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JUNKMAN's Recap Of The 2013 AFTERSHOCK FESTIVAL

By Junkman, On-Air Personality
Monday, October 7, 2013 @ 5:37 PM


Aftershock 2013-Last Blowout of the Summer

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The seasons have turned once again, although, living in Southern California, you would never know, given the heat of this years extended "Indian Summer". Summer time for me and many others means beach, BBQ's, and of course, the summer concert and festival season. I recently attended and wrote about the "Rock On The Range" festival in Columbus, Ohio kicking off the Festival season this past May. Well, the same people that gave us that yearly event, have given us another to END the season. Danny Wimmer Presents, along with Right Arm Entertainment, and Monster Energy Drink put on an amazing 2 day party, featuring some of the best and brightest stars in the rock world at Sacramento California's Discovery Park September 14th and 15th, and I was there to soak in all the fun and outstanding performances of close to 40 artists on 3 stages.

Still reeling from the "Aftershock" of effects from attending "The Battle Of San Bernardino" (an all day concert featuring IRON MAIDEN, MEGADETH, ANTHRAX, TESTAMENT, and others, but that's another story all togther....) the day before, I hopped a morning flight to California's capitol city early Saturday morning, checked into my hotel, gathered my gear, and went straight to Discovery Park.

The park is located near downtown Sacramento, and proved to be the ideal location to hold such a festival. Lots of shade trees, greenery and rivers near by. Local access was by a series of walking/bike paths, as well as butting up against a freeway on one side. Easy access to a festival like this is key, and even though I could have walked from my hotel, a cab ride was even easier.

Plenty of vendors and food trucks were scattered throughout the park. Lots of places for attendee's to cool off and fill up on food, drink, and merchandise, all reasonably priced. Besides beer being at least 3-4 bucks cheaper than in shows I have attended, I was pleased to hear that all the beer servers were volunteers, who were most cheerful throughout the event. All their tips were also being donated to charity, and I gladly kicked in. Nothing better than a cold beer and a warm smile, I always say...

I also recognized many of the merchandise vendors present from other shows I have attended around the country. This after all, is their "bread and butter", and for many, the last show of the season. Festival sponsors Like Monster Energy drink, Schecter Guitars and others came out in full force as well, with big smiles all around as I approached. Indeed, it really was a cool, family vibe going on from the get-go.

As for the stages, and set up, it was the perfect place. The Monster Energy main stages were set up side by side (North and South) and while one act was playing on one stage the next act was setting up on the other, and so on, throughout the weekend. There was also another Ernie Ball sponsored stage at the other end of the park near the I-5 freeway bridge. For the most part, the sound was terrific, and none of the acts on one stage interfered with the other, on another stage. Good planning and execution to all those in charge, again, I salute you on a job well done.

As for the music, well 35 or so bands to see (2 bands had to cancel on Sunday...), I'll tell you what I saw. A great mix of the old and new. The popular and the upcoming. The hard core and the lighter side. The young and the older. American and foreign. For a rock fan with a wide taste, this was a virtual buffet!

I arrived at the site on Saturday, the first day of the festival, in time to see the end of the set by my friends, the "Kings Of The Sunset Strip", STEEL PANTHER do their thing for the good people of Sacramento. Given the fact that they played a free pre-party for festival attendee's the night before, and were playing (in full make-up, I might add...) in the middle of the afternoon, on a 100 degree day, deserves mad props. And their brand of self depreciating humor-fused rock went over well with the crowd. "Woah, Junkman in the hizzle" was the response I got from the band, after they finished their set, as they piled into a van, off to catch a flight in true rock star fashion.

I then caught a few songs from rap-rock funksters P.O.D., who got the crowd jumpin' and releasin' with their uptempo mix of 'Nu-metal' and bravado. Lead vocalist Sonny Sandoval, even jumped as well-over the barrier and into the crowd, mixing with the crowd surfers to drive security out of their minds. An awesome way to start the afternoons festivities!

To the media tent I went for a scheduled interview, from a great new British band that I absolutely loved when I last saw them at the "Rock On The Range" festival in May - HEAVEN'S BASEMENT. Such nice chaps as well. Eager to please, they would tear it up on the smaller Ernie Ball Stage later that afternoon. Check them out at www.heavens basement.com. Here's our chat.

To the South Stage I went to experience a crushing set from Bay area thrash legends TESTAMENT. For the second time in two days, playing a short set because of all the bands on the bill, TESTAMENT did not disappoint. Opening with the perfect opener "Rise Up", they slayed the crowd, now estimated at 15,000 with their brutal assault. Singer Chuck Billy, smiling thoughout, led the chanting crowd through a series of favorites, like "Practice What You Preach" and "D.N.R". Uber guitarists Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson kept the "air guitarists" in the crowd extremely busy, while the rhythm section of Greg Christian and Gene Hoglan kept the moshers and crowd surfers happy. As always, a killer set!

Sweaty and beat up after TESTAMENT's set, I returned to the media tent to speak with SHINEDOWN bassist Eric Bass. The band is in the midst of their "Carnival Of Madness" tour and would be appearing later on in the evening. Here's our interview, conducted backstage on a picnic table

Back to the South Stage for a straight up rockin' set from BUCKCHERRY. This band just keeps getting better. The best frontman in the biz, Josh Todd comes out like a fighter ready for a bout. Opening with their first hit "Lit Up", they pounded the crowd with uptempo rockers like "Rescue Me", and "Everything", before slowing it down with the ballad "Sorry". Guitarists Keith Nelson and Stevie D blasted out the intro to "Ridin'", and Josh Todd just took over, as the crowd went wild, dancing, and bouncing along in unison. Wrapping up their 11 song set with, what seems like every girl from the last 5 years or so claims as their personal favorite song, "Crazy Bitch". BUCKCHERRY rules in this setting. Big stage, lots of energy, recognizable songs to sing and dance to, they have it all. And the crowd, as well as myself, loved it.

I meandered my way over to the Ernie Ball stage to catch some of the afore-mentioned HEAVEN'S BASEMENT. I'm telling you, this band has what I like about live rock n roll. They are young, energetic and hungry. They play a very stripped down, sort of 70's style rock and because they are British, they kind of remind me of the band HUMBLE PIE, as well as a few others. Singer Aaron Buchanan is a ball of energy, and can hit high notes like Freddy Mercury, and hit the growl like TESTAMENT's Chuck Billy. Guitarist Sid Glover and his low slung black Les Paul is a favorite with the ladies, but the chunky chords coming out of it, please all the rockers, regardless of gender. Check out their CD - Filthy Empire and the first single off it, "Fire Fire". Great band.

The North Main stage was next for a set from Sacramento's own PAPA ROACH. Singer Jacoby Shaddix IS the show. Non stop energy from start to finish. He jumps into the crowd at various times through the show, flailing his arms as he rocked favorites like "Burn", "Getting Away With Murder" and "Scars". They finished up their sweaty and draining set with their biggest hit "Last Resort", which featured a guest spot with original drummer Dave Buckner. PAPA ROACH were truly hailed as hometown hero's by an adoring crowd, and rightly so.

After seeing them in San Bernardino and knowing that the sound at that show was not up to par, I was very excited to see MEGADETH, up next on the South Stage. They did not disappoint. Right out of the gate, blasting out the classic "Hanger 18", it was all business for Dave Mustaine and company. Boasting an impressive light and illuminated graphics enhanced stage, they raged through as many classics as they could in their 10 song set, including B>"In My Darkest Hour", "Sweating Bullets" and "Symphony Of Destruction", which always gets my feet tapping.They also played B>"Kingmaker", my favorite track from their latest release, Super Collider. Guitarist Chris Broderick and bassist David Ellefson have made the band become a very solid unit since joining and re-joining MEGADETH, respectivly. Closing out the set with "Peace Sells" with crowd response "Who's buying"? MEGADETH ended their set with the epic "Holy Wars...Punishment Due", leaving all of us in the crowd, satisfied, and literally, sweating bullets....

Next up, a completely different, yet very talented band, Jacksonville, Florida's SHINEDOWN hit the stage at about 7:30. I've seen this band go through all kinds of directions in the many years that I have been a fan. The main constant is the incredible voice of singer Brent Smith. Now sobered up and looking fit, he brought along some added fun- the fire dancers and circus performers featured on their current "Carnival Of Madness" tour. Their brand of upbeat radio-friendly songs (although radio in Los Angeles has been less than friendly to this band. Don't get me started on that one....) were a hit with the young fans who had been battered with a variety of heavier sounding bands all afternoon.

Smith and company serenaded it's fans with many of their later hits like "Enemies", "Adrenaline", "Unity" and "I'll Follow You", from 2012's Amarylllis album, as well reaching back for an acoustic version of their fellow Jacksonville heroes LYNYRD SKYNYRD's "Simple Man", that had the entire crowd, as well as most of the security guards singing the chorus. Finishing up with, again another off Amaryllis, SHINEDOWN played the emotional "Bully" that gave the fans exactly what they wanted in their slightly over an hour set.

This day belonged to KORN, though. The faithful had waited patiently all day, and by the time they hit the stage a little before 9 PM, the energy of the crowd literally surged forward and the band grabbed it and threw it back. Opening with a spirited version of their classic "Blind", they proceeded to smack this crowd "upside da head" with their unique thud of a sound. Speaking of head, guitarist Brian "Head" Welch has rejoined KORN and was and has been the missing link to the KORN sound the last few years with his ever present guitar noodling.

With a new release The Paradigm Shift to plug, and tour to promote, KORN is off and running. Singer Jonathon Davis is his spastic self onstage, one minute quietly contemplating his next move, the next minute frantically screaming and thrashing about his signature chrome microphone stand. A great mix of KORN classics like "Falling Away From Me", "Shoots And Ladders" and "Coming Undone" were mixed in with newer songs like 2011's "Narcissistic Cannibal", as well as "Love And Death" and "Never Never" from their latest. The crowd seemed to be entranced. They thrashed and surfed and jumped and rocked to every beat of KORN's amazing drummer, Ray Luzier. Closing the show with the one-two punch of "Got The Life" and "Freak On A Leash", day one of the festival had a rousing, rowdy finish, as both the band and the crowd applauded each other in a sort of mutual regard.

I dusted myself off, and since their was a 10 PM curfew, my girlfriend and I actually mustered the energy to walk back to our hotel, clean up, and head downtown for a bite to eat before turning in, and resting up for Aftershock's second day.

AFTERSHOCK FESTIVAL- DAY 2

Day two of the festival had a very disappointing start. Prior to GEMINI SYNDROME's noon set on the North Stage, festival organizer Gary Spivak, from Right Arm Entertainment, appeared onstage and broke the news to the crowd that, due to personal family issues, both AIRBOURNE and FILTER would not be able to perform their sets. Bummer! Two of the bands that I had been looking forward to the most would not be there. What followed throughout the day made me almost forget about it.

I can't say enough about GEMINI SYNDROME. Great band, visually and sonically. Seeing them on a main stage after seeing them on a small stage makes me know that they belong in the upper level of today's new rock bands. Singer Aaron Nordstrom worked the crowd and woke them up, as they took notice by getting louder with each song. Their first release Lux is just now being released, and you can bet that many in the Aftershock crowd by now, are blasting it in their cars as they navigate their way to the next gig. Again a great way to start the day. Check them out at www.geminisyndrome.com, and go see them for yourself. They are coming soon to a town near you. Check out the chat we had backstage.

I then checked out a very lively set from FALLING IN REVERSE. High energy to say the least, with all band members taking turns mugging for the crowd, throughout. Singer Ronnie Radke spent a lot of time twirling his microphone like a lariot, which, no doubt kept the stage techs busy. Lots of water and guitar pics were thrown into the crowd, as well as few things thrown back at the band. Was that a dress Radke was wearing? All in all a lot of fun, and the kids loved it.

After doing some interviews backstage, and meeting up with some friends, I caught part of ASKING ALEXANDRIA's high energy set. Singer Danny Worsnop sounded out his displeasure over not having any whiskey to drink onstage. I wondered what it would be like to be drinking whiskey at 3 in the afternoon on a sweltering 100 plus degree stage. Not for faint of heart, although faint is something that I'm sure would be a part of it. Nonetheless, the band gave the crowd what they wanted and more.

It was my first time seeing Finnish band HIM, who were next up on the South Stage. A very solid set. All the focus, again, seemed to be on the singer, in this case the interesting crooner Ville Valo. Sporting a beanie on a hot day, and keeping the crowds attention during a blazing uptempo set, Valo and company rocked. Crowd surfers and people generally having a blast, dancing and drinking, and eating and taking pictures and video's of themselves were the norm, as it should be. By the time HIM finished their set, with their blistering uptempo take on the Chris Isaak classic "Wicked Game", there was a huge cloud of dust arising from the pit in front of the stage.

One of my favorite live acts over the last few years, HALESTORM were up next on the North Stage. This band, which won a Grammy this past year for Best Hard Rock performance, are real "road dogs". They have this festival stage thing down to a science. A killer live act, with great songs to back it up. Opening with the rocker "Love Bites (So Do I)", set the pace for one of the best sets of the day. Singer Lzzy Hale is my favorite female performer in the business, and she showed off her vocal chops throughout the set. "You Call Me a Bitch Like It's A Bad Thing" is not only a great title, but features a great example of Lzzy's range as a vocalist. "Rock Show" was the perfect anthem for the day. And their terrific cover of SKID ROW's "Slave To The Grind" sent the crowd surfers en masse to the front of the stage. Lzzy's younger brother AreJay Hale beats his drum kit into submission on every song, he's got amazing chops and energy. I spoke with him and bassist Josh Smith backstage earlier in the day for an update on the band. Check it out.

Danish rockers VOLBEAT were the next band up on the South Stage. This band, excuse the cliche', just flat out kicks ass! Singer/guitarist Michael Poulsen, led this band through a furious 13 song set that had elements of Metal, rockabilly, and of course, the charging, "Euro-Rock" fist-in the air-sing-along beat that have made them one of my favorite live acts over the last few years. Now, sporting former ANTHRAX guitarist Rob Caggiano in their fold, they livened up anybody who had become tired during the 2 day fest. Highlights of the set included "Guitars, Gangsters, And Cadillac Blood", a spirited version of "A Warriors Call", and their spin on the YOUNG THE GIANT tune "My Body", all the while keeping that infectious, chugging, Vol-Beat of theirs going throughout, without a break. After VOLBEAT closed their set, with "Pool Of Booze, Booze, Booza", I took the hint, and it was time for a cold one. I hit the beer stand, and the smiling volunteers gladly obliged my urge.

I had never seen A DAY TO REMEMBER, but I knew that they would be one of the most popular bands at the festival, especially with the younger fans. I was absolutely right about that. The crowd hit a fever pitch during their high octane set, as they blasted out song after song that really connected with their fans. They LITERALLY connected about half way through the set, during "It's Complicated", when singer Jeremy McKinnon entered a clear "hamster ball" and walked over the crowd. A very cool sight to see and everyone loved it. Although I am not a big fan of their "Emo- Style" aggressive rock, I did enjoy their live show, as did their loyal fans.

FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH followed, and from what I and many other saw, put on the set of the day. Maybe it was the anticipation of not one, but 2 upcoming releases, maybe it was the right time of day, maybe it was just the connection they have with their fans, maybe it was all the above, but FFDP put on one hell of a great set. Singer Ivan Moody, as always came right out of the gate swinging, with the aggressive "Under And Over It", a song which has been known to up the ante for crowd surfers. It did not fail in that aspect. Literally hundreds of kids flew above the crowd and over the security rails, looking like salmon ready to head upstream for spawning season.

Guitarists Zoltan Bathory and Jason Hook set the tone and Moody delivers with every song. Killer amped up versions of "Way Of The Fist" and "Hard To See" brought the crowd up to a cimax, before Moody, as he always does got personal with the crowd, thanking them for continuing to support the band. He gave a shout out to the members of the Armed Forces, before the band launched in to their version of "Bad Company", the title track of the 1974 album by the band of the same name. He also told the crowd that Sacramento native Jacoby Shaddix, from PAPA ROACH, and his wife were about to have a child, and the crowd roared.

Finishing up their well received set with a great "crowd participation" sing-along during and then putting the lid on the set with "The Bleeding", FFDP truly made their mark on the Sacramento faithful. Everyone it seemed to me, was totally satisfied with the performance, some saying they "stole the show". To me, a veteran of many FFDP shows, just another great performance from a killer live band.

The last band to play Aftershock 2013 was truly worthy of being a headliner in every way. AVENGED SEVENFOLD, that coming week, had the number one record in the country, Hail To The King, a title which really is a metaphor of their place at the Festival. Throughout the day, many bands on the North stage had played with an AVENGED SEVENFOLD backdrop adorning the stage, and covering up their massive, pyro-equipped, stage set.

That aside, at about a quarter to nine, the band exploded onto the stage with "Shepherd Of Fire" from their latest. When I say exploded, I mean that in every sense, as they brought out lots of pyrotechnics and the heat from that was felt by all within spitting distance to the stage. Singer M Shadows was clearly enjoying himself, as he bounced all over the stage, hanging on the backs of his bandmates.

The title track "Hail To The King" was well received by many in the crowd, as their fans, rabid as they are, already were familiar with every lyric. "Welcome To The Family", from their previous release, Nightmare, served as another metaphor of sorts, to drummer Arin Illejay, who, since joining the band, has become the perfect "family member", and a worthy addition to the "Fold", after the death of drummer and founding member, Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan in 2009.

The dueling lead guitars of Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance (yes, I think those names are ridiculous too....) are the true sound of this Huntington Beach California based band. Perfectly in sync with each other throughout the show, shredding in harmony again and again as they rocked their custom Schecter guitars. All the while, under the watch of a large crowned skeleton that towered over the drums, walls of flame punctuated certain verses and accents. Quite a show indeed!

Closing the set with "Unholy Confessions", the band left the stage, and the crowd, by now, a tired but lively bunch, roared it's approval. AVENGED SEVENFOLD had truly capped the festival off successfully and gave them what they wanted. A big, flashy, loud ending to what truly was an epic weekend of hard rock.

Discovery Park emptied out pretty quickly. I was surprised how quickly, in fact. Again, taxi's, hotels and all points to the city were very accessible. It really is a great place to have a festival such as this. I have to give a big "thumbs up" to whoever decided on using Discovery Park, they really did their research.

As I exited the park, my head was full of thoughts on how much fun I had, my regret on missing most of the bands on the Ernie Ball stage, and to start making plans for next years event. And there will be one, that's for sure. My thanks to Danny Wimmer Presents, Gary Spivak and Right Arm Entertainment, and the amazing Kristine at Am-Media for making everything possible for me. Oh, and did I mention the amazing talent that rocked us as well as the fine city of Sacramento? An absolutely perfect way to wrap up the Summer Concert Season, as far as I am concerned. Again looking forward to next years event.

Check out photos from the event!

All Photos By Junkman

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