DOWNLOAD FESTIVAL: The Highlights

It’s that time of year again when music fans across the globe don the wellies, pack up onesies, tents and all the booze they can carry and trek across the hallowed ground of Donnington Park for 2013’s Download Festival.

Admittedly, I didn’t see all the headliners, but I did see some strange sights, amazing sets and was bombarded with autumn/winter tour announcements (looking at you, Jared Leto) so here are my highlights from the weekend.

PAPA ROACH (Main Stage, Friday)
Entering the stage to a brief spell of sunshine, Papa Roach were lucky with the slot they were given. Their set is a mix of old and new material. Songs from new album ‘The Connection’ go down well, but it’s classics ‘Getting Away With Murder’ and ‘Scars’ that grab the crowd in a headlock. Jacoby Shaddix is a front man not to be taken too seriously. He jumps up and down, swears at every chance he gets and even face plants in the mud at the front of the stage, but his lyrics of bitter heartbreak have gained a legion of fans across the globe who are only willing to scream along to ‘Last Resort’.

WE ARE THE OCEAN (Jagermister Acoustic Stage, Friday)
It’s actually quite sunny when We Are The Ocean take to the stage. The words acoustic and metal festival don’t conventionally go hand in hand, but surprisingly it worked. Drowning out the sounds of Korn on the main stage, We Are The Ocean managed to play the loudest acoustic set I’ve ever heard. The crowd may be small, but every person is involved. The set itself is quite obscure, the boys have pulled out slower album tracks such as ‘Now and Then’ and ‘Runaway’. ‘Confessions’ is rolled out for the older fans, but the random rendition of Metallica’s ‘Nothing Else Matters’ is what makes the set truly special.

BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE (Main Stage, Friday)
I’ve never seen Bullet play badly. But since the release of ‘Temper Temper’ in February, they seem to have raised the stakes. Entering to ‘O Fortuna’ kicks off the drama that will ensue. An hour doesn’t seem quite long enough for these boys. Slower power ballads are kicked to the kerb in favour of raging, snarling album tracks from this year’s release. ‘4 Words To Choke Upon’ goes down a storm in the drizzle and closer ‘Tears Don’t Fall’ leaves everyone warmed up for what came next.

SLIPKNOT (Main Stage, Friday)
Their first performance in the UK since the passing of bassist and founding member, Paul Gray, Slipknot’s headline set was going to be an emotional affair. From the moment the masked mob stepped onto the stage, there was absolute carnage. Corey Taylor has to bring a halt to proceedings three times due to the barrier being broken. You couldn’t expect any less from the return of Slipknot. Singles ‘Wait and Bleed’ and ‘Psychosocial’ create destruction (Clown even throws one of his drums from his rotating platform) you get a sense of anger and bitterness, even more so due to everything they’ve been through in the past couple of years. In true Slipknot tradition, no headline set would be complete without ‘jumping the fuck up’, a fitting close to ‘Spit It Out’ and setting the bar for the rest of the weekend.

JIMMY EAT WORLD (Zippo Encore Stage, Saturday)
Flawless is the word to describe their set. Jimmy Eat World were up against Queens of the Stone Age over on the main stage, but still managed to pull in a big crowd. Opener ‘I Will Steal You Back’ set the tone of what was to follow. ‘Bleed American’ and ‘Big Casino’ go down a storm. Jimmy Eat World have become the soundtrack to fall in love and get your heart broken to. There’s little banter from Jim Adkins, but the music truly spoke for itself, crowd participation was high. ‘The Middle’ was a perfectly predictable closer.

STONE SOUR (Main Stage, Sunday)
Corey Taylor and Jim Root are pulling double duty this weekend. Albeit sans masks and jumpsuits. Stone Sour is the side project that has stood the test of time. Songs from double concept album ‘House of Gold and Bones’ are well received this afternoon. Taylor feels a lot less angry without the mask, but the passion and excitement are still present and raw. The crowd are into it from word go. Even an acoustic solo rendition of ‘Bother’ doesn’t slow things down and there are lighters in the air at the front. ‘30/30 150’ closes the hour long set perfectly, whipping those at the front into a chaotic frenzy.

LIMP BIZKIT (Zippo Encore Stage, Sunday)
I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from Limp Bizkit’s set. Without expectations, you avoid disappointment, but disappointed we were not. ‘We’re gonna party like it’s 1999’ declared Fred Durst (complete with the famous red hat) before diving head first into ‘Rollin’. The set is compiled of all the singles and crowd pleasers and not one person is still for the duration. It’s only when two firework shots ring out from the main stage that the crowd clears by half as people scramble over to the main stage to catch Rammestein set each other on fire. Durst and Wes Borland (dressed as a sparkly alien) make jokes about it for the remainder of the set. They close the doors on the Zippo Encore Stage with a massive circle pit and a rowdy performance of ‘Break Stuff’. An enjoyable set that often felt more like a party.

And that is Download done until 2014. There is a limited amount of early bird tickets on sale for you eager beavers, but if that’s not enough to satisfy your post Download blues or you just want to see what you missed, highlights are being shown on Sky Arts on the 29th and 30th June at 9pm.

Review by: Laura Molloy

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