Wednesday, June 1, 2016

River City Rockfest: San Antonio, TX 5/29/16

I did something last weekend I swore I would never do again.  I went to an all-day, outdoor music festival in the summer.  And I did it in Texas.  Don't blame me.  Blame my wife.  She was the one that wanted to go to this festival.  She has recently become a big fan of hard rock and heavy metal from the 1980's and the Scorpions are one of her favorite bands.  I like the Scorpions as well, though not quite to her level.  So she got it in her mind that she wanted to see them in concert, but the Scorpions do not really tour much these days.  They were going to be co-headlining the River City Rockfest in San Antonio though and so an idea for a vacation was formed.  The bands at the festival were mostly more modern rock-oriented, with some over-the-hill nu metal bands, and some older metal bands as well.

After two days of driving, we arrived at San Antonio the night before the festival.  We decided to skip the first act and get some lunch before heading over.  We missed Pop Evil, a band I am not at all familiar with other than my sister-in-law's boyfriend wearing their t-shirt all the time.  We also missed Avatar and Red Sun Rising, two other bands with whom I am not familiar.  The first band we saw was DevilDriver.  I have a couple of their albums, but I did not hear any of the songs from those releases.  To be fair, with as many bands as played, most of the setlists were fairly short.  Most of the songs kind of blended together.  They were decent, but I am not as familiar with their music as I once was.  Dez sounded great, as expected though.

After DevilDriver, we did not really pay much attention to the bands for a little while, trying to track down t-shirts and water, since it was 90 degrees and humid.  We barely heard Texas Hippie Coalition or Hellyeah, though to be fair, I am not really a fan of either band.  I also saw Hellyeah last summer with Slayer and King Diamond.  The singer gave the exact same "metal saved my life" bullshit speech that he gave last year.  We did get a look at the pathetic-looking third stage which was barely large enough for an entire band to stand on and rarely had more than a handful of fans watching.  I had not heard of any of the third stage bands and did not particularly want to move around much due to the heat.  We brought lawn chairs and positioned them in an area that allowed us to see and hear the first two stages.  The bands were staggered so that there was not typically two bands playing at the same time for more than a couple of minutes.

The next band that my wife wanted to see was Sixx A.M., Nikki Sixx's band.  This was fairly typical modern hard rock with a bit of the hair band flair.  The songs were catchy enough.  I doubt I will ever really like them myself though.  On the second stage after Sixx A.M. came The Sword, who I have seen before opening for Metallica.  This is another band I have not really kept up with, though I did recognize a couple of songs.  Their particular brand of psychedelic doom metal did not really appeal to too many in the crowd.

After The Sword, we had to seek shelter from the heat for a little bit.  Besides, the next two bands were Bullet for My Valentine (who I hate), and Hatebreed (who I am mostly ambivalent towards).  There was a sideshow called Hellzaopoppin that was performing in a small indoor area with fans running.  The acts were not very exciting though, other than one man who was missing his entire lower torso.  It was amazing he was even still alive.  We hid out there for a little while until close to the time that the band I was most excited to see would be taking the stage: Megadeth.

This was my second time seeing Megadeth.  Dave Mustaine was not quite as animated onstage and a lot of his normal commentary was missing, but they still sounded good.  They played a number of classic Megadeth songs like "Hangar 18", "Peace Sells", and "Holy Wars", but they also played a number of songs from their newest album, which is a pretty good release.

Once Megadeth was done, we moved forward closer to the main stage as the Scorpions would be taking the stage after the second stage band was done.  Fine with me, as P.O.D. was never exactly one of my favorite bands, even when I did like nu-metal.  A huge crowd gathered around the stage.  Amazing that a band that has been around for nearly half a century could still gather that much of a crowd.  The Scorpions were amazing and were definitely the highlight of the day.  The fact that men in their late 60's still could play that well, in the sweltering heat of Texas, was truly mind-blowing.  They played a number of their biggest songs: "No One Like You", "Big City Nights", and "The Zoo".  They acted like they were closing their show after an hour, but it was pretty obvious they would be back to play "Rock You Like a Hurricane".  And as expected, they did return to play two more songs, starting out with "Still Loving You" and closing with their biggest hit, which we all expected.

After that, we decided to take off, missing the last two bands: Sevendust and Disturbed.  I have seen both bands when I was in college, and did not have a whole lot of desire to stick around.  It had been a long day and hot.  The last all-day music festival I attended resulted in me getting heat stroke.  I was not looking forward to that happening again.  Luckily, I stayed hydrated and survived.  My wife did too, obviously, or this would be a much different post.  I swore after that last one that I would never do this again.  But I did, and we traveled all the way to Texas in what could have been a very bad move to do so.

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