First up was the replacement band for Karma To Burn on the second stage. Sadly I didn't grab the name over the sound of the wind and now can't find the info on them, which is a shame as it was an incredibly bouncy rap-rock outfit that hammered out 30 minutes of flawlessly positive and energetic tunes with strong flow, adventurous lyrics, and an overall inclusively classy performance. Would happily see them again, especially if I had their name!
Next was Bowling For Soup on the main stage, who were so awesome that they drove the rain away! It was the sing-along pop-punk that you either love or hate, combined with crowd pleasing banter and a giant inflatable sheep being deflated by a giant inflatable penis. For people who had seen them before some of to tomfoolery was a little repetitive and the gaps for jokes in the middle of songs can get tiresome sometimes but overall it was a solid performance that managed to get a spark out of an incredibly soggy crowd.
GWAR have a 5 point plan for making everyone their friend:
- Walk on wearing outlandish overblown costumes that look like the outcome of a drunken night between Mad Max and Lord Of The Rings.
- Start your show by ripping off Osama Bin Laden's face, and then have him bleed all over the front row.
- Write the message "Fuck Off You Cunt" on drum skin's, amusing everyone greatly when the camera reveals it to the crowd.
- Bring on a "stupid fucking giant robot", do battle with it, and then rip off it's nuts so that it bleeds over everyone in the front not currently covered in fake blood.
- Take the whole audience on a journey to "metal-metal land!" with an excess of cartoon violence.
I only managed to grab parts of Gaslight Anthem's set but from what I was witness to it was the note perfect rendition of the album that I expected. Curiously for me this left me cold as I could have had pretty much the same experience by listening to it at home, though this could have been due to the heavy rain. The songs are great, a heavier blend of Bruce Springsteen and early U2, and the band were lovely so I heartily encourage everyone to pick out their album to enjoy a slice of modern Americana at it's finest.
T-34, Al Murray's cover band, are always going to be seen as a novelty act. This is a bit unfair as they are an incredibly competent cover's band who flew through a brace of 70's rock classics with ease, getting a great reaction from the crowd who joined in the sing along. However no matter how good a reaction gained from the audience or how pleasant and gracious the performers it is a cover's band that is only playing Download because their drummer is "That funny guy off the telly". Still they had fun and the punters had fun so it did no-one any harm & hopefully brought a couple of classics to the attention of a crowd that would dismiss them as 'old hat' otherwise.
Talking of 'old classics' Buck Cherry seem to have fallen out of a late 80's LA timewarp. This is simple, sleazy, glam rock for the peroxide loving and tattooed-cowboy loving out there. Great stuff if you like songs endorsing the virtues of mindless sex and cocaine abuse, which judging from the reaction of the crowd seems to mostly be 40 some-things having an amazing time of it with a very burnt out look to themselves.
I have nothing positive to say about Black Veil Brides other than they eventually sodded off the stage and took their dull-arse blend of reworked tired glam-metal, target-marketed teenage-wangst, and mono-chrome fashion-house posing with them. It was like someone saw a Motley Crew video and went "what if we removed the colour, and the musical talent, and then the personality, and then the reason to live, and tried to make a lot of money out of it". Judging by the number of (mostly female) youngsters that turned up for this they are going to do well and get some good sums of cash from parents pockets before disappearing into much deserved obscurity.
Things were brought back to quality town with The Cult as they spent 45 minutes showing how a rocking good time can be had by all with 3 guitars and a highly committed singer. They played a range of their early goth, middle period psychedelia, and more recent stadium rock, all getting a brilliant reaction. Thanks were given by the band for the audience braving the weather, with Billy Duffy getting laughs and thanks for his comment that it looked like he was "playing to a fisher man's convention", and the connection between all parties was impressive. A great show that set the stage perfectly for the final second stage act of the night.
Although he turned up 15 minutes late and with the after effects of the weather still showing on the crowd Rob Zombie managed to bring the house down with his groove metal attack. The band were amazing, operating as a sold unit, and the high octane crowd-pleasing horror-show shout-along sexyness of Zombie's lyrics were further enhanced by a smorgasbord of video loops and flash-ups of the song lyrics so everyone knew the words. Mr Zombie gave thanks for the audience having stayed to see him but given the reaction to the performance I think the weather could have been ten times and most of them would still have stayed. The drum and guitar solo's got a positive reaction, as did the intermittent theatrics, but all over it was the continued bouncy beats and raucous hooks that kept everyone smiling. Personally I thought it was a little bit of a re-run of his show that I saw earlier this year, but it was a good show so worth the repeat.
Although the chill of the weather meant that I had to go home rather than catch any of Linkin Park the sound I heard as I walked to the taxi rank left me firm in the knowledge that they were giving a solid showing on the main stage. Based on what I heard I would happily see them any other time I get the chance, especially if I hadn't been rained on for the rest of the day.