Concert Review: Download Festival (Sunday Only)

Another Download Festival came and went…this year marking the 10th anniversary of the famed UK metal festival.  Here is my review of my one-day pass for Sunday, 10 Jun 2012 with Black Sabbath headlining and closing the event.   Before I talk about my day I want to note that this is most likely my last Download Festival for the foreseeable future.  Later this year I will move back to the United States and if this is in fact the last Download Festival I ever see, I honestly couldn’t have asked for more out of a one-day ticket.  The icing on the cake was the fact that it was sunny.

We arrived just as the gates were about to open which was nice because up to this point I was always a bit late getting to Donnington.  This gave us time to see the layout, pee, and get over to the second stage and check out Kobra and The Lotus.  None of us knew them well at all except for one quick look on YouTube.  They are fronted by a female with a hell of a set of lungs.  Their music was heavier than I remember from YouTube and they put on a good set.  I can best describe her vocal style as a female version of Dio which says a lot.  Their 30-minute set was pretty high-energy; I found them entertaining and worth looking into a bit further.  Initially I thought they would be along the lines of Halestorm, but they were, in fact, much heavier than that.

Scott Ian – Anthrax

DevilDriver was up next and I think the crowd remembered the Guinness attempt in 2009 for largest circle pit.  Before the band even took the stage, the pits started and got bigger and bigger.  We happened to be on the edge of that monstrosity which is probably the biggest pit I have ever experienced before noon…or anytime for that matter.  Their short set covered songs from their entire career; totally high-energy as DevilDriver always is.  They primed main stage crowd for the rest of the day.  Kyuss Lives and their blues-infused rock completely took me by surprise.  I haven’t listened to them in over 20-years and was about to go off and see something else.  I am glad I stayed because this was the sleeper hit of the day.  The bass was so intense it knocked my vision out of focus at one point with my friend confirming it happened to him as well.  I can’t tell you what exactly they played, but the review from the Download site said they played several songs from Blues For The Red Sun.  Seriously, they were amazing!

From there we checked out some of August Burns Red at the second stage.  Beyond the relentless screaming they sounded ok.  I am not familiar with them and in addition to the persistent screaming I was put off and returned to the main stage after 3-4 songs to prepare for what I believe to be my 10th experience with Anthrax.  This is probably one of the best Anthrax shows I have ever seen.  They were absolutely perfect and Joey Belladonna still has a ton of energy.  When they played “Indians” he grabbed a fan’s headdress and ran around high-fiving everyone.  Anthrax, as always, is a very entertaining live band.  The crowd was totally pumped for them.

Zakk Wylde – Black Label Society

The band that played after Anthrax on the main stage easily had the most guitar solos of any band of the day across all the stages.  Black Label Society came out kicking with some of their heaviest songs before Zakk Wylde breaking off into a lengthy guitar solo; another crowd pleaser for sure.  From there we decided to reminisce with 1988 and went back to the second stage for Sebastian Bach.  We only saw him play five songs, four of which were actually Skid row songs…good Skid Row songs.  I guess that was kind of bonus, I always thought Skid Row was ok back in the day.  After that, Ugly Kid Joe made their presence known; not entirely impressive, so we only stayed for about three songs before going back to the mass of metalheads at the main stage…because Lamb of God was down there.

The mosh pits widened for Lamb of God who put on a great set playing some of the new music and also most of their classics.  Every time I see Lamb of God, it’s an intense experience and when you throw 100K fans into the mix, everything compounds.  We weren’t part of the pits, but when they showed them on the big screens, they were massive.  And for the first time, I actually saw members of the band smile on stage.  Usually they look very pissed off and intense, so they must have been having an exceptionally good time.

Dave Mustaine – Megadeth

Next on the Jim Marshall main stage was the band I have been waiting for all day, Megadeth…my 14th time seeing them.  As LoG fans made their way out from the front it gave us an opportunity to get up close and personal; we were very close for Dave and Co which is where you want to be when Megadeth plays.  They opened with “Never Dead” then “Head Crusher” which was great to hear newer stuff.  By the third song, they played “Hangar 18” and many of their classics such as “Trust,” “Peace Sells,” “She-Wolf,” “Symphony of Destruction,”  and of course closing their set with “Holy Wars.”  I was surprised they didn’t play “Wake up Dead,” but they did make room for a couple of songs off Th1rt3en.  Megadeth is a meticulous live band and another one in a string of bands Sunday they rocked it.  Oh, they also got probably the best crowd reaction of the day…lots of Meg-a-deth, Meg-a-deth, Meg-a-deth.  I am sure that must have felt good for them to hear that knowing that Metallica played the day before.  Even Dave stopped to take notice of the fans chanting Meg-a-deth!  He might not say much on stage, but he appreciated it…you could tell.

Papa Emeritus – Ghost

After Megadeth, we proceeded to the Pepsi Max tent for the first time.  Firewind was wrapping up their set so we got to see a few songs before they closed up shop.  Not a bad band live, but I am largely unfamiliar with their music.  Really, it was Ghost we went to see and besides the visual experience of seeing them in their faceless religious attire, they play very well live.  They know how to put on a show; you know it’s good when you lose track of time and before you know it, it’s over.   The crowd reaction was deafening!  If I am not mistaken, they may have played their entire album.  They had a 40-minute set and Opus Eponymous is only 35-minutes long.  I didn’t hear any cover tunes so…anyway, Ghost is a must-see live band.

Kobra Paige – Kobra and the Lotus

After that we had enough time to head up to catch some of Rise Against.  I never heard them before and I found them to be pretty good.  I figured they were another scream-till-you-bleed band, but they actually had some catchy tunes.  Then it was time for Black Sabbath.  What can I say other than just phenomenal!  The pioneers of metal received a very warm welcome.  They rocked the 100K+ crowd to some old classics.  Though we weren’t able to stay for the entire set, it was a memorable to experience such an iconic band.

After all was said and done, we were exposed to 14 bands, about half of which we got to see a full set.  Don’t get mad at me for leaving before Sabbath was over.  After such a long day and a 2 ½ hour drive back home we had to make the command decision to go and be able to exit the parking lot in a timely manner. About 10K other people had the same idea, but we made it out and home safely and to work Monday morning.  Ouch!

What you don’t know will hurt you.  The entire ground area this year was basically mud.  Though it had been sunny, the mud dried up from watery diarrhea-looking mud to something more solid.  As we walked up toward high ground we saw this one guy in a tank-top and shorts go for a dive in some very watery mud.  I assume this was for fun because a gathering of his buddies were all laughing.   Needless to say, the joker was caked in mud.  I looked at my friends and mentioned how strange it was to see a 50 foot by 50 foot circle of watery mud…yet, it hadn’t rained all day.  Near the mud was a wall blocking something…don’t know what, but when we got to the other side of the wall there was about 15 dudes all peeing with many more waiting for a spot top relieve themselves.  So….that joker dude dove into muddy piss.  I hope he had some hand sanitizer.  Have a great day.

Below is footage I took here and there of the awesomely awesome day.  Enjoy!


About Reggie

Just a dude writing a heavy metal blog and always on the prowl for a cool metal show. I am also a family man...first and foremost!

Posted on June 12, 2012, in Concert Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Actually the first two days of Download absolutely bucketed it down with rain, which is why the place was so damn muddy when you got there. Seems like you had a great time though, there were some class acts playing that day. I’m a huge Rise Against fan, and can recommend basically any of their albums to you if you’re in the mood for melodic hardcore/punk rock! Also Ghost are a phenomenon to see, and I’d like to catch Lamb Of God sometime for kicks.

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