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Download 2010: The good, the bands and the ugly


United Kingdom United Kingdom | by Ruth Booth, Ali Ryland | 15 June 2010

UPPERS

AC/DC - 9/10

When they say a band hits like a freight train, they don’t usually mean that they took an actual train and rammed it through the stage. Then again, nothing about AC/DC's set was done by halves. You could talk about rolling out of classics like 'TNT', 'Whole Lotta Rosie' and 'Highway To Hell', but it's what they were going to bring to that specially constructed stage that was on everybody's mind.  Fireworks, cannons, flamethrowers, even a strip tease by a surprisingly lithe and muscley Angus Young; the most subtle moment of the night had a giant inflatable Rosie straddling a train. When the smaller bill for Friday was announced, many wondered if the money had been worth it. There won't be any such doubts now. [Ruth Booth]

Dillinger Escape Plan - 8/10
One of the standout moments from Download 2010 has to be during 'Farewell, Mona Lisa', with DEP frontman Greg Puciato throwing himself against the front of the speaker stacks as rain sluiced down the front of the Dio stage. While the band's frantic tunes lend themselves to adversity, the torrential weather saw Puciato and Co ramp up their intense live set for blistering renditions of '43% Burnt' and 'Sunshine The Werewolf'. However, it’s their willingness to scale the speaker stacks and plough through the crowd despite the downpour that means they just edge out Porcupine Tree as the band who got the most out of Sunday's rain. [Ruth Booth]

The Damned Things - 7/10
Eyebrows raised when it was first announced that members of Fall Out Boy, Anthrax and Every Time I Die were working on a project together. With that kind of pedigree, we really should have known better. Playing only their second ever UK show, The Damned Things may look like a ragtag bunch of misfits, but brought together it's a tight and heavy live mix with enough sweet notes to catch the broad tastes of the Download punter. Certainly the band still seem to be in that honeymoon live period that gave the set the energy of a Friday night rehearsal room bash. While Keith Buckley was in fine voice, he still appears to be working out what to do with himself onstage, but the sheer exuberance of the band live still makes this a minor niggle. [Ruth Booth]

Rage Against The Machine - 8/10

Still fired up from last week's Christmas No. 1 Victory Party in Finsbury Park, Rage were never going to let their Download set be yet another show. Though the set was stopped twice early on to allow security to rescue fans on the barrier, despite their concern, the band's energy levels never let up as they pounded through 'Bulls On Parade', a cover of The Clash's 'White Riot', and of course 'Killing In the Name'. Beaming throughout the set, Zack de la Rocha also took time to speak out on recent events in Gaza, as well as clarifying issues from the previous week ("it's not about Simon Cowell, but what he represents"). One of the few bands this weekend to insist that festival-goers need to have not just their bodies and hearts, but brains catered to as well, it's pretty clear that Rage are back exactly when we needed them. [Ruth Booth]

Deftones - 8/10
Strangely, at a music festival, a lot of bands live and die on the quality of their onstage banter. So it's a funny feeling when VF realises halfway through their Saturday set that Deftones frontman Chino Moreno has said precious little - possibly a wise move if his hilarious English accent is anything to go by. Instead, it's Moreno's chimeric stage presence that makes the band's set, whether it's handling both vocal personalities of 'Passenger' or bouncing like a jack in the box to the hip-swinging 'Rocket Skates'. A performance so magnetic, few will have noticed the mic problems that dogged Sergio Vega's backing vocals. [Ruth Booth]  

Stone Sour - 9/10

Corey's back again: headlining a smaller stage this year with the more alternative hard rock band Stone Sour, the man sure knows how to set the bar high. New songs like 'Digital' and heavily sharp 'The Bitter End' get a look in, while the passionate favourites such as 'Made of Scars' and 'Reborn' make an early appearance. What is truly textbook enigmatic about the RJD headliner is the sheer feeling displayed during 'Bother', a song he hasn't played before on his tour. “This is for my friend,” an emotional Corey announces before he solos the anguishing song of pain and misery. 'Through Glass' follows shortly, the song duo creating probably the most touching moment of the festival. The sombre atmosphere is alleviated by Corey's dance moves that he says, "make Lady Gaga look like a real hoofer," before he gyrates away to 'Idle Hands'. Closer '30/30 150' signals the end of Download Festival and the end of an uplifting set. [Ali Ryland]

Zebrahead - 7/10
It was an easy decision between Jared Leto's cheesy yet crowd-pleasing antics (and the irony of repeating how he will never forget this night before playing 'Beautiful Lie') or Motherfucking Zebrahead's top-notch musical orgasm. The most important thing isn't bringing 20 people up on stage and acting like their best mate, but playing some actually good songs. And this is what Zebrahead always deliver. Boppy-punky-rappy tunes that have the crowd off their feet and shouting 'MINGE!' for 'Playmate of the Year'. With a few sex jokes in, we have ourselves a garrumphing good gig. [Ali Ryland]

The Blackout - 7/10
Some bands know how to put on a show, while others believe that simply playing is going to get a crowd's (that is a crowd that aren't already diehard, forgiving fans) entire attention. The Blackout are the former. While two giant model middle fingers may be a bit OTT, they perk up the crowd by bringing on half of Kids in Glass Houses for 'We're All Going to Hell, so Bring the Sunblock.' Sean causes controversy for 'Spread Legs Not Lies' as he, tongue-in cheek, calls every girl watching a liar. Yet they keep coming back for more. Confidently belting out riffs from 'Back in Black', 'Killing in the Name of' and 'Walk This Way', they seem to have come a long way. You can't deny that 'Save Our Selves' is a rising climax of an anthem that can easily seep into the head, whether you like it or not. [Ali Ryland]

KSE - 8/10

Trust Adam D to show us the disco lights, sugary cocktails and Christmas panto underbelly of metalcore. Strutting around in a superman cape while a bemused yet demure Howard gets down to business with 'Reckoning', Adam tells us all he wants to “headbutt your girlfriends' vaginas” and that he “woke up with a massive boner”. What's better than metal in the morning with comedy value? Post-discovery of Adam's desire to shit in all of our mouths, 'Holy Diver' is particularly outstanding this year as, of course, it goes out to the man with "the best fucking voice in the world", Ronnie James Dio. [Ali Ryland]

Steel Panther - 9/10
The most popular band of the RJD stage and the only one to have the audience literally wetting themselves laughing, Steel Panther deserve a spot up here for sheer entertainment value. So whether you're shocked by 'The Shocker' or entranced by 'Community Property', it's all in the name of camp metal. Covering the Backstreet Boys' 'I Want it That Way' and getting Scott from Anthrax on for 'Asian Hooker', the spandex four coax two half-naked girls onto the stage for some metal misogyny, flashing and lesbian activity. With the remark “I'm glad you still have trailers in England,” they continue with 'Oklahoma Girl' and end with 'Party All Day'; there's something very wrong about these songs, but also something very, very funny. [Ali Ryland]

DOWNERS

Atreyu - 4/10

If you thought the time of 1.30pm for Atreyu to strut their stuff was early, they had to play an hour earlier due to swapping with Flyleaf. It's a mystery how that happened, but going behind those warbly dullwits would affect anyone's game. And Atreyu played about as well as England as bemused Flyleaf fans were blown back by 'Blow' and ran away from 'Bleeding Mascara'. Not only that, but drummer Brandon's microphone cocked up for 'Becoming the Bull', and the band's puns ("Make this circle pit as big as possible!" "That's what she said!") fell on deaf ears. A disappointing atmosphere surrounding a band (at the time) lacking lustre. [Ali Ryland]

Stone Temple Pilots - 3/10
That their set coincided with Sunday night's heavy downpour was an unfortunate for Stone Temple Pilots. For a band of such international calibre, surely something like this should be, figuratively speaking, water off a duck's back. But as the set wore on, it soon became clear that the diminished crowd was due to more than just bad weather. If it was simply the new material, as predictably boring live as on record, it wouldn't have mattered; but Scott Weiland's wasted schtick came across as tiresome, and the whole set fell as flat as a soggy soufflé. That the highlight was a cover of Pearl Jam's 'Even Flow' speaks volumes. For the most part, dull, dull dull. [Ruth Booth]

Sweethead - 5/10

The weight of expectation around QOTSA man Troy van Leeuwen's new outfit made Sweethead something of a must-see over on the Pepsi Max stage. At least, that was the theory. In reality, frontwoman Serrina Sims took a little while to warm up, and her stilted performance gave the impression she felt very much exposed on the stage. Instead, guitarist van Leeuwen turned out to be a much more reliable focus - not entirely unexpected, as Sims is the much less experienced of the two. However, this meant that for a band playing a style of rock'n'roll that relies very much on the charm of the one with the mic, something was lost in translation. Unfortunately for Sweethead, it was much easier for Slash to get away with the same thing a couple of days later. [Ruth Booth]

Nonpoint - 2/10

"Well, you can't fault their energy" became a well-used saying over the weekend. There were an array of piss-poor non-starters at Download this year, whether it was accompanied by "But they do sound exactly like Evanescence" or, for Nonpoint, the casual "they're just shit". The Floridian foursome are picked on out of these for their 'banter'. "Grab them by their frilly shirts and make them jump the fuck up! Don't be gay, Download, don't be gay!" Yeah, it's not our sexual orientation hindering us mate, we're just not jumping to that bin-bag of songs. [Ali Ryland]  

A Day To Remember - 5/10
Only just sneaking past the "'s'alright" to the "meh", the furious fivesome are not so fired up today. In fact, beardie front-bopper Jeremy seems positively intimidated as his voice cracks along to 'Downfall of Us All'. That could be why the crowd deteriorates after that, or because the mindless masses enjoyed the 'De-de-de-de-duh-de-uh' of the single and left for the progressively more decent 'Shot in the Dark' and 'The Danger in Starting a Fire'. The shaky start didn't ruin them, but all in all, it was a bit of a let down. [Ali Ryland]

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KingInCrimson wrote on Saturday 19 June :

As someone who watched the entire Stone Temple Pilots set, I can say with reasonable certainty that they did not cover 'Even Flow' or any other Pearl Jam song. From what I remember, their set list was as follows (not necessarily in order):

Vasoline Wicked Garden Crackerman Between The Lines Huckelberry Crumble Plush Interstate Love Song Big Empty Tumble In The Rough Sex Type Thing Dead And Bloated Lounge Fly Hickory Dichotomy Trippin� On A Hole In A Paper Heart

That being the case, I would question the accuracy of Ruth's review. Particularly, as I happen to think the band played pretty well in difficult circumstances. Maybe Ruth went to the wrong stage?!

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