You might have noticed it’s day one of Download Festival. That means the long build to Slipknot’s headline slot is nearly over. Even though we’ve been grafting away to bring you a new bloody magazine, we’ve still managed to get a small but perfectly formed group of scribblers and snappers down to this year’s event. They’ll be updating throughout the day, or for as long as they’re still breathing, at any rate. Keep refreshing this page for more.
23.06: Slipknot. The heavy, metal musical.
Slipknot return to Donnington Park and they’ve brought the forward motion of 2014’s ‘.5 The Gray Chapter’ with them. They’re a band rejuvenated as ‘Killpop’ and ‘Devil & I’ stand shoulder to shoulder with generational anthems, bringing forth a powerfully relevant set. No mean feat for an act rapidly approaching their 20th anniversary.
Theatrical and over the top, Slipknot the Heavy Metal Musical is an orchestrated flourish of the power of music. Devils heads, spinning drums and members skipping about the stage; it would be all too easy for this to feel cheap. However, Corey Taylor, masked MC extraordinaire, conducts the night with flawless precision. His vocals wrenched and poetic, his goodwill sincere (“Ladies and gentleman, Slipknot are home.”)
The crowd adore this attentive figurehead, bad jokes aside (“I’ve got a name change for Andrew Copping, Downpour 2015”.) ‘Pyschosocial’ and ‘Duality’ turn the thrashing masses into a fraught choir and ‘Spit It Out’ retains its crouch down and jump mastery.
For Slipknot’s diehard maggots, their band at Download is a homecoming. For the siblings perched on their parents shoulders, matching boiler suits under ponchos, and the countless others viewing this community for the first time – tonight is an open door into a world that will define them.
22:13 And now… some photos of Young Guns
21:17: Fightstar deliver the goods
The Maverick Stage hasn’t had time to recover before Fightstar strut out and pull the crowd under their spell. Assured and jagged, there’s a crackle about the stage as the four piece rattle through a set of their greatest hits.
The band are pristine yet off-kilter as melody and snarls circle one another in fraught glory. Charlie Simpson is polite (asking the crowd “how are the dog tags working out for you? Any issues? got enough to eat?”), yet commanding. His enthusiasm is knows no ends, with his reward is a crowd in full lungs.
Tonight is their first headline slot at the festival, but it just feels right. Fightstar aren’t just a band reuniting, they’re a family. A message firmly underlined as Charlie’s brother, William, joins them for two songs. With the band launching the crowd over cliff, via lush crunches, there’s an exhilarating danger that marks tonight, and Fightstar’s return, as a defiant win.
20:21: Baby Dragon Metal Force. Ridiculous squared.
DragonForce, that technically proficient yet hyper fun band credited with the air-guitar revival, are happily tearing through their set when Babymetal decide to join the party.
Entertaining. You bet.
DragonForce’s skill merrily dances between madcap and genius. “This song is about blood, vampires and darkness,” they explain at one point before leaping into an electric ‘Symphony of the Night’. Carrying themselves with such joy though, it’s never anything but a pleasure to witness.
Joining with Babymetal may seem strange but that message of entertainment through music and fantastical storytelling is not only empowering, but shared. Running onto the stage to create Baby Dragon Metal Force, the super group lean into a playful rendition of ‘Gimme Chocolate’ that sends waves of excitement through the overflowing tent. They came, they conquered then Babymetal are off, smiling and waving at the biggest reaction of the weekend yet. It’s left to Dragonforce to follow that.
There’s only one song for it; the epic ‘Through The Fire And The Flames’ ensures that not a single person escapes without a grin.
19:43: BABY! METAL! DRAGON! FORCE!
More shortly. Much more.
19.09: Hello, Young Guns.
Sunglasses, eh? Rough night lads?
18:21: Allusondrugs charm Download
Through their scuzzy emo pleas to their gnarled punk demands, Allusondrugs cart around the stage like a temperamental, fun-loving whirlwind. It’s carnage from the off but beyond the raucous free-for-all that possess the Leeds rabble, lies a glint of determination. That shining secret is the heart of their set and holds the disparate styles, the wild limbs and the crowds gaze for the duration. Wildly fun with a collared prowess, Allusondrugs shine with rugged charm.
Was that Babymetal walking past?
16.34: Defeater love us. Awwww
Earlier this year Defeater signed to Epitaph Records, leaving their home on Bridge Nine after six years. Any doubts about changes for the worst are crushed within the first blistering minutes of today. Onwards and upwards.
Derek Archambault prowls the front of the stage, screaming tales from the band’s creative narrative. Laced with upright passion and resonating en masse, these are more than simple stories. Edging ever closer, the crowd are drawn in by the steely wall of noise that the vocals lean against. There’s delicate poetry scratched into the brickwork and an intense honesty in the lyrics. Caleb ‘Beartooth’ Shomo tears onto the stage for a stunning ‘Dear Father’, adding one final layer to the gut-wrenching allure.
“We’ve been coming to this beautiful country for the last 6 years. In all honesty, in all sincerity, we love playing England,” Derek admits as his voice cracks. With the crowd lingering as the band make their exit, the feeling’s mutual.
15:35: Gnarwolves 1 – 0 Download
If last year’s triumph on the Reading main stage belonged to everyone present, today’s victorious bounce is wholly Gnarwolves‘. Commanding the space with a smile and a laugh, the Brighton three-piece are beginning to look at ease with an ocean of people before then. Thom Weeks is playing it cool though, “honestly, honestly, honestly, this is so cool,” he beams. Starting small, Gnarwolves are presented with isolated outbreaks of physical activity, but by the roaring crunch of ‘Melody Has Big Plans’, there’s chaos throughout. The rag tag band has never sounded more together as the scratched frustration of ‘Smoking Kills’ unites in vocal harmony. Today is a clenched fist reminder of Gnarwolves’ brilliance.
“You should stay here and watch Defeater,” suggests Charlie Piper after Thom’s attempt at Slipknot karaoke fail to take off, once again proving the band’s good taste.
14:58: God Damn let it burn
“This is fucking beautiful, you’re fucking beautiful,” shouts Thom Edwards before God Damn drop into their set. Air raid sirens, howling screams and an airborne drum stick, the Wolverhampton duo aren’t making their Donnington debut a subtle one, but this is Download Festival.
The much rumoured weather has put in an appearance – a sunnier performance than normal – and half the crowd are proudly wearing Slipknot tees, masks and boiler suits ahead of their return this evening. That crowd is currently spilling out of Jake’s stage as the two piece take the chemical spark that zips through debut album ‘Vultures’ and toss it into a pile of sun-bleached notes of garage rock. Building tension before crashing down in a swirl of thrash and refrain, God damn are on fire.