Saturday was my first proper day at an American festival. Ok, yes, I’d been to Knotfest before, but that was kind of just a huge, glorified 3 day Slipknot gig. Aftershock is more of an all round type thing – if I had to compare it to a festival in the UK, I’d say maybe Download? Although it has more cool different stuff like you’d find at Reading and Leeds, but the line up is a little heavier.
Anyway, Aftershock is hands down my favourite festival I’ve attended, and I actually wish we’d camped and stayed for the full duration. But nevermind. We actually ended up at Aftershock purely by chance in the first place – the original intention was to just go to Knotfest, but I’m not really into Judas Priest (who headlined day one of Knotfest) and heard Slipknot were playing Aftershock so thought, why not?
There is so much I need to cram into this post, that I don’t really know where to start. I’d normally do chronologically but it just won’t work here, so I guess I’ll go by topic.
Seems a good place to start, right? Since the music is why I was there and everything.
Aftershock had some great bands on the smaller stages. I say smaller stages, there was only one ‘small’ stage, the others were just three main stages in different places. Two of them were actually directly next to each other, so you didn’t really have to move for the last couple of bands (Shinedown and Slipknot) if you got a good spot kind of in the middle (which obviously I did).
So, the smaller bands… I was a little distracted by other stuff earlier in the day, so I didn’t see that many until later on, but I did catch a bit of Beartooth, Seether (I always forget I like Seether – although the radio station we listened to in the car for the rest of the trip, Octane, basically had them on repeat so they are now stuck in my head) and Breaking Benjamin (I’ve never really got into them).
The first band I really paid attention to were Clutch. Which, if you know me personally, may make you laugh a little as I have been so resistant to liking Clutch for like, forever. But when I saw them at Download this Summer, I had to admit they were pretty good. And they kind of blew me away at Aftershock. They played on the smallest stage, the Coors Light stage, which was in such a beautiful setting, it was kind of nestled amongst trees, on the other side of the arena to the other stages. So standing back a bit, watching Clutch, in the sun, with gorgeous scenery – well that was pretty perfect, and not an experience I’ll ever have back home.
Next up were Bring Me The Horizon. Have we established on the blog yet that Bring Me have been my favourite band for about ten years now? Admittedly I prefer the older, heavier stuff, but the new album still works for me – and it really helped get me through a heartbreaking Summer this year. As always, they were so, so good. It really surprised me how well received they are in America, and the amount of Bring Me shirts that I saw on people was great. As per their Reading performance this Summer, a lot of the crowd didn’t seem to know anything much pre Sempiternal. When they left some lyrics out during Chelsea Smile, just like they did at Reading, no one shouted them back – in fact I think most people actually didn’t know anything had been left out. It didn’t spoil it though, and I have to say I really respect Oli for not Americanising for a US audience, he still kept with his accent despite most of the crowd not having a clue what he was saying!
One of the good things about the VIP area was the big screen showing whichever band was playing – and, while I think of it, one of the good things about Aftershock was that there weren’t really any band clashes, at least not later in the day. So I watched Marilyn Manson on the screen. Not much to say about him really, but he was better than the last few times I’ve seen him.
I also watched a bit of Shinedown on the screen before heading back out into the crowd for Slipknot. Shinedown aren’t a band that have ever gripped me – some of their songs aren’t band, but they’re kind of background music for me, the kind of music I can get away with playing in the car when I’m driving my Nan around without her complaining.
And then it was Slipknot. As I think is pretty obvious, I love, love, love Slipknot. But I have to admit, and it may be the sound at the venue, I’m not sure, they weren’t at their best at Aftershock, which was a shame. I still enjoyed it though – I’m one of those people who isn’t over fussed about sound quality at a gig/festival, it’s more about how much fun I’m having. And despite by this point being jet lagged and exhausted, I was still having fun so it was all good.
Sorry there are pretty much no music photos past Bring Me, I tend to get lost in the moment and not take photos. And the ones I do take are generally a bit rubbish anyway, so it isn’t much of a loss.
Jack Daniel’s Experience
I’m not sure exactly when I started drinking a lot of JD, it only became my drink very recently, but I think it’s become kind of obvious. So of course I went into the Jack Daniel’s Experience truck – a mobile museum with some interesting facts about Jack, a display showing whiskey dripping through charcoal (it mellows it apparently), how it’s aged and stuff like that.
I did learn that Jack was the same height as me and we have the same shoe size! And he died after getting an infection from breaking his toe when he kicked a safe in frustration.
I had a nice chat with the guy in the museum, who liked the JD Meat & Whiskey hat I nabbed at the JD x Vice event a few weeks back (it is the best hat ever, so obviously he liked it!) and he told me that in some parts of America you can’t actually buy alcohol! Including in Lynchburg, Tennessee where JD is made.
Outside the truck was a JD bar with generous servings. So Saturday was obviously a good day.
Crazy Dave’s Music Experience
This was an ‘interactive exhibit’ in a large tent where they held meet and greets – I missed Corey Taylor (he and Oli are the only people I’d bother seeing) because I was busy drinking JD, but you’ll see a future post that I didn’t end up being so sad about that.
Other than that it pretty much just sold instruments and accessories. Nothing too exciting.
Although I thought this skeleton hand guitar grip was pretty cool.
Make Your Mark
Dividing the main arena from the outside part of the VIP area was a cool graffiti wall, with a load of spray cans so you could do your thing. I didn’t actually know at the time, but there was a famous graffiti artist there called Vyal from Risk Rock Studios. I didn’t know there was a thing of famous graffiti artists. Actually, would Banksy count? Is Banksy graffiti? Anyway, that’s totally not the point, just check out the pretty UV wall in the dark.
There was mini golf which I missed (I LOVE mini golf), but I was adopted by a bunch of guys who showed me a playground game called Cornhole in the Sacramento Kings area where you throw bean bags into a hole on a special board. Surprisingly I didn’t totally suck. They were convinced I was faking my British accent though… Actually, I get that a lot. Weird.
As well as the usual alternative clothing stands you’d expect, Aftershock had a few more interesting vendors.
Hands down my favourite was Rock Out For Rescue – a collaboration between Take Me Home and A Dog’s Life Rescue in which they go on tour at rock festivals, selling ROFR merch and raffling off prizes. I’m a massive dog lover and advocate for rehoming, so this is a cause I really believe in.
And the designs were awesome! I bought a hoodie (which is the softest thing ever!) with a French bulldog in Ozzy style round glasses and a studded collar graphic, and a Get Licked shirt which one of the lovely ladies at the stand cut up and weaved for me. I love it.
At Aftershock they were raffling off some cool prizes, including a guitar (signed by Corey Taylor, Marilyn Manson, Jim Root, Gary Holt, Alex Skolnick, Lizzie Hale, Chris Wayne and Michael Wilton), special bottle of Angels Envy and signed drumheads.
Another favourite was Mosh It Up Clothing. I actually saw their Adventure Time parody shirt on someone the night before at the Aftershock pre party and thought it was awesome.
They kindly gifted me one of the Back To The Moshpit shirts, which got me loads of compliments when I wore it later in the week. You’ll see it popping up in an outfit post soon!
They actually each produced a print for a triptych exclusively for Aftershock.
Here are a few prints I particularly liked…
This deserves a post all of its own so have a looky here.
The VIP area, in association with Thunder Valley Casino Resort, was pretty handy. Nothing spectacular, but it did have shorter queues for the bar, bathrooms and food trucks.
Have a selfie of me in the VIP tent, because y’know, I’m always being told I don’t post enough pictures with me actually in them. It’s hard when you’re by yourself at things. Maybe I should get a selfie stick? Sorry, gone off topic again…
Anyway, the VIP area – It also had loads of tables and seats, and a screen showing whichever band was on at the time, with cute haybales in front of it to sit on. Which was quite nice when I wanted a break from the crowds.
It also randomly had chandeliers. Which I quite liked.
Would it be worth paying extra for? Not really, but I wouldn’t turn it down. A VIP ticket is about the same cost as a standard UK festival ticket though, so maybe? Well, that was indecisive.
I had such an amazing time at Aftershock, and would definitely consider going again!
All photos my own unless stated otherwise.