Thursday, March 5, 2009

Scion Rock Fest

Last Saturday I attended the Scion Rock Fest at The Masquerade in Atlanta. The event was free, staged by Toyota offspring hipster brand Scion, who brought nearly three dozen metal and heavy rock bands to four stages. Amazingly, Scion maintained a pretty low key presence, with no model vehicles, no car brochures and no giant signage. Given the thousands of people present and the ticket price the whole thing was very well run - on schedule, well managed and fun.

The Masquerade is a really cool venue, a turn of the century mill of heavy granite walls and giant machinery that is divided into four areas. Although I have seen dozens of metal shows there over the years, every single act played in Heaven, the largest indoor stage. I'd never even seen the outdoor area before this.

Here are some pics of the Masq's four areas from their web site:

Heaven: The upstairs main stage with a spacious bar in the back.

Purgatory: A bar, couch area and tiny performance space located on a mezzanine level. Lots of cool room-sized machinery visible around an upper catwalk.

Hell: A recessed dance floor area ringed by ramps and booths, with a groovy curved bar in the back.

An outdoor area large enough for a giant stage and tent, plus booths and trailers of beer, burritos and merch.

And lots of mud. This became evident when I took the first twelve or so steps into the outdoor area at the very beginning of the day only to have the 21 year old, boot-camp-issue combat boot that I was wearing blow out all along the pinkie toe area of the right foot. The resulting cold, clammy foot served to remind me that death is the only possible outcome for any of us, the ruptured boot a clear metaphor for my own misspent youth, while the cold and numbness served was a first taste of the uncertain, terrifying and inevitable march to the grave. I felt well-fortified for the metal onslaught to come.

Here we are, wayfaring strangers steeped in the boundless eternal sorrow of METAL.

About to join a seething mass, a freakshow mix of classic metalheads, stoner metal hobbits and other miscreants.

The Masquerade has one of the Deep South last surviving coal-fired, steam operated gallows.

Japanese doom metal masters BORIS completes their sound check a little after noon:

The first band for me - Kylesa on the outdoor stage. They were cool - a fun opening act with an awesome frontchick singing with a complete demon metal voice that served to remind us that in life beauty is often used to conceal rage and terror.

After that we went to HELL to check out Salome, this incredible sludged out sonic onslaught trio with - remarkably - another demon voiced leading lady!

They reminded me a lot of Cianide, authors of the timeless metal refrain:

Ever-growing need
from what to expect.
Future holds nothing
Life is a wreck.

So after Salome it was back outside for Baroness. They were cool... more of a jam band vibe than pure metal. The singer/guitarist in the center had crazy pop eyes!

Finally it was time for BORIS, whom I was looking forward
to most of all, as you can tell from watching this video.

I was right up front for this show, one hand braced against the front barricade to hold back the surges from the crushing, churning meatgrinder of elbows and knees that swirled behind us like the inescapable fate of an ever-escalating global population galloping toward declining energy resources, an unstoppable climate increase and the open arms of The Four Horsemen.

Check out the end of their set - my first ever YouTube posting!

Our efforts to see Harvey Milk in PURGATORY were a preposterous waste of time. The performance space was tiny and beyond view for all but the six or seven people at the front. This photo pretty well sums it up, as well as the fact that we are doomed to endure a continuous stream of missed opportunities and failures.

I wandered up to HEAVEN to see a bit of Warbringer, who was more of a straight up speed metal band that put me in the mind of my old metal heroes - KREATOR. At this show I saw this dude in the mosh pit who lived at the unfortunate cusp of "really short guy" and "midget". He was bouncing around off the other Tasmanian Devils just fine, but then ran up to this big dude, grabbed him around the waist, and spun him out into the middle of the pit. Except the big dude did not move one inch, leaving the little dude to struggle ineffectually until the big guy sent him reeling around like a mini metal pinball

On the way back outside I got a cool photo with the men of BORIS in the merch alley.

The last band I saw was High on Fire, back outside. I was excited to see them since their leader was the guitarist in the stoner metal giants Sleep, who is/are legendary for having spent $50,000 of the record company's advance money over a two year period only to deliver a 52 minute album consisting of a single song - Jerusalem. The label refused to release it, leaving it in the can for a couple more years until another label set it free, where it became an instant classic in certain circles thanks not only for its massive, ponderous riffs, but also its siren-like message.

I managed to see them right there at The Masquerade 15 years prior, where they told the audience that any free liquor would be much appreciated, then later confided that they did not have a place to stay and would be interested in any offers of lodging.

Unfortunately High on Fire is really nothing like Sleep, though, so it was only a final a let down.

By about 7:45 we tucked our tired tails between our legs and left the Scion Rock Fest behind in utter despair. There were still plenty of great acts on the lineup, but we knew when we had been beat.

Way to go Scion! Thanks for a really great event - and for FREE, no less!

1 comment:

Brad said...

Awesome video, Ed!!