A.U.R.A. Fest gets ambitious and it pays off

This year was one of Coastal Rock Productions most ambitious All Underground Rock All Day Festivals (A.U.R.A.) to date.

Coastal Rock did it up right with 15 bands, two stages, food trucks, vendors, plenty of booze, merchandise and major corporate sponsors transforming the normally docile museum space into fair-type environment with constant music. And by constant, I mean relentless metal and rock all day.

The performance schedule was on par all day. Once the second stage in the garden started at 5 p.m.—after the museum closed for the day—there was always music on one of the two stages. If you positioned yourself correctly, you could catch one band warming up while the other was finishing. At several points, they were ahead of the schedule by at least 5 minutes, or spot on.

I arrived around 3:30 and the fourth band was just getting started. It was a perpetual metal gauntlet after that. Nursing a sick hangover from an accidental drunken episode on Friday night, I powered through most of the day on only two-cylinders, mostly enjoying the music internally and with earplugs deep in my skull.

All of this dark beauty was painted with a mixed-aged crowd. With its emphasis on appealing to all ages,  A.U.R.A. Fest set an exceptional model for how entertainment should be done in this city. For of-age boozers, a wristband was available to properly and quickly ID. Easy solution.

Guess who was at the front of the stage for their favorite bands, singing along with all the lyrics and giving the performers a ton of energy to bounce off of? It wasn’t the old, hungover losers like me. Nope, it was the young kids up there, head banging, singing along and creating life-enriching memories.

Evidential foundations for my opinions can be found in the injuries sustained by several “pitters,” those mosh pit kings, and hardcore, Bruce Lee-type balls of energy. The pit got serious, though the injuries were just the kind of character-building ones that toughen your resolve.

I also offer as up as evidence the last two songs ZAO played in the penultimate concert of the day-long festival. Revelers up close knew all the lyrics and at times, frontman Dan Weyandt, simply let them sing. Which they did, and quite well I might add. (Guttural screams are not as easy as some might think.)

All in all, Coastal Rock, helmed by Timothy Walls, did an exceptional job at one of his most ambitious projects to date. I hope Walls keeps up the momentum. These festivals are super beneficial to the regional rock and metal scene.

He Is Legend at A.U.R.A. Fest 2017