Alright, I think I’m finally done dragging my coverage of Migration Fest out. But can you really blame me? It was an incredible weekend in an incredible area of the country all centered around a collection of bands I just assumed I would never see live at any point in my life. Yet, Gilead Media and 20 Buck Spin made it happen. There’s no doubt that Saturday was the highlight day of this particular festival, and I’ll tell you right off the bat that nothing from Sunday bettered the performance of Panopticon the night before. But I would also be lying to you if I said Sunday wasn’t also anything short of amazing. While the festival was on the way out on the calendar, you would never know that from the performances. One more time… let’s take a closer look.
Waking up Sunday morning did not yield the same kind of adventure that the previous two days had. No, we found ourselves up early to watch Arsenal and Liverpool play a very drunk match — a match in which Liverpool won, which made me not upset and Dan somewhat upset, before slowy gearing up for the day’s shows. I honestly don’t remember if we did anything around the city at this point. Maybe got a coffee somewhere. Maybe did a fuckton of drugs. Who knows?
Anyway, onto the music. Kicking the day rather early (at the crack of noon) was Dead To A Dying World. You may remember that last year’s Litany ended up VERY high on my best of 2015 list. Regardless, there was still some hesitance before this set. For one, yeah, Panopticon was the last band I saw perform. If it was earlier in the day, last night, or last week… that’s a tall fucking order. And then you deal with the thought that the notable tracks on Litany all hovered around 15 minutes in duration. So what the hell do you do with a 30 minute set? Well, you do exactly what Dead To A Dying World did and deliver an amazing 30 minutes of continuous, beautifully dark, emotional music from this aforementioned album. I was stunned. Entranced. Awestruck. I will say with confidence that it was my second favorite set of the weekend. The minutes ticked on and I just stood there swaying, mesmerized by the sights and sounds coming from the crowded stage. It was incredible. Major credit due.
From there we caught glimpses of Auroch, who certainly changed the pace up in a big way. They sounded great, bringing a welcomed new energy to the audience, but it was a band we only caught momentarily before fueling up for Mizmor. So yeah, we basically skipped Full Of Hell altogether. Sorry. But a few bands were subject to such happenings this day. So we beered up and returned for Mizmor’s first ever live performance. The hype in our contingent was unquestioned… basically, we were excited. And while they sounded fine overall, there was just something a little extra I needed from their set. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I was some level of underwhelmed. From there we stuck around for Mutilation Rites, which I was thoroughly into. Again, offering a bit of a change of pace and keeping the rising and falling nature of the music of the day intact, their brutal onslaught had me pretty well fired up. But honestly it was the band after Mutilation Rites we were gearing up for.
Before getting into the last real set we participated in, I’ll disclose the fact that we really did not invest much in any of the remaining three bands (Hell, False, Mournful Congregation). Nothing against any of them. We caught bits and pieces of each act but I don’t think I would be looking back on this weekend in the same way if the last real set we thrust ourselves into wasn’t VHOL.
I cannot begin to express how enjoyable this set was. Yes, we all thoroughly enjoyed the relatively recently released Deeper Than Sky, but I never would have thought their tracks would translate this well to a live performance. Not to mention the fact that it was kinda interesting seeing Mike Scheidt moving around on stage filled with energy. Totally not what I’m used to… because Yob. They absolutely crushed their 45 minutes with their blistering fast thrash/hardcore/crust/whatever-the-fuck-else-you-can-think-of take on metal. They even played the ambitiously long title track from their most recent album. I mean this set was just unrelenting in every right way. While maybe not one of my most favorite sets from the weekend, it certainly was one of the ones that will resonate in my memory for awhile. If you ever get a chance to catch this west coast collective live, you absolutely must make it happen.
I guess it’s time for me to sum things up, huh? Well, if you’re looking for my top sets from the weekend, that’s going to have to wait. But I will conclude this series by saying that, after months and months and months of traveling for shows and festivals, Migration Fest was undoubtedly the crown jewel of 2016. Every minute of it was worth celebrating and will be remember for a long, long time. Four days of incredible music, incredible people, all together in an incredible part of the world. We managed to experience a little bit of everything in our rather efficient trip out west, and I really don’t think there is a single thing I would have done differently or could have wanted to see done differently. Bravo to the folks at Gilead and 20 Buck, all the bands, and all the amazing fans that I had the opportunity to experience… no, celebrate this weekend with. You’re the reason we do what we do.
“Ein Bier… bitte.”