Following Friday night’s jubilation and partying into the early hours after Sum 41 and System Of A Down, team Rock Sins returned fresh, and not sporting too many hangovers, to tackle the second day of Download 2017, Middle Saturday. If you haven’t yet checked out our Friday coverage from Download 2017 and would like to do so, all the links are provided below for your convenience.
Rock Sins Download Festival 2017 Friday Review – Main Stage
Rock Sins Download Festival 2017 Friday Review – Zippo Encore Stage
Rock Sins Download Festival 2017 Friday Review – Avalanche and Dogtooth Stages
And now, on with Saturday’s action…
Kicking off the Download main stage on Saturday at an eye watering 11am you cannot be surprised that the majority of the crowd looked more like a horde of weary hungover zombies rather than a hyped up audience but that did not deter Hacktivist (7) from waking up as many as possible.
On another clear day at Donington Hacktivist delivered the first circle pits of the day. Making full use of the main stage and catwalk they definitely would have captured the interest of more than a few in the audience from their performance. In particular you cannot help but move to their well known cover of the Jay-Z and Kanye West hit Ni**a’s in Paris, where you could see an immediate reaction from the crowd. A very satisfactory start to the day. IW
3 Years ago Creeper (9) were in their infancy. Today they are playing the main stage of Download Festival 2017. There is a palpable feeling of anticipation in the air and an abundance of Callous Heart patches in the audience. Everybody knows they are about to see something special. Creeper are one of the most dynamic live bands around right now and is armed with one of the years best albums. So naturally, they make this look like a walk in the park. Will Ghould is an exuberant frontman who knows how to get the most out of any audience placed in front of him. The band themselves are perfectly in sync with each other and have an eerie symbiotic relationship that never falters. Dolling out what already seems like a greatest hits set, they play all the big moments from their debut album including the monster hit ‘Suzanne’, ‘Down Below’, ‘Poison Pens’ and melancholy-drenched anthem ‘Misery’ which leads to a massive sing along from the amassed audience. Ending their set on an emotion-fuelled note with a beautiful rendition of ‘I Choose to Live’ the crowd will walk away knowing they have just witnessed not only one of the best sets of the weekend but also the continued rise of one of the most special bands around right now. SC
Tech metal legends Sikth (8) made their Main Stage debut at Download this year and they went on stage as if they were headlining the festival. It seems Sikth were very aware of the fact that their audience wasn’t just going to be fans at the mainstage, playing only one song from from last month’s release ‘The Future In Whose Eyes?’. Nevertheless, the band play an extremely tight set filled with some mesmerising instrumentals. The vocalist duo of Mikee Goldman and Joe Rosser utilise the stage brilliantly, constantly running up and down the catwalk. Their voices complement each other beautifully throughout the set, with some perfectly timed back and forths at parts. The band close with “Bland Street Blues” joined by none other than their original vocalist, Justin Hill, much to the delight of the Sikth hardcore faithful in attendance. CM
AFI (7) were the band I was most looking forward to seeing at Download 2017. They are one of my all time favourite bands and one I grew up adoring. It seems however that this would not be their day. Arriving to very little fanfare and to a someone smaller crowd than their billing may suggest, they are largely met with apathy, with a few pockets of the faithful sprinkled in. They seem to know this and put in a somewhat professional performance that whilst full of energy is devoid of any emotion. Davey Havok has a look on his face that clearly suggests he is not happy with the crowd’s response and doesn’t engage with them from the minute he enters the stage to the time he throws his mic down and walks off at the end.
The set they play is hard to argue with and is a mixture of older material and new. It sounds flawless and it was amazing to hear songs like ‘The Lost Souls’ clashing with things like ‘Aurelia’ and ‘Snow Cats’ from the new album. It is disheartening to see them met with a crowd that isn’t interested and for them to stand there somewhat defeated. One has to wonder if the fact that they have ignored the UK on two album cycles now has something to do with it and people have lost interest or if it is more a generational thing and fans have just moved on to other bands that have come through. Either way, there was definitely something in the air today that took what should have been a can’t miss set and turned it into one that was serviceable. SC
Having played here so many times over the years, A Day To Remember (9) have built up quite the Download pedigree. Tonight it shows because this is by far the best set they have delivered on Donington soil, performing to a crowd that was far larger than the night’s main stage headliners Biffy Clyro. From the opening All I Want to the last notes of The Downfall Of Us All, A Day To Remember threw down a clear marker that they could easily be headlining Download in years to come. Frontman Jeremy McKinnon was on fine form (much better than the somewhat croaky performance two years before) and the hits came thick and fast during the bands’ 70 minute set, which seemed to pass by far quicker than the allotted time.
Whether it was smashing the audience full on with their heavier material like Mr Highway’s Thinking About The End, encouraging mass singalongs with Have Faith In Me, or getting a mix of the two with Right Back At It Again, this was a perfectly judged set from a band at the top of their game. The heartfelt acoustic rendition of If It Means A Lot To You was particularly popular with the ever swelling crowd, before the final push of All Signs Point To Lauderdale and The Downfall Of Us All brought things to a spectacular close. A Day To Remember are a band who understand what a Download Festival audience wants, and well they should, having played here so many times. This was a performance that at this point in their career, A Day To Remember could not afford to get wrong. Not only did they get it right, they smashed it right out of Donington Park. They’ll be back, and as headliners, maybe sooner than you think. JG
There was a lot of talk before the weekend that Biffy Clyro (8) weren’t big or heavy enough to headline the Download main stage and although the crowd was seemingly smaller than that for System of a Down the night before there was definitely a significant dedicated support for them, who weren’t disappointed. Vocalist Simon Neil commented on how honoured they were to be on that stage and further justified their place as headliners by reminding the crowd of their history with the festival, having first performed at Donington 15 years previous and numerous times in between.
Biffy’s performance did not hold anything back, with their trademark shirtless and sweaty haired look they delivered a high energy show from start to finish enticing the audience throughout, also leading an impromptu mass sing along to Aerosmith’s classic I don’t want to miss a thing. This shouldn’t be surprising bearing in mind the continuous acclaim they have received for their live performances over the years but was great to experience all the same.
The set was a modern day greatest hits for Biffy enabling the crowd to sing along in unison to practically every track, including among others Who’s got a match?, Mountains and Many of Horror. I heard a lot of Biffy fans complain that they don’t play their older heavier stuff anymore, they appeased them at Download by playing the frantic scream infused There’s No Such Thing as a Jaggy Snake from their 2004 album Infinity Land, last played at Download 10 years ago and 57 from their debut album Blackened Sky.
Biffy also brought with them the biggest stage production of the whole weekend, kicking off with streamers shooting over the crowd they wandered between various positions around their multi level stage complimented by a multitude of detailed visuals and pyrotechnics, to top it off they finished their set with a massive fireworks display while playing out Stingin’ Belle. Overall Biffy showed that they deserved their headline place on the main stage and more importantly that Download needs to continue to bring in a variety of new headliners to avoid the festival stagnating with the cycle of ageing legends. IW
Words by Iain Willetts, Simon Crampton, Connor Morris and Jamie Giberti.
Creeper and A Day To Remember Photos by Jamie Giberti.