Aftershock Day 4: Metallica, Rise Against, 6 more we loved Sunday


Metallica performs at Aftershock Fest in Sacramento on Oct. 10, 2021. Courtesy Aftershock.

SACRAMENTO — Aftershock Fest couldn’t contain Metallica to just one night night. For the first time in the festival’s history, the Friday headliner returned on Sunday to close out the weekend with a second set. One thing was abundantly clear as the time drew near to the band’s 8 p.m. start time: Everyone was there for Metallica. While Aftershock headliners reliably draw a big crowd, it’s difficult to remember a past iteration of the festival with more people waiting for a band to show up. Sunday night’s Metallica crowd even looked to outpace its own Friday night crowd. simply put, the place was packed.

Aftershock Fest, Metallica

Fireworks flood the festival grounds at Aftershock in Sacramento following a performance by Metallica on Oct. 10, 2021.

Good thing the band came on stage at 8 p.m., as the festival had a strict 10 p.m. curfew on its final night.

While Metallica had a few tricks up its sleeve on Friday, the band saved its biggest surprises for Sunday. Opening with the heavy riffs of “Hardwired,” the band started off humming on all cylinders. It followed up with classic tracks “The Four Horseman” and “Welcome Home (Sanitarium).” While those don’t necessarily rise to level of “rarity,” they’re not staples, either.

James Hetfield had yet to address the crowd when the band left the stage for the first time, the stage going dark and a video montage playing clips of recording sessions of Metallica’s self-titled LP, better known as the Black Album, (for which the band just celebrated its 30th anniversary).


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Flipping the script quite literally, Metallica opted to play the classic album from back to front—choosing to put hits like “Enter Sandman” and “Sad But True” at the back end of the set.

Hetfield kept his banter fairly brief for much of the set. “Woof!” he barked before launching into hard rocker “Of Wolf and Man.” The band deserves credit for avoiding a standard greatest hits set. It’s especially risky to play an entire album, even one as iconic as the Black Album, because by definition you’re mixing in deep cuts like “The Struggle Within” or “My Friend of Misery,” which casual Metallica fans may not instantly identify. Even so, the crowd still ate up every moment, intently paying attention. As with Friday, Hetfield sounded on top of his game with some of the most crisp vocals he’s had in a while.

After rolling through the Black Album tracks, the band returned for an encore of “Fight Fire with Fire” and “Creeping Death.” It was a Metallica fan-centric weekend at Aftershock. The band will return for two nights at Chase Center before the end of the year.

Modern rockers Rise Against preceded the headliners, delivering a reliably strong set to which fans have become accustomed. Frontman Tim McIlrath made a point to not only shout out Metallica but also the heavy contingent of classic punk featured on this year’s bill.

Rise Against

Rise Against performs at Aftershock Fest in Sacramento on Oct. 10, 2021.

“We play a lot of these kinds of festivals, and I can safely say that you got the best,” he said.

The crowdsurfers were active, keeping the front of house security busy on songs like “Give It All” and “Chamber the Cartridge,” but where the band really excels is in its most anthemic fist-pumping rockers. Songs like “Re-Education (Through Labor)” and “Ready to Fall” had the crowd singing along with every word.

“All your bosses know you’re probably not going to show up for work tomorrow,” Social Distortion frontman Mike Ness deadpanned toward the end of his band’s set. The singer mentioned how a Sunday crowd at a festival can sometimes be lacking in energy. The legendary punk rock band got one of the biggest crowds of the afternoon. The band quickly ripped through songs like “I Was Wrong” and “She’s a Knockout.” Its midday set was tight and moving, including covers of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” (it wasn’t Folsom but it was close) and The Rolling Stones’ “Under My Thumb.”

Grandson, Jordan Benjamin

Grandson performs at Aftershock Fest in Sacramento on Oct. 10, 2021.

One of the true festival weekend highlights belonged to Canadian-American alt-rocker Jordan Benjamin, better known as Grandson. Despite competing with counter-programming like Mastodon and Pennywise, Grandson absolutely ignited the stage, delivering one of the most exciting and unpredictable sets of the weekend.

“I’m a vaccinated, mask-wearing, BLM-screaming progressive. I know not everyone here may agree with me, but the representation is important,” Benjamin declared.

Grandson used every moment of his brief eight-song set to fire up the side stage crowd with his politically aware brand of rock fused with electronica and hip-hop. He saved the best for last, climbing some scaffolding and stirring the crowd into a frenzy during “Blood//Water.”

Steel Panther

Steel Panther performs at Aftershock Fest in Sacramento on Oct. 10, 2021.

Honorable mentions to Black Veil Brides and In This Moment, who played San Francisco last week. Both bands played variations of those sets, but still delivered compelling, high-drama rock and roll.

If you have even the slightest inkling of what “Weenie Ride” is, then you were likely at the afternoon set of glam/hair metal band Steel Panther.  The band kept it light and raunchy, with very little of the banter we’re actually able to relay here. The self-effacing rockers skewered themselves, other hair metal bands and just about anyone they could. The interplay between the members was legitimately funny, with a number of unexpected turns.

The Blue Stones opened the day with a pitch-perfect performance. The guitar and drum duo offered a bluesy and aggressive sound.


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