Muse knew that their slot at the head of Download Festival’s bill was their chance to prove they could step outside of their comfort zone and still deliver the same stadium-sized marvel that their reputation promises. And while the video screens lock crosshairs onto the band, the return of ‘Dead Star’, a rejuvenated ‘New Born’ and the undeniable yet ridiculous catch of ‘Psycho’ mean that Muse’s Donington debut is welcomed with open arms.
It’s also Creeper’s first time at Download but from the opening drama of ‘We Had A Pact’ through the urgent sway of ‘VCR’ and ‘Lie Awake’, the soundtrack of their signing to Roadrunner Records, the Southampton band march with glorious assurance and the crowd follows every considered step. Today isn’t about Creeper taking pause to celebrate, instead it’s a triumphant arrival and powerful declaration of intent.
There’s no less ceremony over on the Zippo Encore stage as the recently reunited L7 take a second chance to inspire. Their riotous off-kilter rock has sharpened its fangs during the hiatus and today, delivered with excitement and weighted momentum, the Californian four-piece sink them into the crowd.
Eagles of Death Metal are on equally sparkling terms as their garage rock, led by Jesse ‘Boots Electric’ Hughes, playfully delights. As rhythm dances with riff, even the guitars incite sing-alongs and the Californian mob inject a sense of tongue in cheek entertainment to proceedings.
Gnarwolves have fast become a staple of the festival circuit but that doesn’t stop them discovering new ways to make their scruffy punk anthems soar. The Brighton trio are in good-spirits as they lead the crowded tent in a choir of dissatisfaction and escapism. Business as usual has never felt so special.
Download probably isn’t the easiest of festivals for FIDLAR’s frayed punk to flourish, meanwhile, but their party anthems find a rag-tag perfection on the Sunday evening. Reckless and unpredictable, the Californian four-piece fall from strength to chaotic strength and the crowd lose themselves in the band’s effortless charm and unavoidable glory.
Photos: Sarah Louise Bennett