A review of the good, the bad and the weird
The two-day Aftershock Music Festival, featuring artists as huge as Slipknot, Marilyn Manson and Deftones, smashed the four stages set up in Gibson Ranch Park and a record number of 45,000 people moshed their way through the gates. As I was more sober than literally anyone else attending, I caught some highlights that other people may have missed. Here’s a rundown of the good, the bad and the downright weird parts of my weekend.
The first CD I ever bought was a Marilyn Manson album, back when I was a tiny impressionable goth kid. Despite me hearing more than one person questioning his sobriety during his Saturday evening set, the incredible hits he played, including “The Beautiful People”, “Disposable Teens” and his cover of 80s classic “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of These)”, combined with awesome stage design (including stained glass effigies of the Antichrist Superstar) and a literally unforgettable voice, more than made up for any potential intoxication. Apologies to the man in front of me, who only put earplugs in after I started screaming.
Slipknot played a solid, heavy set on Saturday night, opening with “XIX”, an incredibly atmospheric track from their new album “The Grey Chapter”, but mixing it up with old classics such as “Duality”, and even finishing with a song from their very first album. They were full of intense, angry energy and the crowd responded in kind with a violence and pleasure only ever really present at Slipknot shows. Photographing them was an absolute dream, as was being able to be so close to the incredible stage set up, but I still think my favorite part of the set was when I got decked from behind in the mosh pit and lost my media pass. It’s not a Slipknot gig if you’re not bleeding afterwards!
All Time Low
All Time Low opened the stage on Sunday with a song from their new album, which evidently must be alright, judging from the insane crowd reaction. Although not my cup of tea, I admit their charisma lifted their performance from mediocrity. As I photographed the band, ducking multiple bras fired from behind, I climbed up onto some scaffolding next to a speaker to get a better angle for my shot. And then suddenly Jack Bakarat, lead guitarist, was standing on said speaker, offering me his guitar.
And then he was still holding it out.
Maybe he meant I should take it.
I was holding his guitar.
As I was ushered out of the photography pit and rejoined my friend in the crowd, I stood with a stupid grin on my face, screaming the lyrics to songs I’ve loved for years, and only occasionally interrupted by being kicked by very enthusiastic crowd surfers.
It was Saturday at 3 p.m. We were late. The traffic coming in to Aftershock was mental, and it took over 45 minutes to get round two sides of a field. I had a burrito though, so I didn’t care. By 4 p.m. and still sitting in traffic, I became irritated. We were so close to being parked it hurt. Finally, as we pulled up through the cloud of dust to the parking lot, I watched people throng around the car and into the festival site. Hundreds of people were still arriving, and at least half were carrying red cups of beer to drink before going in, in a last ditch attempt to beat festival prices.
Saturday night was worse. After stumbling semi-consciously back to the car, I began to pass out as my friend desperately tried to navigate the battlefield that the parking lot had become. As one person after another cut her off I dozed off. I jumped awake at 1:30 a.m. to find out we’d made it to the freeway, where in celebration she turned on the radio. Or maybe that was just to keep her awake.
Jane’s Addiction brought an incredible energy to the festival, as should the third last band of the weekend, playing their classic hits to an incredible light show. But it was their unusual performers that really made them stand out. Two girls were suspended by hooks through the flesh of their backs and were swinging and twirling to the music, all fun and games — until one girl got stuck, at which point Jane’s Addiction swiftly closed down their set. Between that, and frontman Perry Farrell’s story about wrecking his car with a legless drug addict, it was an overall bizarre set with an even weirder end.
Costumes and creativity
While at a festival, I’m always searching for interesting people. I was not disappointed by Aftershock, where I encountered an incredible number of Dying Fetus fans, some incredibly under- and overdressed Slipknot fans and one man dressed as banana. My friend and I started playing a game called “Spot the Weirdest Person” and we encountered beauties such as:
“Oooooh that guy has a facial tattoo!”
“Yeah, but THAT guy is wearing a dinosaur onesie!”
“Did you see that girl with the bandana for a shirt?!”
The surreality of festivals never ceases to amaze me.
By festival’s end, I was absolutely exhausted. Thankfully new traffic measures were in place following feedback from the night before, and I managed to get home by 11 p.m. Collapsing into bed and mentally leafing through my weekend, I wanted to shake the hand of everyone who had a hand in creating Aftershock. From the booking agent to the friendly security to the technicians and artists, everyone gave it their all, and made it one of the most incredible musical experiences I’ve ever had the good fortune to attend. Here’s to another great festival year!