The aptly titled UPROAR Festival overtook the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater over the weekend, leaving behind a smokey trail of satisfied, if intoxicated, metalheads in its wake.
Beginning at 3 p.m., UPROAR was an event that definitely took some stamina to get through. Luckily, the tour was sponsored by Rockstar Energy Drink, and there was no shortage of booths stocked with the product. But the day’s main focus was the intense music of its featured artists. For the first few hours, lesser known bands warmed up the crowd on the Jägermeister Stage.
The guys of Hail The Villain appeared to be about as edgy as Hot Topic employees, but the Canadian outfit was more than able to put on an entertaining, fast-paced set. No new ground was broken, but lead singer Bryan Crouch boasted a gritty voice that complemented his band’s catchy riffs well.
New Medicine was a good follow up act, switching gears with its refined punk sound. Though these two bands might have felt more at home on the Vans Warped Tour, both were able to keep up with the UPROAR audience and added variety to the lineup.
Closing the Jägermeister Stage were Airbourne and Hellyeah, rougher acts more in-tune to the UPROAR vibe. Australia’s Airbourne pleased the crowd with shredding guitar solos and lots of energy. Resembling something akin to a poor man’s AC/DC, the band’s metal roots came with a classic rock crunch. By the time Hellyeah began its performance, everyone had downed their $10 cups of beer (or those complementary cans of Rockstar, for attendees under 21) and were ready to do some hardcore headbanging.
Hellyeah did not disappoint. Featuring members of Mudvayne, Pantera and Nothingface, the dirty south supergroup kicked off its set with the shamelessly self-titled number “Hellyeah,” a blaring anthem to individuality which forshadowed of what was to come in its set. Front man Chad Gray displayed his urgent, gravelly vocals that were actually a little bit frightening, in a good way.
After that heavy gig, the crowd collectively staggered its way toward the main stage for a more melodic set from Halestorm. Lead singer Lzzy Hale proved she can hold her own in a thoroughly male genre. The unique sultriness of her voice only added to the hard-hitting music of the band.
The band members put on a fine show, making the most of their deserved spot on the main stage. But at times, their lyrics sounded sophomoric in comparison to the more extreme subject matter other bands at the festival tackled.
Next up was Stone Sour, a Midwestern group with a Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance under its belt. For having two members of shock rockers Slipknot — guitarist Jim Root and vocalist Corey Taylor — Stone Sour was mellower than expected. Make no mistake, the band members do rock. But Taylor looked more comfortable delivering the radio-friendly ballad “Through Glass” than he did with heavier songs.
Aside from awkwardly vulgar jokes the band dropped, Stone Sour managed to put on quite an enjoyable show. The audience barely noticed it, however, as most of them were eagerly awaiting the next act to arrive.
When the lights dimmed, signaling the arrival of co-headliners Avenged Sevenfold, the crowd’s energy instantly picked up. Second and third mosh pits began to form in the lawn area of the amphitheater, complete with a fan breathing fire out of his mouth.
With A7X, as it is also referred to, seconds away from performing, no one seemed to be concerned by the possibility of a grass fire breaking out. Pyrotechnic flames were ablaze on the stage as well, along with other intricate props such as cemetery gates. A man with an assumed noose around his neck suddenly dropped from the ceiling, hanging in midair as the band took the stage.
Following that brutal entrance, A7X provided Irvine, Calif., with a substantial set. It was easily the night’s best moment when A7X paid tribute to the late James “The Rev” Sullivan, its former drummer, by putting on a genuinely poignant performance of “So Far Away.” The band ended things on a positive note with the upbeat “Almost Easy” and a proclamation of gratitude to its hometown.
Wrapping up the night, Disturbed started off right with a hammering rendition of “Asylum.” The group’s decor reflected the mental institution theme, featuring a large screen projecting vivid pictures and videos that were, well, disturbing. Highlights of the set included a four-song medley and their distinct cover of “Land Of Confusion,” originally a track recorded by Genesis.
While the band sounded consistently strong, lead singer David Draiman felt disconnected at times. By the last leg of songs, his vocals sounded almost lazy and momentum was lost for good, even during the encore of eerie thrasher “Down With the Sickness.”
Overall, UPROAR is a solid addition to the fall music scene with plenty to offer any hard rock fan. After hours of such extreme listening, surely the ears of all who attended last Friday’s show will continue to ring at least until midweek.