When you get a concentration of 17 metal bands and a few hundred metal fans together in one venue on a cold December weekend, what do you think happens? I know…I know… Their long hair and tattoos, their piercings and loud music, dressed mostly and black and throwing their devil horns into the air (that’s when you retract your middle and ring finger, and pull in your thumb, to where just your pointer and pinky finger are out. Maybe you would expect fighting, maybe you’d expect debauchery of some sort…you know, Sex, Drugs, Rock and Roll? Well, you’d be wrong …except for the rock and roll part. Through snow and ice on one of the coldest days Portland has seen in over three years, the metal community gathered to make one of the most aggressive metal shows Portland has seen in some time, a great success… and it was all for charity. Jason Iffert, tattoo artist at 7 Zodiacs Tattoo was the mastermind behind the idea. The idea was to combine his love for metal with his love for children. Over the past nine years, Iffert and his co-workers have donated their time, offering discounted tattoo certificates during the month of December, with the gift of a new unwrapped toy. This year, in addition to the standard “toy drive” at the tattoo shop, Iffert chose 17 of the Pacific Northwest’s finest metal bands and held a two-day metal fest with all proceeds used to purchase toys for Shriners Hospital for Children. Fans were asked to buy a new unwrapped toy for a discounted ticket to see the amazing lineup of top-notch Pacific Northwest metal bands. All of the bands donated their time, and all proceeds were used to buy toys.
A few days after the show, Iffert and a group of musicians and friends took the significant amount of money raised at the event, and spent an entire morning at Clackamas’ Toys R Us, thoughtfully buying toys for both boys and girls, from infant to adolescent. Multiple cars and SUVs, already full from donations from the tattoo shop and concert, were packed to the brim with the purchase at Toys R Us. A convoy of toy-filled cars made their way to Shriners for the delivery. Some sentiments from those in attendance proved what a difference efforts like this are making: “Words cannot express how proud I am to be a part of this amazing event.” “I love the fact that you [Jason] do this every year.” ‘What you do and what it is for is so beautiful and inspiring.” “Cool guys and giving to the little kiddies that can use some Christmas spirit more than most! You guys make us fans proud!” “How can we get on the roster next year to play…we are definitely in.”
Iffert, often not wanting praise or to be in the limelight said as a thank you following the show: “So many children are going to see some happiness in a hard time this year. It is because of you, the Portland Metal Community, that this was possible. There are no words to describe how that makes me feel.” Iffert dedicated this year’s event to his teenage son Layne, who was tragically killed in a car accident three years ago; this type of toy drive was something they had done together, as father and son, in the past.
Prior to the show, Portland’s online music magazine MIRP sat down with Iffert, and asked him how he successfully secured significant bands such as Wehrmacht, Jahai, Hyperthermia, Proven, Desmodus, Critic, Kingdom Under Fire, Separation of Sanity, and Spawn. “I just put feelers out, and they all said yes, with no hesitation on donating their time to the cause. Regarding Wehrmacht, I called my friends in the band, figuring they would be booked, but to my surprise, they said yes; they would love to give back, especially to an organization such as Shriners. Getting Wehrmacht was a big deal.”
Portland legends Wehrmacht were the much-anticipated headliner for Friday night’s show. Wehrmacht, founded in the late 80s, is one of Portland’s best musical success stories, having shared the stage with some of the biggest bands in the world, from Slayer to David Bowie, from Kiss to Ice Cube. They have toured the world and are credited as a major influence from musicians around the globe. Playing their 1989 album Biērmächt in its entirety was a rare treat, and one that won’t soon be forgotten for those in attendance.
Other Portland favorites playing Friday night were popular seasoned locals: Season of Suffering, Jahai, Hyperthermia, Hyborian Rage, Another Way Out, Within the Pyre, and Rotting Slab. Saturday’s show produced an aggressive 11 band set with Seattle’s Devilation and Spawn, local heavyweights Desmodus, Kingdom Under Fire, Critic, Separation of Sanity, Shanoa, True Form, Apophis Theory, and Warm Springs’ brutal outfit Damage Overdose. Headlining Saturday was hardcore heavyweight thrashers Proven, who nearly brought the place down with their set at the end of an already stellar night.
“I could not have done this without the help of many other people, sponsors like Vox’s Metal Show, RockHard PDX, MIRP, Roadrunner Records, and all of the volunteers and friends. This is a benefit very close to my heart, and to be able to combine it with metal music, and all of my friends was amazing. I am very proud of what we accomplished,” Iffert said with great emotion.
So, the next time you see a marque on a rock and roll venue highlighting a metal band, come in and join us. The next time you pass up Liquid Metal or Octane on your Sirius radio, linger there for a bit. The next time you see a long haired, tattooed and pierced guy or girl wearing a Slayer shirt, raise your metal horns high and make a new friend!