A much enhanced lineup greeted us at the start of Download Day 2, as a matter of fact so did a cute radio presenter for Download FM who interviewed us for our respected thoughts (although she was drawn to us mainly because we had beer in hand at 11:30am!). After spreading the words of the DiR.net crew to the listening public we managed to get to our main stage destination for the first band of the day.
Taking Dawn were exactly what was required to start the day. A bunch of mega-enthusiastic rockers who are obsessed with hard rock and glam metal without any of the stupid hairstyles.
Their metal infused take on Gn’R era hard rock was bright, upbeat and on the whole massively enjoyable. They played their instruments precisely with more than few catchy riffs and flashy solos, not forgetting to throw in plenty of vocal hooks and melodies to get the uninitiated singing along. The lead singers enthusiasm was unrivalled as he shouted…
“I’m coming to get the whoever goes the craziest during this next song”
True to his word he launched himself off stage and bounded over the barriers right into the midst of the ever growing crowd. Amazingly he was still playing his guitar as he ramrodded through towards the lucky one. This was a great little set which I really enjoyed and as we wandered off for the next band, we could only see the singers legs as he crowd surfed back towards the stage
For something completely different we headed to the Red Bull Bedroom Jam stage to witness one of the oddities of the weekend. The Urban Voodoo Machine are kinda like a Nashville folky-blues band who wear quirky costumes that decided to hire some circus acts to be in the band. Every member seemed to have a role/character to play which gave them a real extra appeal. Their visuals were great, from the sharp suited gravel toned singer to the green ogre drummer and a gyrating Moroccan cymbal playing dancer who was wearing very little. Sonically they were pretty catchy too with their multi instrumentalists, acoustic backbone and dual drummers (who loved to jump about on their stools)! A highly effective act for a short set which brightened up an already scorching morning!
The Urban Voodoo Machine
After a last minute alteration to the schedule we were left standing in front of Atreyu. Now not being the greatest fan of theirs I was greatly surprised to hear they sounded a great deal more impressive live. Their metal grooves were mostly melodic and were surprisingly accessible. Vocals weren’t the greatest, but none of the piercing screams from the record made an airing this afternoon. Much of their set was packed with great singles like the classic rocker Blow, emo-ish Bleeding Mascara and the rip roaring pop metal of Ex’s & Ohs. Atreyu were a real surprise package of my weekend.
We grabbed some lunch and decided to perch ourselves on the hill to see whether Flyleaf would actually play today given their missed slot. However, you put together Beer + Sun + Food and inevitably it = Sleep. Arising, slightly sun-dazed from a nice nap we saw something which resembles the Flyleaf singers back as she waltzed off stage. Never mind hey!
Rejuvenated we dived into the shade of the Pepsi Max stage to see whats on. The Genitorturers need no introduction. tight Dominatrix style leather catsuits, over the top make-up, S&M mentality, & punk rock music. Their most attention grabbing quality was their appearance, musically it was pretty average no brainer loudness.
We Are The Fallen
We Are The Fallen were created by Evanescence’s guitar duo so that already tells you alot about their sound. Gothic styled hard rock with female vocals and middle of the road poppy rock offerings. It was enjoyable but not breathtaking as lead singer Carly Smithson (6th in Pop Idol USA season 7) did well to hit some rather high notes. However our next Female Vocalist literally blew her out of the water!
The third female fronted rockers in a row were by far the most impressive. Halestorm played good ol fashioned power chords and rang out plenty of hugely catchy and melodic hard rock with a pop heart. Their strikingly beautiful lead singer had the attention of all the men in the tent even before she opened her mouth or slung a guitar over her shoulder. Her voice was one of the most powerful things I’ve heard! She had the perfect rock voice which flitted back and forth from angelic to demonic in the blink of an eye, rasping high notes and blasting lows were by far their main attraction. Given they had a superb array of damn catchy tunes like I Get Off, I’m Not An Angel & Bet You Wish You Had Me Back, leaves not doubt in my mind they were one of the finds of the festival!
Megadeth were up on main stage and it was great to see one of thrash metals long standing behemoths doing what they do best. They played very tight and threw in a few of their classic tunes to the rapture of the crowd such as Sweating Bullets, Hangar 18, Rust In Peace & Symphony Of Destruction. This was a lesson from the old school that metal is still alive, and judging from the amount of hair flailing around near the multiple mosh pits i can safely say this was very well received.
We departed the main stage to head for some cheesy 80’s reviver’s Y&T. They was exactly as advertised, plenty of melodic guitar lines, flashy solo’s, pop rock chorus’ and wrinkling skin. Yet they seemed to be having such a great time it was hard to fault their performance!
Sub-headliners Deftones I have come to realise are not my thing. Here in the huge outdoor spaces their alternative-metal was drab which lacked energy with most of the crowd appreciating as opposed to enjoying. I was not on their page tonight which is a shame as I’ve only heard good things, yet i found it a bland set to sit through.
Now we find ourselves in an almighty tussle for position as the people hurdle, push, smash and steal their way to get a better view of tonight’s headliners who are on their UK Victory Lap, after sensationally scooping the Christmas #1 slot after the public led campaign to oust Simon Cowellites from the top spot. Rage Against The Machine kicked straight into Testify as anarchy reigned in the crowd as the once still mass of people around us, went absolutely mental! Leaping around, as it turns out is best way to get in the Rage groove (plus you get a decent view for half the time). With each song bringing a heaving bomb of alternative rock with humongous riffs and instantly recognisable melodies it was easy to see why these guys are so popular.
Rage Against The Machine
In fact the second tune of the set Bombtrack had to be halted. As worried fans and security guards looked on it was apparent not all was well! Suddenly after a considerable silence band front man Zach de la Rocha asked the crowd to take 2 big steps back, as it was getting increasingly dangerous down the front. We all took his instruction and we continued…only a little further away.
Zach de la Rocha
With a classic band on stage it is very hard to fault, Zachs raps were spot on and guitar legend Tom Morello was on top form. Tom’s array of special effects pedals and engineered sounds drawn out from his guitar were mesmerising. I especially liked his playing of the strings behind the nut and also playing with an iron nail showing that it’s not what you do, it’s how you do it! This masterclass in slow riffs and the ability to mutate his instrument to suit his needs was brilliant, there is none more creative or versatile an axe man playing today.
A few more classic tracks (the Led Zeppy Wake Up, riff-mungus Bulls On Parade, funk laced Guerrilla Radio) a superb clash cover (White Riot) and a couple of political preaches (Israel’s Gaza blockade being the topic of these rants) later we all waited
Sure enough it came and passed. Not without rocking this field of baying fans with an outburst of stomping drums, huge bass, precise guitars and plenty of “F**K you I won’t do what you tell Me’s…” A fitting end to a cracking day!