DAY TWO -- AUGUST 2, 2002


For Highwire Daze, the second day of Furnacefest began a bit late - not that showing up at an all-day concert at Noon is inappropriate - we were just so wiped out from the Thursday show and the sun was a-scorching away. But it was off to the main stage first, where Avenged Sevenfold was pulverizing the late morning crowd with their heavier than hell set. Based out of Orange County, the band members all have plenty of stage presence and the material to back it up. Vocalist M. Shadows is an extremely charismatic frontman, whether he's screaming the lyrics or singing in a clear vocal - the passion he exudes in his voice and overall performance is mesmerizing. Zacky Vengeance and Synyster Gates shred on dueling guitars while Daemon Ash on bass and The Reverend Tholomew Plague make up the mighty rhythm section. Many in the audience may have been tired from the day before, but Avenged Sevenfold lifted the spirits of quite a few souls with their dark, metallic anthems. Expect these guys to really go places and become one of the top hardcore bands here in the States. Sounding The Seventh Trumpet is the name of the album and it's available from Hopeless Records.


Later in the afternoon after an onslaught of young hardcore bands, the real thing emerged in the form of God Forbid. When the set began, there was only a scattering of people, but by its earth-shattering conclusion, the whole place was moshing away to God Forbid's brutal music. Byron Davis was a terrifying vocal presence, spewing out the colorful lyrics in a harsh fashion. Songs performed included Divide My Destiny, Go Your Own Way, and a new tune entitled Force Fed. Hailing from New Jersey, heavy touring has enhanced their already ferocious live show, garnering them a solid reputation in both metal and hardcore circles. The sheer intensity of their performance left many at the main stage quaking and wanting to know more about the band who looks like Living Colour, but sounds like a mad hybrid of Morbid Angel and Hatebreed. God Forbid were in Alabama to kick some ass, and that's exactly what they did. Be sure to check out Determination, their latest album on the Century Media label.


Although I did not see too much of their set, Copeland from Florida was a refreshing change after an afternoon of intensive hardcore acts. Their music is spirited and sweeping, kind of like a mixture between Ride and U2. Even in the blazing sun, one could stand there and be thoroughly hypnotized by such amazing songs as Come Back From California and May I Have This Dance. By the way, the band was not named after a minister named Kenneth but rather a composer named Aaron. Copeland is signed to the Militia Group.


Ever since Tooth & Nail sent me a copy of Regulate The Chemicals by Twothirtyeight from Florida, I had been very excited to see if they could duplicate their moody tunes in a live setting. Sounding like a mixture of Pavement meets Failure, Twothirtyeight delivered their brilliantly quirky compositions during a way too short midday set. This is indie alternate rock at it's most inspired, with songs such as The Hands Of Man and There Is No Dana playing well in a live setting. I was hoping they would do their weird but wonderful acoustic number Indian, but maybe another time. Standing out like a sore thumb over a day where many were overdosing on great hardcore acts, Twothirtyeight's music can be as profound and disturbing as a David Lynch movie. Easily one of the side stage highlights of the day. If you like indie rock at all, Twothirtyeight is a band well worth seeking out.


The only other exposure Blindside has experienced here in the States is a tour with POD last year - one that did not manage to wander its way out to the West Coast. With Vegas being their closest date, it was exciting to find out that Sweden's Blindside would be making an appearance at this year's Furnacefest. Solid State Records was the first to unleash this powerful band stateside and now Blindside finds themselves signed to a major label. Live, Blindside is a awesome force - I was surprised by how melodic the band has become. Even in spite of the change, there is an extreme passion that exudes from all members. Old favorites such as King Of The Closet and Fifth Shoulder were performed. The newer material will surely push them into the stratosphere like their former touring mates POD - Pitiful, Sleepwalking, and Time Will Change Your Heart are anthems that could make an impact on the radio and within the lives of people all over the world. Their just release CD is oddly entitled Silence and it's available from Elektra Records.


Speaking of intense power and pure raging adrenaline, The Dillinger Escape Plan roared through a set of grinding metal, leaving total devastation in its wake. The mosh pit became so violent, I'm surprised the hired police officers didn't attempt to stop the show. Sweaty bodies were flying around as the band plowed through a relentless hyperactive performance. The singer did some fire breathing and the drummer torched his kit at the end of the show. It was a messy ending, a chaotic nightmare of sight and sound that I personally hope to witness again in the near future. For many, Dillinger's frenzied presentation was the highlight of the day thus far. Other less inclined to unbearable heat and catastrophic noise clawed their way to infinitely safer pastures.


About this time of night, while the more high profile bands were performing on the main stage, the other side of the park began to present some fairly exciting unsigned acts. Grandview performed a fine set of very melodic pop that was especially soothing to hear after the sonic assault known as The Dillinger Escape Plan. Based out of Harrisburg, PA, Grandview delivered several catchy songs, including Replacing Memories, Artificial, and A Lie In A Fairy Tale. All members are very talented at what they do, and the audience response was favorable. There is something friendly and inviting about Grandview's music that instantly wins even the most cynical of critics - the band shows a good deal of promise and should find themselves signed to a label like Tooth & Nail (or even a major!) with ease. Expect great things to happen for these dynamic Grandview guys.


Right after Grandview, another promising unsigned pop band took to the stage. In Clover hail from Waldorf, Maryland, and perform pure, hypnotic pop rock. A three-piece band that can conjure up a swirling wall of sound, In Clover feature wistful vocals that convey wonderment and joy. The songs are sweeping and memorable with And It Kills Me being a particularly impressive piece. Having been in existence for two years, the band works very well as a unit, and can effortlessly deliver their sweet, inspiring compositions in a live setting. In Clover's music provides a perfect soundtrack for deep reflection and ultimate hope in a world gone mad. It will be interesting to see what the future has in store for this unique trio of gifted musicians.


Back to the main stage, where the glam rocker boys of Squad 5-0 put on an energetic show for the overcrowded masses. "We're a lot different from the other bands here," bellowed vocalist Jeff Fortson, "We're good looking." Campy remarks aside, the bad ass dudes in Squad 5-0 delivered a mighty brand of trashy rock and roll that would do both the Stones and the Ramones proud. Punky anthems such as I Don't Want To Change The World - I Just Want To Change Your Mind and Tramps On The Run had the audience moshing and pogoing away like crazy. At the end of the show, the vocalist did a back flip into the crowd and surfed triumphantly, knowing that he and his band mates had thoroughly won over the Furnacefest attendees in a big and glorious way.


Now the question was, would party hardy boy Andrew W.K. win over the crowd the way many of the hardcore acts and Squad 5-0 did? The police were in place and the gathering of skeptical kids appeared ready for just about anything. Let's just say, that many in the audience thought Andrew W.K.'s show was the best thing they had ever seen. Hardcore kids and metalheads alike were blown away by the guy who delivered onto the world wildly infectious party anthems and the most nauseating cover portrait ever on a mainstream record. Appearing happy to be playing for such a wildly diverse crowd, it is apparent that Andrew W.K. won a good number of new fans that night. And so Day Two of Furnacefest came crashing to an end with one more day left to rock out within the wilds of Birmingham, Alabama.


FURNACEFEST 2002 -- DAY THREE: Featuring Zao, Further Seems Forever, Underoath, Elliott, Dead Poetic and more!
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