Review by John Jeffrey Photos by Diana MacDonald
Darien, NY - While music festivals are fun for the fans, and the ticket buyers definitely get more bang for their buck, reviewing one, can be rather tedious. With the daunting task of covering just under a dozen bands, appearing on multiple stages, you can really run the risk of spreading yourself too thin, and perhaps missing out on some of the more important happenings while your attention is being diverted elsewhere. While it would be easy to write some generic, banal overview of ALL the bands at this year's Uproar Festival (once again being held at the Darien Lake PAC), we feel it better serves our readers to give a more in depth look on the bands we really enjoyed from this 2012 installment. And while some 'writers' pretend that they like EVERYTHING, the truth is, while in a perfect world, it would be great if every band playing on a festival bill was amazing, in the real world, the fact is, there are going to be some groups that you may not appreciate. And instead of focusing on all of the negatives from a band I can't stand, I would rather tell you all of the things I did like about most of the bands that I feel rocked!
This year, the Uproar Festival fell on a Wednesday, and it was a perfect hot day for rock and roll, and for the estimated 7,000 fans who made out it for the gig. The earlier performances in the afternoon were held on the "Ernie Ball" stage, which was set up adjacent to the gate where you enter the PAC. Way smaller than the main stage (and much quieter in volume by comparison), the fans flocked to the gated area nonetheless, and the first band I was really interested in checking out was, In This Moment. The LA nu-metal band has evolved quite a bit since their beginnings in 2005. The current lineup of the band only features 2 of the original band members (vocalist Maria Brink and guitarist Chris Howorth), and they have a new look to the band, which can be described as a cross between Rob Zombie and characters you would see in the "Mad Max/Road Warrior" film. The stage was eerily adorned with white wedding veils, draped over plastic skull miniature totem poles. Maria Brink was firmly planted center stage, and instead of the former, headbanging/screaming prom queen routine, she gave off more of a Marilyn Manson-esque, heavy metal dictator type persona. The new, more theatrical look worked well with the new material they performed from the just released "Blood" CD, as their set was restricted to only about a half a dozen songs, all of which were from the brand new disc. While their set was way too short, the crowd responded well to the newly revamped In This Moment.
The last band to play before the main stage groups started were the "Ernie Ball" stage headliners, P.O.D. Hailing from California, the Rap rock band really got the crowd going once they hit they stage. While they weren't 'doing it for the "Nookie,"' the fans showed their appreciation for group's unique blend of Christian metal, as they tore through their hour long set. As the wave of stage divers increased in velocity, P.O.D. lead singer, Sunny Sandoval, met them head on, as he stepped off the stage and stood next the security guards at the front of the barricade. Sandoval sang face to face with the fans who were front row, and helped some of the crowd surfers safely make it over the barricade when they came his way. As the band ended their 9 song set with the crowd favorite "Alive," ironically enough, some of the clouds departed, and the sun crept out, shining directly upon the righteous rockers, as the afternoon came to a close, setting things up for the evening's main stage acts.
First up on the main stage was Adelita's Way. Considering the high note P.O.D. ended the "Ernie Ball" stage festivities with, Adelita's Way kinda started things off with a whimper. It seemed fitting that the band's latest CD is called, "Home School Valedictorian," as you really get the impression that these guys are 'junior' rockstars, who are still waiting to graduate from the 'school of rock.' The got the look down, most of the guys in the band have abbreviated nicknames like "KWB" and DB8," and they even wrote the theme song for the WWE Superstars show ("Invincible"). That being said, unfortunately, Adelita's Way wasn't very convincing. They seemed to get better by the end of their set, as the songs they performed later on in their show were heavier, with a lot more energy. But even when singer Rick Dejesus came out into the crowd, it just seemed like they were going through the motions, and the crowd response was mediocre at best.
As Van Halen's "Unchained" came blasting out of the PA, you could instantly hear the increased volume of the sound system. Unfortunately, louder did not mean better for Staind, as their sound was drenched in a layer of white noise distortion, greatly detracting from an otherwise great performance. The only other thing I didn't care for about Staind, was the order of the set list. After starting things out at a break-neck pace with the ultra heavy, "Eyes Wide Open," they immediately went into the slow, ballad-y "Right Here," killing all of the momentum their opening song had created. That being said, Staind rounded out the end of their set with killer versions of "It's Been Awhile," "Outside," and "Mudshovel." The fans ate up every note of the overly distorted grunge rock, as Staind got the crowd primed and ready for Godsmack.
While Alice in Chain's "No Excuses" segued into AC/DC's "For Those About To Rock" over the PA, the video screens on the left and right of the stage came on, showing clips of the band who should have been the headlining the Uproar Festival, and that band is Godsmack. While Sully Erna and co. seem to take great pride in blowing any band off the stage that they have to open for, they did just that. Playing a hit laden 10 song set, the sound had become pristine for Godsmack, and with every song, the crowd just got more and more into it. Perhaps the only 'drum solo' to not cause a mass exodus bathroom break, is the 'drum duel' between Sully Erna and Shannon Larkin (aka "Batalla de los Tambores"). The energy and precision playing back and forth between the two was simply awe inspiring. The only flaw in the whole thing was when they started playing parts of cover songs, and they started playing "Back In Black" by AC/DC, guitarist Tony Rombola and bassist Robbie Merrill screwed up the chords (real rookie move guys)!! Other than that, a perfect show put on by the band.
As I was leaving the Darien Lake PAC with the hundreds (if not thousands) of other fans who were leaving shortly after Godmack ended their awesome set, I had the chorus of the last song they performed, "I Stand Alone," stuck in my head. Even though Shinedown were the last band performing on the bill, in my mind, Godsmack were the true headliners, and on Wednesday night, they did 'stand alone' indeed!
Review by John Jeffrey Photos by Diana MacDonald