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Scion Rock Fest 2011: The Decompression Thread

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Scion Rock Fest 2011 was a logistical marvel. My complaints were few: the long line at will call hours before the fest; the setup that had Immolation sounding like Darkthrone; the fact that my backpack was allowed into only three out of the fest’s four venues; the fact that scheduling Morbid Angel at the same time as Municipal Waste and Anaal Nathrakh meant that basically the entire festival would try to see Morbid Angel, filling that venue to such capacity that eventually even all-access passes were denied. These were annoyances, not dealbreakers. I had a great time.

In fact, Scion Rock Fest 2011 was such a logistical marvel, it made me sad. Scion is known for its immense generosity and professionality towards metal musicians. Too bad their own community – labels, promoters, fans – is not known likewise. It makes sense that the most well-run, best-paying show you’ll ever play would come from a mega-corporation. But in terms of supporting its own, I’d like to think that the millions-strong metal community worldwide could give mega-corporations a run for their money.

The thousands at this fest did not wring their hands over corporate involvement in metal. They basked in it. Two outdoor tents, a club, and a theater hosted 26 bands. (See lineup above.) Perhaps by design, the premises lacked alcohol (except for the theater). So bad behavior was scarce. Fans happily bounced from venue to venue, queuing for some bands (Wormrot, Floor, Atheist, Obituary, Morbid Angel), and eating burgers from the Grill ‘Em All trucks. To order the Witte Burger (beef, bun, cream cheese, deep-fried bacon, beer-and-Sriracha-soaked onions, malt vinegar aioli), my friend Robert merely pointed several feet away, where Dave Witte himself was standing.

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Wormrot & 4/5 of Fuck the Facts

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“Festivals suck, but you have to do ’em”, I heard one band say (off-mic, of course). That makes sense. You play with rented backline amidst a stacked lineup that makes fans enjoy a lot a little. But that same band also touted the best aspect of festivals: socialization. Where else could I see two of my favorite grindcore bands, one from Singapore (Wormrot) and one from Canada (Fuck the Facts), take a group picture together? Bands whom I highly respect became fanboys and fangirls themselves. Fuck the Facts bassist Marc Bourgon couldn’t stop raving about Black Breath. At his hotel room after the fest, we looked out the window, and there was Black Breath returning to the hotel. Bourgon then cranked up Black Breath’s “I Am Beyond” on his phone, and we headbanged to THAT RIFF.

Socialization is the best aspect of metal festivals, but riffs come a close second. Fuck the Facts debuted explosive new material. Obituary delivered booming variations on their one song. Dark Castle electrified the air with shivering tones and feral screams. Nails looked so murderous that they might as well have wielded actual axes.

My band of the fest was Wormrot. Their Abuse album is good, but I don’t listen to grindcore recreationally. I do, however, love to see it live, and Wormrot were as perfect a grindcore band as I’ve ever seen. Their secret was variation: knowing when to stop playing a riff, how long to pause before the next one, and what beats to play underneath. In other words, they knew how to kick ass. Drummer Fit unleashed an array of blastbeats, d-beats and skank beats that glued my jaw to the floor. I felt like a puppet whose strings the band controlled. They pushed, they pulled, they teased, they blasted, they demanded obedience. I was glad to surrender.

— Cosmo Lee
Pictured front: Immolation

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If you attended Scion Rock Fest 2011, please share your memories below!

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