The 10 best things we saw at California’s Aftershock festival

Aftershock festival
(Image credit: Steve Thrasher)

Held in Sacramento’s Discovery Park,  this year’s Aftershock festival event – their 10th – offers more than 90 bands across four stages, and is headlined by Slipknot, Kiss, My Chemical Romance and Muse. The sun is so intense that several bands make jokes about the lighting guy being too enthusiastic, but it’s worth sweating your face off for the killer line-up. Here’s what we learned.

Metal Hammer line break

Nobody puts Code Orange in the corner

“They tried to put us under a fucking bridge!” spits Code Orange’s Jami Morgan, referring to their location on the DWPresents Stage, next to the I-5 freeway. More problematic is the fact their set clashes with Rob Zombie’s, leading to a disappointing turnout, and the feeling their momentum has stalled, with other bands leapfrogging them during the pandemic (oh hi, Spiritbox). Nevertheless, this is a vicious, thrilling showing. Jami is still provocative, guitarist/co-vocalist Reba Meyers still has star power, and Code Orange still have bite.

Slipknot are teasing us

The End, So Far has already been out for a week, but Slipknot are still only playing one track from it: The Dying Song (Time To Sing), which they debuted onstage in July. This can only mean one thing: they’re planning a mega tour, or some big festival slots for 2023. Still, can we really complain when they’re bringing out classics such as Wait And Bleed, Duality and People = Shit?

Spiritbox are unstoppable

Speaking of new songs… Spiritbox have been playing latest tracks Rotoscope and Hysteria live all summer, and during a daytime main stage slot they sound like everything you want from modern-day metal. Holy Roller is still their biggest banger, though, and sees Courtney LaPlante throw herself flat on her back while forcing out fierce gutturals. Simply breathtaking.

Aftershock festival

(Image credit: Steve Thrasher)

Jeris Johnson loves his mum

Exploding out of TikTok with his cover of Papa Roach’s Last Resort, and then teaming up with the band to release it last January, Jeris has only been gigging for 18 months, and only in the US. His enthusiasm is infectious, though – especially when he brings out his mom, Jill, who wields a sword during the song, er, Sword. Special mention goes to drummer/rapper Blakswan, whose high-energy dancing is like something from a metal self-defence class.

Jonathan Davis likes animals

What next for the man who’s played in a Grammy-winning band, written movie soundtracks, and launched a solo career? Why, a pet range, of course! This weekend he’s launching cunningly named business Freak On A Leash from the tent of Take Me Home, an animal rescue foundation, and donating the proceeds. From studded collars to plush scorpion toys, there’s everything your dog needs to live their best life.

Lamb Of God need three guitarists

Lamb Of God release ninth album Omens today, so there’s already a celebratory atmosphere. Then they get ex Machine Head guitarist Phil Demmel onstage, who’s been subbing for Willie Adler in Europe, to guest on closer Redneck. The trio of Phil, Willie and Mark Morton sounds Metal As Fuck. Can we petition for this to be their permanent line-up?

Nu gen is rising

In our feature about the new nu gen scene, Mothica told us that, from her experience on TikTok, “alternative music is now the norm”. Judging by the packed crowd on the fourth stage, it’s getting that way. Dressed in gothic lolita style with a white dress and pale blue wig, the Oklahoma City-born musician is captivating and authentic, and recounts her struggles with depression when the set’s paused due to a technical glitch (she’s not the only one whose laptop overheats in the sun this weekend). The wild screams down the front and the long meet-and-greet line afterwards indicates a bright future.

L.S. Dunes are cool

Comprised of Frank Iero from My Chem (tonight’s festival headliners), Coheed And Cambria guitarist Travis Stever, Circa Survive singer Anthony Green, and Thursday bassist Tim Payne and drummer Tucker Rule, L.S. Dunes are something of a supergroup. It’s only their second show, and with heads down and a post-hardcore sound that warmly throws back to the early 00s, there’s no pretension or theatrics – they’re just /cool/.

Papa Roach are headline material

P-Roach first played Aftershock in 2013, and Jacoby Shaddix tells the crowd they didn’t want to return until they could bag a headlining slot. Closing the second stage on the Saturday, in their biggest-ever hometown show, they smash it. There’s their Firestarter cover, Fever 333’s Jason Aalon Butler appears for collab track Swerve, and the marching band for the University Of California, Davis, invade the stage for finale Born For Greatness. It’s accomplished, triumphant, and /fun/.

Aftershock festival

(Image credit: Steve Thrasher)

Bloodywood are going global

After months spent getting a visa, Indian nu-metallers Bloodywood finally made their US debut in September, embarking on the Nine Inch Naans tour. Unfortunately, rapper Raoul Kerr fell ill. Back in action just in time for Aftershock’s final day, he and the band show no mercy, opening with a vicious Gaddaar and Dana Dan. By the time Ari Ari rolls around, Sarthak Pahwa is down in the pit playing his dhol. It’s utterly unique, and utterly elating.

For info on 2023’s event, see

Eleanor Goodman
Editor, Metal Hammer

Eleanor was promoted to the role of Editor at Metal Hammer magazine after over seven years with the company, having previously served as Deputy Editor and Features Editor. Prior to joining Metal Hammer, El spent three years as Production Editor at Kerrang! and four years as Production Editor and Deputy Editor at Bizarre. She has also written for the likes of Classic Rock, Prog, Rock Sound and Visit London amongst others, and was a regular presenter on the Metal Hammer Podcast.