Published Aug 01, 2005Many exhausted faces and squinty eyes were visible in the congregation of kids patiently waiting for Arrow Hall to open early Monday morning. What was undoubtedly the aggressive music tour of the summer drew a veritable legion; the majority were still trying to get in during Philadelphian tech metal act A Life Once Lost's all-too-brief opening set. A couple of sets later, death metal/hardcore crossover mainstays the Red Chord took the stage and the action really got going. Shortly thereafter, High On Fire played a crushingly heavy set worth of their quirky, one-of-a-kind "stoner death metal," complete with an utterly punishing drum sound. Managing to hold the momentum even through the weaker acts (Devildriver, Chimaira), the tour's swift moving itinerary and inhumanly quick road crew made sure that a floundering group wouldn't be left hanging around for too long. Norma Jean flailed and thrashed their way through a handful of new songs and some old favourites, astoundingly managing to keep time admirably throughout their seemingly endless bodily contortions. Gwar briefly interrupted the proceedings with a thoroughly entertaining bombardment of surprising technical ability, grotesque costumes and a couple of tanks full of Gwar guts. There was then a relative lull of interest until Poison The Well took the stage; they kept their set to an even mix of older, more breakdown-oriented material and the outright Refused worship of their previous release, You Come Before You, thus satisfying everybody. Opeth, dignified and confident as always, struggled for definition in a muddied mix, but definitely kept the fans happy, although it is unlikely they won any new ones. The evening eventually began drawing to a close roughly ten or 11 hours later with hard rock group Clutch and shortly thereafter with American metal torchbearers Lamb Of God, who despite having sold tons of records and received endless hours of Headbanger's Ball rotation can never seem to replicate their down-tuned Pantera-isms effectively live. On the whole, an evening's worth of memories and hopefully the beginning of many an over-the-top festival tour to come.