Download 2008: Saturday Blog

United Kingdom United Kingdom | by Ruth Booth, Daniel Fahey, Ali Ryland | 14 June 2008


It's a surprisingly low-key entrance for The Offspring, who seem to be playing in the midst of KISS's leftover makeup cases from last night. A punk band at a metal festival? Preposterous! Yet once 'Bad Habit' kicks in, it's clear that the words "stupid dumbshit goddamn motherfucker" are universal whatever genre you're in.

Sure The Offspring are getting on a bit – Noodles appears to have been replaced by a stray member of Dinosaur Jnr and Dexter Holland does look like he's just stopped off on the way from coaching his kids at little league. Noodles announcing that he has a massive boner at the top of his voice is possibly the scariest thing since the last time Iggy Pop played the UK in jeans that are two sizes too small.

However, that doesn't stop 'Hit That' from being a rollicking slice of electro-punk, nor 'Self-Esteem' from being the best anthem about crappy relationships ever. VF just wishes that there was some middle ground between how bored and tired Dexter looks, and how hyped Noodles is tonight. After KISS, we've been a little spoilt, it’s true to say, but even with anthems as slick as this, tonight is the closest we’ve been all weekend to bored.

HIM can't help but make an entrance. They're fashionably late, but the vampire-like Ville Valo still flirtingly acknowledges the crowd, his bushy hair concealed under a fashionable headband. Valo's unusual voice only rouses the screaming fans who are fully appreciative of Love Rock anthems including 'Buried Alive By Love' and brand new track 'Kiss Of Dawn'. Some appreciate him a little too much as he's showered in a bombardment of bras much to his delight. HIM bring the stage to a close with Billy Idol's 'Rebel Yell' – he just can't do Billy's sneer.

"Okay, token guilty pleasure – we know!" Ash are only three songs in and they're already getting all honest on us…

are running through a classic set even playing a stripped down version of 'Drive', which prompts a mass karaoke session, but there is hardly anyone here - they must all be at Pendulum. A UK festival appearance from Incubus has been a while in the coming, but even their loyal army must be disheartened. The sound quality is really poor: we can see the guitar, but we can't hear it – it must've been unplugged!

The doubters may've done their doubting but most of them seem to be at the Pendulum set now. The Aussie drum n bass group have got a massive crowd for their Download debut as they unleash hits like 'Slam', 'Propane Nightmares' and a remix of The Prodigy's 'Voodoo People' during a set that is set to convert even the most cynical Downloader. The only thing rock fans need to do now is learn to dance to it: groove to the bass guys, not to the beat…

Last night we got the best – tonight we get the original. Ace Frehley, the original Space Ace from KISS is, in his own words, "still smokin'" – or at least his guitar literally is, as the fire extinguisher is brought out for the impressive fretwork that follows classic track 'Shock Me'. It's a mostly mature crowd that's rocking to the likes of 'New York Groove', but they know the young 'uns are missing a treat.

may think they're the hottest band around, but they can't compare to Bullet For My Valentine. "We're here for one reason and one reason only – that’s to rock!" Declares lead singer Matt Tuck onstage and we don't doubt that for a second…

The Welsh metallers play 'The Poison' as well as the epic crowd-pleaser 'Tears Don’t Fall' and now after Tuck has finished splitting the is crowd into two, just so they can clash again! They leave the crowd with this message: "Tear Donington apart!"

Biffy Clyro
have upgraded from a tent to the main stage this year and a swirl of fans have camped out on the hill the watch their hard-punk. Passed off as indie by the mainstream press, the Scottish group are showing that they're anything but.

'Get Fucked Stud' is a frantically heavy slab of rock, its skewed rhythms perfectly complimenting that psychotic sweaty madman look that's permanently stuck on frontman Simon Neil's face. However, while it's the dark stuff like the driven 'Living Is A Problem Because Everyone Dies' that really draws in the crowd, it's their skill for the crunching metallic anthems like 'Just Boy' that makes them perfect for Download, giving Neil the right to throw his axe against the stage without the risk of being cheesy.

Bleeding Through
have the audience in the palm of their hand on the Turborg Stage. They've managed to get a circle pit revolving around the sound desk – Dog’s leading the charge!

It's Miles Kennedy's fifth wedding anniversary – and it says much about Alter Bridge (and his wife's patience!) that he's chosen to celebrate it at Download. This afternoon, they churn out classic atmospheric metal anthems – and the occasional southern country solo moment – for the faithful in a beautifully dark set. And just for a moment, crossing in front of the right hand screen to see the crowd, Miles will allow himself the ghost of a smile underneath that long hair before he snaps back to that serious expression.

Johnny Truant
are offering us Jagermeister backstage. It isn't as welcome as their advice for getting an erection when drunk: taps, sinks etc…check back for the full interview.

Madina Lake
unleash a stream of black and white balloons with shiny tickertape inside on the main stage – it's a bit like the Crystal Maze, but without the harmonica. "The best thing about England is your passion – love or hate," says Laker Nathan Leone, blatantly aware that they're one of the most contentious bands on the main stage today. To their credit though, they make it damn hard to hate them, especially when they storm through a triumphant version of 'Here I Stand' that could convert even the most hard-hearted hater.

John our cameraman finally gets backstage, but looking at his footage it's easy to see how he got distracted for so long. The film shows scantily clad women dancing suggestively on top of the Monster Energy bar – a day earlier and he would've caught them without the strategically placed electrical tape apparently…

The Kerrang! Signing Tent is awash with Bullet For My Valentine fans while A Day To Remember are on the second stage. They treat fans to a cover of Kelly Clarkson's 'Since U Been Gone' – very hardcore…

The sun is well and truly back out again, which has got to make Alaskan boys 36 Crazyfists feel right at home. It also seems to have gone to their heads: "I am pretty sexy, aren't I?" grins their frontman Brock Lindow. Thankfully, Lindow's furious stage presence and a rousing rendition of 'Slit Wrist Theory' conspire for one of this afternoon's most raucous crowd sing-a-longs.

A rock connection: Charlie Simpson of Fightstar and Busted fame’s little brother Will is performing an acoustic track backstage. He'll be playing with his band Brigade on the third stage very soon. I'm guessing it will be a lot louder than this though…

Weather check: the sun is back out.

VF's Yonas is gutted when he finds out that Devil Wears Prada are a band and not the film – it's one of his favourites!

"How are you motherfuckers doing tonight?" Well, we can forgive Job For A Cowboy for being a little confused about the time of day. When you turn the friction up this far with their throat scarring metal like on the brutal 'Reduce To Mere Filth', it's got to mess with your mind. Sadly after Skindred's pit, the brutal response from the smaller pit at the front can' make up for its size.

In the third tent Go Audio seem to be attracting a big audience with their youthful, lighthearted tunes. We think they're just hiding from that sudden downpour!

No one seems to mind the rain at the main stage as Skindred draw a massive crowd.

We spoke too soon! We spoke too soon! The rain is pouring down: head for the tents...

Fans of the recently disbanded Sikth were given an early morning treat as former frontman Justin Hill joined Malefice on the second stage for set closer 'Dreams Without Courage'.

The sun is here! The sun is here!

We've now got hair greasier than Axl Rose and the campsite was so cold last night that VF toyed with the idea of leaving an Oates-type note for our fellow campers: 'I am just going outside and may be some time…' However in true rock and roll grit and grubbiness we're back out for another packed day of metal and moshing…

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