In the weeks that follow the first day of Spring, you start to smell it. And I’m only partially talking about the must from airing out your pop tents. Specifically, I am talking about the smell of Festival Season. A sublime time of year filled with 8 dollar beers, not showering for three days, absurdly slow ATM’s and of course, music. Hard music to be on point. First up on my personal summer festival tour is the second annual Northern Invasion. The great thing about holding a concert in Wisconsin is it gives the local residents the option of doing something other than playing pull tabs while day drinking.
Part of the World’s Loudest Month, Northern Invasion expanded from one day to two for 2016 and from two stages to three. With any festival you have a mix of relatively unknown bands (City of the Weak), bands you have probably heard of but have never seen (Ghost) and of course the big boys. Bands like Disturbed and Korn with established fan bases who will be featured acts on the main stage. But even Shinedown once graced the humble side stages. And I don’t mind telling you that the big boys delivered at the 2016 edition of Northern Invasion. But to really get the most out of any festival you need more than a pile of money and someone to make sure you don’t get lost. You need open ears and eyes. Because underneath those headliners, at the bottom of the list of bands performing that day, there is gold. You know Rob Zombie is going to bring the rock show at the end of the night. So instead of wasting your day sleeping off the night before on a grassy hill as you wait, why not see if you can’t find some of that gold. At this point, I really hope it’s clear that “gold” is just a metaphor.
When I say GOLD I am talking about discovery. I’m talking about a band who’s music hasn’t hit your taste buds yet. I’m talking about mind-blowing, crotch padding, aural orgasm inducing rock n roll so fresh you need to let it sit for 10 minutes before ingesting. Both days were filled with some of the best hard rock and metal had to offer. Yet there were three bands in particular that made me a believer.
Monster Truck. Hailing from Hamilton, Ontario these Canadian boys bring the thunder with the groove. Their song “Don’t Tell Me How To Live” from their latest record, Sittin’ Heavy, is making some waves on rock radio but it’s the track “Why Are You Not Rocking” that has me reassessing my life choices. As they blazed their way through songs off their latest record as well as 2013’s Furiosity it was clear you don’t fuck with the truck. If you only do one thing today, make it listening to Monster Truck.
Red Sun Rising. These Ohio boys took the second stage early on Day 2 playing material from their latest record, 2014’s Polyester Zeal. You may be familiar with their pseudo hit “Otherside” and rest assured they played it. But they have so much more. The track “Amnesia” was so good I forget how much a beer cost. Lead singer Mike Protich reminds me of a less farcical version of Aldous Snow the fictional singer portrayed by Russell Brand in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. And I’m only kind of joking when I say more than one lady in attendance was hoping to hear him sing “Inside Of You”. Mike and rest of the band were tighter than a parking space in Chicago. I can’t say for certain but I’m pretty sure seeing them live made me better looking.
The Glorious Sons. Another Canadian export, this band fucking killed it. And singer Brett Emmons killed his mic stand during the opening song. Alcohol may have played a part as he spilled his drink in the process. But holy rock boner were these guys hot when they came on stage. As with all of these bands I’m featuring, they had an all too short set but made the most of it. If you haven’t heard the song “Heavy” you owe it to your genitals to do so. Again, as with all of these bands, you owe it yourself, your ears and your pleasure parts to track down their latest release. Theirs being The Union. If you get it on iTunes it comes with a bonus track, the “All Along The Watchtower” inspired “Sometimes On A Sunday” which has been getting some love from my car stereo.
If you find yourself at a festival this summer, look for these bands. Of course at Northern Invasion there were many others; Butcher Babies, Beartooth, Andy Watt, City of the Weak, Hands Like House’s and more. All quite capable of making your life better with their brand of rock n roll. But people! The early bands are not forbidden fruit. They are the appetizer to the entrée. Go ahead. Take a bite. Festivals offer a wide range of music. You’re cheating yourself by spending your time in lines or napping in the grass. Sleep later. Eat later. Rock NOW! And if you’re going to join me at next year’s Northern Invasion you can find me trying to unearth the next rock n roll bastion of sonic pleasure. Remember. Rock’s not dead. It’s hiding. If you look. You can find it.