If 2010 was wet then 2011 was monsoon-like. Rain – most of it heavy – started falling early doors and only briefly stopped. It didn’t dampen our spirits but did mean an early bath for the rushonrock team as we took the final bars of Turisas’s Battle Metal as our cue to leave a soggy Castle Donington.
Earlier the music was far, far brighter than the skies overhead. And as this was a typically British summer’s day we opted to back the very best in homegrown talent as we kicked off the final day of a typically diverse festival.
On the Jagermeister Stage Voodoo Johnson played their first acoustic gig with new frontman Nik Taylor-Stoakes and played it to perfection. Picking the very best from debut album 10,000 Horses and throwing in the odd newie for good measure, the fast-rising blues rockers ignored the deluge and delivered the goods.
Around the corner on the second stage and Hyro Da Hero’s gangster rock went down remarkably well. All the way from Texas, and probably freezing his b******s off as a result, the heavy rapper punctuated a busy set with a fair number of trademark profanities all backed by a brilliant band. Guilty pleasure? Maybe.
As the rain permeated all of our mobile devices it became clear final-day Tweeting wouldn’t be an option for rushonrock’s roving reporters (apologies for that) but music was still on the cards. And back on the acoustic stage Heaven’s Basement picked up where VJ had left off – frontman Aaron Buchana capping a pumped-up performance with an ill-advised crowd surf made all the sleeker by the soaked ponchos adorning the hardy few.
Bowling For Soup were brilliantly foolish as they coasted through a main stage set peppered with classic interaction with the crowd and some genuinely amusing off-the-cuff moments. As for the inflatable sheep? Ask us another time.
Canadians My Darkest Days looked pretty assured inside a packed Pepsi Max tent – making the most of their golden opportunity to play in front of a packed house full of interested onlookers looking to escape the worst of the miserable weather. Taylor Momsen and The Pretty Reckless didn’t look quite so convincing as she battled to retain the attention of a sodden main stage crowd. We headed to where the main action was and a second stage anticipating the mighty GWAR.
They might be the silliest thing in rock but the overblown monsters spraying fake blood and beating the crap out of each other were just what the doctor ordered as the heaven’s truly opened. If any band in the world could put a smile on the faces of freezing festival-goers then the crazy comic-metal crew are that act. Not one for the kids but one for just about everyone else.
And so to Battle Metal legion Turisas. By the time the Finns hit the second stage it wasn’t just raining – it was properly pissing down. But given a few Viking anthems and a glimpse of Netta Skog, the most attractive accordion player on the planet, and Download didn’t seem so bad after all. Announcing their biggest UK headline tour to date at the end of a brief but incendiary set, Mathias Nygard and co. more than justified their lofty late-afternoon billing.
And then we were off. Apologies to Linkin Park, Bullet For My Valentine, Frank Turner, H.E.A.T. et all – on another day, at another time we’d have gladly checked out each and very one of you. But our socks were wet and Viking make-up was running. You have to know when to call it a day and, unlike Twisted Sister, we do. Until next year – rock on!
* Look out for full reviews of Download’s biggest bands all this week on RUSHONROCK!