Dust, traffic and sonic bleed
Venue fail: This year’s Aftershock Festival marked its first time at Elverta’s Gibson Ranch, the same spot that held August’s City of Trees Festival. And once again, while the location may have looked good on paper, most attendees will readily agree the dust-laden site at Discovery Park—the festival’s previous and very successful site—was better on many fronts.
Those who made the trek on Saturday, which featured a sold-out crowd of 30,000 strong, experienced wait times of up to two and three hours just to get there, sitting in dead-stopped traffic on the venue’s side-street entrances. Sunday’s attendance, however, dropped considerably and appeared to be half that number.
Once inside the festival, the layout was quite impressive with four stages, local and regional food vendors, a Marlboro tent (target audience?), more Monster Energy drink paraphernalia than should be allowed and even an indoor ring with live wrestling.
In addition to logistical issues that desperately need to be addressed by organizers next year, many music fans were unhappy to find that bands that played concurrently at different stages experienced lots of sonic bleed. Each time a song ended, it sounded like someone’s boombox had been left on at a competing stage.
RavenEye opened the festival. Singer and guitarist Oli Brown roamed the stage like a madman, dragging his guitar behind him and standing on nearly every side-fill speaker whenever possible. The band played songs from its new Breaking Out EP and garnered the kind of applause some later midday acts didn’t even receive.
Those who caught Helmet’s Saturday set were either caught in a whirlpool of dust from a rowdy pit or pierced by the direct sun overhead. Thankfully, these seasoned New Yorkers didn’t let either of the two potential problems keep them from delivering crushing interpretations of their classics, which included “Unsung,” “Turned Out” and the always fantastic “Ironhead.”
On Sunday, Los Angeles’ Failure, the kings of cerebral rock fare, played lots of material from the fabulous new release The Heart Is A Monster.
Sunday’s lineup also featured Jane’s Addiction, which found singer Perry Farrell struggling to stay in key and hit his own, often-complicated high notes. Fans yelled expletives whenever Farrell pointed the mic to the crowd or backed down from important vocal lines.
With any luck, Aftershock will get its many kinks worked out before the next one is staged.
Acoustic love: The fourth show on the Warehouse Artist Lofts’ rooftop—a lovely space with greenery, murals and a sparkling view of downtown Sacramento—should go down in history books as its most magical yet. Between the lineup and the loving crowd, it was a stellar representation of Sacto’s indie scene from start to finish.
Jacob Golden, a local better known in the U.K., started things off with a stunning, dark, borderline psychedelic set. His voice haunted, high notes transcended and lyrics referenced fellow artists aplenty, including Downtown James Brown on “Out Come the Wolves.” His next album—and United States debut—The Invisible Record comes out next month.
Sunmonks’ Geoffrey CK and Alexandra Steele performed next—and acoustic, for the first time since 2012. With just one guitar and two voices, Sunmonks revealed skeletons of several songs off their upcoming debut full-length. They’re promising skeletons: intriguing chord progressions meshed with even more intriguing vocal harmonies.
Then Sea of Bees stepped into the spotlight, facing a packed and buzzing crowd. Julie Ann Baenziger—armed with a guitar covered in cut-out cat pics—and Amber Padgett played a mix of old and new songs with equal excitement. Sea of Bees’ release party for Build a Boat to the Sun doubled as Baenziger’s grand return from a three-year hibernation. She talked about learning to love Sacto and music again—extremely evident in her playful smirk, twinkle in her eye and consistent yelps of joy. Everyone was excited to see her, and she was excited to see everyone.