Isolation Radio (Part 9): Download Festival Edition


© James Bridle

This weekend was supposed to be my first Download Festival. Personally I wasn’t particularly excited as I’m not much of a metal fan and I’ve been reliably informed that when it rains, it rains. Call me a fun sponge but I hate camping at the best of times; not least when it’s muddy.

Nevertheless I was going, and I had a list of bands that I wanted to see. Apart from the obvious need to see both The Offspring and Funeral for a Friend and steering well clear of The Darkness, the below bands would have been my one’s to watch.

1. The Distillers – Drain the Blood

I once had a compilation punk CD which came free with a copy of NME (remember when magazines did that!?). Teenage me listened to it religiously as it’s track listing ranged from Generation X to AFI. One of my absolute favourite songs on there was Drain the Blood.

In all honesty; I’d sort of forgotten the Distillers existed until I saw them on the line-up. Nearly 20 years after it’s release Drain the Blood is still an immensely intoxicating song with it’s scratchy guitar sounds and Brody Dalle’s sullen yet powerful vocals.

2. The Menzingers – America (You’re Freaking Me Out)

The Menzingers have been gracing us with music for nearly 15 years, so have a heavy back catalogue to bring to any festival stage. They were also touring 2019’s release Hello Exile; a self-introspective album which features America (You’re Freaking Me Out).

Despicably catchy, with a Gaslight Anthem undertone, America is a tale of social mobility, baby boomers and a hypocritical church. Whilst in the past they haven’t been an overly political band, it would have been interesting to see how they would have tackled this on-stage having already written America Pt 2 as a new take on the existing song.

Inspired by the death of George Floyd, America Pt 2 is a takedown of Donald Trump, his policies and the growing racial divide in America. All proceeds from the digital-only track are being donated to Community Bail Funds (via Act Blue) and Campaign Zero.

You can download the track for a minimum donation of $1 from The Menzingers BandCamp page.

3. Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – Love Games

Frank Carter can do little wrong; having just released a critically acclaimed third album End of Suffering with The Rattlesnakes. This was probably one of my albums of 2019 and Download would have offered the perfect chance to see the bands infamous live shows.

I remember seeing his former band Gallows in the late noughties; Carter as standard was drenched in his own blood by the end of the affair. It was probably the most raucous, intense thing 16 year old me had ever seen and it blew my mind!

Love Games is one of the slower songs on the album in which Carter showcases his vocal ability against a distorted Winehouse-esque background. This is probably the best example of how much he has a grown from the bloodied man howling Orchestra of Wolves 15 years ago.

4. Press Club – Insecurities

Having fiendishly toured for the last couple of years, Australian grunge rockers know how to put on a live show. As their cult following grows, you can fully expect these guys to start moving up the bill on line-ups in the next year or so.

Their latest single Insecurities is an incessantly noisy and concise punk-pop hit. Sitting just under three minutes, lead singer Natalie Foster barely has time to draw a breath as she chants out Insecurities anthemic chorus. Whilst it might have been too recently released to be a crowd pleaser; this is certain to become a staple of their future sets.

5. Blackout Problems – Rome

German alt-rockers Blackout Problems aren’t entirely unknown but when they supported Royal Republic on their European tour in the UK, they had the undesirable task of being a support band at some small venues. Nevertheless tales of their insane stage presence converting unenthusiastic crowds who are simply there to see the headline act haven’t gone unnoticed.

Some of their music is auspiciously middle of the road; but Rome is a deliciously energetic bop which will leave a mark on your brain. With heavy punk-pop undertones, singer Mario Radetzky leads the listener through a three minute anthem that Blink 182 or Fall Out Boy would be pleased to have written.

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Indie is not a genre

Indie is not a genre