The Scion Rock Fest
Atlanta, February 28, 2009
The Scion Rock Fest. What can I say? It was great. I was really amazed to see how many of the bands were from Atlanta. Of course I think the idea behind it was to “showcase” local talent and most likely to “save money” on airfare. Keep in mind that most of these bands, with the exception of 3 or 4, are fairly well known in the underground metal scene.
Another thing that struck me as odd would be that they called it a “rock fest.” Clearly a festival featuring bands like Mastodon and Skeletonwitch (MySpace) is anything but “rock.” I’m thinking “Metal Forced Up Your Ass With A Fork Scion Fest” would have been more apt. Then again, anyone at Toyota selling the idea of a free concert to boost the coolness factor of Scion might have to call it rock rather than metal. Is Scion metal? I think now it very well may be…sorta.
The venue was the perfect setting for this kind of event. It was large, gloomy, and had so many creepy vibes I was as gleeful as a little boy in a candy store. The Masquerade in Atlanta is an old paper mill that has been a music venue for some time, which made it a really cool place to witness such heavy and broootal tunes. The show got to a late start giving me time to wander the grounds and take some photos.
There were 4 stages: 1 large outdoor tent and 3 indoor spaces. Upstairs was the Heaven stage (Trash Metal), the basement was Hell (Black Metal), and ground level is — you guessed it — Purgatory (bands that didn’t fit with the other stages, or weren’t as well known). The outdoor stage was creatively called Outdoor Stage (Stoner/Doom Metal). The Heaven/Hell stages had ample room for people to see and the stages were raised, making the bands easy to see, but Purgatory was floor-level and mashed up by a bar and a main exit. Dante would have surely approved.
I saw the surprise of the festival first: Gaylord (MySpace) from New York. They not only had great queer stage banter, but they also had some amazingly quirky songs. They mixed a bunch of styles together very well. Similar to Mr. Bungle/Faith No More/Old Incubus and any other band that plays decent funk-based metal [there is such a thing?—ed.].
Next up was Kylesa (website, MySpace) on the outdoor stage. This was my first time seeing them and for a band that has some serious riffage, they also made for an interesting visual show. Kylesa had a dual drummer attack, which is always entertaining, and they have a hot lady playing guitar. DONE. Had a good time.
On the outdoor stage I saw Torche; a band who’s latest, Meanderthal, I really dug. Basically because it’s doom-y/stoner metal but with a more upbeat and fun feeling. After some stage difficulty (blown bass amp head) they rock and rolled me to happiness. I later ran into guitarist/vocalist Steve Brooks while running around and had a good quick chat with him. I also had him do his metal face with me.
I then wandered into Hell to be super surprised by a band called Salome. Simple setup: guitar, drums, vocals. The enthralling thing was the vocalist…a 4’11” 90lb chick with a tapeworm stuck in her mouth growling to stay alive. This woman was grunting, pig squealing, and growling in a way that my dog can’t even when you pepper spray him. Other than that…meh.
Seeking redemption in Heaven I checked out Skeletonwitch (website, MySpace). These fellers were heavy as the moment you found out that your grandma was in porn. Hits you like a ton of bricks. The vocals are less than to be desired for me but I can dig on the guitars all day.
Heading outdoors to get some random people to do their best metal faces, I caught Pig Destroyer. Not too impressed with what they had going on, but I have to say I am digging the ambient and atmospheric qualities of the Natasha record.
Krallice (MySpace)….crazy as Hell! Which is where they played. Typical for Colin Marston, Krallice is heavy, noodle-y technical wizardry. I was very impressed with their set. I also met up with Colin and had him do a metal face for me.
High on Fire (website, MySpace) was great because I really like Sleep (Matt Pike‘s old band) and I like the riffage he does in HoF. I couldn’t seem to get a decent picture because the stage lighting…it was throwing me off. I had a great time shootin’ the shit with people during this set though. Something about the band opened people to talking to a goofball with a camera. Or it could be that we were 7 hours into an 11-hour drinking session. Your guess is as good as mine.
Next on the Outdoor stage was Neurosis (website, MySpace), a band that I am familiar with and have great respect for. Where do you think Mastodon got their sound from? I thoroughly enjoyed the video they played, too. At this point I had a decent amount of happy juice in me and thus my photography suffered a bit. But hey, it was dark and I ain’t got no professional camera.
MASTODON! CHHHEAH! (website, MySpace)They were a good time. I had a lot fun in the photo pit for a few songs getting my face blasted with the brute force of the Crack the Skye stuff. What I really like about these guys is that they use heavy, drop-tuned, doom-y riffage, but make it exciting. So many bands just plod along endlessly. I have a short attention span so I need some changes. Maybe the other stuff would be different if I was all juiced up on the sweet leaf…but alas I wasn’t. So I liked Mastodon.
BONUS: Dylan Solicits “Metal Faces” From Attendees
On my way out I stopped by to see Zoroaster (MySpace) at the Purgatory stage. Now, Zoroaster is one of those bands that plods along, but they brought the glory of neon with them. They also had so much smoke it was stupid. Except it wasn’t stupid, it was awesome. With the lights on the floor, the dense fog and the brew in my belly, I was a happy camper for Zoroaster.
Then I went to bed. But not before picking up a chicken cheese steak from a shady restaurant near my hotel because apparently my buzzed brain needed a great case of food poisoning. Let’s just say that puking on the plane ride home isn’t the best way to travel.
Can’t read? Check out Dylan’s video review of the festival!
Dig Dylan’s photos from the show on Flickr.