Download Festival 2019 – Sunday
I Prevail – Main Stage
Starting the day off nice and heavy I took a trip to the Main stage to see the incredibly heavy I Prevail. For a band that made their rise mostly through covers of pop songs it was great to hear that their original tracks sounds incredible. Despite it only being their second time playing in the UK they drew a huge crowd even given the fact it was only 12pm and the rain was pouring down. With sounds that were similar to A Day to Remember it was clear that the crowd were loving it with pits all throughout and plenty of people dancing along. Tracks off their new album ‘Trauma’ sound incredible with the standouts being opener ‘Bow Down’ which was an aggressive wake-up call and a great way to start the day and ‘DOA’ which got huge circle pits and singalongs at the same time whilst sounding incredible with the mix between the two vocalists. I Prevail are definitely a band that I’ll be trying to catch again in the future next time they’re in the UK
Underoath – Main Stage
As Underoath took to the stage with the rain still pouring down, it was clear that the crowd was much smaller than it should have been for a band of this calibre. Not to help the rough start, the sound started a little off with the bass too heavy in the mix unfortunately affecting their sound. Once that was sorted out a couple of songs in all sounded good and the band really fell into their groove. Great vocals were on show from both singer and drummer who chimed in for a surprising amount of the tracks. With the majority of tracks coming from their new album ‘Erase Me’ it was clear that they fitted in well live. ‘Rapture’ was certainly a highlight sounded incredible and worked really well with their older stuff. The electronic element added greatly to the show to differentiate from generic metalcore and finishing with a pairing of the classic ‘Writings on the Wall’ before newer track ‘Sink with You’ went down a storm with the crowd. Finishing on a high it was great to see the triumph from Underoath despite their rocky start.
Starset – Zippo Encore Stage
Next up on the Zippo Encore Stage were my surprise of the day – Starset. I had heard and enjoyed a couple of songs by them on the Official Download Spotify playlist which meant that they were down to fill my time between Underoath and Black Peaks. However as the stage started to fog with smoke and the violinist and cellist appeared on stage it really piqued my interest that I was about to watch something different. As the rest of the band took to the stage in futuristic desert outfits it really was a sight to behold with the large sandy logo behind. As the tracks went on you could tell that the band were giving it 100% with early track ‘Monster’ sounding incredible. With the vocalist switching between two separate mic’s it provided a really interesting mix and the addition of some electronic elements mixed with the strings and regular band made for a great soundscape. Despite the fog machines working overtime and clouding the stage it was still a really enjoyable show to build the day up and certainly another band that I will be keeping my eye on in the future. Finishing their set with their top track ‘My Demons’, Starset certainly left a lasting impression on the unsuspecting crowd and for all the right reasons.
Black Peaks – Avalanche Stage
After the surprise shock from the very impressive Starset before it was time for Black Peaks, a set that I knew from previous experience was going to be top notch. As I entered the Avalanche Stage tent it was clear to see the huge amount of people packing the tent and the anticipation was hanging in the air. As the band opened up with newer track ‘Can’t Sleep’ the tent fell into silence at the spectacle they were witnessing. With vocalist Will Gardner pulling out all the stops to deliver his fantastic mix of clean and unclean vocals and the rest of the band absolutely smashing it, it was clear that they had earned a reaction of this level. One of the surprises of the set was the Pyro the burst from the stage despite it only being 3pm and on the 3rd Stage. It was clear that everyone knew that this was going to be one of the standout sets from the entire weekend. Finishing with older cuts of the huge sounding ‘Say You Will’ and the incredible ‘Glass Built Castles’ ensured that the entire tent was moving. The only negative to pull from this set was that they only had six songs to impress but from this set, they’ll certainly be taking to the larger stages in the future. I have no doubt that Black Peaks will have picked up a new bunch of fans from this set and just in time for their headline tour in October.
Amon Amarth – Main Stage
Unfortunately due to the timing of the set Amon Amarth fell victim to me only being able to catch part of their set before heading off but boy did they pack a lot into the three songs that I caught. A huge crowd had turned out to see the mighty Vikings and as they kicked off their first track it was incredible to see everyone banging their heads along to the huge riffs! Bringing heavy hitting drums and incredible sounding guitars with the deep vocals tying it over perfectly it really was a masterclass in metal music for everyone in attendance. With a huge amount pyro flying left, right, and centre and two Vikings engaging in combat on stage during ‘First Kill’ it really was a see it to believe it spectacle, being more of an entertainment set rather than just purely musical. As third track ‘Way of the Viking’ came to a crushing end it was time for us to leave which felt like a fitting end to their set for us. I can’t wait to get to enjoy the full Amon Amarth package later this year when they tour the UK as the posters around the arena were suggesting.
Beartooth – Zippo Encore Stage
After cutting Amon Amarth short, it fell to Beartooth to ease my judgement and show why I was watching them and not still at the Main stage with the Vikings! As it turns out it was very much the correct choice. Having seen Beartooth a fair few times I knew what to expect but as with every performance they seem to improve on themselves. Given the huge size of the crowd it was clear that they are certainly rising through the ranks. Starting the set with a bang the band came out and immediately smashed into ‘Bad Listener’ performing to perfection, it really was a guide for what was about to follow. With a mix of tracks during their set from all three albums it’s clear that fans both new and old of the band are very passionate with the crowd screaming along to every song. The reaction to newer track ‘You Never Know’ was incredible with everyone’s (and I do mean everyone!) fist pumping and head banging along. After a short speech talking about the importance of mental health on the community and how the band had helped him along personally, Caleb launched into final track ‘In Between’ which really finished the set with a huge bang as the crowd went crazy screaming all the words back. This really felt like a special set from Beartooth and I can’t wait to see them again on their 2020 tour.
Lamb Of God – Main Stage
Next up for the day as it was drawing to a fever pitch were the Death Metal titans Lamb of God. As the crowd flocked to the Main stage to catch the huge band it was clear to see they were an band in demand and even clashing with the huge Anthrax hadn’t had too much of an impact on the numbers in attendance. Starting with arguably one of their biggest tracks in ‘Omerta’ things started off in great fashion and with ‘Walk With Me in Hell’ coming only a few songs later it was clear that they were firing on all cylinders with the band sounding incredible. Unfortunately for me, this energy didn’t seem to continue for them throughout the set. Whilst it was still clear that the majority of the crowd were still rocking along there was just something off for me personally which I can only put down to the ability of all the bands that had put on stunning sets today beforehand. I’m definitely glad to have caught Lamb of God live though as they’ve been on my wish list for a long time and the early tracks really hit home well for me showing just how devastating the band can be live.
Fever 333 – Avalanche Stage
After the slight disappointment of the previous set it was time for things to hit the high notes again with arguably one of the most talked about sets of the weekend FEVER 333. Having been lucky enough to see their secret set exactly a year ago at Download Festival 2018 it was great to see the band back again playing to a much bigger crowd. As the first notes of ‘Burn It’ rang out the entire tent turned into a warzone with everyone both on the stage and in the crowd moving non-stop until the end. With the huge pairing of ‘Made In America’ and ‘One Of Us’ coming not far behind it was a brilliant showcase of just what the band had achieved so far in their short spell. With a short break for the band to show off their technical prowess with a drum solo and beatbox which included all three members hitting the drums as it came to a climax. Unfortunately due to the nature of a drum solo it did sap some of the energy from the crowd and the band had to put in more effort to the second half of the set to bring it back up. Luckily the setlist had been set up so that the huge ‘Out of Control’ could restart the movement with a bang. As the bands set drew to a close with ‘Hunting Season’ it was clear to see that the tent was back up to fever pitch – pun very much intended. As the band left the stage it was clear that through these demonstrations they were attracting a huge following and were only going to grow even more from here. With the headline demonstrations later in 2019 it was clear that there is no stopping FEVER 333 and that is very much a good thing!
Enter Shikari – Avalanche Stage
For most bands following the explosive and very impressive FEVER 333 would be a tough challenge but luckily for me today final band and Avalanche Stage headliner Enter Shikari were the true champions of live performances and were on top form. Having previously headlined the Zippo Encore Stage in years gone by it seemed to be a downgrade to be headlining the third stage however the confines of a packed out tent complete with the Intimate venue tour they had done earlier in the year brought the perfect atmosphere to the set. Starting out with ‘The Appeal & The Mindsweep I’ was a master stroke with the entire crowd screaming along and following it up with my personal favourite Enter Shikari Song ‘Quelle Surprise’ it really was one giant mosh pit from the very beginning. With a very varied setlist covering all aspects of Enter Shikari’s sound it really was musically impressive and went to show that a band can experiment outside of set genres and pull it off perfectly jumping from the huge anthems of ‘Take My Country Back’ to the heaviness of ‘Slipshod’ to the technicality of ‘There’s a Price On Your Head’. After displaying the wide variety the band have, they decided to take it up another notch with the new version of the ‘Quick-fire Round’ which always goes down a treat at their shows. Amongst the usual heavy hitters the inclusion of a new ‘No Sleep Tonight’ remix went down perfectly, it really was a masterclass in how to mix songs perfectly and as the bad finished up with the fantastic ‘Live Outside’ there wasn’t a single person who left the tent without a smile on their face having just witnessed a perfect set. I may be biased given that they are my favourite band but seeing Enter Shikari play live is one of the most incredible things in music currently and certainly a must if you haven’t already. They were certainly the perfect way to end the whole festival on a huge high with easily the best set of the week for me personally. I can’t wait to catch them again in the summer playing at Leeds Festival.