Download Festival Australia
Parramatta Park, Sydney NSW
Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne VIC
March 9th and 11th, 2019
Featuring: Slayer, Judas Priest, Alice In Chains, Ghost, Rise Against, The Amity Affliction, Sum 41, Halestorm, Anthrax, Pennywise, Fever 333, Behemoth, The Beautiful Monument, I Prevail, Code Orange, Polaris, Airbourne, Voyager, Alien Weaponry, Frenzal Rhomb, Devilskin, New Years Day, Windwaker, Luca Brasi, Slaves, High Tension, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, Converge, War On Women, Aversions Crown, Eat Your Heart Out, Justice For The Damned an unfortunate ashes scattering incident and so. much. running…
The annual metal fest returned and so did the droves of punters across two cities this year, the OG Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne and the new location of Parramatta Park in Sydney, both of which held Download Festival 2019 and what a turn out we had to see off thrash giants Slayer one last time, as well as welcoming new bands to the fold like Fever 333, I Prevail, The Beautiful Monument and more. This year, we scattered ourselves across the two states to bring you as much action as we could, covering a total of 32 out of 37 bands and below are our notes, favs, honourable and dishonourable mentions…
Saturday, March 9th, Sydney
Download 2019 kicked off in the best prog metal style with Perth’s Voyager making the long trip east to have a wonderful day in Sydney. With punters still streaming through the gates, it didn’t take the West Australians long to pull an early crowd. Lead singer Daniel ‘Danny’ Estrin stalked the stage like a man possessed while bass player Alex Canion’s harmonies hit every note perfectly while never missing a beat slapping his five string weapon. The band put on a tight show of off-kilter time signature, proggy goodness – what better way to start the day.
From the opening bars, punters at the Black Stage has horns high in the air. The Kiwi metal invasion started, Alien Weaponry had landed. A brutal circle pit opened within seconds of the young Kiwis bringing the noise! Punters were literally losing their shit as the trio tore through a clutch of songs from their debut album Tü. It didn’t matter that most of the crowd had no idea what the lyrics were as guitarist and frontman Lewis DeJong (backed by his brother Henry on drums) sing mostly in Maori, the music did the talking.
The announcement of their “political shit” slowed things down as the backing track of a racist rant from a dead-shit New Zealand politician kicked in for the opening of ‘Whispers’. It didn’t last for long, once the music hit punters didn’t need an excuse to dive into the circle pit once again. I had the feeling I was witnessing the future of metal, all I can say is get on board or get run over!
Frenzy, Frenzal, Frenzal! The chant went up immediately after the previous band had finished. With no hesitation, Jason ‘Jay’ Whalley and co bounded onto the stage and ripped into a cover of the Ozzy Osbourne classic ‘Crazy Train’ … pure fucking genius! The Aussie punk legends came to have fun and they were going to bring the crowd kicking, screaming and moshing with them. An early highlight was ‘Russel Crowe’s Band is A Pile of Shit’, with full audience participation.
The set was pure punk rock – the music, the attitude and the mad crowd surfing. Ok pure punk rock except for the band once again digging into the Ozzy archives with Lindsay McDougal taking on the vocals for a short rendition of the Black Sabbath classic ‘War Pigs’. Frenzal Rhomb were going to make sure Ozzy wouldn’t be missed. In a 40 minute set I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun!
Thrash metal masters Anthrax exploded onto the Black stage with the classic ‘Caught In A Mosh’. And mosh the punters did. The crowd seemed to stretch from the front of the stage to the horizon. If you were, like me, stuck in the middle you were there for the duration. Scott Ian with signature Flying V and mad goatee was in fine form banging and thrashing through ‘Got The Time’ right into the comic book classic ‘I Am The Law’ In Mega City Dredd may be the law but right here right now Anthrax ruled the main stage. What energetic frontman Joey Belladonna says goes, so if he wants you to sing you fucking sing! By the time we got to ‘Anti Social’ punters were singing and losing their shit in equal measures.
Drummer Charlie Benate called for a brief intermission having decided he wanted people to mosh harder. With a scream of “WAR DANCE!” from Scott Ian yet another pit opened. This for me was the perfect festival set, every song a crowd favourite delivered in such a way you couldn’t help but have a good time.
Over on the Ascension Stage another Kiwi band Devilskin turned up to tear Download a new one. Jennie Skulander vocals are equal in beauty, strength and brutality. When that guttural scream hits you have no choice but to stand up and take notice. Punters appeared from everywhere as the little side stage was seemingly bursting at the seams. By the second song I was glad I turned up a little early to grab a spot close to the front.
Bass player Paul Martin’s thick Kiwi accent cut through as he introduced ‘Never See The Light’, about a dear friend who took his own life. We were all reminded to look after each other, so bonded by a love of heavy metal, punters hands in the air rocked the fuck out! One thing’s for sure, these four Kiwis know how to pull a crowd. They put on a hell of a show, I overheard many punters walking away at the end of the set exclaiming “How good was that!”
There was a storm brewing on the Dogtooth Stage in the form of Lzzy Hale and Halestorm. The four-piece from Pennsylvania brought the mayhem to Australia. Horns up were demanded by the self-described crazy chick on stage, with fans responding accordingly. Opening with ‘Black Vultures’ a set perfectly suited to a festival crowd included favourites ‘Love Bites’, ‘I Am The Fire’ and ‘Freak Like Me’. Arejay Hale’s drumming is nothing short of superb he added some comic relief to his drum solo with giant novelty drum sticks. Lzzy worked the crowd like the pro she is and as the sun went down Halestorm’s big rock sound was the perfect soundtrack to the coming darkness.
What is there to say about Judas Priest that hasn’t already been said time and again. Leather, studs, motorcycles, firepower and most of all metal. There’s none more metal – true fact!
With the stage adorned in red, black and yellow reflecting the colours of the latest album Firepower Metal God Rob Halford strode out – cue thousands of people losing their collective shit, this writer included. When Halford asked the question “are ready for some Judas Priest heavy metal” you better believe the answer was a deafening roar! Speaking to Rob Halford earlier in the week he promised the full Priest stage show and he didn’t lie. The light show was stunning, a giant video screen broadcasting impressive visuals all combined to enhance the music perfectly.
With Judas Priest it really doesn’t matter what song they play they’re all metal classics, whether it’s ‘Hell Bent For Leather’, ‘Painkiller’ or even ‘Turbo Lover’. That latter track getting the full audience participation treatment. As Rob Halford strode across the stage like the world’s most flamboyant heavy metal conductor, Richie Faulkner wasn’t going to be left out with the guitarist playing up to the punters and pulling off some of the best rock star poses you’re ever likely to witness. Priest played their 1 hour and 15-minute support set like they were headlining, and in the eyes of some, they were.
With the dropping of the first curtain, revealing a light display of Slayers insignia’s past and present, ‘Delusions of Saviour’ sounded. As the crowd surged forward in anticipation, the crushing onslaught began. Flames were ignited by a searing pyro display, so too was the energy of the crowd, as the final curtain dropped. The spearheads of thrash metal, already positioned on stage, turned to face their sea of legions for one final time in Sydney. ‘Repentless’ began – Bostaph behind his monster of a kit; Tom, Kerry and Gary walking forward to the front of the stage. Fans raised their horns and thrashed their necks, while screaming “Fuckin’ Slayer”.
Slayer belted out tracks one after the other from their vast catalogue, including ‘Blood Red’, ‘Mandatory Suicide’ and ‘Hate Worldwide’; catering to fans new and old. Five songs in, Tom called for the crowd to give him their most raucous “War” call. The crowd obliged with an almighty roar, leading in to ‘War Ensemble’. It wasn’t until ‘Payback’, Tom paused to engage the crowd in a conversation about karma. “We all know what payback is, right”? Fans responding with “Payback’s a bitch Mother fucker”!
With the accompaniment of a fitting light show and flames hotter than hell, saving what I would consider their most lucrative hits until last, ‘Seasons in the Abyss’, ‘South of Heaven’, ‘Raining Blood’ and ‘Angel of Death’ was the perfect ending to a flawless day. I’ve witnessed the live experience of Slayer several times and with those shows I’ve seen the best along with the worst; tonight though, proved to be next level extraordinary, every element was bang on point. After the intense exhilaration, came a real feeling of sombreness as Tom walked the stage, stopping to absorb the moment. I know I can’t be the only one that teared up experiencing such finality from a band that has shaped the history of metal for the past thirty-eight, or so years.
Gareth wrap up
The festival layout at Parramatta Park was exceptional, stages were situated far enough apart so you (mostly) didn’t get any noise bleed, but close enough so when you were running between sets you’d make it on time. There were plenty of bars and a shit ton of food outlets – I can recommend the chicken truck at the front of the Dogtooth Stage. But the best thing about Download was by far the people. Metalheads of all shapes and sizes there for one thing, a good time. Punters were there to see everyone from Polaris to Priest, Slaves to Slayer, the bond of metal really is unbreakable.
Download organisers should to take a bow, aside from a slight delay opening the gates, from what I could see everything else went smoothly. People moved easily between stages, the lines to the numerous bars weren’t any longer than you would normally expect at a festival of that size. Sure, the dunnies stunk, fact of life. Are you there to spend the day on the shitter or to bang your fucking head!
I made a ton of new friends, had some of the funniest and most enlightening conversations in a very long time. And as the last distorted note rang out and people migrated back to the real world all I saw was thousands of exhausted, sore and thoroughly satisfied people with experiences they’ll not forget in a very long time.
Saturday, March 9th, Sydney
(By Mick Goddard)
(By Bree Vane)
Eat Your Heart Out
The Beautiful Monument
War on Women
Monday, March 11th, Melbourne
NEW YEARS DAY
A late addition to Download 2019, Californian’s New Years Day took to the Avalanche Stage with frontwoman, Ashley Costello clearly the boss of this band, taking charge with her strong character and performance. I’ll be honest, I hadn’t heard much of this band and it was a surprise reading a little bio the day before that they had been together since 2005. One listen to their cover of Pantera’s brutal, ‘Fucking Hostile’ (in honour of Vinnie Paul‘s birthday, RIP) and I was hooked though. Slower, more melodic, thanks mainly to Costello’s powerful vocals but still a great cover. Goth, emo looking yes, but wow, they pack a punch and knocked some early life into this punter.
Heading over to the main stage, Tasmanian quartet Luca Brasi was settling in for the afternoon with their more chilled out punk offerings. Frontman and bassist, Tyler Richardson bopping up and down and inciting the growing numbers to the main arena as the band filtered through a mini best of set from their four album growing discography including last year’s amazing, Stay album. A great addition to Download and well done lads on nabbing a main stage gig, thoroughly deserved.
Having seen the UK duo slay Perth a few nights back I wasn’t missing the band tearing up an early slot on Download back at the Avalanche stage and I wasn’t to be disappointed. Despite just 30 minutes to showcase their wares Laurie Vincent (guitar) and Isaac Holman didn’t waste any time, ploughing throw a stack of songs including, ‘The Lives They Wish They Had’, ‘Sockets’ before Holman incited the crowd with, ‘Fuck the Hi Hat‘’, sparking a mini riot throughout the crowd. Announced this week as major support for Foo Fighters on their European leg there’s probably zero chance of seeing the band play this early in a festival again. One of those, ‘you had to be there’ sets. Incredible set lads. They ended the set in the crowd, hanging around for selfies and a chat with the punters. Legends.
Running over to the main stage we witnessed Airbourne, a late addition for the sick Ozzy Osbourne. The band play less in their home country these days than they do overseas, however it seems they wanted to make up for that fact, as I caught the band’s final two songs, which had formed a growing mosh pit into a frenzy especially with frontman, Joel O’Keefe running around like a mad man. Yes, they sound very Ac/Dc’ish, but is that a bad thing? Fuck no! They nailed it by the looks, shame I couldn’t see the full set, but hey, it’s a festival, no bitching! From I could tell, a lot of beer was being wasted as it flung through the air, both on and off stage as ‘Runnin’ Wild’ concluded the set.
Melbourne’s High Tension, the only band to have been invited to both Australian versions of Download Festival hit the Dogtooth stage, a smaller more boutique but equally ‘heavy as fuck’ stage of Download 2019. Fever 333 had my attention but I managed to see the ending two songs of the band, frontwoman, Karina Utomo in full beast mode too, those patent screams and raised inverted fingers bringing all the metal she could muster to the stage and the impressive throng supporting her. I can’t say enough for High Tension. A great band. A great live band and closing with ‘Rise’, the crowd went suitably crazy, as did I. ‘Bully‘ was fierce as Utomo scaled the barrier to enjoy the crowd participation, her vocals a darker, monstrous tone, if that’s even possible, something she elevated again with ‘Mountain of Dead‘.
ME FIRST AND THE GIMME GIMMES
I copped a full set, finally, with comic punk genius Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. in matching, magnificent gold shirts and white pants, the quintet wowed an impressive turn out on the Avalanche Stage with their pop-punk covers of the classics. ‘Rocketman’, ‘All My Loving’, ‘I Will Survive’, ‘Country Roads’, you name it, they covered it. The banter of course, as funny as always, frontman Spike Slawson keen to give shit to anyone in the crowd he may catch his eye on through his thick sunglasses. The regular quip of “this one’s a cover”, never getting old. Unfortunately no Fat Mike once again for these shows, nor Chris Shiflett of Foo Fighters, but his brother, Scott was and as always the legendary Joey Cape of Lagwagon and Bad Religion’s, Jay Bentley was this tour’s “fill in”. The 3.10pm timeslot was perfect to kick for a little karaoke punk sing-a-long and share a Young Henry’s IPA with some punters. Ending, as always with Boyz II Men’s classic, ‘End of the Road’. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house, or was that mouth?
Chicago’s, Rise Against, no strangers to these shores, took up post on the Main stage, a strange choice considering for the Melbourne leg when it was a predominantly metal main stage with Alice In Chains, Priest and Slayer to follow. Anyways, despite this and despite a few battle jacket legends or narrow-minded folk in the crowd casting a few ‘boos’ towards the stage, Rise Against did their best to bring some heavier punk to the stage. I caught the first 30 minutes of the band’s set, ‘The Violence’ from 2017’s, Wolves album set the tones, and a rollicking version of, ‘Chamber the Cartridge’ from 2006’s The Sufferer and the Witness continued a more revved up Rise Against. Tim McIlrath, the band’s frontman and guitarist is well versed on playing the main stages these days and led the band with aplomb, often inciting the throng in front to go perhaps a little crazier then was needed for the song. A great, frenetic little set I witnessed but couldn’t help but think they messed up the stage for Rise Against. A simple swap with Ghost on the Avalanche Stage would have ensured a better crowd and atmosphere for both bands and fans alike. Rant over.
30 years into a band’s existence you think these guys would slow down by now right? Think again. The Pennywise fans are a fanatical bunch and when the Cali legends strode to the stage the roar was thunderous. Jim Lindberg, the enigmatic frontman, with sunnies on and that wry smile, knew that shit was about to get real. 12 albums in and despite a few year absence from the band, a mini-retirement of such, Lindberg is back and sounding as strong as ever, as evident on last year’s awesome, Never Gonna Die record. All in their 50’s now but no end in sight, behemoth guitarist, Fletcher Dragge continuing the fight for punk rock with those killer riffs he’s created for decades. The band whip through their set, showcasing some new tracks from the latest album but in the end it’s a festival and the punters want the classics and so they deliver. ‘Society’, ‘Peaceful Day’, ‘Fight Till You Die’, ‘Fuck Authority’ and of course the official Pennywise closer, ‘Bro Hymn’ with the crowd singing in unison, beer swilling around in guts and the air, smiles and high fives ensuing. Awesome.
ALICE IN CHAINS
With Pennywise’s set in Melbourne cutting deep into Alice In Chains’, main stage shenanigans it was with slight regret I only witnessed the last three tracks from the Seattle gentlemen. Another band deep into their careers spanning over three decades. Another band not without its touch of loss and sadness of course with Layne Staley’s death in 2002….has it really been that long ago! These days, of course, William DuVall in the frontman adding a similar style to Staley, which is what has been best for AIC. With DuVall’s similar vocal depth and range, AIC have nurtured Staley’s legacy and songs, with DuVall’s harmonies with Jerry Cantrell a highlight. They may have wanted a slight detour from what Staley bought to Alice In Chains but at the end of the day the sound is so similar it’s eerie. As a punter, that’s not a bad thing and the three albums Alice In Chains have released since reforming have been stellar including last year’s, Rainier Fog, of which I caught the tail end of the track, ‘The One You Know’ with its big riff and that Mike Inez bass line reverberating around the Main Stage. Finishing with the classics, ‘Would?’ and ‘Rooster’ from the Alice In Chains heyday. Classics.
Jim ‘Plugga’ Birkin wrap up/anecdote
All in all the Melbourne leg of Download Festival was a well run, great vibe, awesome setup beast. Sorry to the young ones that missed out but the over/18 feature of this festival was so much better. No caged animal feeling, free to walk around with a beer and talk shit to random people about music. On a funny but sombre note…okay more funny, I spoke with two Indian guys very early in the day at the Slaves show. One of them had a large plastic clip seal of what looked like grey cocaine in his pocket. I quizzed him more. He said it was his dead mate’s ashes. WTF. His deceased mate was a massive Slayer fan. I attempted to tell my new very inebriated friend that this stage was set for a UK punk band, Slaves, not Slayer. Suffice to say, he didn’t understand as he proceeded to throw said ashes in the air unfortunately 50% of his friend landing in the face of the unsuspecting security guy. I laughed, security coughed the two Indian guys went back to the bar. After telling security what had just happened, well, the look on his face made my day. Day made. Read more here
Triple J’s Unearthed winners took to the stage and wasted absolutely no fucking time in getting those in attendance up close for their half-hour set. Frontman Will King strutted on stage and sang his heart out while the rest of the band played along with ease and professionalism. It didn’t matter if they were playing to a small collection of gathers, they made sure those in attendance left knowing their name and their sound. Song highlights included the newer singles ‘The Sitch‘ and ‘My Empire‘ which resonated well in a live setting and two previously unreleased bangers in the making, including ‘Reject‘ and ‘Arrested‘ from the band’s forthcoming Empire EP. If you’re still sleeping on this band, that’s on you!
The last time this band toured Australia it was not only their first time down under, but they also completely SOLD OUT the tour in the process. Now, they took to the main stage with a massive crowd to see them again (or for the first time). They played previously releases songs like ‘Come And Get It‘ and ‘Scars‘ as well as debuting their heavy new single ‘Bow Down‘ and the slow jam sing-a-long ‘Breaking Down‘ + two more new tracks (‘Gasoline‘ and ‘DOA‘) from their forthcoming album Trauma. Clean vocalists Brian Burkheiser has recovered well from his debilitating vocal injury which almost saw his career with the band ending before it really took off. There were circle pits, a wall of death and nothing but approval from those around us (including punters of all ages: young and old). The guys said they’d be back soon too so look out for that down the track.
Anyone else catch I Prevail at Download Festival Australia? They played 4 new songs from their upcoming album. Here’s ‘Breaking Down’ for you! 📽: Browny #WallOfSoundAU #Trauma #DLAUS2019
Posted by Wall Of Sound on Monday, March 11, 2019
The Beautiful Monument
Over I (Browny) ran to see my legendary ladies (and man) from across the country in The Beautiful Monument who recently signed to Greyscale Records and dropped their impressive new single ‘Deceiver‘ to celebrate (which also got a spin in the setlist) and this band were on fire. Emo lordette frontwoman Lizi Blanco eerily threw herself about the stage with only one eye visible to those watching as she belting out song after song with precision and delight (for us) while guitarists Andy Skoumbri and Alex Henderson swayed back and forth not missing a beat. Kudos need to go to bassist Amy McIntosh who pulled some of the funniest facial expressions as she rocked the fuck out, obviously stoked at the chance to play the festival with her bandmates. From the opening of ‘Disorder‘, through until I had to duck off early, they had the crowd in the palm of their hands, especially when Lizi proved age is just a number and reminded the crowd to drink plenty of water and cover themselves in sunscreen during as the sun was blaring down upon them. I have said these girls will go far and today was evident of just how great their year is set to be.
I know what you’re about to say, how come you saw this band 3 days before and now you’re seeing them again over someone else… Well to that I say, “fuck you” and this band is worth as much of your time as physically possible. I ran from The Beautiful Monument and arrived in the moshpit just in time for the guys to open up with ‘Burn It‘ and the energy they gave us, was given straight back in return. There was no slowing down for frontman Jason Aalon Butler, guitarist Stephen Harrison and drummer Aric Improta who collectively make up Fever 333 and their infamously loud song behind them. Jason wasted no time jumping into the mosh for a surf before running all the way to the back of the room (while his bandmates jammed on stage) to slim the slighting scaffolding rig that was set up at the back of the Avalanche Stage. From that moment, the entire tent was in the palm of his hands and tracks like ‘Made An America‘, ‘One of Us‘, ‘Only One‘ and ‘Out Of Control‘ were so fucking well received, it was as if the band had been in our lives for decades and not a couple of years.
The boys called for a huge circle pit and we all obliged running around looking out for each other before Stephen jumped the barrier to play in the middle of us all running around him with the biggest smile on his face in the process. He returned to the stage for the climactic closer ‘The Innocent‘ before scaling the scaffolding on stage and finishing off the song on top of the world with everyone cheering him the fuck on in the process. Jason jumped into Aric’s drumkit, Stephen’s guitar came crashing down to the stage as he threw it upon the song finishing up and EVERYONE was talking about how good they were for the rest of the day. Even running into a few of our readers (shout out to Carl, Jim, Connors and Matt (aka not-Jeremy McKinnon) who stopped us for a chat, all of them said that was by far the best show they’ve seen in years, and we all agree 100%. Good news is apparently they’ll be back later this year so if you missed them on this run, you should start making plans now to clear your schedules.
Following a short rest/phone charge (no seriously you can now get your phone charged at a music festival for $15. Mental hey!) we hid in the shade of the big tree near the Dogtooth Stage and heard the completely heavy as fuck sounds of Converge who, weren’t originally on my list to see during the day, but I’m glad I did. Not only were the band so energetically enthusiastic about being on stage, the fans were loving it just as much. My only gripe with their set (and the stage as a whole) was the screaming/unclean vocalist Jacob Bannon‘s microphone sounded too distorted to make out words. At times it sounded like he was just shouting, but it was too muffled to understand. This also happened with Polaris later in the day, but other than that, Converge were sick!
The Amity Affliction
From one heavy extreme to the opposite end of the musical spectrum, I had to go and catch Amity playing tracks from their new album Misery, which also included screamer frontman Joel Birch singing cleans for the first time, and I had to see how that was in a live setting. Spoiler Alert: He did a pretty fuckign good job of it mind you! The guys opened with my fav song from the album, ‘Drag’ The Lake‘ which really worked well for them and the plethora of fans who had also positioned themselves at the main stages for a sing-a-long and dance. ‘Ivy (Doomsday)‘ followed but the band’s set was cut short momentarily after fan went down in the mosh towards the end of the song. If you know Amity, you know that the safety of their patrons/fans is paramount in their lives (I once witnessed them stop an AA show to make sure a young girl was fine after she was knocked out in the moshpit, they even said they may not go back on unless she was alright… she was in the end) and so when this happened, I turned to those I was hanging with and said I have so much respect for them, still after all of these years putting their fans’ wellbeing above playing a show. Once the all-clear was given they got straight back into it with songs like ‘Feels Like I’m Dying‘, ‘I Bring The Weather With Me‘, and ‘Open Letter‘ getting a play. Unfortunately for this guy, I wasn’t digging the set and decided to head off during ‘D.I.E.‘ to catch Code Orange for a few songs and well, they were killing it upon arrival.
I didn’t get to watch their full set, but fuck I wish I did. Their combination of heavy hardcore industrial metal was so overwhelming I had to take a seat to take it all in. They were about three songs in when I joined and everyone was collectively losing their minds. Up close and even as far as the back of the Avalanche Stage tent. I have tried to get into their music but found it to be not as palatable as I’d like, however, their stage shows were mind-blowingly brilliant and I will now force myself to enjoy what they have to offer.
Holy. Fucking. Shit. One of the last times I saw Polaris was at Dead of Winter 2018 and they brought the heaviness then. Today, that was doubled as their loyal fans (of all ages, genders and races) congregated at the Dogtooth Stage for a mosh and a half. The Sydney siders fresh from their recent UK domination with Architects and Beartooth were visibly frothing at the mouth to be back on home soil playing for their Aussie fans and we were loving every second of it. The pit was rough, but there was a feeling of care throughout, especially when someone hit the ground, in a mater of seconds they were back up and back amongst it with their fellow headbangers. I even came out of crowd surfing retirement and successfully managed to get up and over the barrier and into the vice-like grip of the awaiting security guards who absolutely worked for their money that day. ‘The Remedy‘, ‘Regress‘, ‘Crooked Path‘ and ‘Consume‘ were obvious crowd favs, despite frontman Jamie Hails‘ microphone having the same muffling issues as earlier when I caught Converge, but the guy screamed until the veins in his neck were popping so much, we could see them from the back of the pit. You know how you see a show and you think to yourself you don’t want it to end? That’s how I felt about Polaris at Download. Keen as fuck to catch them on the road again, I’ll NEVER get tired of that energy.
Earlier in the day, I ran into Davey B The BrownSound from Sum 41 and (not gonna lie) I fanboy’d wayyyy too fucking hard at the chance to meet him. But it was hard not to because (as he mentioned to me) it’s been 13 years since he was last in Australia and goddamn he and the guys made up for lost time with one of the roughest moshpits I’ve ever witnessed in my entire life, and I’ve seen The Sums thrice before! Opening with ‘The Hell Song‘ before inviting three fans up on stage with them (as they usually do) the night consisted of throwback after throwback from the band’s extensive back catalogue including teenage anthems like ‘Over My Head (Better Off Dead)‘, ‘We’re All to Blame‘, the balladesque ‘Walking Disaster‘ and a cover of ‘We Will Rock You‘ by Queen and ‘War Pigs‘ by Black Sabbath thrown in for good measure. But it was the EPIC finale which really sent tongues wagging (and bodies hurtling into each other) as ‘No Reason‘, ‘In Too Deep‘ and ‘Fat Lip‘ and ‘Still Waiting‘ took every last breath we had and forced us to move, regardless of where we positioned ourselves. Frontman Deryck Whibley has officially returned to form after his bout with alcoholism and pneumonia which resulted in the band pulling the pin on their Soundwave 2011 appearance, later leading to Deryck’s now public battle against himself (and the inspiration behind their new album 13 Voices). During the final moments, there were people grabbed onto each other singing along, phones out every chance they could to snap up a video or photo of the performance and one guy even smashed the back of his head into my nose before apologising profusely and bounding back into the crowd.
I have to hand it to Sum 41, they really REALLY fucking impressed me that night. I have loved the band for years after discovering them during my pop-punk appreciation era and can safely say they’ve outgrown those roots and are now a fully fledged metal band. Welcome back Sum 41 and Davey B, we’ve fucking missed you all. Oh, and according to Deryck, we can expect a new album later this year too!!!
After checking out Slayer for a bit, curiosity got the better of me and I had to go and check out Ghost to see what the fuss was all about. You’d seen the memes and heard the stories about how well this band perform in huge rock shows, supporting some of the best metal bands across the globe, so what were they like live?
Seriously, the way they blend anthemic metal with theatrics and the ghouls’ gimmick needs to be witnessed first hand. Cardinal Copia was so fucking great to watch and hear as he belted out songs like ‘Rats‘, ‘Absolution‘ and ‘Ritual‘ without missing a note (despite wearing a mask) and the Nameless Ghouls played up to his mischievousness with awe-inspiring shredding that was not only mind-blowing, but conflicting in a way (they’re playing metal alongside a charismatic singer who you can’t look away from). About halfway through their set, I couldn’t hold myself up and had to depart the event, (getting old sucks) but from that moment on, I now consider myself to be a fan of the band I had avoided for some stupid reason up until this past week. Keen as fuck to see them again when they make it back down under.
As we were leaving the venue, we caught Slayer tearing through ‘Raining Blood‘, one of the songs I was dying to see them play for the last time and everyone close to the exit, stalled their departure to watch it too. There was something surreal about that being the last time we would see the band on stage performing it, and I think collectively, out of respect, we all delayed our departure until it was played in full. Walking out with a huge grin on our faces, we had survived another year of heavy music madness in the form of Download Festival, which, as with everything, had some bumps along the way, but still managed to put on a great day out of heavy music fans alike.
Bring on 2020, we can’t wait to do it all again… Until then, relive the day via our Instagram Story here!
Monday, March 11th, Melbourne
(By Mick Goddard)
New Years Day
War On Women
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes