Pour some Rock Sugar on me
Los Angeles rockers Rock Sugar may well have lost much of their potential crowd to Skindred's raging set on the main stage, but the second stage performers still seemed overwhelmed by the warm reception that they received. Whilst the classic hits that the group efficiently mash together are each decades old, the way in which they have arranged them continues to feel refreshingly novel.
Starting as they did in Download 2010 with an effortless mixture of Metallica's 'Enter Sandman' and Journey's 'Don't Stop Believin', the four-piece heaved into 'Don't Stop the Sandman'. It is a crushing shame that singer Jess Harnell's microphone was not sufficiently turned up for his opening lyrics, as it lessened the impact of the band's unique selling point. For a band that relies on the creativity of their music, to fail in making a decent introduction to an unfamiliar crowd could have proven costly. However, the sound tech presumably got an urgent kick up the backside, with Harnell's vibrato-heavy vocals soon blaring through the stage's towering PA systems.
Although the musical content of their set appeared to be varied, the chatter between tracks was obviously recycled. Singer Jess Harnell was once again sharing his wisdom, educating the fans in how to mimic some of the most iconic vocalists in rock music, including Steve Perry, Axl Rose and Ozzy Osbourne. Whilst there was little new here for anyone that had caught their set last year, there is simply nothing like hearing a sizeable, care-free crowd shouting 'SHARRROOONNNNNN!' in a strained Brummie accent.
Not many artists would think to merge Queen songs with Motley Crue tracks, but 'We Will Kickstart Your Rhapsody' emerged as a natural fusion. The vocal opening to 'Bohemian Rhapsody' may not have been faultless, but the American rock group deserved credit for possessing the bravery to attempt it. However, as soon as the song launched into the up-tempo reworking of 'We Will Rock You,' any previous imperfections were cast aside and forgotten.
Rock Sugar offer a wonderfully entertainingly festival show and their magnificently crafted mash ups sound good live. Bands like Black Sweden and this Californian quartet never seem to gain a decent amount of recognition and it is a true shame, for Rock Sugar are a talented group with inspiring vision. Their songs are, however, better suited to a recorded format, but their live sets are sure to please a variety of rock audiences.