Well, if you were a 90s kid, this fest was a trip down nostalgia lane. Nine Inch Nails! Primus! Bush!(Who knew they were still a thing???), Scott-less Stone Temple Pilots! Joan Fucking Jett!(OK, not really 90s) Clutch! Living Colour!
So, this whole thing seemed doomed earlier in the week. The weather forecast throughout the week said 100% of thunderstorms in the San Antonio area. My luck with fests and rain of late is not good. My little bunch of ruffians and myself had pretty much resigned ourselves to having a cancelled fest and were already coming up with contingency plans to pass the time in our AirBnB (i.e. drinking). But, lo and behold, the storm front was accommodating to our plans and decided to blow through the area the night before. The resulting day was perfect for festing.
Out of the gate was our local Austin metal heroes, The Sword. We were all looking forward to this show in lieu of their recently announced hiatus. No telling how long we’ll have to wait until out next Sword show or album. Sadly, even though the band played a decent short 30 minute set, the dude running the sound board absolutely murdered their set. The sound was absolute mud with the vocals and guitar leads buried under the bass and drums. It was a damn shame.
Next up was a band that I had never had the opportunity to see perform live before, but had always heard really good things. Living Colour just absolutely tore it up. Vernon Reid showed everyone in the crowd why he has such a legendary reputation. Corey Glover just worked the crowd as well as any frontman I’ve come across. At one point, he jumped into the crowd and just took a stroll from one side of the pit to the other while his band crushed their biggest hit, Cult of Personality.
Next up for us was the inimitable Clutch from Maryland. Beginning their touring cycle for new album, Book of Bad Decisions, the band hit the new material hard. Luckily for the band and for the audience, the sound dude got his shit together (or replaced by someone competent) and the sound issues seemed much better. The crowd was treated to one of those cool fest-only type things when Les Claypool joined the band for a rendition of Earth Rocker.
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts was another one of the bands that I had never seen in person before. The 60-year-old Jett prowled the stage like the touring pro that she is while rolling out all of her hits from The Runaways’ Cherry Bomb to I Love Rock n’ Roll. Shit, I remember jamming out to these songs when I was in elementary school. I can’t say that I’m the biggest Joan Jett fan, but dammit, this was a treat getting to see her tear up a stage at this point in her career.
I didn’t bother to make it over to the secondary stage at all during the fest. It just seemed like they had a sad mixture of metalcore and 90s stalwarts trying to relive some of their past glories. I saw a few of the performances on the video screen at the main stage and things just looked kind of sad over there. Bush is still a thing apparently. I think the only real positive thing that can be said about them is that Gavin is still apparently hunky. So, there’s that. Stone Temple Pilots are trying to keep things floating in the wake of the deaths of Scott Wieland and his replacement Chester Bennington. They managed to pull some random dude off of The Voice and he seems to be trying to do some sort of Scott Weiland imitation. It really came off as sad. This is one of those bands that should probably just stop before and further damage can be done.
On the main stage, weirdo metalfunk outfit Primus delivered their trademark infectious thing. They brought out a wide selection of songs throughout their career. The musicianship of these guys just has to be seen to be believed. I’ve seen these guys a ton of times over the years and they just never disappoint.
Headlining the evening was Trent Reznor (and his big beefy right arm, as Punk Rock Fiance likes to call it) and his merry band of black clad industrial mayhem makers. NIN brought out around an hour and a half set headlined by the performance of The Perfect Drug for the first time. I’m guessing that because this was a fest set and not a regular tour date, the stage set was extremely stripped down to the basics than your normal NIN stage setup. Lots of smoke. Lots of strobes. Lots of angst.
All in all. Not the best fest I’ve ever been to, but still a really enjoyable day
The Sword-Tres Brujas
Clutch-In Walks Barbarella
Joan Jett & the Blackhearts-Bad Reputation
Primus-Those Damned Blue-Collar Tweekers
Nine Inch Nails-Less Than