Download Festival: Day Two!

biffy clyro matt eachus
Photo by Matt Eachus

The distress of sore necks, bashed extremities and tender feet would have to wait and be painfully tolerated as the line-up for Day 2 of Download festival was not without its monsters of metal music. Watching the early mornings herds of hangover wretches make their way through the sites entrance gates may have been amusing for the most part but could not hold a candle up to the first group to grace the Dogtooth stage.

Drones are London’s latest local talent to spring from its streets, raring to evaluate and distinguish between bureaucratic unrest and unsystematic ‘leadership’. Delivering their ponderings in the form of punk rock acrimony and tracks Parasite and Territories, those under the shelter were more than simply entertained but also left the tent interested in discussing current affairs outside of the event and the recent general election.

After the trudge over to the Avalanche stage had been delayed for a whole-hearty (if not expensive) breakfast, Trash Boat were firmly giving everyone the pop punk wake up call. Always carrying a little more bite in their delivery than most others in their field, the St Albans quintet literally leapt into action as the bass guitar and drums act as a catalyst, exploding How Selfish I Seem into the scene and sending Tobi Duncan and the rest of the act bouncing from side to side. You may think it’s too early for a healthy bit of crowd surfing on the early Saturday afternoon, but Strangers certainly turned a fairly docile crowd in to a pack of wing-clipped birds trying their hardest to fly.

With topics reaching political peaks in music as of late, you can be sure that 1. There will never be a shortage of political opinion and 2. There will also never be a shortage of people who enjoy listening to it. Idles is one such band who are certainly not afraid to share their views and blatantly call out against a variety of elective parties. For a band with a lot of angry things to say, their on-stage antics spoke paragraphs of their own enjoyment and interaction with their fans, the unmatched front man strutted back and forth imitating a tricky back and muddling his mind with wild head shakes. Mother and Well Done brought out the undomesticated side of Mark Bowen (if there ever was a tame corner of his personality) and flung his guitar like it was as light as finely groomed moustache, knocking out unconventional rhythm riffs that embellished the new wave punk rock sound they are known for.

Back out in the warm sun, familiarly huge crushing guitar verses were currently being ploughed through with an unfamiliar vocalist. Upon learning their identity, it was a refreshing moment knowing that an act who you assumed were set in their ways could expand and evolve to a level admittedly unattainable with the older line-up.

Of Mice & Men’s ex vocalist Austin Carlile left the group in January 2017 and has since been replaced by Bassist Aaron Pauley who has taken to the roll with an inspiring diligence (also revealing a mighty roar to rival the old colleague). Crowd pleasers Unbreakable, Pain and Bones Exposed offered up pockets of mosh pits breaking out all over the grounds with appendages flailing and bodies being tenderised by hundreds of shoulders and fists.

every time i die ben gibson
Photo by Ben Gibson

A swift continuation of fierce chaos brought by the one and only Every Time I Die maintained the inaugural burst of life that had been seen time and time again over the lengthy experience. It Remembers may have been short of the Panic At The Disco front man but the result was just as successful, inciting their usual disarray and disorder. Orange and green lights bled over the southern rock musicians with Andy Williams’s vein-littered arms chugging at big guitar riffs as Keith Buckley allowed his big vocal range to run free with Decayin With The Boys and Gutter Phenomenon’s very own The New Black. Ending on 2016’s Map Change, the show went to prove all too well that these particular associates are an act without equal in their field.

Proclaimed as ‘one of the most resilient acts in the heavy music universe’, A Day To Remember have not been without their problems in the past. Whether that is a multitude of fans denouncing previously released material or their prolonged legal tousle with Victory Records, it is good to know that through all these serious times they did not lose their sense of cheesiness. Due to high winds robbing them of certain production methods, the alternative would necessitate a heavy set of cojones to open with an immeasurable amount of smoke and an introduction as grand as Wagner’s Flight of the Valkyries. Like always however, this was simply saddled as yet another one of ADTR’s light-hearted mood shifters (which happened to be very triumphant in its intentions).

Shortly releasing huge bunches of beach balls in to the masses, frontman Jeremy Mckinnon favoured the runway (always taking the opportunity to get up close and personal with the first few rows) and traipsed up and down while singing the infectious chorus of All I Want and The Plot To Bomb The Panhandle and taking full control of his uncompromising snarls for their latest single Paranoia from late 2016’s Bad Vibrations album. Extracts from Homesick and Common Courtesy were also examined and although their set from 2015’s Download was entertaining, there were noticeable improvements in terms of charisma and performance.

For anyone who had been lucky enough to acquire tickets for their last tour, a familiar polygonal stage setup stood like an illuminated monolith in front of the falling sun, challenging it almost to a duel of lights before the Biffy Clyro made their entrance. Undeniably dropping in temperature, the tight gaps between shoulders radiated heat and kept the throng talkative asand toasty, before the sheer blast of pyro later on instantaneously raised temperatures and placed thin layers of sweat on everyones brow.

Besides the apparent reasons, Simon, James and Ben were an absolute pleasure to watch as they each claimed one third of the Biffy Clyro personality. Bass bashing James came across as the humble chatty type, addressing the audience for the most part and thanking them repetitively for always being there to support them. Stick-wielding Ben remained silent for the most part (likely concussed from his passionate drumming) but made a point to add in a witticism now and again, keeping him in the triangular loop. Guitar-commanding Simon’s irrefutable confidence was almost impossible to ignore, delivering quirky comments and a very brief version of the final days headliners to endlessly entertain.

biffy clyro matt eachus 2
Photo by Matt Eachus

Blue and white streamers, burning infernos of pyro explosions and even a shower of bright fireworks were displayed and launched for all to see but even without all of these expensive theatricalities, there is no doubt that Biffy Clyro would be just as enjoyable if they had nothing but acoustic guitars and a single microphone (which coincidentally, happened to be what Simon had to offer for God & Satan). An immeasurable number of voices bellow out, like a thunderclap for every track including Wolves of Winter, That Golden Rule, Biblical and Mountains.

Chart toppers rained down like the light drizzle that had begun to fall, dampening the already matted clothes and hair of everyone standing still or being knocked about in the huge circles formed. Tears were strewn down faces while others were lit up with excitement as the furious introduction of Stingin’ Belle and the finish of their show came flooding in with a seriously emotional finale that left the tired souls trudging back to their tents and firing up the portable speakers to re-live the faultlessness that is Biffy Clyro.

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