Download is the premier heavy music festival on the Australian calendar so when the opportunity arose to double my Download experience i was on the first flight to Australia’s music and events capital, Melbourne.
Sydney Download had been hugely successful event, Premiere Gladys Berejiklian’s excessive police presence highly unnecessary and the venue of Parramatta Park so beautiful in nature and sound it just made for a truly unique atmosphere.
Now returning Flemington Racecourse for its second year it came as no surprise that Download seem to have gotten everything right, even the weather was perfect with huge crowd numbers just making for a sea of black shirt as far as the eye could see.
The Melbourne Download stage lay out was the biggest change from Sydney with the Dogtooth and Avalanche stages no longer side by side. This provided me with different day planner and saw me stage hop catching more bands than i did on Saturday in Sydney.
Since my day had gone so well on Saturday in Parramatta, i decided to not tempt fate and start things of the same way by watching New Years Day. The Melbourne crowd in much larger numbers than in Sydney, the Californian rockers laying down their heavy riffs and frontwoman Ash Costello bounced around the stage and delivering some absolute soaring vocals.
The Avalanche stage is where i found myself spending the most time, not only was it under cover but it hosted so many of my favourite acts. All any one asked me after after Sydney Download was did i see Code Orange ? my answer was no, so i made sure i changed that in Melbourne, these heavy hardcore hitters showed me just why they have the reputation they do.
But once again if your asking me the set of the day belongs to the Fever 333 this band are just phenomenal, all members of the band treating the stage like it was playground equipment climbing high up on it, their brand of uncompromising hip-hop punk activism had the crowd going. Fever 333 delivered quite a few a message’s but perhaps the two most important were 1- Women have have a safe place in music and fuck any chauvinist bullshit! and 2- Stand against your government when they are trying to take shit off you, this culture right here is important and you must fight to keep it alive!
Later in the evening Pennywise came out and once again confirmed they are the absolute fucking authority on So Cal punk the emotional crowd led sing a long of Bro Hymn only topped by fury and fun of The Land Down Under. Sum 41 was the last band i saw under the cover of the Avalanche stage they made up for their long absence from our shores by delivering a blistering powerhouse pop punk performance.
Over on the main two colour stages Luca Brasi was the first act i caught admittedly tho i took full advantage of sitting in the guest VIP area knocking back full strength Captain Morgan another thing you can do in Melbourne you may not in Sydney. With drink in hand i make my to front of stage for I Prevail the Michigan based metalcore outfit knew they were amongst the best metal fans in the world and played their set accordingly delivering a few new ones and letting it out they will be back in November.
Airbourne may have been a late addition to the line up but a hugely welcome one as they shredded up stage and left the crowd rocking for more. The Amity Affliction would be the flag bearer of Australian heavy music making us proud before my favourite band Rise Against came out and reaffirmed the message shouted out earlier by The Fever 333, that women have a strong place in music they welcomed to the stage Shawna Potter frontwomen of the co-ed feminist hardcore-punk band War on Women and covered Black Flag’s Rise Above, the band giving their all.
Alice In Chains open things up with Bleed The Freak that unmistakable 90’s Seattle grunge sound bleeding throughout the speakers taking me back to my teenage years. But when the sun began to set and the darkness crept in it was time for the fire works to begin. Judas Priest being the first one to truly light up the stage and set things a fire. As the masses eagerly awaited Slayer to finish off the day as part of their farewell tour. The thrash metal kings simply dazzled us with their instrumental Black Magic and stunning pyrotechnics, their legion of fans drenched in sweat and stiff in the neck from a 90 minute set of hard hang banging.
Both Melbourne and Sydney Download provided the heavy music community with another massive line up, two awesome days of music mayhem unleashed on over 20,000 fans who were left beaming with joy.
It is this music writers hope that Sydney can take its cues from the event organisers in Melbourne follow their passion and don’t let the NSW state government kill live music. Make your vote count have your voice heard speak out against undemocratic authority. Demand the right to protest and protect the values of our rich and diverse communities.
Review – Chad