Review/photos - Mike "Suicide" Santoro
Darien, NY - This year marked the fourth year of Rockstar Energy Drink’s Uproar festival, featuring top hard-rock acts from multiple decades. It seems as though popular acts from the 90’s are enjoying their day in the spotlight again, and boy, are they really fanning their feathers.
When I first heard the line up, I winced. I felt like I was losing my edge, and not ‘up’ on current music. I hadn’t heard of seven of the thirteen bands. When I thought about it in the days leading up to the show, I realized how many of my favorite bands I was introduced to live, before ever having heard their studio albums, (Korn, Big Wreck, Sevendust, and Alice in Chains are four that immediately come to mind). The bands I had heard of, I liked, a couple of which were easily in my top favorites at one point in time or another.
I didn’t get to the venue as early as I would’ve liked to, but I was treated to Walking Papers as my welcoming band. I never heard of them, but I really, really liked them. Something kept nagging me about the familiar looking bass player, and then it hit me. It was Duff McKagan of Guns N’ Roses fame. I immediately looked them up on my phone, and discovered that Barrett Martin (formerly of Seattle’s Skin Yard and Screaming Trees) was on drums. The band was rounded out with Jeff Angell on guitar and vocals, and Benjamin Anderson on keyboards. Walking Papers have a nice bluesy, rock feel to them. I highly suggest you check them out.
The next band I had never heard of either, and I’m good with it. Circa Survive was first up on the main stage. Musically, they were tight, but the singer was one long scrape across a dry chalkboard.
Coheed and Cambria is a progressive rock band that has released seven conceptual albums based on a science fiction story called the “Amory Wars”. Claudio Sanchez, who by all accounts is the brainchild of the band, came up with the concept. They led off their set with “Keeping the Blade”, and ended it with “Welcome Home”, which are both off of their third release “Good Apollo IV Volume One,” which, I think is one of their better albums. The entire band was in great form. They are always a hit among the audiophiles.
There are some bands that should not write another album. These bands are so disconnected from their fan base, they become irrelevant musically other than nostalgic reminiscing. Jane’s Addiction is not that band.
Every album they have put out since the height of their popularity has been nothing short of excellent. They entered onto the stage and drove right in with “Underground,” from their latest studio album “The Great Escape Artist”. I played the shit out of this album when it came out. How in the hell this received such a cool reception is beyond me. This album is as relevant as any current band out there. The insult to injury to the younger bands is that Perry and Dave look like chiseled statues.
Perry’s voice was impeccable, and Dave’s guitar work was brilliant. Steven Perkins is a powerhouse of a drummer, and Chris Chaney is an accomplished studio musician who replaced Eric Avery (who seems to be quite the wandering soul). Anyway, the stage was set complete with scantily clad girls swinging from high above. Other than a couple of technical difficulties with Perry’s vocal effects processor, the set was flawless.
Alice in Chains was easily one of my favorite bands in the 90’s. They seemed to be the Grunge movement’s good will ambassador to the metal crowd, with their fusion of Seattle sound and Heavy Metal. “Facelift” is still one of my favorite albums of that decade, and their follow up “Dirt” will go down in history as one of the greats.
I know this may irk a lot of diehard AIC fans, but Duvall may be a better singer than Lane. Whether you agree or disagree, one thing is for sure…he nails the vocals. William’s version of “Love Hate Love” had my mouth hanging open like an idiot. If William was the singer from day one, this band wouldn’t have had a six-year hiatus, and they wouldn’t be any less popular. They played a twelve-song set that started with “Hollow” from their latest album, “The Devil Put The Dinosaurs Here.” Jerry Cantrell is, and always has been, the primary driving force of Alice in Chains, which accounts for the sound. This is a good thing.
Alice in Chains’ music is relevant. They are in top form, and show no signs of slowing. They are reaching new fans with every performance and new release, which is evident in my house, since my eight-year-old son was eagerly awaiting their set.
So, the trend seems to be a resurgence of 90’s grunge and alternative acts lately. The stark and obvious difference between these bands and others that attempt to push back into the charts is, these bands do their homework and they write solid albums that appeal to a wide and varied audience. Other bands from years past, and even current bands, should take note.
Special Thanks to Michael Moses at Velvet Hammer