Words + Photos By: Amber James
Sonic Temple is not only a festival held at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, OH, but can also be seen as almost a vacation getaway of sorts. A vacation getaway with $15 corn dogs and fries but a getaway nonetheless. The lineup this year was also one of the most stacked lineups for a fest in a recent memory with some of the best and brightest artists bands across numerous heavier genres, from the newer bands just emerging to the seasoned veterans. We did our best here at New Noise tried our best to get a good range of both types of bands. However, some high winds and a bit of rain did put a slight damper on the fun during Sunday’s bands. But it’s all part of the experience!
Hands Like Houses
Having arrived in Columbus the night before at our AirBNB, I was fresh and ready to take on the first day of the festival. Day one started off with some melodic metalcore from some of my favorite Aussies, Hands Like Houses, on the Wave stage. I had just seen and shot them a few days earlier in Buffalo at the last date of Beartooth’s tour so I knew I was in for a treat. If you saw someone with an obnoxiously large bun singing along to a couple songs while shooting, hello, it me.
Having some time before I had to shoot Beartooth’s hometown set, I skedaddled over to shoot Avatar’s set. With an elaborate stage setup, though not the first of the day by any means, they put on a semi creepy version of a glam metal set. Except with elaborate stage makeup and circus minstrel themed outfits. Wait…..that’s the exact definition of glam metal. Oops. Anyways, their theme is a bit different than your usual glam metal, but, still one of the most dynamic sets from the weekend. Unless you don’t like clowns, then you were probably in the fetal position or running away screaming because their vocalist had his face painted as a clown.
A little while passed and it was time for Columbus’ favorite boys in Beartooth to take the stadium stage for their hometown set. Having just finished off their second leg of the Disease tour two days previous in Buffalo, this was quite a triumphant return for them with this set. Playing to a sold out arena, you could feel the band feeding off the absolutely ridiculous energy from the crowd.
After their set, I headed back over to the Wave stage for Russian political punks’, Pussy Riot, performance art set. It seemed like many people didn’t understand the concept or background of Pussy Riot’s performance or even, much less, them as a band. Having been a victim of numerous arrests and assaults in their home country of Russia as a result of their performance art…uh….performances, they brought their act to the United States. With a large LED screen backdrop the group took to the stage with vocalist, Nadya Tolokonnikova, leading the charge. In a flowing white dress of sorts and neon colored trainers, she yelled Russian lyrics at the crowd in a punk cadence.
The next standout set of the day was also on the Wave Stage, Tom Morello came out to perform a solo guitar set. Surprising everyone, even the photographers, he started his set out in the middle of the crowd, halfway between the barricade and the front of house. After his intro, he made his way onto the stage and launched into his very politically weighted set. Also, embracing the large LED screen behind him, such messages as “Nazi Lives Don’t Matter”, “Billionaires Know What’s best For You”, and “Be White Or Get Shot” were emblazoned across it. Showcasing his musical abilities that he has always been known for, he brought out Serj from System of a Down to join in for a song at some point during his set. I say “at some point” because it was relatively impossible to determine how many songs were in his set as they all tended to mesh together into a musical montage that as completely Tom Morello style.
System of A Down
Linking back up with Serj onstage, it was time for System of a Down to headline the first night. It had been while since SOAD had played a show and they did not disappoint. With absolutely breathtaking yet minimalist lighting, they commanded the stage like only System of a Down can. Powering through a nearly thirty song set, such favorites as BYOB, IEAIAIO and Chop Suey! were played. And of course, it goes without question that they played such songs as Cigaro and Toxicity.
The Plot in You
Arriving at the stadium for the second day on Saturday, The Plot in You opened things up on the Echo Stage. Fresh off their headliner supporting their full length, Dispose, their set consisted of primarily songs off that album as well as a select few from previous releases, Happiness in Self Destruction and Could You Watch Your Children Burn. Having followed and worked with the band for over five years at this point, seeing them being able to open up festivals like this playing to hundreds of people makes my little cold emo heart so happy.
While She Sleeps
I’m sure I don’t even need to tell you what the next absolute standout and ridiculous set of the day was. They need no introduction but I’m sure Jason Butler launching himself across the stage in seconds can tell you EXACTLY who the band was. It was almost an atomic bomb went off on the stadium stage as Fever 333 exploded onto the stage. As their set started, you almost had no idea where to look or watch first. Jason was flying across the stage one way, Stevis flinging himself across the other way and Aric being the anchoring force at the drums. It wasn’t long before Jason had left the stage, running down the length of the photo pit and barricade before making his way into the stadium stands. Then asking for help from stadium security, he climbed up onto the railing over one of the entrances to the stadium and sat on it while his, what had to be a 300 ft long, mic cable wound around people and he finished off one of their songs. I never thought I would be out of breath from simply shooting a band. By the end of their set, Jason was riding in a drum boat case on top of the crowd. But, then again, is anyone really surprised?
For a change of pace, it was time for a dance party over at the Wave Stage with our favorite Brits in Don Broco. Having just wrapped one of their first few full US tours, it was like a giant dance party with hundreds of similar minded people. And you can guarantee that Don Broco DEFINITELY would like you to come out to LA and maybe you’ll make a few friends and you can stay.
In This Moment
Heading back over to the main stadium stage, theatricality was calling our name as In This Moment was about to take to the stage. With a giant gothic church setup onstage, you knew you were in for a great performance. Maria Brink and her blood girls emerged from the doors of the church. Brink started out shrouded in a giant black hooded gown with a gold halo-esque headband as her blood girls also clad in gowns played drums. What followed was a master class in the lessons of stage presence, production and theatricality with the numerous theme and costume changes throughout her set.
Lamb of God
The second day was set to finish out with Disturbed. Unfortunately, their pyro displays had to be nixed due to the issues Gojira had with theirs earlier in the day. Still utilizing their immense LED screen, they managed to pull off a nu metal set that that made the whole crowd get down with the sickness.
Amigo the Devil
The third and final day was in for a bunch of twists and turns as we started the day off with high wind warnings and the Wave Stage being shut down as a result. But we were also starting it off with seeing one of our faves, Amigo the Devil. Mister Murder Folk himself was one of the opening acts on the stadium stage. Or, as Amigo called himself, the fat version of Dave Grohl and then everyone would sweat the weight off and see the real one at the end of the night. With plenty of sardonic and sarcastic humor, Amigo played his songs about death, murder and love. Many of them led to rousing singalongs from the large crowd that had already gathered to watch him play.
Next up was who I refer to as the second coming of Jason Butler, and that is Yungblud. If you ever needed a real life example of the Energizer bunny, it would be Yungblud. Between all of his jumping, sprinting back and forth from one end of the stage to the other and running back and forth on the speakers it seemed like he had boundless energy. Between flinging his guitar numerous times and breaking two mic stands, it seems that Jason Butler’s predecessor is ready and willing to carry the torch of insanity on stage.