Watching a concert outside is one of the best ways to determine if a band is talented live, and there are no better outdoor concerts like rock festivals. For the past three years, Aftershock brought a huge lineup of popular bands spanning two days to Sacramento. Many of the bands put on a phenomenal show, but Aftershock 2015 was far from perfect.
Aftershock has four stages: The Coors Light Stage, East Stage, North Stage and South Stage (North and South being side by side). The first half of each day would have two of the smaller bands playing simultaneously, but it was never too difficult to decide who to see. The event was scheduled well giving each attendee approximately 10 minutes to walk to the next stage before another artist started playing.
The first day of Aftershock had a great lineup with Hell or Highwater, All That Remains, Beartooth, P.O.D. and Black Veil Brides to name a few of the openers. While all of the aforementioned artists are worthy of an article of their own, for the sake of time, we’ll be focusing on the headliners, which is decided by the bands who got to keep their unique font on Aftershock’s poster.
Seether was the first band to have a timeslot all to themselves. Their sound was flawless and the instruments were well-balanced. Unfortunately, Seether suffered from the usual problem with festivals that every older band has, which isn’t having enough time to play all their hits. Remedy, Broken and Truth were all missing from their setlist, which is probably more than a little disappointing for long-time fans. With that said, there were some forgettable songs that could have been replaced.
Afterward, Breaking Benjamin brought their A-game with most of their good songs. The vocals and guitar sounded a little too quiet in the beginning, but that could have just been the crowd singing along with So Cold. The problem was eventually ironed out as the show progressed. Lead singer Benjamin Burnley also had a great stage presence (with the exception of his hilarious facial expressions). Burnley even pulled out a toy lightsaber and played an homage to Star Wars, Tool, Nirvana and Pantera. While cool, the time would have been better spent playing a song that didn’t get played such as Until The End.
Bring Me The Horizon was next and had the best light show of the entire festival. In addition to the stages lights, Bring Me The Horizon brought their own prison-bar-shaped lights that stood behind the band and displayed different patterns along with some of their lyrics. Their setlist consisted mostly of their newer songs from Sempiternal and That’s The Spirit, and most songs in general were performed exceedingly well. The only exception was Chelsea Smile, which was a good indicator that their recent change in style may have been for the best. Oliver Sykes simply cannot scream like he used too.
Marilyn Manson was the biggest disappointment of the first day and an all-around disaster. The setlist was solid, but Manson was barely audible. The band sounded fine, but it’s more than a little concerning when the microphone of the guy named after the band is the quietest. Then Manson spoke, and he sounded completely wasted with all the rambling and slurred speech included (in hindsight, that might explain his quiet mic). If there’s anything positive to be said about this performance, it was interesting to watch. Manson used props and changed outfits on multiple occasions, but every time he changed wardrobe, the stage went black, with not even as much as a sound bite to keep the audience interested or clued in that the show wasn’t over.
Thankfully, Shinedown’s fantastic concert was the exact opposite. The only complaint is they didn’t have enough time, which goes to show how well they performed. Granted, Devour and 45 may not have been played, but there wasn’t a single song that wasn’t enjoyable. The instruments were on point, and Brent Smith’s singing was phenomenal. The setlist was incredibly balanced between their more energetic songs like Enemies and their slower ballads like If You Only Knew and Second Chance. To top off the great music, Shinedown also used some pyrotechnics to further captivate the audience.
The final band of the first day was Slipknot, and they kept the momentum going with the crazy theatrics they’re known for and their outstanding list of songs. With all band members wearing masks and drummers spinning around on a lift, it was almost like watching a twisted play with great music. All the big songs like Duality, Wait and Bleed and Psychosocial were played along with some treats like Inside Me. The show was filled to the brim with energy from beginning to end. The vocals were a tad quiet at the start of the show (a reoccurring problem with the stage they were on), but it was quickly fixed.
After day one ended, most people went home, or at least they would have if leaving the parking lot didn’t take literally more than two hours for some people. Normally, parking wouldn’t go in most concert reviews, but it was so unforgivably bad, it ended the first day on a bad note and even persuaded some to skip the second day. It’s like spending an incredible amount of effort on a baking a cake, but instead of chocolate frosting, the chef spreads shit all over it. No matter how good the cake or concert was, it’ll leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.
Aftershock’s second day in general seemed rather lacking. The openers weren’t nearly as prominent even with ’68, The Sword and Sevendust. There were even timeslots that were so unappealing that buying food or sitting down was a better use of time (specifically during Sleeping With Sirens and Madchild).
Eagles Of Death Metal (despite their name, they’re a rock band) were the first headliner and did rather well. Their riffs were catchy, and their energy could be felt by everyone around (or perhaps it was the lead singer’s Elvis-like dance moves). Either way, the crowd started out rather small, but as their setlist went on, it more than doubled. The show started to feel a bit tedious near the end, but it never got to the point of boredom in due part because of the band’s energy.
All Time Low was also there, but it could have been any other pop punk band. They sounded fine, but as a band, All Time Low never really stood out with the exception of their songs Dear Maria, Count Me In and Weightless. So until those songs were played, which was toward the end, the concert was pretty boring for someone who doesn’t know All Time Low or enjoy pop punk in general. The middle-school-level humor was also irritating, but more than a handful of bras were thrown on stage, so that’s either an indicator that the fans had a great time or a bra thief learned the errors of his – or her – ways and decided to return them on stage one at a time.
Next up was Stone Temple Pilots, who had a great concert. Nearly every one of their hits was played on stage, which can be attributed to poor time management, since they originally planned to perform Trippin’ On A Hole In A Paper Heart. However, every other song like Plush, Dead And Bloated and Interstate Love Song was present. Chester Bennington (singer of Linkin Park) did a solid job as a replacement, but it did take a little getting used to, since he has a higher voice. The guitar wasn’t as loud as it should have been, but at this point, that’s nitpicking.
Death From Above 1979 should have had another band performing at the same time, because they weren’t anything special. They sounded fine, but they don’t stand out when compared to the other headliners, and as two-man band, they didn’t have much of a stage presence. The only special thing about them was the singer/ drummer’s pink hat.
Coheed And Cambria, on the other hand, put on a good show ending on a high note with Welcome Home and Claudio Sanchez playing the final guitar solo partially with his teeth. They relied too much on their newer music, which makes sense because a new album out about a week ago, but under a short festival setlist, it’s best to make your most well-known songs a priority.
Jane’s Addiction followed up with an incredibly lackluster performance. Perry Farrell’s voice has not held up well, and it was louder than any of the instruments. It was so bad, their strong setlist was essentially ruined. Near the end of the concert, they focused more on the guitar solos, which helped until they were extended to the point of tedium. At least their stage presence was solid and lived up to the ‘80s standards with attractive female dancers doing their thing mid song.
Deftones was the second to last band and lit up their home town. With their black and white back drop, crazy light show and stellar music, the show practically put the audience in a hypnotic trance of bliss. Their popular songs like Diamond Eyes and Change (In The House Of Flies) were outstanding. The one major gripe was the sound of the vocals weren’t always up to par. The screams during Shove It were difficult to hear and some of them were high-pitched screeches that weren’t exactly pleasant to hear. With that said, Deftones still performed relatively well on the slow day two.
Many attendees left after Deftones, but for those who stayed were treated to an amazing concert by Faith No More. The band opened up wearing all white with flowers all around the stage. Mike Bordin’s voice has changed over the years, but his talents as a singer have by no means diminished. It’s a bit lower, but his vocal range combined with the occasional scream is a sight to behold. The changes have also helped the band’s songs age better as well. Faith No More’s various styles, talented musicianship and well-known songs made their performance immensely enjoyable to even those who aren’t too familiar with them.
With the exception of three great acts, the second day of Aftershock wasn’t nearly as good as the first (granted, the parking improved). However, this is just Aftershock living up to its name. The first day of earthquakingly good music is followed up by another, less impressive aftershock.
CLICK HERE to view more photos from Day 1.
CLICK HERE to view more photos from Day 2.