Earth Rocker 2018
The Second annual Earth Rocker, kicked off at Shiley Acres, in Inwood, West Virginia, Saturday, August 4, 2018. The outdoor venue, hidden in the foot-hills of West Virginia, on the grounds, owned by Gregory Shiley, might be the closest experience you are going to get to the original Woodstock, these days. However, it is Clutch-stock, and the new hippies are Gearheads. It’s a different breed, from what you might have experienced at Woodstock, yet the atmosphere of having a good time, anything goes, and self-expression is still as much promoted here. The festival brings everyone from Metal heads, to Hipsters, to Stoners, and no doubt Clutch’s Neil Fallon, is a Demi-God and leader to all. People literally come from all over, camping the night before, and the night of, braving the mud and the weather; to camp and find fellowship among other Gearheads, who speak the same language, and understand what it so great about Gorgons, “50,000 Unstoppable Watts”, and “Hot Bottom Feeders”. The same group who bear “Sucker for The Witch” tattoos, and are almost brought to tears at the first strings of “El Jefe Speaks.” Some came as far as the United Kingdom just to be here, for this Clutch home-coming of sorts. Some know each other, some know each other from their three-thousand member strong, allegiances on Social media, and some are just making new and long lasting friendships, that day. From children, clinging to their parents shoulders, so they can catch a glimpse of the stage; and perhaps their first concert; in matching Clutch T-shirts emulating Mom or Dad, to a guy we met in his seventies, covered in an inked-on tribute to the Gods of Heavy Metal, named “Heavy Metal Dave”; everyone is gathered here.
The day opened with The School of Rock from Frederick, Maryland. Kids of all ages rocked their hardest and impressed the audience. Performances from legends Eyehategod, Corrosion of Conformity, and Black Label Society were featured as openers before Clutch took the stage. All of these bands could have been openers themselves. In fact Eyehategod, Corrosion of Conformity, and Black Label Society took a stop off their United States tour together, to be at Earth Rocker. You could not have asked for a more epic line-up.
Eyehategod brought a in your face mix of Punk Rock, Blues, and Heavy Metal to the stage, for a real musical throat punch, delivered in the style only Eyehategod can do; a style which has culminated over 30 years of being a band, and dealing with the many struggles, and changes they have faced. Yet it is NOLA, at its finest.
Dripping with Southern Friend Blues, and Sludge Corrosion of Conformity induced the crowd into a frenzied haze of Doom- Rock, smoke, and sex appeal.
Black Label Society in full regalia, fully amplified, brought out crowds of patched Doom Troopers, sporting their colors, and thrashing wildly, and banging their heads to the music Black Label Society is famous for. Black Label Society almost tore the roof off the pavilion, and fans only wanted more. Slowing down only for a tribute to Pantera’s fallen Vincent Paul Abbott, and “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott, with “In This River.”
Everyone gathered in anticipation as Clutch took the stage, for so many the moment they had been waiting for. Anticipation filled the air, as the sense that the crowd was waiting to explode, could be immediately felt. “Gimme The Keys” was the opener and the crowd went wild, rocking, grooving, and thrashing to the music. Special treats to the evening were “El Jefe Speaks” a song not played live for years, and “Space Grass” featuring special guest, Pepper Keenan, of Corrosion of Conformity, for an especially tripped- out version of the song. The night ended with “Electric Worry” perhaps Clutch’s most famous song, and “X-Ray Visions” to top it all off.
Looking back over the festival, images scatter social media, and the images caught; candids of fans, in the crowd, of groups gathered in comradery, and anticipation for the event, is nothing short of the images caught at the original Woodstock, and displayed in Time magazine. in my opinion. Memories made, that people will tell their children, or that their children also shared in and will tell their children, were made here. Earth Rocker spanned generations, races, and cultures, and in our Socio-political times where so much is a cultural or racial divide, none of that was felt that day. When asked, fellow Gearhead Tom Pelton remarked, “My faith in humanity has been restored.” Joshua Rosenblatt described the event as, “an array of beautiful souls in our midst,” while Bridget Schermer described it simply by saying, “Family.”
Special thank you to The West Virginia Chapter of the Georgia Metal Alliance H.M.C, Cindy Dobos Photography, and Chris Benefiel Photography, as well as to Shiley Acres, Doug Weber of New Ocean Media, and Liz Ciavarella- Brenner of Earsplit Records, and as always to the bands for whom without this music such a day could not be possible.