Download 2015: Yellowcard, The Ghost Inside and more
Venue: Download Festival, Donington
More action from the Maverick Stage on day three
It's nostalgia central over on the Maverick stage as Ontario quintet Three Days Grace follow on from The Darkness' packed out show. They've been accused of being unoriginal by reviewers in Canada, and it seems like they've been taking lessons from Muse's main stage introduction as they open with a booming voice declaring 'you are not a machine!' at the waiting crowd.
Opening track I Am Machine is chugging and melodic, and is greeted by a cheer from the young crowd, who are proof that Three Days Grace have a solid fanbase over here in Blighty, despite the fact that they've never managed to emulate their Canadian success. The Good Life, with its marching punk rhythm, gets the crowd bouncing – even those stuck around the outside of the marquee. Painkiller and I Hate Everything About You show just where previous Linkin Park comparisons have come from; their sound borrows liberally from the industrial rockers and at its heart, is not reinventing the wheel, but they put on a lively and passionate performance today.
Madball may not be a household name outside of their native New York, but after a stellar show in the Maverick tent, they may have just picked up a new legion of fans. The US hardcore rockers, who've been with European label Nuclear Blast since 2010, draw a modest crowd, but seem genuinely grateful that anyone has bothered to come and watch them at all.
Frontman Freddie Cricien – whose veins have punk surging through them, having been fronting the band since the tender age of 12 – explains almost apologetically that they haven't played many British festivals, but they're a worthy addition to the Download bill with their sharp sound and on-stage energy.
Their brand of hardcore is highly listenable, with a reverberating bassline from Jorge Guerra underpinning spiky riffs and enough melody to appeal beyond the hardcore spectrum. Tracks from their latest album Hardcore Lives go down as well as their older material, and the cheers from the crowd prove that hardcore is indeed alive, just like the record says.
There's a tangible excitement in the big blue tent even before LA metalcore four piece The Ghost Inside have taken the stage. Inflatables fly above the heads of the crowd as they power through the stomping Between The Lines, which is driven by a complex double pedal beat that does battle with Jonathan Vigil's powerful vocals.
There are strong hardcore influences in their aggressive, echoing basslines and unpredictable song structures, but their sound is a polished world away from hardcore's brutal heart. Out Of Control, which Vigil introduces with a deep monologue about being true to yourself and not letting others bring you down, is one of the set's heaviest additions. It's a pure thrash fest and a giant middle finger to negativity - if the anger with which Vigil spits the words out is anything to go by, he's dealt his fare share of dickheads. He introduces Move Me with another stream of consciousness that draws a cheer from the crowd, before unleashing the title track from their latest album Dear Youth. This is a band with all the right ingredients to produce anthem after anthem – chiming guitars, brain-shaking riffs and defiant lyrics – and that's exactly what they do.
'We felt some fucking fear when we saw who else was playing here,' Yellowcard frontman Ryan Key tells a restless crowd, as the perennially cheerful pop punks gear up to close the Maverick stage. 'There's some heavy metal here, but fuck that shit, you guys are killing it!'
There are, no doubt, a few errant heavy metal fans in the crowd – it is, after all, more fun in the blue tent than it is watching an ageing Nikki Sixx prance about in gold flares – but Key's defiance is greeted with a roar of approval as he and his bandmates shut down the stage with one of the most feel-good performances of the weekend so far. Violinist Sean Mackin – a staple of the band's sound – treats the audience to one of his trademark backflips during the second song, the soaring Way Away.
Watching Yellowcard is like participating in interactive pop-punk karaoke, and quite honestly, there's no better way to cheer up a bunch of earth-covered music fans that have spent most of their weekend up to the knees in mud that has the distinct aroma of sewage. Key encourages a call-and-response with the crowd during Awakening and has them chanting the chorus back at him, while repeatedly expressing his desire for them to 'lose their fucking voices' entirely before the festival's out. It's likely he'll achieve his desire to destroy their larynges as they continue screaming along the following track, Light Up The Sky.
The crowd surges forwards and sings as one as the band finishes with Ocean Avenue, but not before Mackin grabs his five minutes in the limelight by playing the opening riff of Sweet Child O' Mine on his violin. Download's older, hairier contingent, who were likely occupied watching the Crüe, may not have been interested in bouncy American pop-punk, but for the younger attendees, the weekend couldn't have finished on a better note.
Yellowcard Photos: Kevin Nixon