Download Extra

Friday 13th June 2014 ∏

Download Extra 2014

by Peter Coombs

Scroll down for Saturday 14th ↓

Skindred

Arriving on stage to the Imperial March from Star Wars, Welsh Ragga-Metal band Skindred get the over-heating Friday crowd into action. Vocalist, Benji Webb, never fails to entertain the crowd with his enigmatic vocal style and unique fashion sense, this year adding “The first ever metal Harlem Shake” to his repertoire.  Their set was as strong as ever and kept the crowd dancing throughout before ending in style, performing ‘Warning’ and giving the crowd their much anticipated chance to partake in Skindred’s signature dance move; the Newport helicopter.

Black Label Society

Yet again Zakk Wylde graces Download, and yet again he disappoints. His egotistical stage presence and brutish behaviour fail to match the underwhelming music they produce live. Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of Black Label and I think their studio work is exceptional, they just cannot do it live, especially at festivals. Even with new rhythm guitarist, Dario Lorina, they fail to change their consistently bad live show. The 45 minute set felt like at least an hour, it was passionless, slow and totally uninspiring. Zakk seriously needs to give up on the steroids and the cheesy gorilla’isms, learn that his band are equally as important as him and realise the crowd want to watch a show. That being said, we didn’t have 10 minutes of pentatonic scale exercises like we did in 2012… apparently he called it a solo.  There are talks of Zakk taking Dimebag’s position in a Pantera reform, Download, I implore you to not let this happen!

See Kevin Gaughan’s YouTube Video of Black Label Society playing at Download.

Rob Zombie

Rob Zombie, now in his 16th year of solo performances, attracts the biggest crowd of the day so far for his sub-headline slot on the main stage.  The set was a good mix of new and old, opening with ‘Teenage Nosferatu Pussy’ from the new album ‘Venomous Rat Generation Vender’ and following with ‘Superbeast’ from his first album ‘Hillbilly Deluxe’, it went on in the same fashion throughout, with a couple of White Zombie hits thrown in for good measure. There was however very little put into the stage show; it was not the usual pyrotechnic extravagance, just an array of cult horror villains surrounding the band members, who of course were in their usual gothic makeup and obscure attire.  During White Zombie song ‘Thunder Kiss 65’, guitarist John 5 performed an exceptional guitar solo before bringing the set to a close with the closest thing Rob Zombie has to a metal anthem; Dragula, which was nothing but huge, the crowd loved it!

Battlecross

In 2005, a small band called Trivium performed at Download for the first time. In 2009 they returned after selling millions of records to headline the second stage. That performance in 2005 was one of downloads great ‘I was there’ moments, this year the Donington festival provided us with another… Michigan heavy metal band Battlecross do nothing but impress during their sadly short 30 minute set on the Red Bull Studio Stage. Fronted by Gumby (Kyle Gunther), a vocalist who is destined to steal the crown for best metal vocalist, with guitars and bass provided by Tony Asta, Hiran Deraniyagala and Don Slater, without doubt three of the most talented new musicians in their genre. They seized their first opportunity at Download, energetically filling the stage and consistently embracing their audience, making their performance feel personal while still being completely brutal. Unfortunately though, the sound engineer was pretty useless and large amounts of the vocals were totally lost in the mix, a great shame, but those in the crowd that knew the songs made up for it by passionately singing (or shouting) along.  Personal highlights were ‘Kaleb’, which Gumby explained was written about his son and therefore dedicated it to him for father’s day, ‘Beast’ from their most recent album ‘War of Will’, and their opening song ‘Push Pull Destroy’; the song responsible for their European following.
I guarantee, in a few years, when Battlecross will be on the main stage, the couple of hundred people that ventured into the Red Bull Studio Stage to watch Battlecross’s first Download appearance will be boasting that they were there when Gumby and gang performed their half hour set.  Without doubt, the best performance of the entire weekend!

See Kevin Gaughan’s YouTube Video of Battlecross playing at Download.

Saturday 14th June 2014

While She Sleeps

The Sheffield based While She Sleeps were one of the exciting new English bands to play the main stage, and pulled in a respectable crowd for their mid-afternoon slot. As they began to play, the excitement rose and for a brief few seconds we began to think that we were about to witness something exceptional… Then the vocals of Lawrence Taylor kicked in; no power, no passion and seemingly no awareness of tonality, with a couple of timing errors to boot, only to be made worse when joined by backing vocalist Mat Welsh, who managed be out of tune with both the band and the already out of tune lead singer. The excited crowd discreetly hid their WSS flags and began to dwindle away. Such a shame, these guys could have and should have been amazing.

See Kevin Gaughan’s YouTube video of While Shed Sleeps playing at Download.

Lonely the Brave

Although a considerably lesser known band, Cambridge born Lonely the Brave manage to fill the Pepsi max stage for their half hour set.  Their performance was admittedly a little odd; seemingly fronted by the lead guitarist/backing vocalist, while lead vocalist David Jakes evades the usual frontman showmanship, and remains at the back of the stage, away from the crowd. I guess justifiably nervous but at this level, with crowds this size, we could do with a little more from him. Vocally however, he is quite simply incredible, one of the purest voices I have ever heard at Download. Supplemented by heavy, riffing guitars and well composed music, Lonely the Brave are a potentially huge name for the future.

See Kevin Gaughan’s YouTube video of Lonely The Brave playing at Download.

Bring me the Horizon

Without doubt one of the biggest local(ish) metal bands in the recent years, Sheffield’s Bring me the Horizon perform for their 5th time on the Donington turf, this year being their first time on the main stage, with a noteworthy slot, two bands before the headliner. Their set was considerably weighted with songs from their 2013 album ‘Sempiternal’ yet still included the much anticipated classics such as ‘Diamonds Aren’t Forever’ and ‘Chelsea Smile’, all performed to an exceptional standard with not one member missing a note throughout.  Vocalist Oli Sykes was equally as impressive, captivating the crowd with his energetic stage presence and intense voice, while between songs embracing his audience with some good (and some bad) banter, jeering up the excited crowd and ensuing an abundance of circle pits throughout the set.

Fall out Boy

I’ll be honest, I planned on totally avoiding Fall Out Boy from the minute I saw them announced, I have never been a fan, nor had any intention to see them live (at least not since seeing them in The Charlotte in Leicester a good few years ago!). But alas, it could not be avoided, I caught a song as I passed through, impressed I stayed for the next…then the next…then the next…and wow, they were incredible, easily the best performance of the day, and the biggest surprise (at least, positive surprise) of the whole weekend.  I would love to tell you about the songs they played, but I don’t know any of them, except ‘Sugar, We’re Goin Down’, ‘Dance, Dance’ and their cover of Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It’, which were all played to perfection (while I seized my opportunity to have a sing and a sneaky dance). Frontman Patrick Stump, no longer the slightly porky bore that I remember, held the crowd with every word, his voice was powerful and his energy inspiring with the large crowd all dancing and enjoyably singing along.

American Head Charge

An exciting blast from my past with one of the first heavy bands I got into; American Head Charge, who sub-headlined the Pepsi-Max Stage. Their set was good, with songs from each of their 3 albums played to an excellent standard, and of course vocalist Cameron Heacock still sounds as brutal as ever. However, something didn’t quite feel right; if you know American Head Charge, you will know that they love their strange noises and obscure intros, which are great for recordings but are apparently terrible for a live show!  Perhaps they just did it too many times during their reasonably short set or perhaps I was too excited and wanted my chest kicking in by the music, either way, It created too much quiet time and not enough brutality, leaving the performance feel a lot longer than it needed to.

See Kevin Gaughans YouTube video of American Head Charge playing at Download.

See also:

Download 2014 main article

Photos from Download 2014

Download post-festival report

Download pre-festival report

 

About The Editor 535 Articles
The Editor of Music in Leicester magazine is Kevin Gaughan assisted by Trevor Locke