Photos & Review by Marie-Christine Quirion
Known for more than 12 years as Rock On The Range, the festival was redesigned on May 17, 18 and 19, under the name Sonic Temple. Despite the ups and downs of Mother Nature and the cancellations of a few bands, the sold-out festival, however, did well in this first edition.
With names like Tom Morello, Beartooth, Black Label Society, Halestorm, Ghost and System of a Down, to name a few, Friday alone was worth the trip. Sun, heat and energy from the fans blew up the stadium and the secondary stages throughout the day. Special mention to Tom Morello who gave us chills with his socio-political flavored set and message of peace in these difficult times. My 2nd favorite goes to Lzzy Hale, (Halestorm) who was generous with the crowd by throwing dozens of ”Do Not Disturb” door-hangers autographed by her during the song ”Do Not Disturb’. But, even more impressive, for giving the gift of her guitar on stage to a young girl she had met at the autograph session earlier in the day.
In the evening, the group Ghost offered us a performance only they could deliver. Dark and at the same time colorful, their time on stage seemed to pass in a split second, giving us the impression of attending psychedelic church. System Of A Down was given the task of closing this first day of Sonic Temple. Fans armed with ponchos, crammed into the stadium soaked, in the rain, ready to sing the band’s greatest hits celebrating its 25 years of existence.
A rather quiet and relaxed Serj took center stage while the band was hyped up to perform a collection of hits… dating back to 2005! New album in sight? According to Serj, NO! Heavy metal music no longer interests him. However, rumors are circulating that the opposite is true.
Saturday was probably the craziest festival day. After the hurricane of While She Sleeps, Killswitch Engage and Fever 333, in which lead singer Jason Butler climbed into the stands, sang in an overturned garbage container, as well as crowd surfed inside a box of stage equipment. The crowd was already well-ignited for Gojira’s performance. A voluntary pun, the French group’s bassist was literally burned in the face due to a miscalculation of pyrotechnics and strong winds. Like a warrior, Christian Andreu still returned to the stage to finish their ‘set’, spraying his face with water between each song.
The madness then continued with In This Moment, The Cult, Lamb Of God, and Papa Roach. The last performance of the day came from Disturbed who gave us a simple performance, but powerful in energy. Indeed, following the Gojira incident in the afternoon, Disturbed took the stage with nothing more than microphones and instruments. No decorations, pyrotechnics or accessories. The intensity of their presence on stage was enough to satisfy the fans of the packed stadium.
Usually, the last day of a festival should be the final punch. But, due to several weather alerts, the day’s program had to be paused and revisited several times to try to keep as many groups on the schedule as possible. Unfortunately, several performances had been cut short and/or cancelled. Nevertheless, we were treated to several excellent performances including my discovery of The Interrupters. With a punk-rock ska flavor, the band’s infectious and refreshing energy was able, from the first song, to make the whole audience and even the photographers dance! The flamboyant band, The Struts went all out, from their costumes to their presence on stage, reminding us of Queen from all those years ago. Definitely a band not to miss!
Strong winds and rain forced everyone to evacuate back to their vehicles, and Sonic Temple had to close its doors for a few hours, leaving fans waiting (and drinking!) impatiently in the camping and parking areas. Closing for so long during its inaugural edition, fans could only hope the final performance of Foo Fighters to close out the show would still happen. The guys, very generous with their time and compassionate with the many having stayed despite the weather and cancellations, offered a performance of several hours, playing hit song after hit song. A finale that brought the smile back to many!
A second edition? Definitely! According to Danny Wimmer! For more information on the 2020 edition visit the website http://sonictemplefestival.com/