Gig Review

Download Festival 2011
Donington Park, Derby
10th - 12th June 2011

Download is one of the best festivals in the UK for alternative music fans, it has had a yearly slot taking place during the second weekend of June for a mammoth 9 years now and 6 of which I have attended and this year the line up was once again very diverse yet very strong with bands such as Def Leppard, System Of A Down, Linkin Park, Rob Zombie, Korn and even the reformed Darkness rocking out over the weekend.

We woke up pretty early on the Friday and participated in a bit of camp site banter whilst waiting for the time to hurry up for the main arena to open but before we knew it, it was time to make that long walk from our tents to the main arena.

CKY (4/5) are the first band to hit the main stage of the weekend; a band I have wanted to see since I was 13 years of age watching the film CKY. They do not even remotely disappoint me after such a long wait it’s like being injected with adrenaline in the form of chunky riffs as they play a great set, the last 2 songs “96 Quite Bitter Beings” and “Escape From Hellview” are fine enough to make my pants a little wet. What an amazing start to the weekend but the best is yet to come. (JW)

Puddle Of Mudd (2/5) had 30 minutes to prove to the Download crowd that they were still a relevant rock band that should be taken seriously, but sadly this was not the case as the band’s 6 song set did nothing at all to create some early afternoon excitement, the band played a slight cover of Black Sabbath ‘War Pigs’ and also a cover of AC/DC ‘TNT’, granted the covers were alright but when this is one of year first gigs in the UK in over 5 years you shouldn’t really be pissing about with covers and should be showing that you have some fantastic rock songs, the band’s biggest selling single ‘Blurry’ was left out of the set which would of caused a massive sing-a-long and the only saving grace was the set closer ‘She Hates Me’ which proved Puddle Of Mudd did too little too late. (T)

Duff Mckagan’s Loaded (3/5) hit the main stage next and now here my friends, is a Download Festival veteran. Duff Mckagan is no stranger to Download and is in damn good shape for his age! Back with his new band Loaded and their new album “The Taking” they easily smash out a 10 song set compromised of 6 new tracks, 2 old ones, a cover of Misfits classic “Attitude” and finishing off with a diamond in the rough, a cover of Guns N’ Roses classic “It’s So Easy” which sets the place alive and see’s the band heading off stage on a very high note. (JW)

Anti Flag (4/5) showed the Download crowd what punk is all about with their fast paced political style punk, opening with the ever so catchy ‘Press corpse’ and rocking out all the way until the set closer ‘Cities Burn’, one of the biggest cheers for Anti Flag came was when they played a cover of The Clash ‘Should I Stay Should I Go’, there was a bit of political banter towards the middle of their set about Bush and Blair but then soon passed over people’s heads as Anti Flag carried on their punk rock pace. (T)

Black Stone Cherry (5/5) are on freaking fire. Sheer professionalism and confidence just oozes off lead vocalist Chris Robertson as it does from the rest of his head banging heavy rock accomplices. Back at Download again with their outstanding new album “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” they pull a huge turnout all ready to absolutely lose their minds; the band produce the tunes allowing them to do just that almost as a soundtrack to chaos. Throwing in a cover on “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele the band show they really can just paint their style over just about anything and have the attitude and stage presence to match up to some of the veterans.(J/W)

The Damned Things (3/5) Now I had huge expectations for The Damned Things but I think the fact of just how good Anti Flag were moments before The Damned Things had a lot of work on their hands following things up, they did their best but their 8 song set really did fail to connect with the crowd in places, the highlight for me was the set closer ‘We’ve Got A Situation Here’ which really did rock the second stage at Download but sadly I still think the band are more suited to smaller environments. (T)

Children of Bodom (4/5) take the prize for most painful moment of Download 2011 with such violent outbursts of brutality within those out of control mosh pits. Having seen the band on 2 other occasions I must say that Alexi Laiho seems most at home in front of the Download audience showing the most upbeat and confident side to him that I have ever seen. After 8 crushingly brutal tracks including “Hate Me!”, “Blooddrunk” and “In Your Face” they leave the stage with a mass of bodies covered in blood, bruises and dust to then pick themselves up and get to the next band. (JW)

Thin Lizzy (4/5) was a band I was really looking forward to ever since they got announced for the festival and that was due to me being impressed with them rocking out on their headline tour back at the start of the year and tonight’s set was no difference they played a 9 track greatest hits set which consisted of sing-a-long songs such as ‘Waiting For An Alibi’, ‘Jailbreak’, ‘Whiskey In The Jar, ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’ and a few others and from the moment they took to the stage the crowd were in their element singing-a-long whilst you could cleary tell that the band were loving every moment, Thin Lizzy might not be the same without Phil Lynott but the new line-up certainly know how to keep the Phil Lynott spirit running. (T)

Alter Bridge (4/5) have finally been given a spot on the main stage that they absolutely deserve, their music is just some of the finest in rock music today with such a range in material and a back catalogue full of classics they have really earned this spot. They take the stage to the perfect intro track “Slip to the Void” which really is just a showcase song as it shows off Myles Kennedy’s voice and Mark Tremonti’s guitar skills to the absolute extreme. After a 10 song set including a massive duel guitar battle in which Mark just absolutely kicked Myles’s ass they feel that their job has been done and left the sea of satisfied heavy rock fans in awe. (JW)

The Darkness (5/5) sadly played to quite an empty field as most of the festival goers were over at the second stage watching Korn rock out but that did not stop the Darkness playing the most important 1 hour set of their career in such a positive style, they had the crowd in the palm of their hands from the opening track ‘Bareback’ right until the closing moments of ‘Love On The Rocks With No Ice’, the set was like a big greatest hits set with classic songs such as ‘Get Your Hands Off My Women’, ‘One Way Ticket’, ‘Friday Night’, ‘Black Shuck’, ‘Growing On Me’, ‘I Believe In A Thing Called Love’ and many others being unleashed on the ever so excited Download crowd, the banter between Justin and the crowd was fantastic with many ladies getting their breasts out to his delight, and generally everyone was having a good time like they just landed at a big 1980’s party with blow up guitars and wigs on show and people just generally rocking out with their air guitar. (T)

Def Leppard (4/5) had a tough job on their hands firstly to back up such a strong set from The Darkness 30minutes previously and secondly to prove to the Download crowd that they are worthy of their headline slot despite only headlining the festival 2 years previously. Well from the start the weather was against Def Leppard as the rain had come and it seemed like it was in for the night, it was light but still enough to batter the crowd and leave Def Leppard with one of the smallest crowds I have ever seen a headline act have at Download, anyway this did not damper the spirits of Def Leppard as they came out and started with their new song ‘Undefeated’ and then continued to play a greatest hits set with a couple of golden acoustic moments thrown in and a couple of cover songs. The highlights of the set were hearing ‘Hysteria’ and ‘Pour some Sugar On Me’ live again. I will say the set was pretty similar to their last headline set at Download, the videos played on stage was the same and some of the in-between song talk was pretty similar, the only difference was that the set was put together in a slightly different order, but overall they proved why they are one of the best touring British old skool rock bands. (T)

For me (Trigger) the Saturday was a marmite day for music it came with a lot of fillers in the afternoon but then had a couple of big guns in the evening with Avenged Sevenfold and System Of A Down playing back to back.

Where as for me (James) It was THE day I even bought a ticket for! All That Remains, Down, Hollywood Undead, Avenged Sevenfold and SOAD?! This day should have been renamed “The Day Moshing Destroyed The Earth” and I’m really trying hard to resist peeing my pants.

All That Remains (4/5) bring the metalcore to Donnington Park very early on in the day. They play a set at 1pm and Phil Labonte extends the question “You guys drunk yet? What a stupid question you guys are all alcoholics just like I am!” then picking up a bottle of whiskey and just pouring it down his throat like a trooper. Smashing the eardrums of thousands in front of them with their heavy as shit set including “Some of the People all of the Time”, “Six” and “The Air That I Breathe”. It’s a big start to the day of metal here on the main stage. (JW)

Rise to Remain (4/5) have a promising slot for them on the second stage this year 2 up from the spot they were in last year. Debuting tracks from their upcoming as yet unnamed album and the first single “The Serpent” before playing their set out with tracks from their EP “Bridges Will Burn”. Previous reviews I have criticised Austin Dickinson’s voice and onstage behaviour but today no such complaints; voice is spot on, not too over the top and he’s begging to fit the part a great front man. (JW)

Skindred (5/5) are on freaking fire. Benji Webbe is a man of no fear; you could put the biggest crowd in the world in front of him and he’d never even flinch. Getting thousands of people to do the robot, take their clothes off and then swing around such clothing in the air is no easy thing to do but this man manages it effortlessly. Pulling out the old classics and the new rockers as well as a mash up of Tinie Tempah’s “Pass Out” and their own song “Selector”, there is just no fear and no flaw in their performance. The bands reputation as one of the strongest live bands in the world still stands and this performance won’t be forgotten for a very long time.(JW)

VersaEmerge (3/5) had a massive crowd which saw the Pepsi Max stage packed out but sadly the stage and crowd was far too big for VersaEmerge today as I did not get that same positive vibe from the band which I got a couple of weeks ago when they played to a mere 80 people at the Academy 2 in Bristol, however this did not stop Sierra and co from trying to put on an energetic show, the highlights of the set were when they played ‘Figure It Out’ and the set closer ‘Fixed At Zero’ which saw Sierra take a big dive into the crowd for the closing moments of the song. (T)

Hollywood Undead (3/5) have just replaced their clean singer Deuce with American Idol contestant Danny, now Danny’s voice is quite different to that of Deuce’s as displayed with their new album so when they got announced for Download I was terrified that he was going to murder the old classics; I needn’t have worried because he does them complete justice and is note for note perfect on every song. Jonny 3 tears however is having a bad day because his voice isn’t reaching some of the notes that he really should be however the songs are saved by the amazing performance Charlie Scene gives, now he’s a true performer. Mostly new material and 4 of the best tracks from the debut album too, great set and an amazing showcase. (JW)

Down (4/5) is a hefty mans band, always have been always will be. Their pits weren’t even countable as pits they were more like street brawls filled with enormous biker guys. Phil Anselmo is a legend in his own right; the arrogance and sheer authority of the man is just a great thing to watch however this year whilst still having the arrogance he’s found a little soft spot in his heart for his fans “Now quit staring at me and get to it! But in all seriousness we do love you guys”. Playing the chorus from “Walk” dedicated to Dimebag Darrell was a bit controversial but to be fair he did help write it and it is a fitting tribute. After 10 tracks of pure stoner southern rock and a mass of devils lettuce smoke fresh in the air the band take off. (JW)

Skunk Anasie (3/5) are a band who have been touring heavily since they have come back and seem to make a few appearances at festivals each year with Sonisphere being the big one for them last year and Download the big one for them this year. As the band played their hits such as ‘Yes Its Fucking Political’, ‘Charlie Big Potatoe’, ‘Weak’, ‘Twisted’ etc they were on top form but sadly there was a lot of filler material included into the bands 17 track set and even the crazy ways of front women Skin could not stop the band from getting boring in places. (T)

Bowling For Soup (4/5) played a short acoustic set over at the Jagermeister stage and my god was the field packed for this, the only problem was if you were near the back of the crowd the sound bled from the main stage and the Red Ball stage and made the whole Jagermeister stage sound quite unbearable as you had too much to concentrate on, anyway Bowling For Soup played a few of their hits in acoustic form such as ‘High School Never Ends’ , ‘Wena’, ‘1984’ and not to forget a whole unique Jagermeister song. (T)

Avenged Sevenfold (5/5) brought exactly the same stage show with them as they had in their co-headline tour with Stone Sour late last year and it went down a bloody storm with the Download crowd especially when the fire canisters took over the stage with fire popping up from everywhere warming up the main stage field. M Shadows and co wasted no time at all and kicked straight off with the title track from their current album ‘Nightmare’ and played a set which consisted on mainly new material but a few old favourites were thrown into the mix such as ‘Bat Country’, ‘Afterlife’ and also ‘A Little Piece Of Heaven’ which was dedicated to The Rev, The show that Avenged Sevenfold put on was fantastic and there was nothing more they could of done and this left me wondering how the hell System Of A Down could follow this up. (T)

System Of A Down (5/5) from the moment System Of A Down took to the stage and blasted off into ‘Prision Song’ I just knew that System were going to follow on from Avenged Sevenfold perfectly, the stage show that System had was pretty basic with only a big banner situated at the back of the stage with the band’s name on but they proved that if you have the songs, sound and stage presence then you don’t need a stage show as System took it to a whole new level tonight and played a mammoth 26 song set which was better than any band I have ever seen headline Download before.

The dual vocals from Serj and Daron worked perfectly together tonight and the band appeared tighter than ever like a band that has never had any problems, you could certainly tell that the short hiatus was worth it, highlights of the set were ‘B.Y.O.B’, ‘Chop Suey!’, ‘Ciagro’, ‘Toxcity’ and not to forget the men bouncing like mad in the toilets to ‘Bounce’ which I am sure ended in quite a messy situation.

The set closed with ‘Sugar’ and a mad flurry of fireworks as everyone headed back to the village and their tents just witnessing one of the most perfect rock and roll sets of the year. (T)

Today was the day that everyone had been looking forward to the most but also dreading at the same time and that was because some amazing bands were on like Rob Zombie, Linkin Park, Black Veil Brides, Disturbed and many others but the downer on the day was the weather where heavy rain was predicted from 10am and in for the rest of the day and for the one day you want the weather men to get things wrong it didn’t happen as the rain came down in buckets but luckily most people were ready with water proofs on and 10 hours of musical fun to be had.

Madina Lake (3/5) it was good to see the Leone brothers back on stage together playing the music they love as last summer Matthew Leone suffered a major beating whilst trying to help a random girl out in the street, now many people feared for his life and judging by the hospital bed pictures that were realised Matthew is on lucky man to be back on stage especially only a year after the incident. As for the set Madina Lake played it was just more of the same old, it featured some of their biggest songs like ‘House Of Cards’ and ‘Here I Stand’ but overall Madina Lake really don’t have what it takes to please the Download crowd.

Bowling For Soup (5/5) were bloody fantastic from the start and helped bright a smile on people’s faces during this wet Sunday afternoon, Jaret was on time form with his between song banter especially when it stopped raining and he said “It’s stopped raining because we are god’s favourite band”, other between song banter had Jaret saying “We have just released a new album called ‘Fishin For Woos’ and this song is not off it”, A blow up penis was also spotted in the crowd and soon ended up on stage with Chris inserting it into the female blow up sheep situated on stage which soon ended up out of air and dead. The set Bowling For Soup played was great with ‘High School Never Ends’, ‘Punk Rock 101’, ‘1985’ and ‘Girl all The Bad Guys Want’ being the main highlights but not to forget their ever so fast cover of the Phineas And Ferb cartoon theme song.

Gwar (4/5) The rain quickly returned for Gwar a band who I have always wanted to see live but have never had the chance until now and my god these guys surly know how to have a crowd watching on with their mouths open wondering what is going to happen next, the stage show featured fighting robots, the queen having her boobs ripped off, a near real looking dead dog and all of these stage props resulted in fake blood being squirted on stage and into the crowd, the set they played was short and sweet and ‘Let Us Slay’ was the main highlight, I for one will be sure to check out Gwar when they next return to the UK.

Turisas (3/5) only managed 4 songs in their set as well due to cleaning up after Gwar and tremendous amounts of crowd interaction. It’s like Turisas are poking a hungry bear with a stick wearing barbeque sauce if you can imagine as the crowd is hungry for their songs and the pits are a sight for sore eyes, fake Vikings smacking one another with plastic sticks effectively. So you would think due to time already being lost by the cleaning that they would just get on stage and spit out as many tracks as they could but that’s just not the Turisas way; instead they play 4 tracks and between “Rasputin” and “Battle Metal” split the crowd in half and have a sing off which seems to go on forever. They played terrifically and if they had more time it wouldn’t be so bad, 4 songs thought I just can’t get over its like you needn’t have seen them.(JW)

The Gaslight Anthem (4/5) are a band that I have a lot of time for and it seemed like today that they were pleased to be playing Download as Brian Fallon had a huge smile on his face from start to finish hopefully this wasn’t his way of laughing at the crowd because he was dry and they were wet. The set they played was a mixture of songs from both albums and the songs went down a treat as The Gaslight Anthem write music to be played to arena and festival style crowds just like their idol Bruce Springsteen. (T)

Disturbed (4/5) are a rock band like no other, they are a serious rock band who take everything seriously from their stage show to their look and right down to the nitty gritty bits of their music and today’s entrance featured the same introduction video that has been playing at all Disturbed shows for the past 6 months or so and it was the perfect introduction for the band and they took to the stage looking pretty smooth and played a solid 12 track set which the crowd new all the words to right down to the random sounds that frontman David Draiman is well known for, and as soon as the set closer ‘Down With The Sickness’ was played you could tell that the greedy crowd wanted even more. (T)

Black Veil Brides (3/5) are one of my favourite new bands, they totally blew me away when they supported the Murderdolls back in February and they are now back in the UK for the second time and for what on paper would of been their biggest and most important show so far but sadly the rain had hugely effected the numbers of people in the main arena today and there was a mere 300 people crowded around the second stage waiting for the Black Veil Brides, the band took to the stage in the same hyperactive confident way as when I saw them back in February but as the set went on you could tell that frontman Andy Biersack was not fully happy and his anger clearly showed as before they played ‘Knives In Pens’ he said “Sing a long if you know the word, if you don’t then you can shove it up your arse”, which really is not the best thing to say to a festival crowd especially when there are some potential new fans listening in. Overall the songs were there, the faced paced action was there but sadly the weather and crowd turnout was not on their side today and slightly affected their performance. (T)

Silverstein (2/5) spent their whole set digging themselves a grave saying that this is the last time we will ever see them in the UK as they are never coming back and if we want to see them again we have to head to Germany, now from looking around the majority of the people in the tent was just there to stay dry and couldn’t give a shit about Silverstein but there was some hardcore fans at the front who looked confused and still to this day I don’t know if Silverstein were joking or telling the truth but either way it is a shit way to treat your dedicated UK fans, could this be the beginning of the end for Silverstein? (T)

Bullet for my Valentine (4/5) the reason that they may not have as big a turn out is their overexposure over the past year; they headlined the second stage at Download last year, did a huge arena tour in December and now their back again. And to be fair they are a band that has to play certain songs because their fan base wouldn’t forgive them if they didn’t, they however play “Say Good Night” which nobody really gets onboard with as everybody wants “Hearts Burst Into Fire” but I think it’s good to mix things up. Matt Truck tries to get around as much of the stage as he can because being a front man constrained by a guitar making him unable to carry a microphone around with him is hard to really get into it but he does his best. Their pyro show is pretty good too not just your standard random bursts of fire it’s all symmetrical and exciting. (JW)

Rob Zombie (5/5) however is the master of the live show, no band has ever in my experience (and I’ve seen over 400 bands in my time) lived up to what this man produces. Even if he wasn’t trying he could obliterate most acts and on his UK tour in February in academy venues he played a toned down version of his live show which was still the best I’d ever seen. So when the promise that for download festival he would bring his entire stage show AND buy more stuff to add to it I was more excited than I’ve ever been in my life. He’s very late on stage but I forgive him for 3 reasons; 1 he’s given us Johnny cash to listen to whilst we wait, 2 I appreciate how long his show takes to setup and 3 he’s Rob freaking Zombie! He bursts out of a robots chest when he comes onto “Jesus Frankenstein” followed by 3 huge classics “Superbeast”, “Scum of the Earth” and “Living Dead Girl”. The screens accompanying his set show lots of boobs, gore and assorted trippy patterns including lyrics on some occasions. The dancing robots are back as well as the bigheaded dudes and the Jesus Frankenstein. It’s like he feeds on large audiences as compared to the February show it looks like the man’s on speed or something because he’s jumping all over the place running around and absolutely beaming. After a set of truly amazing tracks like “Mars Needs Women”, “Pussy Liquor” and “Demonoid Phenomenon” mixed along with White Zombie classics “More Human Than Human”, “Super-Charger Heaven” and “Thunder Kiss ‘65” which see’s John 5 perform one of the greatest guitar solos I have ever witnessed. He retreats backstage, but not for long before bringing out the podium dressing in a “Union Black” suit and performing his last song of the night “Dragula”. Just his presence was enough to send me off into orbit he’s just a legend on all accounts and I could not have been happier. (JW)

Linkin Park (4/5) are on for a good half an hour after Rob Zombie so I figure I can go and catch the last few classics which I do. I managed to catch “In The End” which is my favourite song and they perform it terrifically along with “Bleed It Out” which they then turn into a medley including the tracks “Burning in the Skies” and “A Place for My Head” which pleases me oh so much. The last 2 tracks of the night “Faint” and “One Step Closer” are what I always imagined a Linkin Park performance to be just like full of energy and passion which after all these years is good to see that Chester’s voice is still absolutely spot on. Triumphant end to a rain filled day which luckily stopped before rob zombie and yet another tremendous weekend held at Donnington Park. (JW)

Overall Download 2011 featured many highs and lows with Rob Zombie, System OF A Down, Gwar, Disturbed, Bowling For Soup, The Darkness, Def Leppard, Bullet For My Valentine all hitting that high bracket and the Saturday afternoon filler section and Sunday weather hitting that low bracket.

Next year will see Download hit its tenth anniversary mark and judging by some of the mindless idiots who plaster the Download facebook page and Andy Copping’s personal twitter page the only way to stop the mindless moaning is to book either Metallica or Iron Maiden as where either these two play the fans are happy, I personally think both bands are over toured in the UK at the moment but if it pleases the majority then it needs to be done.

Review By Trigger And James Webb

 Download Festival

Download Festival 2011
Donington Park, Derby
10th - 12th June 2011

 Friday - Main Stage

Def Leppard
The Darkness
Alter Bridge
Thin Lizzy
Black Stone Cherry
Duff McKagans Loaded
Puddle of Mudd

 Friday - Second Stage

Bring Me The Horizon
Children Of Bodom
The Damned Things
Young Guns
Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows (D.R.U.G.S.)

 Friday - Pepsi Max Stage

Times Of Grace
Hyro Da Hero
Asking Alexandria
Lower Than Atlantis
Japanese Voyeurs
Royal Republic
Sweet Savage

 Friday - Red Bull Stage

Envy Of The State
Don Broco

 Friday - Jager Stage

The Last Republic
The Dirty Youth
Million Dollar Reload
Obsessive Compulsive

 Saturday - Main Stage

System of a Down
Avenged Sevenfold
Skunk Anansie
Hollywood Undead
Escape The Fate
All That Remains
The Devil Wears Prada

 Saturday - Second Stage

Alice Cooper
Twisted Sister
Cheap Trick
Mr Big
Dan Reed
Rock Sugar
Boss Hoss
Rise To Remain
Sacred Mother Tongue

 Saturday - Pepsi Max Stage

Funeral For A Friend
The King Blues
Trash Talk
Your Demise
Straight Line Stitch
The Rods

 Saturday - Red Bull Stage

Kill 21
The Dangerous Summer
Dear Superstar
Blitz Kids
The Morning After
Fighting Wolves

 Saturday - Jager Stage

Bowling for Soup
Dan Reed
Sons of Icarus
Royal Republic
Maiden UniteD
Skin (band)

 Sunday - Main Stage

Linkin Park
Bullet For My Valentine
The Gaslight Anthem
The Pretty Reckless
Bowling for Soup
Madina Lake
Suicide Silence

 Sunday - Second Stage

Rob Zombie
The Cult
Black Veil Brides
Karma To Burn

 Sunday - Pepsi Max Stage

Frank Turner
Plain White T\'s
Framing Hanley
Deaf Havana
My Darkest Days
Sworn Amongst
The Jameson Raid

 Sunday - Red Bull Stage

Baptized In Blood
The Dead Lay Waiting
You And What Army
October File
Skeletal Damage

 Sunday - Jager Stage

Dave McPherson (INME)
Red, White & Blues Band
Hyro Da Hero
The Morning After
Slaves to Gravity
Heavens Basement
Voodoo Johnson
Raven Vandelle

 Event Related Links
 Review Score Code
- Top Cheese
- Brilliant
- Pretty damn good
- Ok I guess
- What Was That?