I Drove You Home, Then You Moved Away: A Sort of Update Combined With a Thing About the Deftones

I started writing a thing about the Deftones on my old blog a couple hundred years ago (August 2017, more specifically), with the goal of listening to their entire discography in order and writing about that. A recurring theme in my writing, both public and private, is the reality of my utter laziness when it comes to actually sitting down to write, so (*SPOILER ALERT*) I never got around to actually starting that, let alone coming anywhere near finishing it. The fact that I’m currently using a rapidly failing six-year-old Chromebook as my primary means of writing doesn’t help matters. “Why haven’t [you] simply purchased a new laptop of some sort?”, you might ask. That’s a fair question, and the best answer is that in addition to being fairly lazy, I’m also weirdly cheap about things I shouldn’t be cheap about. I’ll drop 40 bucks on a concert t-shirt without so much as a second thought (though there will be a lot of grumbling about the price while I do so), but when it comes to things like upgrading an ancient piece of technology that sends me into fits of rage pretty much every time I use it, which is pretty much daily, well now hold on just a second there mister – I don’t need a new laptop, I already own one! Plus it has cool stickers on it!

See?

Side note: I know a Chromebook is not the same as a laptop, but I also know that’s not relevant to this, and that I don’t actually care.

Anyway, I’m not here today in an attempt to revive that old corpse, because that ship sailed a long time ago, plus a bunch of other metaphors. I’ve since listenened to all their albums several times (including the one that came out four years after I first had the idea to listen to them and write about them) and I didn’t bother to write about any of them, mostly because in the long run, it doesn’t really matter what I think about the Deftones discography (it’s pretty fuckin incredible though, for the record), but also because my laptop is one of the Top 3 Biggest Assholes I’ve Ever Known (Non-Human Edition).

Did I mention that I’m also lazy?

What I am here today in an attempt to do, whatever the fuck that means, is mention that, thanks to my amazing wife and her knack for picking out kickass birthday presents, I’m finally gonna see the Deftoness live tomorrow night (with Gojira!), and I’m beyond stoked!

Mrs. Circlepit mistakenly assumed that I’d seen them live before, not realizing that I had in fact missed two opportunites to see them. My first time missing them was in 1996 when they opened for Pantera and White Zombie (Eyehategod made an unscheduled appearance that day as well), and later (circa 1999) I missed them headlining with Snapcase and Quicksand as support. Can you imagine how fucking incredible both of those shows must’ve been?! I know at least two people who attended at least one of them each, and I missed both because of work-related nonsense, but now I make the schedule, and I’m finally gonna see the motherfucking Deftones live!

Careful reader(s) of this “esteemed” blog might recall that I kinda saw Gojira live last year at Louder Than Life, but really that it was more of a “heard them live while they played behind me while I stood in the Slowest Line in History of Lines while I waited to purchase a couple of 40 dollar t-shirts” type of situation, so clearly that doesn’t count. I’m very much looking forward to righting that wrong tomorrow night as well, even though I’m not nearly as familiar with Gojira. There’s another band called Vowws opening the night, and I checked out one of their songs last night, and they seem alright (probably better live), but we might not make it in time to see them anyway, so I’ll not mention them for now except for this sentence.

And speaking of Louder Than Life, this will be second time we’ve attended a live show since then (Gwar/Napalm Death/Eyehategod back in early November), and I’m jonesing for it real hard. This past week at work was a total bitch for a lot of reasons, and I’m ready to blow off some major steam tomorrow. And continuing for just a moment to speak of Louder Than Life, tickets have long since been procured for this years’ festivities, and as always, the lineup is a mixed bag, but overall it’s much more solid than last year. I’ll surely write more about that eventually. Maybe I’ll even have a new Chromebook/laptop on which to do so. I’ll most definitely have at least a few more 40 dollar t-shirts by then.

Thanks for reading, whoever you are.

Plant-Based Adventures in the Derby City: A Sort of Review of Louder Than Life 2021, Part 2

Welcome to the “long awaited” second and almost-certainly final installment of my review of the 2021 Louder Than Life music festival in Louisville, KY. If you haven’t read Part 1 yet, you should start there, then come back here and continue. I’ll wait…

Okay, welclome back. As I mentioned in Part 1, Day Three was always the weakest day of the lineup. Nine Inch Nails was slated to headline, and I was excited about that, as I’ve never seen them live, and I’ve heard nothing but good things about their live show from people whose opinions I trust, Mrs. Circlepit included (she’s seen them thrice). Snoop Dogg was scheduled to offer direct support, and I was obviously into that, because regardless of how I might present myself (both in my writing and in my day-to-day life), I do enjoy having fun. Several other artists and bands ended up cancelling between the lineup announcement and the beginning of the festival, and I’m pretty sure the largest percentage of them were scheduled to perform on Saturday.

So anyway, NIN and Snoop were the only two we were particularly stoked to see, and both of them cancelled. NIN was replaced with Disturbed, which is fine, but not really for me (and is certainly not a proper replacement for Nine Inch Nails), and Snoop was replaced by Machine Gun Kelly, who had previously been scheduled to perform immediately before Snoop. MGK was replaced with something I didn’t care about, although I probably would’ve liked it more than I would’ve liked MGK, but long story short, we decided not to attend on Saturday, because the only band we were interested in seeing was Suicidal Tendencies, and quite frankly it just seemed like a lot of hassle to ride the shuttle to the festival grounds, stand in line to get in the gate, walk all the way across the festival grounds to the second stage to watch ST play for 30-40 minutes, walk all the way back across the festival grounds to the shuttle, then ride the shuttle back to the hotel. I’ve seen ST live a few times and they put on a great show, but I’m a middle-aged man, and I was tired.

We started our day with a vague plan that did, in fact, include a shuttle ride to the festival to watch Suicidal Tendencies. We took a white-knuckle drive to the Highlands to eat lunch at Havana Rumba, an absolutely kickass Cuban restaurant owned and operated by a very nice family, followed by a mostly much-less-stressful drive to visit Mrs. Circlepit’s grandma and aunt, followed by a white-knuckle drive back through the Highlands (strictly to avoid festival traffic on I-65, which is a shitty and terrifying drive on the very best day) to the hotel. We returned, the missus decided to take a nap (Havana Rumba will not let you leave hungry), and I sat on the couch to read. Next thing I know she’s waking me up to tell me it’s 6:00, which means we have less than 40 minutes to get our shit together and catch the shuttle before ST takes the stage, which means that without a series of small miracles, we will miss at least a few minutes of ST’s set, which means we decided to stay downtown on Saturday.

We walked a few blocks east to Merle’s Whiskey Kitchen, where we were given a table outside, which allowed for pretty magnificent people-watching (lots of varied events in the city that weekend). We ordered drinks and an appetizer, and perused the vegetarian options (mostly listed under a section titled “Plant Based”), among which was a sandwich called the “Fake A$$ Chicken Sandwich”, which is an objectively dumb name, but which sounded like it could be a pretty good sandwich. The menu describes it thusly: “southern fried vegan chicken, crispy vinegar slaw, vegan garlic aioli, pickles on a kaiser bun”. I asked our server what the “chicken” is made of, and she replied, “it’s plant based.” I said, “I know that, but I was wondering what it’s made of.” The missus added, “like, is it tofu, or seitan, or…” and the server said, “I’m not sure, but I’ll go find out.” She returns very quickly and said “my manager said it’s plant based, but it doesn’t contain any soy”. “I was just curious about what it’s actually made of,” I replied.

That determined and almost-certainly underpaid server, god bless her, said, “I’ll go ask the kitchen. I just asked the front-of-house manager the first time.” A full 4-5 minutes passed before she came back outside. Her face did not indicate good news. “I’m really sorry, but all any of them will tell me is that it’s plant based.” I tried my very best to maintain my cool (and was successful, I think), and said, “That really isn’t a good or proper answer to my question, but it’s not that big of a deal, I’ll just get something else.” The server said “I know, I’m sorry, they just kept saying ‘it’s plant based'”. Then missus then said “do you know if it’s made in-house, or if it’s something you buy pre-made?” She said, “I know we don’t make it in-house, and to be honest, I’ve heard people say it’s kind of bland and not really worth the price.” “That’s perfect,” I replied, “I’ll have one of each taco instead. I’m really sorry for the hassle.”

The tacos were great, as was everything else (the service included – we tipped her very well), and I’d go back in heartbeat, but the first thing I’ll always think of whenever I think of that place is that every dipshit working in the kitchen that night thinks both that server and I are complete idiots, because we can’t seem to understand the words “plant based”. That’s enough of Day Three.

Day Four was a big’un. Lots of bands we were interested in checking out, both old and new. Metallica was headlining again (rumors abound that they were gonna play “The Black Album” in its entirety), and Judas Priest, Pennywise, The HU, Ayron Jones, Badflower, Sabaton, and Fozzy were all on the Sunday lineup as well. We got off the shuttle as Ayron Jones began his set, and thankfully the lines moved quickly thought the gates, so we got to actually see the majority of his set, which sounded great, and was delivered with a lot of energy. Fozzy was next on our agenda, but they weren’t really a necessity so much as a performance I just wanted to check out, since I had the opportunity to do so. I’ve been a fan of professional wrestling for most of my life, and Chris Jericho was always an entertaining wrestler, so I figured I owed it to myself to finally check out his band, given that all I had to do was walk maybe 50 yards from where we stood for Ayron Jones.

The verdict, re: Fozzy? Entertaining stage presence, enjoyble songs, but nothing special. Regarding the band, Mrs. Circlepit said “it looks like Chris Jericho walked into a Hot Topic and said ‘I’m starting a band, and we’ll probably play a lot of hard rock and metal festivals, who’s in?'” That was as apt a description as I could’ve mustered. I joked that they could call themselves Chris Jericho and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Stereotypes. There was the Guy Who Could’ve Been in a 90’s Pop Punk Band (with Ska Tendencies) on either bass or guitar (I can’t remember which), the Guy Who Could’ve Been in Creed on guitar, the Guy Who Could’ve Been in Some Band Like Buckcherry on either guitar or bass, and the Guy Who Could’ve Been in a New Wave Band on drums, all fronted by one of the most entertaining men to ever hold a microphone in a wrestling ring, The Man of 1,004 Holds himself, Chris Jericho. I’ll definitely watch them again if they’re at a festival I’m attending, but only if their set doesn’t conflict with another band that I’d rather see.

Speaking of bands I’d rather see, The HU were up next on the other main stage (I’ve forgotten which was which), so we made our way over there and promptly had our minds blown by their absolutely unique mix of Mongolian folk music and thick-ass metal grooves. Seriously, if you get a chance to see The HU live, do not miss it. They were fantastic.

Seriously, holy SHIT!

Badflower was next on the other main stage, and they were very good. We made it a point to check out several of the bands we’d never heard of in the weeks and months leading up to the festival, and Badflower was one of the bands that piqued our interest. They’re a bit melodramatic, and they definitely cater to a younger audience, but I enjoyed them, and I’m pretty sure if I was 20 years younger, I’d be a legitmate fan. At one point, their singer asked the crowd how they were doing, or some such trope, and there were some cheers and whatnot, then he said to a guy (presumably) in the audience, “who said fuck you? Did you mean that? Jesus Fucking Christ, that’s so mean”, and I thought that was pretty funny. Anyhoo, as they finished up their set, we walked back over the other main stage to catch Pennywise.

“What’s up, Louder Than Life? We’re Pennywise, and we’re already drunk. There’s no hope for us.” So said Pennywise frontman Jim Lindberg, kicking off a raucous, super high-energy 40-ish minute set filled with classics and funny stage banter and a cover of the Beastie Boys’ classic “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party)”, as chosen by the crowd (the other option was a Nirvana cover, probably “Territorial Pissings” based on past setlists). Pennywise was an important part of my life when I was in my early 20’s, and I’d seen them twice before (both times on the Warped Tour), but this set was the most I’ve ever enjoyed them. The band was obviously having fun, the crowd around me was having a blast, and The HU seemed to be thrilled to join Pennywise on stage for perennial show closer/tear-causer “Bro Hymn”.

This is not my footage.

Seether and Breaking Benjamin were next on the main stages, and not for us, so we got some fuckin delicious iced lattes and checked out Sabaton, who were headlining the second stage. They were tight as hell and super entertaining, and I’d definitely check them out again. We followed our iced lattes with dinner from a food vendor called Tickle Pickle (based out of Cincinnatti, OH). It was the best food I’ve ever had in a festival or concert environment. I got the “Pearl Jam” burger (jalapeno jam, caramelized onions, tomato, and goat cheese) with an Impossible patty, and the missus got “God’s Mac and Cheese”, which was some dope-ass mac-n-cheese topped with crushed up Grippo’s BBQ chips. I’ll definitely check them out next time I’m in Cincinnatti.

Judas Priest took the stage and rained molten metal all over everyone. Rob Halford fucking nailed those high notes, and the band was tight as tourniqet (to steal a line from Pink Floyd). Rob moved around on stage a bit slower than he used to, but he was moving faster than I do when I wake up the morning, and he’s got almost 30 years on me. Speaking of dudes in their 40’s, you may have heard about Priest guitarist Richie Faulkner (at 41 years old, the youngest member of the band by at least 10 years) coming very close to death on stage. I can say with full confidence that Richie Faulkner was the only person in attendance that night who had any idea that Richie Faulkner was in any kind of pain. Watch this footage and have your mind blown as you realize that Richie Faulkner’s chest cavity is filling up with blood while he absolutely shreds his “Painkiller” solo…

That’s him in the thumbnail there, in case you don’t already know. This is also not my footage.

Earlier in the evening, a visibly excited Kirk Hammet joined the band on stage for a ripping version of “The Green Manalishi (With the Two-Pronged Crown)”.

Once again, not my footage.

And speaking of Kirk Hammet, Metallica followed the mighty Priest with aplomb, and kicked off their second headlining set with a great rendition of “Hardwired” from their most recent album, the pretty good Hardwired…to Self-Destruct. “The Four Horsemen” and “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” were dope, and then a very early-90’s-MTV-production-style video about the band’s juggernaut album in a year chock-full of juggernaut albums played on the screens, leading directly into the band performing 1991’s Metallica (a.k.a. “The Black Album”) in its entirety, but from back to front, which was a fun twist on the album, and had the added effect of helping us not feel weird about beginning our journey toward the exit (via the shitters, which were only used for peeing, because after 4 days, they nasty) toward the end of the album. I mean, “Enter Sandman” and “Sad But True” are fuckin cool songs, but I didn’t need to pay close attention to them at that point, and the stream of people who seemed to have the same idea as us was pretty sizeable.

We stood nearer the gate and watched them close out their set with shit-hot versions of “Blackened” and “Creeping Death” (it was the first time they’ve ever closed a show with “Creeping Death”, but it seems like it was created for the task). While “Creeping Death” was in full swing, a couple of dudes were walking past us toward the exit when one of them fell to his knees and started to clutch his chest. Mrs. Circlepit sprang into action to offer assistance, but the man assured her he was just having an acid reflux flareup. She offered him some Tums from her purse and he accepted, standing up almost immediately upon swallowing and indicating that he felt much better. He then asked us if we’d like come to his buddy’s house and party with them. He lived real close by, apparently.

We politely declined, and made our way to the entirely-too-hot, far-too-crowded, way-too-intoxicated shuttle back to the hotel and very quickly fell asleep. Our adventure was over, and like the last time, I was filled with a strange mix of relief and sadness. The Missus said the next day that she wasn’t sure she could do that ever again unless we were to spring for VIP tickets, and like last time, we bought tickets shortly thereafter, as soon as I confirmed that I could take that time off work again.

We won’t know who’s playing for another few months, but based on past lineups, I can’t imagine there won’t be at least one headliner we’ll wanna see (probably at least two), and they always stack the rest of the lineup with at least three or four kickass bands/artists (usually more), and the people watching is always entertaining, plus this time, we’ll have access to a dedicated merchandise booth (which will only take 30 mintues instead of 45 minutes), shade (where dickheads will still prop their feet up on a chair and put their backpack on another chair) and air-conditioned restrooms (that a bunch of dumbfucks will no doubt still piss all over).

Should be a great time, and I’m sure I’ll relate the experience here (or somewhere, anyway), but hopefully I’ll get back to this at least a few times before then. Work is finally getting to a point where I can be places other than there sometimes, and that’s neat. At this rate, if people would stop fucking staring at us while they wait for their food, start complying with the local mask mandate/our policy without being little bitches about it, and stop standing in a cluster at the end of the bar where they block the servers, food runners, and bussers, I might even stop vaguely wishing for a quick and merciful death for 6-10 hours a day.

I’m only kidding, it’s no more than 2, maybe 2-1/2 hours most days. It’s called “the rush”.

Oh! I almost forgot: I mentioned in Part 1 that there would be “more on Island Noodles later”, and wouldn’t want anyone to think I’m a goddamn liar. At some point early on Day 4, I noticed that the line for Island Noodles only had like 15 people in it, so I queued up and waited in gleeful anticipation to try this life-changing food. Here’s my official “hot take” on Island Noodles: it was thoroughly okay. The noodles were cooked well, the vegetables were fresh and crispy, and the sauce was salty but tasty, and it was definitely the healthiest food I’ve ever eaten at a non-food related festival, but I just can’t imagine anything living up to the hype I’ve seen about them on LTL-related social media. I’d buy it again, but I wouldn’t stand in one of the typical 40-deep lines to wait for it.

Thanks for reading. If you liked what you read, why not tell a friend? If you didn’t like what you read, I dunno, thanks for giving it a shot, I guess? Maybe you’ll like something else I’ve written. Maybe not. Until next time, remember to keep one foot in the gutter and one fist in the gold.

I Couldn’t Think of a Clever Title: A Sort of Review of Louder Than Life 2021, Part 1

I started writing this last Tuesday (9/28), the day after we got home from LTL, then I worked every day since, until today. I decided to go ahead and publish this part, which covers the first two days, and then finish up another time, so that I’m at least getting something out there. I’ll probably finish it next week, but we’ll see – I can be very lazy. Enjoy! Y’know…if you want.

Louder Than Life 2021 is in the books, and I am very sad/glad it’s over. Let’s back up a bit, though, and start from the beginning(ish)…

In the olden times (April 2019), Mrs. Circlepit told me that if Guns ‘n’ Roses were coming anywhere near us on their Not in This Lifetime tour, she’d like to try to attend. Her 40th birthday was coming up later that year, and we’d already skipped out on the first leg of the tour, and we were both experiencing some regret from the decision. Less than a week later, G’n’R was announced as the Saturday headliner at Louder Than Life, so we snapped up tickets immediately. The day was later announced to include Ice Cube, Suicidal Tendencies, Melvins, Anti-Flag, Andrew W.K., Red Kross, Dropkick Murphys, and Stone Temple Pilots (with their Scott Weiland look-and-sound-alike), along with some bands we’d never heard/heard of. Seemed like a no-brainer. We ended up not getting to see Melvins (they played at the same time as Ice Cube, and Ice Cube (with WC!) (of WC and the Maad Circle!) was definitely more of a “once in a lifetime” kinda thing), and we missed Red Kross (I forget why), but everything we did see was great, and the people-watching…

I’ll back up a bit further now: we’d planned on getting single-day tickets in 2018 for the Sunday lineup, which included Nine Inch Nails, Clutch, Ice Cube, Deftones, Primus, Billy Idol, The Sword, and Monster Magnet, along with some other bands we’d never heard/heard of. That also seemed like a no-brainer, but then one week prior to the show, the entire festival was cancelled due to flooding. The team at Danny Wimmer Presents went to work securing a location that could not be completely covered by the Ohio River for the 2019 fest, and now they have a dedicated space at the fairgrounds/expo center, adjacent to Kentucky Kingdom amusement park, right over there near the airport. If this space is ever completely covered by the Ohio River, we’ve got much bigger problems than a cancelled music festival.

Anyway, back to 2019: we got our tickets, and we had a very good time, but with the venue being newly created (along with a miserable dry spell/heat wave), the day was hotter than Hades (if I remember correctly, the temperature topped out at something like 180 billion degress, but the sun might have damaged my brain, so I could be off a bit), and every time a mosh pit broke out, a mini Dust Bowl would immediately spring to life and engulf the crowd. By the end of the night, when Guns ‘n’ Roses finally went on (a full hour late, naturally), we were so exhausted and dehydrated that we just sat down on the gravel and tried not to pass out until we couldn’t stand it any longer. We made our way to the Uber/Lyft pickup area while the band played “Paradise City”, paid 30-40 bucks for a ride to our hotel less than 2 miles away, and passed out. The next day, we agreed that while we had fun, we were gettin too old for that shit, and that was that.

Me too, Roger…me too.

About a month later, Metallica was announced as the Friday and Sunday headliner for 2020, and we bought weekend passes as soon as they went on sale. Not long after, they announced that Metallica wouldn’t be able to perform, as the show dates conflicted with some rehab commitments that James had. A short time later, a fourth day was added to the festival, with Metallica then announced as the Thursday headliner, with all weekend passes to include Thursday admission. We were already on a rollercoaster, but we figured we were strapped in safely, so we’d just go along with the ride. We of course had no idea how long and steep those hills were gonna end up being.

The pandemic (or “plandemic” if you’re a complete dolt) obviously shut down last year’s fest, but we were given the option to roll our passes over to this year, which we did, scoring a pretty cool free t-shirt in the process. When the lineup was announced for this year, it was a real mixed bag. Metallica headlining on Friday and Sunday with direct support from Jane’s Addiction and Judas Priest respectively (fuck yes!), Nine Inch Nails headlining Saturday with direct support from Snoop Dogg (my god, yes!), and Korn headlining Thursday, with direct support from Staind (a polite no thank you from us, especially re: Staind), along with a whole lot of other stuff (some good, some bad, some we’d never heard of), much of which I will get to in due time.

A few weeks ago, Nine Inch Nails cancelled all their 2021 tour dates, citing COVID concerns, and they were replaced with Disturbed, which I’d rather hear/see than Staind, but which I’m still not interested in. Someone else on the Saturday lineup cancelled (I can’t remember who anymore) and they were replaced with Suicidal Tendencies, which was pretty fuckin awesome news for me. I’ve been a fan of ST for years, and their performance at LTL 2019 was one of the highlights for me. At this point, ST and Snoop Dogg were the only reasons I was interested in going on Saturday, although I wouldn’t have minded seeing Ice Nine Kills, mostly just because of the horror movie stuff they fuck with. Last week, Snoop cancelled, leaving a 40-minute set from Suicidal Tendencies as the only real reason I had for entering the festival grounds on Saturday. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

We arrived in town on Wednesday afternoon, checked into our suite at the Galt House (this trip was a celebration of our 10th and 11th wedding anniversaries, plus 2 birthdays apiece on account of 2020, so we decided to stay in comfort), and tried to relax and rest up. We weren’t planning on getting there too early on Thursday, but we’re old, and we knew we needed to be prepared in order to enjoy ourselves to the maximum possible extent.

Thursday afternoon, we got on the shuttle to the park ($40 bucks for a weekend pass with unlimited rides to and from our hotel vs. $40+ for an Uber or a Lyft per trip (not to mention the wait time) or $20/day to park and deal with that bullshit traffic – thanks, Pegasus Transportation!) along with one other festival-goer who flew up from Puerto Rico for the weekend, and were dropped off pretty much at the festival gates by a guy who may as well have been a cartoon character (imagine Ed from City Slickers as a cartoon). Fun side story: we were all talking about the many events going on in town that weekend, as well as about events we and the other passenger had either missed or had rescheduled on us due to COVID, and talk turned to Motley Crue, at which time the Cartoon Bruno Kirby told us that Motley Crue were staying at the Galt House, and that Pegasus was transporting each of them to the shows in separate cars. “Are they playing at the Yum! Center?” asked the missus, all of us genuinely confused as to how we hadn’t heard about Motley Crue playing the same two nights as Metallica in Louisville, KY. At that moment, I realized he was almost certainly mixing up the two bands, and then he responded “No, at this festival, same as youse are goin to,” at which point I whispered to the missus “He thinks Metallica is Motley Crue,” and the three of us just said “huh”, and let that conversation die Quietly. It did provide us with a pretty steady source of laughter the rest of the weekend, imagining that guy talking to Lars as if he were Tommy Lee, maybe asking him about his sex tape, or how he feels about Machine Gun Kelly portraying him in a movie about his band, or maybe even just telling him how much he loves “Girls, Girls, Girls”.

Anyway, we arrived on the grounds at around 3:00, got the lay of the land, then got a beer and found a shady spot under the Jack Daniels tent and checked out Sevendust on the main stage. Sevendust isn’t really her thing, and I don’t really know their music, but I’ve enjoyed them well enough when I’ve heard them, and I knew that Lajon has a good singing voice, and I wanted to hear it live. Turns out his voice sounds even better live, though the only Sevendust song I know, still, is their cover of “I Am (I’m Me)” from the album Twisted Forever – A Tribute to the Legendary Twisted Sister. It’s a great song, a very good cover, and cool album.

Don’t take my word for it…

I digress. After Sevendust we walked around and listened to a little bit of Wage War’s set and partook in some people watching, not surprised at the lack of face coverings, and not surprised (but seriously fucking annoyed) by the amount of cigarette and weed smoke being blown directly into faces and crowds by inconsiderate jackasses. Even in non-pandemic times, if you don’t at least try to blow your smoke up into the air when you’re in a crowd of strangers, you’re an asshole. The buzz on the LTL facebook groups is that the food from Island Noodles will change your life (I was half-expecting a handjob from all the hype I’d heard and read, which did not happen; there’ll be more on Island Noodles later), but the line was way too long for me to wanna stand in it, so we had some okay pizza from Pie Baby Wood-Fired Pizza instead (it was as good as thin, floppy pizza can be) while we waited for Anthrax to start. This was my 5th or 6th time seeing Anthrax live, but my first time in a crowd this big, and I was excited about that, but I also was expecting their abbreviated set to be more or less a “greatest hits”-type thing, and they delivered exactly what I expected, while sounding fan-fucking-tastic doing it, which I also expected. I was hoping for collaboration with Cypress Hill on an epic cover of “Bring the Noise” (a hope brought on solely by my imagination), but alas, that did not happen.

Beartooth played after Anthrax for some reaon and they were enjoyable enough, then Cypress Hill (featuring DJ Lord from Public Enemy!) delivered a 100% flawless one-hour set absolutely stacked with classics, closed out by an incredibly high-energy cover of “Jump Around”, the whole thing covered by cloud of smoke thicker than I’ve ever seen at a live show. Sen Dog introduced B-Real as “the highest man in the world”, and I feel like that might be true. A lady who looked like an elementary school teacher I know was dancing and rapping along with “(Rock) Superstar” like her life depended on it, and that was awesome to see. After Cypress Hill, we hit the portajohns and headed for our shuttle, our curiosity regarding Korn overshadowed by our desire to hear and see as little of Staind as possible. Seriously, Aaron Lewis is a jabroni, and at two-and-a-half songs on our way out of the venue, I heard plenty. Our early departure rewarded us with a shuttle all to ourselves, a luxury we would not be afforded again.

Friday had more stuff we wanted to see/hear, but we still didn’t have to get there too early, so Mrs. Circlepit treated herself to a manicure at the hotel while I read a book and listened to some Killswitch Engage songs. They’re a band I’ve never really bothered to give a chance, but my buddy D-Lo is a megafan, so I felt like I had to check them out, and I wanted to familiarize myself with a bit with their discography before hearing them live.

Our shuttle ride in was dumb. Aside from us and one other relatively quiet guy there were Five Loud Dipshits who kept yelling about how good Staind was the night before and this Insufferable Hipster Couple who took every possible opportunity to let us all know that they live in Chicago, as if anyone could have possibly given a shit. At one point, Girl Hipster said “Is anyone actually excited about Jane’s Addiction?” at which point every person on the shuttle (except for the driver) raised their hand (this was the only point during this particular trip where I did not want to smack the dumb faces off all those Loud Dipshits, especially the one sitting directly behind me), and it was the only time Girl Hipster was speechless the entire ride.

Regarding the matter of Killswitch Engage, the jury (i.e., me) has reached its verdict, and it is unanimous. “What say you”, you ask? I say I like their songs well enough, they sound fuckin great live, they bring a fantastic amount of energy to the stage, and if I was 10-15 years younger, they’d almost certainly be one of my favorite bands. Their lyrics are insightful and inspirational, and their riffs are heavy as shit, but I already have a stable of bands I turn to when I need a lyrical pick-me-up and/or to be bludgeoned into submission by riffs. I still wouldn’t necessarily call myself a fan, but I like them more than I did that morning, and I’d definitely check them out live again.

I decided to hop in the merch line during Gojira’s set, knowing it would take a while to get to the front, but also knowing that I’d be able to hear them loud and clear while I waited, and assuming I’d be able to catch at least a few minutes of the end of their set. I naturally chose the slowest-moving line, and at one point the two women at the front were taking so long I wondered if they were trying to buy the entire goddamn festival. “Just pick a fuckin shirt and get out of the way, for fuck sake!” I shouted, and everyone around me agreed, even the drunk 20-year-old in front of me who seemed mere seconds away from vomiting and passing out. They finally finished their transaction and talked a lot of shit while they exited the area, and I finally got my Anthrax and Judas Priest shirts about halfway through Rise Against’s second song.

Gojira sounded great, by the way. So much heaviness coming off that stage. Rise Against is another one of D-Lo’s favorites, but aside from a song or two, my familarity begins and ends with their first album (2001’s The Unraveling), when they were pretty much 88 Fingers Louie with a different singer. They did not play any songs from The Uraveling, and I was not surprised by that. They sounded amazing live, but I’d have absolutely shit my pants if they’d played “Six Ways ‘Til Sunday”.

It almost makes me shit my pants when it comes on a mix I’ve made. I can’t even imagine hearing it live.

Rise Against finished, and Jane’s Addiction came out to the opening strains of “Up the Beach”, and we made ourselves down to the pit area (where we were essentially the only masked people, although if all the shitheads blowing smoke in our faces on Thursday didn’t give us COVID, probably nothing ever will), and Jane’s Addiction blew our minds apart. Such a weird, fun, magical, heavy experience. Tears flowed during “Jane Says”, my head banged during “Mountain Song”, my ass danced itself nearly clean off during “Stop”, and my mouth gaped during “Ted, Just Admit It…” The band was fucking brilliant, and Perry’s banter was fucking hilarious, and we were surprised to learn the next day that a loooooot of people in that crowd were offended and/or disgusted and/or completely flummoxed by “how much of magical weirdo Perry Farrell is”, to quote my better half.

How do you not love that guy?

The crowd rippled with anticipation waiting for Metallica’s first set to begin. Finally, after what seemed like minutes, the house music faded out, and “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock and Roll)” by AC/DC blared over the PA, followed by Ennio Morricone’s “The Ecstasy of Gold” from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, followed by Metallica, blasting out as furious a version of “Whiplash” as they could possibly manage at this point in their lives and careers. They continued to tear through a varied (and very solid) set spanning almost their entire LP discography (minus St. Anger, Load, and Metallica (a.k.a. “The Black Album”), though the latter will be touched upon later. It was all killer and no filler, even including the songs I don’t know all that well, like “No Leaf Clover”, and the songs from Hardwired…to Self-Destruct, and the songs I know better but don’t care that much about, like “Fuel”. What I’ve learned in my now three times seeing Metallica live is that they even make the songs I don’t care about sound badass live.

“You wanna get some whiskey and make some bad decisions?” asked the missus, and I advised her that I did. “Moth Into Flame” caused me to mosh like Scott Ian as we made our way toward the Blackened Whiskey tent, and I was reminded that I had an open water bottle in my pocket as water spilled all over my leg and shorts, but my good time was undeterred. We got some whiskey and sat down in a significantly less-crowded area (sitting for only the second time that day, in fact) and enjoyed the rest of the show from the comfort of some really uncomfortable folding chairs. While there, I saw a guy with a hand truck banging his head and singing along while he delivered some cases of soda to a food tent. On his way back, he left his hand truck in the field and proceeded to rock his balls off while the band played their hit “Whiskey in the Jar” from 1998’s Garage, Inc. covers album.

Go man, go!

After kicking off their encore with “Battery”, James said in a very sincere-sounding voice, “Louisville, I have something very important to tell you..GIMME FUEL GIMME FIRE GIMME THAT WHICH I DESIIIIIIIRE, OOH!“, and then they played “Fuel”, and I’ve been giggling about that for a week. We headed toward the gates as “Seek & Destroy” began, and boarded the shuttle for the ride back.

The “shuttle” this time actually ended up being a full-sized passenger bus filled all the way up, and included the Insufferable Hipsters from the ride in. Pretty lame, and decidedly less comfortable than the smaller shuttles we’d been on up to that point, but still better than paying surge prices for an Uber, or having the fat Loud Dipshit behind me again.

We went to bed exhausted but happy, which is the best way to go to bed. Saturday – with its razor-thin lineup – was nigh, and Sunday – with its relatively stacked lineup from open-to-close – was…slightly more nigh. But those’ll have to wait until next time, because I have other shit to do. Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed it…

I’ll leave you with a few more pictures from the festival grounds. Be sure to check back for the “exciting” conclusion, coming soon(ish) to a toilet near you!