Michigan Metal Fest was a soggy one this year, but the metal shined through and prevailed to the bitter end.
Fans gathered after a two-year hiatus at the Leila Arboretum in Battle Creek, Michigan for the Michigan Metal Fest. The headliners were Atilla, Oceano, Green Jelly, and Tallah – an eclectic line-up that had the potential to draw a big crowd. The lead-in bands numbered a couple dozen, performing across three stages set up on the arboretum grounds.
The Dirtbag Stage was an existing outdoor venue in an area of the arboretum called The Fantasy Forest which hosting multiple wooden carvings of wizards and dragons. Pretty cool, actually. Casket Robbery was scheduled to play on this stage and they were one of the big reasons I attended this year. The other two stages were set up pretty close together. The Fountain Stage was the third stage, putting bands in the afternoon, and the main stage, Puck Hcky, carried the show through closing. It was an excellent arrangement as the three were short walks from each other and the schedule minimized tough choices of bands playing at the same.
Everything looked great. It had been warm and sunny in Battle Creek for a couple weeks, but the weather is fickle and is something you can’t do a single thing about. On Saturday it rained. When I say it rained, I mean it rained, essentially non-stop, for the entire twelve hours of the festival. That almost never happens. Usually, if there is rain, you get a couple showers, or a few bursts of heavy rain. Sometimes a thunderstorm or two that lasts a little while, and then, after a pause for nature, you continue with the festival. This rain, however, was a consistent soaking rain that alternated light and heavy but never really went away. The kind of rain we saw at Inkcarceration on the third day this year, except perhaps a little worse. As the day wore on, you just got wetter and wetter, and the temperature fell into the fifties. It was rough. Metal fans toughed it out, though, and even though there were a couple of scratches in the line-up, the festival went on.
The first band I saw on the Dirt Bag Stage was Coffin Talk, a band from Kalamazoo. They brought the metal, and the fire (quite literally), stoking the embers and rousing the crowd. The stage was at the bottom of a sloping hillside with those sculptures on it and was really the perfect place for a concert because you could stand down by the stage if you wanted to go farther up the slope and sit down with a good view. It could have been the sloping hill that lead to the demise of the stage because it had to be shut down a couple hours later due to flooding behind the stage that caused problems with the sound equipment. The remaining bands had to be cut from the program for the day, including Casket Robbery. That was very unfortunate but, again, sometimes these things happen at outdoor events – rain or shine, don’t you know.
There was a steady stream of performances on the Fountain Stage I got to see because of its convenient line-of-sight location from the Press Tent. I had never witnessed any of these bands perform before, so it was an entertaining education for me. Tyrant and I Decide I were especially impressive, despite the fact that, even though the stage was covered, it was the one most exposed to the elements and the bands were basically standing out in the raining while playing. It was a tough slog, but they did it, and the fans stood out in the rain with them.
On the main stage, while all the acts were good, there were four bands in a row that ripped it up – again, bands I had not seen live before: Falsifier, The Convalescence, Embryonic Autopsy, and Heartsick. A tented VIP area was just off to the side of the stage, and so there were more spectators here than elsewhere on the grounds. The stage itself offered more protection from the weather, but most of the bands ventured out to the edge and joined the metal heads in the rain for their performances.
The action had to be stopped a couple of times because of lightning in the area, and attendees were allowed out of the venue to go to their cars to dry off and warm up a little before being let back in. There was on-going uncertainty about whether the festival would continue, but in the end it did. Kudos and congratulations to the organizers and bands who made the best of the tough situation and came through for metal fans by ensuring that the show went on.
The headliners played and stalwart fans stayed. I didn’t get any photos after about seven o’clock because my camera finally succumbed to the relentless assault of the endless rain and blinked out, but I can tell you that Green Jelly marveled the crowd with an absolutely wild show and Tallah, Oceano, and Atilla left no one disappointed.
I have included links below to a few photo galleries of the bands I could get shots of before my equipment shorted out to give you a few more glimpses of the day in Battle Creek. I have no complaints – sometimes it rains, man. Sometimes it rains.
Mark your calendars for Michigan Metal Fest in 2023. It is an excellent one-day event for the Great Lakes region and a worthy destination for your summer heavy metal travels.
Photos by Wayne Edwards.
Michigan Metal Fest, http://michiganmetalfest.net/
Coffin Talk photo gallery, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2022/08/15/photo-gallery-coffin-talk-at-michigan-metal-fest-august-13-2022/
The Convalescence photo gallery, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2022/08/16/photo-gallery-the-convalescence-at-michigan-metal-fest-august-13-2022/
Embryonic Autopsy photo gallery, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2022/08/16/photo-gallery-embryonic-autopsy-at-michigan-metal-fest-august-13-2022/
© Wayne Edwards