What better way to spend a sunny Saturday Fall afternoon and a leather wearing evening in North Carolina then to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the NC METALFEST at the Wilson County Fairgrounds where it all began. Something else to remember was that this was the first one held after a six year lapse. Think of it as North Carolina's version of Wacken Open Air. OK the Wacken metaphor might be a stretch but hey there were 30 bands of various genres of Metal, 3 stages, it was outside and a lot of people were drinking. Too me that's close enough plus it was in Wilson, North Carolina (pronounced "will sin"). Not only was I there to enjoy the sights and sounds of the Fest but I was also working at the Buttons Made For You table which was situated perfectly so I had a good view of stages A and B. Speaking of buttons there's probably going to be a few high school kids in detention this week for wearing a 'I heart VAGINA' or a 'Fuck You You Fuckin Fuck' button to class which they bought from our merch table. Look if any of you high school people are reading this remember if the authorities ask where ya got the buttons, tell em at the mall but tell your friends ya got em from some cool people at the NC METALFEST. Oh well more on the button sales later. Overall the 2011 NC METALFEST was a success in bringing out a whole bunch of people young and old to hear some of the state's best Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. Before I even get into the music a very special thanks needs to go out to Tony "Dio" Leonard, Glen Stewart, Ray Lewis and Robby Rodwell for making this event happen.
KNOWLEDGE IS FOR FOOLS ends their set with a blazing climax. photo by Tabby
PART ONE: The Beginning
There's nothing like waking up early on a Saturday morning, loading up the truck with tables, buttons, band stuff and then traveling the back roads of North Carolina past the cotton fields to a Metalfest. The first band was going on at noon so we (aka: me Mr. Wolf, Andy Miller singer for the band KNOWLEDGE IS FOR FOOLS as well as Buttons Made For You owner/operator plus his lovely girlfriend Kristian) had to have our merch stand up and ready to go long before that. First beer cracked open at 11:30 on the dot. By the way kids when it comes to drinking and working all day and night I'm a professional. Although Andy did mention that there would be a lot of drunken fuckers stumbling around during the show. Who would have guessed that most of them were our closet friends and hanging around our merch table before sun down. More on that one later. As far as all of the bands go there is a complete list at the end of this piece but I'm only going to highlight who stuck out by for various reasons.
The PABSTMAN singing "Drink Fight and Fuck". photo by Tara
One of those bands was NO MERCY http://www.nomercyband.com/ from Sanford, NC who opened this whole shabang on the A stage. To be the first fuckin act at a festival is a tough job but this band pulled it off well with their brand of Thrash. Another cool band STOKE THE FLAMES http://www.myspace.com/stoketheflamesnc started early on the B stage and even kicked up some dust when a pit broke out. It didn't last since some 7 foot tall juggalo dude trudged in and cleared it. I know he was a juggalo because afterwards he came over to the merch table and bought a handful of ICP and other juggalo buttons, yeah Buttons Made For You sells all types of buttons. Strange as it may seem (yeah there's a sarcastic self promotion side to that) another act who got the crowd excited as well as left a few covered in blood was Raleigh's own KNOWLEDGE IS FOR FOOLS. http://www.myspace.com/kiffknowledgeisfo... Hard Rockin Punk/Metal with a pumpkin meets a chainsaw surprise for all of those crazies up front. The chainsaw was delivered on stage to singer Andy Miller by special guest, the one & only (who else would do it?) beer super hero Pabstman. Little did the crowd know that the pumpkin was filled with blood. While the words "Drink Fight and Fuck" echoed across the Wilson County Fairgrounds from the B stage at 1:35 in the afternoon the astonished, although in some cases enthusiastic, fans were splattered in blood. Although that wasn't all since along with an ear full of great music and blood they caught Andy Miller's now classic set ending fire breathing spectacle.
PART TWO: The Afternoon
From that point on it was extreme metal time and button selling unfortunately I didn't get much time seeing who was playing over at the C stage. When chances came to head over there the bands were finished although Andy told me that all of who he saw was good. Another act that stands out wherever they play is BROADSLAB http://www.myspace.com/broadslab who actually were able to do a 30 minute set. The band that describes themselves as a lil' bit of BUZZ-OVEN, a lil' bit of SABBATH and a lil' bit of Allman Brothers (?) has been known for their long sets of sludgey, stoner jams but as always wherever they play the crowds scream for more. One thing of note BROADSLAB are cool people, great musicians but they can't take down a pop-up tent to save their lives without breaking it. They were set up next to our merch table so we watched, with devilish laughter coming from us, as they broke camp which consisted of breaking their pop-up tent, dragging the tent bag across a patch of straw making a trail and leaving behind a trashy site which would have made a hippie cry. Ya gotta love it. As far as button sales went we figured, as far as genres go, Thrash band buttons were a big seller at the NC METALFEST followed closely by profane/funny slogan buttons, Black Metal and Classic 80's Metal. Another thing I noticed on this Saturday, other than it being Black T-shirt Day in Wilson (Unofficial) was that the band shirt of choice was IRON MAIDEN Killers LP shirts. I saw six people wearing them including the one I was wearing. I knew I should have worn the VENOM. As the button table was thriving with business I caught sets by KNIGHTMARE (sorry guys but I could not find any info on ya) along with another act who played afterwards but whose name I don't know good stuff. Another band, and yeah they're old friends, who always get the crowd wound up, screaming and drinkin is AUTOMAG http://www.myspace.com/automagband who brought their brand of southern fried, whiskey and beer fueled metal to Wilson. They pretty much ended the day's festivities.
PART THREE: Sun Coming Down
Probably the biggest surprise for me was seeing the reunited ONYX for the first time. ONYX (once again sorry but no site) were a Rocky Mount, NC based Metal band who were big locally back in the day and played the very first NC METALFEST, although back then it was known as The WILSON METALFEST. ONYX was one of this show's high marks for me because these guys were NWOBHM and Doomish. Another act that brought on some extremism were ATROCIOUS ABNORMALITY http://www.myspace.com/atrociousabnormality who were the day's most brutal of acts, although I'm sure MOROSE VITALITY http://www.myspace.com/morosevitalityband who were on the C stage would argue that point. Either way brutal death metal was well represented at the NC METALFEST. Speaking of local and extreme, I was surprised that some local/extreme metal and support the scene types were absent from this event. I'm sure they had a decent excuse. Still there was a large crowd at this show, with many staying all the way to the end, more would always been better. Like I said I'm sure those few who decided not to be there had a good excuse. Special thanks to the vendor ladies who were selling hot dogs, pizza slices and hot pretzels (I had one of each) and it went well with the beers. Some people really went all out by bringing in their own grills to cook out on. By the way did I mention it was a Bring Yer Own Beer (cans only) or whatever you could bring in a cooler event? Well there you go. A big salute to the two guys I met at the merch table who came out to see KNOWLEDGE IS FOR FOOLS and carried around a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon with them until it was empty. They bought two buttons, one an ECW WRESTLING button and the other one was GG ALLIN. I'd also wanna thank those people who bought those black metal buttons. One young lady picked up a bunch of Norwegian second wave stuff, no DIMMU or CRADLE for her. She was pinning the buttons on here jacket as fast as she was handing me the cash. I like people like that, she was also wearing a MAIDEN shirt, Killers LP what else. I did see one guy wearing a Number of the Beast shirt. Some other band shirts of notice were a lot of SLAYER (obviously) MEGADETH (two people had hoodies) some METALLICA fans with one brave guy wearing a Death Magnetic shirt. Big surprise was the amount of OPETH buttons sold as well. Speaking of bravery, alcohol mixed with extreme music some times doesn't mix. According to the nurse on duty at NC METALFEST there was only one major injury at the event which was some guy over near the C stage who got punched in the face after he called a 5th degree black belt a faggot. Someone also puked in the men's room. To that guy I just have to ask why did you puke your guts in the men's room when you had a few acres of land on the fairgrounds to empty your stomach on? Another fun fact, Andy told me there were going to be a lot of drunken fuckers out there at NC METALFEST. Strangely enough (depending on your point of view) a lot of them were our friends who were crowding around our merch table. For future reference don't spill beer on the fuckin buttons!
If you don't like Metal you can kiss their ass. Photo by Tara (by the way that is Tara in the photo)
PART FOUR: Bring on the Night
When the sun finally set below the horizon the lights went up and on the stages came the "troo" Metal. Yes for all of you people reading this (and I know you are) who are from other parts of the country as well as overseas (SFM666 is big in Europe) North Carolina has some decent Black Metal, Death Metal and Thrash but the lion's share of this state's greatness lies in classic Heavy Metal, NWOBHM and Power Metal bands. Unfortunately for us at the merch table someone nearby blew out the power on the outdoor outlets. We ran a cord over to one power poll to turn on our lights and we got zip. We had flashlights but once it got really dark sales dropped to zip as well. That was ok because it gave us unlimited time to catch some outstanding performances. STRANGELUST http://www.strangelust.com/ is another band from the state's Metal past who I never seen before (which features Glen Stewart from the website NCSCENE http://www.ncscene.com/ on vocals) and surprised the crowd by pulling out a NAZARETH cover "Hair of the Dog". At the end of their set they left most in the crowd in front of the 1st stage yelling for more, the younger ones scratching their heads asking "did they originally do that song" and me at the merch table saying "I can't believe they did a fuckin NAZARETH cover." Well ONYX did do JUDAS PRIEST's "Breakin the Law." Another one of my favorite local bands HELLRAZOR http://www.myspace.com/hellrazornc brought their brand of Thrash and Classic Metal sounds to the B stage. This was was when the only mishap of the day happened as far as time on stage goes. HELLRAZOR was still in mid song when on the A stage DARK DESIGN http://www.myspace.com/darkdesignband was bringing on their brand of Power Metal. Everyone knows my love for Power Metal, just ask Jeremy Golden of Heaven and Hell Records http://www.heavenandhellrecords.com/blog/ yeah ok that's a joke. Although I've seen DARK DESIGN a few times before and I must admit they're a very talented band and their vocalist Andrew Bertrand is amazing. You Europeans reading this should check them out. Another act which I've seen a few times before is TWISTED TOWER DIRE http://www.myspace.com/twistedtowerdire who are now fronted by vocalist Jonny Aune formerly of VIPER, after the passing of longtime singer and fan favorite Tony Taylor. I've seen both eras of TWISTED TOWER DIRE but on this night it was the first time I heard the songs off of their new release, Make It Dark, done live. Also Jonny got a haircut and looks cool as fuck swiging a microphone stand around on a decent size stage. Speaking of new releases the night was capped off by the return to town of WIDOW http://www.myspace.com/widow who were also showing off new material from their soon to released new CD, Life's Blood. Call me a fan or bias but don't ever call me wrong because WIDOW is the best all around band from North Carolina. Their NWOBHM style is always going to be exciting to hear as well as watch being performed on the A stage which they were doing on this night. I remember many years ago when they never wanted to be the last band to play on a bill but tonight they were the headliners. Also for how long they've been around (including the days of SORROW BEQUEST) they deserved to end that evening's festivities. By the way their new stuff sounded great and I'm looking forward to getting the new CD.
PART FIVE: Good Night Wilson
We had already taken down the pop up tent when things got dark and had packed up most of the truck for the ride home. After a little clean-up around our vender's site it was time to say goodbye and hit the road home. A few thank you's also need to be mentioned. First off thanks to my good friend, Roadkill, who was working security. I asked if he could help a lady friend of mine, Laura, find her lost cell phone and he immediately got one of the other security guys over to our merch table with a flashlight to help the her out. She found her phone. Another big thanks to those sound and light guys for doing a great job. I don't know if there will be a NC METALFEST 2012 although a lot of people screamed "See Ya Next Year" from the stage. Like I said earlier this was the first one out at the Wilson County Fairgrounds in a few years. Tony "Dio" Leonard has done smaller Metalfest type shows at The Lincoln Theatre in Raleigh featuring an average of 8 to 10 bands per show. I've been to quite a few of those shows and thought they were decent plus everything for production is at the club so you really don’t have to worry about bad weather like with an outdoor show. Tony still plans to continue doing those shows in the future.
VERY SPECIAL THANKS TO:
To view more NC METALFEST photos go to:
NC METALFEST band list:
TWISTED TOWER DIRE
DRILL 187 (Reunion)
AGAINST THEIR WILL
ENEMY IN DISGUISE
FEAR & LOATHING
MY LIFE MY CURSE
KILLING THE CATALYST
BEYOND THE PILLARS
KNOWLEDGE IS FOR FOOLS
BURN THE BLOOD
STOKE THE FLAMES