Catching the action on all five stages was the challenge for day two of the world’s greatest rock and metal festival and rushonrock’s team was well rewarded for a full circuit of the Donington site.
Houston got things off to a flier on the Pepsi Max stage with their retro AOR meets hair metal straight from the late 80s songbook. Big on image but still short on quality tunes, the silky smooth Swedes nevertheless have star potential and given a good run with their second record this lot could conquer the melodic rock world.
Rise To Remain drew a big lunchtime crowd to the second stage with their old school metal riffs and post-hardcore power but the patch stall was calling. All the way from Scandinavia, two big lads with a barrel load of logo patches were doing a roaring trade. And the prize of the day – a 100% bona fide Quireboys patch. Class.
A quick jog round the corner and SKIN delivered a typically assured acoustic set in the sun. Perfect for the moment and proving there’s still plenty of life in this resurgent band, their proximity to the Guinness tent made for a welcome Download highlight. Rock Sugar’s metal mash-ups were amusing enough but is time running out for this oh-so-novelty act?
Another, albeit wholly unexpected, highlight was a blinding main stage set by rap rockers Hollywood Undead. Half a set with masks on and half a set with masks off, this vibrant crew were in showstpping form – laying down the gauntlet to Down, Skunk Anansie et al.
For rushonrock it was goodbye to the main stage for now and – bolstered by a box of steaming sweet and sour chicken and a timely backstage meeting with Dear Superstar’s Micky Satiar – and it was time to see the sleaze rock Mancs in action. With a new album due in September and a UK tour with Puddle Of Mudd to follow, the five-piece rocked the Red Bull stage into a frenzy.
But the first truly memorable set of the day came courtesy of Mr Big – featuring the original line-up and all of the hits. Paul Gilbert and Billy Sheehan stole the show with some sparkling on-stage jousting and if there are two more talented musos at Download this weekend we’d love to meet them. Incredible stuff.
Trying to catch Bowling For Soup on the acoustic stage was like trying to catch a cold in the desert – those who were close enough to hear the set were the lucky few. The rest of us had to console ourselves with the prospect of Sunday’s main stage set.
The second stage hat-trick of Cheap Trick, Twisted Sister and Alice Cooper was enough to keep rock fans of a certain era merrily engaged until (an incredibly cold) night fell and all three veteran acts pulled out the stops to produce a memorable finish to day two. Meanwhile Avenged Sevenfold and System Of A Down produced a killer one-two in front of thousands of delirious devotees – as festival sound-and-light shows go you’d do well to find better.
So Voodoo Johson, Bowling For Soup, Turisas and Buckcherry are just some of the bands beckoning for day three before the rushonrock team is forced to retreat early for another year. Oh, and it’s going to be wet. Very wet.