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Download Festival 2024 Review


Download Festival 2024 Review


Donington Park, Castle Donington, England, June 14-16, 2024: despite tumultuous weather, threats of boycott and more, the Derby festival delivers one of its most promising editions in recent memory.

It comes as no secret that this year’s edition of Download Festival began as one set to divide fans. In its 21-year history, this feels like the first time that the go-to monsters of rock have taken a step back from the bill, and an intentional push has been made to bring newer talent into the forefront. No KISS, no Ozzy, no Metallica or Judas Priest in sight, and the biggest names on the line-up have been plucked from the world of ‘00s pop-punk, rather than the eras that came before it.


Following a mammoth 20th anniversary bash in 2023, this year Download returns to Donington Park with its usual three-day format and kicks off a whole new era for the festival – with two first-time headliners in the form of Queens Of The Stone Age and Fall Out Boy, and a third bill-topping show from Avenged Sevenfold.


Day 1 - Friday, June 14, 2024.

Queens Of The Stone Age

“Repeat after me,” insists Josh Homme, “I am stoned and fucked up and I feel amazing.” The Queens Of The Stone Age mainman also promises that he and his bands are going to lead Download through “A night that you will never fucking remember.”

The sense of decadence may be more suggestion than reality, but what’s not up for debate tonight is that Queens Of The Stone Age are a fine fit for a headliner here. And this is a night not to be forgotten. Aggressively loud from the outset, with attitude firmly in place and a light show to scramble the brain, it also feels like a band prodded into fifth gear by having something to prove. It makes them absolute dynamite.

Opening with Little Sister, and chucking in a one-two of Go With The Flow and a staggering The Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret, when they detonate the known quantity bangers, they are unstoppable. Elsewhere, newer stuff like the stompy psych of Made To Parade from last year’s rejuvenated In Times New Roman sounds ten-storeys tall.

Some questioned whether Queens should have been headlining this festival. Too long since they last played, they said, not quite in tune with the fest, they reckoned. Fuck that. Tonight they gave Download both barrels. “You cunts are alright,” laughs Josh, narrowly avoiding sounding like Rodney Dangerfield. Likewise, Queens. Likewise.



Heilung

Busted may have been to the year 3000, but Heilung are coming from somewhere nearer 3000 BC. With not a single electric instrument onstage, but utilising a human femur as a drumstick, a shaker full of human remains, insistent, muscular rhythms, throat singing, blood, nudity and no shortage of trance-like rhythms, they are at the wilder end of what Download has to offer. They’re also one of its most powerful experiences. Heavy on ritual and folky pageantry, they’re striking from the off. But as they go on, what’s initially a curio for many in the large crowd gathered at the Opus Stage becomes a shared celebration, as the drumming becomes ever more hypnotic and the vocals pull the listener in. Once a whole field of people are zoning out, they suddenly drop a beat so heavy it’s like an ancient techno club as people begin dancing like the woodland scene from The Devil Rides Out. It’s like nothing else you’ll see at Download. Or feel, for that matter.



Royal Blood

Royal Blood are natural sub-headliners for Queens Of The Stone Age – indeed, their buzzing bass guitar wizardry and curled lip attitude suggests they’ve learned plenty from Josh Homme and co.’s songbook. While it’s not packed as such, they relish playing in front of an audience that gets them a bit better than Radio 1's Big Weekend (though, oddly, this is their first Download for 10 years) and despite two pauses to fix technical issues, their material sounds incredibly lithe whether they’re tearing through grittier old cuts such as Out Of The Black or Little Monster or the newer disco-infused Typhoons. It’s a straightforward, no-nonsense display, but personality glints through in fits and starts – frontman Mike Kerr, in a sparkly black shirt no less, decries the “fucking horrible” downpour that gets punters reaching for their ponchos, while drummer Ben Thatcher goes to hang out with the people on the barrier when he’s not needed behind the kit. This is a rather fun way to warm up for later.



Mr. Bungle

Mike Patton looks kind of like a cross between Ministry frontman Al Jourgensen and late hip-hop icon Coolio as he steps on with an impossibly tight pigtail plait and gold microphone to front Friday's early evening set from the legendary Mr. Bungle. It's a look worth turning up for in itself. Honestly, though, a weirdly sparse crowd and muddy sound scupper the experimental metal icons. This is music for listeners to tumble chaotically through and lose their minds to. That just doesn't happen with a crowd that's 90% rubbernecking casuals. Thankfully, the presence of Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian and inimitable drummer Dave Lombardo (with a xylophone in his kit) lends a thrashy edge to songs like Raping Your Mind and My Ass Is On Fire in between fragmented covers 10CC's I'm Not In Love, ensuring a deep impact regardless. Then Mike spins a head-melting story about alien abduction that led to his none-more-distinctive haircut. For hardcore fans, that's a weird feeling to walk away with. Given this band's methodology, mind, maybe that's no bad result. "Download, go fuck yourself…" Mike signs off. "Stay muddy!" Indeed.



VUKOVI

It’s about damn time VUKOVI got their flowers. Technical issues might nudge back the start time time of their half hour on the Avalanche Stage – and still dampens the bite of the guitars in the mix – but once they slink through the pulsing opener Creep Heat, they’re on their way to raucousness. Frontwoman Janine Shilstone is a fierce performer, gyrating and snarling her way through the stomping Lasso and the defiant bounce of Hades as the crowd roar back, immediately filling any brief moments of silence. Naturally, there’s also a “HERE WE FUCKING GO!” chant too, because, you know, Scotland. Frankly, if anything goes to show here, they’ve been underrated for too long.




“We’re gonna play a little game,” grins Scott LePage. “It’s called Sing The Fucking Riff!” This is as near as Polyphia get to a normal sing-along. But then, the Texas widdlers aren’t really normal in almost any respect. Scott and fellow axeman Tim Henson are genuinely brilliant and innovative guitarists, to the point where vocals are an afterthought on tape, if a thought at all, and for the thick end of an hour they give you guitar and plenty of it. For shred-heads, there’s no band currently giving you more notes for your buck. But on a stage like this, often sounding like Super Mario in a guitar shop, it struggles to keep the energy and interest up, even with the frequent calls for pits. For those thickening the air in front of the stage with weed smoke, it’s probably like watching hippie jam band legends Phish time-travelling into the future. For those not so refreshed, it’s often hard to catch a grip on their normally impressive wares, even with a likability radiating from the four of them. You wonder if it would have landed more hooks in ears headlining a tent.



Scene Queen

Loads of people want to be inducted into Bimbo Beta Pi this afternoon on the Opus Stage – and a few Pikachus do, too. With an arsenal of fierce sex-positive anthems that hit like a sugar rush, Scene Queen has all the makings of an instant festival hit at her first Download and predictably, it goes down like a storm. Strutting her way through the infectious wink-nudge of Finger and ferocious Pink Push-Up Bra, she’s a pink Molotov cocktail of sass and anger, but knows when to be serious, taking a moment to commend the acts boycotting Download – most of whom were meant to play today – while adding that she will donate her fee to the Palestinian Children’s Fund. Then, once “the elephant in the room” is addressed, she throws herself back into the chaos. Whether she’s gently bullying her bandmates into playing Whips And Chains’ outro faster or serving genius one-liners (“I need this side of the crowd and this side of the crowd to fuck… each other up!”), Hannah Collins is marking herself out as a future Download staple.



The Struts

Somewhere between Aerosmith and Austin Powers, you have The Struts. They look the part for both – all flares, scarves, matching white leather shoes and singer Luke Spiller pulling off what appears to be half a wedding dress – and provide a suitably shagadelic soundtrack. Playing just a stone’s throw from guitarist Adam Slack's house where as a teen he’d hear the festival from his back garden, today they take the Apex Stage and charm the arse off it. Luke is a mix of frontman, comedian and circus ringmaster, putting in a hell of s shift to get the party started in spite of the drizzle, nudging and winking his way through the set as he asks ‘Don’t you know who I think I am?’ (on Primadonna Like Me), and talks of ‘Sex so good it makes the neighbours smoke a cigarette’ (Too Good At Raising Hell). They even make the sun start shining again. “I wanna see each and every one of you having the time of your life,” he beams shortly before they exit to the theme from Only Fools And Horses. “You know why? Cos you fucking deserve it.” Frankly, we feel spoiled.



Hanabie

Trading the runny brown of the campsite for Hanabie's spiky neon onslaught is a hell of a trip. Rampaging onto the Opus stage as Download 24 gets properly underway in a storm of caffeinated handclaps, fluttering Union Jacks and chunky-as-fuck riffage, the Tokyo electronicore quartet feel legitimately unlike anything else on offer this weekend. Perhaps anything in Download's storied 21-year history. There are elements of home country heroes BABYMETAL in the rollercoaster energy and Kawaii-influenced eccentricity of songs like Ware Amatou and Warning!!, sure, but there's also far less choreographed predictability. Chuck in large doses of genuinely funny tongue-in-cheek pandering ("It was raining today... but now it's sunny!" "Do you like beer?!") and a dollop of punky attitude, and you've got a hell of a hangover cure to get the mud-crusted masses up and running.



Yukina of HANABIE. performs at Download Festival 2024.
Yukina of HANABIE. performs at Download Festival 2024.


Day 2 - Saturday, June 15, 2024.

Fall Out Boy

Fall Out Boy are a weird band. They always have been. Crucially, though, they’ve also always worn that like a badge of honour – and rightfully so.

Case in point: how they decide open up their headline debut tonight. Rather than trying to go a ‘heavier’ route to please the Download metalhead masses, come 9pm the stage screens flash up to show Patrick Stump, um, dressed in a hospital gown. Oh yeah, and he’s also wearing a 2003-esque peaked beanie, singing the opening to Disloyal Order Of Water Buffaloes.

It’s not necessarily the Metallica-inspired opening we were expecting…

The frontman (sans patient attire now) and his bandmates – Pete Wentz, Joe Trohman and Andy Hurley – then proceed to take to the Download stage to enormous excitement from the packed-out crowd, hurtling straight into Take This To Your Grave favourites Chicago Is So Two Years Ago and Grand Theft Autumn / Where Is Your Boy. To some here, it might not be immediately obvious what tonight will be, but as Fall Out Boy waste no time blowing minds early on with Sugar, We’re Goin Down and Dance, Dance, it quickly becomes clear that the band have planned out the ultimate celebration of everything they’ve done to get to this point…

…Following a monumental Centuries comes customary set-closer Saturday – but with the best twist of all. Instead of his usual excursion from the stage into the crowd, the wonderful weirdness reaches its peak as Pete floats high up into the air holding a big batch of balloons, before letting them go and drifting back down again to join the fans. Plus, there’s streamers. And confetti. And fireworks. It’s all just so much bloody fun.

“To be here is so fucking special,” Pete says at one point. “But beyond that, if you’ve got a dream like that – if you make art like that – keep making that fucking art. You’ll end up here maybe.”

Fall Out Boy are absolutely a testament to that, and tonight Download is all the better for it. Keep staying weird, guys.



Cassyette

Everything about Cassyette’s flying visit to Donington Park, announced just days before people descended on the site, is immaculate. With the crispest sound the Dogtooth Stage has had for much of the day, she offers an impeccable soundtrack to the Saturday night ahead, soaring through September Rain and stomping through the emotional tsunami that is When She Told Me without a single waiver in her voice. If there’s one complaint, it’s that 25 minutes just isn’t enough, but at least there’s tons to be excited about when her debut album This World Fucking Sucks drops in two months’ time.



The Offspring

Noodles: a great guitarist, but not so good with maths. “Oh my god, Dexter,” he turns to his bandmate during The Offspring’s sub-headliner this evening. “You’re not gonna believe this. We set another world record at Download – there’s 2,536,407 people here tonight!”

To be fair, it feels like he somehow isn’t actually that far off in his estimations. The California legends are a colossal draw right before Fall Out Boy, their high-energy punk rock more than hitting the spot during a welcome break from the rain. With an opening, ahem, smash of Come Out And Play, All I Want and Want You Bad – complete with epic a cappella sing-along – The Offspring start as they mean to go on, kicking off a set packed with utter classics. And whether it’s Noodles shredding In The Hall Of The Mountain King, sticksman Brandon Pertzborn somehow getting people crowdsurfing during a drum solo, or frontman Dexter Holland grinning that he hear the crowd from “all the way where the churros are”, everything about these 75 minutes feels fantastic. That’s not even taking into account the songs, either: from the seamless addition of new single Make It All Right through to the raging Bad Habit and a party-tastic Pretty Fly (For A White Guy).

“Not only is this the best festival we’ve ever played,” Noodles grins after Why Don’t You Get A Job. “But it’s also the best festival to ever happen in the history of mankind!”

The Offspring at Download, then. It just adds up.



Enter Shikari

Amazingly, in a career that spans almost two decades, this is Enter Shikari’s first-ever time on the main stage of Download Festival (not including Download Pilot). Having made their debut at Donington way back on the MySpace stage in 2006, they’ve headlined the second stage numerous times, and off the back of a sold-out Wembley Arena this spring, the St Albans electro-punks use today to stake their claim for the top spot.

A pared-down version of said Wembley show, it still boasts all of their new bells and whistles, including explosive fans of flames, giant screens and a even box for Rou to fall into – the previous underwater motif now replaced with an awesome infrared version of the vocalist, who is now on a mission to get in as many fans’ faces as possible, firstly appearing on the sound tower, then hurling himself into the crowd for their eponymous mega-hit, before the piece de resistance of falling flat into the mud after being egged on by the masses. Dripping in brown sludge, he casts quite a vision, with the rest of the band just laughing at their best friend, before he conducts the tens of thousands gathered through a 2024 update to Sorry You’re Not A Winner, ahead of the grand, technicolor finale of A Kiss For The Whole World.

Few bands this weekend can match the energy and connection that Shikari emit or indeed cultivate with their fans. In a just world they would have headlined this festival already, but in a definitive display of come and fucking get some, this is a clear indicator as any that given free rein they could put on an all-timer at the top of the bill.



RØRY

If you know RØRY, you probably adore her. This is the consensus from their Download debut, where she’s attracted an impressive crowd, especially since she’s clashing with BABYMETAL. She’s rather moved by it all, particularly the way they sing Help Your Friends Get Sober with their whole chests. While she doesn’t underemphasise that her take on nostalgic pop-punk is tinged with remarkable sadness – their own record label is called Sadcore, after all – there’s still a real sense of triumph about her living her dreams in real time after the setbacks of addiction and music industry ageism. “You’re the best record label in the world,” RØRY tells fans and given they’re left chanting “WE WANT MORE!” after the weather brings the show to an abrupt end, that certainly sounds true.



Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes

"Which one of you cunts stole my fuckin' chain?" demands Frank Carter. "I've had that for 10 years. And I've just sacrificed it to the mosh-pit at Download."

It is not a clever idea to be a thief from Frank Carter. And yet, as he dives off the barrier and ends up with his legs sticking up like a pair of antennae, you feel that if it's gonna happen anywhere, it may as well be here, at what he later screams is "the best fucking festival in the world".

Today, Frank is on fire. Arriving in a pink cardigan and strutting onstage to David Bowie's fame, at every turn he shows Download that he is Mr Bollocks, that he is King Shit Of Turd Hill. It's only a man of particular character that can pull such a thing off without looking like a tosser, and today Frank and the lads are all noisy jubilation and troublemaking charm.

At Download Pilot, his headlining slot was a much-needed, cathartic headbutt, a set made of screams and fists and tears and much-needed, urgent hugs. Today, he is a much smoother proposition, but no less fun. Taking the ego-ramp with the swag of a punk Frank Butcher, he delivers an atomic Juggernaut with the same passion as he does new sing-along Man Of The Hour, and rages through the joyfully caustic My Town, all while conducting exactly what chaos he wants beautifully.

"I swear to you, if these traffic cones don't start doing their job and directing people to the mayhem, they don't deserve to be traffic cones," he bellows at a bunch of suitably attired lads in the pit. But you don't need such things for Frank. You just need him and his band detonating like a fun-bomb. Frankly, 24-carat gold is a tiny price to pay.



Charlotte Sands

Charlotte Sands' Avalanche Stage slot almost isn't a festival set, but that is a compliment. Instead, it feels like her own show. Diving audaciously into proceedings with a soaring ballad, of all things, in the form of recent cut can we start over?, it's a half hour of power in which performer and audience constantly out-rival each other's energy. Bad Day is irresistible fun, Alright holds the crowd in a chokehold and the spiky Spite is brimming with grit and determination. This is how you do a Saturday afternoon at Download.



The Hunna

In some ways, The Hunna are a curious booking for Download, whose easy-on-the-ear alt. rock feels more like indie rock than emo crowdpleasers. With frontman Ryan Potter bashing his strings, having seemingly read the forecast for Spain and forgotten his shirt, their lunchtime slot is still front-loaded with bangers, especially of the horny variety (Bad For You, for one, certainly rips). That said, he sometimes slips off key and the whole band isn't fighting to win the crowd over, who stick around to the end but never really getting invested. As much as they try to appeal to an alternative crowd, the greebos haven't quite taken them in with open arms yet.



WARGASM

"Download, who would win in a fight: you or WARGASM?" It's an intriguing question from Sam Matlock as the electronic rockers hit full gear on a rain drenched Apex Stage. On one hand, there are a fuckload of people standing in front of them, raging away to unapologetically unsubtle slabs of synth-drenched mayhem like Venom and Fukstar. On the other, the London-based duo look hard as fuck, defying the plummeting temperatures in skin-baring beachwear and calling on mates such as Stray From The Path frontman frontman Drew York to lend their weight on thick cuts like Bang Ya Head. In the end, there's no need for fighting, mind. Bands like WARGASM are a perfect remedy for bogged-down days like these.



Bambie Thug

Ever wondered what it's like to go to an underground fetish club at 11am in the morning while it's tipping it down? Parts of Bambie Thug's Apex Stage showing answer that unorthodox question – and it's a gloriously batshit way to kick off day two. In a costume that's a wacky cross between Maleficent, Medusa and your average Torture Garden get-up, the recent Eurovision finalist's show is sexy, twisted theatre at its finest, moving with their gimp-masked backup dancers like they have hexed them (and it gets rather NSFW too) and even at one point popping out of a recycling bin in a high vis jacket. But the standout moment is not their rapturous rerun of Eurovision entry Doomsday Blue, but something far more solemn: a lump-in-throat cover of The Cranberries' Zombie backed by a parade of flags of communities fighting for liberation – Ukraine, the Congo, the trans community and of course Palestine – in what will surely be the most affecting moment of the weekend. Whatever they're doing, they are absolutely astonishing.



Pantera

Pantera took the stage at the Download festival for the first time in over 20 years. The band, featuring classic members Philip Anselmo and Rex Brown, along with Zakk Wylde and Charlie Benante, delivered an electrifying performance that left fans in awe.

The setlist included iconic songs like “Mouth For War,” “This Love,” and “Cowboys From Hell,” among others. The band’s energy and stage presence were undeniable, showcasing their undeniable talent and passion for their music.

As Pantera continues to headline major festivals and concerts, their impact on the music industry remains as strong as ever. The band’s timeless songs and powerful performances serve as a testament to their enduring legacy and the lasting influence of their music on generations of fans.




Day 3 - Sunday, June 16, 2024.

Avenged Sevenfold

It’s precisely 10:16pm, and the members of Avenged Sevenfold are bemusingly walking around the Apex Stage in total darkness, to the sound of a crowd singing DJ Ötzi’s Hey Baby at them. Given the Huntington Beach metallers’ fantastically out-there current streak, these words might not actually come as a massive surprise to you. But tonight, this isn’t part of their grand plan.

No, what’s actually happened is a complete sound system meltdown, right after the guitar solo during 2010 mega-single Nightmare (insert ‘electrifying’ joke of your choice). It’s a hiccup, for sure, but as Download 2024’s most seasoned headliners, it’s nothing that can’t soon be styled out – especially not when the answer to get things back on track is by launching straight into Unholy Confessions a couple of minutes later…

…From the off, it’s evident this isn’t a setlist for everyone. Though of course peppered with huge singles like Afterlife, Hail To The King and Bat Country, Avenged are all about doing what they want tonight, celebrating 2023’s wild LP and translating their ultra-modern ideas into a live setting.

On that subject, LIBAD… lead single Nobody goes down best of all, sounding crushingly heavy with a brain-boggling light show to match. “We’re gonna play all kinds of shit for you,” M. teases. “We’re not sure yet, but this might be the only time we come here on this album cycle. We’re trying to come in 2025, but we don’t know yet…”

Whether Avenged Sevenfold are able to return to these shores next year remains to be seen, but in the meantime, this has been a total dream in every sense.



Limp Bizkit

Although Avenged Sevenfold are at the top of the bill, for many people at Download this weekend, it has all been building to this: one hour of the ultimate party band, Limp Bizkit. The skies are mercifully clear as the ground turns to treacle underneath the weight of the biggest crowd the Apex Stage has seen all weekend, as an ocean of red caps and white vests cascades over Donington. And let’s not beat around the bush here, this is undoubtedly one of the best sets of the entire weekend. All-out bangers from start to finish – beginning and ending on Break Stuff is a brilliantly banterous move – it’s a masterclass in how to do festivals properly. Hotdog. Rollin. My Generation. My Way. At every turn another chorus or riff (courtesy of Wes Borland in full gilded Zoidberg mode) that are so deeply embedded in the culture of Download it’s basically become second nature to drop 46 fucks in a fucked up rhyme or do it all for the nookie.

Slotting in their well-trodden covers of Behind Blue Eyes and Faith – and even a brief refrain of Nirvana’s Come As You Are – there isn’t a single moment the air over hallowed grounds isn’t thick with 70,000 pissed-up voices, bellowing along with Fred Durst in his most affable and let’s-fucking-have-it form. Joking they are just trying to get the crowd warmed up for tonight’s headliners, the mayhem that ensues for tracks like Take A Look Around – or “that weird song Tom Cruise likes” – and Full Nelson prove that Bizkit could and arguably should be in that top slot. With next year coming as the 25th anniversary of Chocolate Starfish, if anyone at Download is reading this, you know what to do.



Corey Taylor

Download is basically Corey Taylor’s second home, but the odds feel stacked against him tonight. For one, he’s been “sick for a week”, even having to cancel a couple of prior European festival shows within the past few days. For another, his set starts at the exact same time as Limp Bizkit’s – one of the most hyped-up performances of the whole weekend.

To misquote one of his own solo songs, though, CMFT can’t be stopped.

Strolling out with his infectious Corey grin, this is a blast right from the off, with the frontman working his loyal fanbase gathered at the Opus Stage, throwing both the horns and a constant stream of water bottles into the crowd. “It’s so fucking good to be home, god dammit,” he begins. “There’s no fucking way I was missing this show!”

True to form, Corey musters up every ounce of energy he has for a huge rock’n’roll celebration. Backed by his infectiously enthusiastic solo band, they bring the sing-alongs early with Stone Sour’s Made Of Scars, Slipknot’s Before I Forget and… the SpongeBob theme tune.

Of course, there’s plenty of room for his own recent work, too, with Corey dedicating a particularly emotional Home to “the love of my life”, his wife Alicia, because, “Six months ago, she saved me from the darkest fucking point of my whole life.”

That in itself would be the highlight for most, but the metal legend isn’t done just yet.

“I was here 21 fucking years ago for the first time, and I’ll never forget it!” he yells in closing. “The fact you’re still here watching my silly ass jumping around, and doing what I do, means the world.” Adding that he’s decided to put out nothing but positive energy in 2024 and beyond, and tells his fans that they’re a “fucking gift”, before signing off with an epic Duality. As always, this guy is bloody unbeatable.



The Dogtooth Stage has been full for quite some time, with fans standing 10 rows deep outside the smallest tent at the festival to try and grab a glimpse of Australia’s finest wrecking crew. Looking every bit like a man who hasn’t spent the past four days slumming it in the mud, the dictionary definition of charisma Winston McCall strolls out in a Persil-white tank top and a grin so wide it threatens the integrity of his cheeks. He knows, as much as ever-growing horde does, the next 30 minutes are going down in Donington history.

As the braying crowd swells and surges forward like a writhing mass of battered flesh, it’s bedlam from the first strains of Glitch, with bodies piling over the barricade, fist-bumping Winston as he hurls himself round the stage, barking into the audience with every ounce of energy and adrenaline his muscular frame can muster. And the momentum never stops, with a punishing Prey almost causing a small earthquake across the East Midlands, as circle-pits rev into gear and a deafening chorus engulfs the marquee.



Sum 41

Obviously, there's more of a pop-punk hook in Download 2024 than there's ever been before. Sum 41 have always flirted with the metallic end of that genre, but there's a fucking massive chunk of steel on show today as the rampant Canadians hammer home the fandom they've built for the best part of three decades. "Fuck all the happy shit," laughs Deryck Whibley as they're about to pile into a shuddering All To Blame. "Let's play some heavy shit!" There's a little more emotional dynamism rolling through an uber-angsty Walking Disaster and all-time classic Fat Lip. But the fact they've got Still Waiting in their back pocket underlines quite how essential these lads still remain.



Bowling For Soup

Listen, Bowling For Soup are one of the best festival bands in existence. Especially if the sun's out, and even being a man down with Chris Van Malmsteen recuperating at home after a hospital visit. It is, in fact, this that makes the Texas pop-punk kings even more likeable today. At pains to keep shouting out their mate (to huge applause each time), they fill the big hole stage right with a massive load of love. They also have some of the biggest bangers for big stages you'll ever hear. The sing-alongs to 1985, Punk Rock 101 and their best song, Emily, are the sort that would make Bon Jovi jealous, to the point where you want to accuse Jaret Reddick of lying when he says it's somehow been 10 FUCKIN’ YEARS since the band last played them here. Like Skindred via the Lone Star State, it's impossible not to get caught up in the fun, and banter moments like a break for Rick Astley's Never Gonna Give You Up, and inviting Wheatus bloke Brendan B. Brown out to announce their tour next year, just add to the sweet afternoon vibes. Get better soon, Chris, you missed a fucking riot today, lad.



Pinkshift

“The last time I saw this much mud, it was for lesbian wrestling,” quips Pinkshift frontperson Ashrita Kumar. Incidentally, there are plenty of folks willing to risk getting coated in the stuff for the sake of a good old mosh or a two-step, because standing still hardly seems an option when the Baltimore trio are going this hard. In the process of opening the book on a new, heavier era (almost hardcore-esque, which suits them wonderfully), they feel like the truest version of themselves, with Ashrita moving and dancing on stage like they are capable of either curbstomping a wrong’un or beating them in a dance battle. They debut a new song, Blood, that blazes with righteous rage over “genocide and colonisation”, viral hit I’m Gonna Tell My Therapist On You fizzes with attitude and Trust Fall offers a colossal ending. Genius.



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