4, the band were as mesmerising as usual, their industrial heavy metal both unnerving and fantastic at the same time.
Ich Tu Dir Weh and Mien Herz Brennt where undoubtedly highlights, with the great scope of lighting and antics throughout the show proving that once again, RAMMSTEIN know how to command a stage. As was wholly expected, the band did a brilliant job of offering a stellar set of entertainment, including blame thrower guitars, fireworks and a hot hat that exploded once thrown across the stage. While as with many acts on the mainstage there were still some technical issues, partly with sound, and partly with the effects in terms of some fireworks and pyrotechnics, This didn’t deter from the overall performance, however, as RAMMSTEIN were as funny, camp and menacingly awesome as you could have asked for.
The incredible finale came in the form of the Lindemann rising into the air on great, metal wings, flames bursting from the tips as he sang along to Engel. The light show was at its best, the pyrotechnics was just simply beautiful and the overall feeling from the crowd once the set ended and the band departed, was one of satisfaction as everyone trudged off, some still singing, bastardising the German lyrics as they went.
Despite all of the things that could of gone wrong, going wrong before and during RAMMSTEIN‘s set in terms of technical issues, weather – the German band proved that they were there to put on a show and do nothing less. They delivered the best that they could, and still gave all that they could with the setbacks they had encountered and that is something that made the band have such a worthy place as a headliner on the opening night of Download Festival.
KORN – Lemmy Stage – JH
After a downpour of rain and many of the Download goers rushing back to get into some dry clothes, the floods of people soon overpowered the floods of mud the second American nu-metal ban KORN took to the stage. Opening up with Right Now, the dampened spirits of the crowd was soon to be forgotten as they erupted into chanting the lyrics back at charismatic front-man Jonathan Davis.
As their show proceeded, the energy of the crowd was beginning to increase more and more as some of the hit tracks were played out such as Coming Undone, Did My Time and Y’all Want A Single. Without a doubt, the band played against the odds of bad weather and fans that just wanted to get into some shelter and managed to win as like always, they dominated the stage.
As the set ended with Freak on a Leash, KORN reminded each member of the crowd why the band are where they are at now. They persevere and still manage to give all that they can and just like every other band, they had technical issues but in no way could you tell that it was going on due to the level of professionalism on stage to do their best and try their hardest to satisfy the thousands of fans that were watching them.
KORN put on a spectacular show and musically, they were near enough flawless. Without a doubt, they was one of the best bands of the entire weekend.
Lemmy Tribute – Lemmy Stage – JH
Most would say that just watching a video of one of the most iconic men in the rock and metal genre would be a little boring, perhaps not exciting enough as the life that Lemmy Kilmister lived but at Download Festival, it was the most respected decision they made in honour for the front-man and bassist of MOTӦRHEAD who passed away last December.
MOTӦRHEAD had been scheduled to play just below KORN on Friday, but of course the unfortunate news of Lemmy‘s death came shortly after, meaning what would happen to the slot? To replace such an act and man with another band would only be a great disrespect, the build up to the announcement of what was happening was enough to prove that statement true. However, Download Festival made an honourable choice in broadcasting a video of the man who shaped the music we are all in love with today.
How can a video be such a good tribute? Well, it was a perfect way in highlighting Lemmy‘s achievements and his life. There was nobody else taking that away from him, nobody on stage trying to do him justice and everybody was fixated on just watching this incredible man who lived such a full life and inspired us all. To say it bought tears to eyes would be an understatement, Lemmy Kilmister was clearly loved by so many and will obviously always will be.
KILLSWITCH ENGAGE – Lemmy Stage – JFW
If there’s any band you can count on to make the rain slightly more bearable, it’s KILLSWITCH ENGAGE. The Massachusetts five-piece always seem to go down well at Donington and today is no exception. Opening with Strength of the Mind, from their newest album Incarnate, the band immediately lift the spirits of everyone present, and the result is a multitude of mosh pits seemingly intent on making everyone forget just how dire the weather is. Jesse Leach’s vocals are on suitably impressive form throughout – imbuing the likes of Hate By Design, Fixation on the Darkness and Beyond The Flames with a beautifully devastating mix of heart-wrenchingly soaring vocals and feral growls. It’s not entirely so po-faced though, as guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz proves himself to be equally as adept at joking around with the crowd as he is with his playing. Now seven albums into their career though, and it’s clear that the band’s music remains the centerpiece of everything. Few bands within this scene can match a run of songs that includes My Last Serenade leading into Rose Of Sharyn and The End of Heartache, but KILLSWITCH ENGAGE do so with apparent ease. By the time the end of their set comes around, with a chaos-inducing pairing of My Curse and In Due Time, it’s obvious that for now at least that Jesse Leach and co. have brought some life back to a rain-soaked Download.
GUTTERDAMMERUNG – The Maverick Stage -LM
Belgian-Swedish visual artist Bjorn Tagemose created an experience that was surprisingly one of the most unique and interesting shows on the Friday performance in the Maverick tent. A combination of cinema, live music and effects, GUTTERDAMMERUNG was a spectacle filled with a vast range of musical styles, covers of great rock and metal songs we all know and love, all rolled up in the visual tale screened.
The narrative itself was fairly symbolic, the battle between those who chose rock and those who don’t, the overlapping of religion and violence, and while it occasionally went down some strange and bazar roads, there was great cinematic techniques used. For those who aren’t as used to watching old films as others, it’s a nice visual nod to the 20’s style films where the lighting and the music was everything that counted in making a film really work. However, Tagemose takes the narrative journey to the more contemporary style of music, with the live band playing in time to the events on screen. It’s impressive to see musicians working to such high standards and making every beat count to a more complicated piece of art than just their own sound. Equally, the effects on stage, the explosions and so on, where done perfectly.
Guest appearances from Iggy Pop as the heretic angel of temptation, the likes of Slash, and Lemmy (who got the biggest cheer of approval from all those watching) all added to the entertainment of the piece, and even Henry Rollins of Sons of Anarchy fame was on stage to perform his lines.
The real heart of the performance was the audience participation- while the music was the pivotal element to GUTTERDAMMERUNG working, it was never the real focus point. Thus, the crowd could sing along, be heard. The enjoyment was palpable. Truly, the entire event was something totally unusual for Download and the risk trying something was definitely worth it for such an immersive, well put together performance.
So there you have the reviews for the Friday at Download! Keep your eyes peeled over tomorrow and Sunday for the rest! Get in touch with us and let us know who you loved seeing the most on Friday and/or if you was hiding in a portaloo from the rain (we promise, that was definitely not two of our team!)