LIVE: Download Festival 2012 – Friday

By Tom Aylott

Take almost 100,000 rock and metal fans, throw in five stages playing host to more than 130 bands, a copious amount of alcohol and overpriced burgers, and top it all off with an almost literal shit-tonne of mud and you are close to the alternative spectacle that absorbed the name Download Festival back in 2003. With The Prodigy, Metallica and Black Sabbath taking the headline slots this year, Punktastic was on hand to get absolutely filthy and have a load of fun.

Following an unprecedented two hour delay to the opening time of the main arena and the unfortunate initial cancellation of the first two bands across the various stages. The first band we manage to catch on the main stage are NOFX, and although their attempt to cut through the disheartened atmosphere is relatively successful, there is nothing on offer here that has not already been delivered by the band (including a few recycled jokes). Still, it’s a great laugh nonetheless, and there was an excellent selection of muddy dancing going on.  [BT/TA]

Neatly following on, Billy Talent prove that they’ve still got it and deliver some of the most impressive punk of the weekend, delivering an array of hits and even letting the previously cancelled Cancer Bats jump on for a number. A band still to be written off at your peril, their next album is shaping up to be a good’un and their pencilled UK tour later in the year will be hotly anticipated. [TA]

Over on the Red Bull Bedroom Jam stage, our favourite northern upstarts Marmozets are playing to what is probably their biggest crowd to date. The stage is treated like a playground as usual, yet the way they handle their sound suggests nothing of immaturity. Sliding between songs from their debut EP and recent release ‘Vexed’, the noise is effortlessly separated into coherence and executed sublimely; not such an easy task for such a complicated band. [BT]

Chase and Status may not be your average Download band, and there was certainly some apprehension regarding their penultimate main stage fixture. However, these preconceptions seem to have faded away alongside the rain. The sound emanating from the huge speaker stacks is crisp and tight, while the duo uses their personalities to enhance the buzzing atmosphere. Although there may be one too many “hey” and “jump” on occasion, this certainly sets the scene for the headliners, and it’s a shrewd booking by Copping that goes down pretty well. [BT]

With a festival of this magnitude it is almost impossible to see all the quality bands on offer in full. Snippets of The Safety Fire blasting the Red Bull Bedroom Jam tent full of Protest The Hero-esque post-hardcore was a brief treat, while Axewound roused an impressive audience with a brutally powerful rendition of a Pantera classic. For a band with limited material, it is clearly the expertise of Matt Tuck (Bullet for My Valentine) and Liam Cormier (Cancer Bats) that have attracted this crowd, who have smiles brought to their faces. [BT]

Originally finding themselves as the billed headliners on the Red Bull stage, Gallows really are on form tonight. Recently acquired frontman Wade MacNeil (ex-Alexisonfire/Black Lungs) has successfully slotted himself between the remaining founding members, and the result is explosive. Gone is the previous façade; to be replaced by genuine passion and belief in the lyrics. Tonight may see the band propelled back onto main stages across Europe, and there’s really nothing stopping the band going big with MacNeil at the helm. [BT]

Following the earlier announcement of their cancellation, fans are ecstatic to discover Cancer Bats now headlining in the smallest tent of weekend. Their ferocity knows no boundaries, and as frontman Liam Cormier throws himself across the stage, there’s nowhere we’d rather be. There is some solace in the belief that the band might not have pulled off a set this exciting had they found themselves centre stage earlier in the day. But it’s Cancer Bats, so they probably would have, the cheeky sods. [BT]

We got so into the Cancer Bats set that we neglected most of The Prodigy, but we rounded off the evening by watching the massive crowd they drew go nuts, so we’re gathering they went down alright… Day one of Download 2012 was soggy, muddy and a bit grim, but we had an excellent start to our weekend and couldn’t wait to get charged up for more by the time we (somehow) got back to our tents. [TA]