By Mike Shomaker, DC Music Live
There aren’t many places where you can rock climb and watch your favorite bands perform at the same time. But tucked away in a quiet, upscale Arlington neighborhood, hundreds were able to live out their fantasies at the first annual Intensity Music Fest.
Tents lined the perimeter of the Triple A Pavilion, an unassuming park located off Rt. 50 previously best known for its mini train ride. Just before 2 p.m., droves filed in for what turned out to be the metalest fest this town has seen, maybe ever.
Seventeen bands including Demon Hunter, Conditions and The Devil Wears Prada blew the roofs off nearby suburban homes as tattoo-covered teens donning anti-smoking and other positive-messaged tees moshed and belted out lyrics under the perfect summer Sunday afternoon sky. In the background, concertgoers sampled new Monster Energy flavors while the altitude undaunted attempted to scale the 40-foot climbing wall. The only thing missing was the lack of alcohol and nimbus of cigarette smoke pluming the stage area.
One of the goals of the fest, according to Intensity’s website, is to promote a smoke free music scene with the help of SYKE, a local anti-tobacco movement. According to SYKE’s mission statement, “[We work] with local promoters to host shows and events to support a smoke free scene.” Smokers weren’t banned from the grounds but were simply asked to smoke in designated areas or by their cars.
“It’s nice, not having to deal with the smoke,” said one concertgoer. “It’s rare to go to an outdoor show and not be around it.”
Anti-smoking was just one of the positive messages of the day. Bands such as Hundredth spoke out against depression and suicide while others like Maylene & the Sons of Disaster conveyed self reliance and independent thinking. T-shirts denouncing drugs and alcohol were popular attire, as were temporary tattoos distributed by SYKE.
By late afternoon, mosh pits intensified for Being As An Ocean and Hundredth. I, The Breather performed for the last time with drummer Morgan Wright but were plagued with sound issues. By the third attempt, “Bruised and Broken” went off without a hitch and the Baltimore group burrowed into a gravely set that peaked with lead singer Shawn Spann barrel rolling into the first row. Wolves At The Gate led an intense half hour of metal as stage divers perfected their belly flops.
As dusk settled, the festival culminated with Demon Hunter, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and The Devil Wears Prada. The packed parking lot moved together in harmony like a synchronized swimming event. Mosh pits opened and closed and reopened while the masses bounced to the rhythm. After an intense forty-plus minute set from The Devil Wears Prada, Intensity came to a close.
Without question, the area’s first Intensity Fest was a huge hit. Thanks to the guys at Intensity and SYKE for putting on such a great show. Be sure to check back periodically for news on upcoming shows.
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