Aftershock Festival 2015 – The Year of Change
By: Micheal Gianni
The 2015 Aftershock Festival returned to Sacramento October 24th and 25th in a whirlwind of change that had fans buzzing long before the event even posted this year’s lineup. In a move that can often spell disaster, the organizers decided to change up the recipe that had brought them so much success in previous years though that didn’t seem to be the case this time. Gone was the river front and Sacramento city skyline views of Discovery Park and in its place fans were greeted by a vast expanse of grass and trees filled with all the stages, vendors and attractions that Aftershock is known for.
To enhance the experience Aftershock kicked it up a notch by adding onsite camping for those who wanted to take in the event like never before. Left unchanged was the commitment of a 2-day festival and a strong lineup that had something for virtually everyone from the Metal, Rock and Alternative sectors.
Additionally, moving the festival to October provided a welcome relief from the sweltering Sacramento summer heat. Despite many of this year’s bands pulling double duty, playing Knotfest in San Bernardino and Aftershock in the same weekend none of the bands showed any sign of weakness as one after another rocked the house.
Although attendance was decreased from the records it had set in years past, Aftershock reported a sellout crowd of 25,000 on Saturday easily making one of the largest festivals in the area. Saturday night tales of the traffic nightmares included a 2 plus hour jam getting into the venue by mid-day and over 3 hours exit times had fans screaming that they would not attend day 2. However, the Sunday crowds reached 20,000 with changes having been made to the traffic patterns to improve on Saturday’s traffic issues.
Once inside the park, the stages and band set times were laid out nicely, easily allowing fans to move from one stage to the next and not miss out on their favorite bands. Each stage seemed to stay true to its style of music with a major headliner finishing off each stage at the end of the day.
The lineup this year seemed to break up the days almost generationally with both days full of powerful, high energy and in your face bands. Saturday’s lineup had a modern mix of current radio play bands like Breaking Benjamin, Pop Evil and Shinedown alongside heavy metal and alternative powerhouses like Marilyn Manson and Slipknot.
Sunday’s lineup seemed more of a flashback to rock festivals past with bands like Stone Temple Pilots, Coheed and Cambria, and Sevendust reminding us what the late 90s and early 2000’s had to offer. Not to be outdone by Saturday’s closing lineup Jane’s Addiction, Deftones and Faith No More finished out Sunday sending fans home with their musical fix satisfied until next year’s lineup is announced.
Kicking off the festivities Saturday a young English band named Raveneye, fresh off a tour with Slash, brought a gritty blues rock style that was reminiscent of bands like Clutch and Red Fang. Having driven all night after playing the Palladium in Los Angeles the night before they brought a great energy to their set. In an interview after the performance they shared their excitement to be in the US and being a part of Aftershock.
As the early hours progressed fans were graced with a mix of old and new with bands like Snot and Suicidal Tendencies mixing it up with Art of Dying and Devour the Day. Midafternoon funneled powerhouse bands familiar to most everyone and as crowds grew so did the energy. Fan favorites like Pop Evil, POD, Hollywood Undead and Black Veil Brides never gave fans a chance to rest, leaving no doubt that you were getting more than your monies worth this weekend. Saturday afternoon brought one of my favorite bands to the 3rd stage.
All That Remains, with their hard driving guitars, brutal drums and unique vocal stylings, bring a technical quality to their music that creates a sound unmatched by many others. Lead Singer Philip Labonte and bass player Aaron Patrick met with us backstage before their performance and told us upon completing their current Hard Drive Live Fallout Tour with We Came as Romans, Like Moths to Flames and Red Sun Rising; will be headlining a tour with Devour the Day and Audiotopsy among others.
As evening rolled in the focused changed as stages stopped competing against each other allowing the crowd to catch one band at a time. Though there were no disappointments in my mind there were a few that were even better than I had anticipated, Breaking Benjamin’s and Bring Me the Horizon gave shows that would be worthy of headliner status on any other day. The 3rd stage finished off with Marilyn Manson who, regardless of your opinion of his music, takes showmanship to the highest degree. His combination of lights smoke and stage show wowed in ways that only he can do. Shinedown closed out the 2nd stage and put on a spectacular performance complete with fireworks and flames as fans sang along to songs like Simple Man and Second Chance. Perhaps it is the metal head in me but as great as they were in my mind this was a band that organizers put on to give the fans a breather before unleashing all that is Slipknot. How does one describe a Slipknot concert to someone who hasn’t seen one before? Well it’s almost as if the scene from This is Spinal Tap where Nigel Tufnel describes that “these go to eleven” was written in anticipation of this band. Slipknot comes on stage and blows your hair back with music, fire, costume and stage presence like no other I’ve seen.
Their set list covers fan favorites from the first until the very last song. It’s as if Corey Taylor is a Commanding General and his orders… “Let no one rest”. Even from the outermost reaches of the crowd you participate in their concert on their terms and walk away thanking them for allowing it to be no other way. People who were there to see other bands were won over and old school diehards known as Maggots were rewarded for their devotion.
After picking yourself up off the ground, exhausted and happy; if you were one of the lucky ones you had only a short walk to your campsite to end your night avoiding all of the usual headaches suffered by those of us who hadn’t invested in one of those spots. Then as if being woken up by an alarm clock for the metal gods you awoke Sunday to the sound checks of none other than Faith No More among others. I dare say there is probably no better way to enjoy your coffee as a rock fan than hearing bands do sound check. As day 2 began there seemed to be a smoothness to the flow of the whole thing as the returning crowds, still talking about the day before, worked their way into a venue that was no longer new to them. One band after another played to a growing fan base and by around 2 pm the energy that had carried everyone through Saturday was once again in full swing. When Sevendust played the 3rd stage it reminded those of us who had seen them play songs like Black and Waffle back in the late 90s and 2000s why they were such a fan favorite. Lajon Witherspoon and the boys haven’t lost a step and really brought it signing both classics and track from their newly released album “Kill the Flaw”. Sleeping with Sirens rallied the younger crowd on the main stage midafternoon with songs like “If you can’t Hang” and “Kick Me” and pulled in the older fans who were drawn to their new age rock sound and high energy stage show.
Closing out the Coors Light Stage for the weekend Red Fang had fans chanting in anticipation and raising fists during a powerful set. Back at the 3rd stage the blast from the past continued as Stone Temple Pilots began their set. If you haven’t had a chance to see Front man Chester Bennington, formerly of Linkin Park, at the helm you will not be disappointed by his coverage of the classics as well as the stylings of their newer work. Not to be outdone by headliners later in the evening, Coheed and Cambria rallied the crowd to an explosive roar when they played “Welcome Home”. At the end of their set chants of “one more song” could be heard from the other side of the venue. Closing off the weekends festivities was Faith No More. Although Faith No More has been around for quite some time for many of us our first exposure to them was in 1989 when, with the addition of Mike Patton, the released their album The Real Thing. With songs like From Out of Nowhere, Falling to Pieces and Epic they quickly became a favorite. Having been raised in the same hometown of Eureka Ca and being only a couple years behind Mike Patton I was all too familiar with his abilities. His days with local band Mr Bungle solidified my interest in his music.
I remember there was a bit of a hometown hero feel when this guy we had seen and heard at local venues was now on the radio. One of our own had made it. Now here it was 26 years later and once again I was getting a chance to see him but this time on the main stage headliner ending Aftershock 2015 as part of Faith No More. Something many never thought they’d see when they announced their breakup in 1998. And what a set it was. They played at the top of their game. To say Mike was in classic form would do him and the band no justice. He was Epic. They were at their pinnacle and the crowd loved it. It was a perfect ending to an amazing weekend.
Aftershock will have to work hard to outdo themselves next year but somehow they always do. Once again the waiting game begins as we all search the internet for clues and release dates anxious to know what Aftershock 2016 will have in store.
BAM Aftershock Festival 2015 Interviews
All That Remains:
Interviewers: Shell Champ and Michael Gianni
Band Members: Philip Labonte (Vocals) and Aaron Partrick (Bass)
Shell: This is Shell with Bam Magazine and Reality Check TV woo double duty today hell yea. We got Michael Gianni and we’ve got All That Remains. Who do we got here? We’ve got Aaron and we’ve got Phil. Aaron’s like we’ve talked about this don’t call me Jack again I’m tired of this shit(laughing). So All That Remains you here at Aftershock 2015 Wow
Aaron: It’s amazing
Shell: So what the deal have you gone here before and just slummed in the stadium? You know snuck on in and just been a fan hung out down at the Coos Light Stage you know hung amongst?
Shell: Have you ever snuck into…. Seriously though…have you ever snuck into a festival where you just like hey no one knows we are here
Aaron: No I haven’t
Shell: You should
Aaron: I mean yes I have all the time. Hat what I do all the time when I’m home from tours. I sneak into Festivals
Shell: That’s right that kind of cool right cuz I don’t get enough festivals on the road
Aaron: I pay for them I find them I fly to them
Shell: Stand in line too right
Aaron: I stand in line first and then I sneak in
Shell: I’m going to switch the mic over to Michael cuz he’s got some questions for you guys cuz he’s like…I love your music I think it’s awesome but he’s like super turbo fan so that kind of cool he can like breakdown the music and stuff
Michael: Ok so you guys are here today and in Flagstaff in a couple days or 2 days ago?
Phil: We were in Flagstaff 2 days ago. We had a day off we’re here today and then tomorrow we do Notfest.
Michael: And you guys are part of the Hard Drive Live Tour…that’s part of the Hard Drive live tour.
Phil: Yea we’re part of the Hard Drive Live Fallout Tour it’s us, We Came as Romans, Like Moths to Flames and Red Sun Rising
Michael: And then I heard a couple days ago you guys are going to be headlining your own tour starting next year?
Phil: No not starting next year. We get done with the Hard Drive Live Tour
Shell: So do you get a break I’m getting tired just how much you have to do?
Phil: Yea we took most of the summertime off. We’d fly to festivals on weekends and stuff but most of the summer was off for us. We’re going to finish this one then do a headlining tour with Audiotopsy, Devour The Day and there is one other band that escapes me right now I apologize guys and that goes from November 17th until probably the 20th of December and then we’ll probably chill out for the holidays and might do 1 show around home and then come the end of January beginning of February start doing some more touring. I believe in North America but as of right now there’s nothing I can announce.
Shell: Ok so you can’t say you’re going to be somewhere in San Francisco at any time soon?
Shell: But is it on the agenda in the next couple years to get something besides a big festival maybe on your own tour coming to say Sacramento or even San Jose,
Phil: We’ve played Sacramento before
Shell: Oh I know you have but it’s been a little while
Phil: I don’t think we have one booked on the next tour for Sacramento that I know of but we I’m sure we’re going to be doing another US tour before we come off the road to start writing again. So we’ll see we don’t select the cities that we go to, our booking agent usually handles that stuff.
Michael: One of the questions I’ve always wanted to ask you guys is who are some your influences, I listen to your music and I hear some old Slayer, Iron Maiden with the dual guitars. I can see a lot of the old classic metal influence but with a modern twist even some Pantera with your vocals you’ve got the melodies but the you’ve got the hard crushing vocals, so who are some of your influences
Phil: Throughout the band it’s pretty varied. We’re all with the exception of Mike and Aaron are over 40 or pushing 40 so like most of the stuff we we’re listening to was Metallica, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest stuff like that. That what we first started playing when we started playing music and as time progressed I got more into Death metal and bands like Cannibal Corpse, like Grave, Entombed, Suffocation and more of the Swedish metal stuff like At the Gates and In Flames and stuff like that and Ali or lead Guitar player he got into stuff like Night Wish and Dream Theater and really technical stuff. Mike was always into the more rock stuff, He was really into Gun & Roses and Black Label Society and Zack Wylde stuff. So when you pull all those different influences together. And they really do span a wide variety and that’s just in metal. That’s not talking about the pop music we listen to. I’ve been trying to say all day we really do focus on trying to write good songs and when we record them they are going to sound like a metal band because we have guitars that sound like metal. We have drums that sound like metal drums.
Michael: Oh yea your drummer some his lines with the double bass are so Slayer-esque and just so powerful. I know I tell everyone I see that you guys are probably the most technically sound metal band I’ve ever heard as far as your riffs are clean your levels and as I said just technically a step above a lot of the bands I’ve heard out there. I can honestly say that your album Overcome to me is right the with Gun & Roses Appetite as a cover to cover not a song I’ll FF past album.
Shell: That’s Michael he’s a turbofan. But I’m saying BAM magazine Bay Area. Have you guys had an opportunity on your off time to just be a tourist
Aaron: Sneaking into festivals
Shell: Besides sneaking into festivals what do you do in your off time. What is your writing process? Do you do it in studio or do you take your individual time and skype your stuff?
Phil: Everyone come s up with their own pieces and then we get together and kind of sort through it. It doesn’t become a song until everyone’s got their stuff. In some bands one dude writes the music and says here’s the song or here are the songs. With us it like we’ve got these parts what do you think do they work together do you like this and a lot of times actually all the time if it’s a majority of people that say yes and nobody has a better idea or a different idea then it gets used. If I don’t like something but I can’t come up with something to make it better where the hell do I get off saying we can’t use it.
Shell: So there’s no power tripper here.
Interviewers: Shell Champ and Michael Gianni
Band Members: Jean-Paul Gaster (Drums)
Shell: How’s it going
Jean: So far so good
Shell: How you feeling?
Jean: Great it’s a sunny day and I’m ready to play some rock and roll
Michael: Is this your first time out here in California. I know you guys have been around since the 90s
Jean: No we’ve been out here several times. The first time we came out here was 1992 when we played Gilman Street Warehouse in Berkeley
Shell: Really. Is the Gilman still around?
Jean: I have no idea but that was our first time out here and we’ve come back every year since.
Shell: Did you guys get in last night or did you just pull in?
Jean: We got in this morning we came in from Boise so we had quite a drive
Shell: So then are you guys leaving tomorrow?
Jean: No we’ll leave tonight after the gig and we’ll head down to San Bernardino. We’re going to do Notfest
Shell: That right it seems not the whole tour is doing Notfest but some of you are cuz I was just talking to someone I don’t know who and they were saying Notfest and I was oh that’s strangely familiar. So you know your music is just so err it just gets you fired up, you know its feel good music and is there anything in particular that was influenced like were you always musical as a young boy or did it just hit you later on in life.
Jean: Well I didn’t really start playing drums until I was 16 actually.
Shell: So that kind of a late bloomer. These days they start em at like 2 and stuff.
Jean: Sure yea you know I was a huge fan of AC/DC Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin so I was music fan before I started playing drums I always wanted to play drums so I saved up my money and I bought a drum kit.
Michael: So there’s not a lot of bands out there with your kind of sound anymore and you’ve stayed true to that over the years it seems like you again that kind of an AC/DC that kind of hard pounding rock n roll. Do you feel that you get a lot of pressure from the record labels to update the sound or do you just have your fan base and they let you do what you do at this point?
Jean: At this point we have our own label, we run everything front to back. And it took some years to get to that point back in the 90s in the early days of the band we would sign with a label and go on tour and inevitably the label would be unsatisfied the number of records wed put out because at the day it’s just rock and roll and I think it was difficult for them to….
Shell: Is there like a standard with the number of records cuz that’s some insight I was wondering is it you have to have so many a year or so many number 1s
Jean: I don’t know anything about that I just know that when we released people had great expectations that it would sell gold or platinum even but you know we’re not that kind of a band we paly sort of no non sense rock and roll. And I think that makes it difficult for a lot of radio programmers to put the band into a place and it makes it difficult for the labels to know what to do with us so we realized about 8 years ago that we couldn’t do this again, we can sign to another label cuz its really kind of like banging your head against the wall. And now its great we run the label it still a learning experience but we can put out music when we want how we want. We’re very lucky to be in the place we are.
Michael: Do you find now on the tours like this that a lot of the younger people are still coming up and appreciate you style of music.
Jean: Sure. Absolutely I look into the crowds like just last night we were in Boise and I’m seeing whole families out there now and that’s very inspiring.
Shell: Well with representing BAM Magazine and Reality Check is there any cool venues you played in San Francisco? Besides the Gilman?
Jean: Sure. We played Bottom of the Hill . Yea we played all around San Francisco. That’s always been a good city for us. More so than I think Los Angeles was or even San Diego. I think maybe the folks in San Francisco were a little more open-minded for us and because of that we were able to establish a fan base there before any other places in California