Download Festival 2019 – Friday
As June rolled around, a hundred thousand people ventured down to the hallowed turf of Donington Park to attend the UKs best rock and alternative music festival. With headliners of Def Leppard, Slipknot, and Tool there really was something for everyone. After a couple of days camping in the rain, it finally started easing up a little on Friday the bands started to hit the stage.
Kvelertak – Zippo Encore Stage
Opening up on Friday for me were Norwegian rockers Kvelertak on the Zippo Encore Stage! Matching the energy perfectly of Download. Musically the band were very impressive however they were let down at start by vocals not quite keeping to the same quality. It seemed that vocalist Ivar Nikolaisen would rather run round the stage celebrating his birthday a little too hard than sing the songs. After their rough start Kvelertak managed to pull it together by the time they hit their two most known tracks ‘Blodtørst’ and ‘Mjød’ and finished up with the great ‘Kverletak’! A decent band to start of the festival with and one that set the bar pretty high for all bands across the weekend.
Conjurer – Dogtooth Stage
Following up next on the Dogtooth stage were Conjurer, a band that I picked up at 2000trees last year but unfortunately due to set timings missed them. They were one of my must see bands of the weekend and they were certainly worth the wait. To sum their set up in one word it would have to be heavy! Playing a crushing but emotion filled set everything was pitch perfect for the band. Switching between the two vocalists work perfectly and let the bassist run round in the crowd. The drumming was done to perfection and finishing off with a huge circle pit really showed just how impressive Conjurer’s set was. I’ll definitely be catching them at their headline tour in October when it passes through Leeds.
Clutch – Main Stage
Taking to a packed Main Stage were the rock and roll titans Clutch! Having honed their craft over the years it was no surprise that they sounded incredible. As it had finally stopped raining for the first time of the day they definitely picked up the party mood and the crowd were more than obliged to join in. With riffs for days and some killer solos it was clear to see why they had been moved up from playing the Zippo Encore Stage back in 2012 to high up on the Main Stage this year! Certainly a band to listen to if the Classic Rock N Roll is your choice of music! Finishing off with their masterclass of ‘Electric Worry’ went down a storm and really closed their set out on a high!
Zebrahead – Avalanche Stage
Continuing the party theme were none other than ‘Mother Fucking Zebrahead Bitch!’ or MFZB for short! Coming out swinging with huge track ‘Rescue Me’, it was clear that the crowd were in full force at the Avalanche stage this afternoon. With the typical crowd kneeling down and jumping up happening to great effect and circle pits galore it’s clear that Zebrahead are a band in demand and them announcing they’ll be back in September lit the crowd up even more than before! Newer tracks such as ‘All My Friends Are Nobodies’ went down just as well as big hitters like ‘Falling Apart’ and to close things off with a band was their standout track ‘Anthem’. Zebrahead have the mix of singing and rapping really down to a T with the two playing off each other perfectly. This in addition to the huge guitar solos that soar over the top it is the perfect mix for a punk band to really start a party!
The Interrupters – Avalanche Stage
Having only seen The Interrupters a few weeks back I was interested to see how the Download crowd took to them in comparison to Slam Dunk. Turns out The Interrupters has turned their game up to max, coming out of the gates in the Avalanche stage tent it was clear that the band were having fun and the crowd certainly returned the energy. Unsurprisingly playing a very similar set to the previous week it should have felt a bit off but everything sounded even better and more refined! Huge tracks like ‘She’s Kerosene’ and ‘Take Back The Power’ hit very hard and as the wall of death opened up down the middle it was very clear that everyone was on the same page. Changing things slightly with an Operation Ivy cover went down gloriously with the crowd and the chants to ‘Family’ as the band finished their set were deafening. Definitely one of the top sets on Friday and proof that Ska still has a place at Download Festival.
Slash feat Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators – Main Stage
Taking a short break from the Avalanche Stage and returning to the Main Stage I went to catch Slash feat Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators. Given the opportunity to not only catch one of the most famous guitarists live but also one of rock’s most incredible voice, I couldn’t turn it down. Coming out the gates strong with ‘Call of the Wild’ it really showed that everyone was continuing the day’s theme and being on top form. After a few tracks the weather gods had decided a brief rainstorm was due but Myles Kennedy was on hand to dedicate a song to Lemmy and by the time the band started ‘Driving Rain’ it had stopped completely. With a huge sounding version of ‘World on Fire’ to finish the show it really hit home just how good this mix of artists were and why there were so many people watching.
Me First And The Gimme Gimmes – Avalanche Stage
Heading back to the Avalanche Stage, my last band of the day were the very unique Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. A self-proclaimed cover band they took all the classic tracks you know and love and gave them a very unique punk edge. The entire set was a celebration and the crowd were dancing from start to finish. Starting with a version of Cher’s Believe will give you an idea how this band works. Whilst the music may have been a parody the musicianship certainly wasn’t. Everyone played their instrument to the top level with each track sounding even better than on record. A Supergroup filled with Punk legends such as CJ Ramone (The Ramones) on Bass and up and newer artists like Stacey Dee (Bad Cop Bad Cop) on Guitar and vocals, there really was something for everyone in the set. High points in the set for me had to be the people crowd surfing during ‘Uptown Girl’ (A sentence I never thought I’d write) and the huge singalong to ‘Rocketman’. As the band finished their set there was just enough time for an encore of Paula Abdul’s ‘Straight Up’ to really finish the party in style for day one of Download Festival 2019.