Festival Preview of Download 2014, Donington Park 13-15th June
The legendary Download Festival is back again for the 11th year in a row– with this year’s line-up featuring some of the greatest rock and metal bands of all time. As fans from all corners of the globe make the annual pilgrimage to Donnington, the iconic Aerosmith, as well as two of the best bands of the last 15 years in the form of Avenged Sevenfold and Linkin Park, headline this year’s festival. With the second stage boasting the likes of Trivium and the mighty Status Quo, these mammoth acts are like a line of heavily armed war elephants charging towards your eardrums. Following the frontlines comes a small army of some of the most exciting bands around today; Bring Me the Horizon, Bury Tomorrow, While She Sleeps and Upon A Burning Body to name but a few. Every year the festival organisers put a line up which makes rock and metal fans froth at the mouth with anticipation, and this year is proving no different.
Download 2014 Headliners: Avenged Sevenfold, Linkin Park and Aerosmith
Kicking off any festival on the main stage is always a big ask of a band, however the historic significance of this slot at Download makes it even more important. This year metalcore up-and-comers Miss May I and Japanese dance-metal band Crossfaith are bound to get the party started and the beers flowing. Talking of getting the party started, Skindred are no strangers to a good time. With their songs being a staple of every good rock DJ’s set, there will be dancing, singing, moshing, and cometh the time, people will be taking their tops off and swinging them above their head in a move the Welsh ragga-metal band has dubbed ‘The Newport Helicopter’. If their mix of reggae and metal is a little too ambitious for you, Black Label Society are on hand with their more conventional metal. The sheer variety of metal offered on the main stage at Download is truly incredible; with Dutch symphonic metal band Within Temptation following Black Label Society. Their last UK tour had them playing Wembley Arena, and the boundary-pushing album Hydra had rapper Xzibit pimping their tracks (instead of their ride). After the fantastic return of Rob Zombie to British shores in 2011, he is back as the main support for the Main Stage on the Friday. His horror-themed rock n’ roll always goes down a storm, combined with a stage show that is second to none, and there is no way any sane person will want to miss this.
To say the last few years have been a rollercoaster for Avenged Sevenfold would be an understatement and a half. With the death of their drummer Jimmy ‘The Rev’ Sullivan in December 2009, there were doubts if the band would ever tour or make music again. Just over 4 years, and two albums, later, Avenged are now one of the big boys of the metal world. Though they may have their haters, they are a band that have helped define modern metal with songs such as ‘Bat Country’, ‘Nightmare’ and ‘Critical Acclaim’. They are a band that is well known to the Download faithful having first played the festival in 2006, and have worked their way up the line up. Avenged Sevenfold will be a band with a point to prove come the 13th June and if they are anywhere near as good as they were on their UK tour (read the review here), then this may go down as one of the best sets in Download history.
The Second Stage at Download can often be a mixed bag – it can often offer more variety to the main headliners, or it can showcase newer bands before they claim higher spots on the Main Stage. This year’s Friday is definitely one for the old school punk rockers, because headlining will be The Offspring, who will be playing their landmark 1994 album Smash in its entirety. With a set that will be loaded with some of the greatest punk rock songs of the last 20 years, this will not be something to miss. Their main support are rock royalty Bad Religion, a band who are as iconic as The Ramones to punk rock fans. With a back catalogue that dates back over 3 decades, expect to hear songs that helped shape an entire genre mixed with some newer songs off 2013’s True North. Staying with a similar vibe, prepare yourself for folk-punk hybrids Flogging Molly with their unique brand of music, lively songs and plenty of hoe-down style dancing thrown into the mix. Also supporting are up-and-coming grunge artists Drenge; sure to be a hit with the more indie side of the crowd with their gritty riffs yet catchy vocals. They have gained popularity with their eponymous debut album and the brilliant ‘Bloodsports’ which was recently released as the iTunes free single of the week.
Bad Religion who will be playing on the Zippo Encore Second Stage on the Friday
Over on the Pepsi Max Stage, Opeth will be headlining with a set that will appeal to those who crave metal that they deem to be möre trüe. With their new album Pale Communion due to come out a few days later, this will be one of the first chances for fans to hear brand new material. Also playing are letlive. – a band who simply thrive in a tent. To say that their set will be chaos would be an understatement, the first time the band played Download, the set started with frontman Jason Butler getting accidentally punched by a security guard. Download is also the first time The Amity Affliction will play in England since recording their new album. While it is maybe too soon to expect to hear new tracks, songs such as ‘Open Letter’ and their cover of Lana Del Rey’s ‘Born To Die’ will be fantastic to hear live. The punk rock isn’t just limited to the second stage; the scene will be represented by US garage-punks Radkey (read our gig review here), who are definitely a band to check out if you have time. Also playing are London-based Lyger, an energetic band who recently toured with Radkey, and retro-rockers Turbowolf – who are considered to put on a rowdy show with their eclectic mix of punk, rock and psychedelic music.
One of the main news stories about this year’s Download is that Saturday’s headliners Linkin Park will be playing their debut album Hybrid Theory in full. For many people, this best-selling album was the sound of their adolescent angst with songs such as ‘In the End’ and ‘Papercut’- and since this album has not seen a great deal of play in recent tours, it promises to be THE set of the festival. On just before are pop-punk legends Fall Out Boy, newly-risen from the ashes of their 3 year long hiatus, much like ‘The Phoenix’ from their brilliant new album Save Rock and Roll – insert groan here-. Their recent run of UK shows have been more or less consistently sold out (see our review here), with last minute tickets going for hundreds of pounds, and they are guaranteed to pull one of the biggest crowds of the weekend. Saturday seems to have garnered a good amount of bands that appeal to the younger generations, and the appearance of Bring Me the Horizon just celebrates how much British metal talent has come on in the last few years. With Download being one of the final shows of their tour supporting one of the best albums of 2013, Sempiternal, if it is anything like their last UK tour, this will be a great set.
After their triumphant return with original frontman Jesse Leache in 2011, Killswitch Engage have been on a hot streak blowing fans and critics away both live and on record, and these metalcore legends are bound to do the same again at Download. On the theme of legends, pop punk icons Bowling For Soup will appear. The band are not going to be touring the UK much in future and this will be a final farewell from them, with songs such as ‘High School Never Ends’ it maybe a farewell but these Texans are bound to leave a smile on your face. Also on the Main Stage on the Saturday are two of England’s hottest metal prospects in the form of Bury Tomorrow and While She Sleeps. Both bands have a devoted following and while it maybe their first time on the main stage at Download, many believe it won’t be their last. While Fozzy as a band are still in their infancy, their frontman Chris Jericho is no stranger to controlling a large crowd. A WWE Superstar with the awesome nickname of “The Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla”, Jericho will put on a show like no other. Kicking off the Main Stage will be Dying Fetus, after the hugely successful #WhyNotDyingFetus campaign on Twitter which followed the announcement of the Download headliners back in December – a true testament to the power of social media.
Headlining the Second Stage will be old-school rockstars Status Quo. With a career that has spanned several decades and featured them playing iconic shows such as Live Aid and with Queen at Wembley Stadium, they will put on a show to tell your grandkids about. With tracks such as ‘Caroline’ and ‘Rockin’ All Over the World’, we advise you to start practising your best air guitar moves now. Supporting is Twisted Sister, another band that fans of older rock will enjoy. With anthems such as ‘I Wanna Rock’ and ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’, this is a band that is simply made for big shows. Combined with Skid Row playing earlier in the day, this will be a stage that will appeal to the classic rock fans among us. However the likes of Twenty One Pilots and Orange Goblin will offer a bit of musical variation on that stage.
Over on the third stage, heavy metallers Behemoth will be headlining. Hot on the heels of releasing the best extreme metal album of the year so far, in the form of The Satanist, this is sure to be a great performance. The Black Dahlia Murder will also be representing the extreme metal scene on the third stage with a set that will be brutally heavy. On a totally different note, also playing are Marmozets, with the fabulous Becca Macintyre and co playing their unique math-rock influenced punk. Their recent releases ‘Move, Shake, Hide’ and ‘Why Do You Hate Me?’ have proved hugely popular, and these songs will be fantastic performed on the smaller Pepsi stage, although no doubt future festivals will see the band climb to larger and larger stages. The fine blokes in Upon A Burning Body will also be representing Texas at Download. With songs such as ‘Sin City’ and ‘Texas Blood Money’, expect circle pits that Lamb of God would be proud of. On the Red Bull Stage, Sikth will make their return following a hiatus of 6 years, and with 6 years of built up energy, this reunion show may go down in history as one of the finest to grace Download’s hallowed turf. Also worth checking out are Malevolence, a band whose debut album (read the review here) is a sign of great things to come.
Upon A Burning Body who will be appearing on the Pepsi Max Stage on the Saturday
The Sunday of Download festival has traditionally been a classic rock binge on the Main Stage with the likes of Def Leppard headlining in previous years, and this year will be no different with the mighty Aerosmith on the bill. The Boston band featuring the infamous Toxic Twins will no doubt will be a fitting end to the festival. Aerosmith have written some of the greatest rock songs of all time, such as ‘Dude Looks Like A Lady’ and ‘Love In An Elevator’, come and see why this band have been selling out arenas and stadiums for the last 40 years. Alter Bridge will be the main support for Aerosmith – a match made in rock n’ roll heaven. Fronted by one of the most talented vocalists of his generation, Miles Kennedy, the band blends classic rock and metal together perfectly. The fantastic ‘Metalingus’ will be a particular highlight of the weekend for some, and expect to see the odd wrestling fan out there shout “You think you know me?” a few times during the song. Steel Panther precede them with their risqué hair metal and hard partying attitude. Having just released All You Can Eat (read the review here), the set will be a blend of classics such as ‘Death To All But Metal’ and songs off the new album such as ‘The Burden Of Being Wonderful’. While this set will be hilarious and very entertaining, BURN recommends that readers do not serenade their significant others with ‘Community Property’ – chances are they will not be amused.
Steel Panther who will play the Main Stage on the Sunday of Download
Fronted with a former Elvis impersonator, Volbeat will bring their Scandinavian brand of rock n roll to the mix, and they are a band that is incredibly consistent both on record and live, so this will be worth watching. Before them, Download have booked one of the greatest guitarists of all time to perform, Joe Bonamassa. After playing in various venues of all shapes and sizes such as The Royal Albert Hall, Bonamassa has incredible experience and will have a trick or two up his sleeve to wow crowds. The classic rock just doesn’t stop on the Sunday Main Stage with Buckcherry in the early afternoon, and with songs such as ‘Crazy B*tch’ and ‘Lit Up’, they will surely succeed in cheering up those festivalgoers who will be nursing a hangover.
On the second stage, Trivium will be trying to recreate one of THE most iconic moments in Download history. We are of course talking about their set back in 2005, which is universally held in the same regard as Metallica playing a secret tent show, or Slipknot’s legendary 2009 performance. They will be playing a set that will take heavily from The Ascendancy which is sure to please most Trivium fans. Just before them will be Taylor Momsen and her band The Pretty Reckless. This will be the first time the band has played a UK show after the release of their second album Going To Hell (review here), and it will be great to see how the new material goes down live.
Phil Anselmo is no stranger to Download, having played the festival with supergroup Down multiple times as well as having performed at Donington with Pantera back in the festival’s Monsters of Rock days. However this will be the first time he will be performing as Phillip H Anselmo & The Illegals. This will surely be a set for fans of his previous work, and hopefully ‘Walk’ will get an airing which would be a fitting tribute considering that in December, it will be 10 years since the death of guitarist ‘Dimebag’ Darrell. Sabaton, after releasing a kick-ass trailer to advertise their new album; will be bring the power metal to the second stage on the Sunday. With their music drawing from war imagery, this will be a set unlike any other this weekend. The ever-controversial Emmure will be performing here too, and after releasing an album with the opening track ‘Bring A Gun To School’ which led to multiple law suits, this band will be out to cause some controversy.
Suicide Silence with new vocalist Eddie Hermida, their first UK show with him will happen on the Pepsi Max Stage on the Sunday of Download
The Dillinger Escape Plan will bring along their usual mayhem paired with their incredible music to the Pepsi Max Stage on the Sunday. Their winning combination of being some of the craziest mofos in music along with being very talented musicians means the end product will be something special for everyone watching. Niche emo legends The Used will be hoping to steal the show beforehand, with tunes such as ‘Pretty Handsome Awkward’, there will be plenty of sing-alongs. In one of the most emotional performances of the weekend, Suicide Silence will be playing their first UK show since the tragic death of their singer Mitch Lucker in November 2012. With the shock of the death still fresh in many people’s minds, this will be a set to celebrate his life and the talent he had. Talking of firsts, Download will be one of the first UK shows since lead singer Laura Jane Grace came out as transgender, so eyes will be on Against Me! for many reasons, but predominantly because they are one of the greatest modern punk bands around and have produced some phenomenal music. Memphis May Fire will also appear; they are currently on tour supporting their new album, Unconditional and will be out trying to prove they live up to the title as one of the most exciting metalcore bands around.
Over on the Red Bull Stage, Zebrahead (listen to our interview here) will be headlining, a band who have some great ska-influenced songs and definitely know how to put on a live show which will close the festival with a bang. Also worth a mention are Bristol-based brass-reggae blend The Magnus Puto – a tiny band that nonetheless have put on incredible shows at Boomtown and Birmingham University’s very own Valefest.
Overall Download yet again boasts one of the best festival line-ups of the summer, with all sub-genres of rock and metal being represented at the festival, there is something for everyone.
Visit www.downloadfestival.co.uk for the full line up and to buy tickets.
Sam Taylor and Anna Lim
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