First review: Download Festival 2011
Rain, shine and System Of A Down
Despite the predictably unpredictable British weather helping VF get both burnt and soaked in one weekend, and the hotly-debated
controversy surrounding the line up, this has arguably been one of the best Download Festivals in its nine-year history. Why,
you ask? Well, bands outperformed expectations with plenty of ‘I’ve seen them before but this is just amazing…’
gasps, and the vibe of the crowd is just electric throughout.
Highlights are numerous and varied, from the pure rock and roll energy of Black Stone Cherry (9/10) and The Cult (7/10) to the more folksy musings of Frank Turner (8/10) who pulls a bit of Iron Maiden’s ‘Number Of The Beast’ out of the bag.
The filthy space-fiends GWAR (8/10) take metal to a whole new level, spraying the crowd with various bodily fluids as the rain pours down, but Puddle Of Mudd’s (5/10) cheeky rendition of ‘War Pigs’ doesn’t redeem an otherwise awkward set.
Second stage headliner Alice Cooper’s (9/10) highly theatrical and musically flawless set is absolutely stunning, with the likes of ‘Poison’ and ‘Hey Stoopid’ firing up the crowd as Cooper plays with a variety of props such as snakes, swords and rag dolls. The Darkness’ (5/10) much anticipated reunion doesn’t quite hit the spot, but Clutch (9/10) manage to bring back the light on Saturday with an utterly amazing ‘Electric Worry’ as the crowd goes mental.
Bowling For Soup (10/10), whether rockin’ the Jagermeister stage, the Main stage or the backstage, are fun for the whole family. Providing your family is at home with jokes such as “I touched my penis and it threw up” and “When I touch my penis it spits like a camel”. Then there is the incredible Skindred (9/10), who acoustically are the bees knees. Reading lyrics off a KFC packet, stoned singer Benji gives us a reggae sway and plenty of good-natured banter. Over on the main stage the next day, sporting a Union Jack jacket, Benji Webbe bounces about to their very special brand of ragga-metal, and prompts some very funny attempts at krumping in the crowd.
Pendulum (8/10) may play every festival but it’s worth it for a bit of a boogie – it’s the only way the metal fans can get down to dirty drum and bass. Never mind good dancing, everyone’s doing the moshin’crab! Def Leppard (8/10) keep old school rock n roll alive and very British, flying the Union Jack on the big screens and Buckcherry’s (9/10) brand of American cock-rock goes down a storm with a very soggy bunch of spectators.
Finally on Sunday, Rob Zombie’s (8/10) ‘Zombie Party’ is a grimy, corrupt orgy of sound which aims to please with three White Zombie tracks thrown in for the die hard fans. Rob himself is hugely entertaining while the atmosphere is thrilling. Over on the Saturday, newly reunited System Of A Down (9/10) close the main stage with a massive bang, playing all the old favourites to a thrashing throng of devotees. It’s a hold-your-breath moment when they drop ‘Chop Suey’, and like Dowload 2011 itself, it’s one for the books.