Download Festival: Friday 9th June 2017 - Donington Park

Back once again like the renegade master, Download 2017, the premium Rock and Metal festival is once again upon us. The weather forecast leading up to the festival has changed more times than I care to remember but today, praise the gods, the sun is actually out in full force. Wondering what to wear to a festival is low on the agenda today.

First band up on the Kerrang! Introducing Avalanche Stage is M O S E S. A band from ‘oop North’ and proud of it. With recent single ‘King Size’ flying out of the traps, a ripple of applause and a pocket of movement starts to happen. To describe the M O S E S sound is difficult pulling influences from The Stone Roses and Nirvana to Blur. With such a short set time of 25 minutes, the band have no time to pause and by the end of the set, they unleash ‘River Thames’ an anthemic none more British anthem, with the crowd now fully in the groove with the band as the audience sing back the chorus to a rapturous applause.

Five Finger Death Punch are returning for a second crack of the whip after an entertaining 2010 set almost got them banned from the festival after requesting fans come and high five them on the stage and to rush the security regardless. There’s none of that shenanigans today, but it is mentioned by lead singer Ivan Moody with a cheeky grin on his face. 5FDP are good at what they do, VERY good in fact. US Arena Rock has its detractors but here the style sits well with an audience already going barmy in the hot weather. The songs across the set are ideal for festivals and the crowd laps up every song including recent title track ‘Got Your Six’ and middle finger in the air boot stomper ‘Burn MF Burn’. If Moody can cut down on the in between chat, which went on for a little bit too long, todays set would have been perfect.

Photo Credit: Matt Eachus

Although the sun is shining and everyone is in high spirits after 5FDP, there is a nasty gust of wind making its way around the inner bowl of Donington and as Mastodon open up their set with a cut from latest album Emperor Of Sand, the sound is noticeably being blown all over the site and takes away some of the power and intricacies that permeate the Mastodon sound. Album highlight and what turns out to be the set highlight ‘Show Yourself’ highlights the dexterity and diversity of the band. A set full of intricate and sonically pounding songs sadly lost mostly in the wind.

Next up is Prophets Of Rage, essentially Rage Against The Machine with B-Real from Cypress Hill and Chuck D from Public Enemy. This is the bands first ever UK appearance having only formed last year. Across the three bands mentioned, you could fill a set of hits and the band dutifully reel off hit after hit. Starting with a few Rage Against The Machine songs that the crowd greet warmly like old friends, the band slide into a medley of early 90’s hip-hop anthems that gets the crowd jumping. A small lull in the set happens when ‘Like A Stone’ is played without any vocals as a tribute to much missed Audioslave frontman Chris Cornell. The song is sung by a mourning crowd who raise their voices up during the chorus, it truly is a chilling moment and a fitting tribute. Unlike Mastodon the wind has died down and the band have little to no problems utilising their skilled musicianship effectively, the sounds produced by Tom Morello and his guitars is akin to Hendrix in the 60’s. Less of Chuck – D and his dad dancing the better though. As the set comes to a close, people around me from teenagers to a blonde haired lady who is north of 50 are losing their minds. Rage Against The Machine classics ‘Bulls On Parade’ and ‘Killing In The Name’ are hammered out with the latter’s chorus dutifully hollered back to the band with middle fingers and raised clenched fists across the Donington park.

Photo Credit: Caitlin Mogridge

System Of A Down are tonight's headliners. With a promise of new material but none surfacing so far, the band are here to earn their place atop the hallowed stage. The band plow on through a setlist of songs from all of their albums (last one released in 2005 fact fans) and the song count tops 30 but the interaction between band mates and band and audience is minimal. A professional well played set list is let down by a bored looking band.

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