California Metalfest VI (Review)
I'm assuming no one else here went to this. My friend's band was on the bill along with like 85 others (http://www.cametalfest.com/wp-conten...settimes51.jpg) and while I'm pretty out of touch with today's "metal" scene - if you want to call it that - there were some pretty serious nostalgia acts from the early 00's so it sounded like a fun day, especially since I was getting comp'd.
Saturday morning I trekked out to San Bernardino. Felt like I was in another state. Parked in a nearby dirt lot and crossed the street to Will Call, passing by a GA entrance line that looked worse than Radiator Springs at Disneyland. (This was around 12:30.) There was a little confusion as Will Call directed me to Guest List, which directed me to call my friend directly. He handed me my wristband - GV/Coachella quality - through the gate and I walked in without any wait, or grope-down for that matter.
The entrance to NOS Events Center looked like some Knott's Berry Farm shit. Every affiliated band, sponsor, label, etc. had their own individual merch table, so it was tent city. There were a few food trucks and stands but not enough and waits stretched to almost half an hour at times. The beverage lines were also long but moved quicker.The beer was reasonable priced compared to other fests ($5-6). I also had a pretty good burrito but one of the worst slices of pizza in history.
My wristband gave me access to the backstage area (above) where my friends were hanging out. First band we watched was Unearth, an old favorite that got the day going pretty well. Around then I think I caught I See Stars which was pretty terrible in their attempt to mix dance-pop-tronica with guttural vocals and chugga chugga guitars. The Faceless were not terrible and kind of interesting.
Nostalgia act Bleeding Through were mediocre but I had fun watching their drummer from the stage (above). I peeked my head in during Winds of Plague's set - one of those newer 'deathcore' acts I just don't see the appeal in. Left shortly to help my friends load in.
My friends (above) were one of a million local bands on the bill and played on a side stage in the afternoon. It was a decent time slot and the stage had good sound though so good for them. They had a 20 minute set and one of the guitarist broke a bunch of strings like 5 minutes. I guess he found some bass strings lying around backstage, used those somehow and made it back for the last couple songs. I doubt many here would be into their sound but if you're curious: https://www.facebook.com/AbrielOfficial
After their set I watched Darkest Hour for a couple songs. A little disappointing and I had been looking forward to them.
Joined my friends in watching blessthefall on stage (above). Another one of those 'newer' bands I just don't get. They had a huge crowd and the kids were going wild though. The instrumental band Animals As Leaders played a very short set but what I saw was probably the most interesting and proficient stuff all day. Then it was the Dillinger Escape Plan who I was anticipating, and they didn't disappoint. One of the few acts that really broke the mold of the lineup. Again I was lucky to watch part of the set from the stage and catch some insane drumming up-close (see pic below). There was also fire-breathing, drum kit destruction, and rafter climbing. See the clips below. Easily one of the day's highlights.
Fire breathing & drum kit destruction around the 4:00 mark
Climbing the rafters
After that it was Christiancore titans As I Lay Dying. Seen them once before and while I'm not crazy about their music they do bring a ton of energy to their performance. At this time I snuck over to a side stage to catch thrash revivalists Shadows Fall. I feel bad for their massive drop in prominence over the years. Even 5 years ago they would have had a prime spot on the main stage; now they're on closing a shitty side stage with atrocious sound to a pretty small crowd. I could only bear a couple minutes, probably the biggest letdown of the day. After that it was time to stomach Asking Alexandria before the headliners. I'd heard enough about this badly-named band to know the kids love 'em and that I probably wouldn't. For a band three, four, or five times removed from the hardcore punk music their music clearly draws indirectly from, this was some pretty massive rock star shit. These Brits dress in leather like they're Judas Priest or something but the music is mostly midtempo hard rock interspersed with uninspired metalcore breakdowns and the occasional electronic "flourish". Headliners Killswitch Engage, back with their original vocalist and performing their seminal album "Alive or Just Breathing" (2002), earned their top spot with energy, showmanship, and fun. I saw them ten years ago with their at-the-time new singer and this was way better.
All in all a fun, interesting day. Some of you would have a field day with the crowd. It really wasn't that far off from what the modern day Warped Tour is like. One of the most annoying things was that my friends with their VIP passes insisted on watching bands from "backstage" even though it's obviously an inferior experience (IMO). I guess feeling cool about standing on the stage is more important than actually, y'know, properly enjoying the performance from the front of the stage. I also received a free sampler CD from Sumerian Records featuring lots of the bands that played and I fully expected to hate it (I almost didn't accept it)...however I found myself enjoying quite a bit of it. Still, a complete deluge of these type of bands.