The date was September 10, 2016. I awoke from a sleepless night. Not from heartache or drama, but from anticipation. You know, a night rocking out to music, memorizing that last verse of your favorite song, looking up YouTube videos of opening acts. That utterly restless night lost in the imagination of the next days adventure. That’s right, that night before the big show. For me it is the ‘High Elevation Rock Festival’ at Fiddlers Green Amphitheater in Denver, CO sponsored by Monster Energy.
The first thing I want to mention is the bill. Artists like Animals as Leaders, Pierce the Vail, The Amity Affliction, Chevelle, Neck Deep, Islander, and many others all to be headlined by Avenged Sevenfold. Twelve hours of non-stop Rock by sixteen badass bands is enough for your teeth to kick themselves in.
In the Whale kicked the whole thing off bright and early on the second stage. They started the day off with one minor guitar glitch, but they didn’t let that slow them down. The two-piece from nearby Greeley, CO represented “The Mile High City” well. Bringing in the crowd with their unique sound they were even able to get the first mosh pit of the day.
Next came the signature brass knuckle microphone stand of the one and only Lola Black. Another one of Denver’s metal elite. With their brutal riffs, powerful, yet elegant vocals and astounding stage presence, a sea of people began flooding in.
From that moment on, it was epic insanity. The show brought the Nu metal sound of Islander, the Ska metal sound of 12 Foot Ninja, and let’s not forget the southern metal sound of The Texas Hippie Coalition together for one monumental show. There was something for everybody. For nine straight hours second stage melted faces. Co-headlining second stage was Sevendust and Killswitch Engage. Now I shouldn’t have to say anything about these two power houses. Sevendust blew the roof off of the roofless second stage, only to be followed by the crushing sound of Killswitch Engage. They have been tearing things up, especially since getting Jesse Leech back in 2012. I personally, am still at a loss for words at just how brutal that was to witness.
I haven’t even mentioned Main stage yet.
Remember when I said epic insanity? Well I’m not lying. Shortly after the third slot holder Islander stepped off second stage, Main stage opened with Shaman’s Harvest, a well known Missouri southern metal band whom have been around since 1996. Showing that they still have what it takes to play major festivals by playing many of their hits including their rendition of Michael Jackson’s ‘Dirty Diana’ off their 2014 album, Smoken Hearts & Broken Guns.
Then it was time for the metal triathlon to begin. Pushing, jogging, climbing, and swimming against or with the current of fellow metalheads, bouncing from stage to stage. The time finally came, well for me it did. The 35 years-young metal legends, Ministry. Since 1981 these monsters of metal have been leaving a wake of fire and brimstone at every venue, and there they were, in front of me. Al Jourgersen or “Uncle Al” to some of the community, damn near stole the show from the younger bands. Their powerful stage performance and experience showed why they have lasted the test of time. Sharing the same stage with Ministry included Pierce the Veil, Animals as Leaders, and Chevelle. A collaboration of different styles of rock and metal all leading to the Co-headline of Volbeat and Avenged Sevenfold.
Volbeat are the Danish monsters from Copenhagen. Since 2001 these guys have been coming out with nonstop music. Having a intriguing Metallica/rockabilly sound, they have created a mass following. They were out the promoting the most recent album Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie.
The ended with Avenged Sevenfold. These guys have been around since 1999 and skyrocketed to stardom. With fast drum beats, a shredding guitar, impressive vocals, and killer songs like ‘Nightmare’(2010) and ‘Hail to the King’(2013) made it an easy choice for these guys to headline.
True this show was about the music, but it delivered so much more. It showed the support each band hand for each other, like Nathaniel Valdez and Eric Riely of In the Whale and all the members of Lola Black. They were out with the crowds cheering on the other musicians. Even Sin Quirin of Ministry was fraternizing with the fans after his set. It showed the professionalism of event crew. Every band played on time, no sound issues beside the one guitar mishap. All and all it was one of the best shows I have been to. I only have one complaint. The venue.
Metal shows are about rubbing elbows with new people, the adrenaline the rushes through you when surrounded by a pit. The constant struggle to push through the crowd, getting as close as you can to you favorite artists. Fiddler’s Green Amphitheater is a beautiful venue, just not for a metal show. Either way, I’ll be looking forward to this show again in the future.
WORDS BY TIM STEBBINS