The eight greatest drumming performances of Download 2014
The great and the good of the rock world (and 80,000 punters) descended on Donington this past weekend for the three-day Download festival. Rhythm was there, and so were more fantastic drummers than you can shake a pair of sticks at. Here’s a round-up of our favourites from the weekend.
2014 is shaping up to be Rival Sons’ year. They’ve just released their incredible Great Western Valkyrie album to rave reviews across the board (including a glowing five-star verdict from Rhythm), and at this weekend’s Download they showed that they can mix it with the big boys. Packing out the cavernous second stage, the Sons swaggered through a sublime 40-minute set. Drummer Mike Miley brought his A game to the Great Western Valkyrie sessions and he’s on top form here too, like the lovechild of Keith Moon and Bernard Purdie, flailing recklessly one second and grooving impeccably the next.
The bass-and-drums duo who are taking on Black Keys for the title of best two-piece rock band, by sonically kicking them up the backside, were another band to raise the roof of the Pepsi Max Tent. Single ‘Come On Over’ (look out for our video playalong of that track in the next issue of Rhythm) was a set highlight, but Ben Thatcher’s ability to fill the rhythmic space between just Mike Kerr’s vocals and lead-bass is a masterclass in power and invention. We’re liking this band a lot, and they’re sure to be stratospheric before too long.
Linkin Park were there to play their iconic nu-metal debut Hybrid Theory, and they didn’t disappoint. With new album Hunting Party a return to that drum-heavy sound (of all the band members it was reportedly Rob Bourdon who had really put his heart and soul into the new recording) and so who better to hog the Linkin limelight this time than the band’s drummer. His performance was stellar throughout Hybrid Theory and the second set of later hits that followed, including tracks from 2012 album Living Things which the band have never played live in the UK before. There were also a handful of tracks from the new album, including the ace ‘Guilty All The Same’, and an awesome drum solo too.
The West Yorkshire Math-rock five-piece were on blistering form in Download’s Pepsi Max tent, with drummer Josh almost stealing the entire show with a powerful and energetic performance – at one point standing arms aloft on his drum throne, both awed by the crowd response and soaking it up like a drum god in the making. With his siblings Sam (guitar) and Becca (owner of one of the most powerful and brilliant female rock voices we’ve heard in a very long time), Marmozets blend of math rock, emo-metal (think Paramore with much bigger balls) is the perfect place for Josh’s precise, progressive but powerful playing. We already included Josh in our Great British issue as one of our drummers to look out for, and we expect huge things to come of him and his band.
Their Download set was only the second time the multi-platinum Grammy-nominated US rock band have toured the UK – the last time was towards the end of last year supporting Nickelback – and it’s also a homecoming for their Coventry-born drummer Jen Ledger. A short but awesome set witnessed Jen’s Dave Grohl-esque power behind the kit, particularly impressive as she sings a lot too – with no let up in her whole-body drumming style. We were particularly blown away by the even double-kick and flashes of tasty technique on display as the band played their hits ‘Hero’ and ‘Monster’ and tracks from new album Rise. They may not be that well known on this side of the pond, but on this evidence that’s surely got to change.
Back in 2009 Rhythm witnessed Steel Panther packing out the tiny tent here at Download in what was one of their first performances on these shores, but this weekend it was a whole different story. Five years on, the Panther are back at Donington, but this time they’re rocking the main stage, just below Aerosmith and Alter Bridge on the bill. And who could argue that they don’t deserve it? Yes, there’s plenty of lewd behaviour and ‘cover your kids ears’ joking going on up there, but at their heart they’re a superb band and Stix Zadinia is one of the most badass drummers to hit the main stage all weekend. And hey, he even plays a little acoustic guitar during the set. Sort of.
Steel Panther’s five-year ascension to main stage glory seems overnight success when placed next to Alter Bridge. Rhythm caught Scott Phillips and go in a lowly main stage slot back in 2005 and they’ve slowly but surely worked their way up ever since. Phillips rises to the occasion, illustrating his instantely impressive mix of primal power and intense technicality. With AB he’s backing up three virtuosos so it’d be easy to get lost amongst such talent, but there’s not even a sniff of that as Phillips motors through the band’s back catalogue with assured style.
Given that Joey Kramer is mere days away from his 64th birthday, Aerosmith’s 95-minute set should by all rights be problematic for the Boston boogie king. But no, he’s got this covered. Kramer, now back playing Pearl after a company-hopping career that has seen him endorse Ludwig, Tama, Ludwig again, Pearl, back to Tama, DW, Ludwig one last time and now Pearl once again, is faultless as Aerosmith turn it on with a greatest hit set (do they have any other kind?) as the curtain comes down on another three days of the sublime and the ridiculous at Donington.