Photo by Ryan Johnston.
I was sent to Download Festival 2016 by DIY Magazine to write them a review. Quite how my notepad survived the downpours, I am not entirely sure.
Something odd is brewing in the Dogtooth tent, as New Jersey duo HO99O9 bring experimental, bass-heavy hip hop to the hallowed home of heavy metal. It’s ten minutes before theOGM has stripped to his underwear, in favour of tentacle fingers and fangs. It proves a deafening success. As it turns out, the balaclava and scream of the stage technician was a warning – this will be chaotic fun at its very darkest.
On the unsheltered main stage, Deftones face a daunting task in front of the potentially miserable swamp of a soaked ‘Drownload 2016’ (a joke told by every second band’s vocalist over the weekend). Beginning with a disjointed ‘Rocket Skates’, a set of beloved tracks begins, and the problem is near-solved. Led by microphone-swinging and crowd-surfing Chino Moreno, Deftones are the weekend’s most successful band when making this year’s main stage crowd bounce.
In the darkness of the Maverick Stage, London’s Puppy keep this spirit flowing, with gloomier, horror-soundtrack style, especially during the metal and grunge entanglement ode-to-insanity ‘Entombed’. Beneath heavily distorted guitars, vocals are calm and hauntingly high pitched.
Having not released an album in 14 years, Glassjaw still show that they’re about as mystical as something so loud can be – a post-hardcore band whose fantastic complexity won’t let anybody follow song structure for long. And not to forget frontman Daryl Palumbo furiously rubbing this in a stunned crowd’s faces with his growl, during songs old and, very excitingly, new.
Lande Hekt of Muncie Girls shyly asks “is it raining or something? There are lots of you here.” However it’s their pop-punk delivery; madly, playfully and brilliantly squeezing as many syllables into songs as possible, such as latest single ‘Respect’ that is really bringing everyone to the stage, and keeping soggy spirits high.
Twin Atlantic frontman Sam McTrusty is far more upfront when addressing Donington as “the most hardcore music fans in the UK”. It’s an almost goofily-styled address that matches their roots, especially during reflection of ‘the night before’, ‘I Am An Animal’ – fitting at a rock festival.
However, in an overflowing tent stage, Milk Teeth show that their punk rock, is where that fun and fury meshes best. Through a non-stop grin, Becky Blomfield juggles political rights discussion during a somber ‘Kabuki’, with a playful ‘No Fun’, somehow aided by the illegible screaming vocal of guitarist Billy Hutton, beneath rapid drums.