Walking into the new layout of Download at 10am was an interesting sight, watching all the eager ones run toward the front whilst the more aged fans setting up their chairs toward the back with a cup of Tuborg in hand. Opening the main stage was Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens (***) who brought some great rock ‘n’ roll to Donington with his wailing voice and very impressive backing band. However it was obvious not enough people knew the songs to make the experience more worthwhile.
Second up are the groove metal icons of Five Finger Death Punch (***) who possibly have one of the most violent band names on the bill. Turning the already sunburned crowd into a frenzy of flying bodies and circle pits, FFDP unleash a short sharp blast of metal on the crowd who are more than happy to accept. ‘White Knuckles’ is a definite highlight of the set, making the floor come alive with bouncing fans all screaming the lyrics.
Over on the Tuborg Stage are up and coming British rockers Black Spiders (****) who are incredibly tight and never let up for a second. Playing to a packed third stage shows that hopefully these guys will go far, and deservedly so. Sounding like true balls-out sleaze, this band is what Donington need on a day filled primarily of metal.
Back at the Main Stage are the ‘Masters of the Mosh Pit’ Devildriver (****) who took such control of the crowd that they’d have happily gone to war under his command. Back at Donington for another attempt to obtain the Guinness World Record for the largest circle pit. Donington certainly obliged with creating two huge circle pits reaching from the barrier at the front all the way back to the sound stage. Literally carnage.
Following the savagery of Devildriver are the equally as metal Hatebreed (***). Sadly not packing as much of a punch as their predecessors, Hatebreed still keep the day of metal in full swing. Getting the whole crowd to take off their shirts and spin them around in the air is one of the more obtuse crowd acts to happen at a festival, but still great to be a part of.
Just taking to the stage over on the aptly-named Second Stage are Fightstar (***) who have now been accepted by the Download crowd since their debut in 2006 when there were bottles aplenty firing toward Charlie and his chums. However today sees thousands of music fans flock to see them rock the Second Stage with ‘Paint Your Target’ gaining a fantastic response.
The atmosphere at the Second Stage takes a different turn however when a bees nest seems to have exploded and hundreds of the pesky little insects swarm around the crowd causing them to disperse swiftly. As the bees swarm over the crowd, little seems to be done about them and fans are left with the choice of stay and possibly get stung or leave and miss Static-X.
For those who chose the latter, it was a show worth waiting for. Static-X (****) are one of the few surviving members of the nu-metal era who didn’t follow the crowd. Sticking with their industrial metal sound, the band create a massive stir in the crowd whilst belting out hits ‘Cold’, ‘I’m With Stupid’ and the popular crowd pleaser ‘Black And White’. The self-proclaimed Masters of “Evil Disco” show Donington just what guys with crazy hair can do.
Over on the Main Stage Dragonforce (**) are just starting, which causes a massive pileup in the through-route from Second Stage to Main Stage (coupled with the World Record attempt at most people air-guitaring). Dragonforce though just aren’t cut out for a day like today. Whilst the previous bands on Main Stage have been flying the flag of metal high, these guys just aren’t as good. Also the wind making the sound travel doesn’t help when trying to listen to their upteen guitarists all play at once, not for me thanks guys.
Pendulum (****) change everything on Main Stage. For the people at the front who were once throwing themselves into one another for enjoyment, it’s now all about throwing shapes and singing along to the synth (der der da duh dah der derr etc). Whether it’s the fast-paced ‘Fasten Your Seatbelt’ or singalong fave ‘Propane Nightmares’, Pendulum put on a great show for the Donington faithful. ‘Tarantula’ though was the definite highlight, although it would have been better for MC $pyda to have performed the vocals.
Sub-headlining the Main Stage on Saturday is the God of Fuck himself, Marilyn Manson (***) who simply didn’t deliver the goods. Having seen him play the same slot in 2007 and being suitably unimpressed, today was about putting that idea to rest – but couldn’t. Musically Manson was great, his voice ringing throughout Donington with such ferocity that everyone turned their heads to look at him. And yet there was just something missing, no real stage-show or crowd interaction. The closest we got was Manson asking the crowd if he should wear a coat or not, rock and roll!!
Headlining this fine day of metal though is Iowa’s finest Slipknot (*****) who stole the show completely from every band who performed earlier in the day. Opening on (sic) after both the (515) and 742617000027 intros, it was obvious that Slipknot were out to impress and put on what could be one of the biggest shows in their career. Corey Taylor often commenting on the size of the crowd and how hard Slipknot have worked to get there really gives you something to think about, seeing as their first album was released 10 years ago this year. Blasting through hits such as ‘Before I Forget’, ‘Sulfur’ and ‘Disasterpiece’ the crowd are left wholly filled even before the encore. Being on the fourth row during the ‘jump the fuck up’ section of ‘Spit It Out’ whilst being surrounded by 80,000 people is something not to be forgotten. Slipknot put on a hell of a show, hopefully to be back again soon.
Overall: Download Festival – Saturday (****)