Live Review: Spiritbox @ Download Festival, Donington

After a meteoric rise to stardom, Canadian metalcore trio Spiritbox perform their first ever set on British soil. Jodie Averis reviews.

Ask any metalhead about legendary sets at Download Festival, and expect similar answers to be given, with passion but without hesitation; "Trivium '05", "Slipknot '09"... and following their performance on the Avalanche Stage on an overcast Sunday afternoon in June, "Spiritbox '22" will almost certainly join a series of metal juggernauts who made history.

The Vancouver Islanders were set to play on Download's Dogtooth Stage, before the festival organisers moved them up to the Avalanche Stage, to accommodate their rapidly growing fanbase. This was a wise choice by the festival organisers; mammoth track Holy Roller, arguably their breakthrough track and the one which catapulted them into the eagle-eyes of excited metal fans and critics galore, already has over three million YouTube streams alone; their stellar debut album Eternal Blue reached international charts. As a result, this was a band that could not possibly be ignored across the weekend, with the Avalanche Stage overflowing with crowd spilling out en masse on either side of the tent. Immediately, it was apparent that the (justified!) hype surrounding Spiritbox meant that the trio could have easily dominated the larger outdoor Opus Stage, however, the brooding atmosphere inside the tent of the Avalanche Stage, backlit with a smouldering blue lighting, ramped up the intensely electric atmosphere, dialling it up to an eleven.

The triumphant roar of vocalist and frontwoman Courtney LaPlante's 'cut down the altar' catalyses complete and utter bedlam as the band launch into Circle With Me, and the mosh pits erupt into life. Guitarist and husband Mike Stringer thrashes the powerhouse riff that quashes any possible anxiety from a band who have been yet to grace UK soil. LaPlante commands attention from onlookers with her dreamy clean vocals swiftly transitioning into masterfully controlled death growls and screams. Their setlist, short but sickeningly sweet given the half-hour allocated timeslot, was a wicked display of Spiritbox's defining anthems; the melodic chorus of Hurt You; the furious Molotov that is Yellowjacket. However, the high-octane opening seconds of aforementioned Holy Roller produced a vortex of limbs and screaming fans, abundant of visceral energy.

"LaPlante commands attention from onlookers with her dreamy clean vocals swiftly transitioning into masterfully controlled death growls and screams."

"This is an amazing first date," laughs LaPlante, who is met with rapturous applause, "next time, we'll buy YOU dinner." Spiritbox have left us all well-fed, but hungry for more. LaPlante's flirting acts as a promise from a band who proved that they are deserving of their unanimously-agreed title as metal's most exciting band. They are only just getting started, and their ascension shows absolutely zero signs of plateauing. Did we witness the beginning of what could be a potential future headliner for the entirety of Download Festival? After witnessing a LaPlante masterclass, one might just think so.

Jodie Averis


Edited by: Jodie Averis

Cover image and in-article video courtesy of Kerrang! and YouTube.