Download Festival is the spiritual home of rock and metal. The varied headliners this year ensured there was something for everyone. We’ve already covered the festival in our general review (check it out here) but now we delve into the bands on offer across the three days!
Everyone is severely hungover and majorly sleep deprived, however, there is still a great turnout for 11am on Sunday morning as Fozzy take to the main stage! There’s Alter Bridge vibes in terms of the overall sound to the band and Chris Jericho puts on a great show as frontman, even walking along the barrier to hi-five the crowd and pose for the odd selfie! He thanks the crowd for helping latest single Judas reach 5 million views and during Lights we get fire dancers, although this would have been more effective for one of the tent stages or for later in the evening with less sun. Closing out with Enemy, the wrestling fans in the crowd are more than delighted with being told that we made the list!
Blood Youth are a band I first caught in 2015 and thought they were brilliant, however, I was pleasantly surprised to see that they had somehow managed to become even better! I won’t say they were perfect, because there’s always room for improvement in anything, however, they provided a set that was all you could want, they were loud, heavy and ironically ended with Reason To Stay. Sadly, they didn’t stay for an extended set but they put on a brilliant show, one that I’m sure anyone who witnessed them would agree that they would watch again and again.
I’ve been trying to see Dead! For a couple of years now and sadly always managing to miss them for some reason or other but I finally got to catch part of their set and now fully understand the hype surrounding them! Opening with Something More Original, the tent wasn’t as full as it should have been, however, by the time they played new song Jessica, the tent was a lot fuller with the crowd enjoying the energy.
Sometimes waiting to see a band allows you to find some new talent you may not have seen otherwise, this was the case as I headed to the Dogtooth Stage to wait for Like A Storm, before them, Aaron Buchanan & the Cult Classics took to the stage. Aaron must have graduated from the Freddy Mercury school of showmanship with an A*! You just couldn’t take your eyes off him (though the suit certainly helped with that too!) A band that I admittedly hadn’t heard of but I was enthralled and definitely left a fan! There was even a nod to Heavens Basement with a rendition of Heartbreaking Son Of A Bitch ending with Aaron crowdsurfing. He even chucked out a few cans of beer to the crowd and shook hands with everyone in the front row!
Crashing on to the stage at 5pm, Steel Panther ensure that no-one in the crowd can escape Michael Starr’s soaring vocals and frankly filthy lyrics. As he later tells the crowd himself: if you’ve brought a kid to a Steel Panther show, you’ve fucked up. Most of the crowd, though, know exactly what they’re getting into and it’s exactly why they’re there. Even songs Poontang Boomerang and Goin’ in the Backdoor from new album Lower the Bar produce an impressive level of crowd participation. As usual a chunk of the set is given over to the band’s banterous stage presence and personas; fans would have been pleased to see Lexxi’s mirror making many an appearance. Nearing the conclusion of their set, the glam rockers launch into 17 Girls in a Row, and anyone who has seen Steel Panther before knows what is coming. Dozens upon dozens of girls (the most I’ve seen to date at a Steel Panther show) are crowd-surfed to the front where they run on stage to join the band – including yours truly. The girls stay on the stage through Gloryhole and then file back down the stairs to re-join the crowd for Party All Day. Steel Panther truly never disappoint and my only criticism would be that they would have benefitted from a longer set!
A band that I’ve seen a couple of times before and never get tired of are Like A Storm. The New Zealand via Canada and the US quartet open with the customary didgeridoo solo before launching into Chaos. They are playing on the same stage that they opened on the Sunday of Download 2015, although this time, sub-headlining and the crowd are loving every second of it. There are a couple of New Zealand flags in the crowd, one of which, vocalist/guitarist/didgeridooist Chris Brooks parades around the photo pit following closing track and staple single Love The Way You Hate Me. There’s a first UK play of latest single Pure Evil and quite frankly for their second Download appearance, they’ve yet again put on another brilliant show and for me were another one of the stand-out sets!
One of the funniest things about Moose Blood’s set was the constant waves of crowd surfers meaning that there was an actual conveyor belt of security to escort them out, like a literal conveyor belt! It was something to watch! Performance wise, Moose Blood were on form, combining crowd interaction with their emo hits.
Slayer take to the Zippo Encore Stage to close out proceedings there. They put on a great set and the crowd are loving it as riff upon riff get thrown in their faces during tracks like Mandatory Suicide and Fight Till Death. For a band as legendary as they are, they sure put on a great performance, cementing their status.
The Dillinger Escape Plan closed out the Avalanche Stage to a busy tent, getting involved in the camaraderie that was to ensue. Kicking straight in with Prancer they don’t mess around, powering through track after track, hit after hit, at times, the acoustics in the tent seemed slightly off, however, everyone truly enjoyed what was most likely to be the last time that we can ever see Dillinger.
Everyone descended onto main stage, creating a sea of people from the barrier all the way up the hill as it was time for Aerosmith to close out the show. Keeping us waiting though, we are treated to a montage of some of the key moments in the band’s 44 year career to the tune of what is now associated with The X Factor. As Aerosmith make their entrance, the crowd are slightly disappointed at the big screens not showing the band, although it does make those of us too far back to see appreciate the music more. It’s just one big sing-a-long through hits including Crying, Love Is An Elevator and Janie’s Got A Gun and it’s insane to think that a band close to their 70s can still put on a show this good, but they did and it’s safe to say that Aerosmith still have it and could well and truly go on for years to come should they wish! A brilliant way to end the night and the weekend!