Sonic Temple Festival 2023 review by Bill Bailey
Worshiping at the Sonic Temple Magical, Musical Retreat Weekend from May 25th-28th in Columbus, Ohio was a divine gift for all who attended.
At least that’s what it felt like, going away to one of those retreats where you look within, connect with the divine, and find your true purpose.
Photo by Nathan Zucker
Danny Wimmer Festivals always seem to provide so much more than just an amazing line-up of live musical performances. There’s an amazing atmosphere and so much positive energy that comes with being at one of these festivals. And so much of it is due to the hardworking people behind the scenes in the Danny Wimmer Presents Camp. They definitely don’t get enough props, so I THANK YOU DWP for an amazing weekend.
The Sonic Temple Festival made their triumphant return to Columbus, Ohio this past Memorial Day weekend and from the start got us hip to the NEXT GENERATION of Metal, when Rob Trujillo of Metallica’s son Tye took the Soundwave stage with his band OTTTO for a youthful fist pumping performance to open the festivities, along with Castor Hetfield, son of James Hetfield, banging the skins with Bastardane on Day 1. The future of Metal is in good hands.
Bastardane photo by Steve Thrasher
Day 1 also gave me a chance to see another past Today’s Boondoggle Podcast guest, Levi Benton and his band, Miss May I do what they do on the Temple stage. Of course Pennywise was a must on my bucket-list, and Beartooth’s performance had everyone talking. I had to go see one of my long time favorites, Suicidal Tendencies still kicking ass all these years later with Mike Muir and the crew keeping it in the family with Tye Trujillo on bass duties.
Godsmack gave fans a run through their years of making music catalog, and added a surprise cover of Aerosmiths Dream On and Come Together while being joined by Aerosmiths own Brad Whitford.
Godsmack photo by Steve Thrasher
But the opening day to the spiritual weekend that was Sonic Temple Festival truly awakened the crowds Third Eye, during TOOLs mesmerizing set to close out Day 1, but also initiate the followers for the rest of the weekends rituals.
Day 2 opened up with the band VENDED featuring the spawn of the maggots, Griffin Taylor (son of Corey Taylor), and Simon Crahan (son of Shawn “Clown” Crahan) of Slipknot lineage, but hellbent on paving their own way in this industry and on that stage. The miles on the step counter would continue to click throughout the day going from stage to stage and displays and merchants and venders the rest of the weekend. But another highlight from Day 2 was the performance of the band Dorothy on the Octane stage which featured a live exorcism of sorts mid set. Say what you will, but I respect Dorothy being loud and proud about her faith and journey in life, from right up on stage at a rock festival. In this day and age where certain words and beliefs are found offensive, and being canceled, true freedom in our country is where everyone has a voice and a seat at the table. If you don’t agree, you’re free to walk to the next stage because there is something for everyone at these festivals.
One thing for me personally that I’m happy they offer at Danny Wimmer Festivals is a Sober Tent, for people like myself in recovery that now enjoy live music with a sober and clear mind.
Knocked Loose photo by Nathan Zucker
Day 2 would also include ferocious sets by Converge, Knocked Loose, and I Prevail. Then to be closed out by Avenged Sevenfold with an amazing audio and visual performance.
Day 3 for me the band Tallah gave me the kick in the ass I needed to wake up and get ready for the rest of the day. If you get a chance to see them live, you must. I can’t put it all into words what I witnessed, but will say that the incredible drumming of Max Portnoy is a sight to behold all it’s own. You can tell the apple didn’t fall far from the tree as Max shares the amazing musical DNA of his Dad, Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater.
Tallah photo by Lexie Alley
Day 3 also brought performances by Rival Sons, Attila, Mothica and so many more. Trivium had the entire stadium bouncing during their set as Matt Heafy controlled that crowd. Falling in Reverse kept that stadium energy jumping, and Avatar delivered the fire on the Octane stage as well. Yelawolf would close out the Soundwave stage for the evening and even got a crowd sing a long to Garth Brooks “friends in low places”.
Puscifer photo by Steve Thrasher
Round 2 of Maynard James Keenan would consist of Puscifer closing out the Octane stage for the day, with the Rob Zombie circus of freaks getting the stadium crowd ready for the Day 3 closers KISS.
I have to be honest though in my writing and how I feel because I just can’t always write a positive fluff piece to get along in the industry, kinda guy. I love KISS, I have since they broke me in as a child when I was first exposed to KISS ALIVE album, I was hooked before hearing a note from the visuals in that album layout. Then of course the music hooked me, and I would go on for years to follow giving Gene and Paul my money to see them perform live, buy their merch, and support their ever growing Army. But also as a fan, it’s hard to hear Paul’s voice start to go since his surgery, and years of giving it all for us fans. I’m glad this never ending Farewell Tour is coming to an end this year because I personally want to remember the good years and performances I witnessed in the past. Don’t pull a Motley Crue on us, you guys have earned your retirement. Thanks for the memories. I’m sure I’ll get hate for my honest opinion, but it is what it is. Have at it keyboard warriors.
KISS photo by Steve Thrasher
Day 4 had me feeling my age and the torn meniscus in my right knee, but the music and energy kept me going for another amazing day of music with Tigercub, and another past guest of the Today’s Boondoggle Podcast, Lucas of Columbus’s own AEIR. Great start to the day and would continue with the incredible Nothingmore bringing that stadium energy up.
If you have not had the opportunity to see the Ayron Jones band live yet, please make that happen ASAP. The positive vibes and energy from their set is incredibly contagious. The beautiful and talented, and a personal favorite of my daughter, Miss Taylor Momsen and her band The Pretty Reckless mesmerized that stadium crowd per usual. Then I caught the end of the Nova Twins set and was making a mental note to catch them again next time the opportunity arises because I liked what little I saw. Richard Patrick and Filter brought out the old and new school kids together for their set at the Soundwave stage, Awolnation then brought the masses over to Octane stage before everyone merged back into the stadium for an amazing performance by the Deftones. This was one I was looking forward to all weekend, and Chino and crew did not disappoint. Glad that one is finally off my list because I’ve waited a long time for that performance.
Deftones photo by Steve Thrasher
Sublime with Rome kept the positive vibes going to close out the Octane stage on a HIGH note, to say the least. Then it was the return of the Foo Fighters, since the tragic passing of Taylor Hawkins, there was a time I thought I may never see them again. Thankfully they;re keeping his legacy alive and continuing on as a band and one of the greatest live rock shows of recent memory. They introduced new drummer Josh Freese to the crowd and gave snippets of past bands he’s performed with, including a cover of NINs March of the Pigs, and Akron, Ohio’s own DEVO’s “Whip It”.
Foo Fighters photo by Steve
Dave Grohl would also take a moment to send love and a very Happy Birthday to past Today’s Boondoggle guest, and personal friend, Matt Pinfield who was in attendance all weekend, dedicating My Hero to Matt. They closed their set with Everlong and sent the packed house home very happy.
Photo by Nathan Zucker
The Sonic Temple Art and Music Festival return to Columbus, Ohio was well worth the wait after all the uncertainty the world experienced during COVID, all though having it on Memorial Day weekend may have affected it being a packed house all weekend. I know many friends that would have been there if it wasn’t for Weddings, Birthdays, or Graduation parties that same weekend. Either way, I’m truly grateful I got to be there to welcome Sonic Temple back home and already looking forward to making the religious pilgrimage again next year.