Download Festival 2015 Review
Exposed ventured to Donington to check out metal and rock festival Download.
Download 2012 went down in history as the legendary ‘Brownload’, a weekend full of pouring rain and tough sludge. So, Download 2015, or should we say Brownload part 2? 2015 was certainly a close contender to its predecessor, with many flooded tents, ruined shoes and soggy clothes. The rain clearly didn’t bother the majority of Downloaders, who were still adamant on having a good time. Well, when life gives you lemons and all that…
Kicking things off on the main stage on Friday were All That Remains, who had the very difficult job of opening the legendary festival. The band has been off the radar a little since their third album The Fall of Ideals which reached mainstream success. The set was certainly loud enough to wake people out of their hangover-induced haze, but was overall a little underwhelming.
After a couple of bevvies and a bite to eat, it was back to the main stage to check out American metal band Five Finger Death Punch. The band has played Download Festival a couple of times in the past and has done plenty of gigging in the UK, supporting Avenged Sevenfold in late 2013. The set was definitely energetic, and finally managed to rouse the crowd into festivities, prompting plenty of moshing and sing-a-longs. Halfway through the set, they bring on stage three very excited kiddies who they spot in the crowd, who join them on stage for the remainder of the set. Aw.
With black clouds descending, it was time to head over to the third stage, which was nicely situated under a tent. On the bill were Dragonforce, who honestly delivered a fairly dull performance. It’s undisputed that they are incredible musicians and Herman Li is one of the most skilled guitarists I’ve ever seen perform. However, song after song of super-fast guitar playing does begin to give you a headache. As impressive as it is, doesn’t always sound great. Their saving grace was the moment they were joined on stage by Japanese metal band Baby Metal, who was a surprise to the festival goers, who went crazy as the three girls came out. Dancing and singing away, the girls ignited that much-needed energy into the crowd.
Following Dragonforce, were British rockers Fightstar who have only recently come back from a hiatus. You may recognise the frontman Charlie Simpson from pop-punk group Busted (yes, he’s the one with the eyebrows), but he is certainly in his element when rocking out with his Fightstar bandmates. Opening the set with their hit Paint Your Target, the energy shift was incredible. With 2015 being their first Download appearance in five years, the pressure was certainly on to live up to expectation. Relying on their heavier material certainly works out in the bands favour, and the sound echoing through the tent was truly incredible. Outside, the rain began to pour, and Charlie Simpsons echoing vocals provided the perfect commentary to the bittersweet feelings of the crowd. Overall, Fightstar absolutely nailed it.
Time for Friday’s headliners, the incredible masked-metal beasts Slipknot. There is always an air of anticipation whenever Slipknot are set to perform, their live sets, particularly those at Donington, have been legendary and reminisced about years later. However, with Slipknot having only headlined Download two years ago in 2013, the air of anticipation felt a little flat. As Slipknot came out, of course the crowd went crazy for the most infamous Download headliner of all time. The performance was good, as to be expected, but you couldn’t help but be a little disappointed with the amount of songs performed from their new album The Gray Chapter. The album received mixed reviews after being criticised for sounding too similar to frontman Corey Taylor’s other band Stone Sour. The rain was also really coming down heavily, which dampened the spirits of some festival-goers considerably, with many leaving before the set had even ended. Plus, Corey’s consistent announcements of ‘We’re going to make history tonight’ and then just playing another song, was a little annoying.
So, Saturday. After a night full of rain, the whole arena had turned into a bit of a muddy mess, which had clearly taken some festival-goers by surprise as they attempted to trudge through the thick sludge in some old converse. The stages were fairly empty early on in the day, which was a shame due to the line-up of very popular bands on the main stage.
Heading over to the main stage in the afternoon was the rain had calmed down a bit, it was off to see Hollywood Undead. The masked American rap group played a mixture of old and new hits, with old hits from their first album Swan Songs going down a treat. For a band on so early on such a wet day, they certainly got the crowd going. Personally, their liberal use of the term ‘queer c***’ and ‘faggot’ grew tiresome, and showed a lot of immaturity from the band as a whole.
Later in the day was A Day to Remember, who were on just before rock veterans Faith No More. Belting out hit after hit, the band went down really well with the crowd, with everyone singing along to tracks such as All I Want and The Downfall of Us All. However, it could not go unnoticed that frontman Jeremy McKinnon was a bit behind on his vocals, but it didn’t compromise the overall fun of the set.
Going over to the second stage in the evening to catch Marilyn Manson, who was headlining. Manson’s 2009 stint at Download made sure everyone left talking about him, mostly for being booed off after slurring his way through a couple of hits. Props to him for having the balls to return and he certainly came back with one helluva set. His latest album The Pale Emperor (one of his best to date) was greeted to screams from the crowd, and his classic hits such as The Beautiful People and Mobscene going down a treat.
The rain unluckily continued into Sunday, but spirits were still high. Over on the third stage was Sundays surprise act, The Darkness. Greeted to one of the biggest cheers I’d heard all weekend The Darkness delivered an excellent set full of energy and a cool Viking theme. Although no longer abundant with mainstream success like when I Believe in a Thing Called Love came out, the band are certainly legendary performers.
Headlining the second stage on the final day was British synth rock band Enter Shikari. Shikari have built a reputation over the years as being an incredible live band, so expectations were certainly high. The band came out to The Appeal and The Mindsweep I, greeted to screams from the crowd before going straight into their hit Destabilise. The amazing light show really enhanced the bands flawless performance, as they belted through hit after hit and kept the crowd moving with groovy interludes on Rou’s Kaoss Pad. It was hard to believe that Rou had been hospitalised only the day before, given the incredible performance the band gave. Finishing on their latest single Anaesthetist the band proved themselves as worthy second stage headliners and ended up as one of the most entertaining bands all weekend.
For more about Download Festival, head to http://downloadfestival.co.uk/