Download Festival 2008 @ Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View

The renowned Shoreline Ampitheatre in Mountain View, Ca. was the site of the Download Festival 2008 on July 19, 2008. 27 bands played on two stages with only five minutes separating the bands on the rotating main stage.

The lineup may have been devoid of a heavy hitting headliner but if you had ears in the 90’s there was no way you couldn’t be excited to hear Jesus and Mary Chain. The Duke Spirit kicked things off on the main stage lead by the charismatic Liela Moss. This band keeps developing buzz and momentum. See their show and you’ll understand why. This band wouldn’t be out of place in the 60’s and I say that in a good way.

Athens, Ga.’s finest, The Whigs played their signature southern blues no frills rock. This three piece played a high energy set full of leg kicks and flying hair. They have dates lined up all the way until late September so its inevitable that they’re coming to your town at some point.

Mute Math played their 30 minute set like their lives counted on it. You could tell they were having a blast since they’ve been cooped up in the studio working on their follow up. The drummer Darren King busted through his kick drum head on the first song but they didn’t lose a step as a replacement was close by.

Frontman Paul Meany makes the most of his time on stage, whether it’s doing headstands on his Fender Rhodes or taking his Kaoss pad equipped guitar into the crowd. Quite simply, they could be the best live band in rock with their melding of breakbeats, stellar songwriting and showmanship. They’ll be hitting the road this fall behind their new record which hits shelves in September 2008.

Vedera, fronted by the charismatic Kristen May on guitar and keys, played a set that showcased May’s soaring vocals. This band clearly has mastered the art of dynamics as they can go from arena ready to rock to softer piano ballads. Recently signed to Epic, they’re going to be busy for a while promoting their new record, Stages.

A recently revived Gang of Four played a lean set in fine form, betraying their respective ages. Lead by core members Andy Gill and Jon King, they played the most energetic set of the festival. King stalked the stage like he’s been caged up for 30 years…oh wait, he has been. He clearly enjoyed himself while nearly jumping into the photo pit and swaggering around like he owned the place, unlike the anticlimactic Brand New, on this night he clearly did.

The Jesus and Mary Chain (who should have headlined) showed no signs of the behavior they once were notorious for during their 45 minute set. No one turned their back on the audience and no one smashed their equipment. Yet, it was an electrifying performance based on displaying the pure magnitude of their songs. A decade apart must have been the reignition the brothers William and Jim Reid needed to make music together because there seemed to be no baggage on stage. Supposedly a new album is in the works so hopefully we’ll get to see more of them in the future.

The Download Music Festival continues in Philadelphia August 2, 2008 at the Susquehanna Bank Center.

Download Music Festival:website | buy tickets | downloads | win stuff

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