Download Festival @ Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne 11/3/2019

Adelaide represent!! Although left off the tour schedule for Download so far, with a line up this hot and including my boys Pennywise, I couldn’t sit this one out. So over we came to suss out the new Metal Festival to hit Australia, Download 2019.

The flight over was full of metal heads making the journey, Download when you are ready to branch out Adelaide is ready!!

Having done a couple BDO’s, Soundwaves and the occasional racing carnival, I know what was in store for us at Flemington and after a short train trip we were at the gate and ready to go. As usual the punks and metal heads were out in force, not sure what they do during the week, like me they probably don suits and deliver on the corporate merry-go-round, but today punk hair, metal patches and vans were the order.

With these big festivals, planning your day becomes paramount. Clashes are an unfortunate reality, but I was perhaps a little disappointed that similar genre bands seemed to overlap fairly regularly, not sure why they don’t run genre stages punk, metal, hard rock etc, having said that, it must be a nightmare scheduling these types of events and overall they do an awesome job!!

First up on the hit list was I Prevail, who despite the early time slot had a massive crowd on the main stage. These guys are great, a young band at the top of their game, effortlessly producing their massive sound as they switch between clean and growl vocals. Eric and Brian had good crowd banter, at one point calling for a shoe for a dirty shoey and the crowd responded accordingly. The pit was on the move, a couple big circle pits and culminating with a wall of death for their final song Scars. Off to a good start!!

Next up on the mainstage was Aussie rock legends Airbourne, who came to the rescue when Ozzy pulled out of the tour last minute. With a clap of pyro the boys exploded onto the stage and ripped straight into Ready to Rock. Joel was on fire, one of the most energetic front men going around, you cant help but put your horns in the air and rock along, he was all over the stage, in the crowd, jumping off the amps. In front of a wall of Marshall stacks, the boys blistered through a quick fire set including Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast, Breakin’ Outta Hell and wrapping the set with Runnin’ Wild. “BDO id fucked, Soundwave is dead, but Download is still ALIVE”, well it certainly was after Airbourne were done with it. So Aussie, So Rock, So Good!

The Download set-up is seriously good, lots of bars, good food, good beers, easily accessible merch and market stalls. The stages were well laid out and there was very little sound bleed.

We then headed away from the main stage to the Avalanche stage, which was housed under a big top tent. Presumably to help with sound bleed, one side of the tent was completely closed, which gave the stage a real club feel which was cool. “This next one’s a cover” it was time for everyones favourite punk rock cover band Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. This tours uniform was white pants with a gold shirt, with spike donning a gold suit, as always looking super dapper. Opening with Cher’s Believe, followed by a few covers from their Country album, Love Their Country. MFGG are just super fun, great banter, tight punk rock from some of the best in the business and covers for everyone. Over The Rainbow and Rocketman were particularly well received as was I Will Survive as Spike declared “I wear my inner diva on the outside”. The show was finished with yet another cover Boys II Men’s End of the Road.

Frenzal Rhomb were up next, now I would normal see internationals over locals, but for Frenzal I’ll make an exception and I’m glad I did because they were smoking!! Taking the piss out of everyone as they go, including themselves and tackling the big issues… Bird Attack, Cunt Act and Mummy Doesn’t Know That You’re a Nazi to open the set and after three songs had an impressive “cunt” count. As always Jay and Lindsay were sharp on the mic, Jay at one point asking if anyone had any requests that they could ignore. Starting with newer tracks and getting deeper into the catalogue as the set went on was really cool and made for an excellent second half of the show. Genius was an absolute highlight, sent out to all the bands we don’t hate on this tour and included an extended Black Sabbath interlude. Lindsay really is a jet, effortlessly interweaving Sabbath, Slayer and AIC licks into their songs. Unfortunately all good things must come to an end, but when the end is Cant Move Into My House, Never Had so Much Fun and Punch in the Face the end was wicked!

I thought it was going to be tough to beat Frenzal, enter Pennywise. Now I am a massive PW fan and have seen them a LOT of times, but today’s set was right up there. Excellent old school set list, band was on, sound was perfect and Fletcher wasn’t even that pissed (at the start of the set anyway…). Opening with Peaceful Day, the energy was high right away, Jim was dishing it out as hard as ever and the crowd was giving it right back. The pit was alive and circle pits were the order of the day as the boys ran through Rules, Same Old Story and Fight Till You Die. The boys were in good spirits as they pulled punters out of the crowd to join them on stage including a young girl in a wheelchair who crowd surfed her way over the barrier. Down Under was well received, despite Fletcher wanting to cover Bad Religion instead, eventually getting his way the following song covering Do What You Want. Towards the end of the set it was revealed that the pringles can that Fletcher had been carrying around was actually full of booze which he proceeded to scull, much to the crowds appreciation. Pennywise sent the pit into a frenzy, Stand By Me was a great sing-along and the show was finished as it always is with Bro Hymn. PW delivered! Come back soon!!

Sum 41 were a bit of surprise packet, I always liked them growing up even though I thought they were bit more pop-punky, but they put on a great show! Filing onto stage to AC/DC the boys ripped into The Hell Song followed by Over My Head (Better off Dead) and Motivation. The crowd erupted and the sing along was as loud as any crowd all day. For someone who is fairly shy off stage Deryck’s on stage persona is anything but, roaming the stage and heavily interacting with the crowd. Covers almost seemed to be the order of the day and Sum 41 were no different as they tease with the opening licks of Cowboys From Hell for Vinnie Pauls birthday, before covering in full Queen’s We Will Rock You. The set was finished with a 1, 2, 3 punch of In Too Deep, Fat Lip and Still Waiting which almost blew the top off the tent. Bloody good show.

Then it was time to bear witness to one of the greats as they call time of their touring career, I am of course referring to Slayer. Not many bands can play the type of music they play, let alone for that long and amass the legions of fans they have across the globe. You just have to look around the crowd, every second punter had a slayer shirt on with ages ranging from 18 through to 60. The thrash kings blistered through a phenomenal set including Blood Red, Hate Worldwide, War Ensemble, Jihad to name a few and had one of the most impressive pyro displays I’ve ever seen (it literally looked like hell) and the massive crowd lapped it all up. Tom is an amazing front man, still hits all the screams with ease and is definitely going out at the top of his game, as is the rest of the band. Kerry King is still the meanest looking mother fucker to pick up a guitar and is still playing as aggressively as ever. Gary Holt is an excellent addition to the band and played a Hanneman decaled guitar, which was a great tribute to man who came before him. The show was finished with Raining Blood, Chemical Warfare and Angel of Death, which of course had the crowd frothing!! Then just like that it was all the over, Tom took his time and starred down the crowd for one last time before saying a sincere thank you and exiting the Melbourne stage for the last time.

What a day, what a night, bring on 2020!!

Live Review By Tim Nicholas

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