SACRAMENTO’S AFTERSHOCK FESTIVAL ROCKED!

By Jennette Stancy

On September 23, Downtown Sacramento was invaded by 13 rock bands and more than 14, 000 fans, all converging at Discovery Park on the American River for the first ever Aftershock Festival.

Stone Temple Pilots and Hollywood Undead were joined by locals Deftones, Oleander and Fallrise, along with many other great bands from all over the world. The beauty and openness of the park added a unique ambiance that is vastly different from the festivals held at the Shoreline or Sleep Train Amphitheaters. The Aftershock Festival proved to be the ultimate climax to the 2012 summer concert season, with amazing performances and an abundance of surprises. There were two stages at opposite ends of a large field within the popular park, and a multitude of vendors selling a wide variety of food and beverages. At the ever-popular Monster Energy Drink Lounge, one could indulge in complimentary energy drinks, which were much in demand throughout the long, hot day. The up-and-coming Sacramento band Fallrise was chosen out of hundreds of possibilities to open on the Main Stage. They did a fantastic job of establishing the festive vibe that persisted throughout the day. On the Second Stage, Sacramento  locals Stepchild kicked things off. They are definitely what I would call an old school Bay Area metal band. Their infectious level of energy spread through the crowd, fueled by the ripping guitar riffs of Tui Lee. Charismatic frontman Jimmy Alexander worked the crowd like a master! A mosh pit erupted, reminding me of those at the Mab (Mabuhay Gardens) and Stone when I was 15. The kids in the audience might have obtained a greater understanding of why we still love our Bay Area rock and metal bands with such passion. You can’t witness such a performance and such a pit and not fall under the spell of a good metal band! Alternative band Beware of Darkness then played the Main Stage, with ample time for fans to make their way back for Los Angeles-based metal band Gemini Syndrome, who also played a high-energy set to an appreciative audience.

 

 

The early morning clouds had burned off and the day continued to heat up as 98 Rock disc jockey Pat Martin hit the Main Stage to introduce Canadian band Theory of a Deadman (and the first band to sign with 604 Records, the label co-founded by Chad Kroeger of Nickelback). A humorous spoof about blaming Canada blared from the sound system, and the crowd went wild. Frontman Tyler Connelly had a lot of fun teasing and making jokes about doing naughty things to someone’s mother before launching into one of their recent hits, “The Bitch Came Back” (a spoof influenced by the classic children’s song, “The Cat Came Back”). The crowd responded to his antics, with females of all ages displaying their assets as they sang along. A partial cover of “Paradise City” by Guns N’ Roses created  in an uproar and near chaos when Tyler announced that dysfunctional frontman Axl Rose was going to join him on stage! Axl did not actually make an appearance, but it did get everyone’s attention as the band launched into their final song, the huge hit “Bad Girlfriend”–and their fans went crazy.

Back at the Second Stage, Hell Or Highwater, who had also played a local show the night before, fit in well with the higher energy, rock-metal bands that seemed to be more prevalent on that end of the field. The Main Stage featured bands in more of an alternative vein, like the Chicago-based band Chevelle that followed, receiving a very enthusiastic response to their rockin’ set.

It was a pleasure to see most of the disc jockeys from 98 Rock out socializing and interacting with their fans. Bassist TJ Bell of Escape The Fate had some fun with the beautiful Hooters girls before 98 Rock’s popular afternoon/early evening DJ duo, Dogface and Joe Maumee, introduced the Nevada band prior to their set on the Second Stage. Escape The Fate is about to release their fourth album onEleven Seven Music, the label headed by Nikki Sixx of Mötley Crüe. They were on fire, playing with the crowd and making sure everyone had as much fun as they were having. The band has a great stage presence, full of raw, sexual energy. They do bring to mind “the second coming of Crüe,” as they have an essence that harkens back to the young Mötley Crüe in their Sunset Strip days, exuding that same gritty sensuality and irresistible attitude. The ever-expanding mosh pit again dominated the front of the second stage as the epic metal energy exploded!

 

 

The Main Stage was swarmed as fans rushed to see London’s Bush perform. Lead singer/rhythm guitarist Gavin Rossdale is the epitome of a “rock star.” He ventured into the crowd to sing part of a cover of “Come Together.” They also included most of their biggest hits, like “Glycerine” and “Everything Zen,” in their stellar set. Sacramento’s own amazing Oleander treated us to an energetic performance back on the Second Stage, only to be immediately followed on the Main Stage by the immensely popular Sacramento legends, Deftones. As twilight descended along the American River, things were slightly chaotic as the diehard fans of both bands rushed between the stages. There were many who made the difficult choice to remain firmly planted in their spots against the barricade.

The final act on the Second Stage was Hollywood Undead, amazingly popular among those teenaged kids who had begged to come along. The mosh pit again erupted into a frenzy of hyperactivity when the masked men hit the stage. As the set progressed and the pit expanded, kid after kid was pulled by a heavy concentration of security guards into the photo pit. None of them appeared to be hurt. Actually, they all had huge smiles on their faces as they walked away, seemingly unscathed. The masks came off and, I must say, the energy was off the hook–their set was just fun! How can you not get into a tune about whiskey, Patrón and Jaeger bombs? Hollywood Undead’s music was a little too “rappy” for me, but I still could not help giving into the party vibe. The crowd desperately wanted more, but unfortunately, the band did not perform an encore.

For the final Aftershock performance of the day, many again found the energy to rock out to a much anticipated performance by Stone Temple Pilots. The band looked good and gave a strong performance in a set that included such hits as “Interstate Love Song,” “Vasoline,” and “Sex-like Thing.”

 

 

It was the perfect conclusion to another epic year of summer concerts! With the addition of Discovery Park as a viable concert venue, Sacramento has proven to be a great city for successful music festivals. This is thanks in part to local radio station 98 Rock and Arms Division Concert Management, who organized the event and thought “outside the box” in selecting this location for Aftershock. A recent poll on the 98 Rock Facebook page asking which bands to invite to next year’s Aftershock Festival has Northern California fans already excited for the potential of Aftershock becoming an annual event, and possibly even extending the concert to two days! I am personally extending an invite to my friends and family in the Bay Area to take that two-hour drive to beautiful downtown Sacramento. Bring your picnic blankets and spend a weekend outdoors in a riverfront park (which will not become shrouded in fog!) rather than the confinement of an amphitheater or stadium. This was one of the best festivals I have attended in many moons. The venue was a perfect setting for the crowd to enjoy a day filled with great music, friends, food, family and fun!