Live Music + Gig Reviews

Download 2004: Day 1, Other Stages @ Donington Park, Donington

5 June 2004

Powder who, due to cancellations, played a never ending set involving pole dances, far too many stolen Rob Zombie backing tracks and a singer prancing around the stage who resembles an extra from a Marilyn Manson video.

Over on the Barfly stage, things were much more musically geared with fast rising emo stars The Holiday Plan enlightening the young fans with some catchy new tunes.

After more cutting edge rock that defied being pigeonholed no matter how many screamo/post/thingy-ma-jig- core labels you throw at it from the likes of Your Code Name Is: Milo and Lowfive, things got a lot more serious as the day progressed with earnest hardcore being thrashed out by Swedish rockers Burst, who were the best kept secret of the day to that point.

Somehow, Satanists playing on the Snickers stage is just a little laughable, which is all that Akercocke‘s blast beats and growls have to offer. The very wary crowd were mostly bemused, with the exception of their huddled minions at the barrier. Honestly lads, go put the suits to better use eh?

Thankfully, the memory of Akercocke was quickly wiped out by 36 Crazyfists‘ unique blend of ultra screamo verses and huge anthemic choruses, which won a lot of new fans today judging by the phenomenal crowd swell during their set.

Then, more bill changes as Static X were having customs troubles in Germany, so Biffy Clyro tried their chances with the techno metal crowd, and despite a good sound, their material is just too complex to warrant new fans on this day.

Arch Enemy‘s self professed mission is to play “Pure F**king Metal”, which they do with more changes to their tempo than to the bill itself, and frontwoman Angela Gossow supplying vocals that simply shouldn’t belong to a lady. The depth and roar that Arch Enemy unleashed on the packed, but unprepared crowd was lethal in its effect. Mass headbanging and stage-diving ensued, and to the horror and strain of the security so did scaling and leaping form the tent supports. Very, very Metal!

Electric Six‘s slick “disco-rock” was an absolute blinder. Very eccentric and sometimes scary they may be, but most of the bewildered crowd seemed to take the approach of “if in doubt, laugh and nod your head”. Everyone was waiting to hear the band’s big singles, and the most bizarre act since Frank Zappa certainly didn’t disappoint, with friends assuring me the chants of, “Take me to a Gay Bar, Gay Bar!” could be heard from the main stage. Dance Commander was another obvious yet explosive highlight, with Danger High Voltage bringing the business to a close.

Tomfoolery of a non-musical nature followed with Jackass/Wildboyz, aka any nerdy dumb American who wanders onto the stage and takes the spotlight for an excruciating set of self-abuse and truly depraved antics which fuel the teenage male audience like petrol.

Ironically enough, Steve O’s closing trick of setting fire to his own head wasn’t quite as good as the scorpion stings to the face or scrotum stapling, but nevertheless, a well-earned session of applause, whooping and hollering followed the Jackass boys from the stage, as the fans await their headline act, the godfathers of nu-punk (ha ha!) – Pennywise.

Punk rock’s answer to Marlon Brando certainly filled the shoes too, with a heaving tent that dripped condensation. I last caught the quartet at Reading in 2000, and it was like a time warp, with the shout-along choruses interspersed with political ranting, while a never ending sea of crowd surfers sailed over the barrier in bright-eyed admiration of their heroes. For sheer determination alone, this lot should be richer and more popular than Sum 41 and Blink 182 combined.

If any band earned their weight in gold today it was the Wise old boys from California, who mixed classics like Alien and Society with hilarious covers such as Outkast‘s Hey Ya. They closed with the second stage invasion of the day, to a rousing version of The Ramones‘ Blitzkreig Bop, which even Dani Filth seemed to tag along to.

A satisfied crowd retired to their tents for an sleepless night beneath a flight path to await the metal onslaught that would meet them on Sunday.

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