Today's review comes from regular poster HIM. Photos provided by HIMII (yes, different folks I swear!)
REVIEW: Monster Aftershock Festival (Day One), Discovery Park, Sacramento, Calif., Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014.
My first thought on seeing this year’s lineup for the annual two-day festival was: which day should I attend (scheduling prohibits me from going to both days)? My second thought was also a question: will this turn into some sort of Battle of the Bro Rockers vs. the Emo Hipsters vs. the Punks?
As a returning festival attendee, I chose the first day as much for the breadth of bands/styles represented as I did to avoid redundancy regarding bands I had recently seen or was going to see soon. Last year, I also attended the first day, more to see bands like Testament and Megadeth and less to see headliners Korn or Shinedown. This year, I was attending mainly to see bands like Bad Religion and The Offspring. But I was curious about other bands, even ones I will never claim to enjoy on a regular basis. Basically, I see concerts like this as a buffet. If it doesn’t strike your fancy (Butcher Babies . . . a shockingly horrid example of style/sex over substance/listenability), move on to another band. If none of it is to your liking, you made a mistake and that is on you.
Which relates to a change to this year’s festival. Instead of two main stages (North and South, placed next to each other in a geographically confusing but time-conscious way), there were now three (the West stage, directionally questionable but far enough away from North and South to avoid noise-bleed), and still a remaining (the Coors Light) stage to which smaller and/or less popular bands (see Butcher Babies above) are relegated near a freeway overpass. This set-up fits more bands into a similar time frame. But it does force choices.
What hasn’t changed is, from top to bottom, a well-run festival. Ample parking on site and off, and within cabbing distance of major hotels. The layout shows similar consideration. The GA and VIP sections are well thought out. Security and staff are polite and professional. There are a variety of vendors, food and drink are reasonably priced, and the mix of shaded and sunny areas (important on 90-plus days in Sacramento) allows for the reasoned flow of audience members between and during sets. If there is one thing I would suggest for next year: the ADA seating, while placed in appropriate viewing areas with seemingly easy access, could use some sort of shading feature. It isn’t until late in the day that either of them (one for the North/South, another for the West) are in even partial shade.
My friend and I (let’s call him HimII) arrived a bit late. As a result we missed a slew of bands that kicked things off at 11:30 (gates opened at 11:00). If you like any of them—Dig the Kid, Anti-Mortem, Islander, The Last Internationale, Viza, Memphis May Fire, and Sleepwave—I have failed you as a reviewer. For that I am sorry. But normal festival protocol for HimII and I (we are long time festival and concert pals, and pals for far longer than that), require that we enjoy the pre-festival evening with light banter, scones, and Earl Grey tea . . . or something like that. As such, we sleep in and wake refreshed. So what follows is a general survey of what came after, one that hopefully points to why a festival like Aftershock should thrive.
I had no idea about the first band we saw, Dead Sara. But I was instantly captivated by the female-fronted hard rock band from Los Angeles. Singer Emily Armstrong occasionally exceeds her vocal range. But when she is on, she is on, with a voice that sounds somewhat similar to Melissa Etheridge. A particular standout (and a song that has received some notice), was the single “Weatherman” off of their 2012 self-titled debut album. I feel lucky to have seen this band live, as a quick check of the internet shows that others with far great discretion than me are already aware of Dead Sara and what they offer.
Dead Sara’s guitarist and co-founder, guitarist Siouxsie Medley, and drummer Sean Friday.
In the first choice of the day, it was a question of Fuel or Hell Yeah? The answer was both, sorta’. Hell Yeah brought out a large and growing crowd of Bro Rock fans, seemingly winning the fan favorite race. Vinnie Paul sounded like, well, the drummer from Pantera (and much better than some online claim). Occasionally an errant riff from Tom Maxwell made that comparison even (if unintentionally) clearer. Chad Gray? No offense, but he is a 42 year old man with a 19 year old’s haircut and he sings screams in a style that has never won me over. Still, not a bad showing. Fuel, who we started and ended this section of the festival with, were equally energetic and lively. Their music is occasionally catchy and occasionally similar. By the time we returned to see them closing, we were treated to a wonderful version of “Hemorrhage (In My Hands),” from the 2000 album Something Like Human. It still holds up.
Singer Brett Scallions and bass player Brad Stewart (formerly of Shinedown and replacement of founder Jeff Abercrombie).
In the next choice of the day, it was a three-parter: Pepper, Emmure, or lunch? Pepper won out initially and then lunch took us through the rest of this time period. Pepper, a reggae and ska-inflected three piece from Hawaii, do one thing well: they perform a tight set of up-beat, often fun (“P**** Licking” won’t win any awards for subtlety) music. They do another thing extremely well: they draw woman to the front of the stage like flies. As HimII remarked: “They are better than Sublime and draw a similar crowd.” Handsome lads to the one, they know their shtick and their demographic. Bass player Brett Bolinger and guitarist Kaleo Wassman, vocalists both, enjoy what they do . . . with or without their shirts on. It also doesn’t hurt if you enjoy the smell of a certain sweet leaf wafting through the air. With enough dope beats (pun intended), and an increasing need for snacks, we retreated to find food. Emmure would just have to soldier on without us.
The next choice wasn’t: Black Label Society or Nothing More? Bring on Zakk. Sure it is an affected act, arguably akin to a 40-something with a colored mohawk (oh wait, I covered that already). Sure, it is hard not to think back in time and see a young boy, tight spandex, and a feathered mane of cleaned and conditioned hair waving in the video breeze. I just think that some of his fans take the act too seriously and avoid the tongue in his cheek. I also think people get way too caught up in his pinch harmonic histrionics. If that is your baseline (or if you still have the picture of a certain Red Dragon Cancel Cartel guitarist in your Trapper Keeper), you are going to have to dismiss a lot of other guitarists. It is an act, and a good one. A sober one too, these days. In fact, I will admit something as a fan: it was very hard to tell one song from the next. Wylde’s voice operates in a register that makes it more accompaniment than instrument. But he is a sight to watch, if watching and listening to him is your thing. Nothing More? Respectfully, nothing to begin with.
Zakk Wylde of Black Label Society being, well, Zakk Wylde.
Bad Religion were and are a fantastic live band. A bit more paunch, a bit more talk about age and the future. Perhaps even a few more jaundiced eyes in the audience wondering how well their history matches their lyrics. That said, they offer a thing or two for other punk bands that have come and gone (Rancid, anyone? No? Moving on.) to think about. Dedication to one’s craft involves compromises and complications. But Bad Religion, learned and literate and full of some contradictions, still delivers a great performance rounded out with comedic banter (often between vocalist Greg Graffin and bassist Jay Bentley). They played deeper cuts and also their big commercial hit, “21st Century (Digital Boy),” off of 1994’s Stranger Than Fiction.
Bad Religion’s lead singer and steady/constant member Greg Graffin, flanked by guitarist Brian Baker and drummer Brooks Wackerman.
Prior to the show there was online chatter that it was a shame that Tech N9ne and Chevelle were playing against each other. Some fans on the interwebs were downright nonplussed. I made the decision easier for myself: I ate dinner and relaxed in a shaded spot with a cold beer in my hand. I chatted with other attendees, kind to the last one (even though nothing but a festival would likely have ever led us to do so). That is the thing about well-run festivals, diverse or thematically consistent; they bring people together. My friend HimII joined me for this respite, even though we did do a brief spin around the grounds to catch a song by Chevelle (he enjoys them) and Tech N9ne (seemingly well received, but not my cup of contextually appropriate “N-word” dropping tea), as well as survey the merch booths. As this portion of the concert bled into the next, Awolnation came on. This seemed like a band that fans of Weezer would like. They were competent, they had people jumping. They wore board shorts and looked very young. I can’t recall a single song I heard. Like flypaper purchased at the Grocery Outlet, nothing stuck. That isn’t their fault. It is mine. So I again retired to the shade (such as it was) of the VIP section to get ready for the three main acts: Limp Bizkit (West), The Offspring (South), and Weezer (North).
HimII hates Limp Bizkit. He calls them Frat (read: Bro) Rock. Many of my other friends dislike them too. Some of those friends, however, liked them (quite a bit) when they came out. Me? Never owned an album of theirs and never followed the ebbs and flows of their career. Here’s the thing though: they are aggressively white trash (irony of ironies considering their blending of raps stylings), over-the-top, and filled with angry/often emotionally stunted/offensive rage . . . and they are catchy. Not White Lion catchy. But catchy in that way that dares you to forget a song like “Nookie” (which it seems they did this evening). They did a reasonable cover of Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name.” Lead Bizkit Fred Durst implored the crowd to do many things that involved the F-Bomb. Guitarist Wes Borland was dressed like some Satanic version of the X-Men’s Mystique, replete with kilt and bondage mask(!??!). The crowd, a very large crowd at this point in the evening, responded in kind. As a lesson in crowd psychology (or the nature of this particular audience), it was amazing to behold. I still can’t get their last song, “Break Stuff,” out of my head. I want it out of my head.
The final acts of the night were a study in contrasts. Weezer are younger; The Offspring are older (singer Dexter Holland is not the lithe, corn-rowed belter of old). Their styles of music are nowhere near the same. The former’s audience responded with a measure of appreciation, mixed with outright enthusiasm, that was impressive. The latter’s audience ate up every single song from their breakthrough album, 1994’s Smash, along with a smattering of other hits thereafter. The former’s audience reacted with knowing excitement when Weezer played “Back to the Shack” off their forthcoming album Everything Will Be Alright In The End. Here is the thing: this is a festival. Both audiences, by and large, were the same. I personally enjoyed hearing Weezer play “My Name is Jonas” off of the 1994 debut Weezer (The Blue Album). But I really enjoyed the crowd response to “Self-Esteem.” It is no knock on Weezer to note that, when the last strains of “Buddy Holly” were signaling the end of the concert, a good portion of the lower and upper parking lots were empty. More than I would have expected. And I won’t call a winner or a tie on an evening when no one was competing.
Weezer’s Patrick Wilson, Brian Bell, Rivers Cuomo, and Scott Shriner.
As contrasts go, Weezer and the Offspring offered comparable arguments for why, again, a good festival is worth attending. Music, at its best, brings people—across interests, genres, and ages—together. The battle I feared never occurred. While I spied no hirsute hipster fumbling around with a nose-pierced punk atop a copy of Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water (ugh), I also witnessed no major breaches of decorum or disorder amidst the large sun-and-alcohol-and-otherwise addled crowd. What I saw were a lot of sweaty people, differences aside, having a great time.
I regret not attending day two. But I am looking forward to next year’s Aftershock.
Photos courtesy of HimII
The other day, Aerosmith played Detroit and Steven Tyler played a little of "Home Tonight" before the "Dream On" finale. I hope the folks in the crowd recognized the song - it wasn't really clear by the crowd reaction.
"Home Tonight" is one of my favorite Aerosmith tracks - criminally underrated and rarely played live (although I think the band did this same song combo at Download Fest as well).
Earlier this year, Lillian Axe released One Night In The Temple, an acoustic, live "greatest-hits" album. Here are the tracks:
01. Waters Rising
02. Death Comes Tomorrow
03. Ghost Of Winter
04. See You Someday
05. The Great Divide
06. Nocturnal Symphony
07. Sad Day On Planet Earth
08. Bow Your Head
09. Show A Little Love
10. Misery Loves Company
02. The World Stopped Turning
03. Dyin' To Live (Shades Of Blue)
04. Until The End Of The World
05. The Day I Met You
06. The Promised Land
07. Nobody Knows
08. My Apologies
09. True Believer
10. Nobody Knows (Crowd Version)
If you'd like to win this double-disc set, just email me your legal name and address. Everyone in the world is eligible. Put "Lillian Axe" in the subject line and send all entries to firstname.lastname@example.org - enter by Monday, Sept. 15 at 11:59 p.m. ET. Good luck.
Black Veil Brides will release their new album on Oct. 28. The new album is simply titled Black Veil Brides and is available for pre-order starting Sept. 16. Check out "Faithless" below. I love the long, metal intro. The intro honestly reminds me of Avenged Sevenfold and I think Black Veil Brides would consider that a compliment. I look forward to hearing the rest of the new album.
Motörhead’s Motörboat regrets to announce that thrash metal trailblazers Megadeth have been forced to withdraw from the September 22-26 cruise due to medical reasons. Heavy metal all-star band Metal Allegiance – including Megadeth’s David Ellefson and Chris Broderick – has been added to theMotörhead’s Motörboat music lineup.
Metal Allegiance promises Motörboaters the rare opportunity to see a diverse group of metal legends interacting and performing together on the same stage.Singers Philip Anselmo (Down, ex-Pantera), Joey Belladonna (Anthrax), and Chuck Billy (Testament), guitarists Chris Broderick (Megadeth), Jon Donais (Anthrax, Shadows Fall), Scott Ian (Anthrax), Mark Zavon (Kill Devil Hill), bassists Frank Bello (Anthrax), Rex Brown (Kill Devil Hill, ex-Pantera) and David Ellefson (Megadeth), and drummers Charlie Benante (Anthrax) and Mike Portnoy (The Winery Dogs, ex-Dream Theater) will put their spin on a scorching set of heavy metal’s most influential and recognizable songs. For more details on Metal Allegiance, visit: https://www.facebook.com/metalallegiancetour
Megadeth issued the following statement about their unfortunate cancellation: “Due to complications arising from a previous cervical spine surgery, and upon his doctor’s strict recommendations, Dave Mustaine has cancelled all performances for the next 8 weeks. With rest and treatment, he is expected to recover and resume performing soon. The band was looking forward to the concerts and cruise, and is disappointed that they will not be able to see their fans. Megadethexpects to return to the road and will see their fans soon!”
The first annual Motörhead’s Motörboat will sail from Miami, visiting the ports of Key West , Florida and Cozumel just off Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula for the September 22-26, 2014 cruise on the Carnival Ecstasy. “The Loudest Boat In The World” will feature Motörhead, Anthrax, Metal Allegiance, Testament,Down, High On Fire, Kill Devil Hill, Zakk Wylde, Jim Breuer Band, Danko Jones, Fireball Ministry, Wilson and Cilver, as well as a spoken word performance by legendary heavy metal musician, author, and television personality Scott Ian. While onboard, guests will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to interact with band members and will see unforgettable performances on various stages throughout the ship.
A limited number of cabins are still available for Motörhead’s Motörboat at www.MotorheadCruise.com.
Sweet/Lynch, the new collaboration between George Lynch, Michael Sweet, James Lomenzo and Brian Tichy, just released the official lyric video for "September." The song is a tribute to the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks. The track is part of the group's debut, due in early 2015.