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Aftershock Brought the Rock

By Seth M

AftershockTake a 150+ acre park in northern California, turn it over to Danny Wimmer Presents, add in his amazing team that includes the people from Right Arm and AM Media, sponsors like Monster Energy and Ernie Ball, and then put up three stages for 36 bands over two days.  What do you get?  One hell of a festival, otherwise known as Aftershock.

Taking over Discovery Park ~ located just outside of downtown Sacramento ~ Monster Energy’s Aftershock Festival was nothing short of a huge success in only its [expanded] second year of existence. I’ve said it before and will day it again ~ Danny and Gary of Right Arm have mastered the rock festival formula in the US and I’m pretty damn sure the 32,000 rock fans who showed up at the Park would agree with me.

Aftershock was set up with two main stages ~ Monster Energy North and South ~ which allowed for a continuous stream of music all day long. When the band playing the South Stage finished their last note, it was just a matter of minutes before the North Stage band began. During those seamless transitions, or if you were hungry and wanted a change of scenery, you could take a five minute walk past vendors selling everything from BBQ and Mexican food to oysters and burgers ~ and, of course, plenty of beer ~ to the Ernie Ball stage.

With this kind of festival, the atmosphere that’s created is almost as important as the music. Aftershock is the perfect balance, offering some of the biggest, hardest, most popular touring bands around taking the stage(s) and also doing signings at the various sponsor booths.

Day 1 featured 19 bands across the three stages. The smaller Ernie Ball stage hosted bands like Butcher Babies, Eye Empire, Nothing More, Heaven’s Basement and Love And Death while the main stages featured, naturally, the main attractions. Although some festival-goers attend just for those main acts, when I cover these festivals I always try to make it to the smaller stages to check out what/who’s going on. I mean Korn, the headliner on Day 1, will blow you away guaranteed (as they did this time, once again), but bands like Eye Empire and Heaven’s Basement shouldn’t be missed. Who knows, you might discover your new favorite band…

While the Ernie Ball stage was rocking hard with newer talent, bands including In This Moment, Steel Panther, P.O.D, Testament, Skillet and Buckcherry were busy amping up the crowds for the evening. Hometown boys Papa Roach were on fire, with singer Jacoby Maddox urging the crowd to show all the bands what Sacramento was made of as he jumped from the stage and down to the field to get closer to the crowd, meeting, greeting and singing with/for fans. I’ve seen Papa Roach many times and this was probably one of the highest energy shows I have ever experienced from them. They ended their set with “Last Resort” ~  bringing out their original drummer ~ and the crowd was still cheering as the mighty Megadeth took the stage. Even though I had just seen Megadeth the night before at the Battle of San Bernardino, they were still impressive as ever, playing a set that included “Kingmaker,” “Hangar 18,″ “Symphony of Destruction,” and finally “Peace Sells” before coming out for a 10 minute encore.

Darkness had descended upon Sacramento by the time the final two bands ~ quite different yet equally exciting ~ were ready to take the stage. On the Monster Energy Stage North, the curtain dropped (literally) to pyro, a full carnival of fire swallowers, dancers and jugglers as Shinedown played the opening notes of “I’m Not Alright.” They continued on, in Shinedown fashion, belting out hit after hit and putting on a great show as 30,000 strong sang along. Then it was time for some straight forward, no flash, no dancing, pure heavy duty metal: yes, it was time for KORN! They hit the stage at 8:40pm as the crowd went insane with the first cymbal chimes of “Blind.” Packing their set with energy and songs like “Coming Undone,” “Ya’ll Want a Single,” and “Freak on a Leash,” Korn brought Day One to a close ~ and fans had definitely gotten their money’s worth and then some.

Day Two came way too quickly for me as I had done a lot of traveling (with much more ahead), and was thoroughly exhausted ~ but nothing was going to keep me from getting to the site early to see friends Gemini Syndrome. The day kicked off with Hell or Highwater and then Gemini came out for their second year at Aftershock. Having just released their debut album LUX, they came out strong and totally rocked to fans who remembered them from last year.

The day’s early afternoon lineup included bands like Soil, Pop Evil, Asking Alexendria and a repeat performance from Day One’s Nothing More. As the day progressed, Finnish rockers Him took the stage and the early evening brought us one of my personal favorites, Danish rockers Volbeat. Sandwiched between these two Scandinavian bands were festival darlings and Grammy award winners Halestorm, who play a lot of festivals; they came out, rocked like hell, and proved that their touring experience is polishing them into one of the strongest bands around.

All That Remains was rocking the Ernie Ball stage but the majority of fans were making their way to the main stages for the final bands of Aftershock. Although the true final band of the evening was Avenged Sevenfold, I don’t think many would dispute that Five Finger Death Punch stole Day Two. There was no question they were the most anticipated act of the day and NO ONE was disappointed. Front man Ivan Moody made sure to get everyone ~ from both stages ~ involved and even brought kids up on stage to join them. Five Finger was pure energy, playing songs like “Lift Me Up,” “Burn it Down,” “Far From Home,” and even their cover of “Bad Company.” They closed out their set with “The Bleeding” and although I haven’t always been a huge FFDP fan, they were the highlight of my festival day.

Following Five Finger it was just a matter of moments before Avenged Sevenfold took to the stage with a giant skeleton king as their backdrop. Dueling guitars courtesy of Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance are one of the highlights of any Avenged song, pyro, and fire-filled show. Tens of thousands of fans stayed to see the 90 minute set that featured “Welcome to the Family,” “Hail to the King,” “Nightmare,” and “Requiem” and ended with “Unholy Confessions.”

Like on Day One, fans definitely got their money’s worth on Day Two and Aftershock was once again a huge success from start to finish.

As the throngs were making their way to the exits, preparing themselves for that California traffic, I am sure they all shared the same thoughts about what a great two days they’d just had… and also, “Who can they get to top this for next year’s Festival?”

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