Love was in the air in Irvine, California on September 24th, for the Epicenter 2011, together with great music, hot dogs and frozen margaritas!
The Autumn Festival ladies and gentlemen: open air live notes for headbangers and old school heavy metal lovers.
Together with writing, music has always been a big help to me, in dealing with human existence, and with my fucked up brain; with voices I didn’t want to hear, and with places I didn’t want to exist. That’s why still today, when writing has become not only my weapon for survival, but also my job, music remains an essential part of my own crazy wonderland. Needless to say that every time I can lose myself into loud notes and black all around, I remember what keeps me here.
I come from heavy metal roots that slowly fell in love with the dark age of the 80s along the way (Slayer were my first heavy live experience, in Milan, and I dared my inner feminine charm to go backstage and meet The Man, frontman Tom Araya. For as much as I am monogamous in the love field, I’ve always been wild and promiscuous into the music one: Depeche Mode were next with NIN, The Cure and Metallica, Siouxie and Judas Priest, if that makes sense); I am guilty of an inner mystical, sexual and spiritual devotion to Maynard James Keenan (Tool, A Perfect Circle, and Puscifer) and Leonard Cohen, and with an insatiable need of some Coltrane at night. But I can proudly praise a musical mind open to pretty much any new and interesting sound.
The season of wine and rain had finally arrived, and I was ready to rock my new vintage Nirvana t-shirt and my smoking hot leather leggings at the Epicenter 2011. The line-up was new to me, I had never been a huge fan of the bands scheduled to perform, but I must say that the entire day was an unexpectedly exciting surprise. I must be honest, the weather helped a lot; it created the perfect atmosphere made of dark and sensual mystery I personally love (who needs the sun?). The sky was a beautiful shade of purple grey, it wasn’t cold, but a chilly Orange County air was gently blowing, and it helped my skin to hide the frequent goose bumps caused by the music coming from the main stage of the stunning Verizon Wireless Amphitheater. I felt alive, and with a beating heart. Puddle of Mud got the party started in the late afternoon, followed by Buckcherry, and their 100% made in LA sleaze rock. Their performance was an AC/DC-style loud avalanche that got the audience hot and rollin’, an audience that was already deeply engaged into inked and heavy metal French kisses, and fearless growls.
Josh Todd & Co. were just the very beginning of this rockin’ day, because Five Finger Death Punch were next on the main stage. And they blew my mind away.
Frontman Ivan L. Moody definitely knows how to f— sing and growl, while surfing a wave of inner anger with The Bleeding, and landing with old-fashioned style on the white sand, with a beautiful version of the 1974 hit, Bad Company.
New stage, new band; just the time for a smoke and a walk around, before Papa Roach presented their adrenalinic set. New and old hits echoed the venue, from the band’s alternative metal discography, which never disappoints the audience. From 1997’s Old Friends from Young Years to 2010’s Time for Annihilation: Jacoby Shaddix aka Coby Dick can sing and sweat on stage, as well as among the screaming audience, running up the stairs of the huge musical arena that was hosting the show.
The sun never showed up, but I could feel the night taking over, in a romantic mix of sadness and melancholy. Yes, it was definitely the perfect background feeling for another great legendary band: Staind. Lead singer Aaron Lewis entered the stage with a cigarette in one hand and his guitar in the other. The time for tears to flow, and for rage to explode had finally come. With reassuring and possessive arms around my waist, I finally warmed up the cold outside. Lewis’s voice was penetrating and painful, and guitars where clean and straight to the point: inhale the music people! Staind were not just performing, but they were also preparing the battlefield for the headliners of the night: Limp Bizkit.
Hearts were racing, and the audience was wild, because Fred Durst set the amphitheater on fire with Rollin’, I’ll Eat You Alive, My Way and every single hit that made the band a new symbol in the music industry, since their very first debut in 1995. With a rhythmic patchwork of Rap and Metal, that followed Korn and Deftones back in the days, Durst and his team managed to build their own very specific target audience, the same one that was screaming and jumping over the last hour of this Saturday-Night-Live party.
Unfortunately Epicenter 2011 lasted one day only (the last edition in Fontana, CA, featured Eminem, Kiss, 30 Seconds to Mars and Blink 182 over a 48 hours music weekend), but the location and the line-up was definitely worth it.
Sometimes you don’t need miracles, just the best partner in crime, live music (and who cares whether you like all the bands or not) a shot of Jack and an autumn sky that marks the season change on your skin. It didn’t last long, but it was a fix of pure adrenaline and passion. The kind of fix that only The Tower of Song is able to deliver, as its King, Leonard Cohen would say with his golden, and orgasmic voice.
Photo Credits: Daren Cornell www.1st3songs.com