High Elevation Rock Festival: Wind, Rain and Heavy Metal Thunder

I walked into the photo pit already filled with other soon to be trigger happy photographers on Friday afternoon just before Denver’s own, Tattooed Strings, walked onstage to open High Elevation Rock Festival, turned on my camera, and slowly scanned the crowd wondering what to expect over the next two days. Besides the shitty beginning of Fall weather that was supposed to roll through, this was a festival dedicated to nothing but heavy rock; a genre of music that often takes a backseat to other ‘radio friendly’ juggernauts dominating the eclectic airwaves even in our own city. So to be honest, I wasn’t sure if it would work out that well. Yes we’ve seen Guns n Roses and a sold out show from Metallica in June, but come on, that’s Metallica. And for one night only after not playing Denver since 2008. But as I looked over a scene of face paint, black t-shirts, and the many devil horns thrust into the ever-darkening sky, it mattered less and less. Nothing was going to stop this and no one seemed to really care either. Everyone was here to simply hang out, maybe have a few beers, and listen to their favorite music rain or shine.  And that’s exactly what happened at Fiddler’s Green.

 

Friday’s Lineup

Tattooed Strings | Starset | Beartooth | Halestorm | I Prevail | A Day To Remember | All That Remains | Five Finger Death Punch

Highlights

Tattooed Strings – Some may say that rock music infused with a hip-hop edge should be left in the past but these five guys from Denver showed that if you write good music, show up on stage with energy, and get the crowd jumping, you can do whatever the hell you want.

Halestorm – There’s no sense in putting Lzzy Hale in a ‘girl of rock’ box because she absolutely annihilates any such distinction the moment she walks onstage in patent leather stilettos and belts that perfect metal scream. This is a polished band with a gritty attitude that set the early evening crowd on fire.

I PrevailKBPI here in Denver can’t quit playing this band’s music and for good reason. Their album Lifelines debuted at #1 on Alternative Albums, #1 on Hard Music Albums, #1 Rock Albums, #9 Top Album, and #15 on the Billboard Top 200, with Alternative Press naming Lifelines one of the Best Debut albums of 2016. Then you see them live and all hell breaks loose on stage.

Five Finger Death Punch – They celebrated young fans on stage as the next generation of metal, gave away a Five Finger Death Punch tagged Jeep hood in honor of cancer survivors, Ivan Moody made his return to the stage after a stint in rehab that he described as a ‘human moment,’ and then he brought on Philip Labonte from All That Remains to sing a powerful and emotional version of the band’s hit song, Wash It All Away.

 

Saturday’s Lineup

Tonight We Rise | Ocean Groove | Them Evils | Red Sun Rising | Ded | P.O.D | Radkey | Steel Panther | The Birthday Massacre | In This Moment | Avatar | Mastadon | Falling In Reverse | Zakk Sabbath | Korn

Highlights

P.O.D. – Sure they’re infamous for coming out of that early 2000 MTV era with the single, Youth of a Nation, but the band’s entire stage presence shows why they’re still around and playing main stages after all of these years. The most poignant moment came when they dedicated the last song, Alive, to the late frontman of Linkin Park, Chester Bennington.

In This Moment – This band led by Maria Brink, is one of the most visually dynamic and incredible sounding hard rock shows out there today and although they could have benefited from utilizing the stage more, still put on one of the best shows of the weekend.

Korn – I have to admit that this was the one ‘must see’ show of the weekend for me because for all of the concerts I’ve seen, I’d never witnessed them live. For years I’ve heard friends say you ‘have to see them live,’ ‘they’re incredible,’ and ‘it’ll change your life.’ They were all right because that was probably the heaviest, most visceral, bone crunching live show I’ve ever witnessed. From songs Twist and Black is the Soul to hits like Falling Away From Me, Here to Stay, Got the Life, and closing with Make Me Bad, Korn showed why they will forever remain one of the best bands in hard rock history.