System of a Down was another one of those bucket list bands for me. When I heard they were going to be headlining this festival along with other bands like Korn, Deftones, Incubus, Chevelle, Fly Leaf and so many other bands I knew I not only wanted to be there I wanted to be on the rail for System of a Down. I knew the best way to make that happen was to buy VIP tickets, so I did. I also found a hotel room at the Strat for a good price. This was nice since we were a 15-minute walk from the hotel to the venue. We ended up flying in the day before the concert. Unfortunately, our flight was delayed by an hour. Thought I had heard all flights going into Vegas were delayed that day. I heard their airport was down to 1 runway. Not sure if that was true or not but I do know a lot of people who were delayed longer than us so, I’m thankful we were only delayed by an hour. After we got to Vegas, ran some errands like grabbing some weed, and getting checked into our hotel room, we headed to the pop up merch booth they had. By the time we got there most of the line was gone and we only waited maybe 5 minutes before we were picking out what we wanted. They still had plenty of options and sizes, the only thing they had run out of was the poster. Which was ok because I wasn’t going to buy one of those anyway. I did get a shirt and Jess got a shirt and hoodie. After that Jess and I headed out for dinner and ready to call it an early night so we could be up and ready early the next day. It still was a late night after dinner I had to roll joints, return the rental car, which was a whole thing. I didn’t know we got an electric car so when I went to gas it up there was no tank. By that point I wasn’t going to a charging station, so we just returned it and paid their outrage fee for them to recharge the car.
The next morning, we were up and out of our room early. We made it to the venue and in line by 8 am. We weren’t the first people there, by this point we were 5th in line for one of the VIP entrances. The other lines had anywhere from 8-15 people in them. I think there were at least 20-25 total lines. While we were in line, we did get a chance to see our friend Alisha who hung out with us for an hour or so. We tried to meet up with our other friends Dominic which we saw the day before on the way to the merch booth but we never got a chance to see him and his kid again. We also didn’t get a chance to see our other friend Mary, but we did see another friend Wyatt while we were outside in line. These were the last and only friends we saw from that point on. When they opened the gates / doors Jess and I had a game plan. She was going to go straight to the band merch booth and I was going to run and grab our spot, hopefully on the rail in front of the main stage. I honestly didn’t care at first if I was in VIP or general admission as long as I was on the rail somewhere on the main stage where System of a Down was going to play. When they let us in it was on! I took off running along with everyone else who wanted to get a spot on the rail. I think it was more than a quarter of a mile from the gates to the main stage. It felt like 5 miles in the heat and with my tight jeans on. I can normally run 5+ miles without any problem but this was hard. It was not only hard for me but for several others as well. There were some people who took off sprinting but after a few feet of full speed most stopped and walked. Some people ran and then walked, then ran and walked again. There of course were some who ran the whole way, I stopped for about 10 seconds at one point but then ran the rest of the way. When I got to the main stages, at first I thought GA had a better option. I was possible to get a spot and be able to clearly see both stages. So this is where I ran to at first. After standing there for less than a minute I changed my mind and took off running again to the VIP area which was back and around the bathrooms. Despite making the detour to the main GA section I still managed to get on the rail and was about 5 people away from the side front rail. We were just a little off center on the main stage. It was a good spot and put us in a good place to catch a guitar pick or so I was hoping. About 10 minutes later Jess met up with me. She only had to stand in the merch line for about 3 minutes which was good because I heard some people waited hours in the merch lines as the day went on. Now that we had the spot we had hoped for it was going to come down to an endurance test, as to if we were going to be able to stand there in the heat all day from 11 am to 11:30 when I think System of a Down finished their set. At 11 am it was already 85 with a high for the day reaching 93 degrees from what I heard. And where we ended up was in the sun all day. Throughout the day we watched them pull people out of the crowd, several of them taken out in a wheelchair. Thankfully the venue was handing out ice cold waters all day but even so there were a lot of people that had to be pulled out. We did everything from drinking the waters we were given to pouring them on our neck’s, Jess had a bandana she kept wet and on her neck and head. That really helped us get through the day and thankfully we had sunscreen so we didn’t get burned. The biggest challenge we had was leaving to go get drinks, go to the bathroom or to get food. Most of the time it was easy getting back and forth as the people around us helped hold our spots when one of us would take off for a few minutes. Of course as we got closer to System of a Down we knew we weren’t going to risk leaving our spot. I think once Incubus hit we knew we were in it for the long haul at that point. The kid next to us tried waiting all day and not having to go to the bathroom which he did until Korn was on the band before System of a Down. At that point he had to go so bad, I told him go and we would hold his spot but he was afraid of fighting the crowd to get back. He ended up peeing in his Sick New World water bottle he bought. I can’t say I blame him, after enduring the heat all day to be one band away from System I would have probably done the same in his position.
Lets talk about the bands that we got to see from our spot. Though Alien Ant Farm was on the stage next to us we did get to hear and see their set from the side and partially on the monitors. The monitors were behind these speakers so our view of them were partially blocked. Even though our views weren’t the greatest for that stage we could hear it just fine. We had seen Alien Ant Farm a few times and I think they were a good band to kick things off. They had some good energy as people were starting to fill in. POD was up next, and they played on the main stage in front of us. I’ve seen them a few times and they also always put on a good set, which they did again. Later in the night the singer from POD came out and sang with Evanescence, which was cool. Some of the other bands we saw that I really enjoyed was Chevelle, though I was disappointed that the singer tried to throw me a pick a couple of times and only one came even close which was on the other side of the barrier and the security guy ended up giving it to someone else. Other than that, I have no complaints about their sets. One of the bands I was excited to see was Fly Leaf. Unfortunately, they sounded really bad. It wasn’t the band themselves it was their sound system. You couldn’t hear her singing very well so that was a little disappointing. There weren’t any other bands I was really disappointed with however, I was disappointed we missed some of the other bands on the other stages like Filter, Cold, Stabbing Westward, Body Count and Hoobastank. I know Jess wanted to see them. Other bands that I really enjoyed were Incubus, Deftones, Korn, and of course System of a Down. All the bands put on great sets. They even stopped a few times to try and get people to stop crowding in the GA section because people were getting smashed. Which made me glad I ended up in the VIP area because we didn’t have any of that going on. I think people pushed 1 time during System of Down the rest of the time everyone was just enjoying the show in their own space. System of a Down absolutely killed it and was a perfect headliner. They played over 30 songs and it was one hit after another. They opened with Prison Song and closed with Sugar. Several hits in between. It doesn’t get much better than that! I am not disappointed that I spent more money than I wanted to for the VIP and that we got there when we did and stood in the heat all day to keep our spots. It was all worth it in the end. I got to see System of a Down from the front row on the rail. I was hoping for a pick which I didn’t get but again the overall experience of seeing them from the rail and what may be their only show this year. I would do it all over again if I could. I know a lot of people had complaints about the festival but that usually happens anyway. Regardless of the festival issues, they put together some great bands, the bands kicked ass all night and they even handed out waters all day and night! If they do this festival again next year, I’m hoping to make it. I just hope they stretch it out over 2 or 3 days next time!
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