Monster Energy AFTERSHOCK Festival’s sixth installment has come and gone, but the music, memories and the smell of California’s finest still lingers in the air. The festivities took place once again this year in Sacramento’s beautiful Discovery Park. With the weather in late October fully cooperating and temperatures in the mid-70’s the festival couldn’t have had a better feel to it. The estimated 25,000 attendees per day of the two-day festival were treated to a very diverse food and drink selection as well as vendor booths and, most importantly, music.
The festival experience
Rows of catering trucks providing some of the most delicious and interesting selections may have caused an eternal struggle for this writer a few times. Brick oven pizza, lobster tacos (which were my favorite), pulled-pork fries with bacon and BBQ sauce, a mac & cheese station serving lobster mac, Buffalo chicken mac, as well as many other flavors… You also had your typical festival food booths providing hamburgers, sausages, corn dogs, funnel cakes, giant turkey legs, deep-fried sweets and vegetables, and a ton of other choices that you couldn’t go wrong with. It’s safe to assume festival goers and their munchies were well taken care of.
Speaking of munchies, in 2018 recreational marijuana will become legal in California, but you would have thought it was already legal with the constant haze that hovered over the crowd. Hey, it’s a rock/metal show, so this isn’t really anything new right? What was new is there were several vendor booths set up specifically to help educate folks on the medical benefits and their rights pertaining to this natural resource. What I did find a little surprising was one company in particular seemed to have teamed up with or had an endorsement deal with metal giants Anthrax and Motorhead. “California Finest Anthrax Marijuana Cigarettes.” Just let that soak in for a minute. I’ll wait. … East Coast Thrash legends team up with a California company that sells five-packs of joints with their faces on the ad and their name on the box. The 14-year-old in me was smiling ear to ear. My, how the world has changed.
Rock for a good cause
Other vendor booths of interest included the Take Me Home animal rescue booth. They were taking donations and raising money by offering up custom, one-of-a-kind and “game used” instruments signed by artists that were playing Aftershock, with all proceeds going directly to the animals and their cause. Festival-goers could pick up a signed guitar from Five Finger Death Punch for around $1600, or a Halestorm guitar for around $1500, or any number of lower-tier items like signed drum heads, shirts, and an assortment of other goodies. This booth, as you can imagine, was very popular and the cause is very noble.
And more vendors
A real head scratcher was finding Black and Mild Cigar Company very close in proximity to the Fuck Cancer booth… sort of odd, but whatever. Sponsors Monster Energy had a huge semi truck converted to a Monster bar that looked like it could be in The Transformers movie franchise, but there were also lots of local arts and crafts vendors. The vendor selection truly had a little something for everybody.
Located towards the back corner of the grounds next to the freeway, this stage area provided plenty of shade and had more of an intimate feel to it. Day 1 featured such acts He Is Legend, Code Orange, August Burns Red and TECH N9NE.
The big winner for me on this stage was TECH N9NE. TECH had the crowd eating out of his hands and let me hip you to something – if you think Rap music can’t have a good circle pit, you’d be dead wrong. I heard several “thrashers” say “it was the best pit of the weekend.” The sound was clean and the performance was dominating.
Blackcraft Whiskey Stage
This stage featured some heavy hitters on day 1: Anti-Flag, Gojira, Mastodon, and A Perfect Circle. It comes as no surprise that the crowd absolutely lost it for Mastodon and A Perfect Circle. I mean come on, they are huge names and very popular. But this humble narrator’s favorite from this stage that day was, hands down, Gojira. These gentlemen from France have the sound: the crunchy low-end tones they produce on stage are heavy and, simply put, metal goodness.
Monster Energy Stage
Rounding out day 1, the main stage showcased the talents of Nothing More, Eagles of Death Metal, Stone Sour, Run The Jewels and of course the mighty Nine Inch Nails. This one I struggled with a bit when it came to picking a favorite. Stone Sour and NIN both had excellent performances, but I think the nod goes to Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails. Corey Taylor and Stone Sour sounded great, but what can you say – NIN is a staple in industrial rock and have been doing it for a long time.
This was my first encounter with Nine Inch Nails live and I had always heard good things about them. I was not disappointed. From the lights, the fog machines, the crowd and, of course, the music, I was thoroughly impressed with their set. Ever hear a band sound as good live as their CD? I have a handful of times, and this was one of them. NIN absolutely crushed it to end day 1 of the festival.
On day 2, this stage saw performances from Them Evils, DED, Power Trip, FOZZY and Steel Panther. For my money, Them Evils were a favorite of this line up. There are only three young men in this particular group but they have a genuine rock’n’roll sound, and it was loud and sounded great. I had never seen Them Evils live before but will make sure to check them out next time they come around and suggest you do the same.
The Blackcraft stage saw the likes of Suicidal Tendencies, Hollywood Undead, In This Moment and FFDP (Five Finger Death Punch) on day 2. I am going to give FFDP an honorable mention; even though I am not a fan they sounded great live.
The big winner for me in this group was Suicidal Tendencies (I know, big surprise). Mike Muir and company got the crowd fired up and brought it as they always do. Playing classic songs from their 30-year-plus career, they had the crowd moshing like it was 1986. It was a beautiful thing.
Monster Energy Stage
Day 2 on the main stage had performances by Butcher Babies, Of Mice and Men, Halestorm and the one and only Ozzy Osbourne. With an incredibly short set Butcher Babies were fun and energetic as always, playing a good amount of new material which was refreshing. The big draw of course was The Prince of Darkness, Mr. Ozzy Osbourne himself.
Now I’m sort of split on my opinion of Ozzy’s set. On one hand he sounded good, didn’t screw up any of his lyrics, and was in high spirits. The downside of his set was that it was filled with way too much Black Sabbath. Now I have seen Ozzy plenty of times solo and with Sabbath, but it had been awhile since I seen solo Ozzy and that is what I was looking forward to the most. Forgive me for saying this, but I didn’t want to see a Black Sabbath cover band.
Here is what saved his set for me and a lot of other folks: Zakk Wylde. I know he is great – I know Zakk is a “Guitar God” – but seeing that man lay down some of the most insane solos live that night was a real treat. One solo went over five minutes long, the majority of which he played behind his back… while in the crowd. It was truly something special. That particular solo he finished playing with his face once he crawled back up on stage. What a showman!
The days of Ozzy running around like a madman and throwing buckets of water seem to be behind him, but as long as he can stay healthy and keep getting up there on stage and staying in tune, the music world is a better place.
Aftershock Festival is a bit different than some festivals I have been to. I mean, you have a lot of the same elements, food, drink, smoke, music and sun, but this festival has more of a small town feel to it, if you will. People are friendly, full families are out and about, from infants to 80 year olds. The grounds are beautiful with plenty of shade, and the staff and security are nice and welcoming. Sacramento, Discovery Park and Monster Energy really have something here. I have even read they aim to open this festival up to a three-day event with hopes of drawing 40,000 people per day. Although that may take away from the intimate feel of the festivities, it wouldn’t stop this metalhead from going and taking his family.
Until next year, Aftershock. Stay heavy!