Music fans from around the country descended upon Sacramento, California on this next to last weekend of October. There were fifty thousand of them to be exact, all eager to see just how the fourth annual Aftershock Festival would play out.

Gibson Ranch was the destination, hosting the fest for a second straight year, the sprawling park providing ample room for everything, with lots left to spare even.

Four stages were scattered about the grounds, the three Monster Energy main stages being in close proximity, with the Coors Lights Stage placed just a short distance away at the main entrance/exit. The plethora of trees on the largely hilly landscape made for a picturesque view no matter where you were.

As is usual with these Danny Wimmer Presents festivals, metal and hard rock reigned supreme this day; Hell or Highwater making sure everyone watching this day would remember them, as frontman Brandon Saller climbed atop some of the amps as well as left the stage to work his way into the crowd to better pump everybody up.

That was on the Coors Light Stage, which would also see Beartooth going all in for a devastating performance. Caleb Shomo has penned some incredibly deep songs, and the anger often heard in his screams resonated with all who watched this day. Though while the music may be angry, it’s also very hopeful and the positive messages were never lost on anyone as they got the onlookers to sing along on tracks like “Bodybag”.

Clutch would be the final band on that smaller stage for the day, getting their set going quite early, right about 4:30. Neil Fallon, Tim Sult, Dan Maines and Jean-Paul Gaster were some of the most seasoned musicians to perform this day and they showed everyone what a rock show is all about, playing some cuts off Psychic Warfare along with plenty of others known by the fans.

Fallon was constantly on the move during their set, except for the few times he did take on the role of rhythm guitarist, the exaggerated expressions he often made (such as bugging out his eyes, or waving his hand around) making them all the more engrossing.

Each of those bands and the ones who came before did a great job, though it was the main stages that most attendees focused on.

Suicidal Tendencies was an early favorite, their two-o’clock set time being just right, as their thrash metal tunes invigorated the crowd, a few mosh pits being seen.

All That Remains delivered one of the heaviest sets, their newer bassist, Aaron Patrick, looking to be a good fit with them, as he was every bit as much of a livewire as the other musicians. From heavy, things switched to loud and raw when Pop Evil took the stage, Chachi Riot again winding up being one of the best things about that band (a band that is great in general). The drummer is simply astounding, the force he uses on his kit, but doing it all with relative ease. He’s something, as were the songs the group hammered out, many being from their previous LP, Onyx.

P.O.D. and Hollywood Undead each drew substantial crowds, their set times conflicting with one another; while Black Veil Brides further enlivened the ever growing crowd. Seether would wind up being one of the best bands of the day, thousands gathering around the East Stage to see what the group led by Shaun Morgan would do.

In usual Seether fashion, they dished out one song after the other, the crowd singing along with older ones, while they just listened to newer ones such as “Same Damn Life”, with “Remedy” being the eventual closer.

Benjamin Burnley and his band mates did not disappoint anyone who had come to check out Breaking Benjamin. Since reuniting, they’ve quickly reclaimed the spot they held as one of hard rocks best, their fans certainly not forgetting about them and being glad to see them back on a stage. The feeling was pretty much mutual as Burnley often thanked everyone for taking time to watch them and sing along with their songs.

Bring Me the Horizon gave the metal legends that were yet to come a run for their money, Oliver Sykes often asking for anything from a mosh-pit, to a circle pit to a wall of death. He wanted to see an active crowd, and that was exactly what he and his band mates got as they powered through new songs like “Throne” and the closer, “Drown”, along with plenty of older ones.

Topping that exhilarating feeling would be hard for most acts, but, of course, Marilyn Manson is not like most acts.

It would be “mOBSCENE” that got the first large rise from the crowd this night; Manson and his band treating everyone to many more songs from his career. They even allotted for their own encore, which consisted of “Antichrist Superstar” and “The Beautiful People”.

The night shifted gears when Shnedown took the stage. They are certainly not metal like the bands they wound up being sandwiched between, though their brand of adrenaline pumping hard rock was welcomed. Pyrotechnics were often seen going off, flares shooting out from the top of the stage as well as upwards from around the drum kit as Brent Smith led his band through a whirlwind set that featured just about everything their fans wanted to hear. The fact that “Second Chance”, their cover of “Simple Man” and “Sound of Madness” all came one after the other, all right at the end, further ensured they had everyone’s complete attention.

The true headlining spot of day one fell to Slipknot, and really, could there have been any better way for this day to end?

There is arguably no better band in modern metal (at least in their brand of metal that has a wider commercial appeal), especially since they’ve been selling out arenas all over during their latest tour in support of .5: The Gray Chapter.

They offered up fourteen songs in all during the time they had the stage, some new, and many older ones, the ones fans have come to expect at shows. “Duality” gave the fans a chance to sing along, Corey Taylor enlisting their help in singing parts of it; while “Custer” has become a favorite of many since their new record came out about a year ago.

The nine piece ensemble left it all on the stage, the crowd even wanting a little bit more. It was a fitting end to day one, and there was still plenty of great music to be heard come the next day.





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