BOTB Day 1 @ Oak Canyon Park, Silverado (US)

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'Blackest Of The Black' Festival - Day 1

SUICIDAL TENDENCIES / CORROSION OF CONFORMITY / DISCHARGE / DEAFHEAVEN / SUICIDE SILENCE / BUTCHER BABIES / 3TEETH

Date: 26th May, 2017
Venue: Oak Canyon Park
Ticket: $66.6/€59 (2-day GA) - $399/€355 (ultimate VIP package)
Promoter: n/a


The moment the news broke out that Glenn Danzig would put together a festival, I knew that we had to be there. You see, DANZIG will not be doing extensive tours anymore, since Glenn has opted out for selective appearances, making this one a must-go.

After some GPS-related confusion, we managed to reach the beautiful setting of the festival grounds. The two stages were set side-by-side, something that explained the structure of the timetable where one band was starting immediately after the end of the previous set. The first time I saw the timetable, I was a bit frustrated having in mind that usually two stages means that one has to walk from one location to another, meaning that set selections should be made and some sacrifices were impossible to avoid. But not in this setting where basically the crowd was moving from one side to the other without missing a bit and, most importantly, minimizing the waiting between sets which gets worse as time goes by.

However, driving around Irvine, CA resulted in missing the first band out which was 3TEETH. So, the first band for METAL KAOZ was BUTCHER BABIES. Ok, there is a lot of online hatred for this band and I think for most cases, for the absolutely wrong reasons. After all, the Metal scene claims to be unbiased, against all forms of discrimination but (unfortunately) there are a lot of incidents that make me think otherwise. Anyway, I am not writing these lines to change the world, so it’s better to go on with the music-related talk. In music terms, BUTCHER BABIES have nothing for me to like and I believe that the band is not focused as much as it should on the songwriting but rather on putting groovy parts with occasional faster breaks. As you can easily imagine, Carla and Heidi drew all the attention from the part of the audience which had approached the stage. The two frontwomen know exactly what to do to get the crowd going by moving / jumping around the stage and from time to time getting into the photo-pit to give the die-hards the chance to scream to the mic.

The security and the rather big photo-pit did not make it possible for the BUTCHER BABIES tradition of having fans crowd surfing all the way from the back in order to ‘high five’ one of the frontwomen, but still, there was action off stage. So, all in all it was a good start and, in fact, during this set, we got some time to browse around and watch what the festival had to offer.

BUTCHER BABIES

Butcher Babies @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Butcher Babies @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Butcher Babies @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Butcher Babies @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Butcher Babies @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Butcher Babies @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Butcher Babies @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Butcher Babies @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Butcher Babies @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Butcher Babies @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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Minutes after BUTCHER BABIES had left the stage, SUICIDE SILENCE were ready to raise a notch the energy levels and I think the cloudy weather helped to enjoy the early bands, since it is always tough to get your Metal when the sun is beating down on you. “You Only Live Once” kicked off the set and immediately there was action on and off stage. The band was constantly in motion, with singer Hernan "Eddie" Hermida spearheading the energy surge we were getting from the band. I find it hard to listen to a Metalcore / Deathcore album at home and, to be honest, it all sounds the same to me. However, in a live setting, if this style is played the right way, it can get you moving despite your taste in music. The hard hitting grooves, the nice riff breaks and the vein-popping singing / screaming can get under your skin, and soon enough you’ll find enjoying the show. Of course, being on a festival with all things happening around enhances the experience, giving you more degrees of freedom without losing the connection with the live performance.

“Put those fucking fingers up; I know you’re not happy with everything in life”, was the best way to introduce the most fitting - considering all things happening in the world - “Fuck Everything”, and as you can imagine, the mosh-pit was on. Comparing the SUICIDE SILENCE set with the one by BUTCHER BABIES it felt like the festival just started with most of the audience present getting involved in moshing, headbanging and I think this was the first 'wall of death' that happened for day one of the ‘Blackest Of The Black’. “This is for the people who understand this scene and don’t judge where you come from”, were Hermida’s last words just before the setlist-closer, “Conformity”. Yeah, SUICIDE SILENCE did extremely well to get everyone in the mood for DEAFHEAVEN who had already set up their gear.

SUICIDE SILENCE setlist:

01. “You Only Live Once”
02. “Doris”
03. “No Pity For A Coward”
04. “Fuck Everything”
05. “Run”
06. "Wake Up"
07. “Hold Me Up, Hold Me Down”
08. “Conformity”

SUICIDE SILENCE

Suicide Silence @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Suicide Silence @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Suicide Silence @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Suicide Silence @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Suicide Silence @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Suicide Silence @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Suicide Silence @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Suicide Silence @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Suicide Silence @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Suicide Silence @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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Then, it was time to turn the atmosphere 180 degrees around with the Post / Black Metal band DEAFHEAVEN. You see, going from the high energy Metalcore / Deathcore of SUICIDE SILENCE to the almost Progressive Black Metal was a tough pill to swallow. Although, the setlist oper “Brought To The Water” was violent enough to get everyone moving despite the hard-beating sun. Singer George Clarke with his crazy grimaces was the one doing all the heavy-lifting job during the set, and soon enough he was sweating his arse off. I have to give them kudos for withstanding the cloudless weather and delivering their type of Black Metal as hard as they could. “How are you doing today? Here’s another one from our new album, “New Bermuda””, George said and let the nine minutes long “Come Back” do the rest of the talking. The band’s song-playing skills were evident, despite the effects in the music, but I believe in order to enjoy the DEAFHEAVEN set, one should know the songs and be very comfortable with the complicated structure. Something that applied to the people in the front rows who had defied the burning rays of the sun and were already headbanging along. I guess, “Sunbather” was the best way to end the set, right?

DEAFHEAVEN setlist:

01. “Brought To The Water”
02. “Come Back”
03. “Dream House”
04. “Sunbather”

DEAFHEAVEN

Deafheaven @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Deafheaven @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Deafheaven @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Deafheaven @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Deafheaven @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Deafheaven @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Deafheaven @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Deafheaven @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Deafheaven @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Deafheaven @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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After the rather strange performance by DEAFHEAVEN who kind of calmed things down (at least as compared to what SUICIDE SILENCE had done), and while the line of people waiting to get an autograph by Glenn was constantly growing almost one hour before the announced time of his signing session, the legendary Hardcore band from the UK DISCHARGE was ready to get things moving again. Hardcore and Crossover are two genres that have strong ties with Metal and this is shown in every single gig (if you pay attention, of course). I am talking about the intensity of the music, the rawness of the lyrics and the two-way connection between the band and the crowd which are unique qualities only these music genres possess. So, it was no wonder that the crowd in front of the stage had grown significantly in numbers and that there was already a cleared out space for all those moshers who were ready to break some serious sweat. JJ Janiak showed up pumped up and ready for a fight and the way he was roaming the stage reminded me of SUICIDAL TENDENCIES and that’s a good thing in my book.

We are fuckin’ DISCHARGE, were the only words needed to get the Hardcore party going with “The Blood Runs Reds” sounding like a hard kick in the teeth. The intensity coming from the stage lured more people closer, and really, it was hard for those who were patiently waiting for the Danzig signing session to start. Although, you could easily watch the show while standing pretty much everywhere inside the Oak Canyon Park or while strolling around. DISCHARGE don’t have long songs (another characteristic of Hardcore / Crossover) and without doing long breaks in between them, their set was packed with adrenaline-soaked music. One thing that unfortunately happens with this type of music is that the music / lyrics are still relevant; “Fight Back”, “Protest And Survive” or even “Hate Bomb” fit like a tailored suit to the times we are living. The UK band kept the pounding songs up and it was exciting watching the intensity of the audience increasing as the sun was going down. After all, the lights work way better in the dark, right? JJ Janiak made a special dedication to the police or the “keepers of the peace” just before “State Violence State Control” and “Broken Law” and did not leave the media outside by “War’s No Fairytale” to the “bullshit of the media”. You see this type of music is not just music but a statement to the society and all those musts and dos which have taken our freedom away, without facing any resistance. In fact, some of us are happy to oblige and hand over our freedom and privacy... Anyway, DISCHARGE lived up to their name and did a killer set, so everything was ready for CORROSION OF CONFORMITY.

DISCHARGE setlist:

01. “The Blood Runs Red”
02. “Fight Back”
03. “The Nightmare Continues”
04. “A Look At Tomorrow”
05. “The End”
06. “A Hell On Earth”
07. “Cries Of Help”
08. “Ain’t No Flee Bastard”
09. “Protest And Survive”
10. “Hype Overload”
10. "New World Order”
11. “Corpse Of Decadence”
12. “Hate Bomb”
13. “Never Again”
14. “State Violence State Control”
15. “Realities Of War”
16. “Decontrol”
17. “Accessories By Molotov”
18. “Broken Law”
19. “War’s No Fairytale”
20. “The Possibility Of Life’s Destruction”

DISCHARGE

Discharge @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Discharge @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Discharge @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Discharge @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Discharge @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Discharge @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Discharge @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Discharge @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Discharge @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Discharge @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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I was really pumped up for CORROSION OF CONFORMITY mainly for two reasons: a) this band meets all my listening preferences as far as the billing of the ‘Blackest Of The Black’ fest is concerned, and b) hadn’t the opportunity to watch COC under the Mike / Reed / Woody / Pepper lineup before – well, till now. So, when the time clocked thirty minutes after 8pm, the sun was low enough to welcome the four gentlemen who stepped onstage under the alluring tunes of “Bottom Feeder”, guided by Mike Dean’s dominant hand / lead on bass, filling up the entire area with a relaxing Southern vibe. “California, how the fuck are you doing?”, were the first words Pepper threw that evening, and he followed up by asking: “do you guys like heavy?” and then left the introductory tunes of “Paranoid Opioid” to do the rest.

Sure, the time schedule was tight – even for a band, right before the headlining one – so, the four musicians remained focused on delivering the goods with an excess of expertise that didn’t go unnoticed. Lots of times the ‘Blackest’ crowd cheered during Woody’s frenzy guitar work or Reed’s crusty and fierce drumming, creating a nice-going moshpit, even that late in the evening of a looong day. “Broken Man” was next and saw lots of heads bangin' during the well-known chorus coming straight from the “Deliverance” era, before passing the baton to the back-to-back duo, “Who’s Got The Fire” and “My Grain” which followed right after Pepper’s saying: “we went a long way to get here, this is a cool spot”. The laid-back tunes of “Seven Days” travelled us once more back to 1994, having Reed handling the backing vocals, helping out Pepper with the singing duties. “Senor Limpio” hit us hard and it was really cool having the impression we’re listening to the “Deliverance” album back to back, while the next “Vote With A Bullet” was dedicated by Pepper to a friend of the band (without revealing any name).

“So, if you don't know this, we got back together for a while now and we have a new record coming out in November so, we need you to keep it real - this song is for you, guys”, Pepper said right before nailing down the first tunes of “Albatross” which saw lots of beer glasses getting thrown in the air. Yeah, this was one of the coolest moments during the COC set, hearing all those semi-drunk voices singing the “you can call me crazy / you can call me wrong / cause I was born a liar, albatross” lyric lines. “We have one more song and then it’s time for California's finest, S/T, were Pepper’s closing words that night, before the highly anticipated and well-known intro of “Clean My Wounds” that put an awesome ending to COC’s set. Hearing the news about the new record being on the works and watching the band being in such good condition, this thought kept spinning inside my mind: “now, how long is it gonna be before seeing COC live again?” Definitely, that was one of the highlight appearances of the first day of the ‘Blackest Of The Black’ weekend.

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY setlist:

01. “Bottom Feeder” (intro)
02. “Paranoid Opioid”
03. “Broken Man”
04. “Who’s Got The Fire”
05. “My Grain”
06. “Seven Days”
07. “Senor Limpio”
08. “Vote With A Bullet”
09. “Albatross”
10. “Clean My Wounds”

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY

Corrosion Of Conformity @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Corrosion Of Conformity @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Corrosion Of Conformity @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Corrosion Of Conformity @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Corrosion Of Conformity @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Corrosion Of Conformity @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Corrosion Of Conformity @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Corrosion Of Conformity @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Corrosion Of Conformity @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Corrosion Of Conformity @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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Considering the massive sound CORROSION OF CONFORMITY had during their granite-solid set, I was expecting to get my socks blown off by SUICIDAL TENDENCIES who were the headliners of the first day of the festival. As it always happens, it feels lame being in the photo-pit during the start of the show during which you can feel the adrenaline rushing inside the veins of the band’s members as they were getting warmed up, like they were prepping for a 100m run. And then, there is this huge personality of Mike Muir who turns into a teenager as the intro of “You Can’t Bring Me Down” starts blasting off the speakers. “Are you ready? From Venice, CA - SUICIDAL TENDENCIES were the only words needed by a member of the S/T stage crew to get everyone on their feet. “People, I wanna know one thing; what the hell is going on around here?” Mike rhetorically asked before letting loose the rest of SUICIDAL TENDENCIES who started running in circles... (Remember what I said in the beginning about warming up for the Olympics, ok?) The people in the front rows exploded, and inside the photo-pit, it was no different. Ok, there was no camera-moshing but everybody was frantically chasing Mike and the rest of the band just to take a clear shoot. By the way, the lights were pretty minimal and, in fact, there were just a few spotlights overhead constantly on, so there was no color onstage. There was a sense of urgency during the set but that should be expected considering that SUICIDAL TENDENCIES had just one hour in their disposal. I mean, how can you fit all the must-have songs while getting inspired but what Mike is saying during the breaks? Sure, one could say “stop the talking” but that would take away one of the important elements in the SUICIDAL TENDENCIES music; food for thought! “Clap Like Ozzy” got lost a bit as Mike was struggling with his wireless mic. He had to change a few but still the issue was there, so he had to take of the backing-vocals wire mics to get the show going. At the beginning, having Mike running around with a wire-cable on his tail seemed like a nightmare, but both the rest of the band and the stage crew quickly find a way to work with it. “Freedumb” was an adrenaline shot straight to the eye, and as always, it sounded awesome getting a SLAYER drum excerpt somewhere close to the end. "We’d like to thank Glenn for having us”, Mike said before giving a sweet assist to Mr. Lombardo who kicked off “Trip At The Brain”. Was there more running around the stage, you ask? Oh, you bet, and there was also a nice mosh-pit raising hell on the back, and (fortunately) some dust (yeah, the lawn helped a lot on this).

I am wondering how things would have gone down if SUICIDAL TENDENCIES were after DISCHARGE and kept this Hardcore insanity going on uninterrupted... “One thing I learned over the years is when you are young, you fight with your hands, but when you are old, you learn to fight with your mind”, Mike preached with his fist in the air, just before the massive “War Inside My Head”. When I saw the taped-on-the-stage-floor setlist, I got excited because I saw such a great collection of SUICIDAL TENDENCIES tracks but then this excitement evaporated when I counted in the time available - one hour for this band is just peanuts, so yes, songs were eventually left out. “Subliminal” saw more circle-pit action and some singing-along, although I was expecting more from the audience that looked a bit worn-down by the sun and the beer - still, there was action, so no complaints there. For “Possessed To Skate”, Mike invited only girls onstage and, after mentioning the induction of the band into the Skateboarding Hall Of Fame, sounded the charge for “Possessed To Skate” and the mayhem that followed with all these people onstage... There was more singing-along during the groovy “I Saw Your Mommy” and it was clear that SUICIDAL TENDENCIES had chosen to keep the shorter tracks on and squeeze as many possible in this (short) time slot. “I want to see a circle pit, right here, right now” was the simple request by this most-inspiring frontman just before “Cyco Vision”. Dean Pleasants was jumping around without missing a beat and the same goes for Ra Diaz (love the slap bass action) and the young Jee Pogan. The last song out was “Pledge Your Allegiance” which was caught kind of short considering the short singing-along part and the fact that there was no time to get the S/T family onstage. However, Mike broke the news that the band will return with a brand new album next year, and this news, my friends, gave me goosebumps.

SUICIDAL TENDENCIES setlist:

01. “You Can’t Bring Me Down”
02. “I Shot Reagan”
03. “Clap Like Ozzy”
04. “Freedumb”
05. “Trip At The Brain”
06. “War Inside My Head”
07. “Subliminal”
08. “Possessed To Skate”
09. “I Saw Your Mommy”
10. “Cyco Vision”
11. “Pledge Your Allegiance”

SUICIDAL TENDENCIES

Suicidal Tendencies @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Suicidal Tendencies @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Suicidal Tendencies @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Suicidal Tendencies @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Suicidal Tendencies @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Suicidal Tendencies @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Suicidal Tendencies @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Suicidal Tendencies @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Suicidal Tendencies @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Suicidal Tendencies @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Suicidal Tendencies @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Suicidal Tendencies @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Suicidal Tendencies @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Suicidal Tendencies @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Suicidal Tendencies @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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There was an after-party going on with the listening of the new DANZIG album and the showing of a mid '60s film, titled “The Long Hair Of Death”, while on stages' right there were some SNM performers dancing inside Castle Danzig. The night was cool, so there were quite a few metalheads who remained to the festival grounds and blow some steam off and down a couple of (more) beers. As we were heading out of the park, we saw Mike standing among fans, just like he does after SUICIDAL TENDENCIES show. I am telling you, Mike is the definition of being one of us, so I hope he and the rest of the band have more miles in their engines to go. So, it was time for some rest of us, and get prepared for day 2.

'Blackest Of The Black' After-Party

'Blackest Of The Black' @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) 'Blackest Of The Black' @ Oak Canyon Park (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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