Having previously seen God Forbid, Trivium and Killswitch, some more than once, tried to keep an open mind about all the acts, only knowing what I'd read in metal mags. Michigan based BATTLECROSS were onstage at 5pm, for all of twenty minutes. During that time, they did their best to win converts, including a cover of PANTERA's 'Fucking Hostile'. Of the original material, 'Man Of Stone' and 'Breaking You' (introduced by Kyle “Gumby” Gunther saying, 'This one's about punching people in the cocksucker. That's the mouth.”) stood out. As he was leaving the stage, the wild haired, bearded cross between Charles Manson and Monty Python's “It's” guy, Gunther said, “We'll be at the merch booth after God Forbid, to sign you tits!” If nothing else, people will remember him.
GOD FORBID frontman Byron Davis utilized much of the set to canvas the still growing crowd for marijuana. Opening with 'Don't Tell Me What To Dream', then the thrashing 'Better Days' and melodic 'Equilibrium'. Hailing from nearby New Jersey, the band has played Philly a multitude of times, throughout their career, as if to drive home the point Davis' called out all the old venues, although many in the crowd were not old enough to remember places like Stalag 13. Following the appropriate 'The End Of The World', the Forbids were off, but not before the dread-locked frontman yelled, “At 6:45, come to the (autograph signing) tent and smoke me out.”
EMMURE, rhymes with manure... After the first song, the frontman asked, “What the fuck is good?” Not you! Then added, “You can't fuck with us.” Maybe not, but don't have to review your hardcore meets rap bullshit either. The bouncy, jump-in-place outfit is closer to the likes of LIMP BIZKIT or KORN than a barked lyric hardcore-lite version of LIFE OF AGONY. The audience was disinterested (and that's being nice), as there was certainly less fan interaction than the previous acts. Next!
The first four bands all played through the same backline, just swapping in individual drum kits during the short turnarounds. POP EVIL were all denim and tattooed, with lots of jet black hair dye. Sonically, they're sons of the Sunset Strip. The grill of a car was attached to the front of the drum riser (should hook up working headlights!) and singer Leigh Kakaty's mic stand was the gear shift linkage, welded solid. While not pop (despite the moniker), they were the most melodic act on the bill. Wasn't thrilled about the second song in turning into a short drum solo, but certainly won points for their shoutout to the military (brandishing an American flag painted acoustic guitar) and parting words, “Buy American products,” as a chant of “USA, USA” erupted spontaneously.
TRIVIUM were flanked by a pair of eight foot tall stainless steel T logos, as they launched into 'In Waves'. A trio of mics across the front of the stage allowed guitarist/founder Matt Heafy to sing from anywhere, wagging his tongue, as he worked both sides of the stage. As the sun began to set, the red/green stage lighting finally made an impact. 'Caustic Are The Ties That Bind' was a keeper. Bonus points for the Homer reference in 'Torn Between Scylla And Charybdis', off Shogun, before wrapping up with 'Throes Of Perdition'.
Most of the crowd was only there to see KILLSWITCH ENGAGE and/or the headliners. So when KSE came on, all hell broke loose. At make room for television crews that never showed up, photographers were relegated to shooting songs 3 through 6 (rather than the customary first three), which meant the stage divers were in full swing WHILE the cameras were in the pit. Although the barrier to the stage was excessively wide, the incompetent security crew couldn't handle the few gate crashers coming over the wall and dismissed the photogs after just one song (under the guise of increased security). Geez! The lighting was pretty poor and from half way, couldn't really make out who was onstage. Returning vocalist Jesse Leach worked the stage, while mad cap guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz, in cut-off denim shorts, didn't let his right knee brace hamper his usual bouncing and running around onstage. Leach claimed he was, “sick as a dog, until I drank a bunch of Dayquil and whiskey.” 'This Is Absolution' got the audience moving, so much so that the singer had to announce, “We're singing about bleeding pussies and stuff and you guys are fighting!” They ended with a rendition of DIO's 'Holy Diver'. After all those bands pretending to be metal, was nice to hear a semblance of the real thing.
In the battle of ornate mic stands, FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH win, not for Ivan Moody (appropriate surname!) brass knuckles embedded mic, but the chrome monstrosity from which he sings, an amalgam of skulls, pistol, military grade munitions and human spine. Despite all the military posed promotional photos (my only previous exposure to the group), onstage they lack a definitive style, with guitarist Jason Hook in moto-cross get-up and bassist Chris Kael looking like he stepped off one of the Deadliest Catch boats, while the Mohawk sporting Moody comes across as one bad mutha. Surprised to hear them cover BAD COMPANY (signature track) and there was a brief drum solo too. 'Burn It Down' went down a storm, as did the pointed lyrical slant of the title track from their recently released 'American Capitalist'.
Hopefully this initial foray will prove successful enough for future endeavors, with a little more "diverse" line-up. Cheers mate!