Gig Review

Download Festival 2012
Donington Park, Derby
10th - 12th June 2012

This year Download Festival celebrated its tenth year and boasted one of the best line ups the festival has ever had with The Prodigy, Metallica and Black Sabbath headlining the main stage and over 140 bands playing the festival over the weekend with bands such as Billy Talent, Cancer Bats, Megadeath, Steel Panther, Black Veil Brides, Chase And Status and many others helping make 2012 the biggest and most diverse Download festival line up to date.

When Download Festival 2012 was originally announced back towards the end of 2011 everyone was stoked by the killer headliners that festival booker Andy Copping had booked and as the weeks went past the line up got bigger and better with each and every announcement and everything seemed to be on track for the 10th anniversary of the festival to go with a bang but then suddenly in true British summer style the weather was as unpredictable as ever with high winds up to 70mph and nonstop rain battering the whole country but more importantly Donington Park and the whole festival site leaving the majority of people in a really gloomy mood after putting up with up to two days of mud, rain and wind before the music even kicked off.

The main arena was due to open at 1pm today for the music to kick off at 2pm but due to the extreme nature of the weather the opening of the arena was put back 2 hours to 3pm so the festival organisers could try take control of the potential bad ground conditions in the arena, this left thousands of fans left queuing outside the main gate with little information from the stewards, the time soon passed and the arena was open but sadly Rise To Remain and the Cancer Bats main stage slots got cancelled due to the late opening and within minutes the green field turned into a mud pit with thousands of rock music fans making their way through.

NOFX (4/5) took to the main stage at Download to unleash their well loved brand of punk rock with Fat Mike adding in their usual element of comedy claiming that they are the best band of the festival and generally joking about various different things, they blasted their way through 16 tracks which included some absolute gems such as ‘Dinsaurs Will Die’, ‘Franco Un-American’, ‘Bob’, and reggae tinged regular set closer ‘Kill all The White Man’. (T)

Billy Talent (4/5) were up on the main stage next and were one of the bands I had been looking forward to the most at Download as it has been a good two or three years since they last made their way over to the UK for some shows and they wasted no time and rocked out with high energy playing some of their most loved song like ‘Devil In a Midnight Mass’, ‘Rusted from The Rain’, ‘Try Honestly’, ‘Devil On My Shoulder’, ‘Red Flag’ and even their brand new single ‘Viking Death March’ which went down just as well as all their other songs, halfway through the set Billy Talent frontman Ben Kowalewicz did such an amazing thing by welcoming the Cancer Bats (4/5) on stage to perform one song after their main stage set got cancelled, Cancer Bats frontman Liam Cormier spoke to the crowd for a brief amount of time to let everyone know that they will be playing the Redbull Bedroom Jam stage after the Gallows this was met with positive cheers and the Cancer Bats then spent the next 4minutes unleashing ‘Hail Destroyer’ on us which put a smile on mine and many others faces. (T)

Machine Head (4/5) emerge to bring back the brutality that this day has lacked thus far, with the 2 other heavy bands of today being unable to play due to weather it is essential for these guys to really bring it. Having seen them on many occasions now I must say that whilst I enjoyed it this was far from the greatest set I’ve seen from them, partially due to the band themselves onstage and mostly due to the set list. They tried to shake it up and leave out some of the usual classics but I feel that people were annoyed and some of which would text message the screens expressing their disappointment. The lack of “Davidian” was the main one for me that made no sense, that was their anthem that was just completely left out, first time I’ve ever not seen them play and it and also the first time I haven’t given them a flawless review, connect the dots. (JW)

Chase And Status (4/5) were next up on the main stage and I stayed around to watch them as I have never really heard the band before so was quite interested in what they would be like and another part of me also wanted to see what kind of reaction they would get from the crowd because as soon as they were announced for the festival there was a massive backlash on internet forums saying why were a dub step band playing a rock festival, anyway within minutes of them being on stage I had become a converted Chase And Status fan and looking around so did another 50,000 people who all seemed to be having fun raving in the mud and signing along to songs such as ‘Pieces’ and ‘Fool Yourself’ which saw Chase And Status mix drum n bass with rock in such a perfect way putting them up there with the likes of Pendulum and godfathers of dance music The Prodigy. (T)

Ever since Frank Carter left the Gallows (5/5) and Wade Macneil joined I have been wanting to see them but they have only been doing the odd one off show in the UK as they have been busy touring American and working on new material so tonight I fully took the option to watch the Gallows and wow what a show they put on, right from the start Macneil launched himself in the crowd and continued to rock out with the fans for a couple of songs whilst the rest of the band jammed and rocked out together onstage, it was slightly odd hearing Macneil sing songs that I have been used to Carter singing for many years now but I feel that Macneil helps make the Gallows a full on hardcore band and after hearing new short but sweet track ‘Mondo Chaos’ I am quite excited to see what the future holds for the Gallows. (T)

The Prodigy (5/5) are no strangers to Download Festival after headlining the second stage twice in the past but tonight was the bands first ever headline slot on the mainstage at Download and they proper brought the noise tonight and totally slayed the main stage.

Every time I have seen The Prodigy they have put on an unforgettable show but tonight they played like their lives depended on it and smashed through a pretty much greatest hits set which also touched heavily on their ‘Invaders Must Die’ album, the lighting show and pyro’s the Prodigy had tonight were fantastic and the crowd was going proper nuts with nearly everyone spinning around like nutters wishing that they were on stage with Keith Flint and co.

The duel battle vocals from Keith and Maxim sounded amazing live and so did the DJ work from Prodigy main noise maker Liam Howlett, the highlights of the set included ‘Poison’, ‘Firestarter’, ‘Smack My Bitch Up’ and set closer ‘Their Law’.

Just like with Chase And Status there was a lot of debate online about if The Prodigy should headline a rock festival and in my eyes tonight’s show proved exactly why it was the right choice for The Prodigy to headline, they may not be Metallica, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden or any of they other great metal bands out their but they sure know how to rock out and also bring a diverse feel to the UK’s fastest growing music festival.

Raving along to The Prodigy made people forget about the mud, rain and wind for a solid amount of time but after The Prodigy finished in was back to the village and tents for everyone camping and when we finally made our way to Brown campsite we found our tent snapped in multiple places and leaning over onto other tents due to the high winds so spent the next couple of hours packing our stuff away and taking the long walk to West Car Park for a much needed sleep in the car as the welfare people were no help in the slightest. (T)

Today was easily the strongest day of the festival and the fact that day tickets were fully sold out for Saturday helps back up that statement.

Fozzy (4/5) genuinely surprised me with their set! I always took them as a bit of a joke simply because WWE superstar Chris Jericho was their frontman, but he proved to me he can actually really damn sing. Kind of makes me feel stupid for judging them because all of the songs included in their set were extremely raw, bouncy, heavy and catchy. Evidently this is not just the opinion I have myself as there are many other hundreds of people that turned up and are now bouncing around all over the place, Jericho’s charisma and determination are the driving force that really give Fozzy’s live set that huge success, from what I’ve witness and I have very high hopes for the bands future with their incredible music and excessive enthusiasm. (JW)

Halestorm (4/5) have the benefit of having an extremely sexy woman fronting them which could be one of the many reasons the turnout here today - as every other time they play the UK - is so impressive, the fact that the band has only graced our shores a handful of times makes this fact all the more admirable. They perform impeccably as Lzzy Hale uses her vast amount of confidence and colourful personality to command the audience every which was she sees fit as the rest of the band fill in the blanks with their incredible musical talent. Don’t get me wrong there were times where the vocals were just a bit too much by which I mean a bit too high pitched and hurt the ol’ ear drums a bit, but apart from that this was a near enough perfect set. (JW)

I have been a fan of the Black Veil Brides (4/5) ever since they first touched down in the UK supporting The Murderdolls, their energetic live show totally blew me away, since they they have completed many sold out headline tours across the UK and also played the second stage at Download last year which happened to be a complete wash out due to bad weather and only a handful of people turned up to watch them but today for their main stage slot they had a massive gathering and wasted no time blasting straight into ‘New Religion’.

As the set progresses the Black Veil Brides play through a number of tracks from both albums and also their Billy Idol ‘Rebel Yell’ cover, towards the middle of the set Andy Biersack stands his ground and tells the select few idiots who are throwing bottles at his band that they are cowards and bullies and that the Black Veil Brides have the best fans in the world for sticking down the front putting up with the shit behaviour going on, Andy even walks down the Metallica snake pit part of the stage dodging a massive storm of bottles before showing his arse to the crowd before continuing the set and then asking everyone to raise their middle fingers at him and then telling the crowd that he has just taking the power from them.

Despite the bottles and slight sound issues from the wind the Black Veil Brides proved that they were worthy to be playing the main stage at Download, they pleased their fans, gained some new ones in the process and also stuck up to the bullies in a respectable way. (T)

Trivium (4/5) unleashed the metal today and started off with the killer instrumental opener ‘Capsizing The Sea’ from their ‘In Waves’ album and then backed that up with ‘In Waves’.

Matt Heafy took a lot of time to interact with the crowd today firstly to thank them for making Trivium so successful in the UK and also thanking Download for repeatedly booking them to play and then he told them that he wanted to top their Download circle pit record of 7 pits open at once and that is exactly what they did with about 9 circle pits opening up as Trivium laid down the thunder with bodies everywhere zooming around the numerous pits.

Steel Panther (5/5) were the band that I had been looking forward to all weekend and it seems that the majority of Download Festival goers felt the same as me as the field was packed for Steel Panther and from the start the sex, drugs and rock n roll gags started with Steel Panther talking filth throughout their whole set, if they weren’t telling sex jokes to the crowd then they were playing songs with sexual content and it was extremely immature yet hilarious.

At one point the band asked the camera man to focus of the girls in the crowd which kicked off the boob cam, with girls getting there tits out for the camera for the next couple of minutes, this was met with cheers from the crowd.

The set that Steel Panther played was a mix from both albums with the likes of ‘Asian Hooker’, ‘Just Like Tiger Woods’, ‘Community Property’, ‘Party All Day (Fuck All Night)’ being sung word for word by over 80,000 rock music fans, the set closed in an epic way when they invited Corey Taylor onstage to help out during ‘Death To All But Metal’ and the Panther party quickly came to an amazing end.

Up next were Tenacious D (4/5) and just as they took to the stage I looked around and was amazed by the massive gathering they had, it was easily the biggest gathering for a non headline band of the weekend which made me wonder if other bands actually had anyone watching them which I soon found out when some friends said they went to watch Theory Of A Deadman on the Zippo Encore Stage and said there was a maximum of 100 people there and they cut their set short by at least 10minutes and shouted “We are fucking off to watch Tenacious D like everyone else” before storming off stage.

Anyway back to Tenacious D, I wasn’t really sure what to expect of them live, to start with I was a little bored but as the set progressed the humour came and then classic songs came one after another with ‘Fuck Her Gently’ and ‘Tribute’ becoming massive sing-along moments of the set.

After Tenacious D we headed over to the Pepsi Max Stage to catch Corey Taylor (4/5) we got there a good 30minutes before he was due to start at the tent was already over spilling so we waited outside and in no time Taylor took to the stage.

He started off by telling the crowd that he should be headlining the tent but he told the organisers no way as he wanted to watch Metallica and this is just one small example of why Corey Taylor is such a legend.

His set was a solid acoustic set which featured ‘Bother’ and ‘Through The Glass’ by stone Sour as well as a sneaky premier of ‘Taciturn’ which is to be featured on the forthcoming Stone Sour album which Taylor told the crowd is going to be a two part album released later in the year.

Taylor also played acoustic versions of Slipknot ‘Snuff’ and ‘Spit It Out’ and also songs from some of his favourite bands like Pink Floyd, Alice In Chains, The Ramones and even brought rock goddess Lzzy Hale from Halestorm out on stage for a cover of AC/DC ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’.

The end of Taylors set was emotional when Download Festival band booker Andy Copping came on stage with the editor of Metal Hammer magazine to give Corey Taylor an award for the best performance of Download Festival for Slipknots epic 2009 headline set and this left a lot of people reaching for tissues to dry their eyes.

Biffy Clyro (2.5/5) I was expecting to at least be a bit better than this! I saw them play at Sonisphere last year and even then I didn’t like them but their show was a bit better than this; Minimal if any crowd interaction, crappy effects on the screens making them appear to be broken and some crappy tree backdrop. I’m sorry but I tried to give it a chance again after last year and after the first few songs I just wanted it to freaking end, it was made worse by the fact they were stood between me and Metallica, I don’t think their music is bad at all I just feel the performance needs more effort and interaction. I even had some Biffy fans with me and they wanted them to get the hell of the stage so it obviously wasn’t just me feeling this. (JW)

Metallica (4.5/5) are back at download for the first time since 2006 and instead of playing “Master of Puppets” in full, this time to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the festival they played The Black Album in its entirety, instead of just playing it through though they decided to play it through backwards, an interesting choice but it kept it fresh. Having seen Metallica at sonisphere last year I can say that apart from the Big 4 encore and the addition of the black album, the show wasn’t that different it was pretty same it, which isn’t bad because they put on a fantastic show but for me it was like, ok I’ve seen this once. Completely missing out “Death Magnetic” and focusing primarily on the black album and the classics made it a pretty strong set list all in all and the pyro for “One” still amazes me every time.

Black Label Society (4.5/5) are veterans when it comes to music festivals, it’s very strange though to see them play whilst the sun is out however because the ambiance given by their lighting is now missing from the set, this just proves however that they don’t need it to put on an amazing show. Zakk Wylde emerges sporting some sort of Indian chief headdress, commanding respect and asserting his dominance on the line-up. Amongst some of the wicked songs like “Concrete Jungle”, “Stillborn” and “Parade of the Dead” Mr Wylde shows the world why he is deemed one of the world’s greatest guitar players with a considerably lengthy guitar solo mid set, never ceased to be amazed by this band. (JW)

Lamb of God (4.5/5) return to Donnington to really push the aggression the way only Lamb of God can; despite the mud the circle pit opens up, hair is whipping around and full blown chaos has ensued. Their set is a good mix up of songs old and new to try and keep some familiarity about it but to also push their new stuff as well, works to perfection as new track “Ghost Walking” gets equally good response as hit song “Redneck” and even “Laid to Rest”. Randy Blythe has always had an amazing connection with his fans, to the point where whatever demands comes to life almost instantly in front of him and the brutality at even a 40 minute festival set has more brutality than you will find at a vast amount of other shows. There’s nothing else to say; they’re note for note perfect, their onstage presence is surreal and the nostalgia that’s kept me coming back to see them everytime since I was 15 is still there! (JW)

Shinedown (4.5/5) just like Halestorm always seem to have extremely impressive turnouts to their shows, today is no exception as the second stage area is rammed to capacity eagerly awaiting the bands arrival. The band open with title track of their third album “Sound of Madness” followed up with a track that was never released on any of their studio albums “Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-lay Boom)” which was written for the film The Expendables. After that its mostly tracks from their new album with 2 songs from older albums thrown in, it was a bit unfair their set was so short because naturally they have to push their new material but that meant they didn’t get chance to get the sing-a-long’s going as well as usual. (JW)

Firewind (4/5) played on the Pepsi Max stage in the big blue tent and originally upon arrival it didn’t seem many people were interested as the tent was empty, but as they came onstage people seemed to flood in which came as a huge surprise to me as I didn’t think they had much of a fan base left over here anymore. Nevertheless they burst onstage as energetic and enthusiastic as always to a decent crowd debuting tracks from their latest album “Days of Defiance” as well as a few classics including “Insanity” and “Falling to Pieces”. It’s a shame though in all fairness that their set was really short because trying to promote a new album with loads more in their back catalogue in half an hour. (JW)

Black Sabbath (5/5) is the band I’ve been waiting for all weekend; the band I braved the mud, wind and rain for this entire festival for. The sheer pre-Sabbath jitters were too much to bear and the moment the sheet drops revealing these heavy metal legends in all their glory, whilst their age may be showing and Ozzy Osbourne’s attempt at running across the stage turned into hobbling they can still play! They managed to bang out 18 songs and it wasn’t lifeless in the slightest, they gave really all the energy they had and even an ill Tony Iommi was on top form and had his moment in the spotlight as Ozzy asks for a round of applause for the brave man still going forward with the show regardless of his condition. The set consideration was also quite clever in its structure, they took all of their most popular songs and spread them out so even people who only knew the classics would stay for the whole set; “N.I.B”, “War Pigs”, “Iron Man”, “Electric Funeral” and closing with the obvious choice “Paranoid” before a lengthy goodbye and a firework display to close the festival, the perfect end to downloads 10th anniversary, see you next year people! (JW)

Review By Trigger And James Webb

 Download Festival

Download Festival 2012
Donington Park, Derby
8th - 10th June 2012

 Friday - Main Stage

The Prodigy
Chase & Status
Machine Head
Billy Talent
Fear Factory
Cancer Bats
Rise To Remain

 Friday - Second Stage

Little Angels
The Quireboys
Red, White & Blues Band
Six Hour Sundown

 Friday - Pepsi Max Stage

Devin Townsend
While She Sleeps
The Defiled
Lawnmower Deth
Absolute Power
Silent Descent
Impaled Existence

 Friday - Red Bull Stage

The Safety Fire
Porter Robinson
Upon A Burning Body
Dive Bella Dive
Dead Hearts
Jelly Cats

 Friday - Jager Stage

Breed 77
Million Dollar Reload
With One Last Breath

 Saturday - Main Stage

Biffy Clyro
Tenacious D
Steel Panther
Black Veil Brides
As I Lay Dying

 Saturday - Second Stage

You Me At Six
Killswitch Engage
Kids in Glass Houses
Theory Of A Deadman
Four Year Strong
Lower Than Atlantis
Ginger (The Wildhearts)
Page 44

 Saturday - Pepsi Max Stage

The Mission
The Union
Corey Taylor (acoustic set)
My Passion
The Treatment
Anti-Nowhere League
The Yo-Yos
Don Broco
No Americana

 Saturday - Red Bull Stage

Cockney Rejects
Fearless Vampire Killers
Mallory Knox
Butcher Babies
Never Means Maybe
Golden Tanks
Royal Cartel

 Saturday - Jager Stage

The Quireboys
Heavens Basement
Red, White & Blues Band
Six Hour Sundown

 Sunday - Main Stage

Black Sabbath
Lamb of God
Black Label Society
Kyuss Lives
Stellar Revival

 Sunday - Second Stage

Rise Against
Dropkick Murphys
Ugly Kid Joe
Sebastian Bach
Rival Sons
August Burns Red
We Are The Ocean
Black Spiders
Kobra And The Lotus

 Sunday - Pepsi Max Stage

La Dispute
The James Cleaver Quintet
Shadows Fall
Reckless Love
Heavens Basement
Feed The Rhino
Skarlett Riot

 Sunday - Red Bull Stage

William Control
Hawk Eyes
The Dirty Youth
The Minutes
With One Last Breath
You And What Army
Strangle Kojak
Mechanical Smile

 Sunday - Jager Stage

Saint Jude
Fearless Vampire Killers
Voodoo Johnson
White Powder Gold

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