DevilDriver had performed up Interstate 35 in Austin on at least three occasions since its previous San Antonio visit, so the California natives' participation at the fourth annual River City Rockfest was long overdue. Even though the group was only allotted enough time for six songs on the second stage of a 1:15 p.m. set time Memorial Day Sunday outside San Antonio's AT&T Center, they made the most of it.
Not that there was ever any doubt.
DevilDriver was making its first Alamo City appearance since Sept. 1, 2010, which came at a bar that not only doesn't exist anymore but has become two other bars during that span. And the group was doing so with a revamped lineup to go with its May 13 release of seventh album Trust No One. AXS was at DevilDriver's final show with its mostly original lineup -- Slipknot's Knotfest in October 2014 at San Bernardino, California (coverage here). This time, guitarist Neal Tiemann, bassist Diego Ibarra and drummer Austin D'amond accompanied original vocalist Dez Fafara and original guitarist Mike Spreitzer.
After opening with traditional kickoff "End of the Line," the group offered up new single "Daybreak" as the only tune off its latest CD. The pits became larger on the AT&T Center's asphyxiating asphalt on 2003 debut album's "I Could Care Less" before the riffs punctuated the second stage on "Clouds Over California." DevilDriver rounded out with "Ruthless" off previous record Winter Kills, then customary closer "Meet the Wretched," making the self-titled debut record the only DevilDriver album that was represented more than once.
What a shame that the band's early and brief slot did not yield time for the likes of "Not All Who Wander Are Lost" or anything off Pray For Villains. But the band's set was miniscule in time only. A DevilDriver show never lacks in energy and intensity as long as Fafara is commanding the stage, as he did last summer when he reunited with his 1990s goth-metal group Coal Chamber at Alamo City Music Hall (interview here). That show was opened by the solo band of Hatebreed singer Jamey Jasta. This time, DevilDriver and Hatebreed are touring partners and released their latest respective albums the same day.
While it will take time for some DevilDriver fans to get used to the departure of original guitarist Jeff Kendrick and drummer Jon Boecklin, those who showed up among the eventual and official crowd of "more than 27,800" on a blisteringly muggy afternoon simply wanted to mosh no matter who was in the band. Just like during DevilDriver's early visits to the sweatbox formerly known as the White Rabbit. And that should bode well for a return to the Alamo City for DevilDriver much sooner than another six years from now.
When it will be time to turn up the intensity yet again. Most likely, and hopefully, for much longer.
To watch an exclusive River City Rockfest interview with Hatebreed, click here. For more festival coverage of Megadeth, Scorpions, Bullet For My Valentine, Sixx A.M., Hellyeah, Red Sun Rising and The Sword, click the appropriate links. Stay tuned for coverage of headliners Disturbed along with Avatar, Sevendust, Pop Evil, Hatebreed and San Antonio's The Heroine.