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Rockers fight for their right to restore dignity to the Download Festival

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With darkness taking hold of the venue, the Arcade Fire took hold of the bodies. Without question, Montreal's eight-person dynamo dominated the event. Their willowy, operatic whines, pounding drums and general energy orgasm pulled the kids out of their seats and got them thumping. Tears were shed, pot was smoked, beer was guzzled, asses gyrated and arms moved in that militaristic back-and-forth fashion that universally signals unbridled, masculine joy. Mmm, yes, if you haven't seen the Arcade Fire, now would be the time to start booking.

Arcade Fire made use of one of the best attractions at the festival - the Extra Action Marching Band. Verve, flair, swagger, horny goths in their underwear with tubas making love to the wooden roof of the Dentyne Lounge? Oh yes.

At best, the band can be described as a perverted, drug-fueled version of the marching bands that haunt so many high schools and colleges. But words fail to capture the real nature of these freaks who joined Arcade Fire on stage for a music riot.

After Arcade Fire's immense showing, the festival took a turn for the worse.

Doves lead singer on stageOrganizers thought it would be a good idea to fill the hour-long gap between Arcade Fire and Modest Mouse with an interlude by DJs Adrian & the Mysterious D. Fair enough. The mistake, however, came as the DJs were surrounded by massive Gametape video ads throughout their performance. About twenty minutes in, the crowd turned and began launching foam lawn seats at the stage, booing and calling for Modest Mouse. A show official had to pull the DJs offstage and nix the ads.

Modest Mouse had the unenviable task of following this debacle and did their best. The more than adequate performance seemed out of place at such a large venue. During the middle of their set, Modest Mouse did have the entire crowd throbbing - particularly when pleaser "Float On" hit - but during the second to last song, most of the audience returned to their seats.

So it came to The Killers to end the affair.

Nothing dampens a good mood quicker than a band admitting it's tired of playing the same old songs and ready for the current tour to end. The Killers made such an admission - twice. They played the "Hot Fuss" collection with the tightness associated with an endurance test tour. And they played a couple other tunes much to the audience's delight. The crowd had clearly come to see The Killers, sang along with every tune and got what it paid for.

By the time they got on stage, the band seemed to have debauched quite a bit from a point earlier in the day when we spotted them playing basketball near the press tent. A visibly intoxicated Brandon Flowers did his Robert Smith/Mick Jagger thing but really couldn't seem to be bothered.

Our cynical take didn't match that of the intoxicated crowd. Following the show, we fumbled along back past the Napster tent, the SanDisk booth and even the Dentyne Lounge. Show-goers were pleased to find a fleet of Gametap representatives handing out giftbags as they made their way back to the car lots. The spectacular package included an AIM Mail CD, an ad for Logitech video game controllers, and Gametap ads. Everything you want for a ride home.

Ah yes, Dentyne staffers were there as well with plenty of gum on hand. Presumably to mask all that had been imbibed. ®

Check out the Download Festival in pictures on the next page. Broadband highly recommended.

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