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Download Festival 2010 Review : Saturday in the Park
Download Festival Review 2010 : Saturday in the Park
It's an annual 'Stinkfest' if you're not careful after three to five days living on a campsite in the summertime.
Saturday morning saw me heading for the shower units which of course were about a mile from our tents in 'Orange' Camp.
No en-suite luxuries here but thankfully at eight in the morning there were no queues. It did take three or four attempts to find a shower with enough water pouring out to make the grade.
To be fair they are not bad facilities and even have hair dryers and straighteners. So for a small fee the ladies, and laddies even, can start the day freshened up and salon-styled. Others just stay unclean but at least they keep the flies away from the rest of us. The more practical use moistened baby-wipes if they can't be bothered walking all the way to the showers. After tearing my hair to shreds trying to untangle the mess it was in I headed for 'Red' Camp and said good morning to some friends.
Amazingly the mobile worked without fail and my friend gave me directions over the phone. In my past experience mobiles let you down at these festivals just at a time when you want them the most. But now I was ready for an early start as the first bands were on at 11am today. I had a breakfast of my emergency supplies of tinned rice pudding which are one of the essentials for the dietary intake of the camping community. Not only tasty and filling but also energy-providing. Apparently, so I'm told, rice pudding, crisps and beer are all you need to survive a festival.
First music for me today was Godsized, a band from Croydon, England which surprised me I must admit as they sounded so American. I was impressed with their music on Youtube during the week not to mention their tremendous beards.
They played tunes such as 'Head Heavy' and 'Brothers in Arms'. I was not disappointed as they were one of the best acts of the weekend for me and certainly one of the best I saw on the smaller stages.
If you enjoy bands like Clutch, Black Stone Cherry or especially Black Label Society then you'll probably like Godsized. Singer Glen Korner's voice boomed around the marquee to tremendous effect adding weight to their already colossal music. A great performance.
But things were about to get even heavier as this day was devoted in large part to Thrash Metal bands. Despite a good nights sleep and invigorating shower confusion still reigned between my ears as I walked to the Main Stage. A friend had sent a text to say how much he had enjoyed Godsized and I replied by asking "Have Hell Yeah cancelled? They should have been on now on Main Stage?" to which he replied "On now mate" to my astonishment. Looking at the big screens from afar I had mistook singer Chad Grey for the frontman Chris Babbitt of the Las Vegas band Taking Dawn who had just preceeded them. Of course they look nothing like each other.
Godsized : Head Heavy
So I rushed over and caught the rest of Hell Yeah before their paltry 25 minutes were up.
It's great having so many bands over one weekend, there are over 100 during the three days, but sometimes you wish the sets weren't so short.
I really like Hell Yeah but they have played twice at Donington now and both times at lunchtime on the Main Stage.
I think I would prefer to see them on a smaller stage further up the bill where they would be allotted more time.
They blasted through half-a-dozen tracks including two new tunes 'Cowboy Way' and 'Stampede' plus the superb 'You Wouldn't Know' which remains my favourite. Hopefully we'll get to see more of Vinnie Paul and the band in the near future.
It was time for lunch for me and this time treated myself to a tasty baguette of carvery pork with sage and onion topped off with apple sauce. Washed down with pear cider I could at least claim to be getting my daily fruit allowance.
Hell Yeah : You Wouldn't Know
The confusion continued but not for anything to do with me.
The next band were due to be Texans Flyleaf but the band onstage had a huge banner with the letter 'A' under a graphic.
I knew a band called 'A' but I'm sure they're English and listening to the singer speaking it was obvious his English came from over the Atlantic.
As it turned out they were Atreyu, who were due to appear after Flyleaf but for some reason they were swapped around.
As it was Atreyu weren't bad without being anything memorable. Straightforward Thrash Metal played loud and hard.
I stayed on for Flyleaf who were excellent with bassist Pat Seals leaping around right from the start and standing atop the fence leaning into the crowd at the front. Petite singer Lacey Mosely was beautiful and I appreciate the sound of a genteel female voice contrasting with the crash of electric guitars. But she can produce a rasping scream from her throat too in order to add some dramatic effect.
Their final two songs 'Swept Away' and 'I'm So Sick' were superb. Pretty cool for a Christian Rock band although to be fair they don't wear it on their sleeve as they are musicians and artistes first and foremost. They were a pleasant surprise and should go on to even bigger things as they have been building a steady momentum with album sales and US chart positions.
Flyleaf : I'm So Sick
The great stage invasion
Out of curiosity I went to the 3rd Stage to see the Genitorturers, famous for their cover version of ‘I Touch Myself' by Divinyls.
Apparently their stage act is a pervy paradise so in the name of objective research I went to see for myself.
I wish I hadn't bothered as after three songs it was apparent that they were mediocre.
And even the sight of two bikini-clad female dancers wearing devil masks and pouring Jack Daniels over their semi-naked bodies couldn't convince me that this was worth missing Five Finger Death Punch in the Main Arena.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing and I should have stuck with the Main Stage as Five Finger Death Punch were excellent. From a distance the pugnacious features of singer Ivan Moody on the big screen wearing a bright red shirt reminded me of English football player Wayne Rooney. This reminded me that the World Cup had started yesterday which reminded me that England were playing the USA. This was reinforced by the site of the occasional stars and stripes fluttering on the back of men wearing kilts. The Scots in the crowd had clearly staked their allegiances, as if I didn't need reminding.
Back onstage bedlam had erupted as Ivan had invited fans to crowd-surf and come over the fence to shake his hand. About one hundred or more friendly and sociable folk did so during 'Dying Breed' until security broke it up and the sound was cut-off. After a brief negotiation the band were allowed one more song, 'The Bleeding', as long as the fans returned to the pit. It was disappointing that Five Finger Death Punch had their set cut short but I suppose they were lucky. A similar stunt by Biohazard in 1994 got them kicked off stage and driven off the site altogether.
Headbangers and mash
Onto the mobile phones again to find out what was going on elsewhere and I reluctantly joined some friends back at the 3rd Stage.
On the way I passed the official Download lovelies milling around on stilts who were posing for photographs as they towered over the fans.
I say reluctantly because next up were Rock Sugar whom I had no intention of offering up my eardrums for extended punishment.
But I had fifteen minutes to kill before Lamb of God appeared on the Main Stage.
I stayed for three songs of their mash-up style of classic covers, namely 'Don't Stop Believin' played with excerpts from 'Enter Sandman', Rick Springfield's 'Jessie's Girl' with snatches of Ozzy's 'Crazy Train' and then worst of all 'Straight Up' by Paula Abdul interspersed with 'Detroit Rock City'. I'd had enough and could hear rumblings from the Main Stage
But then that's just my opinion as they were hugely popular playing out to a packed tent full of enthusiastic party animals entertained by the charismatic frontman Jess Harnell. So who am I to argue?
Lamb of God with a bombardment of incoming
The Circle of Hell
I have listened to much of Lamb of God and must admit to finding them hard to take on disc in the comfort of my own home.
But onstage they are a different proposition although I still find the singing of Randy Blythe difficult since it is constant growl and scream without the softer relief of melodic interludes of the likes of Killswitch Engage.
Mind you, the latter have been called the Def Leppard of the metalcore scene so maybe I'm just a whining Emo with absolutely no bearings on the matter.
Lamb of God were loud and ferocious. They assaulted the massive crowd with an uncompromising fifty minutes of an ear-bleeding, earth-shattering metal onslaught. Tracks with macabre titles like 'Walk With Me in Hell' and 'Now You've Got Something to Die For' had the moshpits whirling like tornadoes. Randy even attempted to organise the biggest crowd circle on record but I can't confirm if he managed it.
These guys are loud and they were extremely heavy. From 'The Passing' at the start to their closer 'Black Label' they were relentless. I'm sure that some guy mentioned to me that at a previous concert the noise was so great his trousers were flapping. I wouldn't say I'm now a convert but it was an awesome performance which I really enjoyed and I'm glad I wore shorts.
Lamb of God : Now You've Got Something to Die For
Need for speed
It's indicative of how hardcore the extreme side of rock music has become that Megadeth seemed benign in comparison. But that's purely relative as the speed-metal legends led by Dave Mustaine played a terrific gig.
Sporting probably the best hairdo of the weekend he was coolness personified, saying little and playing much as the band tore through their greatest hits such as 'In My Darkest Hour', 'Symphony of Destruction' and tracks from their classic album 'Rust in Peace' which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. I can't believe it's been that long since we first heard songs like 'Holy Wars', 'Hangar 18', 'Poison Was the Cure' and 'Tornado of Souls'.
After the explosive intro of 'Dialectic Chaos' Dave's singing on 'Wake Up Dead' struggled a little with the high squeals required of his youth back in the eighties but the guy has class. He is unlike many more verbose singers who routinely accuse the crowd of having unnatural relationships with their mothers.
He kept it fairly clean and clinical just like his guitar playing along with Chris Broderick as they gave a masterclass burning up those strings and wrenching out fantastic solos. They ended with the brilliant 'Peace Sells' before saying goodbye to the respectful masses.
Interview with Dave Mustaine
I had missed Enuff Z'Nuff for Megadeth and I had another painful decision to make next as Y&T were returning to Donington for the first time since way back in 1984 I believe.
I love Y&T and have seen Dave Meniketti and the lads four times over the years. Earthshaker is one of my all-time favourite albums.
But they clashed with the Deftones and since I had never seen them before I felt it was time to put that right. This time there were no regrets as I enjoyed their show immensely. After a slightly shaky start on 'Rocket Skates' singer Chino Moreno found his vocal feet and embarked on a cracking performance mixing downbeat and haunting passages with frenetic bursts of scream.
Bassist Sergio Vega looked like he was truly revelling in being there as he seemed to be smiling through most of the show in between providing excellent backing vocals and bass to their songs. I must admit that the Deftones are opposite to Lamb of God in that I feel their style of music is better suited to the studio than live on stage.
But I wouldn't want to overstate that qualification as they were tremendous value with tunes like 'Feticeira', 'My Own Summer' and 'Passenger' among others. My standout track was 'Change(In the House of Flies)' and my only real complaint was the omission of 'Minerva' as it's one of my favourite tunes.
Zack de la Rocha
Welcome to the Machine
There are not many superlatives I can offer that would do justice to the Saturday night headliners at Donington this year.
But after raiding the online thesaurus I would contend that Rage Against the Machine were mind-blowing, staggering, stupefying and utterly brilliant.
I had never seen them before and the intensity and passion of the band blew me away along with the tens of thousands caught up in their spell. They opened with 'Testify' and 'Bombtrack' and never let up the action.
Zack de la Rocha was a human dynamo as he bounced from one end of the stage to the other and has lost none of his passion or compassion as he spoke out about events in Palestine.
You know there's always going to be a political edge to their concerts.This was halfway through their set when they sang the excellent 'Bullet in the Head' which had followed a cover version of 'White Riot' by The Clash.
Of course the gig could not go past without mention of the famous Facebook internet campaign that got them to number one in the singles-charts in the UK last Christmas. Zack railed against pop culture and thanked the fans for coming together and making a statement for Rock and against manufactured music.
With the inventive guitar of Tom Moreno and angry rap of de la Rocha it made for an exciting hour and a half. So exciting that during 'People of the Sun' the gig had to be halted for three or four minutes to let the crowd calm down.
Not forgetting the excellent contribution from Tim Commerford with a unique bass sound and important backing vocals. Plus on drums Brad Wilk hammered out the relentless beat on a fevered Saturday night. Rage Against the Machine were a powerhouse full of fervour, revolution and some downright phenomenal music. Needless to say they reserved the finale for 'Killing in the Name' which saw the crowd leave the arena on a complete high.
Rage Against the Machine : Killing in the Name (Explicit)
So it was time for the old long walk again back to Orange Camp where a few beers had my buzz up and in no mood for retiring. It helped when we heard that the USA had held the England team to a 1-1 draw. But our party were all in their kip by 1am so I contacted my friend in Red Camp again and invited myself over.
In the night air the smoky aroma of nocturnal barbecues mingled with that of the open-air urinals and freshly trampled grass, or freshly smoked even. On my way I could hear the hubbub of conversation and music as people chilled out after the days events. Once there I kindly removed a couple of cans of booze from my friends while a group of us sat until 3am chatting.
It was a cold night as the temperature had plummeted quickly along with the sun. I helped in keeping the fire going by constantly tearing strips of cardboard from discarded beer boxes. But it's easy to forget that these have a thin plastic coating and the fumes don't make you all that popular with the neighbours. But this is camping and people are willing to put up with a lot of sights, sounds, smells and overall discomfort. We would find out how much tomorrow.
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