Featured image: Abbie Shipperly
Following the incredible start to Download Festival 2023, Thursday left many people aching for more music and even more sunshine. It came as a surprise that the second day of the festival could be even better than the day before, but Friday was a day of line-up dreams, presented with bands like Neck Deep and Stand Atlantic, not to mention headliners Bring Me The Horizon.
Stand Atlantic’s opening set on the Apex Stage was a refreshing start to the day following a successful turnout in the Doghouse Tent the previous night. Opening with their first song, ‘Doomsday’, they had an immense reaction from crowd surfers and a sea of dust as people danced throughout the crowd. Vocalist and guitarist Bonnie Fraser had an exceptional stage presence and completely controlled the main stage at Donington Park. They played a short but immersive nine-song setlist and managed to receive an impressive crowd considering their early slot, setting the scene for the remainder of the day.
Next up were the genre-bending duo Nova Twins, consisting of Amy Love and Georgia South. They powered through their seven songs on the Apex Stage, bringing with them more energy than I had seen from a band all weekend. Their name has recently gained a lot of attention throughout the media for their catchy songs and what they stand for, and after seeing them perform, there is no questioning why.
The unmissable Hot Milk played the main stage next, coming all the way from their hometown of Manchester. Following their successful UK tour, which we had the chance to catch, it was highly expected that they would put on an eye-catching show for Download Festival. They played a combination of older classics such as ‘Glass Spiders’ and ‘Candy Coated Lies’, alongside the brand-new single ‘Party on My Deathbed’, which still received the same amount of love from fans. The band finished their set with Han Mee going into the crowd to become closer to the audience.
Pop-punk icons Neck Deep graced the Apex Stage at 4:10 pm and were given the challenge of out-doing the prior Hot Milk set, but hopes were high as they bounced onto the stage to the instrumental backing sounds of ‘Motion Sickness’, the first song from their album ‘The Peace and The Panic’. They performed for 50 minutes as singer Ben Barlow two-stepped around the stage and summoned the crowd to do the same. Half-way through the set, both sides of the audience began a circle pit contest to see which side could do it better.
“We’re not doing that lame sh*t here,” in Ben Barlow’s Wrexham accent, echoed over the park as he reacted to the rowing that was happening in one of the mosh pits. “We want proper mosh pits,” followed. They stormed through 12 songs and provided the best performance of the day, ending it by making subtle hints at a potential tour or release by the end of this year.
Bring Me The Horizon – where do I even begin? Since announcing this band as a headliner, conversation regarding what they would play has sparked conversation throughout their community of fans. People debated whether there would be a Sempiternal anniversary setlist due to the fact it just hit ten years since its release; others argued it would be a relatively ‘normal’ show. What actually happened was more than anybody could have predicted. The performance began with a short apocalyptic-like clip, warning the crowd and setting the scene for the experience that is post-human. The band appeared and began playing their newest song, ‘AmEN!’ which was released only two weeks before the festival. The crowd instantly went along with it, and all that could be seen was a sea of crowd surfers.
Joining the band on stage for ‘1×1’ was the bouncy Nova Twins, which was followed by Evanescence’s Amy Lee performing ‘Nihilist Blues’ as the illusion of snow fell from the top of the stage – a true highlight of the weekend. Singer Oli Sykes danced around, sang to fans, and even went into the crowd at times to connect with individuals that were lucky enough to secure a place by the barrier. After an insane 17 songs, the night was almost finished, but the boys had one last surprise for the crowd: the announcement of their brand-new album POST HUMAN: NeX Gen and a UK and Ireland tour that was almost completely sold out.
Check out our Download Festival 2023 Day Three review.