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JUNKMAN Recaps The 2016 AFTERSHOCK Festival With Photos!

By Junkman, On-Air Personality
Tuesday, November 15, 2016 @ 8:37 AM


Monster Energy Aftershock Festival 2016. California’s Capitol Gains

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All Photos By Junkman

The Fifth annual “Aftershock Festival” recently returned to Sacramento California, and a sold out crowd of over 50,000 music fans descended upon the state’s capitol to enjoy over 30 bands, and rock out for two days, and have a great time. They did indeed, with some awesome performances from some of the biggest names in rock, headlined by the likes of TOOL, KORN, SLAYER and AVENGED SEVENFOLD. As I do every year, I headed out and caught all the action.

After relocating last year’s event to the massive Gibson Ranch facility in neighboring Elverta, festival organizers, Danny Wimmer Presents brought the festival back to downtown Sacramento’s cozy and comfortable Discovery Park. There were 3 stages as well as a huge VIP area, with lots of places for people to view the action, including numerous big screen TV’s and lounge chairs. Plenty of food choices too, including many different food trucks, and local vendors. All the beer stands were manned by various volunteers of local charities, and there were smiles with every refill.

Festival sponsors Monster Energy Drink, had their Monster lounge, as always, giving attendees a comfortably place to hang, and enjoy the latest Monster flavors. The “Music Experience” tent, once again, featured many music product vendors, such as Yamaha, and Fender guitars, displaying their products, and giving attendees a chance to interact with product specialists, as well as “rock out” on a variety of musical equipment. There were also artist signings at the tent throughout the festival, which made for huge lines of fans, all weekend long.

Among the many clothing and merchandise vendors nestled amongst the trees, in the shadow of the adjacent freeway, was the Keep Golf Metal “Fairway to Hell” miniature golf course, where one could putt while listening to the likes of SLAYER and MESHUGGAH. Now THAT is the way I like to play golf! The interactive “Jack Daniels Experience” booth gave you a chance to see how Jack Daniels Tennessee whiskey is produced, and naturally, gave you a chance to taste it as well. “Hiccup.”

Monster Energy AFTERSHOCK showcased Sacramento’s status as America’s Farm-To-Fork Capital, offering free samples of locally grown fruit to festival attendees throughout the weekend. Monster Energy AFTERSHOCK’s economic impact to the region exceeds $10 million. Hotels were packed, as well as local restaurants and bars in town, all weekend. As part of its commitment to the Sacramento community, Monster Energy AFTERSHOCK made a $10,000 donation to Stanford Settlement in the Natomas area to support youth programs and other neighborhood services. In addition, festival goers contributed approximately $40,000 to charities including “Take Me Home Animal Rescue” and “Fxck Cancer/Dyin 2 Live”. AFTERSHOCK partnered with Sacramento Parks to create awareness about water safety via the “Life Looks Good On You” campaign. The “Student Experience” backstage tour gave music students from Scott Graham School of Music in Sacramento and ABC Music in Castro Valley, as well as local teen band URD-OM, an inside look at the workings of a music festival and opportunities in the music industry. And then there was the music….

Some great early sets by BIG JESUS, THE SRHINE and WHORES, got things going. But Bay-Area Thrash Metal legends DEATH ANGEL took things to a new level altogether. Playing an early afternoon set (they originally were supposed to play at 11:15 am, but were bumped) they blew the packed crowd at the “Capitol Stage” away, and could easily have done that on any stage at the festival at any time. As I watched the circle pit moshers during “Thrown To The Wolves”, halfway through DEATH ANGEL’s set, I knew it was going to be a great crowd to be among. Carpe diem, baby!

Sweden’s AVATAR put on a very entertaining set. Almost like a heavy metal circus. Great costumes, and the antics of singer Johannes Eckerstrom made it one of the more enjoyable experiences of the day. MOTIONLESS IN WHITE followed on the “Discovery Stage” and gave their fans exactly what they wanted-high energy aggressive rock, with a goth visual. Clearly the band was pleased to be there and mentioned it many times. An interesting cover of RAMMSTEIN’s “Du Hast” was a highlight.

BARONESS was interesting to see, but ANTHRAX once again, brought it and owned it. They are the band that never seems to age. All members on warp speed at all times. Bassist Frank Bello’s bass intro to the JOE JACKSON cover “Got The Time” always lights the fuse for an insane crowd and band explosion. Singer Joey Belladonna is everywhere on stage, only occasionally stopping to scream a verse, or in this case, to have some fun with the onstage videographer.

THE PRETTY RECKLESS were a bit pale in comparison. A video of their song “Take Me Down” played on a loop through the PA system all weekend, so much so, that I heard it in my sleep. Great song. As for the live performance, again, disappointing. Singer Taylor Momsen IS the show, although, clad in black, her face covered by tousled hair and large sunglasses, didn’t exactly match the passion that the song seems to bring out on video. I would hope that they “amp it up” a bit on the road. The crowd seemed to, by and large, be pleased with their performance.

MESHUGGAH, on the other hand, killed. A full on pounding set of serious metal that was as adrenaline fueled as anything heard all day. Again and again, they ripped one heavy chugging riff after another, finally closing their 7 song set with the metal classic “Future Breed Machine” which had virtually every head-banger in the audience in sync, mosh pits circling, and crowd surfers flailing away uncontrollably. Just pure heaviness.

PRIMUS, on the “Monster Stage” were intriguing. Bassist/singer Les Claypool is one of a kind. He almost looked like a refugee from Civil War times, in a button down coat, Bowler hat, and round glasses. But his bass playing and squeaky vocals on numbers like the opening “Those Damn Blue-Collar Tweakers” and “Too Many Puppies” gave his fans quite a thrill and they put on another of my favorite sets of the day. Claypool ranted about water saving techniques, and other issues between songs, and PRIMUS were even joined by DEATH ANGEL vocalist Mark Osegueda, screaming “Dog will hunt” during “Jerry Was A Race Car Driver”, which closed the set. PRIMUS rules!

SLAYER was, well, SLAYER! A continuous brutal assault during their 13 song set, that kicked the crowd at the “Discovery” stage on its collective ass. “Repentless”, the opening number and title of their latest release, was a metaphor for things to come. Guitarist Kerry King and Gary Holt were on fire. Holt seemed especially mobile, jumping all over stage right and cranking out blistering lead guitar riffs during SLAYER favorites, like the trio of “Seasons In The Abyss”, “South Of Heaven” and “Raining Blood” that followed consecutively towards the end of the set. King, just stands and rocks his BC Rich guitar, occasionally taking his eyes off the neck to view the audience response, which is always fists in the air, and war screams, circle pits and crowd surfing. Consistency, thrash-metal style. Singer (screamer actually)and bassist Tom Araya and his deafening wail provide the perfect accompaniment for SLAYER’s audio armageddon. What I love seeing at SLAYER shows is, after they have pounded the audience with “Angel Of Death”, the final number, Araya softly asks if everyone had a good time, thanks them and says goodnight. Sweet as can be. A huge difference from the screaming, antagonistic beast he is during the set. As always, we cheered and saluted our heroes.

TOOL, closed out Day 1 of Aftershock with a compelling performance. Sadly, I was not able to photograph them, as only a limited number of photographers got that privilege. Singer Maynard James Keenan has always been a quirky guy, and tonight was no exception. He stayed on the side of the stage for most of the show, in a kind of Star Wars “Stormtrooper” type of costume that completely covered his face, and with the help of low lighting became pretty much just a voice to many in the crowd. A very eclectic set, they did most of my favorite TOOL numbers, such as “Aenema”, “Jambi” and “Forty Six And Two” as well as a really different version of “Opiate”. The lighting effects were great, as was the sound, although again, Keenan was hard to see. An abbreviated “Stinkfist“ closed the set. It was later revealed that drummer Danny Carey had, against the advice of his doctors, performed the show despite suffering from a serious staph infection in his leg. I guess Maynard wasn’t the only “Trooper” onstage. So Day 1 of Aftershock was now in the books.

Day 2 of the festival started with a very inspirational band. THE MENDENHALL EXPERIMENT is a band that features guitarist Brandon Mendenhall. Branded is stricken with Cerebral Palsy, and has worked hard with the support of many, including the members of KORN, to be able to fulfill his dream of playing guitar in a band, in spite of his affliction. And they really are a great band. Front man Mario Valadez is all over the stage, a whirlwind of boundless energy, and sets the tone for the bands energetic set. The early Aftershock crowd gave them a hearty ovation.

Plenty of action early in the day with exciting sets from WHITECHAPEL, SILVER SNAKES, and Australia’s THE AMITY AFFLICTION who, along with crowd favorites PARKWAY DRIVE, got the afternoon off to an adrenaline sparked, fast pace. The set times were right on the money. Kudo’s to the road crew and stage set up crew who did a fantastic job all weekend. With this many bands performing, it is imperative that set times are prompt, not always the easiest thing to do in the live music business.

Over on the “Capitol” stage, legendary SEPULTURA members, the brothers Max and Igor Cavalera’s “Return To Roots” band absolutely destroyed. The audience was into it throughout, and Max seemed to be having a blast, while Igor kept his permanent scowl while bashing it out behind the drum kit. And yes “Roots, Bloody Roots” was performed as well as I have ever heard it, pre-and post SEPULTURA. Got to speak with Max briefly in the media tent later in the day, and he told me it was more fun than he has had in a while.

GHOST appeared on the “Discovery” stage and put on yet another tight set. They are a masterfully precise band. Each song and performance are well rehearsed, and choreographed perfectly. The band, in their ghoulish masks, are a sight to behold. Singer Papa Emeritus III is the center of attraction, and he glides around the stage like vintage David Bowie with greasepaint, occasionally stopping to emphasize a certain lyric or acknowledge a band member. A highlight of the set was the song “From The Pinnacle To The Pit” which I love, and Papa Emeritus III interacted with the audience up close, at one time kneeling and grasping the hand of a young woman as he crooned to her. Just a great visual and a fun band to watch.

CHEVELLE blasted through a hit filled, 10 song, angst ridden set on the “Monster” stage and really went over well with their fans. Not a lot to look at, especially after seeing GHOST, but the radio hits such as “The Red”, “Hats Off To The Bull” and “Forfeit” went over well. Singer Pete Loffler is the classic “Emo” singer, his eyes tightly closed with every anguished delivery, and they only seemed to open when he was looking at the neck of his guitar, or perhaps his shoes. His brother Sam, on drums, has a really cool looking drum kit, which is about all I can really say about him. He’s good, just nothing stands out about his playing. CHEVELLE finished their set with their huge hit “Send The Pain Below”, and the kids in the skinny jeans roared their approval.

ZAKK SABBATH, featuring the great Zakk Wylde on guitar, did what they do. Bang out a set of BLACK SABBATH songs and let Zakk cut loose with his blistering guitar licks. Looking like a Viking without the horned helmet, Zakk Wylde and his purple guitar breathed new life into SABBATH classic’s like “Children Of The Grave”, “Snowblind”, “War Pigs” and the set closing “Fairies Wear Boots”, which the boot-wearing Wylde man, perched on a platform, cranked to an adoring group of “air guitarists” and lovers of all things SABBATH.

By far the most interesting set of the day was by PUSCIFER, Maynard James Keenan’s side band/original project. It was my first time seeing them, as they really are a rarity to the concert stage. Keenan and company were all wearing Mexican “Lucha Libre” wrestling masks. Not only that, but there was a full sized wrestling ring set up in the middle of the stage. Keenan and backing vocalist Carina Round spent the middle part of the set inside the ring, singing through microphones with old-style shock mounts, and surrounded by posturing, posing models in full wrestling attire.

Keenan, dressed in a stylish suit and tie, along with the mask and a Mohawk hair-do, screamed out PUSCIFER favorites such as ”Galileo”, "The Arsonist” and “The Remedy” to an already blown-away and astonished crowd, who cheered everything they did. You just never know when Keenan is onstage, what idea he has will come to reality. All in all, again a very interesting and quirky set, from one of the oddest guys in the business and his fine, tight band.

DISTURBED brought their brand of electro metal to the masses on the “Monster” stage. As always, it’s the combination of great songs, intense lighting and pyrotechnics, and the brazen vocals of singer David Draiman that make DISTURBED one of the most popular bands on the scene today, and for the last 15 years or so. Opening with “10,000 Fists” and Draiman’s constant pleas to “let me see those fists in the air”, DISTURBED kickstarted a loud 14 song set. Up-tempo hits like “The Game” and “Stupify” were matched in their intenseness by the pacing Draiman as he nailed each number, building to a crescendo mid-set during their stirring version of “The Sound Of Silence”, which brought the crowd to a dead stop. Out came the cell phone lights amongst the sold out audience, and all you could hear was Draiman’s powerful vocal take on the SIMON AND GRAFUNKEL classic. A very moving experience each time I have witnessed it. The band, also featuring guitarist Dan Donegan, bassist John Moyer and drummer Mike Wengren, pumped it up afterward, ending the rousing set with “Voices” and the inevitable “Down With the Sickness", which was a fist pumping, mosh pit igniting, crowd surfing favorite. A treasured must have in every rock fan's playlist.

KORN again proved to be the most popular band at the festival. With a new release, The Serenity Of Suffering to promote, they exploded onto the stage amid lots of smoke and flashing lights, much to the delight of their pumped up fans, and slayed them with a 12 song set, that included lots of goodies, both old and new. Highlights included “Rotting In Vain” and “Insane” from their latest, as well as an outstanding version of “Shoots And Ladders” that included bits of METALLICA’s “One” and sent the crowd surfers into hyper-drive, flying over the barriers like salmon swimming upstream to spawn.

Singer Jonathan Davis was his usual hyper self on stage, a manic ball of energy that is calm one second and frantic the next, almost like someone having a seizure. By the time KORN finished the show with the classic’s “Falling Away From Me” and “Freak On A Leash”, Davis looked exhausted. Drummer Ray Luzier is incredible, and drives the KORN machine, along with bassist Fieldy, with massive chunks of fuzz toned riffs that no other band seems to be able to duplicate. They are as original as they come. This band has become a very tight unit, and their fans brought the decibels to new levels with their approval, and passionate applause.

Closing out the festival was AVENGED SEVENFOLD. They have a huge fan base, and I was pleased to see so many stay for the duration of their 12 song set. They also have a new release to promote, The Stage, and had been on a few festivals this past summer. But it was older material that they focused on this day, much to the delight of their fans. Opening with “Nightmare”, as they have for the past few years, this Huntington Beach quintet featured the excellent skills of new drummer Brooks Wackerman, who I have been a fan of for a long time and consider the perfect fit for this band.

Plenty of pyrotechnics and guitar riffs, courtesy of Synyster Gates, and Zacky Vengeance (those names still make me laugh uncontrollably) were the bulk of the show, and singer M Shadows is fun to watch. I was also surprised that the one NEW song that they played was the title track off the latest The Stage and it was the first of a two song encore, followed by the set ending “Unholy Confessions” from way back in 2003. And, just like that, the Aftershock Festival was over. Happy and fulfilled, I took a walk through the park, and across the river bridge and back to my hotel. As I exited the festival site, I noticed groups of homeless people and their dogs had come out of the surrounding woods to gather and listen outside the gates. Nobody bothered them, and they seemed to, at least for a little while, be enjoying themselves, peacefully listening to the music.. It made me smile.

My thanks to all at Danny Wimmer Presents and Monster Energy for, once again, putting on a great party, and making it so comfortable and pleasant for all. Thanks again to Kristine at AM Media and all the people who worked and volunteered their time, to make it run like clockwork. I look forward to next year’s event.

Check out Junkman's Aftershock Festival photo galleries!

Gallery 1
Gallery 2


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