Home Gigs Gig Review : Download Festival 2024 – Friday

Gig Review : Download Festival 2024 – Friday

22 min read

Review by Sheri Bicheno for MPM

It’s another year and once again one of the biggest rock and metal festivals in the UK sells out!

Download Festival features this year a bit more of an eclectic line up with Heiling, Ne Obliviscaris, Shadow of Intent and Heriot under the throwback artists Queens of the Stone Age, Fall Out Boy and Avenged Sevenfold headlining.

As Download is known for its returning artists, this year was the first for Fall Out Boy to headline and had something for everyone in the nostalgic sense.


Friday started as Thursday ended – the rain was torrential for a time but that didn’t stop the majority of thousands of rockers flocking to the Arena at opening. 

I’d not heard of Norwegian metalcore outfit Storm until now but took a walk over to the modest Avalanche stage to check him out.

Kicking off Download with some electric energy put the feel good moods into the crowd. Die Young was full of anthemic blends with it’s punchy riffs and beats straight off the bat. The vocals range between clean beautiful pop notes to harsher screams.

This is a young lad that has a striking range of qualities in his deliverance of his performance. He mixes styles between electronica infused hip hop styles and the heaviest of metalcore styles and uses his vocals to adapt to the moods.

House Of Cards brings in heavy guitar riffs with huge melodic moods before melting into a choppy rhythm with the low frequence bass and intricate kitwork.

Over on the main stage was a crowd building up, gathering under the skies that opened. I’ve followed Welsh rockers Those Damn Crows for a few years and have seen them go from strength to strength.
Echos of cawings of crows with winding guitars fills the air before the energy of riffs and the smash of drum creates suspense and then hauls us straight into the chuggy beats of Who Did It.
With stunning clean vocals offered from Shane Greenhall that reaches its range to energetic peaks and commands the depth of rhythm to the track. 

A rise of flames burst out towards the sky and we’re launched into the suspense of the intro to Find A Way. 

By this time, the rain that was throwing down alongside the sun trying to seep out made the emotional intensity rise through the energy of this beautiful track.

The melodics of the guitars uplift and tempo change from the commanding pace of the drums with a huge energy that captures Shane’s beautiful pipes.

My second time seeing them but I had to get over the the DogTooth Stage to immerse myself once more into Urne.

The tent was packed by the time the blue hues of light set the mood for these guys.
“Download, let’s f**king do this.

We’re launched into a heavy tirade of frenzied riffs and beats for Becoming The Ocean, which showcases some blackened elements to Urne before the heavier melodic harmonies set in for To Die Twice that melt into blackened high end wails.

Joe Nally has a chilling vocal range that reaches nerve wracking tones and screams that emphasize the demanding beats that James Cook wields behind the kit. 

Title track of the new album released last year, A Feast On Sorrow offers one of the best tracks that showcases the stunning guitar work by Angus Neyra that at first comes in with some of the most intense riffing in the set that works to the moods of the bassnotes.

I’ve mentioned this before but the musicianship here is nothing short of outstanding. Melodic intervals blend with intense ferocity to create a plethora of different moods and emotions in the music. 

Back to the main stage, the crowd waiting for Black Stone Cherry was brimful. An intro of AC/DC’s Hells Bells rang out loud indicating that these Rock legends were about to take stage.
With all smiles and high energy, we were swept into the suspenseful familiar intro of infectious Me and Mary Jane.  

The feel good vibe has always stuck with Black Stone Cherry and right now everyone is moving about to the catching beats around me. 

Launching into Again, the moods in this track encapsulate an energetic and cathartic feeling to get you immersed. The catchy riffs and demanding bassnotes work smoothly with the depth of the drums to deliver a Southern twist of rock and roll styles.. 

Chris Robertson’s vocals are beautiful, just end of.
His tones fill the stage and for a moment, it’s heartstopping. From beautiful high notes to energetic roars, this is one song I’ve always loved his voice in.

“It’s been 6 years since we’ve been here” Chris addresses the crowd and announces that Black Stone Cherry will be returning to the UK for a headline tour towards the end of the year. 

Ending with favourites White Trash Millionaire and Blame It On The Boom Boom the energy was absolutely huge and spread a feelgood and uplifting mood amongst the crowd.

Heading over to the Opus Stage, I’d been wanting to see the intriguing Mr Bungle for some time and upon entering the Opus field, we had a distorted version of Also sprach Zarathustra, op. 30 ringing in the air that gave a humorous and bonkers edge to the mix.

Grizzly Adams starts with a beautiful melodic guitar tone with injections of keys that bend the shapes of sound within the intro of these guys.

Near the end a sonic boom of guitars ring out with a stunning harmony along with trembling basnotes and threatening beats,The total heaviness of Anarchy Up Your Anus was frenzied and in places, a chuggy speed bullet of a song. 

The riffs from Scott Ian were insane here!  In between the pure ferocity of thrash from drummer Dave Lomabardo comes some raw, low frequency bassnotes of Trevor Dunn that creates a vortex of mental tones that rip into eachother and take you to some face melting heights. 

Bingle Grind and Eracist is full of the energy at this set and a great example of this.
In between songs there’s one hell of banter and interludes of Im Not In Love by 10cc before launching into dangerous riff fuelled tracks that start pummeling you again.

Creating jazz infused moments and genre blending craziness makes this band what it is.

A mosh pit ensued, with the crowd stopping for the serenade of Hypocrites and playfully teasing the crowd with Habla Espanol o Muere.  

The band was absolutely maddening, with Trey Spruance charring the lead riffs on top of Mike Patton’s searing range of vocals that swing from barking tones to wails and moans that inject the intensity of the tracks to the crowd, all in the same breath!

Finishing on All By Myself by Eric Cartman, the lyrics were changed and right there was some unity!

Next on the Opus stage was a band i’ve been looking forward to the most.

When I found out Heilung was playing Download, I was both delighted and impressed. Heiling are one of my favourite nordic/ethnic folk bands and may not necessarily be a band you’d expect to witness at a metal festival. However, due to their ritualistic and Pagan nature, they fit right in at Download. 

Filling the stage with a ritualistic feel, the members approached the stage and in a circle, took turns in their part of the ritual.

The stage and members were Smudged and this gave me a real sense of experience for these guys.
In Maidjan is one of my favourite Heiling songs and seeing how this is on stage is nothing short of breathtaking. 

Something has to be said for Maria’s vocal technique. Not only does she use her style of throat singing to contrast Kai but her range takes her to the highest beautiful pitches to a smooth transition of harmonized vocals that hit your core.

With blessings upon the spears, circle rituals and stunning atmospherics, we were taken through the mesmerizing contours of the shamanistic ethos on that stage that went from the intense drum beats of battle infused Svanrand to the beautiful ripples of Traust.

I will not forget this set for as long as I live. 

Heading over to the main stage, I swung by the DogTooth Stage and caught some of the energy on stage from Funeral For A Friend.

Not long back from their appearance at Slam Dunk and now the vocal forefront with Lucas Woodland, we’re launched into This Years Most Open Heartbreaker that churns early 2000’s vibe with the pop punk riffs and heavy drums that then drop us into a modern metalcore infused track.

All The Rage saw Busted’s Charlie Simpson join the stage and brought in a high energy infusion of melting guitar chords and upbeat kitwork of Ryan Richards. 

Streetcar gave a heavier feel to the performance with speeding guitar riffs and double pedals kicking off the intro that melts into a blend of fast skimming drums and emotional guitar vs vocal feel. The anthemic feel here is so huge but infused with so much emotion!

Heading over to the main stage, headliners Queens of The Stone Age were already in full swing.
Little Sister kicked off some of the nostalgic vibes from early 2000’s album Lullabies to Paralyze that echoed across the packed audience.

The stage was lit up in red lights and gave way to the addicting energy of QOTSA’s low ebbed riffs and jumpy beats.

Josh Homme glides along his frets effortlessly and injects some intensity to the riffs and suspense filled vibe of the track whilst offering a range of rock n roll vocals that fall into melodics on occasion.

Burn The Witch and Paper Machete are really good examples of the might of musicianship between Josh and Troy’s guitaring. The licks and rolls work alongside eachother to offer deep listening and intoxicating underlays.

“What beautiful English weather we’re having” Josh addresses the crowd.
With some swagger and banter, we’re launched into huge hit Go With The Flow which has the crowd singing back to the stage that’s lit up in red and orange triangular effects.

Going through a vortex of different levels with these guys has been something I’ve witnessed many times but I’m never really ready for The Lost Art of Keeping A Secret that has hypnotizing elements laying in its make up.

The guitars and bassnotes from Josh, Michael and Troy drag out the mood to slower paced, sludgy tones and give the drumming on this track a granite weight sense.

My absolute favourite to witness is the stunning melodics of The Sky Is Fallin’ from the hypnotic intro of Josh’s soft vocals to the subtle echoes of the drums that slither into a clash of pure psychedelic energy before the riffs take the melodics into another dimension.

Photo by James Briddle

I get lost in this track every time.
From the fast paced more aggressive Sick, Sick, Sick to the slumberish notes of Make It Wit Chu, I love watching Queens of The Stone Age. Their energy is so chilled and raw that you’d be forgiven for not noticing the moment that the transition to heavier and threatening peaks get there.

Photo by James Briddle

Finishing with No One Knows and my favourite track by these guys – A Song for the Dead not only brings nostalgia back to the crowd but sends me back to my tent, floating.

A Song For The Dead is a sexy but mysterious track and always get;s me right into the element that QOTSA bring.

Tomorrow morning I’m looking forward to catching Heriot and drift off after visiting the Download Village, getting lost and navigating my way across the boggy fields back to my home for the next few days!

Photography by Pete Key for MPM

Photography for Those Damn Crowes / Black Stone Cherry / Queens of the Stone Age, by Matt Higgs ,Download official.

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