Nothing beats a free show, especially in today's economy. Which is why both the Echo and the Echoplex were full to capacity on Sunday, for a 12 hour eclectic mix of metal artists such as grindcore innovators Repulsion, Southern California hardcore metal band NAILS, the noisy, jazzy droned out Eagle Twin, and Corrosion of Conformity, who performed as a trio listed as COC III (featuring the original members from their second album Animosity, released in 1985).
But music was only part of the day's events, which was organized by Southern Lord, Spaceland and Scion.
The parking lot behind the venues housed a row of food trucks that catered to the sea of stoners, metal heads and thrashers in attendance. Although Canters Deli and The Greasy Wieners served up hot dogs and sandwiches, the highlight of this metal-meets-culinary experience was the Grill Em All Hamburger Truck, serving up loud music and gourmet hamburgers named after various metal artists. The Waste 'Em All, the truck's best selling burger comes piled with beer soaked onions, pepper jack cheese and a relish made of green chilies.
At approximately 5 p.m., NAILS was the first band to conjure up a good size slam dance pit at the Echo stage. With guitarist/vocalist Todd Jones, (a former member of LA hardcore bands Terror and Carry On), NAILS raged through 30 minutes of raw power, anthemic songs and pure aggression; reminiscent of an early Hatebreed spliced with Discharge.
But, it was the legendary Godfathers of grindcore, Repulsion, who put on the most intense, violent show of the evening, performing songs from the seminal album, 1986's Horrified, which set the standard for extreme metal--many consider it to be the first true grindcore album.
In their 25 year career, Repulsion have influenced everyone (from Napalm Death to Cannibal Corpse and countless others) with their horror-movie inspired songs, most of which are less than two minutes and describe zombies, the apocalypse and mutilated corpses. From the first song to the last, a circle pit ravaged like a human hurricane; fists went flying, bodies went slamming, and the sweat and beer drenched everyone.
LA Doom metal band Goatsnake offered up a typical Black Sabbath-worshiping, stoner metal sound that was a bit redundant after a few songs; but the hardcore heshers in the crowd inhaled every riff, one hit at a time. Thank God for the persons directly beneath the stage in the photo pit, exhaling the smoke of a pungent sweat leaf into the audience--much better than a fog machine.
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Eagle Twin, a duo of vocalist Gentry Densley and drummer Tyler Smith was unlike any other artist at the festival.
Eagle Twin is heavy music that defies being locked into any one genre of metal. Too slow to bang your head or mosh to, Eagle Twin was in certain respects excruciating to experience, yet most of the crowd were left in awe. If you like Sunn O))), check out Eagle Twin: what set them apart from the rest, was their sporadic interludes of ambient droned out jazz core that left many confused and intoxicated by the distortion and noise.
Headliners,Corrosion of Conformity took the stage shortly after 11 p.m., as true fans in the audience were ecstatic. With a line-up consisting of the musicians from the seminal Animosity (bassist/vocalist Mike Dean, guitarist Woodroe Weatherman and drummer Reed Mullin) COC III showed the youngsters in the crowd what the early days of metal and punk were like, blurring the lines between punk, hardcore, stoner metal and crossover thrash all at the same time, an amalgam that fans ate up, as many head banged in unison for most of the hour long set. COC III was an appropriate way to close what might have been the heaviest, most punishing, eclectic and underground metal festivals to hit LA in quite some time.
Note for next POTR fest: bring ear plugs and more weed.