Discovery Park (Sacramento, CA)
– Words and Photos by James Villa –
There’s no doubt that the rock and roll scene is on major overload when it comes to music festivals. All sorts of cities across the fruited plain have gotten on the bandwagon this year. Some were simply outstanding while others, well. Count the relatively young Aftershock Music Festival in Sacramento, California as one of those events that will be around for years to come.
The event was staged at Discovery Park. In only its second year of existence, the festival drew a sold-out crowd of some 32,000 people to the 160-acre preserve located near the heart of the state capital. Held the second weekend of September, it featured the likes of Five Finger Death Punch, Megadeth, Halestorm, H.I.M. and Volbeat. Other bands of note participating also included Shinedown, Buckcherry, Papa Roach and Steel Panther. The headliners respectively were Korn on day one and Avenged Sevenfold on day two.
A sell-out crowd of 32,000 attended the weekend shows. The multi-stage set up allowed for a smooth transition of the 20 bands that performed Saturday, and the 17 acts that hit the stages on Sunday. There was little overlapping of the music despite the very little downtime between acts on the main stages. Unfortunately, bands performing on the smaller Ernie Ball stage did suffer slightly from the main stage overlaps. Attendance for all the bands was excellent.
There were highlights galore throughout the festival, but the standout of the two-day festival hands down was Korn. The high-energy, ‘in-your-face’ performance of Jonathan Davis & company just couldn’t be topped. The return of Brian “Head” Welch has definitely rejuvenated the musical spirits of this group. Yes, Avenged Sevenfold did a masterful job, but its monster prop show was more of a distraction than an attraction, despite the fact it lit up the night sky with pyro.
I also want to give props to Shinedown. This Florida-based band is still touring 18 months after the release of their masterful recording, Amarylis. For an album to still have its legs under a year and a half after its release is simply remarkable. The band brought its Carnival of Madness gear on stage with them complete with circus performers, a spectacular light show and plenty of pyro to light up the festivities.
Day one had many surprises, one such surprise was the return of Dave Buckner (The Halo Method) former drummer of Papa Roach who made a return appearance ending Papa Roach’s set by filling in on drums during their performance of “Last Resort”.
The Ernie Ball side stage featured some incredible up and coming hard rock acts. On the first day, the Butcher Babies were the talk of the festival. Not sure what to say about the dynamic duo of vocalists Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey except wow. Other highlights included A Day to Remember who’s singer Jeremy McKinnon took to the crowd in a giant inflatable hamster ball. Meanwhile All That Remains were bumped from their original time slot from the main stage to the Ernie Ball site due to bus problems that forced them to arrive late. At first they were disappointed about playing the second stage. They quickly changed their tune as thousands of rock fans crammed the area to catch a glimpse of the performance. The turnout inspired All That Remains to put on one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen.
Kudos also go out to the San Antonio-based metal act, Nothing More. Their stellar noon time performance on day one prompted event organizers to bring the band back the next day to the main stage, where they basically opened for the Finnish hard rock act, H.I.M. Other bands of note included Pop Evil, Asking Alexandra, Gemini Syndrome, Soil as well as Christian rockers Thousand Foot Crutch, Skillet and P.O.D.
The festival promoter, Danny Wimmer, has perfected the art producing a dynamic festival. Every May his company produces the biggest rock festivals in the country including Rock on the Range in Columbus, Ohio; the Carolina Rebellion in Charlotte, North Carolina and the Welcome to Rockville festival in Jacksonville, Florida. Wimmer has now successfully paired the Southern California rock festival he produces, Epicenter, with the cleverly named Aftershock in the northern half of the state. They have all been sellouts which is a testament to the excellent line-ups, outstanding security, and rocking atmosphere that keep tens of thousands of rock fans coming back year after year.