Linkin Park dodge the rain to provide a slick finish to Download 2011

Download 2011 review

published: Thu 16th Jun 2011

Linkin Park

Friday 10th to Sunday 12th June 2011
Donington Park, Leics, England MAP
£145 weekend (with 5 nights camping + £35), or £75 for a day ticket
daily capacity: 111000
last updated: Tue 7th Jun 2011

Venturing from the tent proves more of a challenge this morning thanks to a persistent, miserable downpour – presumably the first after effect of SOAD's cataclysmic show last night.

Duty calls as ever though, and suitably booted and cagoul'd, eFestivals squelches over to the second stage for a bit of Download roulette.

In which Texan rapper Hyro Da Hero is clearly a lucky number. Despite a sodden crowd struggling to get its groove on, Hyro exudes charisma and energy this afternoon, catapulting himself around the stage while dispensing a mixture of cut-glass rhymes and punk yells strapped to a spiky guitar foundation.

A last-minute replacement for Karma To Burn today, he nonetheless captivates with the likes of Bad Brains-evoking 'Ghetto Ambiance' and a host of other tunes.

"Who wants to come back to the ghetto with me?" the MC enquires, and the vague possibility of being somewhere dryer seems to convince a fair portion of the crowd. Whether Hyro da Hero will be the man to revitalise rap rock via its hardcore roots, we’ll just have to wait and see, but this is a pretty convincing opening salvo.

Looking to move as far away from the stench of Bowling for Soup as possible, You And What Army present a tantalising alternative over in the miniscule Red Bull Bedroom Jam tent.

This dance rock crew hailing from Shropshire splice metal, electro and hip hop together with highly entertaining results, coming on like mad scientists of the alternative (as singer/nob twiddler David Brown's lab coat attests). Think Enter Shikari for grownups and you're somewhere close.

YAWA's frontman has a particularly potent line in onstage chit chat, and the band's frenetic collection of hyper dance-synth melodies and muscled guitar parts win over the tent with ease. It's a short set, but we can only hope they'll be back again soon, and on a bigger stage.

Oh GWAR. What on earth are you doing here? This bunch of fruitcakes is certainly one of the more bizarre prospects of the weekend – they've been peddling their garish pantomime thrash for decades now, and the whole package is stunningly, deliberately rubbish.

Clad in trademark Power Rangers cast-off costumes, Oderus Urungus and pals have the steaming masses gathered to see them transfixed – but almost certainly out of confusion rather than a sense of awe. Songs like 'Metal Metal Land' and 'Hail, Genocide' are delivered with consistently dumb humour, but while it's difficult to hate GWAR, their show is so half-arsed and patently ridiculous that the prevailing emotion is one of utter bewilderment.

Never ones to shy from 'social commentary' through the medium of rubber masks, at one juncture a bloke dressed like the Queen is dismembered on stage amid much gushing of cherry-red fake blood. Further along we witness the epic battle between evil supervillian Sawborg Destructo and the rest of the band, by which point eFestivals is suffering from a particularly acute headache. So bad it's…fantastically, regally awful.

Over at the Pepsi Max tent, Al Murray's terrible cover band T-34 have drawn a huge amount of people, presumably due to the wet rather than a penchant for the Pub Landlord. The deluge is still far preferable to half-baked covers of Hendrix and The Stooges, however.

Taking a moment to recover near the bar, Finnish folk metal types Turisas are unleashed upon us. Their set effectively amounts to a bunch of nutjobs dressed as orks bouncing around to accordion music, and the whole thing feels like a bad hangover from the GWAR experience an hour earlier.

illuminatus have a very cool name, but we only catch the very end of their set. It's entertaining enough in its throaty, heavy way, but tricky to get a real handle on in less than ten minutes.

Disturbed
Finally, a band worth braving the rain for – semi-industrial metallers Disturbed have long been held in high regard among Download regulars, and should be a reliable draw on the main stage.

However, by this point the rain has reached a positively barbaric velocity, and while David Draiman and his cohorts have brought an impressive stage set up and plenty of pyro to warm us up, there's evidently a massive gulf between the band and most of their shivering fans today.

Draiman's vocals are actually somewhat weak at first, although they improve considerably as things progress. Dark, chuggy riffs and taut drums are very much the staple here, with 'The Animal' and 'Another Way To Die' representing their latest record 'Asylum'. It has to be said, for the uninitiated there is little to differentiate between newer tracks, which at some moments have a knack of blurring into one long, dull dirge.

For many, it's the material from their 2000 debut 'The Sickness' that really pushes the buttons; 'Stupify' picks things up with a grandiose chorus and some profane crowd interaction, while rock-disco cornerstone 'Down With The Sickness' finally animates the field with its tribal drums and endearing vocals, even if Draiman’s famous ‘Wa-ha-ha-ha-ha!’ is sounding a bit worse for wear these days.

All told it's a valiant effort by Disturbed, but unfortunately the Download crowd's lack of energy is reflected in a somewhat damp and disappointing set.

Festivities for closing act of the weekend Linkin Park kick off before the band even makes it onstage, as a clearly embarrassed member of the security team (No 836 for those that were there) becomes an unlikely celebrity. The crowd is clearly in high spirits for Mike Shinoda's pop rock titans, perhaps the biggest success story to have emerged from the nu-metal scene all of a decade ago.

Opening with a roaring 'Papercut', it's clear from the get go that this is going to be a crowd-pleasing set. A diverse audience has descended on Donington for the headliner tonight, and a well-balanced mix of songs caters for both the hardcore and those who bought 'Hybrid Theory' during their teen angst phase all those years ago.

Linkin Park
And when Linkin Park deliver, you simply can't help but be impressed. 'No More Sorrow' shows off their metal chops, a whirlwind of snarling vocals and military drumbeat, while the enormous stadium rock riff and big, bold chorus of 'Bleed It Out' is equally powerful.

The likes of 'What I've Done' and 'Breaking The Habit' may be fairly tame on record, but receive a new lease of life in the flesh.

To be fair, there are aspects of Linkin Park's show tonight that are less appealing. Slower moments hint at the corporate boy band tag which has long dogged the group, while the so-cool-it-hurts imagery shown on the massive screen behind them grates occasionally. In particular a cut-up speech by father of the atomic bomb Oppenheimer comes across as sensationalist and indicative of the style-over-substance element of the band's music.

However, it's really a minor gripe, and the power with which singer Chester Bennington works the massive crowd makes for a glorious spectacle tonight.

'In The End' was always going to be a high point in the set, but the response it provokes in the crowd is unprecedented, its gargantuan chorus uniting every voice within earshot. A jubilantly heavy 'One Step Closer' marks the end of a triumphant return.

Overall, Linkin Park are winningly solid and self-assured this evening. For a band that trades wholesale in alienation, their studied cool frustrates a little, but while the songs featured in their setlist are often samey, they're also completely tailored to massive crowds, and make for a hugely enjoyable, polished end to another successful Download weekender.
review by: Nick Hagan

photos by: Luke Seagrave

Friday 10th to Sunday 12th June 2011
Donington Park, Leics, England MAP
£145 weekend (with 5 nights camping + £35), or £75 for a day ticket
daily capacity: 111000
last updated: Tue 7th Jun 2011


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