KM: Ghost rules even harder in front of this crowd with their summer robes on. One of the finer moments: hearing a crowd member yell “Bring in the virgin!” between songs. Shepherds of ritual, indeed. It’s a testament to how good they are that they didn’t need an indoor stage, elaborate lighting, or even an after-dark show to make a ton of new fans.
ZS: Unlike Bram and Kodi, this was my first time seeing Ghost live. And indeed my expectations were high. In short, I liked it….a lot! Was it mind blowing and ground breaking? No. But was it fun? Absolutely. And while a few people told me that it would be better to see Ghost inside a dark theater rather than outside, I though tthey pulled it off well. Seeing Papa Emeritus interacting with the crowd like an sinister priest was killer, and their haunting cover of “Here Comes The Sun” was perfect for an outside festival. And considering how many newly-purchased Ghost shirts I saw people wear right after their set, I’d say many were impressed as well.
BT: Anyone walking in that didn’t know anything about Ghost, and I’m assuming that was a lot of people, were probably a little shocked to see them at first. Assuming they stuck around, they were probably won over by the hooks. Members of the Sword, Monster Magnet, The Black Dahlia Murder and Metal Blade president Brian Slagel were among those taking in the show from the audience. My barometer of success was a woman who’d thrown down a blanket in front of the main stage to claim her spot for Metallica’s show in 7 hours. You could tell she’d never seen the band, but by the time they played “Ritual,” she was happily nodding her head. Success!
The Black Angels:
BT: The Frantic stage was perfect for The Black Angels. While their drony Jesus & Mary Chain-esque sound might have lost something on a bigger stage, the more indie rock faction of the crowd were definitely into the band, and they played in front of a nicely-sized but enthusiastic audience.
BT: We didn’t get a chance to check out LM, but stay tuned for an interview with them later in the week.
BT: This was a nice left turn from the other bands at the festival. An eight-piece brass band that covered everything from Stevie Wonder to Metallica (natch), they came off as the most badass marching band ever.
Gary Clark Jr.
KM: Quoting Hendrix’s “Third Stone from the Sun” is one of the very greatest blues virtuoso secret handshakes. Gary Clark did it with pounds of heart. The sunburn is getting to me, but I already want to see more even though I can’t keep standing here.
ZS: I have to admit that my feet were so sore and my face was so burnt from the day before that I was very tempted to skip seeing Gary Clark Jr. in favor of sitting down in the shade. Major thanks to Kodi and Bram for convincing me otherwise, because the blues guitarist was truly stellar and worth catching. Even a metal purist can’t deny that Clark Jr. is pretty awesome and was a great addition to Orion.
BT: If you combined the best parts of Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan, you’d have an idea of what Gary Clark Jr. sounds like. It’s another good example of the ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ attitude of the acts playing. Also, getting the seal of approval from Kirk Hammett, who introduced Clark, helped the sizable crowd appreciate him more. Bonus points for the sign language interpreters. Apparently, the sign language for a guitar solo looks like someone playing air guitar.
BT: In addition to hosting many of the more indie-leaning bands, the Frantic stage also hosted several hours of comedy each day. Jim Breuer performed for an hour each day, and while Kodi found his bits to be pandering, it seems to have worked in his favor, as there were decent crowds for both days. Saturday seemed to be That Metal Show-centric, with co-hosts Don Jamieson and Jim Florentine sandwiching Breuer’s set. Sunday was more Howard Stern-themed, with the Howard 101’s Shuli Egar opening and producer/drummer Richard Christy’s band Charred Walls of the Damned closing.
KM: This was easily Day 2’s highlight. After being introduced by Rob Trujillo as “one of my favorite bands,” Torche ruled over everyone in attendance. Even a blown soundboard fuse that silenced them for most of a song couldn’t stop them, as they just powered through either unaware or refusing to accept it. The coup de grace, however, was James Hetfield banging his head and air-guitaring just behind the left line of PAs. Since most of the audience couldn’t see him, this wasn’t grandstanding, just pure enthusiasm. If you saw Best Coast over this band, I feel sorry for your parents.
ZS: While Bram and Kodi got up close to the Damage Inc. stage for Torche, I opted to watch from the Vans Motorbreath mini ramp set up (surprising, I heard them perfectly well and had a great view). Even from far away, it was obvious that Torche were putting everything that had in them into their set. It’s no surprise that they won over everyone watching.
BT: I’ve been singing the praises of Torche since I heard their second album, Meanderthal, a few years back. With a chance to get friends out to see them, it was exciting to watch the band, who were totally on point, win over new fans. “It’s like Foo Fighters and Crowbar had a kid!” one friend enthused. They absolutely crushed it, and were a musical highlight of the day for me.
KM: I’ll cut Best Coast some slack and just say this band doesn’t fit on this lineup. Bethany Cosentino’s feigned innocence is part of her charm, but that wasn’t going to do much for her here. What I heard sounded decent, but nowhere near worth skipping Torche (or even Shuli Egar’s entertaining stand-up pre-Jim Breuer) for.
BT: “More like Worst Coast,” I overheard someone say. A surf rock band that’s only been around for three years, it seems like the band would have been much better suited on one of the smaller stages. The small audience watching them seemed to bear that out.