It’s an eclectic quartet that kick-start proceedings at Saturday’s Download - spanning big riffs, alt-rock aggression and...erm, sombreros.
Download 2014: The BossHoss, Chevelle, The Dirty Youth, Press To Meco
Punchy, mixed first tastes of day two at Donington
Press to Meco provide a lively, post-metal start to day two. They’re all jaunty new wave angles, metallic stabs and prog ambition, like Mr Bungle toying with It Bites. Singer Luke Caley looks remarkably like Stretch from Saved By The Bell and sounds like Rivers Cuomo, but he’s enthusiastic, disarming and funny, at one point describing the crowd’s attempts at clapping along as sounding like “a load of wet fish slapping”.
All three band members sing, which adds to the variety, and occasionally it’s all in danger of veering into two-clever-by-half-territory, but they always manage to wrestle things back from the brink as collapse loom by launching into crunching, bounce-up-and-down riffs. As the end nears, there’s the weekend’s best dedication before the band play Infinity: ”This one's for all the ladies”, says Caley. “Plus any guys who like to put their penises between their legs and make a mangina. I know I do.” (8) (FL)
The Dirty Youth don’t fare so well. They arrive dressed in funereal black apart from singer Danni Monroe, who sports a fetching gold jacket, but this spot of rare glamour isn’t enough the lift spirits. Many in the crowd seem more interested in spotting themselves on the big screen, reacting to successful sightings with a gusto they don’t retain for the band’s performance.
And it’s not altogether surprising. All the constituent parts are there - big, chiming guitars and huge singalong climaxes - but by the time Crying Out For You arrives it’s clear that everything is very much shaped from the same mould. There’s thudding intros, then drops in momentum, before the race to launch the big chorus. You wish they’d play something a little slower. Or something a little faster. Or drop in some Dixieland jazz. Anything. Still, Monroe is an obvious star, the owner of an enormously impressive voice, and is clearly ready for bigger, more attentive crowds. (5) (FL)
Chicago-based alternative rockers Chevelle have been quietly ticking away for a while now - latest LP La Gargola is their seventh. And while today’s set packs an impressive part post-grunge part melodic hard rock punch, you sense that many of the actual ‘choons’ aren’t totally setting your ears alight. Not that their formula isn’t well-executed or hard-hitting, mind you; the likes of Face To The Floor hit a satisfying stride with fierce, choppy grooves and impassioned hardcore-tinged vocals.
“We haven’t played this early in a while,” frontman Pete Loeffler blinks. Indeed, you’d prefer to experience these guys under a dark roof somewhere to get the full impact. Still, their pulsating alt-rock offerings lure a decent, chilled but respectfully head-bobbing crowd - not least as the sun reappears from behind those ominous grey clouds. (6) (PG)
Ahhh, The BossHoss. Seven men on a mission. Ne’er was a band so devoted, or thorough, in the pursuit of ‘fun rock’. Or in the quest for filling a stage with a LOT of things and people (keys, double-bass, washboards, a whole lotta denim…). Berlin’s former purveyors of unlikely countrified covers (they remade Britney Spears’ Toxic, country and western style, among others) leave no stone unturned, no sombrero unworn, no opportunity for audience ‘bantahh’ unmilked. “We’re the BossHoss from Berlin Mississippi, gutentarg!” they quoth heartily, settling into a set of rootin’ tootin’ originals.
And so the fun doth cometh, from beneath those cowboy hats - so many cowboy hats, not to mention brass trio ‘Wonderbrass’ (see?! Behold the fun! Though to be fair, it is fun, especially with their Strictly Come Dancing-meets-’disco Marachi’ wardrobe). At first you can’t help feeling they sound a little thin for such a big group, with so many big hats and pantomimed wild-west sentiments between them. Things gather pace and substance, however, as the likes of Rodeo Radio raise smiles all-round. Feet stomp, beer flows (literally, as tight-trousered singer ‘Boss Burns’ pours one over snare and washboard solos) and one punter raises aloft a mannequin leg.
On record, most of these songs would need to be a bit funnier and/or a bit better to really work. But with a merry crowd and a large stage, after a less convincing start, they do their one trick with gusto. There’s a time and a place for bands like the BossHoss, and a sunny festival is one such time. Yee-haw... (7) (PG)