For almost two decades, Arizona has embraced a yearly dose of beautiful heavy metal near and dear to our hearts. If the event were ever personified, 2014 was the year she turned 18 — and now she’s ready to show us the meaning of celebration and gratitude.
We’re talking about the annual D-Low memorial show, usually held in August. Though it’s always been seen as an incredible rock show, it’s also a painful reminder of the death of Dana “D-Low” Wells, son and stepson of Gloria and Max Cavalera.
This year, that same event has been revamped as the AZ Novemberfest, extended and “sauced” up, so to speak. Over the course of two days (November 21 and 22), fans can expect to see some of the most revered heavy metal and alternative bands, with a big emphasis on some of the largest heavy acts to come out of the desert. And with the addition of the festival subtitle “Beer and BBQ,” there will be plenty of food trucks, BBQ tastings, microbrews — and even a Harley-Davidson giveaway.
This event was originally founded after Dana was killed at age 21 in a mysterious traffic accident in August 1996. Dana was beloved in the local scene, either as a blood relative or supporter of music. Either way, the heavy metal music community has always been known to mourn and memorialize the lives of those family members, and have come together on a yearly basis to not only celebrate his memory, but lay out blood, sweat and tears during intense, passionate sets in his honor.
Groove metal legends Soulfly, led by Max Cavalera, is perhaps the most associated act with this event — but music has always been a family affair with the Cavaleras; Max’s son Zyon has been Soulfly’s drummer since Savages. Currently in support of their primal, unapologetically transcendental 10th studio album, Archangel, Soulfly continue to solidify its place as one of the world’s most diverse, loved metal bands, capable of weaving together the most modern death metal elements, with the most vintage thrash metal characteristics, with the most simplistic, yet beautiful, tribal influences.
You can expect to see Soulfly, as well as Incite hit the stage Saturday. Fronted by Richie Cavalera (Max’s stepson), Incite has reached Top 40 status on Sirius Metal Charts and Liquid Metal's the Devil's Dozen. The band has been seen as a leader in local Phoenix metal, and toured alongside countless legends, like Dillinger Escape Plan and Cavalera Conspiracy.
“We were scheduled to be on this tour with Crowbar and Soulfly and were trying o figure out how to do the D-Low show,” explains Cavalera about how AZ November Fest came about. “So this is a blend of that, with the initial desire to have bands like Sacred Reich and Flotsam and Jetsam, who were a huge part of Dana’s life. Its going to be a mind-blowing show for AZ, and with the cooler November weather on top of it!”
And all the bands were ready and willing: Saturday, November 21, will see singer/musician Chris Daughtry, supporting back-to-back No. 1 albums (Daughtry and Leave This Town). Fuel will hit the stage with original singer Brett Scallions, touring to support their latest album Puppet Strings. Former Skid Row vocalist Sebastian Bach is giving ‘em hell with his latest solo album of the same name, and post-grungers Puddle of Mudd will bring their round-up of hits to the stage.
On Sunday, besides Soulfly and Incite, nu-metal legends Coal Chamber has returned from a 13-year hiatus with their new release Rivals. Arizona is represented even stronger with one of metal’s most relentless bands, Flotsam and Jetsam, and the underrated yet incredible Sacred Reich, one of my personal AZ favorites.
On top of all the great music, it’s easy to speculate what type of guest musicians will pop as well; something Max Cavalera is known for. After all, there’s more than 50 players listed as guest musicians across the board for Soulfly albums.
“I think the main heavy metal festival in Arizona each year is the D-Low show. You’re going to see a lot of cool things as far as the guests for Soulfly. The musicians all want to do these songs for Dana,” adds Cavalera.
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The festival will not only provide a fantastic representation of Arizona heavy metal, culture, food and brews; it goes deeper than that. It’s the industry giving thanks for the music and support others have given us, and shows that there can be growth from pain. All the lesser known local bands on the bill will have the opportunity to play their heart out and showcase what desert metal is all about. For example, Incite just finished working on their follow up record to 2014’s Up in Hell, about two weeks prior to the show, and worked with Steve Evetts (Suicide Silence, Dillinger Escape Plan, Prong).
“We spent last four months writing and recording for an April 2016 release date. I believe we’ll have a title locked in sometime before the festival,” Cavalera says. “I believe we have the best Incite album ever made. It has everything that the last records were missing. It’s a culmination of our growth and finally coming into our own as a band, from drums to bass to guitars and vocals. Next year we have tour starting in January in Europe and U.S. – basically from January to June.
“But at AZ November Fest, the hometown love will feel amazing.”
General admission tickets for Saturday, November 21: $45 in advance/$60 day of show or $150 for VIP. General Admission tickets for Sunday, November 22: $25 in advance/$40 day of show or $150 for VIP. Purchase tickets by calling 602-244-8444, or visit www.aznovemberfest.com.