Words by Jamie Giberti, Lisa Fox, James Halstead, Sam Dignon, Jessica Howkins, James Weaver and Katie Needham. Photos by Jamie Giberti except where credited. Headline Muse photo by Richard Johnson.
Following the torrential rain that started during Friday afternoon and carried right on through to the early hours of Saturday many of the occupants of Donington may have been a bit soggy come Saturday morning. Fortunately there was another day crammed full of brilliant bands worth sloshing through the mud for! If you’ve missed our review of the first days action then you can check it out right here – otherwise let’s crack on with the reviews from Download 2015’s middle Saturday!
The weather might be a bit shit and it might be early but anyone who got up in time to see the magnificent Heart Of A Coward (9) knows it was worth every second. Frontman Jamie Graham owned the stage every bit as effectively as Corey Taylor did the night before and the sound is crystal clear as Heart Of A Coward romp through the likes of Deadweight and Hollow. The half hour set time flew by as if it were mere seconds long, and the crowd swelled hugely throughout the performance. THE best possible way to kick off the second day of Download 2015, Heart Of A Coward should open the main stage every year on this evidence. JG
Heart Of A Coward: Best wake up call ever.
It might only be midday but Funeral For A Friend (7) decided it was the perfect time to treat the tired and possibly hungover crowd to 30 minutes of nothing but bangers. Opening with “Roses For The Dead” sets the tone for the rest of the set as they play the best songs off of Hours and Casually Dressed. Still they do fit in one new song to show they aren’t just a nostalgia band, but it’s obviously “Juneau” that gets the best reaction of their set. While they might never reach the heights they once did ever again, Funeral For A Friend are still very enjoyable live. SD
Fellow Brits Mallory Knox (7) are in a different place in their career to Funeral For A Friend, and the young Cambridge natives manage to equal a band they probably all grew up listening to. Their setlist was split evenly between their debut album Signals and recent offering Asymmetry, and the impressively sized crowd reacted well to material both old and new. Singer Mikey Chapman came to join his audience out in the rain, emphasising how grateful they were for all the support before finishing things off strongly with old fan favourite Lighthouse. Mallory Knox are a band doing very well for themselves, they just need to keep it up and big things await them. JG
For a band who can be brilliant at times on record Apocalyptica (4) have something of a limp live track record in the UK and sadly this continued at Download 2015. The cellists were technically brilliant as always but frontman Franky Perez has neither the voice nor the stage presence to make this a success. Not even their cover of Refuse / Resist turns things round (Cavalera Conspiracy would do it much better the next day). Disappointing but not altogether unexpected. JG
There has been a fair amount of hype surrounding Derby classic rockers The Struts (6). Vocalist Luke Spiller is a flamboyant frontman, part Dr. Frank-N-Furter part Noel Fielding! Making very safe, very accessible dad rock, their set is marred by an unnecessary T Rex cover 3 songs in. Their original tracks stand well on their own (‘Could Have Been’ is a real cracker) and don’t need to be bolstered in a manner reminiscent of a pub covers act. They may not be quite ‘rock’ enough for our taste, but from an objective point of view The Struts are certainly well received. Creaming up audience interaction and sing along’s we can see these boys playing at Glastonbury before long….if they focus more on the playing and less on the posing that is. LF
Putting Northlane (8) on at the same time as Parkway Drive was certainly one of the sillier clashes of the weekend. The bands have near enough the same fanbase and this is probably why the tent isn’t as busy as it could be by the time Northlane come on. Opening with a new song is also a risky move but it also shows off everything Marcus Bridge has now brought to the band. Once the band drop “Masquerade” complete with a guest appearance from Drew York and “Quantum Flux” things really get going. “Ra” shows the band are venturing further into prog on the new album whilst still mixing it with the more accessible metalcore moments. “Dispossession” ends the set on a high note as the biggest pit of their set opens up. With Marcus now fully settled into the band this is a very exciting time for Northlane. SD
Australia’s Parkway Drive (9) have been consistently at the top of the pile of the modern metalcore scene and judging from their performance on the main stage at this year’s Download Festival they are set to remain at the top of the podium of metalcore for years to come. With a setlist comprising of material throughout the band’s 13 year career, Winston McCall and co’ delivered a barrage of brutality setting in motion the biggest mosh pits of the day. With new single, Vice Grip, receiving a mixed reception prior to Download Festival, some would say it was a gamble for the band to include it in their setlist. Yet, it was warmly received and mixed well alongside classics such as Carrion and Home Is For The Heartless.
More surprising was the inclusion of a cover of Rage Against The Machine’s Bulls On Parade which set the already carnivorous crowd into a moshing frenzy! With their sound consistently solid from start to finish, massive riffs from Jeff Ling and Luke Kilpatrick, machine gun fire drumming from Ben Gordon and Winston McCall controlling the swelling crowd in the palm of his hand, Parkway Drive more than showcased that they are leading the frontline of the modern metal scene. JW
While hardcore fans stress over the choice between Northlane and Parkway Drive, Testament (8) provide one of the weekend’s few opportunities for some good, old school thrash metal. Along with Kreator, Testament are one of the very few classic thrash bands that can get away with playing such a large amount of new songs and so today proves, opening with a double whammy of Rise Up into More Than Meets the Eye. Of course, there’s also room for a few classics in Do Not Resuscitate and Over the Wall and overall it’s a very satisfying 30 minutes of thrash. Shame there’s not more at Download this year… JH
Testament: Proper thrash from Chuck Billy and co.
Rise Against (9) are one of those bands that can very easily fill up a festival set with a solid 45 minutes worth of bangers, and so today proves. ‘Prayer of the Refugee,’ ‘Savior’ and ‘Re-Education Through Labour’ while some extended jam sections in the middle of some of the songs, most notably, ‘Help is on the Way’ ensures that Rise Against’s performance isn’t just a jukebox in the flesh. JH
Over on the Zippo Encore Stage, British extreme metal royalty Carcass (8), making their Download debut at last, unleashed a setlist jam-packed with brutality and carnage. Whilst it was disappointing that they excluded many fan favourites from grindcore era records (Reek of Putrefaction and so forth), the band were consistently solid. Jeff Walker’s vocals snarled and roared to the standard fans have come to expect from the revived death metal titans and Bill Steer shredded to all of their wondrous glory.
Carcass unleashing their usual levels of extreme metal mayhem.
Carcass kept it short and sweet and with little crowd interaction, the band let their music do the talking and it did oh so well. Carcass have proved, not only that they can play any spectrum of rock festivals, but that they still remain as one of the greats in the extreme metal genre. JW
Within seconds of Every Time I Die (10) arriving onstage and opening with “Underwater Bimbos From Outer Space” the entire Maverick stage has erupted into complete chaos. This doesn’t stop for the next 40 minutes as Every Time I Die deliver what is easily the best set of the weekend. The circles pits never stop and nearly every fan in the tent crowd surfs at least once. The band rip through a fantastic setlist and deliver easily the most exciting performance of the weekend. Guitarist Jordan Buckley ends up crowd surfing to the middle of the tent before getting a pit going around him while the rest of the band never stop moving onstage.
There isn’t a moment for anyone to catch their breath until the band finally slow down for closing song “Moor” which starts just Keith Buckley onstage this shows a very different side to Every Time I Die before building to a ridiculously heavy close. Every Time I Die do a fantastic job of proving why they are one of the best bands in hardcore and manage to deliver a set that very few bands at Download can match. SD
Florida’s own pop-punk legends A Day To Remember (10) took to the main stage to deliver a feisty set that was filled to the brim with non-stop energy and charisma. Frontman Jeremy McKinnon had the audience moving from start to finish, constantly jumping around the stage with enthusiasm and singing every lyric as loud as his lungs could allow. With songs like The Downfall of Us All and Right Back At It Again, A Day To Remember really were satisfying old and new fans alike.
A Day To Remember: All signs point to good times.
Slowing the set down, the band covered Oasis’ Champagne Supernova as a surprise sing-a-long – to which the crowd certainly delivered. A Day To Remember have proved that their fans are loyal – with some travelling from as far as Orlando just to catch them at Download Festival, it is clear that this performance was a special one. From a small pop-punk band from Florida, playing in garages, to having their own spot on Download Festival’s main stage. Jeremy McKinnon is in absolute disbelief – “Maybe one day, in the future, we could headline this stage” – with a fan base so large, it might not be a long time until that happens. KN
Purson (8) provided the surprise of Download 2015. A previously unknown musical entity to us here at Rock Sins, a spare half hour before Insomnium allowed us to chance upon them. We were certainly glad we did. Singer Rosalie Cunningham’s voice ranged from the sultry to the enormously powerful, and when combined with the rest of the band created a totally encapsulating experience. You couldn’t take your eyes (or ears) off of them for a second. Their brand of heavy blues & psychedelic rock will definitely get a second look from us in the future. JG
Immediately following Purson, Finnish melodic death metal titans Insomnium (9.5) unleash a performance that verges on absolute perfection. The crowd reaction throughout is nothing short of a bunch of fanatical zealots worshipping at the altar of a religious icon, but the only worship here is in the form of mass circle headbanging and drunken mosh-pitting (is that a verb? It is now – Ed). Songs such as While We Sleep and When The Last Wave Broke can rarely have received such thunderous reactions. The band looked delighted almost to the point of being overwhelmed yet despite this and drummer Markus Hirvonen suffering from a trapped nerve not a single note or beat is out of place. A personal plea to Andy Copping, PLEASE have them back next year, and put them on a bigger stage, they can’t fail to do it justice on this evidence. JG
Insomnium: Get them to play every year!
A pure white and floral set up, several men in white suits… probably not the image you would have in your head as a stage set up for Download festival, one of the biggest rock festivals in the world but of course, the norm for the one and only Faith No More (9).
Opening up the show with one of their newest tracks off Sol Invictus, Motherfucker, it would be a lie to say that the crowd weren’t just waiting around for headliners, Muse. As the set goes on, it’s not just the memorable songs such as Epic and Easy that bring the crowd together singing and having fun, it is the sheer sass that comes out of Mike Patton. If you wasn’t having fun in the crowd like everyone else, it was noticeable and the iconic frontman took no shame in pointing you out to the rest of the crowd.
With old and new material, there was something for everyone, no matter how big or small a fan you were. Faith No More used the fantastic ways of their music, whether it was the smooth Jazz infused Rock or the Funk, to make the crowd relax and enjoy life like an easy Sunday morning. JHK
Having influenced everyone from Suicidal Tendencies and Slayer to Every Time I Die, where do we even begin with Body Count (9)? One of the most talked about bands of the weekend, the last time Body Count played a UK festival was at Reading & Leeds Festival 2006 and the Maverick stage is packed to capacity for Ice T’s marauding moshers. Their set was a mix of old school classics such as ‘Cop Killer’ and ‘There Goes The Neighbourhood’ and choice cuts from new album ‘Manslaughter!’, especially ‘Talk Shit, Get Shot’. Body Count blew the roof off the third stage, and although it may be a while before they are back, this was a set we won’t forget in a hurry. LF
Muddy, damp and miserable are the only words to describe the crowd that awaits party king, Andrew W.K. (8) Yet minutes before he is due on stage, moods raise instantly and the chanting of ‘Party!’ was enough to have made even the grumpiest of people in the mood for a good time.
Grinning ear to ear, Andrew W.K. seemingly was aware of how many people wanted to share his attitude to life after a prolonged intro by his band into of course, a party song… It’s Time To Party. From then on, the crowd were in good spirits, enjoying music that was happy and go lucky, bringing people together and partying! Download festival is of course, a five day party in itself but on Saturday 13th June, 2015 during a man named Andrew W.K., Donington became party central and nothing on planet Earth could have topped it.
“This next song is about partying”, the happy frontman bellows before pretty much every song of his 50-minute party set-list. Everyone knew it was about partying but of course, you let Andrew W.K. announce that! He is of course the man who invented the best party. By the last track, the one, the only Party Hard, everyone was screaming and for that one song, even the people who had just come to accompany their friends or partners or just wanted to see what the party was all about, everyone came together and they partied hard.
Repetitive, yes, it might have been. Did anyone care? No! After all, everyone loves a good party! JHK
The God Of Fuck Marilyn Manson (8) closed the Zippo Encore second stage. For those of us who didn’t even have a passing interest in the ramblings of Muse, this was the place to be. His 2009 performance is remembered for all the wrong reasons, so Marilyn Manson came to Download Festival with something to prove. Historically he has a history of being hit or miss, but tonight at Download Manson hit it right out of Donington Park.
Stepping on stage in a cloud of smoke donned in his trademark black jacket and make up combo, Marilyn Manson opened with ‘Deep Six’ from his acclaimed new album ‘The Pale Emperor’ before kicking into a double dose of devilment with ‘Disposable Teen’ and ‘mOBSCENE’. Lengthy interludes between songs meant the show didn’t flow quite as well as it could have, but we were still blown away by blasts from the past including ‘Tourniquet’, ‘Lunchbox’ and ‘The Dope Show’.
Occasional outbursts often accompany a Manson performance, and tonight was no exception as the Antichrist Superstar declared that none other than Ice T was watching from the side of the stage, but beware because there was a risk of shootings occurring. Finishing the show in a glitter explosion, Manson blasted out his version of Depeche Mode’s ‘Personal Jesus’ before a quick costume and make up change to herald the anthemic ‘The Beautiful People’. With that, the Pale Emperor throws his microphone in to the air and leaves the stage. Brilliant. LF
From the moment they were somewhat surprisingly announced back in November there was a fair amount of doubt surrounding Muse’s (10) position as Download 2015 headliners. By the end of the first song, the rifftastic new offering Psycho, it was already very clear something special was going to take place. Muse had promised a special heavier setlist for Download. They delivered it in spades. Regular live staples such as New Born (brilliant) and Hysteria (even better) set the bar sky high early on but Messrs Bellamy, Howard and Wolstenholme didn’t drop their levels for a second.
Muse: two middle fingers up to the doubters.
Matt Bellamy spoke infrequently to the crowd, with the occasional thank you and “Come On Donington!” but he hardly needed copious amounts of stage banter. He let the music do the talking, and when Muse were unloading rarities like Dead Star and Micro Cuts mixed with enjoyable new songs like Dead Inside and Reapers, the music was all anyone needed.
The encore is perhaps one of the greatest twenty minute musical periods in Download Festival history. The sight and sound of roughly 80,000 people bellowing the chorus to Uprising back at Matt Bellamy in Unison was one of THE moments of Download 2015. Then *that* riff to Plug In Baby was unleashed and Donington Park collectively lost it’s mind. The obligatory Knights Of Cydonia was saved for the close, and Download bounced along as one to one of the greatest songs of the last ten years. Coupled with an impressive fireworks display to finish things off, Muse hadn’t merely dispelled the doubts, they’d smashed them into a million pieces. Band of the festival status (at least in this reviewers mind) was theirs with a full day still to go. JG
So came to an end the second day of the 2015 Download Festival. If you’ve made it to the end of this review then congratulations on your reading stamina! The final part of Rock Sins comprehensive Download 2015 coverage focusing on Classic Rock Sunday will be available very soon so please keep checking in with us to read all about KISS, Motley Crue, Lamb of God and many many more!