Waking late on this fine Saturday morning, I had to hustle around the house in order to put in the hour-plus drive back to Edgewood Mountain, once again to witness what’ll end up being the best of the two days of the 32nd Annual Nikstock 2017. In hindsight however, I’ll be packing my camping gear and essentials from now on…lol.
As I pulled up along the security check-in table, I could see the after effects of last night’s rave, as several attendees were wandering around with huge smiles on their faces, excitedly engaging anyone who walked by, with tales of their adventures. Another added ‘extra’ was Jamie Arney decided to grace us with his presence on this glorious day, as he took the reigns as stage manager/coordinator, comedian, and last but not least – as bass player for Nightmare. But let’s not get carried away, as the day’s young and many great acts to be enticed and entertained by, lie ahead in the hours to follow. One such band that deserves a lot of praise, is Elmira, New York based Table 9. Fronted by the shredding and boisterous bellowed of Adam Mezzarone accompanied by back-up guitarist Clayten Williams, these local boys came on a ‘seek and destroy’ mission as they began assaulting the audience with an entry-packed seven song setlist including such explosive numbers as “Bluffed”, “Lights”, and closing with “Sudo Tribal Tendencies”. Bassist Felix Kellogg and Christian Fisher on drums kept in total sync as they kept the other two in constant check with some well-mastered beats. For more information on this stellar band, please visit their Facebook site (Table 9 metal) or check out some of their hits on Soundcloud (Table 9).
Next on the stage and for a gorgeously repeat performance, was the gifted Heather Weller (vox) and acoustical guitarist Khristian Singleton of the Indie/Folk duet Shaufrau. I’ve seen plenty of duets, but these two Hollywood, California kids truly mix it up, with Weller‘s exceptional range of voice, but also Singleton‘s, numerous quips and gestures.
All hell broke loose shortly afterwards as Bill Gutierrez (aka Bill Krungeld) on bass guitar and vocals led his Thrash/Deathcore band Krungeld into a three-song melee with the ferocity of a madman. Ben Kolowski continually ravaged his guitar strings, and in hindsight was rather cooperative to photograph. Drummer Tony Mergendahl was astounding to witness, as his sticks never stopped moving long enough to catch a break. Amazing performance guys! Wasting no time in the afternoon heat, Stacs, Syph, and 5 Wild brought their high velocity rap to the stage as 5 Wild, hailing from Elmira, New York. These talented artists made their presence more than apparent while they moved around the stage like true professionals, hammering away with a few of their more popular beats, including “Bar Dealer”, “Welkome To The EL”, and closing with “Take Over”. A performance well accepted by all attending.
Between sets, Fouco brought up several ladies from the audience and set forth to determine who was the reigning ‘Queen’ Of Nikstock 2017. The contestants were instructed to pole dance around one of the support posts of the tent, as well as display their ‘assets’ for the audience to rate..based upon the howlings from the crowd. Quite the unusual display of sheer debauchery I might add..and extremely welcomed in the hot summer sun!
Another well-sought after as well as multi-talented artist grace the stage again, after such an exemplary performance from yesterday…and his stage name is Chris United (Chris Cooley). Enough cannot be said about this fine young man, as it became ever apparent that he was certainly Jamie Arney‘s favorite artist, as Arney ‘slotted’ him a few times in lieu of bands that unexpectedly cancelled last minute. Each time Cooley took the stage, people stopped what they were doing and directed their full attention to his every note…every word.
And speaking of repeat performances, is that Daniel Smith (guitar) and lead guitarist and vocalist Chris Robbins I see getting ready backstage? Sure enough…Poetry In Black is back once again – my weekend is now complete…lol. While the band played basically the same setlist, they were received with open arms just the same, as they pounded every single beat of Evad Nottus (Dave Sutton) drum kit accompanied by bassist Christian Pellegrino, into every living cell of all who clambered around the front of stage. I’m so looking forward to catching these four masterful musicians in the weeks/months to follow…and so should you, and don’t forget to request their hit “Poetic Justice”!
Taking a short break as the next band began to set-up an elaborate array of stage props, Nick Fouco and the guys from Nightmare were nearly ready to bring their Hollywood/Lost Angeles Alice Cooper Tribute band to the front and center. Locked and loaded with a memorable thirteen song setlist, Fouco and Al (still no last name…lol) on guitar, opened with “Welcome To My Nightmare”, and the ‘Grim Reaper’ took over the stage, meandering menacingly about as his grimaced and took down names. “Billion Dollar Babies” (my old school favorite) was third song on tap, and came with the beginning of many theatrics – created by Fouco. It was during this number that one of the two lovely ladies (the blond in pictures) brought out a black fishing net, throwing it over Nick‘s body and begins putting him in a straight jacket, only to be ‘Killed’ by Fouco later in “Ballad of Dwight Fry”, as he strangles her and leaves her on stage floor…’dead’. She was later carried off stage by ‘Frankenstein’ prior to band launching into their hit “Frankenstein”. Wrapping up an outstanding musical and theatrical performance, Brett Fish (bassist) displayed true showmanship, as he kept up with the ever-so-passive Rich Todero on the skins. It was during “Go To Hell” that our two ladies came out as dominatrix’s and put poor ole Nick Fouco in the electric chair, flipping the switch and frying the bewildered chap. What to do with a dead vocalist? Simple. Put him in a coffin located at the end of stage during the band’s rendition of “I Love The Dead”! Ending with “School’s Out”, Nightmare invited all attending to join him onstage in a sing-a-long and no one wasted any time hopping up on the stage, having the time of their life.
Helena Cos (vox) and members of Spider Rockets (also day one performers) hit the newly split stage with a force to be reckoned with as Johnny Nap‘s guitar strings screeched with begging mercy with each note slayed by this explosive entertainer. Performing such skillfully created songs such as “Nothing To Me” and ending their set with “Rip Your Heart Out”, I was elated that these two co-founders in conjunction with bassist Jimmy Mui (filling in) and the feverish poundings of Dale Whitaker on the kit, were back for a second night…and ever more powerful performance than the night before!
Bringing this fabulous festival to a close was none other than Tempter, as they quickly recouped from playing the Nightmare set and made their mark once again in Nikstock history books. Slapping souls with some truly ingenious covers from such legends as Metallica, AC/DC, and Black Sabbath to name just a few, Fouco, bassist Brett Fish, Rich Todero on drums, along with Al and Jame Arney on riff-riddled guitar work, thrilled the sunburned and somewhat slightly intoxicated fans beyond belief as they sang along with Fouco. And just for the record, I was finally able to capture Nick digitally on this night of metal mayhem and madness, only because I believe he genuinely felt somewhat remorseful about me trying to keep up with him the previous night…haha.
Now for those of you who are interested in either attending one of these festivals, or are a band wishing to book a slot, here’s good news – Nikstock 2017 (Part Two) will take place on the campgrounds of Edgewood Mountain on August 11th and 12th of this year. The ever popular LA based Ivonna Cadaver (www.macabretheatre.com) will be gracing us in August as the festival’s host, so make definitive plans right now to get up to 216 Crow Hill Road, Laurens, New York and be an intricate part of this on-going festival (32 years and going strong!)
It gives me great pleasure to have been asked by Fouco to cover this year’s festival and hopefully will not be my last as well, as I certainly believe that a festival of this nature is much more than simply playing/listening to music. It’s about the comradery among artists and fans alike, friends of friends meeting up in the middle of absolutely nowhere…and connecting as one. As family. As it should be.
For contact info, please email your inquiries to www.nikstock.com regarding sponsorship and/or booking availability. Speaking of which, a huge hail of praise goes out to ESP Guitars for being this year’s sponsor.
Day Two 32nd Annual Nikstock 2017 Gallery
All photos by Craig Stebbins