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JUNKMAN Recaps The 2017 AFTERSHOCK Festival

By Junkman, On-Air Personality
Tuesday, November 21, 2017 @ 6:12 AM

Discovery Park, Sacramento, California 10/21-10/22 2017

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Day 1 Photos By Kimberly Annette
Day 2 Photos By Junkman

The sixth annual Aftershock music festival rocked California’s capitol city once again, and an estimated 50,000 showed up for a diverse two days of great music, food and drink, with nary an arrest. Security was heavy with the recent disaster in Las Vegas looming on many minds, and everyone I saw simply was there to enjoy. Even the people who live in the surrounding woods of the park, came out at night, and brought their dogs and belongings to enjoy a terrific lineup of performers.

Day One of the festival brought out the extreme. Young bands like JOYOUS WOLF and DEAP VALLY made their presence known to the early crowd, while NOTHING MORE, HIGHLY SUSPECT and EAGLES OF DEATH METAL primed the large crowd for the real heavy stuff. GRETA VAN FLEET, delayed a few hours because their bus broke down while travelling to the event, more than made up for it, with another excellent set. They have been the “It band” for a while now, and their very “Led Zepplinesque” sound and youthful energy made them one of the most exciting bands on the bill.

GOJIRA, once again simply DESTROYED. Playing in the middle of a sunny afternoon, did not seem to matter to the sold out crowd, who were fired up throughout their eight song set. It was a sea of sweaty black t-shirts moshing it up in the pit, and the dust clouds that followed brought out large sales of bandanas at the merchandise stands. By the time they ended their set with “Vacuity” the lines for the beer stands tripled.

STONE SOUR always delivers, and they pummeled their audience with a brutal set focusing on new material from their latest release Hydrograd. At the same time, across the festival at the “Capitol Stage”, AGUST BURNS RED was giving their fans the show that they wanted, loud and heavy. With so many bands on three stages, sometimes it is hard to see them all. My advice is quick maneuvering and dodging through crowds, and Discovery Park is large enough to accommodate that. A large VIP area featuring lounge chairs, shady trees, and closed circuit TV showing all the action on stage is a great route to get from the main “Monster Stage” and “Blackcraft Stage” in a flash, providing of course, that you have the proper credentials. Just a heads up for future attendees, kick out the extra money for a VIP pass.

MASTODON pounded the late afternoon crowd with yet another punishing set in support of their latest Emperor Of Sand release, and half of their eleven song set was dedicated to it. Their fans loved every second of it, and, judging by the looks on the band members faces, they clearly were “feeling the love” from the sold-out Aftershock faithful. Bodies flung through the air like they were being hurtled out of cannons.

“Hip-Hop” or “Rap-Rock” had a large presence at Aftershock this year, in the form of wildly popular RUN THE JEWELS and TECH N9NE, that pumped up the younger people in the audience into a frenzy of non-stop attitude and fist waving. The beats are big, the samples are loud and everyone seemed to be having a blast. I guess that is all that matters, right?

Judging by the large amounts of merchandise sold at the T-shirt stands, the final two bands of Day 1 of the festival were the ones that most had come to see. A PERFECT CIRCLE, featuring TOOL and PUSCIFER singer Maynard James Keenan, brought out plenty of smoke and strobe lights to rival any KISS show and, as usual, Maynard preferred to lurk on the side or back of the stage during their performance, giving it a dreary, moody vibe. They played many of their most popular numbers, such as “The Hollow”, “3 Libras” and “Counting Bodies Like Sheep To The Rhythm Of The War Drums” that made most of the “Goth” following of their audience almost smile. And they premiered a new song “The Doomed” to conclude their set.

Closing out Day 1 of the fest was NINE INCH NAILS. It has been awhile since they have been around, but Trent Reznor and company made up for it with a very exciting nineteen song set that featured just about everything you would want to hear from them. Highlights included “March Of The Pigs”, “Something I Can Never Have”, an interesting version of the classic “Closer” and a bang-up “Head Like A Hole” that really lit up Discovery Park and all who were in attendance. Plenty of dark and back-lit stage lighting and smoke gave it a very spooky feel all the way through the set, which ended with the very introspective “Hurt” that sent everyone wearily back to where they would bed down for the night. Be it a hotel, or camping out in the woods, visions of NINE INCH NAILS and their intense set would send many a festival goer to an uneasy sleep.

Day Two of the festival started out strong with a rousing set from NEW YEARS DAY. STARSET and their curious space-suited guitarists and geeky front man sandwiched between a violinist and cellist makes for a great story, but I tend to consider their songs very generic. Maybe I just have to see them more than the three times I have seen them already, and again, my opinion is fun to watch, not much to listen to. They do have their fans though, and the early crowd seemed to be having a good time.

As a last minute replacement for the injured MARILYN MANSON, BUTCHER BABIES have a brand new record to plug, but unfortunately due to long delays with their equipment, their set was cut short. Singers Carla Harvey and Heidi Shepherd are all over the stage, primal scream after primal scream, and their fans enjoyed what they got, but again, time scheduling did not permit them to finish a full set. I spoke with them briefly afterward, and although disappointed, they had fun and will be touring all over the place with the release of their latest.

SUICIDAL TENDENCIES did what they always do. Raise a huge tornado of dust, due to the circle pits that break out from the very first not of their performance. Singer Mike Muir is himself a whirling dervish of punk energy as he stalks, shadowboxes, and bleats out ST favorites like “You Can’t Bring Me Down” and the disillusioned teenager anthem “Institutionalized”. The band keeps up with his frenetic pace, anchored by former SLAYER drummer Dave Lombardo and his pounding drum beats.

Heavyweights BEARTOOTH and POWER TRIP both put on excellent, intense sets filled with rage, grindcore and plenty of leaps and onstage bursts of frenetic energy from all band members. Meanwhile the Sunday crowd was joining along in the “battlefields” of Discovery Park. Flying bodies, mosh and “windmill” pits confronted the curious and many beers were spilled while the fans busied themselves and enjoyed the show.

HOLLYWOOD UNDEAD did their best hip-hop rock thing for a very enthusiastic group of fans, while FOZZY, led by the enigmatic Chris Jericho, had a very spirited set on the Capitol Stage, as the crowds of people kept on coming through the gates. Attendance was up, especially as the afternoon led into evening. IN THIS MOMENT brought their new stage show to the hardcore fans as well as the curious new ones, and it’s almost like a metal LADY GAGA experience.

Singer Maria Brink, her ghoulish looking band and background dancers aside is like a doom-rock queen as she arises, from behind a curtain, adorned with a large, spikey gold crown, flowing hair and robes, and proceeds to slay the audience with a show that is not only fun to watch, but sonically aesthetic. Chugging guitar meets slightly off-kilter vocals and plenty of stage props such as the aforementioned crown as well as the dunce cap that she wears for “Whore”.

While STEEL PANTHER was doing their best parody-metal on the Capitol Stage, HALESTORM returned to Aftershock and gave a good schooling on what a good old-fashioned ass kicking rock show was all about. Emerging from the wings, and dressed in black leather, while doing an acapella intro to their first hit, “I Get Off”, Lzzy Hale and company did what they do best from start to finish with their ten song set. Effortlessly shifting into the speedy tempo of “Love Bites (So Do I)” it was off to the races for this band from Pennsylvania who, it seems, has been on the road forever. Drummer AreJay Hale showed off his considerable drumming skills throughout as the band built up to a frenzy for a large part of the capacity crowd, who by now, were singing along to every word. Finishing up with the hit “I Miss The Misery” HALESTORM had come and conquered Aftershock like they had done in 2013, and so many other cities in between.

FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH, wrapped up the “Blackcraft” stage in typical fashion. This is clearly “the Peoples band” as one festival goer explained. They appeal to the average blue collar rock fan. And they go for the jugular of that particular demographic almost immediately with songs like “Lift Me Up” and “Never Enough” that started their eleven song set. Singer Ivan Moody has had his share of ups and downs the last few years, but put on a spirited performance today as he mugged and squirmed and incited the crowd to indeed, rise up.

Bassist Chris Kael is a trip to watch. Constantly in motion, pulling on his huge beard, or giving the crowd the finger in between pounding out the low end on his bass, this goliath has become the anchor of this band since joining in 2011. Guitarists Zoltan Bathory and Jason Hook are always at one with the audience and trade off on lead guitar noodling throughout the set. They even broke down for a couple of acoustic numbers “Wrong Side Of Heaven” and “Remember Everything” towards the end of the set. Moody, as always, salutes the members of the military and brings kids onstage, adding to their appeal of the common rock fan. Always good to see this sort of thing happen, in a world so dominated by artists who put a barrier between themselves and their audience.

“The Prince of Darkness”, the one and only OZZY OSBOURNE and his band were the day’s main draw, and naturally closed out the festival. Touring with his solo band, after the “farewell tour” last year with BLACK SABBATH the sometimes unpredictable singer was on his game tonight. His voice, from the opening number “Bark At The Moon”, was vintage Ozzy and held up throughout the thirteen song 75 minute set. In fact it was the best I have heard him sound in many years. He absolutely nailed oldies like “I Don’t Know” and “Crazy Train” from his first solo record, as well as BLACK SABBATH faves “Fairies Wear Boots”, “War Pigs” and “Iron Man". His band, featuring the return of guitarist Zakk Wylde to the fold, was right on cue at all times. Wylde even jumped into the audience and took a lap around the grounds while playing behind his back and with his teeth. The perfect foil for the 70 year old Osbourne, who can only do so much, outside of his patented “frog hops” and constant pleads of “I can’t fucking hear you” to the audience.

Osbourne and band brought the weekend to a close with the one-two punch of “Mama I’m Coming Home” and the fast paced SABBATH classic “Paranoid” that sent everyone streaming out of Discovery Park with huge smiles on their faces. Totally satisfied with a weekend of great music, and fun. Exactly the way it should be. Happy people, exiting in an orderly fashion, literally “over the river and through the woods.” There were no snipers, or violence of any kind, and that is a tribute to the hard work done by the good folks at Danny Wimmer Presents, the festivals organizer, as well as a great security staff and a wonderful venue for the festival. One of my favorites to attend, that’s for sure. I look forward to next year’s event. Again my thanks the city of Sacramento, and to all that made it possible.

Check out some more photos from the show!
Day 1 Photos By Kimberly Annette
Day 2 Photos By Junkman

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