It seems that Download Festival properly cottoned on to the fact that pop-punk is such a big part of the rock music world when they invited a load of pop-punk bands to play the festival including plenty on the new Avalanche Stage designed for up and coming bands where we saw four out of the five bands we’re going to talk about.
With Sum 41 headlining the Zippo Encore Stage on Friday accompanied by Good Charlotte and a main stage set from Pierce The Veil it’s great to see more rock fans embracing the genre.
With an apt banner stretched across the stage behind them reading “Champs”, one of recent years’ most promising pop-punk acts State Champs hit the stage at Download. With an uncharacteristically sunny atmosphere in the backdrop, it felt only fitting for the band to be delivering a soundtrack of upbeat tunes like ‘All You Are Is History’ and ‘Secrets’.
State Champs are filled with energy that reverberated through to the edges of the Avalanche tent – they possess the type of good vibes that were so infectious. Coincidentally like one of the titles of their tracks, it sure as hell made everyone in the crowd feel ‘Elevated’. Song after song, there is no shortage of catchiness and the band’s unashamedly poppy sound is welcomed with open arms by the massive crowd they managed to draw. Who said that a pop-punk band can’t do well at a predominantly metal festival? 7/10 SW
As It Is
During the band’s set As It Is guitarist Andy Westhead dedicated their performance to his cousin, who year after year made his pilgrimage to Download. This year, however, he wasn’t able it to make due to chemotherapy – with the band then asking the audience to have the time of their lives for everybody who weren’t able to make it to the festival. To no surprise, the young band’s equally young fans had no trouble obliging.
For a band whose tracks are as saccharine as As It Is, you wouldn’t expect to see any circle pits emerge during the set, but I guess Download is the place for everything, isn’t it? Frontman Patty Walters has a worrying amount of energy, bouncing off each corner of the stage. Almost like a well-trained hype man, the crowd very quickly took his lead. Very evidently their biggest song to date, ‘Dial Tones’ was hailed with a massive roar of a singalong; ending the Brighton band’s set on as high a note as they could have hoped. 6/10 SW
There’s something truly special about Issues as unlike most dual fronted bands the vocals of Michael Bohn and Tyler Carter are not only words apart but they also work so well together. Playing the Avalanche Stage designed to be the home for new bands it’s time for them to make some new friends as they burst through tracks from two full-length albums; 2014’s self-titled album and last year’s Headspace.
With a neon-haired troll adorning their backdrop and the Sound Of Da Police blaring over the speakers as they walk on stage newbies may be confused about the band but their blend of heavy music and grappling riffs mixed with boy-band style clean vocals is enough to make them stand out from the crowd. There’s plenty of hooligans in the crowd as almost all songs are met with a sing-a-long, most notably ‘So Mad At Myself’ which causes their tent to erupt. Sadly thewasd were plagued with a few sound issues namely Tyler’s sweet vocals being just a bit too quiet against the heavy instruments, an issue which doesn’t seem to be unique to the festivals of Donington. 6/10 RW
The Story So Far
The Story So Far have always been that one pop-punk band with an edge – almost like that cool older brother you aspired to be. Not afraid to pull out the riffs when they need to, the band are constantly straddling between melodic and aggressive. With great songwriting skills behind them, the band pull out anthemic chorus after anthemic chorus to a crowd who did nothing but shout along and take part in what can only be described as hardcore dancing.
Though there was a breeze coming through the tent’s sides it very quickly started to feel progressively hot as the restless crowd only continued to grow. While the band itself are no disappointment, it’s the crowd participation that makes the set even more impressive. Clearly having built a community of fans, there was a feeling of togetherness – even if you didn’t know any words to shout along it really made you feel like you were part of something. 7/10 SW
Pierce The Veil
Pop-punk has well and truly grown in the past few years and seeing Pierce The Veil so high up the main stage. 2017 is the San Diego four-piece’s debut appearance at Download Festival and the crowd showed them exactly what the festival is all about with mosh pits erupting around the place and lots of voices looking to be heard. ‘Texas Is Forever’ from their current album Misadventures opens the set and they power through a set full of material from both their latest album and Collide With The Sky, the later pulling in far more of a sing-a-long than anything from the latest album though.
The sound could have been higher for Vic Fuentes vocals but the crowd don’t seem to mind as they’re screaming loud enough they’d drown him out anyway. For half the set he’s wearing his guitar and singing into the mic stand and the other half of the time he’s bounding around the stage, mic in hand, grinning like a school child. Today means a lot for the band and with a great version of ‘King For A Day’ closing their set we’re sure they’ve walked away with more fans than they came to Donington with. 7/10 RW