Ghost Cult Magazine asked a bunch of artists “if you were getting into a space ship tomorrow and never coming back to Earth, and you only had one record to listen to or a handful of records to listen to forever, what records would you take with you?”
How do you take a pretty kickass tour and make it more awesome? Make the last date of tour an all day festival at one of the best venues in California. The fully fledged Rockstar Energy DrinkTaste of Chaos Festival assembled on a hot Saturday in mid-summer at The San Manuel Amphitheater, in the thick of a concert tour and festival season packed with options. Fans still gathered in droves for a show in which more than half of the bands could have headlined and sold out their own tours easily. Although tons of cool food trucks, countless craft beer options, and a carnival type atmosphere helped make it a fun day out, it comes back to being all about the music. It’s a testament to the organizers who put this bill together, but there seemed to be many heads in the venue for each band, all screaming along with every word. For fans of a certain age, this event was the holy grail of millennial teen angst and passion. Dashboard Confessional and Taking Back Sunday are two of the signpost bands of that era, and coupled with The Starting Line, Saosin featuring Anthony Green, Senses Fail and The Early November on the bill might be just too much for the hearts of early 2000s heartstrings to take. Add in 90s post-hardcore kings Quicksand, The Get Up Kids, Reggie And the Full Effect and many more, and you have an incredible day of live music. Captured for Ghost Cult by Melina Dellamarggio of Melina D Photography in her final assignment before passing away in August, you get sense of the spirit these bands still embody, of music that still matters, and a mutual love shared by fans of all kinds.
Dashboard Confessional, by Melina D Photography
Quicksand, by Melina D Photography
Taking Back Sunday, by Melina D Photography
Senses Fail, by Melina D Photography
Saosin with Anthony Green, by Melina D Photography
Reggie And the Full Effect, by Melina D Photography
Ghost Cult Magazine is mourning the loss of our dear friend and photographer Melina Dellamarggio of Melina D Photography,who passed away this weekend at age 29. Known for her keen photographic eye, artistic passion, and caring demeanor; Melina won over fans, friends, peers and legendary artists alike. She only worked with Ghost Cult for a year and a half, but she was an invaluable member of our staff, covering huge national tours, festivals, underground acts, and music industry events. Her concert photography and writing was also featured in Loudwire, The Phoenix New Times, as well as local and national television outlets and magazines. Melina was also an award-winning nature photographer, a talented visual artist, and started shooting sporting events such as NASCAR, and motocross in the last year. She was devoted to several causes such as animal rescue relief and was also a mentor and a leader among the concert photography community. She touched many people’s lives and she was loved by many. According to her family, a memorial will be planed for the Phoenix, AZ area at a later date. We will continue to keep her light alive through her work and will honor her forever in these pages. You can see some samples of her work below: Continue reading →
In just a few short weeks this year is already proving to be full of tectonic level shifts in the musical and metaphysical landscape of our lives. We often start looking at the calendar for the next year of releases in late fall with a mix of anticipation and at times, bracing anxiety. Before we hear one note of new music, the questions start gnawing at us. What new alliances are formed? What new music to pick up first? What about my old favorite bands? Will anything challenge the status-quo of typical sub-genre doldrums. If your tastes are anything like ours, these questions can all be answered with two words: Eight Bells. Hailing mostly from Portland, OR and made up of members of SubArachnoid Space, Curezum, Immortal Bird, and Thrawsunblat; their musical make up is an uncommon mix of spacey psychedelic rock and brooding, otherworldly heaviness. Eight Bells kicked off 2016 with a string of shows to support their new album Landless out on February 12th from Battleground Records, one of the must hear underground releases 2016. Melynda Jackson and Haley Westeiner trade riffs and parts intermingle like a dank, earthy swamp. When they sing together, it’s outright majestic. Recent addition Rae Amitay brings in her considerable range behind the kit. In the run up of west coast dates before joining up with Voivod and Vektor across the rest of the country, we caught the trio at The Yucca Tap Room in Tempe, AZ. Their intimate show was captured here by Melina Dellamarggio of Melina D Photographyfor Ghost Cult.
Once again Ghost Cult, along with the entire music industry it seems, invaded Anaheim, CA for The National Association of Music Merchants, a.k.a. THE NAMM Show at the Anaheim Convention center. Taking over the town and part of greater Los Angeles at Night, NAMM is becoming more and more of a yearly pilgrimage for brands, gear heads and artists. Autograph and selfie-seeking fans are also starting to dip in to part of the main weekend, with really only the first two days being “industry only types”. That dynamic is expected to change in 2017 when fans have free range for the entire event. In the mean time the name of the game is networking and wheeler dealer action between manufacturers, merchants and artist reps. The main action is at the booths where the big name gear companies show their new wares, and artists from the up and coming to the legendary vie for attention and props. All day long it’s a schmooze fest and a meeting of the minds in terms of gear mavens, and artists jamming. At night it is the special events such as this years’ NAMM Jam, Tribute to Randy Rhodes, and other events, many held for charity that pack the clubs at a more-exclusive-than-usual for L.A., clip. Whatever your motivation for attending, THE NAMM Show, and its summer-time counterpart can’t be beat for an awesome industry experience and eye-popping star power all in one place. Thanks to Melina Dellamarggio of Melina D Photography or covering it for us this years and bringing us there with her amazing photo set!
Jesse Hughes of Eagles of Death Metal at The NAMM Show, by Melina D Photography
Shawn Drover of Act of Defiance at The NAMM Show, by Melina D Photography
The NAMM Show, by Melina D Photography
Soultone Cymbals display at The NAMM Show, by Melina D Photography
Marshall Amps at The NAMM Show, by Melina D Photography
Billy Sheehan of The Winery Dogs, by Melina D Photography
Nick Menza (ex-Megadeth) at The NAMM Show, by Melina D Photography
Gear abounds at The NAMM Show, by Melina D Photography
John 5 at The NAMM Show, by Melina D Photography
Zakk Wylde of Black Label Society at The NAMM Show, by Melina D Photography
It has been quite a year for Puscifer and their leader, Maynard James Keenan. Although he gets the most ink for his association with Tool, it is with Puscifer that Keenan seems to be more in tune with these days. It’s not a surprise that their recent Money Shot (Puscifer Entertainment) is a stellar album, but the level of comfort Keenan and his collaborators share in writing and performing is noticeable. It’s easy to get sidetracked by the theater of it all in person, but the staging and costumes are a guise to draw you in closer. It doesn’t hurt that his band features some amazing talent with mainstays Mat Mitchell, Carina Round and Jeff Friedl; now joined by Mahsa Zargaran and Paul Barker (Ministry) who all play flawlessly together. Keenan per usual is hiding out, preferring to be heard and rarely seen in the middle of a traditional wrestling ring. In one of the most unconventional settings for a concert ever, one of musics’ great frontmen makes his home. Making extra use of the ring was high-flying opening act Luchafer. Captured on the last night of the tour in Prescott, AZ by Melina D Photography, we learned that Puscifer doesn’t need a submission hold or a finishing move to get their message across.
People descended on Tempe Beach Park in Tempe, Arizona Halloween weekend for the first ever Monster Mash Music Festival. Set up in the shadow of Arizona State University and right on the water, it was a great location for a big music festival. Once Tool was named as the headliner, it turned into a must see event since the band has barely toured the last few years. I flew out from Boston, by some good graces of friends for the show. The rest of the lineup was equally stacked, so it looked to be a great time in the making.
Saturday at the fest was a pretty short day between the two. It was cool to meet people not just from across the country, but across the world. I met people from Australia, Germany, Toronto, and Brazil and more. I saw more Tool band t-shirts than at any point in my entire life combined. The Halloween atmosphere was awesome with people in costumes. The whole town seemed to be in awesome spirits from the local folks I ran into.
The event was spread out with one huge stage with large screens on the sides if you couldn’t get up close. This was a factor towards the end of the night each day as the fans packed in all day. Based on demand, Tool had merch at the front gate and the special custom Monster Mash Tool posters were sold out way early, much to the chagrin of many. Still, the rest of the fest was well stocked with a massive beer garden, some cool foodage (the mediterranean wrap guys had the best grub of the weekend) and other vendors. I spent some time at the To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) table, talking about the charity, learning all about mental illness and suicide. They are awesome and making a dent in helping people.
With Our Arms to The Sun, by Melina D Photography
The first band of the weekend was With Our Arms To The Sun, and they just totally surprised everyone. They are well-known locally from AZ, but with the crowd from all over, so they were really playing to all new people today. Front man Josh Breckenridge really brings it in terms of charisma and style vocally. Their best song ‘Great Black Divide’ was frankly beyond belief and you should stop reading this review and go hear it now. Also props to drummer John McLucas, the kid is a beast. These guys will be on our radar for a long time to come. Aeges from LA was up next and they were in the Halloween spirit in costumes ranging from a hotdog with mustard, a monkey to Jason Vorhees. Aeges came to rock faces off and they did just that. The band just has that cool modern rock thing that bands like Soundgarden and Nine Inch Nails (think last ten years) have, that sets them apart. People didn’t seem to mind the late afternoon sun baking us dead since the band was slaying.
It was kind of a mixed bag for Coheed and Cambria. I can’t profess to being a super Coheed fan, but being a lover of prog I have always had a respect for them. However, with their new album the Color Before the Sun, it just felt like the band had mailed it in to me. Playing a third of the set from the new album, you could just feel the air leave the venue during these tracks. They of course crushed it on all the classics. It’s a tough spot for the band that have indeed been visionary, but at least live they still deliver on the old jams. Primus however, was just gold. Although they faked me out with the inflatable mushrooms from their Chocolate Factory album, it was all greatest hits for an hour straight. The band was tight, having recently wrapped up a year on the road and Les Claypool was in top form. He joked during the set about Tool’s Maynard James Keenan during the set. On any other night, it would be hard to follow these guys.
Primus, by Melina D Photography
Primus, by Melina D Photography
Of course the largest crowd of the weekend was packed in tight for Tool, upwards of 35,000 people by some reports. Security seemed nervous about the number of people, but overall I think they did a great job. Tool’s legendary special effects heavy show was put in place and the lights went down and a huge cheer went up. The band came on stage and I thought something was unusual about them. I noticed drummer Danny Carey wearing a read headband and then I saw bassist Justin Chancellor and his fancy bell-bottoms. I said out loud “Are Tool dressed as Led Zeppelin for Halloween?” And indeed they were. No only that, they were dressed as the band and how they looked in the film The Song Remains The Same. Then Adam Jones began the familiar notes of their cover of Led Zep’s ‘No Quarter’ played and my mind was blown. It set the tone for the night, with a lot of feel-good throwback songs in the set list.
Tool dressed as Led Zeppelin at Monster Mash: photo credit Rynne Stump
Next they played another rarely heard track, ‘The Grudge’. Normally when I have seen Tool in the past it was always a note for note, flawless performance. Each member of the band tonight seemed to be kicking the rust off in their own way. Mistakes were made, but they were few and barely noticeable to most. To me it lent an air of fragility to the band that I dig. These guys are human beings after all, not machines. Maynard was in great form in particular. He also seemed to be having a lot of fun up there, and made jokes at the band, some fans, and professed his career highlight as seeing Batman in the front row.
The band played another old-school gem in ‘Opiate’, a new song was played (now know as a smaller part of a longer track) dubbed ‘Descending’, a killer drum solo by Carey, and several of their biggest hits. All in all, the show felt like a triumph. I felt lucky to be there.
Ghost, by Melina D Photography
Sunday I got to the venue early, hung out with some industry folks and hydrated like a mofo on this arid, cloudless day. Ghost was up first and it was a packed crowd early right in front of the stage. I was up close and it seemed 50/50 Ghost fans and people who had no idea who they were. It was interesting to see the band deal when they didn’t exactly have the full command of the crowd. But by the end of the set, songs like ‘He Is’, ‘Year Zero’ and the surprising closer of ‘If You Have Ghost’ seemed to convert many to the flock.
Puscifer, by Melina D Photography
Puscifer came next, and along with it the first performance of their new material for their album Money Shot (Puscifer Entertainment). Dressed as a mustachioed, pot-bellied, speedo wearing Captain America complete with shield, Maynard Keenan’s other muse seemed a lot more relaxed than his other act the night before. Aside from Maynard, the band were all dressed in snazzy suits and Lucha Libre wrestler masks, except for drummer Jeff Friedl who drew the unlucky leather clad BDSM sub get up in the sweltering heat. The presentation is all on purpose with Puscifer, but serves only to force you to face the music on their terms. And it is brilliant. Opening with the fitting ‘Grand Canyon’, one gets the immersive musical experience Keenan and his troupe are aiming for. Hearing Keenan and Carina Round trade vocal lines and weird stage mojo with each other live was one of the highlights of the weekend, and maybe my entire year.
After that I made the decision to leave the pit and get some more water and a better vantage point. Where Puscifer was high-art theater meant for the small stage, Deftones would bring the thunder of an arena band. Front man Chino Moreno whooped and crooned, running all over the set and jumping into the crowd numerous times. Although he claimed to be drunk before doing an on stage shot early on, he sang well. He did have microphone issues the entire set which was a bummer, especially when his mic cut out for half a song at one point. Joined by local resident Max Cavalera (Soulfly/Killer Be Killed) for ‘Head-Up’, it was another unforgettable moment, and the best pit action moment of Sunday too.
Rob Zombie, by Melina D Photography
Rob Zombie, by Melina D Photography
With darkness falling and a huge stage set unveiled, it seemed like a lot of fans were in the house to see Rob Zombie. With his over the top imagery, the stage was decked out in tribute to Universal Movie Monsters. Sadly, Rob’s voice was shot from three straight weeks of shows. During the first song he struggled to sing at all. He addressed the crowd about this after and said he refused to cancel or cut the set short. Instead he was a trooper and danced, sang his best, and asked the crowd to pitch in. I think many other artists would have bailed, but props to Rob for caring about his fans.
Linkin Park came out to close the night and the weekend for Monster Mash Music Fest. Similar to Tool, they came out in costume (cool zombie makeup, bros) and they also seemed oddly rusty. Perhaps it was mainly Chester Bennington, who has toured up a storm lately with LP and Stone Temple Pilots. It’s easy to see why these guys are one of the biggest bands in the world, even if they forgot some of the words to two of their biggest hits (‘One Step Closer’ and ‘Numb’, ugh). However, Linkin Park puts on a hands-down stellar show. From impressive lights, to solo spots for most of the guys, including a full on EDM set and DJ Joe Hahn doing a Fort Minor mini-set, it was excellent. The crowd was tired, but into it as the music rang out in the desert night for the last time. Based on my experience, I’d like to see this fest come back next year and every year!
Slipknot brought back heavy music into their brand of a festival called Knotfest once again to Southern California as they packed two days (plus a VIP only Friday evening event for campers) full of headbanging and mayhem at San Manuel Amphitheatre in Devore, CA.
The VIP pre-party show consisted of brief sets by Khaotika, Motorbreath, Rings of Saturn and The Faceless, while Sepultura became the main focus of that evening, performing many longtime favorites from their 30th anniversary tour, such as ‘Refuse/Resist’, ‘Arise’ and ‘Propaganda,’ while working on a few of the newer songs such as ‘Choke.’
Corrosion of Conformity, by Melina D Photography
Saturday’s main stage led the charge with the return of Pepper Keenan with Corrosion of Conformity, working in favorites such as ‘Clean My Wounds’ and ‘Albatross’; then Trivium and Mastodon both brought out powerful sets of powerful guitar driven hard rock leading into Korn’s semi-setlist of their début self titled album (ie they played only half of the album but they still brought their usual powerful live show) while working in other favorites like ‘Freak on a Leash’ and ‘Falling Away From Me.’
Korn, by Melina D Photography
Mastodon, by Melina D Photography
Judas Priest, by Melina D Photography
Headliners Judas Priest came out strong with a cross-section of newer songs such as ‘Dragonaut’ and ‘Valhalla’ while working in longtime favorites such as ‘Breaking The Law’ and ‘Hell Bent For Leather,’ as well as ‘Turbo Lover’. Following a strong showing on their previous tour, they did not disappoint and showed that after all of these years they can still deliver classic metal the right way.
Unlike the 2014 edition, Slipknot only played one day instead of both days, and they brought back the mini roller coasters and the Slipknot museum for attendees to enjoy. Another addition to this year’s edition was the Extreme Stage with such bands as Kataklysm, Abysmal Dawn, Belphagor and Inquisition living up to their musical brand and the headbangers representing as well.
The ReAktion, by Melina D Photography
The only band who did not quite fit the stage was Chilean-Canadian alternative-metallers The ReAktion, where their synth-driven riff metal was something fans grew accustomed to but was greatly out of place on that stage. The early set time worked in their favor on Sunday, with fans enjoying sightings of Slipknot DJ Sid Wilson around their set. Despite that, their eclectic sound was refreshing and somewhat interesting to see how they evolve from here.
Slipknot vocalist Corey Taylor made a brief appearance with fellow Iowans Green Death during their brief set later on Sunday. Fans got acquainted quickly with the band despite their lack of recognition prior to the show.
Stages 2 and 3 were placed on the revolving stage where bands could get going much easier. Saturday’s set began with Battlecross, Red Fang and Goatwhore getting early set calls, but the packed crowd showed up to rock out with each band. Even the well publicized Josh Barnett joined in the pit action early on.
Trivium, by Melina D Photography
At The Gates, by Melina D Photography
Veteran metallic hardcore outfit Earth Crisis brought back memories of their appearance of Ozzfest 1996 at this venue. Other highlights included At The Gates’ aggression driven set, while Body Count plowed through their set of classics (despite minor technical difficulties with Ice T killing time with his attempt at telling jokes on stage). GWAR capped out the stage with their usual antics and over the top stage show, moving forward post Oderus Urungus (a.k.a. Dave Brockie).
Mobb Deep, by Melina D Photography
Sunday’s main stage opened with Ghostface Killa and Mobb Deep’s brief old school hip hop set that attracted curious onlookers, while Clutch came in with their usual power riff rock set that their stripped down stage show appeared a bit bare for such a large sized stage.
Clutch, by Melina D Photography
Bring Me The Horizon, by Melina D Photography
Bring Me The Horizon’s updated stage show and sound definitely caught the attention of the crowd with their LED powered backdrops with the letters to SPIRIT aligning with each word of their opening song ‘Happy Song.’ Frontman Oli Sykes had the crowd moving along with his commands, and kept the show entertaining. Plus their newer synth oriented melodic rock sound on songs like ‘Throne,’ and ‘Can You Feel My Heart’ made their live show much more anthemic driven tunes for the crowd to sing along to. Even with the older heavier songs like ‘Chelsea Smile,’ Bring Me The Horizon showed that they have a full arsenal within their bag of tricks and is no surprise why they have the attention of the hard music world.
Slipknot, by Melina D Photography
Slipknot, by Melina D Photography
When Slipknot took the stage, they unveiled their new stage setup that resembled the carnival from hell, and they took charge from the opening minute. Opening with ‘Sarcastrophe’ and leading into ‘The Heretic Anthem’, Slipknot was on a mission to show why they are one of the biggest hard acts on the planet and can command their own festival. They even worked in ‘Me Inside’ (which they have never played live before apparently) and ‘Eeyore,’ giving the crowd more to get manic over.
The second and third stages on Sunday featured hard rockers Devour the Day and Kyng giving the crowd energetic melodic rock to nibble on, while semi-hometown favorites Snot got the crowd rocking with selections from their Get Some album while paying tribute to their late singer Lynn Strait.
Cannbal Corpse, by Melina D Photography
Helmet, All That Remains and Beartooth all plowed through power sets of rock and metal that got the crowds working up a sweat, while led into the massive stampede of fans eagerly awaiting Cannibal Corpse and Suicidal Tendencies to perform. Cannibal Corpse simply owned Knotfest’s second stage and possibly had the largest crowd of headbangers and mosh pit participants of any act, which bled into Suicidal’s already veteran LA punk rock fan base. Overall, the insanity that came with those acts simply made the observing that much more enjoyable.
Overall, Knotfest 2015 brought together a strong collection of acts within the heavy music world once again and gave fans something to be excited about. After two consecutive years, hopefully Knotfest will continue to be an annual event (or something close to it).