When you attend a festival, everyone wants to see different acts. For those who are undecided, or who are going in with an entirely open schedule, this article has a few recommendations that might sway you and lead you to what could be the best performances of the weekend at the Download Festival 2011.
Fresh off the astounding third album that is AB III, Myles Kennedy and friends return to Donington Park for their first appearance since 2008. Given much more senior billing this time round, Alter Bridge will have a full hour to show off their style of hard rock which definitely belongs on a grand stage such as Donington. Look out for such AB classics as Brand New Start, Metallingus, Ghost Of Days Gone By and Open Your Eyes. Their sound is so broad ranging most people at the festival will find something to enjoy about Alter Bridge.
Where: Main Stage, 3rd Headliners (6pm)
Children of Bodom:
“We are Children of Bodom and we come from f***ing Finland!” is frontman Alex Laiho’s greeting on the Children of Bodom live album Tokyo Warhearts. It is this attitude and aggression that is put into all theur live performances that make CoB such a good live watch. Arguably the most “proper metal” band on the entire festival line-up, Bodom will shred your ears off with tracks such as Sixpounder, Tie My Rope, In Your Face and the hugely popular Downfall. Horns aplenty for sure.
Where: Second Stage (5:15pm)
Times of Grace:
The reunion between Killswitch Engage guitarist Adam D and original frontman Jesse Leach has received much publicity this year after the release of the titanic debut album The Hymn of a Broken Man and they bring Times of Grace to the UK festival scene for the first time, much to the delight of Killswitch fans and new admirers alike. With a sound that is fresher than anything KSE have put out in years and an album of varying styles, Times of Grace have the potential to be absolutely massive, so don’t pass up the opportunity to catch them for the first time in a small location.
Where: Pepsi Max Stage (7:50pm)
Bowling For Soup:
The ultimate party band and a band who seem like they were born for sunny festival afternoons, the Texan pop punkers return to Download for the first time since 2007 (sans the giant sheep) for a set full of fun, humourous songs. Banter aplenty is guaranteed, as well as some new tracks from their newest (and possibly best) album Fishin For Woos. Enormous singalongs are guaranteed for the entire set. My must see recommendation for Sunday, do not miss BFS.
Where: Main Stage (2pm)
Personally only attending the Friday of this years’ festival, if there is one band I’m annoyed about missing more than any other, it is Avenged Sevenfold. A band who were on the brink after the death of Jimmy Sullivan (aka The Rev) came storming back with one of the albums of 2010 in Nightmare which has catapulted them to the next level, A7X seem the most likely of all the younger generation of metal bands to make it to festival headline status within the next few years. They fully have the potential to blow the returning System of a Down (who are on after them) off the stage. M Shadows is one of the best frontmen currently going, and watch out for new drummer Arin Ilejay and Axeman Synester Gates trademark shred-a-thons
Where: Main Stage, 2nd headliners (7:15pm)
Mr Zombie returned to the UK earlier this year for the first time in 16 years, bringing his full stage show to sold out venues across the country. Little wonder then that the anticipation is high for what he has promised to be his biggest stage production ever when he closes Download 2011 as headliner of the second stage. Expect all manner of surprises while Rob and his band (including Slipknot’s Joey Jordison and John 5) tear through some quality Zombie tracks (and one or two White Zombie numbers too). A surefire great way to end the festival if Linkin Park are not your thing.
Where: 2nd Stage Headliner (8:50pm)
Linkin Park are a band currently dividing a large amount of their fan base, with the direction of last album A Thousand Suns not exactly thrilling the majority of their long time supporters. Something that was evident in their show at the O2 Arena last November when pretty much every song was greeted rapturously except anything from the new album (Wretches and Kings and The Catalyst being exceptions). As a result, there could be one or two lulls in the LP set, but they are still tremendous live performers and all the classics will have Download bouncing in a fitting way to close the festival. Whether they return in the future will likely depend on the bands musical direction past this point.
Where: Main Stage Headliner (9.05pm)
The award for band least expected to be on the bill this year must fall to GWAR, American costume wearing blood and gore metal crew. Many of the Download audience won’t know whats hit them when Oderus and co take the stage, but it promises to be one of the must see events of the weekend – you’ve never seen hardcore laced thrash look quite like this!
Where: Second Stage (3:20pm)
Finally getting the recognition that their live act had deserved for at least two years, things have never been as good for Skindred as they are at the moment. Their biggest UK tour to date, coupled with the critical and fan acclaim of new album Union Black sees Skindred higher up the bill at a UK festival than ever before. Frontman Benji Webb could get a stone to bounce to their music with his stage presence and charisma, and they are another band made for festival good times. Except a wide mix of songs including new belter “Warning” from Union Black and the always popular Pressure, Stand For Something and Nobody, don’t miss the world’s only Ragga Metal band.
Where: Main Stage (2pm)
The last band on this list simply had to be The Darkness, because you really don’t know what’s going to happen when The Hawkins Brothers and co take to the main stage on Friday night. Having returned from a multi-year hiatus, this could be a triumphant return, car crash TV, or anywhere in between. My only gripe is that they’re on at the same time as both Times of Grace and KoRn, two of the festivals other most watchable bands, so wherever you are at about 8pm you’ll be having a good time. Expect Catsuits, Spandex and I Believe In A Thing Called Love, anything else, you’ll have to turn up and see.
Where: Main Stage, 2nd Headliners (7:20pm)
Honourable mentions: Down, Thin Lizzy, System Of A Down, Def Leppard, Evile, Rise To Remain, Biohazard