All systems go!
As the gigantic white veil covering the stage continued to conceal the band, they teased the awaiting crowd with the opening of 'Prison Song,' expertly prolonging the rumbling excitement. One section of the suspended curtain may have become unhooked prematurely, but nothing was going to ruin this momentous occasion. System of a Down were in town.
Although second piece 'Solider Side Intro' exercises a solemn and passive mood, the song into which this introduction would segue caused excitement to flare. Arriving at Daron Malakian's frantic guitar opening, the fans exploded in exhilaration as 'B.Y.O.B.' commenced. Such receptions, comparable to those given to hits 'Chop Suey,' 'Toxicity' and 'Aerials,' were deafening; fans uncontrollable as Tankian's dexterous, tongue-twisting vocals rebounded from Malakian's anger-ridden cries.
With their homely rugs once again coating the stage floor, the band settled in to offer a monstrous set. Comprising of songs that covered the entire System of a Down discography, the band ensured that every fan was catered for. Whilst some popular tracks such as 'Violent Pornography' may not have been included, it still remained an outstanding feat that the group compressed over two dozen songs into their slot.
Although Serj Tankian's solo project and Scars On Broadway were both intriguing alternative ventures, nothing compares to the dynamic teaming of Malakian, Tankian, Odadjian and Dolmayan. The hiatus, although hugely frustrating to their fan-base over the past five years, appears to have worked wonders, revitalising the enthusiasm they once held for performing together.
The wait for System of a Down to return to Donington may well have felt longer than bassist Shavo Odadjian's beard, but this performance was a truly indescribable conclusion to the second day of the festival. The clash between second stage headliner Alice Cooper and SOAD would likely have upset many festival goers, but those who chose to side with the Armenian-American foursome were rewarded handsomely. This set was quite simply one of the defining moments of Download Festival 2011 and shall be talked about for years to come.