LIVE: Download Festival 2024 – Saturday

By Katherine Allvey

Day Two of Download is the one you’ve probably heard most about by now from your mates; the endless downpours, fans face-planting into the mud outside the Avalanche Stage, and enough technical disruptions to make you grind your teeth in despair. But with a day jam-packed with acts as good as these, there’s no way we’re going to miss out. Hide under a waterproof, tread carefully over sinkholes, and stop hiding in your tent – it’s time to make some memories.

Words: Kate Allvey Images: Penny Bennett and Download Festival

Bambie Thug

Wreathed in black latex tentacles, the Irish vocalist opens the second day of Download with seductive, evil ‘ouija pop’. They’re like a possessed Lady Gaga, spilling musical ink on ‘Last Summer (I Know What You Did)’, and if you had guessed that a sexy bin man costume would feature somewhere over the weekend, you’d be proven right during hypnotic new track ‘Trash Will Take Itself Out’. But the magic happens in their almost un-backed cover of the Cranberries ‘Zombie’; flanked by flags of the oppressed held in silence, it’s clear that’s there’s so much more to Bambie Thug than nudity and Eurovision.

Florence Black

As the first act of the day to fall victim to the curse of a shortened set due to apocalyptic weather conditions, we sadly don’t get much of the welsh act’s bass-heavy hard rock sound, but the five songs we receive are as dark as their name. Tristan Thomas’ heartfelt wail makes the cliched metal horns he conjures up feel necessary throughout their Pearl Jam influenced set, and ‘Sun And Moon’ slips down as easily as a scotch at midnight. We’re left simultaneously frustrated and grateful for the brief snippet we did get to see. 

Bleed From Within

The faithful brave an extra half an hour wait in the downpour for the Scottish metallers, but ‘Sovereign’s essential burst of brutality makes the discomfort worth it. We needed something heavier and tougher, richer in ferocious guitar to bolster our spirits, and we got it and then some. ’Stand Down’ sends a connection flooding through the crowd all the way to the back, and vocalist Scott Kennedy grins at our response. Closing with a heartwarming and fan-pleasing rendition of Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’, they’re joined by Rob Beckett and Romesh Ranganathan who’ve been filming onsite.

Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes

The frontman knows both how to construct a belting setlist and how to rock a fuzzy pink cardigan, and the huge crowd response to ‘Kitty Sucker’ shows just how comfortable he’s become in his rock n roll status. The lounger tracks which featured heavily on his last tour are thrown out in favour of the rangers which showcase Carter at his best like ‘Devil Inside Me’, though strategically placed slower tracks move us. “What it takes to be a main stage band? Confidence, power, kindness and love,” he lists before the impassioned ‘Brambles’s slinky beat booms out. Sadly, this makes a small boy in the audience cry, and Carter pauses the song to console him (“Little man’s tired… I don’t blame him, I’m tired too!”). ‘My Town’ hits heavier live, with tons more electro to console even the most weary, leaving us both in awe of the Rattlesnakes’ sound and energised to continue.

Babymetal

Handmade t-shirts and fervent hype surrounded the Japanese girl group, but their hyper-energetic routines angered whichever deity controls the weather in Derbyshire. After only one song, a look of panic flashed across leader Su-Metal’s face as she received a message in her earpiece, and the dreaded ‘we are pausing the show briefly’ message displayed onscreen as the weather turned biblical. However, the ladies are nothing if not consummate professionals, and as soon as it was safe to do so, ‘METALI!!’ proved that they are the holographic dressed superheroes that we need to push through the day. ‘RATATATA’ is an absolute banger live and the closest we would come to seeing Electric Callboy this weekend. It felt like as soon as Babymetal appeared, they were gone.

Enter Shikari

There’s a reason Enter Shikari sold out stadiums across Europe earlier this year. Glitching between poetry, dance grooving, eighties vibes and nineties optimism, they perfectly capture the escapism of the weekend. ‘Giant Pacific Octopus (I Don’t Know You Any More)’ is melancholy and bold, opening a thoughtful pit that embraces the message of the song. Frontman Rou Reynolds paces like a caged tiger; “This was the first festival that ever allowed us to play, back in 2006” he yells before turning the bass up to absolute limits for ‘goldfish’s intense drops after dreamlike soft bridges that weigh heavy with longing. Enter Shikari lean into the drum n bass end of their sound for shows like this because it absolutely works for huge crowds, and ‘Sorry, You’re Not a Winner’ playfully extends the electro side of the band like an outstretched hand, inviting us to dance. 

  While She Sleeps

“I’ve been here before, I’ve been stood where you is,” pants Loz Taylor between songs, and it’s the solidarity and empathy between While She Sleeps and their fans which make them such a great live act. With neon guitars blaring on opener ‘RAINBOWS’, they’re the perfect transition to the evening after Enter Shikari. “We did not come here to fuck about,” says Taylor sternly, and he’s determined to cram every minute allotted for his band with  vital honesty and the kind of songs that create slamming all the way up to the top of the hill. ‘SELF HELL’ burns with rage and mutual frustration to provoke a massive, bouncing response that we yell back to the band mid air. 

The Offspring

One of the oldest bands on the bill, the Offspring have been known to let their tendency towards bad puns and novelty skits get in the way of their sound. Not so today. Noodles, Dexter and friends plot a tight course, barely deviating from faultless punk and proving that they are so much more than the guys who asked us why we were still unemployed. New song ‘Make It All Right’ is a burst of summer fun that bodes very well for their upcoming album, and ‘The Kids Aren’t Alright’s eulogy to the loss of childhood dreams captures just the right balance of poignancy and thrashing. ‘Hit That’ sparks conga lines and even the most hardened types chant out the melody while coloured balloons bounce like weightless marbles over the pit.

Billy Talent

The spiky Canadians put out seriously classy proto-emo from the get-go with ‘Devil in a Midnight Mass’ dropping bombs of distortion amid Benjamin Kowalewicz’s trademark steel wire vocals. Their potent dark energy is the antidote to the Offspring’s jollier hits we hear spilling over from the Apex stage. ’This Suffering’ is like a midnight hedge maze, it’s tone providing a taut atmosphere that cracks before ‘I Beg To Differ (This Will Get Better)’s brightening guitar. Kowalewicz theatrically emotes, aware he’s got a dedicated audience in the palm of his hand during the derelict loveliness of ‘Rusted From The Rain’, and Billy Talent’s set has to be a highlight of the weekend for pretty much everyone who rushed over to the Avalanche stage.

Fall Out Boy

It’s deceptively easy to get to the front for Fall Out Boy’s chronologically curated set, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t the star attractions of the day, if not the whole weekend. The Teenage remembrances and sizzling solos of ‘Grand Theft Autumn’ give way to fireworks and picture frames as, word perfect, we sing along to ‘Sugar, We’re Going Down’, our inconveniences fading away. ‘Dance Dance’ tugs on our sense of nostalgia, but with a slight roughness and friction to dispel the gloss of memory and shake us in the present. Pete Wentz shreds like we never remembered him being able to, smiling broadly between frequent costume changes. “I want you to sing till your lungs give out,” he calls, and we nearly do to the perfect showmanship and bass drops of ‘This Ain’t A Scene, It’s an Arms Race’.

If there was a prize for ‘maximum spectacle achieved in an hour at Download’, Fall Out Boy would take the gold. ‘My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark’ sees guitars re-made into flamethrowers at the centre of walls of pyromania, and the troupe of sinister cheerleaders onstage for ‘Uma Thurman’ signals the start of a clear ramping up of the effects on the songs without cult-favourite status. It’s not just all shock and awe, though. Wentz helps a couple with their gender revel via waterproof envelope and declares they should name their baby ‘Download’. After ten years away from Donington, Fall Out Boy wanted to ‘make the biggest art project we could fucking make’, and they made it happen in a huge way.

 


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