July 18, 2016 Download Festival Day 3 Closes In Style Paris, France 6-12-16
Following event filled days of the first ever French edition of Download Festival, Sunday, June 12th, marked the final hurrah of the Rock-n-Roll fantasy. So where would the the excitement take fans this time? Well, despite the threatening weather, the biggest crowd was on hand to welcome an exquisite lineup including Last Train, Skindred, New Year’s Day, Strange Bones, The Shrine, Lofofora, Children of Bodom, Rival Sons, Megadeth, Skillet, Trivium, Sabaton, Volbeat, and Rammstein. Coming ready to rock, rain or shine, there were plenty of adrenaline-packed moments to send off France’s Download Festival with a bang.
First up on Stage 2 at 3 PM was Paris, France’s own Lofofora. A Metal band with a vast history, Lofofora have been around since 1989, and since 1993, has released eight studio albums, including their most recent, 2014’s L’épreuve du contraire. Widely respected as a pioneer of Rap Metal in France, their politically driven music was just the protest fans needed to get the afternoon going.
Performing a lengthy setlist of thirteen songs, they charged through with some of their most well known cuts including “Le Fond Et La Forme,” “Les Gens,” and “Macho Blues.” Wrapping up the performance with L’épreuve du contraire’s “Double A,” Lofofora showed their fellow Parisians why they have been a leader in the French scene for so long.
Over on the Main Stage at around 4 PM, it was time for Orlando, Florida based Heavy Metal band Trivium. Together since they were young kids, Trivium consists of Matt Heafy (vocal), Corey Beaulieu (guitar), Paolo Gregoletto (bass), and Paul Wandtke (drums). Gaining popularity over years on an international Heavy metal scale, their seven studio albums have shown a steady progression through it all. Not losing their core of fans along the way, 2015’s Silence in the Snow could be one of their most mature records to date. With that said, it was a treat for Paris to have Trivium back for this visit at Download Festival.
Opening with “Strife,” the reception from the crowd was extremely warm as Heafy proceeded to encourage everyone’s participation. In addition, the audience discovered Wandtke as Trivium’s new drummer, welcomed to the family approximately six months, and his introduction to Paris was a hit. As the band plowed on, sounding tight and full of life, they played “Dead and Gone” as well as “Before The World Goes Cold” before flashback favorite “Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr.” For their encore, they offered “In Waves” as everyone watched from the ground with the wind picking up, and yes, more threat of rain. Perhaps Trivium was about to summon the rain god, nonetheless, everyone surived the storm, loving every moment of it all.
Children of Bodom
Around one hour later at, 5 PM, Finland’s Children of Bodom were ready to continue the Metal tornado on Stage 2. Mixing Power Metal, Death Metal, Black Metal, and Symphonic Metal, Children of Bodom are veterans of their craft producing such underground classic albums as 1997’s Something Wild and 1999’s Hatebreeder. While these two records laid the groundwork for their strong following, also known as the Hate Crew, Children of Bodom continued to grow through the years with one blister melodic record after another, with their most recent being 2015’s I Worship Chaos. Now with a lineup of Alexi Laiho (vocals, lead guitar), Henkka Seppälä (bass), Jaska Raatikainen (drums), Daniel Freyberg (rhythm guitar), and Janne Wirman (keyboards), one of Finland’s best-selling bands was ready to roll.
Always a whirlwind every time they take a stage, Children of Bodom came out like a bolt of lightening beginning with “Follow The Reaper,” “Silent Night, Bodom Night,” and “Hate Me!.” With Laiho dazzling with his otherworldly guitar skills, Wirman matched it with astounding finger-work on the keys, making for the signature Bodom sound. Revved up, the band kept the audience bouncing through “Trashed, Lost & Strungout,” “In Your Face,” and the darker offering, “Angels Don’t Kill.” Capturing the French chapter of the Hate Crew with their irresistible melodies, it all rushed down with the closing of “Lake Bodom,” “Children of Dedance,” and “Downfall” with Laiho flying up and down the fret board with ease. All in all, Children of Bodom continue to be an epic Melodic Death band who has not lost a step in the two plus decades since their birth.
Moving over to Stage 3, at 7 PM it was time for a different flavor of Metal with the Welsh band everyone knows as Skindred. Consisting of Benji Webbe (vocals), Mikey Demus (guitar), Dan Pugsley (bass), Arya Goggin (drums), and Dan Sturgess (DJ), Skindred has been a unique entity in the world of Metal since 1998. Mixing Reggae, Heavy Metal, and Alternative Rock, they also add a touch of Punk, Dance, and Hardcore to their creative box of tricks. Regarding as one of the best live bands around, they have appeared at the biggest festivals around the world including 2006 Download English edition, in which Benji performed Korn’s track “Adidas” after Jonathan Davis was rushed to the hospital at the last moment. Putting out six albums, begun with the famous first, 2002’s Babylon, and continued with their latest, 2015’s Volume, Skindred have built quite a reputation.
Living up to their reputation, Skindred offered one of the most energetic live performance of the festival. They mixed and matched their set with their most famous tracks such as “Kill the Power,” “Rat Race,” and “Nobody.” Having everyone’s hands holding their t-shirt in their air, Webbe totally controlled the crowd, making them jump up and down despite of the mud. With his undeniable charm, he raised the spirits of all as Sturgess spun classic Hard Rock songs from AC/DC and Black Sabbath. In their own unique Metal Reggae style, Skindred set the stage on fire as true showmen.
Back at the Main Stage, co-headlining Denmark band Volbeat was about to kick off their show at approximately 7:50 PM. Formed some fifteen years ago in the city of Copenhagen, Volbeat craft a mixed bag of Rockabilly, Heavy Rock, Metal, and melodies inspiring by ’50s Rock-n-Roll. While the band has been established quite well in the European market since their 2005 album The Strength / The Sound / The Songs, it was not until 2010’s Beyond Hell/Above Heaven they gained attention across in North America. Since, Volbeat has been one of the most highly taunted Rock bands in the world and 2016’s Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie has hit number one in many countries. With all that in mind, this Paris audience was ready for Volbeat in a big way.
Led by Michael Poulsen (vocalist/guitarist), Rob Caggiano (guitarist), Jon Larsen (drummer), and Kaspar Boye Larsen (bassist), they launched into “The Devil’s Bleeding Crown” to a roar of cheers as lights flashed. Rattling off an impressive sixteen song set, highlights included “Heaven or Hell,” the energetic “A Warrior’s Call,” and “Hallelujah Goat.” Mixing and matching their set with different styles, they included a cover of Johnny Cash’s “Ring Of fire,” introduced their song “Sad Man’s Tongue,.” before exploring all work including “Dead but Rising,” “Fallen,” “Doc Holliday,” as well as “Seal the Deal.” Capturing the heart of all through the rain, Poulsen did not hesitate to communicate with his audience, removing his ear protection to hear everyone’s screams during “For Evigt.” Ending it all, they closed with “Still Counting” as a beautiful rainbow appeared in the back drop. It was a fitting conclusion to one of the best performances of the day, thanks to Volbeat.
Closing out Stage 2 at 9 PM was the legendary Metal titans Megadeth. Considered one of Thrash Metal’s most important bands, Megadeth has withstood over three decades now, adapting with new lineups, fresh new material, but still retaining the same dedication. Perhaps one of the most anticipated acts of Download Festival, this was in fact Megadeth’s first appearance in the city of Paris since 2013. Now celebrating their fifteen studio album, 2016’s Dystopia, Megadeth came armed with their fearless leader Dave Mustaine (vocals/guitar), long-time member David Ellefson (bass), and newest member Kiko Loureiro (guitar), along with Lamb of God’s Chris Adler (drums).
Putting on a energetic performance, they kicked it all off with “Hangar 18” before new song “The Threat Is Real,” and older favorite “She-Wolf.” As Mustaine showed his precison to re-create each riff exactly as recorded on the albums, the audience devoured the razor sharp riffage on “Post American World,” “Trust,” and “Sweating Bullets.” One with Parisians, Megadeth ignited one of the most emotional moments during the French sung chorus of “A Tout Le Monde” where everyone sang as one. It was a riveting and intense moment no one will forget anytime soon, but it was merely a prelude to pure ecstasy as the band followed with “Symphony of Destruction” and “Peace Sells” before an encore performance of “Holy Wars… The Punishment Due.” As stated, Megadeth’s return to Paris was an explosive part of the day, and it lived up to expectations.
Overall a remarkable day of some of the best Metal and Rock bands in the world, Download Festival Day 3 was a winner despite Mother Nature’s attempts to put a damper on everyone’s mood. Each band did a fantastic job of utilizing their time, offering one show-stopping cut after another. As for Megedeth, the band continued along, touring across Europe through most of June and July, but unfortunately Ellefson’s broken foot has forced them to cancel the final two dates on their run. Paris wishes Ellefson a speedy recover and hope he and Megadeth will be back sooner than later. France has been through a great deal of tragic and uncertainly of late with the threat of terrorist attacks occurring. With that said, the city of Paris has not lost their humanity and hosting their first ever Download Festival welcomed peace, music, and freedom.Photos by Michela Cuccagna