Written by Bonnie Adams
Discovery Park in Sacramento, California, has been home to Monster Energy’s Aftershock Music Festival for six out of its seven-year existence now and has grown to become the biggest heavy Rock festival in the area. 2018 was no exception, as both Saturday and Sunday were SOLD OUT with over 60 thousand head bangers in attendance and making this the biggest Aftershock festival to date! We caught so many amazing sets, which included highlights from System of A Down, GodSmack, Gwar, Slash’s new band with Myles Kennedy, The Deftones, Incubus, Amigo The Devil, Shinedown and so many more. Hopefully, this will be the turning year that will allow promoters to follow through with their vision of making Aftershock a three-day weekend of absolute mayhem!
This year organizers expanded the festival by extending areas underneath the Garden Park Highway giving us more room to roam. This made it easier to experience adventure booths like the Kola dispensary, Heavy grass, and Swisher Sweets that may have otherwise been hidden in small corners. Most agreed it was great to see the inclusion of medical/recreational cannabis at the festival, definitely a highlight for us and for California. The VIP area was between the two main stages, and with only one exit, it made it a bit difficult to navigate through, but it was a small hiccup in comparison to what those willing to shell out the extra cash got to experience. From lush areas to chill zones, prime views of the main stages and multiple food choices, VIP’s got more than their money’s worth. Several added additions this year were cornhole and Jenga games set up throughout the VIP areas, adding a little bit of “family fun” flair or for those looking to take a break from the music for while.
SATURDAY MUSIC HIGHLIGHTS:
Our Saturday music experience started out with Provoker, a new wave, the new band that really delivered! Dirty honey followed with some crazy cool cover songs that were made even more awesome by insanely great vocals. Viza (Touring with System Of A Down) had a cool Eastern Mediterranean fusion that was really catchy and from the sizeable crowd watching they were a favorite. The Dose had an indie-rock flair and “fun fact”, they are the infamous “Iron Man” Robert Downey Junior’s son’s band, Indio Downey. Hyro the Hero, set an aftershock first of the day by crowd surfing the audience, moshing, and overall building a great connection with fans. We also saw them at the “Afterparty” Aftershock show in downtown Sacramento and they had another killer set.
Wage War, which is a personal favorite followed. They had so much power over the audience it was as if we were all entranced by the deepening bass and profound and emotional lyrics – we were all one at that moment… moshing, chanting, and screaming every word. With horns held high, Wage War really rocked the Capital stage, which was sponsored by Kola dispensary. Although it was one of the smallest stages of the event, it was one of the most exciting. Then came Red Sun Rising who gave an astonishing show that was one word, “Powerful!” Next, up New Jersey rockers, Monster Magnet played music that was an ode to classic rock with a new age flair to it, taking us all back in time for a brief moment.
Another Saturday highlight was Stick To Your Guns who played one of their most intense songs “Us Against Them All” that had the entire crowd singing along. One of the heaviest bands on the bill was Emmure, who raged through a hardcore death metal set, sending fans into a non-stop frenzy. British Rock band, Asking Alexandria, who actually started earlier in the day, played songs from their self-titled album and left us screaming for an encore that unfortunately never came. Then we geared up for the highly anticipated heavy metal band GWAR, who just terrorized the Capital stage, between parodies of Trump having his body eviscerated and spraying blood (and other unmentionable alien fluids) across the audience. Their thick accents lent to a very unique sound along with their industrial/mechanical metal, complete with Aliens battling villains in the background. Watching GWAR perform was truly something I’ll never forget.
Another crowd favorite was alternative metal band Sevendust who brought so much energy and passion to their set they could have easily been headlining. Lead singer Lajon Witherspoon is a force to be reckoned with. As the night continued on, we were entranced by the eccentric performance of Jonathan Davis, the charismatic lead singer of Korn. I overheard mumblings from fans commenting about much they loved Davis’s solo set. However, for many fans the Vinnie Paul tribute band was truly the showstopper of the day, just “Awesomeness” on all levels. Following this amazing tribute to Vinnie Paul was a very bluesy performance by old school rockers 311. What a surprising twist to a normally very heavy festival, but hey, variety is the spice of life and they held their own entertaining old and new fans and playing most of their classic hits.
Then came the lyrical genius of Action Bronson, the only rapper of the festival and he just blew our mind with tongue-twisting verses and hip-hop fused beats that made it hard for even the most diehard metal-heads to not groove along! As night came, Saturday’s three headliners took the stage one by one as eager fans waited in anticipation. Starting with the beloved Shinedown who gave an enthralling and heartfelt performance that highlighted their personality and showmanship. As lead singer Brent Smith walked down the stage to face the entirety of loyal fans, he connected us all showing once again the power of music to unite. Shinedown’s performance rivaled both Godsmack and SOAD for the best set of Aftershock 2018!
Not to say that we weren’t rocked by a soul-shaking, ear-piercing performance by Godsmack, that engraved the minds of every person there, young, old, and everything In between. Bringing out the dual drum kit led to a roar of excitement from a sea of fans and only intensified their already enticing performance. Last, yet certainly not the least, The Deftones! Back in their hometown performing on their 30th anniversary, lead singer Chino Moreno and his bandmates played their headlining performance with pure raw aggression given to each song. The highlight was a tribute to a classic AC/DC song as they finished off Saturday night with their mesmerizing show. We couldn’t ask for a better way to end Aftershock 2018 day one!
SUNDAY MUSIC HIGHLIGHTS:
Sunday’s set started out with The Jacks. Aftershock being their very first major festival, they performed classic metal, adding a twang of a throwback to their upbeat anthem “Tonight”. Next was Los Angeles county rockers LAW who sang with a larger than life personality, showing an air of confidence, paired with over the top vocals from lead singer Jakob Nowell. Rocking out earlier in the day Slothrust had a beautiful female lead singer/guitarist, who gave us a killer guitar solo during their song “3 am”, just epic. After Slothrust, came Tennessee Rockers All Them Witches. While uniquely repetitive, they still managed to crank out great oldies, including an awesome rendition of “Funeral For A Drunken Bird”.
The great music continued on with Miami raised singer Danny Kirano known to fans as his eccentric alter-ego Amigo The Devil. Kirano brought out a beautiful banjo, playing twisted songs about his wife finding drugs then, going blind and another crazy cool tune called “I hope your husband dies”. Hey, we have room for all the weird and strange ones here at Aftershock and we loved it! Punk Rock outfit Plague Vendor showcased their beautiful sound and supercharged vocals with each and every song they played. Then another Los Angeles band Dorothy led by the beautiful vocalist Dorothy Martin performed some of their best songs including “Who Do You Love” and “Wicked Ones”.
The day wouldn’t have been complete without Inglewood’s rapcore, supergroup The Fever 333 that consisted of former let live vocalist Jason Aalon Butler, former The Chariot guitarist Stevie Harrison and Night Verses drummer Aric Improta. They ripped through tunes like “Burn it” with Butler singing his heart out. What a thrill to watch The Fever 333 crowd surf, mosh with the crowd and give a spoken word speech about Inclusion no matter what race, which truly touched us all. Moving fast through the day we distinctly remember Dance Gavin Dance performing a well, executed screamo set (and by that I mean I could still understand what was being said Lol) along with some angelic singing to round off a great set.
One the biggest highlights came from the multitalented Erik Francis Schrody, known by his stage name, Everlast, who played, great versions of “What it’s like” and a kickass cover of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues”, complete with a rustic acoustic guitar. Full redemption came from Hollywood’s Black Veil Brides, who we remember having some technical difficulties last year. This year the rockers, glammed out in their signature black attire, long hair, make-up and 80’s fit, blew the roof off with an astonishing vividly visual performance showing a loyal fan base who sung along to every song like “Faithless” and “Rebel Love song” that they came prepared to rock, and definitely did!
Keeping on with the day’s theme, Bullet For My Valentine kept the pace going, performing their heavy new song “Don’t Need You” as fans roared and moshed with approval. Another highlight came from South Africa rockers Seether. Worthy of endless praise, they absolutely crushed it and go down as one of our top 5 performances of the weekend. They closed their set out in style with an incredible rendition of “Remedy” complete with smashing an electric guitar and throwing the pieces into the audience. Hailing from El Paso Texas, At The Drive-In kept our energy racing off the charts! Showcasing their mic tricks and stage appeal, they brought their A-game and fans soaked up every minute.
One act we were really anticipating was guitar God Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators and they did not disappoint. I mean, how could the Guns N Roses guitarist let us down when they kicked our teeth in with a great cover of “Nightrain” and his non-stop guitar shredding? And with vocals from Kennedy, who is arguably one of the best rock singers alive, they were just phenomenal from start to finish, such a great band. Then came our favorite 90’s grunge metal band Alice In Chains who sounded so on point. It was hard to tell we were even at a live concert versus a recording of “Down In A Hole”. An iconic performance we won’t soon forget and hats off to singer/guitar player Robert Duvall who held his own, sounding eerily close to the late Layne Staley – Just Wow!
As the golden hour started to creep up upon us, the excitement grew as we geared up for the main events of the night. First up, Incubus was such an emotional rollercoaster, from tears being shed during songs like “Drive”, to massive sing along’s during “Wish You Were Here” and “Nice To Know You”, we were captivated and lost in the moment. Ah, watching lead singer Brandon Boyd perform is one thing everyone needs to do once in their lifetime, as he is such a legendary rock star and always leaves fans wanting more. The night could have ended there and would have still been one of the best Aftershock’s to date, but of course, there was more.
Wrapping up the second and final night of Aftershock, headliners System Of A Down gave us the best performance of the festival. Commanding the attention of fans and clearly, the biggest crowd of the weekend stretching all the way across Discovery Park, politically incorrect lead singer Serj Tankien created a sense of family amongst strangers and took us on a musical ride that left us awe-struck. We stood amongst thousands of fellow SOAD lovers hugging and singing our hearts out together to “Lonely day” and jumping like energizer bunnies to “Bounce” and so many more raging tunes. The entire front of the crowd was a liquid mosh pit, you either went with the flow or were trampled by its power. It was a life-changing performance and the perfect ending to yet another record-breaking year for Aftershock.
From cool art installs to music vendors and arts and crafts, Aftershock went all out, decking out Discovery Park and creating a full-on musical entertainment land. Street artists were commissioned to create beautiful works of live art on several walls set up throughout areas of the festival. If you were early on Saturday, you were able to watch these creative spirits at work with tons of spray paint, masks, and their lucid imaginations. They were truly awesome to watch. From Skulls adorned with roses, to full-on picturesque wolves, these street artists were a welcomed addition to Aftershock. Throughout the festival, you’ll find yourself at many different music and merchandise vendors, from non-profit vendors like “To write love on your arms” to booths full of the dye apparel, tapestries, blankets and more. There were tons of unique clothing booths filled with hats, shirts, masks, necklaces, bracelets, and just about every other accessory you could think of and of course loads of Aftershock branded gear to nab up. It was an amazing art and vendor fair and one that we hope is expanded on in years to come.
There’s just something about being in an area with like-minded individuals, all in your element and enjoying the vibes of everything aftershock 2018 had to offer. Shinedown reminded us that we are all brethren of heavy metal, Godsmack touched our soul, Seether and Incubus brought us all back into our feelings, and SOAD reminded us that we are all a little weird after all. In a World of chaos at times, it is awesome to be able to break away from the daily grind and enjoy a full-on weekend of emotionally charged music that not only bangs your head but also hits you heavy in the heart and spirit. Everywhere you walked you could feel the good vibes, the intense energy, the unity and the love for the music, which I’m sure lifted many in attendance and hopefully carried over into their personal lives – after all isn’t that what it is all about.
All in all, Aftershock, hit on every high note and even with a bigger attendance, the experience wasn’t lost and clearly left room for growth! As we filed out with thousands of other Aftershockers, smiling and cheering with heads held high, we knew we had just taken part in something special. If organizers have plans to expand to three days that would be a welcome addition to the 2019 edition. One thing for sure, Aftershock Festival has firmly rooted itself as one of the best hard rock destination festivals in the Country and we can expect it to rock the NorCal area for many years to come. Congrats to the organizers and everyone involved in staging such a great year!
For more info on Aftershock Music Festival visit: www.aftershockfestival.com