This last Saturday, 5/6/17, I attended the SOLD OUT outdoor festival at The Electric Factory in Philadelphia. A mere 6 months ago this festival wasn’t even scheduled to happen. By sheer happenstance 2 different tours were going to be in Philadelphia around the same time, Devin Townsend Project + Gojira + Opeth and Russian Circles + Eagles of Death Metal + Mastodon. Because all of the bands are friends and have mutual fan bases they decided to combine the 2 shows into 1 big festival at the Electric Factory. 6 bands, 8 hours of music, 1 stage, SOLD OUT.
This was my experience….
I attended the festival with 3 other metalheads, 2 friends that I’ve known for years, Kevin T and Jessica K, and a new friend that I met that day, Jon Z. I’m going to use this space to thank my friend Jessica K for the ticket that she gave me, thank you so much Jess!
Anyway, here is the journey and experience that the 4 of us had on what was a truly amazing day that will not be forgotten anytime soon. With the show being in Philly we knew that driving would present some minor issues that none of us wanted to deal with. Parking – there were easily thousands of people in attendance, so parking was going to be an issue. Our solution was an easy one, we took Patco from the Woodcrest Train Station and got off at 8th and Market in Philly. The $6 dollar round trip ticket and walking to the venue was well worth it. We arrived in Philadelphia around 1PM, with 2 hours until the doors even opened we had already agreed to go to Khyber Pass Pub on 2nd St., which was recommended by Jess and Jon.
I HIGHLY recommend that anyone go to Khyber, whether it’s before an event or just for a day/night out. With a vast beer and drink selection, a mouth watering BBQ menu along with a variety of vegan options, Khyber is a must visit for your next trip to Philadelphia.
After we had our fill of meat and beer we began our walk to the Factory. A brief 20 minutes later we arrive at our destination. With doors opening at 3PM and Russian Circles opening at 3:30, we had arrived around 3:15. That was too late. The line was starting where it was ending. We got in line on 7th street, followed it back to Willow St. and around the block to 6th St. where the line had looped and doubled back to Willow and ended back on 7th. We at least got to hear all of Russian Circles and half of Devin Townsend Project’s (DTP) set from the line. 4 o’clock we make it inside and our first stop is the merch booth, we buy our concert shirts and other merch and make our way to stage to catch the rest of DTP.
For those of you who are wondering exactly what kind of music was being played, this was a metal festival. Devin Townsend can absolutely shred and I’m still disappointed I only briefly caught his set based on what I was able to see from him. DTP released their first album, “Ki”, in 2009 and released their most recent, “Transcendence”, this last September. DTP for the most part is a heavy progressive metal band with a large catalog that is worth checking out. Devin Townsend himself has been active since 1996 and has been a part of 5 separate bands; his solo career, Strapping Young Lad, The Devin Townsend Band, Casualties of Cool and Devin Townsend Project. DTP played a total of 5 songs, according to setlist.fm, and based on what I was able see from him I’d rate his set a very solid 3 out of 5.
Next up was the band I was the most excited to see, Eagles of Death Metal. If that name doesn’t sound familiar you’re missing out on one of the greatest bands today. If the name does sound familiar but you can’t quite place it, Eagles of Death Metal was the band involved in a tragic terrorist attack in Paris during a concert in 2015. Although their set was only for 9 songs they were easily my favorite performance of the whole festival. Lead singer, guitarist and frontman extraordinaire Jesse Hughes alone is worth the price of admission. By far he is the greatest frontman alive today. If Mick Jagger, Freddie Mercury and Bruce Dickinson had their DNA used to create the ultimate frontman, the result would be Jesse Hughes. Words alone do not do enough justice to describe an Eagles of Death Metal concert, go see the Eagles of Death Metal right now. Seriously, do whatever it takes to them live as soon as you possibly can, you will not regret it. The only disappointing part about their performance was that their recording drummer, Josh Homme, yes THE Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, was not behind the drums for this show. However, after covering David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream” and jamming to Black Sabbath’s “Children of the Grave” and even Mastodon guitarist Brent Hinds playing on the opening song “I only want you”, the set gets a 5 out of 5.
Ok, we’re at the halfway point. Gojira. The French metal band had just played the Electric Factory in September as part of their Magma Tour have returned only months later. Along with either Mastodon and Opeth, Gojira easily could have been the headliner of the festival. With an obviously huge following in Philadelphia, Gojira had one of the loudest sets of the festival. Going into the festival I was only somewhat familiar with their music and had heard stories about their show from September. Gojira did not disappoint at all. Thunderous drums and a chest pounding bass were the stand out factors of the set, a must see for any metalhead, 4 out of 5.
Opeth has been around since 1990 and I have only started listening to them 3 months ago. I’m 23 years old and goddamn am I late to discover what is an awesome band. The Swedish prog metal band knows how to blend heavy and mellow music perfectly. Opeth’s set had a great flow of headbanding and chill, melodic music. Just as the headache would set in, they would tone it down and give you enough recovery time to headbang again. The latest album “Sorceress” has been subject to mixed reviews from fans. Compared to their older material the album certainly did seem like a departure and change of pace for Opeth, but when live and mixed with their “hit singles”, I can’t complain about the sound that they’ve chosen to explore. Lead Singer and guitarist Mikael Åkerfeldt certainly is a talker between songs. Where every other band would play 2 or 3 songs before addressing the crowd, Mikael talked to the crowd after every song. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, then again when your songs average out to be around 7-8 minutes long the band probably appreciates the few minutes of talking to breath. 4.5 out of 5.
Finally, the headliner, Mastodon. I’ve been waiting exactly 1 year and 1 day for Mastodon to return to Philadelphia and after teasing new music last year, which would turn out to be “Emperor of Sand”, Mastodon met and exceeded my expectations, regardless of a few technical hiccups. Having been a fan for 4 years now, my love for Mastodon grows every year. As I said before I saw Mastodon perform last year at the Electric Factory (indoors) and afterwards said that was my favorite concert ever. Mastodon outdid their performance from last year, regardless of some minor technical difficulties that resulted in an angry Brent Hinds, who had no problem calling out his sound tech. Sorry Erin, I hope you’re still employed with Mastodon. If you’re familiar with Mastodon and have seen them live in years previous you would know that their live shows have come a long way. Both technically and stage presence wise, Mastodon has only gotten better over the years. If you listen you listen to their live album “Live at the Aragon”, which was recorded only 6 years ago, the mixing does not sound great and was very rough for the vocals and instruments. Recently however, these issues have clearly been ironed out because they sounded fantastic both last year and on Saturday. 4.5 out of 5.