It comes as no surprise that this year’s Aftershock Festival was once again sold out. I mean, how could it not with big-name talents such as Slipknot, Tool, Korn, Rob Zombie, Blink-182, Lamb of God, Dropkick Murphys, Marilyn Manson, Bad Religion, Chevelle, and many others. And with the über-early announcement of next year’s headliner—Metallica, for those of you living under a rock—there’s no question that 2020’s Aftershock will sell out as well. In fact, as of this writing, VIP weekend passes were all gone. A year in advance! So, how was this year’s outing? Damn good, in our humble opinion.
Discovery Park in Sacramento, California was a-buzz with rockers and metalheads alike—a sea of black shirts swarming like a hive mind to the beat of great music. With fair weather and cold beer in abundance, enduring three days of great bands—as opposed to previous years’ two—was a lot to take in, but the task was more than welcome.
From Slipknot’s heavy sets—the members adorned in their white garb—to broody Aaron Lewis and his Staind band mates coaxing tens of thousands of people to sing along in probably the biggest karaoke incarnation I’ve ever witnessed. The Interrupters and Dropkick Murphys kicked ass per usual, despite the absence of a singing shark puppet from the latter. Lamb of God ripped through their set like no one else. Two things came to mind while watching the boys in LoG: Randy Blythe can headbang with the best of them, and Gandalf the Grey sure can handle that bass.
Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals belted out a few Pantera songs; DED, Motionless in White, and Beartooth rocked their respective stages and YouTube personality Poppy pulled a no-show, leaving many to wonder why. I think the more important question though, is how in all that is black and metal and heavy did she make the lineup in the first place? I mean, have you seen her stuff?
Rob Zombie, to no-one’s surprise, put on an amazing show, as did Bad Religion, Tool, Korn, A Day to Remember, Chevelle, New Language, and the heavy-as-merde Gojira. The Hu, a troupe of Mongolian throat-singing artists, was one of our favorite breakout performances. There are kitschy, gimmicky bands out there (one, in particular, was in attendance), but The Hu was definitely not one of them.
Another standout was the very fun and very energetic ska royalty band Fishbone, with their “fuck racism” flag (a statement I think we can and should all get behind), and a black dildo microphone. Yes: you read that right. Not sure what, if any, meaning lies behind it, but I thought it was hilarious.
Aftershock is quickly becoming one of my favorite festivals. With Metallica headlining two of the three nights next year (October 9, 10, & 11 for nights one and three) and playing different sets each night, it’ll be interesting to see who fills out the lineup and how ticket sales turn out. Will 2020 beat this year’s attendance of over 90,000 humans? If past years are anything to go by, I’m excited for next year. Are you?
WORDS BY JUSTIN RHOADS
PHOTOS BY MEG LOYAL PHOTOGRAPHY