Now in its fourth year, Sacramento's Monster Energy Aftershock Festival has grown into one of the nation's premier music events, and it's no wonder. This is a quintessentially American, super-sized party where more is more, like a Las Vegas buffet with more choices than you'll ever have plate space. Throughout the fest, even stage security talked about bands they missed in rueful tones usually reserved for the nacho cheese fountain that got away. But what a tasty buffet Aftershock was.

One couldn't go wrong posting up at any of the festival's four stages, where 47 bands banged nearly 50,000 heads over a perfect California weekend. For those who needed a little break from the mosh pits, WWE NXT staged live matches in a tent conveniently located between the main and small stages. Corey Taylor even got in on the action, dropping by to put the smackdown on Baron Corbin. The U.K.'s RavenEye opened the show just prior to noon Saturday morning. The band rocks hard for a trio, their blues-boogie reminiscent of '70s stompers like Foghat yet with a very contemporary sound. From there we ran to the main stage to see a reconstituted Snot tear it up. It's nice to see the band back together, and Carl Bensley is a fantastic addition as frontman.

Turbowolf was as brilliant and perplexing as ever, with singer Chris Georgiadis looking like a cross between Leon Redbone and Frank Zappa and the band's sound somewhere between metal, psychedelia and synth pop. Bassist Lianna Lee Davies was one of the few women performers on the bill, which although certainly unintentional felt odd given the balance of previous years' bills.

Following sets from Red Sun Rising and Art of Dying, Suicidal Tendencies took the stage in mid-afternoon and all hell broke loose. Mike "Cyko Miko" Muir and his band whipped the crowd into a moshing frenzy, climbing the barricades to get closer to his rabid fans. We may have already been at it for two hours, but in terms of emotion and energy, ST's set is when the festival really got started. Saturday's bill was loaded with talent, but Suicidal Tendencies just might have won the day.

Helmet still sound fantastic, though like many of Saturday's bands their sound suffered from a muddy, distorted bottom end that clearly frustrated frontman Page Hamilton. They were followed by crowd pleasers Pop Evil, P.O.D., Bring Me the Horizon, Seether and Black Veil Brides.

But the night belonged to the monsters. Marilyn Manson emerged from the smoke billowing across his stage, which featured stained glass effigies of the Antichrist Superstar as his backdrop, and ran through a solid 11-song set short on surprises but long on dark delights. At this point can Annie Lennox even lay claim to "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)"? Manson's version is the gold standard and it sounded better than ever drifting through the darkened trees of Gibson Ranch.

Saturday night's closers were the mighty Slipknot, which must have been a blessing for every other band on the bill. Woe unto the unlucky bastards who ever have to follow the punishing hellscape that is a Slipknot gig. The band chose Van Halen's "Runnin' With the Devil" as their intro music, and that pretty much sums up the next hour-plus. With Shawn "Clown" Crahan spinning overhead, Jim Root and Mick Thomson beating the crowd to death with their twin guitar riffs, and the rhythm section pushing the bass cabinets to their threshold, a Slipknot show is a nightmare made manifest. It's not just any nightmare, though. Corey Taylor threatens to lunge out of that dream and drag you into the middle of the horror. One doesn't listen to a Slipknot show; one is immersed. The band remains perhaps the most explosive, essential act performing today.

Unfortunately for many, the real nightmare awaited them in the parking lot. This was Aftershock's first year at its new location, and although the day ran smoothly the parking lot exodus did not. Some festival goers reported waiting as long as three hours to get out of the parking lot, but it must have been worth it. When Sunday came they were right back in their spots in front of the festival's four stages, ready for another serving.

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