A hot Columbus morning greeted the concert goers as they arrived at Mapfre Stadium for Day 2 of the Sonic Temple Arts and Music Festival. The sun was beaming down and and there wasn’t much relief from the wind. There also wasn’t as many people lined up waiting to get in when the gates opened. Maybe it was the late first night that kept those numbers down.
I made my way over to the Wave Stage for the early performances there. No 1 Cares was the first band to play. This 2 member pop punk band of brothers is probably more known for the fact that they are the son’s of comedian Andrew Dice Clay who made an appearance in the photo pit filming them with glee and excitement. System of a Down had just went off stage a little more than 12 hours ago so the crowd was not very big. But the ones who were there got to see a candid Diceman and a good performance to boot.
Another pop punk band was the next to perform on the Wave Stage. Boston Manor brought with them a more British vibe to their performance. They had a decent sized crowd but it was early and most were just standing in place watching the band. Finally during “Stick Up,” we had our first crowd surfer of the day and a mini mosh pit broke out during “Bad Machine.”
After a break and other media obligations, I made my way over to the Main Stage for the first time of the day. How do you wake up a hot, sweaty, and tired crowd? Bring out Fever 333. They may have been the most energetic band of the entire weekend. They brought 100% energy and craziness during the entirety of their performance. Lead vocalist Jason Butler was all over the place. He went up to the stadium seats during the majority of “We’re Coming In” and also took an amp box from the front to the stage and stood on it as the crowd in the pit held him up. Once he fell off of it, he crowd surfed through the crowd. One of my favorite Main Stage performances of the weekend and a great setup for what was to follow later on.
When the festival schedule came out a couple of weeks before the event, the biggest surprise to me was the fact that Gojira got placed on the Main Stage. Not a mainstream band by any means as their previous 2 appearances of the festival came on the 3rd stage. It has been 10 months since they have played a show and unlike System of a Down, you wouldn’t have known that. They were incredible. Randy Blythe from Lamb of God came out and performed “Backbone” with the band. But the big news from the set was that lead guitarist Christian Andreu was burned by pyrotechnics during “Stranded.” As flames shot up during the song, a gust of wind blew through and went straight for Andreu. He briefly left the stage to get some medical attention but quickly returned and the band kept playing their set. He ended up finishing the set and in between songs would go to the guitar tech to try and cool his face. Luckily it seems he was ok and other than that unfortunate happening, the band absolutely killed it.
The British invasion of the secondary stages continued but with a little heavier band this time. Architects came out with tons of energy. After opening with “Modern Misery,” lead singer Sam Carter wanted more from the crowd. “This is fucking bullshit. Somebody move!” A steady stream of crowd surfers came toward the stage soon after that statement. The set mostly contained songs off of the band’s new album ‘Holy Hell’ which is the first album the band has done since the death of founding member Tom Searle. The band played with a lot of intensity and aggression and performed a really good set.
The Main Stage crowd was about to see something that they normally wouldn’t see on a festival stage: a full on In This Moment stage show. The stage was setup to look like the village from the Disney version of Sleeping Beauty. The stage show was choreographed and reminded me of a Pink or Lady Gaga concert. Maria Brink came out with 3 other half naked girls which was an excellent addition. But due to all of the costume changes and dance sequences, the set only contained 5 songs. And the crowd was so mesmerized by what was happening on stage that they just stood there in awe. I don’t think I saw one crowd surfer the entire set. This was definitely the calm before the storm.
I left the Main Stage area to walk toward the Echo Stage and I was met with a surge of people unlike anything I’ve ever seen at that stage. People were everywhere and were filling up the area all the way back to the food and merchandise booths. What band could possibly bring a Main Stage like crowd over to one of the secondary stages? None other than the mighty Killswitch Engage. The overflow crowd was not disappointed as the band put on my favorite performance of the day. There was some great crowd participation as most of the costumed crowd surfers constantly made their presence felt. Adam D specifically mentioned the people dressed as a lizard, squirrel, and Jesus and he even dedicated “My Curse” to the Jesus surfer. Adam D had another funny moment when he declared that the crowd should be “taking out dicks, tits, and drinking copious amounts of alcohol.” Jokes aside, the band crushed it on stage playing a variety of songs from their catalog including “Rose of Sharyn,” “My Last Serenade” and “In Due Time.” As the band closed their set with a cover of Dio’s “Holy Diver,” a faintness of a rainbow appeared in the sky. Yes, even the Metal Gods above enjoyed the set.
How do you top that epic performance? By putting the heaviest and most brutal band that has played the Main Stage since Slayer did several years ago: Lamb of God. The band was missing drummer Chris Adler who hasn’t played with the band since last summer because he is recovering from injuries sustained from a motorcycle accident. Usually Lamb of God shows are known for their brutal mosh pits but I was surprised by the lack of movement from the crowd. The band’s 2013 performance at this festival was legendary and multiple people were taken out on a stretcher. But the crowd didn’t have that intensity this time. Don’t blame the band though. They played great and Randy Blythe had tons of stage energy. He even went down to the rail at one point. Lamb of God always plays a standard set of hits including “Ruin,” “Laid to Rest,” and “Redneck,” but they also throw in a rarity or two. I was excited to hear that the rarity of this set was “Descending” which is one of my favorites of theirs.
The Cult had the honor of closing out the Echo Stage and continuing the British invasion. I’m not sure if Ian Astbury was trying to be funny or trying to be a jerk but as soon as he hit the stage he said “Hello Cleveland.” I was leaning toward him being funny until he made a comment about the media photographers. The band did not allow the media to photograph them from the photo pit. Instead they had to shoot them from the sound board. As the photographers were exiting the sound board area, Astbury declared “There goes the paparazzi. They have the easiest job there is.” That statement really upset me as I know all of those folks were really hard covering the festival for everyone at home who can’t attend. Ian Astbury may have thought he was funny but he clearly was trying to be a jerk on stage. As far as the performance goes, the band sounded great and the crowd needed some mellowing out with all of the heavy bands we have seen all day. They played all of the hits including “Fire Woman,” “She Sells Sanctuary,” and “Love Removal Machine.” The set ran long and they were even ending their set as Papa Roach came on stage. In a festival first, both bands were playing songs at the exact same time. Which leads us to…
…Papa Roach. Originally this secondary headlining spot was supposed to be The Prodigy. But lead singer Keith Flint was found dead at his home in March and the band immediately cancelled all of their scheduled shows. Papa Roach was a perfect replacement as they are a fan favorite and they have played this festival more than any other band (7 times). The band opened with their mega hit “Last Resort” and that really got the crowd going. To honor The Prodigy, the band placed an image of Flint on the bass drum. They also held a moment of silence before performing an emotional cover of “Firestarter.” Jacoby Shaddix urged the crowd to “scream as loud as you can.” The crowd obliged and the ones in the stadium seats were stomping on the metal bleachers and it sounded like thunder. Really cool moment. Another set highlight included In This Moment’s Maria Brink coming out and performing “Gravity” with the band. The crowd didn’t get to see The Prodigy play, but I can’t thank of a better way to honor that band than seeing another great Papa Roach performance.
In another festival first, it was announced that comedy tent headliner Andrew Dice Clay would be making an encore appearance on the Main Stage. Apparently, the line was so long to see him perform earlier in the night that it stretched all the way back to the media tent. So this was a chance for people to be able to see him. Or was it? The set seemed rushed and the Diceman seemed like he didn’t know what he was doing up there. He went through his typical nursery rhyme routine and only did a 5 minute set. I’m under the belief that Disturbed was running late and DWP had to make a last minute addition to the lineup to fill in the extra time it was taking Disturbed to get ready. A very strange moment indeed.
In one of the most disappointing main stage headliner performances I can ever remember, Disturbed closed out a great day of music with a thud. They may have played the worst set I’ve ever seen at this festival. Their stage set up consisted of nothing but a video board and a drum set. That’s it. The band’s energy seemed to match the lack of a stage show. They had no stage presence whatsoever. The band opened with the hit single “Are You Ready” from their latest album ‘Evolution’ and went straight into fan favorite “Prayer.” David Draiman did his typical “My brothers. My Sisters. My blood. Speak to me!” line and that got the crowd somewhat fired up. But that was about the extent of it. Draiman went on to declare that the band was celebrating the politics of rock and roll and it doesn’t matter what political side you are on. We are just here for the music. I agree with that statement but why bring that up at all? The set came to a halt when the band decided to play 3 consecutive slow songs: “A Reason to Fight,” “Hold on to the Memories,” and “The Sound of Silence.” Being that it was after 11pm, most of the crowd decided that they had seen enough and exited towards the parking lot. I decided to do the same so I wouldn’t be stuck in the parking lot all night after seeing this lackluster performance. Disturbed is usually a great live band. I’m not sure if the jet lag was still bothering them since they had just returned from an extensive European tour, but something was definitely wrong.