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Live Reviews

Download Pilot Festival 2021

Donington Park

Friday 18th – Sunday 20th June 2021

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DOWNLOAD PILOT FESTIVAL 2021 – LIVE REVIEW

The live music industry is built on togetherness, built on shared experience and built on the power of emotion. The last 18 months have been highly emotional for all the wrong reasons. Together the world has shared an experience that has terrified and devastated us.

The events of the last 18 months have taken an incomprehensible toll on humanity. The pandemic has destroyed lives and livelihoods. The live music industry was obliterated overnight. The people that make the spectacles that we enjoy happen were forgotten about.

While the world attempts to peek through the curtains at a “new normal”, the live music industry is left waiting. Waiting for support, waiting for proper guidance, waiting for a chance. Well, just four weeks ago that chance arrived.

A Government trial event to test the viability of the return of packed festivals and events you say? Spring into action the incredible people behind the scenes who make the live music industry work! In a short period of time, heaven and earth have been moved and here we are at Download Festival.

A much smaller, makeshift, Pilot version of Download Festival at the hallowed grounds of Donington Park. 10,000 people in a field, no social distancing, no masks, no inhibitions.

Credit goes to all involved for creating an event of that scale on such short notice, and to all the acts playing with no preparation. As the gates open, one thing is for sure, the fans want this, no, the fans needs this.

The reality of the situation is that the organisers could have put an old man playing the spoons on stage and the fans would have lapped it up. The opportunity after all that everybody has been through to witness live music is cathartic.

DOWNLOAD PILOT FESTIVAL – FRIDAY

The fact that this may be the most exciting Download Festival line-up of all time only helps to amplify the anticipation as fans gather in the tented second stage for Death Blooms. Almost every person on site crams in to witness that first taste of live music in far too long.

The band make the most of the atmosphere with a storming set that sees the audience let go of all remaining inhibitions. I doubt the majority of those in the tent knew of the band in advance, but they certainly left with a memory that will last forever.

For this special event there are just two stages. Next to the tent is the outdoor main stage which opens with a raucous set from Hot Milk. Kicking off with their latest single ‘I Just Wanna Know What Happens When I’m Dead’ the band show the crowd just what they’ve been missing.

Listen to ‘I Just Wanna Know What Happens When I’m Dead’ from Hot Milk on our Spotify Hot List!

There is no need to worry about those dreaded clashes at Download Pilot Festival. That’s because the acts on the two stages alternate, allowing the music starved fans the opportunity to watch every single band if they so wish to.

Every band this weekend gets a good sized crowd and a warm reception with it, especially the early bands on Friday. Malevolence are next to grace the second stage and assist the audience in releasing their pent up energy with a heavy hitting set.

A repercussion of the pandemic has been the amazing new albums that have been released without the showcase of the live setting. One such album is ‘Glue’ from Boston Manor. That wrong is righted next however as the band storm the main stage and air the likes of ‘Everything Is Ordinary’.

An early standout performance from the band sees them mix new and old with ‘England’s Dreaming’, ‘Laika’ and ‘Halo’ eliciting some of the first full blown sing-a-long moments of the weekend.

Those sing-a-long moments continue with Holding Absence on the second stage as they get to unleash tracks from their sensational album ‘The Greatest Mistake of My Life’. ‘Afterlife’ in particular is a contender for song of the weekend as the band present their credentials for superstardom!

Read our review of ‘The Greatest Mistake of My Life’ from Holding Absence

The Friday action continues with two bands with extremely dedicated fanbases. Neck Deep get the main stage bouncing before Sleep Token captivate the second stage.

It is then down to Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes to bring the first day to a close on the main stage. Always an unstoppable force of nature on stage, the band make the most of the platform to make a statement. That statement says that this band is ready to headline the regular event.

With a setlist spanning their three albums, the band even treat fans to a selection of new tracks including the catchy ‘My Town’. There are guest appearances from Joe Talbot, Cassyette and Lynks, there is a giant circle pit around the sound tower and there is even a cover of ‘Ace of Spades’.

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes saw an opportunity to headline a festival, to headline the first festival back, and they grabbed it with both hands. This was one of those sets that will be talked about forevermore!

Listen to ‘My Town’ from Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes on our Spotify Hot List!

After hours entertainment comes from a silent disco as the hastily arranged festival shows the skills and creativity of the music industry. You have to stand back and admire the achievement of those involved to create an event on this scale in the time given.

DOWNLOAD PILOT FESTIVAL – SATURDAY

On to Saturday now and the musical delights continue as Lotus Eater, Conjurer, As Everything Unfolds and Bleed From Within blow the cobwebs of the early morning audience.

Next two young bands with big futures introduce themselves to festival audiences. Both The Hara on the second stage and Wargasm on the main stage elicit strong reactions from those watching.

Listen to ‘Your Patron Saints’ from Wargasm on our Spotify Hot List!

After a solid showing from Tigercub, one of the veteran acts of the weekend, A, school the up and coming bands on how to engage an audience. An age appropriate walking circle pit being a nice change of pace in the midst of a hectic weekend. Finishing with ‘Nothing’, A show why they are the perfect festival band.

Two things become apparent as the weekend progresses. When dissecting the hastily put together line-up, the quality of British rock music is put in the spotlight and it more than holds its own. Secondly a good deal of that talent is female. Vukovi and Yonaka both deliver set of the weekend contenders next.

Listen to ‘Seize the Power’ from Yonaka on our Spotify Hot List!

Those Damn Crows, Twin Atlantic and Stone Broken all put in crowd pleasing performances before While She Sleeps attract and entertain a huge crowd on the main stage.

Soon though it’s time for the scorecard for band of the weekend to be thrown out the window. Creeper are able to deliver an out of body experience as they headline the second stage. There are goosebump raising moments galore as the band turn the festival into their own theatre of oral and visual magnificence.

Listen to ‘Midnight’ from Creeper on our Spotify Hot List!

It is then left to Enter Shikari to bring the Saturday night party and they don’t disappoint. If there was ever a band born to get you moving it’s Enter Shikari. They do just that as they also get to showcase newer songs live for the first time.

‘satellites**’, ‘{ The Dreamer’s Hotel }’ and ‘THE GREAT UNKNOWN’ fit in perfectly with classics like ‘Sorry, You’re Not A Winner’, ‘Juggernauts’ and ‘Mothership’. Much like Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes and Creeper, you can see the special treatment Enter Shikari have given this opportunity and that makes for a stunning spectacle.

DOWNLOAD PILOT FESTIVAL – SUNDAY

Come Sunday you’d imagine fatigue would be setting in. All this action after so many barren months, you could forgive the crowd for tiring and the festival atmosphere sapping. Instead energy is pumped in by bands such as Static Dress, Saint Agnes, Cassyette and Employed To Serve.

The fans reciprocate said energy as they continue to let loose to Chubby and the Gang, Loathe and Higher Power. The passion and pure joy of both fans and musicians to be at a festival is at times overwhelming. This event was destined to be an emotive affair but even through that emotion the quality of the music on offer shines.

Next on the main stage is Lonely The Brave complete with change in singer. A set mixed with fan favourites and new tracks from ‘The Hope List’ shows the band are still an exciting prospect. Can the band now finally take that next step? On their showing here, yes they can!

Read our review of ‘The Hope List’ from Lonely The Brave

For those fans catching every band the pace is relentless and it’s to the second stage next for Jamie Lenman. Lenman powers through a sublime set that gets the crowd moving and features another appearance from Wargasm.

The quirky goodness of Elvana attracts a huge crowd to the main stage as the festival heads towards its climax. The band show just why they are perhaps the perfect Sunday afternoon festival act as they get the crowd singing along to every word.

Massive Wagons are able to take the second stage by storm before a sadly technically challenged The Wildhearts limp off stage. The Wildhearts are a top quality band and the issues with their sound perhaps show the effects of an enforced hiatus for musicians and crew members alike.

It’s on that note that once again praise must be heaped on the organisers, the crew members, the festival staff and yes the bands for making this event such a success. That is only amplified by the incredibly short timescale.

Realistically this has been a once in a lifetime event (we hope). Download Pilot Festival as an event is excellent and would be a great addition to the main Download Festival. It’s the atmosphere and camaraderie however that makes this festival so special.

We are down then to the final four bands, the final acts before reality is set to strike again. Up first on the second stage are Trash Boat who get the tent bouncing, especially with a stunning cover of Linkin Park classic ‘Given Up’.

If there is a perfect festival band it’s Skindred. Put them on any stage in any slot and they will attract a huge crowd. With a sub-headline slot on the main stage, the field is full as Benji Webbe and co put in a seamless lesson in crowd engagement.

The final act on the second stage is also no stranger to the festival scene. Although Frank Turner has played Download Festival in the past, even he acknowledges he may not be the typical Download act. Nobody cares though, as he puts in a typically euphoric performance.

The crowd are not just treated to the set staples but also to new song ‘The Gathering’ and heavier version of ‘Little Changes’. There are sing-a-longs aplenty as Turner does what he does best and that is entertain!

Check out The Full Pelt Music Podcast with guest Frank Turner!

That just leaves Bullet For My Valentine to close out Download Pilot Festival. A festival which we wish was never needed but are so glad that it happened. Bullet For My Valentine are long time Download favourites and they deliver an apt conclusion to the event.

We are treated to a unique take on ‘Run To The Hills’ from Iron Maiden complete with a perplexing vocal contribution fron Benji Webbe. We get new material in the form of ‘Knives’ and of course we get favourites such as ‘Scream Aim Fire’ and ‘Tears Don’t Fall’.

‘Waking The Demon’ is the final song to ring around Donington Park, and we can only hope and pray that this event can wake the demon that is the festival scene. The fans may have been lab rats, but what a stunning lab it was! Thank you Download Pilot Festival for such a cathartic weekend.

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Read our review of ‘Bodies’ from AFI

Categories
News Report

News Report

We roundup the best music news from the past week!

Full Pelt Music News Report Weekly Roundup

Every week we roundup the best music news from the past week in our News Report. To stay up to date with the biggest news be sure to follow us on our social channels:

IDLES announce huge homecoming show

News Report Idles Bristol Poster

We start our News Report this week with our tour section of the best music news.

Up first is this huge homecoming show for IDLES. The band will takeover Clifton Downs in Bristol for what is set to be an unmissable show. If you want to be there on Friday 3rd September 2021 then you’ll need to be quick.

Grab any remaining tickets here.

Read our 2020 Album of the Year Blog

Beartooth announce new tour

News Report Beartooth Tour Poster

Beartooth have announced a run of dates for February 2022. These dates are the bands biggest shows to date and finish up at Brixton Academy. Support will come from Motionless In White and Stray From The Path.

The band will release their next album, ‘Below’, on June 25th. You can pre-order your copy here. For tickets you’ll want to head here.

Listen to ‘The Past Is Dead’ on our Spotify Hot List

Alestorm set for massive UK tour

News Report Alestorm Tour Poster

Pirates rejoice! Another band making their way to Brixton Academy is Alestorm. The band will conclude a massive tour of the UK on December 11th. Along for the ride are Gloryhammer and ÆTHER REALM.

For tickets make your way here.

Gun set for UK tour

News Report Gun Tour Poster

Scottish rockers Gun are set for a lengthy UK tour later this year. ‘The Backstreet Brothers Tour’ will see the band trek around the UK in support of their latest single ‘Whiskey And A Prayer’.

Pick up your tickets here.

Read our review of ‘Smith/Kotzen’ from Smith/Kotzen

Trash Boat reveal UK tour

Trash Boat Tour Poster News Report

Next on our News Report is the return of Trash Boat for eight dates around the UK this October. The dates will finish up at Camden’s famous Electric Ballroom.

Grab your tickets here.

Beans On Toast is coming to an independent venue near you!

News Report Beans On Toast Tour Poster

Beans On Toast is certainly not adverse to playing shows and he has this week announced a whopping tour of independent venues. This tour will be taking in some of the best small venues the UK has to offer.

Pick up your tickets here.

Read our review of a recent Beans On Toast livestream

Wide Awake Festival gets bigger!

London’s Wide Awake Festival just got a load bigger with the addition of a special afternoon set from IDLES! They join a fantastic line-up at Brockwell Park including Black Country, New Road, black midi, Crows, Dream Wife, shame and The Murder Capital.

To be there, grab your tickets here.

Bloodstock Festival needs a little Therapy?

Bloodstock Festival continues to grow. We featured new additions in last week’s News Report and now we have more to report! This week has seen the additions of Therapy? and Bleed From Within to the Sunday Main Stage line-up!

In need of your metal fix, head here for tickets to Bloodstock!

Read our review of ‘The Bitter Truth’ from Evanescence

Black Deer Festival makes further additions

Eridge Park in Kent is set host a stunning looking Black Deer Festival from 25th – 27th June this summer. The event was already set to feature the likes of Saving Grace, Frank Turner, Emily Barker and Imelda May.

The event has now added Foy Vance, Wildwood Kin and Band of Skulls amongst others. To join the fun head here for tickets.

Read our review of ‘Half Drunk Under A Full Moon’ from The Fratellis

Glastonbury set for Livestream event from Worthy Farm

Whilst there will be no Glastonbury Festival this year. Organisers have now announced a very special livestream event from Worthy Farm. Live at Worthy Farm will feature sets from Coldplay, Damon Albarn, HAIM, IDLES, Wolf Alice and more.

To be a part of the action you will need to pick up a ticket here.

Garbage return with ‘The Men Who Rule The World’

Garbage – ‘The Men Who Rule The World’

Finally we arrive at the new music section of our weekly News Report. We start this week with the return of Garbage. The band have released their brand new single ‘The Men Who Rule The World’.

The single precedes the bands upcoming album, ‘No Gods No Masters’ which will arrive June 11th. You can pre-order your copy here.

Listen to ‘The Men Who Rule The World’ on our Spotify Hot List!

Wayward Sons release ‘Big Day’

Wayward Sons – ‘Big Day’

Wayward Sons this week released their latest single ‘Big Day’. You can check out the song above and grab tickets to their upcoming tour here.

The Subways announce ‘Fight’

We conclude this week’s News Report with The Subways. The band have announced that they will release a new single, ‘Fight’, on April 30th. You can pre-order the limited edition splatter 7″ vinyl here.

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Read our review of ‘W.L.’ from The Snuts