Prophets of Rage perform at Download Festival in Melbourne.
Prophets of Rage perform at Download Festival in Melbourne. ASAGAI IMAGES

Download defies weather for a powerful day of music

Let's hope Download Festival Australia will be back next year because the reality is that an all-day heavy music festival is exactly what Australia needs.

It just has a different feel to festivals like Bluesfest, Splendour in the Grass or Earth Frequency and the line-ups found on a heavy music festival bill often boast a selection of some of the most loved bands in the last twenty years.

This year Download Melbourne fronted an incredible bill of bands including Korn, Limp Bizkit, Prophets of Rage, Mastadon, and Gojira.

While you can't make everyone happy with any line-up the reality was that seeing these bands live was an absolute treat.

It was wall to wall music from some of the best musicians the world has ever seen.

Prophets of Rage provided one of the most incredible poignant sets of any festival and while it was never going to be Rage Against The Machine it was in many ways just as electrifying.

When Tom Morello announced that they wanted the audience to sing along to the Audioslave song Like A Stone it was a stark reminder of the sad passing of one of rock's greatest singers.

It was eerie and very moving to hear the song played without vocals and then the audience singing through and over the sound coming from stage.

To see all members on stage without Chris Cornell was a very real reminder of the enormous gap left by his absence.

Prophets of Rage perform at Download Festival in Melbourne.
Prophets of Rage perform at Download Festival in Melbourne. ASAGAI IMAGES

Prophets of Rage play Download Festival in Melbourne.
Prophets of Rage play Download Festival in Melbourne. ASAGAI IMAGES

Furthermore, the "F*ck Trump” sign on the back of Tom Morello's guitar as well as Rage Against The Machine songs like Bulls on Parade and Killing in the Name Of, as well as a flurry of Cypress Hill songs proved to be a powerful declaration from the band and only served to invigorate the atmosphere.

Tom Morello also showed he was in top form making his guitar scream and squeal in magical flurry of pedal and toggle switch action.

But the real clincher came when Tom Morello turned his guitar to reveal an Australian Aboriginal Flag taped to the guitar - a stark message for the Australian public and a bold statement by the well-known axman.

Korn as always were nothing but a sheer crushing wall of force - playing a setlist of fan favourites including Freak on A leash, Blind, Shoots and Ladders, and Got The Life it was a tsunami of down tuned sound.

The sound was great, with each member giving it their all and once again highlighting why they are one of the best bands in the world.

Korn play Download Festival in Melbourne.
Korn play Download Festival in Melbourne. ASAGAI IMAGES

Limp Bizkit and Fred Durst provided a solid set with a surprise Nirvana and Ministry cover, but Rollin probably got the biggest reaction from the crowd apart from the Faith cover where one lucky punter got to get up on stage.

He didn't quite nail it but he was full of enthusiasm and made for entertaining viewing.

Wes Borland came out in a black suite and black face paint and was looking as ominous as ever.

Mastadon were all business and had an explosive start playing Sultan's Curse with Divinations, Crystal Skull and Blood and Thunder being strong standouts of the set.

Both Mastadon and Gojira suffered a little from playing midday sets where they couldn't have a full lighting show but they are such dynamic, incredible bands it hardy mattered.

It was nice to see them in perfect clarity of daylight and really just enjoy their performance and impeccable sound.

Gojira did have pyrotechnics which looked great from further back.

Gojira perform at the first Download Festival in Melbourne on the Black Stage.
Gojira perform at the first Download Festival in Melbourne on the Black Stage. ASAGAI IMAGES

They definitely came out to prove a point.

They were taking no prisoners and seemed to put on a better show than Soundwave a few years previous.

It was great to see them hitting their stride with songs from their album Magma and showing why they are a major drawcard on bills.

Sabaton and Amon Amarth were two bands that were just plain fun.

Sabaton, who are more of a throwback to classic NWOBHM, had their fans smiling and rocking out.

Amon Amarth who are a bit heavier, and didn't have their Viking ship this time, also provided a fun feel good set opening with The Pursuit of the Vikings, As Loke Falls, and First Kill.

Northlane provided a strong solid set with a crystal clear sound earlier in the day, while Ocean Grove showed a remarkable affinity with the crowd and ability to get things kicked off with high energy.

Two standout performances found at the Dogtooth Stage where Nails and King Parrot.

Nails provided one of the heaviest, meanest and most aggressive performances of the festival with a guitar tone that was just face melting.

While their albums are definitely not for 'easy listening', their live performances are encapsulating, heavy, and totally engaging.

It is amazing what a different feel it has live.

King Parrot as always showed why they are one of Australia's most loved grindcore/extreme metal bands and gave nothing less than their all-in typical manic performance after a Star Wars themed intro.

King Parrot perform at the Dogtooth Stage at the first Download Festival in Melbourne.
King Parrot perform at the Dogtooth Stage at the first Download Festival in Melbourne. ASAGAI IMAGES

Overall the festival was a complete success with only the rain being a major problem.

For those who decided to get there early the rain was unrelenting and anyone who didn't have a poncho got soaked.

Thankfully it eventually cleared and gave way to a much more pleasant dry and warm afternoon.

Even better, there were very few timetable clashes and bands were very well placed through the day and it made for a full satisfying day of music binging.

Those who brought bags would have found the bag drop frustrating but apart from that there were plenty of food stalls, coffee carts, and toilets.

If you wanted merchandise the cues were long but probably a good indication that for next year, if it gets approval, the demand is high and another merchandise tent could be opened up.

And one of the best things was that because the venue was contained within Flemington Racecourse it was nice and easy to catch multiple acts across different stages.

This cant be underestimated as a wonderful plus.

Let's hope we see a new era of Download festivals in Australia based on the success of the weekend.



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