There was a strange cloud of silence about Glens Falls this year as the time approached for the 2nd Annual Aggressive Music Festival. Last year, a bitter uproar was started by a few citizens who ignorantly believed that the introduction of such a heavy metal event to the area was bound to bring about chaos and carnage in Glens Falls. However, the lack of protest didn't hurt the crowd much as over 3,000 were in attendance this year, which I didnt personally believe to be a bad turn-out at all considering the location and that the most "popular" band was Mudvayne (whose 15 minutes of fame are hopefully almost over). I walked down to the Civic Center around 12:45 to see an already long line anxiously waiting to get in. Upon entering, I was a little bummed at the overall lack of merch available this year. Last year there were a few vendors (including Relapse Records), who were selling cds. I only mention this because the Glens Falls area has a lack of metal selection at the local stores and while I do almost all of my disc shopping online, there's something about the instant gratification of being able to snag a disc and not have to wait a few days to get it. One nice addition was the FYE signing booth (though paying $20 for a cd in order to get an autograph is rather ridiculous in my opinion) and many of the bands participated in this. I walked through the area a few times and it did seem to be a success.
Promptly at 3PM, A Dozen Furies hit the stage. I can't say that I had ever heard them before and due to the whole "Battle For Ozzfest" thing, I kinda had doubts that they would be anything other than sucky. I was pleasantly surprised though, as they were rather energetic and entertaining on stage. It was your standard metalcore, but it was well-executed and passionate. Trivium took the stage next, belting out a quick 20 minute set featuring songs like "A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation", "Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr", and "Like Light to Flies". They are a solid live act, and "Gunshot" was as entertaining as when I caught the band at the New England Metalfest earlier this year. I did notice that Matt Heafy seemed a bit cocky, which was slightly annoying but not to the point of ruining their set. As Soilwork had dropped off the bill, God Forbid replaced them in the line-up. Mostly sticking to material from Gone Forever, they also played a new song which sounded as good as their previous material. GF is one of those bands that really seem to be more and more entertaining each time I get to see them live and I'm looking forward to hearing the new material come September. It was rather unfortunate that Soilwork couldn't make it, but at least God Forbid was a suitable replacement.
As I Lay Dying came out to a gradually filling Civic Center and much like God Forbid, they are definitely getting better with each time I see them. It doesn't hurt that their new disc completely destroys Frail Words either. They played live staples "Forever" and "94 Hours" as well as new tracks like "Confined", "Meaning in Tragedy", and "Through Struggle". In Flames was next in line, and as with every time I see them, they were the highlight of the day. I think this was the 5th or 6th time I've seen them now, and their sound was the best I've heard them. Some of the opening acts sounded a bit muddy but In Flames sounded awesome! I don't care what anyone says about their last few discs, few can rival In Flames onstage. Unfortunately they only played for about 30 minutes (shortest time I've seen them) but they went through "Cloud Connected", "Pinball Map", "Touch of Red", "Behind Space", "Bulletride", "The Quiet Place", and "My Sweet Shadow". I would have exchanged Quiet Place for "Episode 666" or "Trigger" but oh well, I'm sure they'll be touring the US again soon enough. They received much more crowd reaction than I was guessing (which is definitely a good thing), as they were one of the few bands that weren't on this fest last year. Its hard to top In Flames, but Shadows Fall did their best to do so. I hadn't seen them since last year's fest so it had been a while. I thought "Eternity is Within" was a little boring on disc, but wow, did it smoke live! A definite highlight, as was "Stepping Outside the Circle" and "Inspiration on Demand". I really wish I could have gotten my camera out quick enough when Brian Fair had everyone get out their lighters, that looked really cool. They also played a few other songs, including "Destroyer of Senses" and "What Drives the Weak". Certainly the 2nd best performance of the day.
Killswitch Engage came out and closed the fest (to me anyway as I dont care for either Hatebreed or Mudvayne). Overall they had a pretty strong setlist, playing "A Bid Farewell", "Numbered Days", "Rose of Sharyn" (great closer), "Take This Oath", and "Fixation on the Darkness" amongst a few others. I guess the only song that didnt work was "The End of Heartche". It seemed too mellow to me for their live performance and seemed kinda boring in comparison, though I really enjoy the tune on disc. I did notice that Adam was a bit more constrained than last year (aka the last time I caught them live), keeping most of his antics nonverbal, though he did dedicate one of the songs to "titties".Hatebreed was the final act before Mudvayne and hit the stage to a large pit. Without question, they got the best crowd response and activity, but I could have told anyone that before the fest even started. They are definitely not for me, but hey, have to get them credit for getting the crowd going, as well as Jamey Jasta's involvement in getting the fest here in the first place so cheers for that! Last and certainly least was Mudvayne, whom I only viewed as a necessary evil to allow such an event to occur in Glens Falls to begin with. Last year it was Slipknot, this year it was Mudvayne. I will give them credit for almost putting me into hysterical laughter as they came out on the stage. I mean, how can you take them seriously when the singer comes out in an almost full monkey-suit and a doofus-looking top hat, with fake blood all over his face! Don't even get me going about the rest of the band, lest I burst into laughter all over again (yes, I have provided a pic of this). For what it was worth, their sound was good for the 4-5 songs I stayed around for and they had a good stage presence (but really all the bands participating had that to varying degrees).
Overall, I had a great time at the fest again this year. It was once again well organized and stayed pretty much on time (even the stairs were less slick this year!) so my hats off to the organizers and promoters. Good bands, a good crowd, and a whopping 10-minute drive home! While a bit more band variety is needed for future events, I hadn't seen most of the "repeater" bands since last years fest so it wasnt a huge deal. Here's to hoping it's back next year!
A special thanks to Jessica at Own the Street, who was very helpful and provided me with photo access. I got a ton of awesome shots; unfortunately for all of you, I could only fit so many on this page.