After all the build up, the band announcements, the hype, the anxious constant monitoring of the ever unpredictable British weather and worst of all the waiting, the eleventh annual Download Festival at Donington Park was finally upon us. Even before the bands had begun to play at 2013’s installment of the festival plenty had transpired. Those present in the campsite on Thursday afternoon endured what will go down as probably the worst single bout of weather recorded since the Download Festival began, with thunder, lightning and rain so heavy it flooded tents and punctured holes in even the most sturdy of sanctuary providing gazebos.
But it wasn’t all doom and gloom! BBQ’s were had, much alcohol was consumed, fairground rides were ridden, GraVil headlined the annual boardie night in the music tent in the village on Thursday night plus other shenanigans too numerous to mention.
Back to Friday and the duty of kicking off the main stage at Download 2013 fell to the UK’s own Rise To Remain (7). Having been pulled from the line-up twelve months previously due to the weather rendering the front of the arena a swamp in 2012, fears of similar events proved unfounded and Rise To Remain took to the stage eager to make up for the year long delay.
The fact that this was only the band’s second show in ten months was not evident at all as they played very well with Austin Dickinson conducting the crowd in a manner that far more experienced frontmen would struggle with. Rise To Remain may only have one album but songs from that album went down very well with the impressively sized crowd, who had turned up in their thousands for an early dose of UK metal. Of the songs on offer, Power Through Fear and The Serpent proved particularly impressive and popular with those in attendance. With a short and sweet set, Rise To Remain begun Download 2013 in a very entertaining fashion, and leaves many eagerly awaiting album number two, due later this year. Rocksins caught up with Rise frontman Austin Dickinson and bassist Conor O’Keefe after their performance for a chat, which you can read here on Rocksins in the very near future.
Rise To Remain’s Download 2013 Setlist was:
Power Through Fear
Over and Over (new song)
Bridges Will Burn
Rocksins next headed to The Pepsi Max Stage, where Hang The Bastard (9) were appearing. To say the North-West London natives seized their chance to pull off a potentially career changing performance was an understatement. The guitar work was monstrous and imposing, with innumerable riffs courtesy of Sam Rice and Sina Nemati that incited the ever swelling crowd into a frenzy. The drum work of Simon Grubb was executed with metronomic precision and the ferocity of a charging rhinoceros and the duel vocal assault of Tomas Hubbard and bassist Joe Nally makes for a truly potent force in the current UK metal scene.
There was a healthy crowd at the Pepsi Max Stage when Hang The Bastard began their set, but the numbers swelled with every song that passed. By the end of the show the crowd were spilling out of the sides of the tent. The likes of the superb Rivers Edge and the set closing Sweet Mother sparked bedlam and circle pits throughout the tent (particularly when Tomas decided to come down to the barrier to get up close and personal with the fans). In the process of half an hour Hang The Bastard made themselves one of THE UK metal bands to watch for the rest of 2013 and beyond. Absolutely spectacular.
We only managed to catch a couple of songs of the always impressive Down’s set, but what we saw was very good, including a run through the storming Witchtripper, so what we saw was worth at least a 7 (and we’re sure it would have been more had we seen all of Mr Anselmo and co’s performance). Rocksins did have the honour of spending some time with Mr Jimmy Bower of Down and Eyehategod, which is another interview you’ll be able to read here very soon!
With Brian “Head” Welch back on board, KoRn (7) seemed like they were going to mean serioud business, a fact that was confirmed when they opened their performance with their mega hit “Blind”. Seeing Head back on stage with Jonathan Davis, Munky and Fieldy gave the expected extra edge to the performance, with KoRn playing songs from all across their two decades in the business. The newer material such as Narcisstic Cannibal and Wake Up from the dubstep inspired The Path Of Totality seemed right at home alongside the likes of Somebody Someone and Here To Stay and the hour long set was brought to a close with a thumping rendition of Freak On A Leash. KoRn are a Download “go to” band and on this level of consistent performance it’s very easy to see why they are invited back time and again.
Another Download staple act are Welsh metallers Bullet For My Valentine (5), who were appearing in the “direct support slot” at Donington for the second time, having previously done the honours for Linkin Park back in 2011. Their new album Temper Temper has been almost universally panned by critics and fans alike, so it was going to be interesting to see how this might influence their performance at Download 2013.
This felt like a performance were nothing went in Bullet’s favour; Matt Tuck, who isn’t the most consistent of frontmen vocally but who has always performed admirably at Download in the past, did not have a good evening as his voice sounded patchy at best. The sound was not particularly good, with a couple of the guitar solo’s rendered almost inaudible. The new material also hindered their cause; Every time BFMV built some momentum during the performance with the likes of Your Betrayal, Scream Aim Fire or 4 Words To Choke Upon, a Temper Temper song came along to kill the atmosphere. Even the set closing Tears Don’t Fall didn’t quite have it’s usual impact, so Download 2013 must go down as a bad day at the office for Bullet For My Valentine (aside from the fact they announced a huge UK tour, details here).
Friday of Download 2013 for an awful lot of people was only about Slipknot (8.5) and whether they could replicate the true magic of their performance from four years ago (available to all now as the (Sic)nesses DVD). They didn’t quite manage to replicate the aura of that famous night in 2009 but they gave it a bloody good go and were thoroughly enjoyable in the process.
Rumours had been widespread that the opening to the performance would be very similar to four years ago so when the ‘Knot launched into Disasterpiece it came as something of a surprise to many. Despite the obvious intensity that Slipknot, and figurehead Corey Taylor in particular bring to every performance it felt like it took both the crowd and band a little while to warm up.
Things took a distinct upturn during a brutal rendition of Get This, to the extent that the crowd safety bsrrier broke, delaying the show. Thankfully Corey Taylor was in total command of the situation (“Nobody gets hurt, not on my watch”), with the masses happily co-operating with requests to move back and stay calm with the problem was fixed. From there on in it was mostly the fantastic Slipknot live experience their fans have come to love and almost demand from the Iowa natives, as the likes of The Blister Exists, Dead Memories and Left Behind garnered large levels of audience participation all the way back up the Donington Park slope.
Unfortunately, things took a slight knock when the barrier once again broke, right in the middle of Left Behind, causing a longer delay whilst things were once again rectified, but it took a couple of songs for the momentum to be regained. However, from The Heretic Anthem onwards, it was Slipknot at their absolute best. Corey’s dedication of Duality to Paul Gray will have touched all but the coldest of hearts present and Paul was likely to have heard 90,000 people singing the anthemic “I Push My Fingers Into My Eyes” at top volume.
It’s not a notable Slipknot performance without thousands of people being crouched down on the floor waiting to “Jump The F**k Up” and Download 2013 was no exception as Corey asked if “we wanted to go down in history one more time” to Spit It Out. The breather that was afforded the masses after was short lived as the encore began with a phenomenal rendition of old favourite (sic) which went straight into People = Shit. Anyone left standing by this point was then finished off with the obligatory set closing Surfacing, complete with Joey Jordison’s drum kit raising up and rotating and a fair amount of pyro.
The Slipknot setlist was:
(Intro) Get Behind Me Satan and Push (Billie Jo Spears song)
Wait and Bleed
Get This (barrier broke after song)
Before I Forget
The Blister Exists
Left Behind (barrier broke in the middle of the song)
Pulse of the Maggots
The Heretic Anthem
Spit It Out
People = Shit
(PA Outro) ‘Til We Die
In many ways Slipknot’s task was almost impossible, trying to live up to what they achieved back in 2009, but they came mightily close to doing so. They were brilliant, but the band of the day award belongs to London natives Hang The Bastard, who ensured with their performance that not only will a lot more people now know who they are, they gained themselves a new fan in the shape of Down’s Phil Anselmo.
Thus a highly enjoyable and exhausting first day of Download 2013 came to an end. Check back soon for parts two and three of our Download Festival 2013 day-by-day review coverage, and also tune into our special review “The Matt Report” by fellow RS wordsmith Matt Hill. Also keep an eye out for a barrage of backstage interviews from Download 2013 coming the way of our readers very soon!