download 2013 poster final@ Zippo Encore Stage, June 16 2013

Most bands would hit the ground running given a limiting 30-minute late afternoon time slot at one of the biggest rock and metal festivals in the world. But Rival Sons aren’t most bands.

If the LA quartet’s laid back approach to one of the biggest shows of their career complemented the hazy sunshine and warm summer breeze then it also baffled newcomers who’d seen the hype and believed the buzz. 

Strolling around in his (girlfriend’s ?) white lace shirt, frontman Jay Buchanan proved his extreme fashion sense hadn’t been tempered in the 12 months since Rival Sons last played Castle Donington. But Scott Holiday’s woolly pink scarf suggested his band mate’s influence is finally rubbing off.

Onlookers without a sense for what the Sons really are must have wondered what on earth was happening as the band played Manifest Destiny Pt1 and Jordan back-to-back – two meandering songs that wiped off half of their time slot in a stroke. This looked like a lazy jam reserved for a few mates in the back garden rather than a festival set played out in front of thousands.

Yet beyond the image were four musicians at the top of their game unmoved by expectation and unerring in the commitment to their craft. This was as far removed from a conventional festival set as it was possible to imagine but the Sons don’t have much time for convention. Never have had.

Finally picking up the pace with the big one-two of Keep On Swinging and Pressure And Time, the band managed to rouse those who had started to nod off into their pints of warm lager. But for the majority of those present a set rich in potential was over before it had really started. For all but the band’s most devoted followers, disappointment, rather than delight, was the overriding emotion.

Simon Rushworth