Download Festival 2015 words by Alan Daly
© Olga Kuzmenko
Photos by Olga Kuzmenko
Dreams of the rain passing overnight are unfulfilled, as already evident from within the thousands of sodden tents in the boggy campsites. “Perhaps it’ll clear up soon” is the unfounded optimistic mindset as we make our way to the arena for day two. Our first band of the day are Finnish cellists Apocalyptica on the Zippo stage. As we approach, they are just starting into ‘I’m Not Jesus’, and the thought that Corey Taylor might join them for the track did cross our minds. This was not to be however, and recently recruited full-time vocalist Franky Perez delivers the lyrics today when needed. Their short set gets the biggest crowd reaction from their cello cover of Sepultura’s classic ‘Refuse/Resist’, although the transition into ‘God Save The Queen’ seemed a bit cheesy. Referring to some earlier technical difficulties, they finish up with ‘I don’t care’ from their 2007 album Worlds Collide.
On the crowded trek across the arena, Hollywood Undead are failing to impress on the main stage. Perhaps we didn’t give them a fair chance, but what we witnessed certainly didn’t encourage us to miss the start of Upon A Burning Body at the Maverick stage. The Texan metalcore quintet formed ten years ago and were scheduled to play at last year’s Download festival, but had to cancel due to vocalist Danny Leal taking ill. Their aggressive, breakdown-fueled performance gets the occupants of the tent jumping and chanting along with the crowd-responses like “Life sucks and then you die” in ‘Sin City’. Clichéd lyrics perhaps, but apparently going down swimmingly well on this rainy afternoon.
And speaking of swimming; that’s practically what the energetic fans are doing in ankle-deep mud in the main stage pit while another metalcore band encourage as much crowd craziness as possible. Parkway Drive provide the soundtrack to the mucky moshpit mayhem with a selection of tracks from their four-album back catalogue as well as their brand new single ‘Vice Grip’ from their forthcoming album Ire. Thankfully, the rain finally begins to ease off to a light drizzle as we head back to the second stage to see the Liverpudlian legends Carcass. The sparse audience are somewhat sedate after what is almost 24 hours of constant rain, prompting Jeff Walker to comment that they are “not the biggest crowd, but they are the ugliest and best crowd”.
After dinner we head to the main stage to check out Faith No More. Like Carcass before them, nearly twenty years passed between their last two studio albums, and in both cases their come-back albums and tours have been highly acclaimed. Crew and band alike are dressed in pearly white suits, and the stage is decked out all in white, decorated with bouquets of colourful summer flowers. Not really what you would expect to see at a metal festival. Songs like ‘Epic’, ‘Midlife Crisis’ and ‘We Care a Lot’ are of course, familiar to even the most hardened metal fan, and get a great response from the crowd.
We make early plans to find a good vantage point for the Saturday Zippo stage headliner, and in doing so we get to witness some of Black Veil Brides. The last time we saw these youngsters, they were on the main stage in 2012 when Metallica headlined. They endured a very hostile audience that afternoon, and to be honest, it wasn’t surprising; they may have had a huge goth/emo following among the viewers and readers of Kerrang!, but putting a group of adolescents wearing feathers and eye-makeup on before Metallica was just asking for trouble. This time around, they are much better suited to the second stage, and deliver a far more respectable performance in front of a crowd waiting for a more genre-appropriate headliner.
“The Pale Emperor” himself, Marilyn Manson returns to Download on the back of his latest release of the same name to close out Saturday night on the Zippo stage. While we have been looking forward to seeing him live again, we didn’t hold out much hope of being amazed, considering it is commonly accepted that Manson produced his best material more than a decade ago. How wrong we were; the self professed god of fuck is back on form. Assuming several stage persona throughout the show and throwing mini rockstar tantrums over the likes of misbehaving microphones, his theatrics are exactly what one would expect of this opinionated, attention-seeking diva. And we loved every second of it; firing out his chart-topping hits like ‘Disposable Teens’, ‘Sweet Dreams’, and ‘Rock is Dead’ complemented by more surprising tracks like ‘Angel With the Scabbed Wings’ and ‘Tourniquet’.
On two occasions he brings Body Count frontman Ice-T on stage for no real apparent reason other than to praise him and to declare that the only thing white people are afraid of is black people. Trust Manson; always one to test the water. After a thoroughly entertaining seventy minute set, Manson wraps it up with ‘The Beautiful People’, then blesses himself and gives the finger to his admiring fans. After that, there is nothing that Muse could possibly offer to top our night, save for the spectacular fireworks display visible from afar, and we save our energy for the final schedule-packed day of the festival.