1pm – and it begins
ZS: “They have a new album coming out called Yellow &… Blue? Green? Ah close enough,” Lars said as he introduced Baroness. Not an ideal way to kick off a festival, but Baroness nonetheless performed a solid set on the mainstage.
BT: One of the newer additions to the Q Prime (Metallica’s management co.) roster, this is probably the first time they’re playing a stage this big. They’re introduced by Lars Ulrich, which brings me to the band’s involvement. They seem really hands on about the festival, and when they said they hand-selected the bands, it seems like they really did. In addition to announcing some of the bands, it wasn’t a rarity to see them off to the side taking in some of the bands. Back to Baroness: Their forthcoming Yellow and Green finds the Savannah band graduating from the heavier sound that defined their first two albums. To any mainstream rock fans arriving early, they caught a band they’ll likely be hearing a lot more of over the next year. There was a sizable crowd watching them, but they didn’t seem super interested, maybe because they hadn’t heard them until now. Or they weren’t drunk yet.
KM: Not a ton of people here yet. Black Tusk has maybe 250 people watching them, but they’re out here spitting acid and going nuts. Guitarist is wearing a Nux Vomica shirt, of which I approve highly. The bassist has a beard so intense that Zach got annoyed at himself for not including this guy in our Top 5 Beards in Metal list. Wind turbines in the distance on my left and Trump Plaza on my right, like some dystopian Mafia-controlled future. But hey, Black Tusk sounds like they’re speeding through it in the devil’s Cadillac, and I’m too busy wigging out about it to notice the scenery too much. The first circle pit happens at 1:15 sharp; right around 1:32, some guy lights up his weed pipe next to me. Welcome to Atlantic City fellow metal dudes, enjoy your stay.
ZS: I left Baroness a little early so as to check these guys out. And boy was I impressed! A full energy metal show from a solid trio. And upon seeing Jonathan Athon enormous beard, I realized how silly I was to have left him off one particular Top 5.
BT: The first band on the Frantic stage play pretty cool spacey rock, but judging by the attendance at the most tucked-away stage, no one gives a shjit.
BT: Rob Trujillo introduces the Sword, saying that their riffs inspired Metallica when they were writing, and that the band can ‘outdrink and outsmoke’ them. Considering The Sword had toured with them before, and their “Freya” is an anthem that anyone that’s played Guitar Hero is familiar with, this is the first band that really registers with the crowd. The band play a new song from their album that they’re set to start recording this week.
ZS: The Sword’s set was the first time I noticed the sound issue/theory I explained above. That being said, they still put on a hell of a show and it was awesome seeing the crowd really into them.
KM: I love The Sword, but Letlive’s live reputation precedes them, and it’s time to witness it for myself. What follows is all mathy post-hardcore hell breaking loose. Singer Jason Aalon Butler is a total lunatic…did he just run up to a recycling truck mid-set and throw a bunch of bags into the air? “You feel too safe,” he says as they launch into a Black Flag cover. This guy is Ritalin’s worst nightmare, and his antics are the main attraction; as he climbs scaffolding and nearly shotputs his mic into a spotlight, you can feel the crowd (not much bigger than Black Tusk’s) descend into madness. And now he’s playing tug-of-war with the stage crew and yanking the drum riser, which brings the whole backline with him. And…why does he have the tech crew’s backstage clock, and why is the stage manager so visibly angry?
“Time is only perceivable to the human heart,” Butler quotes, attributing it to one James Jordan (who might be real or just a construct of the moment). Mic into clock, it breaks, stage manager quits life. And…scene.
The group’s Jason Aalon Butler may have won the “Holy Crap!” Award of the day. Jumping off of everything and smashing into anything solid, Butler’s presence made it hard to notice anything besides Letlive’s set. And seeing the stage manager’s (looking like an agitated mother dealing with an unruly child) face turn from concern to complete anger the minute Butler smashed the stage’s clock with his microphone is a sight I will soon not forget.
BT: I think for a festival like this, Lucero would’ve been better off playing one of the smaller stages. They had some people there for them, and from the song or two I heard, sounded great, but there weren’t that many people watching them.
BT: This psychedelic pioneer spent much of the ‘80s and ‘90s in a schizophrenic haze. Playing a tight, bluesy set in front of a moderately sized, but enthusiastic crowd while Letlive and The Sword were playing elsewhere proved that the fest did have a little bit for everyone.
BT: Kyng have been spending much of the year touring with the likes of Clutch and Danzig. They’ll be on the road later this year opening for Seether. In between, there was this show, which is the biggest they’ve played in their career. James Hetfield certainly seemed to enjoy them.