Words & Photos by Alan Snodgrass

Sticking with a winning recipe, Aftershock returned to Discovery Park with three stages and a spacious VIP section perched on a shaded knoll overlooking the main stage. Mother Nature most certainly cooperated this year; while previous years’ fests turned into sun-scorched dustbowls with temperatures approaching triple digits, this year’s temperatures peaked in the 80’s and dipped during the evening just enough to cool the sunburn.

With a rare headlining set by System of a Down, Sunday tickets sold out way in advance and Saturday’s Deftones headliner following closely behind marking at least the second year and a row that Aftershock has sold out. And man was it sold out! Even with the boarders of the festival extended past interstate 5, the whole festival was packed to the gills.

Mother Nature thankfully cooperated this year. While previous years’ fests turned into sun-scorched dustbowls with temperatures approaching three digits, this year’s temperatures peaked in the 80’s and dipped into the evening just enough to cool down the sunburn.

With a whopping 39 bands performing over the two day weekend it was unfortunately impossible to see them all and, as with previous years, there’s always a mix of genres to keep everyone interested. And while Action Bronson and 311 were the odd-balls on the mainstage, this year’s fest seemed to have passed on its previous smattering of punk and metal acts.

The early sets of each day are always a good indicator of what the record labels think will sell. After last year’s Greta Van Fleet breakout, retro is the word. No doubt few (if any) of these bands will be able to replicate GVF’s surprising success, but that doesn’t mean the early afternoons were without their standouts. Hyro The Hero, obviously heavily influenced by Rage Against The Machine, delivered a wildly energetic set on Saturday. And Sunday’s standout was a folk-rock acoustic set by Amigo The Devil which had many in the gathered crowd singing along.

One of Saturday’s highlights was the Vinnie Paul Tribute set, where members of Godsmack, Sevendust, GWAR, Kyng, Shinedown and Korn cycled through a five song set of Pantera and Damage Plan classics curated by Jose Mangin. Tastefully executed, the set served as a fitting sendoff to one of the greats.

The smaller Capital Stage, nestled in the shadow of I-5 didn’t seem to have the pull of previous years but that’s not to say that there wasn’t anything to see. GWAR, Plague Vendor and The Fever 333 all delivered plenty of action for those willing to make the trek.

Aftershock vets and hometown heroes The Deftones wrapped up Saturday with a truly epic headlining set … the hometown love for this band is infectious and frontman Chino Moreno clrearly relishes in it. But while there’s nothing quite like catching the Deftones in front of a hometown crowd, System of a Down was the hands-down weekend favorite, completely decimating Discovery Park to wrap up the weekend.

There was no easing into things for either System of a Down or the crowd … when Tankian strolled onto stage and bellowed, “they’re trying to build a ….” he was met with the crowd response, “PRISON!” And then things went completely sideways as the crowd totally lost their shit, keeping the phalanx of security busy with a constant flow of bodies (some unconscious) over the rail. And these generally weren’t happy crowd surfers smiling as they spilled over the barricade only to rush back into the crowd for another turn. Nope, these were shell-shocked folks with combined looks of horror and relief spread across their faces at having escaped the massive crush.

With the final thundering notes of “Sugar” shaking the remaining leaves off of the trees in Discovery Park, Aftershock 2018 was a wrap … festival goers let go at a respectable 9 pm sated for another year.

Aftershock Festival Day #1

Aftershock Festival Day #2

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