Sacramento Ca USA
Written by Sason Bishope Parry
Photos by: Steve Thrasher, Nathan Zucker & Lexie Alley
Northern California’s biggest hard rock festival, Aftershock Festival 2022, returned to Sacramento’s Discovery Park on Thursday (October 6) through Friday (October 9), expanding to four days of musical debauchery. Over 40,000 headbanging music lovers came together each day for the 10th year edition, which included the who’s who in metal and hard rock led by KISS, Slipknot, Rob Zombie, Evanescence, My Chemical Romance, GWAR, and MUSE. The weather was on the hotter side, but that didn’t stop fans from all walks of life from coming out by the thousands. This marked the first year that Aftershock expanded to four days, giving fans more incredible music, more experiences, and of course, more memories to take away. There is no better therapy to clear the head than a weekend of music, and the energy from fans throughout the grounds seemed intoxicating. The festival has been known to embrace and bring out a diverse musical crowd and tastes with its wide range of rock music. But it was clear that the central scene in attendance were metalheads, punk rockers to emo, and decked-out goth kids all cruising from stage to stage in celebration of music, to show off their fits, and to catch their favourite act. It was as though the pandemic era was over, as organizers Danner Wimmer Presents utilized every inch of the festival grounds to showcase the music and many attractions, art installs, arts and crafts, distilleries, and a wide selection of delicious food. They also had vegan options for those wanting to ditch eating animals for a healthier dose of eats over the weekend. Security was at an all-time high, and medics were close by for those that partied a little too hard to ensure everyone stayed safe. Good vibes were everywhere, and a sense of community and union as though thousands of friends had just got together to celebrate. We didn’t make it out on Thursday, but I heard the opening day was fantastic and filled with incredible performances.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIDAY, SATURDAY AND SUNDAY THAT ROCKED OUR WORLD!
Former Audiophobia drummer/vocalist turned TikTok rocker Jeris Johnson came to the stage ready to showcase his talents, and he did not disappoint! He performed an all-encompassing heavy set with nonstop adrenalin-packed energy that included many hits. A highlight came when Johnson played a remix of Papa Roaches, classic “Last Resort,” paying tribute to the Northern Cali legends also headlining the bill on Saturday. He calls himself “The Future of Rock,” and based on his charisma on stage and magnetic performance, he just might be – as it was hard to take your eyes off him. If you missed it, you definitely want to catch him in the future, as he is one act to follow.
MOTIONLESS IN WHITE
One of the day’s most anticipated bands was the American heavy metal meets goth outfit, Motionless in White. They are one of the top-played bands on Sirius XM’s “Liquid Metal” show and clearly a crowd favourite, given the size of the headbanging crowd in front of the stage. Lead singer Chris “Motionless” Cerulli is a natural performer who knows how to engage with fans. Along with his amazing bandmates, he commanded the crowd nonstop with an energetic performance that left wave after wave of crowd surfers dumped into the pit area in front of the stage. One of our favourite songs played was “Eternally Yours,” an emotional and beautiful song that mixes hardcore with beautifully belted-out lyrics. You know a band has class when it offers up roses to fans showing that they are not only kickass but still have a soft heart. One of my favourites of the day!
Another crowd favourite was Virginia metal rockers GWAR who always bring an experience that is out of this world. Like KISS, they come out fully masked in incredible costumes from horns to fur to crazy creature masks and just command the stage, unlike anything you have ever seen. They kickstarted their set with “Cutter” and “The Issue of Tissue,” and fans went into a frenzy. GWAR Is a band that you absolutely must witness live to believe the crazy hype and chitter chatter of fans after any show. Oh, and there was blood and more blood! Spraying the crowd with fake blood while performing their heavy metal hit “Let us Slay,” GWAR just took us to another planet, where anything goes, and victimized us with unforgettable songs from their long catalogue and stage antics for about 40 minutes. It was nice to have breakdowns between tunes as they excited fans with stories and talks of crazy relationships and politics. GWAR is a band you have to see once in your lifetime!
The Nu-Metal band from Illinois unleashed their thundering sound once again at Aftershock, marking their 5th appearance and one of the 1st bands ever to play the decade-old festival. We’ve caught Chevelle live several times, but this was the best show we had seen from them and definitely one of their heaviest and hardest-hitting performances. They played songs that spanned their career and new tunes, including “Self Destructor,” written for their pandemic-released album, “Niratias.” Fans clearly felt the energy as well, as the afternoon crowd swayed in awe, captivated by each song. Many fans we spoke to feel a deep connection to songs written during the pandemic since they had so much downtime, so it made sense that this energy resonated well. Chevelle was the perfect afternoon musical high to get fans headbanging and in the mood, and we loved them.
I had never caught KISS before and have been a fan for years, so you can imagine our excitement to see them live finally. And OMG, they were spectacular! From production to hit songs to stage presence, they brought it all! Their massive fan base was clear, given the ocean of fans, many in face gear and KISS costumes, and the biggest crowd of the night for these powerhouse headliners. Without a doubt, they also had the most significant production and most captivating performance of the day, with flames shooting out everywhere, pyro, and even moving stages. The band opened with “Detroit Rock City” and played for almost two hours long. Gene Simmons ruled the show, taunting fans with his massive tongue and blood-spewing theatrics. Their performances are, by and large, family-friendly entertainment (catering to the very lucrative kid’s market), but their songs are classics known by young and old. “We made it through the pandemic, but we’ve got a doctor here, yelled Paul Stanley, bringing the house down as they rolled into “Calling Dr. Love.” The Kiss Army was out in full force, enjoying the fireworks and theatrics accompanying a Kiss concert as they closed their amazing set with “Rock and Roll All Nite” as fans sang along. What a show!
The punk and Emo SoCal band from Irvine that formed in the late 90s absolutely crushed their set! Fresh on the heels of their latest album, “Horizon’s/East,” Thrice ripped through new and old songs spanning their long career, which included hits “Black Honey” and “Firebreather.” Thrice is known for always bringing the house down with their consistent energy, sound, and emotional connection to their songs that pierce right through you. They have a loyal diehard fanbase, which I’m sure many were in attendance as they had a friendly size crowd that continued to grow throughout their excellent set.
THEORY OF A DEADMAN
The Canadian post-grunge band “Theory of A Deadman” was full of energy, fun, engagement, and crowd interaction. Lead singer Tyler Connolly could have been a natural standup comedian as he played with the crowd throughout their set, and they ate it up. Fans sang along to tracks that included “Lowlife” and “Hate My Life “and even got teased by Tyler as he did a short rendition of Country singer Garth Brook’s classic, “Friends in Low Places.” It was a great set from start to finish, and their catchy melodies and hooks stayed with us long after they finished.
By the looks of the massive crowd awaiting, it was crystal clear that another anticipated festival act was the flamboyant British punk rocker Yungblud. You could feel the excitement from young fans, almost like the Beatles had just landed in the 60s. He is a born natural and had the crowd in the palms of his hand from the minute he hit the stage. The huge pit continued to grow as kids moshed throughout his entire set, chanting and screaming out. He kept the energy on peak level the whole time and had the crowd pumped as he rocked, “Don’t Be Afraid to Be Yourself.” At one point, we thought MGK might end up on stage, as he amped up their collaboration, “I think I’m Okay.” Everyone looked okay, but after that intense performance, it’s safe to say many needed a shot of B-12 or some caffeine to recharge.
By far one of my personal favourites acts this year. NYC hip-hoppers City Morgue killed it with a perfect blend of rap, rock, and punk that had fans bobbing, bouncing, and weaving. Band members, ZillaKami, SosMula, and producer Thraxx are on fire right now, and they brought that energy to their performance. Attracting a massive crowd until the very last note, City Morgue set the tone for Saturday night and any act that followed. It’s always awesome that Aftershock brings out a few hip-hop acts that cross over every year, and this year was no exception. They were the perfect act to appeal to both rock and hip-hop fans. Definitely one act we hope the festival invites back again.
The highly anticipated Papa Roach! The biggest rock band to ever come out of Vacaville, just a hop, skip, and jump away, were just as excited and amazed to be headliners of Aftershock 2022 as fans were to see them. No doubt this was their biggest hometown reunion, and you could feel the love from the front of the stage to the end of the park as a legion of fans came out in full support of their local heroes. Lead singer Jacoby Shaddix and his band brought their A-game and just murdered the stage! From their adrenalin-pumping opener, “Kill the Noise,” to all of their biggest hits that included “Help,” “Blood Brother,” and “Getting Away with Murder,” to a kickass cover of The Prodigy’s “Firestarter,” it was pure energy, and they owned every minute of it. The band even shot its new “One Take” music video during “No Apologies” and with fans in the crowd as their backdrop. The highlight came as they brought out the UC Davis marching band to close out a phenomenal set with an excellent performance of “Born for Greatness.” Undoubtedly one of the best of the night.
BRING ME THE HORIZON
British import hard rockers, Bring Me the Horizon took the Jack Daniels stage by storm with the opening screamo song, “Can You Feel My Heart.” They continued to put on an impressive set with an outstanding production that included out-of-this-world visuals and an interesting AI-type character giving commands to the audience throughout their performance. It was something different that many of us hadn’t seen and blended well with their excellent hard rock sound. Lead singer Oliver Sykes has an incredible vocal range and can scream up a storm, but you must wonder how he can do that night after night and sound so good. They also had one of the biggest mosh pits of the day that had fans losing their minds until the end, as they belted out “Throne,” closing their set on a high note.
When we discovered that the Villarreal sisters, from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, were playing this year’s Aftershock, we knew we had to arrive early to catch their set. The trio sister group, known to fans as The Warning, consists of Daniela (Dany) on guitar and lead vocals, Paulina (Pau) on drums and lead vocals, and Alejandra (Ale) on bass and backing vocals. The sisters took the stage and held their own with a ferocious and energetic opening set that got the attention of fans out of the gate. Just off the heels of their U.S. tour with Halestorm, they commanded the stage like old veterans playing songs off their major label debut, “Error.” Their highly popular cover of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” was a crowd favourite, and they crushed it! “We were so honoured to be asked to be a part of the Metallica Black List,” Dany Villareal said. The honour was all ours, as they were absolutely stunning live!
As soon as Florida rockers Shinedown hit the stage, it was clear that they brought enough fireworks to light up a dozen 4th of July celebrations. Their production was literally over the top and perfectly choreographed! Singer Brent Smith has one of the best voices in rock and has the ability to take you on a journey. With fireworks exploding overhead, Shinedown brought the heat and an inspiring set that included favourites like “How Do You Love,” “Planet Zero,” and a beautiful version of their newest ballad, “Daylight.” Smith even took time to talk about the pandemic and asked for a moment of prayer to remember those lost before ripping fans’ heads off again. Their powerhouse performance of the hit song “Second Chance” and later closing numbers “Diamond Eyes” and “The Sound of Madness” reminded us of their greatness and why they are considered one of the best. They walked off stage, leaving us screaming for more.
THE PRETTY RECKLESS
This year’s Aftershock brought back another NYC rock favourite, Taylor Mornsens The Pretty Reckless, and they were explosive. Like many other acts at the fest, it seemed they wanted to keep the energy on a high level their entire set, and fans showed their enthusiasm by moshing and rushing the stage. Mornsen’s sultry voice was flawless as she belted out anthem after anthem from their latest album, “Death by Rock and Roll.” The band continued their set, ripping into their hit, “Make Me Wanna Die,” which Mornsen’s said started it all for them. Guitarist Ben Phillips was a highlight as he worked the stage, showing off his fantastic solos and riffs and showcasing his talents. Arguably one of the best sets of the entire festival.
Muse is one of those bands that can play anywhere, anytime, and to any crowd and just blow their mind. Yes, they are that good, and they are three of the best musicians in the world, especially lead singer Matt Bellamy! They were a replacement for the Foo’s dropping out last minute due to the unfortunate death of Taylor Hawkins, and they did not disappoint. The talented trio took the stage in hoodies and fantastic mirrored masks and began their assault on fans with the power and performance one would expect from this chart-topping trio from across the pond. The headliners played the heaviest anthems of their chart-topping careers, as Matt Bellamy mixed in riffs from popular songs such as ACDC’s “Back in Black” and Guns N Roses, “Sweet Child of Mine,” which ignited the sea of fans into a nonstop frenzy. Their almost 2-hour set included crowd sing-along anthems, “Time Is Running Out,” Hysteria,” “Stockholm Syndrome,” “Supermassive Black Hole,” and “Starlight.” The production was pure eye candy, with an incredible visual and light show that would give any “Rave Party” a run for its money and has become a staple of every Muse live show. What makes Muse even more remarkable is their incredible ability to jam for lengthy periods between songs with excellent interludes, massive guitar riffs, and electronic sounds, and seamlessly blending from track to track. Muse is all about the music, not much talking, no long-winded stories, just an incredible musical journey from start to finish, and we loved every minute of it! Muse turned out to be an excellent and unexpected closing act for Aftershock.
All we can say is WOW, JUST WOW! No question that is adding a fourth day was the right decision, as from what we heard, Thursday was just as awesome as any other day, and given all the talent and experiences, a week of Aftershock seems warranted. The whole weekend was perfect, and I know this sounds cliché, but arguably the best year of Aftershock to date. Our highlights covered just a fraction of what we saw, heard, and experienced, as it would be like writing a book to share every fantastic performance and attraction. Trust me, there was plenty! From newbies to old-school rock stars, each performance was unique and spectacular in its own right, showcasing a diverse amount of talent to appeal to every musical palate. Overall, the organizers knocked it out of the park. One of my favourite experiences was just walking around through crowds and seeing how excited everyone was and all the good energy amongst fans. Festivals are known to bring out the best in most people, and regardless of who we are, individually unite everyone through the power of music, and Aftershock was no exception. Aftershock is a festival that your children will enjoy and their children’s children. A perfect addition to Northern California’s music scene that eventgoers look forward to year after year. By far one of the best festivals in Northern California, and we look forward to seeing what Danny Wimmer Presents have in store for 2023 – Maybe a week of Aftershock? Well, we can dream big, woohoo!
For more info on Aftershock Festival and to buy tickets for 2023 go to: www.aftershockfestival.com