Download 2008: Friday Blog
Putting the pedal to the metal
Possibly one of the most memorable sets recent history! KISS are on fire this evening – almost literally – with spitting blood, flying guitarists and a lightshow that’s likely to encourage the last plane into East Midlands Airport onto the Donington racetrack.
Running through all their hits (minus 'God Gave Rock N Rock To You') the band are on top form. 'Hotter Than Hell' is glam-tastic and 'Lovegun' sees guitarist Paul Stanley float over the crowd to the sound desk like a living angel.
Bassist Gene Simmons even manages his traditional blood spitting solo before he is hoisted up to a platform at the top of the stage. The grand finale is made up of more pyrotechnics than the millennium as the band play for nearly two hours. But we ain’t got that long as we're getting chucked out of the press tent…
Dillinger Escape Plan are so loud we can't even here their lyrics, but not matter as the band certainly know how to get a crowd going. Cue the obligatary sweaty bodies and hair tugging! Crowd surfers are having a field day, the front filled with savage moshers as the tent is full of raised hands saluting Greg Puciato's monkey antics as he makes it his job to climb the gantries.
They go out with a bang as the band partake in jumping into the crowd themselves as a massive metal box is thrown into the mix for good measure.
Matt Devine's feminine singing and a gothic appearance from Kill Hannah is stirring up a frenzy in the Gibson tent. Their final number 'Lips Like Morphine' lifts the roof off of the third stage.
Rise Against are determined to close their last UK dates of the year witha bang, bursting out of the stocks with the fist pumping 'Give It All'. Charismatic frontman, Tim McIllrath, leaps down onto the lower step of the stage, reaching for the churning pit accompanying 'Chamber The Cartridge' below him. This is music that preaches against barriers, but for the massive chorus of voices below him, not even the ones at the second stagecan keep them down.
But forget backstage because Judas Priest are too busy riding a motorbike on the main stage to worry about an STI. After rolling out hits like 'Breaking The Law' lead singer Rob Halford is back for his party trick: riding on the stage. Is that on the wrong side of the law?
Backstage at KISS' news conference (yes, they're all in the full clobber) their guitarist Paul Stanley has likened this band to herpes. Speaking about the differences between Monsters Of Rock and Download the Stanley said: "Trends come, fashion comes, but we don’t go away." Cockroaches maybe, but herpes? A bit of cream got rid of this journo's problems…
The press tent has run out of tea cups. We’re off to find some beer!
Motorhead are punishing the main stage audience with a greatest hits set. 'Ace Of Spades' deservedly receives the loudest roar and Lemy is keeping it together despite leaving today's press conference with two new bottles of JD.
The Subways are banging out their light rock out to a busy second stage. Despite the relationship break-up between singer Billy Lunn and bassist Charlotte Cooper, the band sound as tight as ever. Cooper has adorned some KISS make up for their performance, which has the crowd singing along to 'Oh Yeah'; despite messageboard reservations that suggested they weren't 'Download' enough.
Taking of punk it seems to be making a comeback at Download. Gallows last year, Lovvers this morning and now Black Hole are giving it a go. Their throbbing instrumental work will send tingles down the spine of the most hardened Downloader.
Elsewhere, the second stage curse, which has been taking down drummers like Christmas decorations, has hit Fall Of Troy who had their van robbed in Newport last night. Carrying on regardless they craft a blend of metal and dancey emo for people with the coordination of drunken stilt-walkers. The galloping 'Sledgehammer' is iced with a few familiar tunes for fans of Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana with Thomas Erak throwing his guitar around like it's attacking him. They even take time out to spoil us with new track 'Straightjacket Keelhaul', a driven piece of warped adrenalin punk rock earmarked for their next album.
KISS fans have got their faces adorned with their favourite members make-up in an attempt to break a world record. We're unsure it they managed to get the 400 faces they needed to get into the Guinness Book of Records, but one small KISS fan definitely had the attention of the photographers. Watch out Gene Simmons…
On the main stage Disturbed's David Draiman is asking for 10,000 fists in the air, but looks like he's getting a lot more. The pumping fists are synchronised as Draiman's garrulous stage presence gets the crowd moving. 'Stricken' doesn't prove to be the perfect masterpiece it should have been, but 'Down With The Sickness' redeems the Chicago quartet with a display of superb guitar work.
Comeback Kid’s Andrew Neufeld says he's glad to see that the UK scene hasn't been "saturated with the violence" that dogs the US scene. It may sound a like a bit of a backhanded compliment, but the crowd that greets the storming 'Wake The Dead' takes their impassioned punk rock to heart; a forest of raised fists testament to their life-affirming hardcore.
We've just heard that Kid Rock has been taken ill and his slot will be filled by extended sets from Judas Priest and Disturbed. Rumours around the site, however, suggest he cancelled through fears of being bottled…
The demonic grunts and screams emitting from Hostile in third tent sound intriguing, but many don't stay for the duration as the American Bad Ass, Kid Rock, is due on the main stage.
Motorhead are holding a backstage conference and Lemy, who is sat in front of two litres of Jack Daniels, tells the crowd about his latest franchise: action figures. "There is an action figure of me and I'm told it’s on sale at a most reasonable price. It doesn't have the dick on it though, so I don't see how it’s going to get any action!" The journalists crack up – is it that funny or are they just scared of the aging rocker?
It's starting to get heavy as Download gets its first proper mosh of the weekend curtsey of Black Dahlia Murder. Their blistering hardcore is giving the second stage concrete dancefloor a proper bashing, while the fans eyes are burning – not in the sunshine (that's yet to appear properly) but at the sight of Trevor Strnad's wobbling flesh!
Is Kurt Cobain out to haunt us this weekend? First the Lovvers singer kits himself out like the Nirvana frontman and now Seether are covering 'In Bloom' on the main stage.
It's only Friday but Zebrahead's lead singer, Abi Tabatbaee, is making us feel like it's the grubby Sunday night already with his filth: "Masturbation leads to world peace." Does that mean we need a tosser like him in charge then?
Lovvers open the third tent with a loud and raucous assault on the senses. Lead singer, Shaun Hencher, who looks remarkably like a young Kurt Kobain, leads the charge as the Nottingham noise-punkers bash their way through a short 25 minute set - they even find time to dedicate a track to Motorhead's Lemy.
We're in the press area taking advantage of the free tea. The milk has already run out, but in keeping with the weekend – we're going to drink it black! We're going to pop over and see Lovvers open the third tent in a bit, but really everyone is waiting for the 'Holy Trinity' on the main stage with Motorhead, Judas Priest and KISS all following one another. According to the stage manager the final change over is set to be the biggest in history…
With the BBQ officially over we head out to check out the new site. The main stage is now at the far end of the track backed against some trees - it doesn't look as if they’re going to fit in as many metallers in this time around. The second stage is now in the open air beacuse metal needs to breath, but the fans will also have to mosh on concrete so expect some aching limbs come Monday morning.
'The line up has nothing to do with me!' – Festival director John Probyn produces every sensationalist journalists dream with his opening gambit at the Boardies BBQ. Forever Never provide the soundtrack as messageboard users of the official Download site enjoy free beer and a free BBQ the day before the festival officially opens!
We've finally arrived onsite after driving through weather seems to have spanned the entire British climate spectrum of the last decade. But it is the first major of the year, so a bit of rain/sun/hail/cloud is to be expected.