Dream State have the daunting task of kicking off the final day with a mid-morning slot full of cathartic, confessional tracks – it’s the perfect antidote to a Download-wide hangover, as they swiftly blow all cobwebs away.
Milk Teeth are a guaranteed good time, and without fail, they bring a personality and vitality that few others manage to. ‘Nearby Catfight’ is first up, the snotty punk going down a treat with the energised mass that froths with every chord. Inducing pits and climbing the tent staging, Milk Teeth are one of the best bands the UK punk scene has to offer at the moment, and this performance proves why.
Next up comes the emotional, intense world of Black Foxxes. As Mark Holley and co. make their way onto the stage, the dark of the tent creates a fitting canvas for their all-consuming barrage. Kicking off with ‘Breathe’, they fill every inch with the push and pull of Mark’s simultaneous howling and delicate vocals. There’s a magic to Black Foxxes that feels transcendent; they’ll transport you through both heartbreak and self-preservation. No half-measures, the fragile and heavy meld seamlessly.
Seemingly channelling a higher power, the powerhouse that is Thrice bestow a set that gets right to the heart of why they’re so revered. Taking the chance also to air new track ‘The Grey’ for only the second time, it’s got all the makings of a Thrice classic, especially when compared to ‘The Earth Will Shake’ – which, funnily enough, does exactly what it says on the tin.
In the shade of the Avalanche, Jamie Lenman’s unique brand of dapper duo-chaos is bringing an important statement that deserves to be unpacked. ‘Hell In A Fast Car’, an ode to the importance of the new generation of music, feels like an apt soundtrack: Jamie is surrounded on the bill by younger bands full of determination and grit, and he wastes no time in showing them exactly how it needs to be done. Sounding like five different bands at once, he’s a master of creating the pleasing-yet-jarring, the digestible-and-face melting.
Few bands cause a stir quite like Alexisonfire. Since their reunion in 2015 they’ve been popping up with across the world with a few small tours here and there, but now it’s all finally led back to England – and more importantly, Download. This a moment that has been long in the making, and as soon as the band appear the hordes jump into action. They sound as cutting as ever as they barrel through big hitters such as ‘This Could Be Anywhere In The World’ and ‘Young Cardinals’. George Petit continually steps up, stirring the frenzied crowd, while Dallas Green counters with his perfect, clean vocals. Alexisonfire are finally back on our shores, making up for lost time with an epic set filled with fury.
Following on from The Fever 333’s stoking of political fires yesterday, Rise Against relish picking up the torch. Charging through their back catalogue, Tim Mcllrath also seizes the moment to highlight the unity needed to combat the far-right. Musically, they have never sounded better; frenzied fists pump the air, propelling unbridled punk passion.
Closing out with a blazing rendition of ‘The Prayer of The Refugee’, while rock monolith Ozzy Osbourne is about to take over the main stage, the real moment has just happened. A unifying force that takes everything Download stands for and plants a seed in onlookers, who will hopefully spread it to the wider world, cascading the light of good away from evil – and it doesn’t sound half bad, either.
Words: Steven Loftin; Photos: Sarah Louise Bennett