This is my first Deathfest of the Deathfest's 10-year lifespan. Normally, I look at the lineup and think, "who are all these bands?" To be honest, most of the bands that make it to Deathfast are not really my cup o' tea. I like beard metal. Death metal, and thrash-inspired metal, usually doesn't work for me. Even the death metal I like has to be more technical / melodic. I never went to an Ozzfest, either, usually because of my own snobbery.
But I had to check it out this year, since I'm headed to the West Coast soon, and I might not have such convenience down the line. Also, it's a metal festival! I love metal. I love festivals. I guess my favorite part of festivals is just being reminded of all the kinds of people who are just like me. And the people who somehow aren't at all like me in any way, except that they love it loud, so maybe there's something deeper that brings us together, something that boils way way down to the essence of our own humanity. Yeah, I spend a lot of time thinking about the nature of existence as I'm watching bands do their thing.
Let's get some complaints out of the way: Deathfest is not run very well. I make this statement almost solely based on the bullshit line I waited in to get into the show. Me and my buddies waited ~45 minutes before sneaking into a better line to get into the show. We were not trying to do anything fancy; we had tickets in-hand! We should've waltzed in! They weren't even scanning tickets or doing pat-downs or anything! Maybe the ID-check was the bottleneck? If so, just move that shit to a tent inside...
Also, the food options inside suck; can't we get some food trucks up in here? Pizza reheated on a grill, really?
I feel like in any other environment it would be considered rude to have smoke blown in your face by a bartender handing you a beer, but it actually felt appropriate in this environment of non-shit-giving.
The pros: I enjoyed every goddamn band I saw. Quick reviews:
TODAY IS THE DAY: FUNTIMES.
NEGURA BUNGET: from Transylvania! Really fun show, some of the best folk metal I've heard. Even the pan flute stuff was AWESOME. I liked how the keyboardist just headbanged for half of the show, gripping her keyboard for dear life. Awesome manes of hair all around.
NAPALM DEATH: WOW WOW WOW, grind legends for a reason! These guys were tight as fuck.
GODFLESH: That is dome grim, dark stuff. Kind of depressing for a festival!
UNSANE: Yeah these guys were also super-fun. This was the only band of the day where I recognized most of the songs. They only had a 45-minute set, wish they had played longer!
SETHERIAL: OK, this is exactly the "not my cup o' tea" kind of band; they're Swedish death and they wear corpsepaint and are really into Satan. I grabbed another beer and hung back for awhile. Then, well, they just played some awesome riff that really spoke to me. I looked over at the mosh pit, and it looked good. Very inviting. What does an inviting mosh pit look like? Well, this is a personal preference. Like, looking at NAPALM DEATH's mosh pit, I get scared. Frightened. Lots of people show up in pits with something to get off their chest, or something to prove. What did SETHERIAL's pit look like? A good time. Friends shoving each other around. People celebrating the sweet riffage. Lots of space, not too many people going wild.
So yeah, I chugged down the rest of my beer and got into the pit. I found a few guys who I could tell were having a great time, and I shoved them around a bit and threw up some metal fingers and joined the celebration. I think I told one guy "thanks for being the king of the mosh pit". I definitely told one guy "I WANT TO GO UP.", and then I crowdsurfed, but it was so weak I am almost embarrassed, I kind of just got shoved into a huge bouncer's arms. I am a tiny dude, so I have basically no impact on bouncers, or people's heads as I crowdsurf, or moshers as I shove them with all my might.
I am very selective about the pits I enter, but when I do I always have a great time.