by michael bushman
Damn it was hot. Africa Hot. 102 degrees in the shade. Serious. And they held this attack of heaviness on a black top parking lot. Which only made things hotter. Unprotected skin could be heard sizzling by the third band. Many spent the better part of the day huddled in little patches of shade and a mist tent that teased more than provided relief. The wind would blow, but felt like someone turned on a hairdryer. It was hot.
Mudvayne sounded pretty good from the shade.
(Hed)pe was the first band that drew a lot of people out into the sun. The band is out stoking their new release, “Broke” and took the stage looking rather freakish. Well oiled and happy to be in front of their crew, energetic would be an understatement. The set was heavy with newer material, (“Bartender” being received warmly) but a few jams from their previous effort satisfied the old school (hed)pe fans. Singer Jared is truly a powder keg and rages with brutal intensity. I think he scares most people.
Then quickly back to the shade.
Sepultura was excellent. From the shade. I ventured into the sun for a few songs, but not to sound like a huge pussy, but damn, I forgot sunblock and this heat was deadly. Got burned anyway. Laugh accordingly at my expense. But Sepultura holds their ground very aggressively with new singer Derek Green (well, not THAT new – he’s logged in an album and much touring with the band) giving up vocals in a consistent rage.
During Sevendust’s set, I took Charlie from Epitaph up on his offer of a corn dog. We stood the gauntlet of heat in line for about 40 minutes. The entertainment quickly shifted to the 6-person fight that broke out right next to us. Many blows were exchanged and one guy was actually getting the better of TWO attackers. Nobody seemed very anxious to stop the brawl, but then Dino from Fear Factory came wandering over. I’m not sure if he actually intervened or just his presence was enough of a distraction to halt the disturbance. Small cheers of, “Dino stopped the fight. Yay!” rang out. Were we still dying in the heat. But damn that was inspirational.
Hatebreed was stuck on the side stage and almost broke it from sheer crushing riffage. My favorite of the day. Hatebreed hit with this really metallic-edged hard-core pummel of sound that always seems to translate incredibly tight every time I’ve been fortunate enough to see them live (this being the 3rd time). People were singing along to most every song with the set weighing in heavy with cuts off of, “Satisfaction is the death of Desire” album. “Last Breath” and “Driven by Suffering” both had me picking my draw off the floor. The band had many a crew filling up the side and back of the stage and all their energy just blended with the bands and the whole scene had a lot of movement. They didn’t have the biggest crowd, but crushed most of the others in their sheer simplicity of design and perfect execution. Memorable.
Slayer Bloody Slayer. I really don’t have to say much about this band. They always rip. Faster, harder, louder and more evil than any other band. The crowd knew this and reacted accordingly. The band always knows how to please fans and feeds them with classics like, “Mandatory Suicide”, “South of Heaven” and “Dead Skin Mask”. The sun was going down so the crowds were braving the sun. (Authors disclaimer of wimpness – seriously, about 60% or more of the crowd was gathered in the shade at any given time). The pit was getting mean. Which really sucks when you are on top of daylong, hundred degree cooked blacktop. Ooooh. You KNOW that’s gonna leave a mark.
Slipknot was the headliner and from the number of T-shirts and intensity of the masses finally gathering in unity, they also seemed to be the heavy draw. I heard they gave up touring with OzzFest to concentrate on a new album. I guess a headlining slot qualifies for a schedule change. They were good though. Brutally intense. Don’t hate because of any perceived “gimmick”. They tear the fuck out of any stage they step foot on. They tear the fuck out of each other every time they play. They tear the fuck out of their instruments and most anything else that gets in the way in the live setting. It’s pretty fun to watch. The more popular they get, the more people seemed inclined to dismiss due to the bands costumed appearance. Whatever. They are about the meanest live band on the planet and if they keep it together to evolve, god help the creation it will become. Tonight’s show just re-enforced my view. Crazy, crazy band that must be experienced.
Tattoo the Earth. Great idea, and an informed choice of a line-up. Problem is that these festivals try to cram so many bands, it all starts around 11:00 in the morning (or earlier). Needless to say, a lot of people don’t even see half the bands on the bill. And when the gathering is in the desert – all day long – proper precautions for heat need to be implemented. Either have the show in an indoor area, or have proper sized and supplied mist tents and water. If you weren’t there, you’d probably think I was whining. If you were there, I’m sure you’d agree with a hearty, “No doubt.” Otherwise, it was great to see Tattoo The Earth pulling off a successful metal tour. The bands truly made any hassle worth the effort and I will probably burn again next year.