We're only two short months away from the heaviest weekend of the year, as the sixth annual Monster Energy Aftershock festival kicks off on Oct. 21 in Sacramento's Discovery Park. The yearly gathering is the perfect send-off for classic bands, auditions for the up-and-comers and a stage set for those ready to rock. This year is no different, with living legends gracing the stage with massive headlining sets that have been previously dominated by other vanguards of the industry. In short, Aftershock is stepping up its game yet again. Here are five bands that you must-see this year!
Last year, Tool came out of the shadows to put on a show for the ages. The following day, Maynard James Keenan’s other caravan of creative cohorts, Puscifer, put together a lush soundscape for the Aftershock crowd. This year, A Perfect Circle completes the MJK hat-trick with a co-headline set. This APC lineup includes guitarist James Iha, bassist Matt McJunkins, and drummer Jeff Friedl, the latter of which both back Keenan in Puscifer. While fans are mostly going to get the greatest hits setlist, new music has been trickling out from show to show, which would indicate a new album should not be far away. But like everything else this mysterious front man is involved in, do not hold your breath.
While Aftershock has proven to be a haven for up-and-coming bands, returning champions are also welcome. Enter Nine Inch Nails: only a few years from their “final” tour (which was only a few years after their previous “final” tour), but we’re not complaining. The world makes much more sense with Trent Reznor’s howls in it and his backing band is the most sensational since And All That Could Have Been, the seminal live run that inspired a generation of kids to save their money and buy NIN tickets. Recent returns to festivals like FYF Fest and Panorama have been wildly successful, with an evenhanded set list pulling from front to back, including tracks off of their latest two new EPs. A healthy, happy, and focused Reznor is an unmatched force and this set should benefit from the hours of aggression festering and ruminating all day.
Zakk Wylde and his pals rocked Aftershock last year as Zakk Sabbath, a tribute band that took the classic music of their namesake and cranked it way beyond 11. Wylde is allowed to dabble in the dark arts of covers, as he cemented himself as Ozzy Osbourne’s de facto guitarist after various axemen failed to stick after the death of Randy Rhoads. With the dynamic duo back together, expect the expected. This isn’t the type of set that will make you wonder what song is next, or if Ozzy is going to be insane, or if Zakk will shred your face off. This is the meat and potatoes rock & roll you deserve in 2017. Show up, throw the horns, and headbang like you don’t have to go to work tomorrow.
Opening for Metallica might have helped Gojira get a little more attention this year, but fans of France’s greatest metal export know that they are deserving of their own adoration. Six albums in and countless drop D tunings later, this fearsome foursome is an unstoppable wrecking crew of enlightened and evolved musicians, combining the most crushing aspects of European prog with American thrash. Listen close enough and you might learn a thing or two about the environment and man’s impact on wildlife, as Gojira isn’t here to tell you about how cool drinking beers or dancing with the devil is. Metal with a conscience is much needed in 2017 and even if you just want to turn off your brain and rattle the dome it’s cradled in, absolutely do not miss this set.
Could there be a more relevant band at Aftershock? Save for a Rage Against The Machine reunion, no other act could foster and weaponize the sort of laser-focused animosity bubbling in 2017 as the Pittsburgh rabble-rousers. They are against every possible form of fascism, oppression, and prejudice imaginable, taking a hardline stance against greed, exploitation, and the war machine. This should make for an interesting set, as most metal shows and festivals are intensely pro-military and may not take too kindly to the punks yelling about the “Police State in the USA.” Throwing an anti-government shindig in California might go over slightly better than say Texas, but an unaware crowd will certainly be stunned by the brutal truth wrapped in blistering sonic sermons.