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Last weekend, I had the opportunity to head down on a mini road trip to sunny Santa Barbara California for four days of stage dives and sing alongs with Sound And Fury, an annual hardcore, punk and metal music festival. I had visited the fest before, back in 2007, but it was held at a venue called The Alpine in Anaheim. While there were tons of incredible bands schedule to play, the two out of forty bands I was most excited to see over the weekend were Earth Crisis and Xibalba. The new Xibalba album, “Hasta La Muerte” is absolutely crushing, blending groove-tastic doom, crushing hardcore and riff heavy death metal into a thunderous SoCal burrito of awesomeness. I couldn’t wait to hear the songs live. As far as Earth Crisis goes, they’re just downright one of the forefathers of metalcore, bringing the heaviness wherever they roam.
After a 16 or so hour drive, which was fueled by two stops at a SoCal staple – In N Out – we made it to our hotel just in time to unpack, take a quick dip in the pool, then head on over to the Sound and Fury pre show. It was awesome to see two Tacoma bands getting some California love, both Wreck and Oblivion had killer sets that showed SoCal how the NW does it. But it was New Jersey’s Suburban Scum that completely leveled the room, setting the pit off in a major way with their huge, stomp-worthy riffs. My body was already aching as I headed back to the hotel, and it wasn’t even day one of the fest yet. I made sure to get a solid nights rest, as there would be plenty of pitting in the next few days.
It would be near impossible for me to sit here and recollect all the bands that played great last weekend, so I am just going to share a few of the moments that really stood out to me from the 3-days.
The first day started with a band called Disgrace doing a badass cover of Machine Head’s classic jam, “Davidian”, which got the kids wild in a frenzy. From there, I took a bit of a break, but made it back in time to check out one of the Northwest’s most solid and hard working hardcore bands today, Ill Intent. If you haven’t checked them out, get on it. While their slot was early in the day, they had the biggest reaction up to that point. Alongside there bouncing New York-hardcore influenced riffs, their vocalist, Jake, killed it, as he unleashed his vicious yell to the dozen or so kids singing along and grabbing the mic.
As I previously mentioned, the first band I was extremely excited to see was Xibalba, and goddamn, they sure didn’t disappoint. I had seen this band play a handful of times up in the Northwest, but there’s nothing like seeing a band in their hometown, truly playing in their element. The pit was a nonstop frenzy as they slowed down the pace of the fest with mammoth riffs and hammering double bass. I shot video of the entire set up until they played “Cold,” when I had to stage dive and jump in the pit and sing along.
For me, Saturday was all about Earth Crisis, Bane, Terror and H20. After falling straight on my back and elbows during a botched stage dive during the killer set from LA’s Nomads (specifically during their cover of Sepultura’s “Biotech Is Godzilla), I decided to take a little time to myself to recuperate, eat some of California’s best burritos and prepare myself for the warzone to come.
It was a good idea to take a breather before Earth Crisis, because the full-on-metallic onslaught of that band was enough to knock the wind straight out of me. Back with a 2-guitarist lineup, Earth Crisis sounds full, heavy and as strong as ever. It was rad to see a true 90’s institution in hardcore play to such a feverishly excited room, yelling the words and destroying the room as they ended with their classic, “Firestorm.”
Here’s an interview I conducted with vocalist Karl Buechner a few hours before their set.
Watching Bane is always refreshing to me. Since the mid 90’s, this melodic hardcore band has been writing anthemic sing-along worthy songs and they are showing no signs of letting up. While sets at Sound and Fury are somewhat short, varying from 25 to 30 minutes, Bane used all their time wisely, igniting a sea of pile-ons and stage dives as they played both classics like “Can We Start Again” and new jams like “The Bold and The Beautiful.”
I’ve been watching Terror play insanely high-energy sets since I was 17 years old (10 years), but, much like Xibalba, there’s nothing like seeing them play in their hometown. Terror plays a solid mix of crossover thrash with a straight up in your-face hardcore style. These guys bust their asses year round on tour and it truly showed last Saturday, as the band played a ridiculously tight set that was mostly comprised of fan favorites like, “Keepers Of The Faith” and “Stick Tight.” Vocalist Scott Vogel is truly the man, as he commands the crowd with a presence matched only by motivational speakers.
Next up was New Yorks’ own H2O, a band that I’ve been listening to for a long long time. I had just seen H2O for the first time ever at Rain Fest in Seattle back in May, so I knew what I was in for, a great time! Vocalist Toby Morse’s little kid, Max, came out and introduced the band, “For those who don’t know, H20 GO!” From there, it was all smiles and stage dives.
By far, the highlights of Sunday for me were Harm’s Way and Black Breath, two killer bands that blend metal and hardcore together flawlessly. After a solid day of beaching it up, I made sure to be standing side stage as Harm’s Way warmed up. I didn’t want to be anywhere near the violence about to occur in that pit. For 25 straight minutes, Harm’s Way bludgeoned the audience with straight up meat-and-potatoes brutality.
It’s no secret that Black Breath stood out like a sore thumb at the festival. Rocking long hair, metal shirts and huge beards, as opposed to mesh shorts and crew cuts, these dudes showed up to party – and party is exactly what they did. Playing jams off both their full lengths, “Heavy Breathing” and their newest effort, “Sentenced to Life,” Black Breath charged the audience full of metal fury with their Entombed-esque buzzsaw guitar riffs!
Like I mentioned before, there were so many amazing bands that made up last weekend’s Sound and Fury, most of whom I didn’t even mention. If you ever have the opportunity to head down to California and check out a killer fest, make sure you give Sound and Fury at least a second thought. With lineups that spanned all genres of underground music, S&F 2012 is a fest I won’t soon forget.
Rockstar Mayhem Festival - White River Ampitheater - Auburn, WA 7/3/2012
Bloggers: "Iron" Mike & Stephanie Savoia - Festival website: http://rockstarmayhemfest.com
Ok with our fourth straight year covering the festival we know we could sit here all day long going through everything that happened but we don't wanna overbore ya with our yearly fairy tale of awesomeness so we'll keep it short (somewhat) in a quick cell phone pictorial overview. Might be a little Anthrax heavy blog but hey they are my favs for a reason ;)
Yeah you see it right, we started off the day on the good foot picking up Anthrax buddy Scott "NOT" Ian at the airport and headed to the show venue. Stephanie sat in the back of the Jeep shaking her head with a smile realizing this is really happening and what a day it's gonna be!
As we arrived at the venue the skies just started pouring rain. We parked next to the Anthrax tour bus and hopped on a golf cart to go get our passes for the show. Wet seats, fast driver and we held on for dear life trying not to fall off even laughing. Somehow I got a shot off on the cell phone.
Me & Stef had these handy Rockstar Mayhem VIP wrist bands (thank you Scott) which got us everywhere we wanted to go and meet up with many friends backstage, so in appreciation I gave the Anthrax glow star the salute!
The most sought-after photo pass of them all. Only 3 issued by the band and there was like 25-30 photographers there. I'm sure someone wanted to kill me for it...HA!! Wait till ya see ya see all my Slipknot pics though, some classics!
Look closely we got photo bombed by Mr. International himself Neil Lim Sang! Don't ask me how he did it. That little opening between me & Duff and he did it!
Got goose bumps being up there, it was that impressive hearing the roar back to Anthrax at the end of their non-stop energized set! If ya didn't get enough of Anthrax or missed them they are back to Seattle 9/19 with Testament & Death Angel at the Showbox Market! Tickets on sale now!
I've been hit by a flying Hello Kitty doll (X-Japan), little rubber lighted ducks (AIC) etc. in the photo pits but this...I can handle ;)
(snickering) Stephanie braved the downpour from under the Rockstar drink tent to go get some pics of (as she said) "he's hot" Tim of As I Lay Dying...you go girl! (I stayed dry with Anthrax ha!)
Upon A Burning Body killed it! The song "Texas Blood Money" and the quick intro intertwined lyrics of "Deep in the Heart of Texas" was brilliant! Just loved these guys classy look and conviction live!
Stephanie finally got to meet the metalhead jokester Craig Gass...ha!
Cool moment backstage as Shawn (Clown) presents Dean Karr with his new photo book that's out now! Check it out!
Fun times in the Slayer dressing room with the one and only Kerry King of Slayer. Check out Metal Shop's interview with Kerry HERE!
This was the tent to be at all day! Rockstar drinks free all-day long! Meet your favorite bands for autographs and grab some Rockstar on the way out. Everything was there for the asking! Let's give Rockstar Energy Drinks some HUGE props for sponsoring this great yearly tour and for getting me through the day! Join them on Facebook and visit their Website! Remember also 9/22 the Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival hits White River with Shinedown, Godsmack, Staind, Papa Roach, Adelitas Way + P.O.D., Fozzy, In This Moment etc.
Not very often you have this many photographers known within the rock community all in the same place from different states or countries at the same time. Combined (at least) 110+ years of experience in the music photography photo pits! Definitely one of my favorite shots of friends in a long time and boy did we have some fun this day. Those Rockstar cups, yeah they contained some secret Nitro jacked-up Rockstar fluid that had me buzzing the rest of the night...thanks Zetterstrom!
Motorhead - Stephanie pointed out how nice it was for a change to shoot the band in light! Everytime we've shot Motorhead it's usually dark and with Lemmy & Phil usually wearing hats ya get the dark face shadow effect. Not today! Highlight of the show was when Duff McKagan jumped onstage and played "Killed By Death" with the band. See Daniel Zetterstrom's great photo of Lemmy & Duff in the moment below. Also check out the video on YouTube!
Slayer was at the top of their game! The upside down crosses made of Marshall amps was visually crazy with the flames that shot out them. It was entertaining watch full rows of seated fans headbanging in unison during "Angel of Death" Never a dull moment musically and watching the fans at a Slayer show!
This night and tour was all about the return of Slipknot! With the 2010 death of bassist Paul Grey many thought they'd never come back. Time has healed enough that they are back but most noticeably there is no bassist onstage during the show. They figure you can't replace #2 onstage right now so the band hired a touring bassist that won't be seen onstage but behind drummer Joey Jordison. Another noticeable figure missing onstage this night was guitarist Jim Root. Just as the tour started the band announced he had a appendix burst and has to stay home for health reasons. Interesting cause in 2009 that was the exact same excuse used when the band had to cancel KISW's Pain in the Grass show hours before the show because drummer Joey Jordison had the same issue supposedly. Does this band ever have an off night live? Doubt it, the energy and insanity on and offstage with the crowd is nuts! The band will release Antennas to Hell, a "best of" collection documenting its inimitable career, July 24 on Roadrunner Records.
Already looking forward to next year! For our complete photo coverage of Festival please visit these pages and check out the MANY more cool exclusive shots:
This past Tuesday (July 3rd), we caught up with Kerry King from Slayer before his band hit the stage as the second to last band on this year's Rockstar Mayhem Fest at the White River Ampitheater. We chatted with him about pythons, guitar solos, scars and the new Slayer material.