Make America Rock Again Takes Over Long Island, NY 8-31-17

Make America Rock Again Takes Over Long Island, NY 8-31-17

Rock Music has consistently been perpetuated by the individual spirit of personal freedoms, but when tour promoters believe that Rock has dangerously remained too underground, then action must be taken. That action has materialized as a Hard Rock, high-velocity tour, called Make America Rock Again, or MARA, a crafty reference on the infamous campaign slogan used by President Donald Trump, Make America Great Again, or MAGA. Returning for a second year, this national tour package features five skillfully experienced rockers; Adelitas Way, Trapt, Sick Puppies, Drowning Pool, and headliner Scott Stapp of Creed and Art of Anarchy, all aimed at reinvigorating the Rock genre, and simply to live up to its name.

The tour visited Huntington, New York’s own The Paramount on the eve of Thursday, August 31st, as one of the 40 cities across the country after kicking off in Sturgis, South Dakota and going until mid-October. The premiere Hard Rock tour of 2017, each of the five featured bands have each enjoyed their own mainstream success over the past two decades, cumulatively selling tens of millions of albums and earned at least 25 Top 10 hits.

Kicking off the night was Adelitas Way, a three piece band originating from Las Vegas, Nevada led by founding Vocalist Rick DeJesus along with Drummer Tre Stafford and Bassist Andrew Cushing. The band was formed over a decade ago, breaking into the mainstream in 2009 with their debut single, “Invincible.” The song stirred the senses of self-empowerment, which made its way onto ESPN’s Monday Night Football and became the official theme song for WWE Superstars as well as in the Smackdown vs. Raw video game. Adelitas Way have become a well-known name in Rock, releasing four albums to date. Their fifth album, Notorious, is due out in October, and they were anxious to light up the stage. 

Veterans of the road at this point in their career, DeJesus repeatedly whipped the microphone cord around his left wrist with incredible speed while belting soaring, roaring, as well as echoing James Hetfield-like vocals. Always an entertaining frontman, he was surrounded by a high, Foo Fighters-type energy with ripping guitar solos filled with the baa baa boom of percussion.

DeJesus’s unique lyrical phrasing and vocal harmonies remain a dominant force throughout their set with songs like “Bad Reputation,” “Ready For War (Pray For Peace),” “Notorious,” and big hit “Sick.” Playing other favorites including the beautiful “Alive,” heavy “Criticize,” and of course “Invincible,” they put on a stellar set. Sometimes, one just has to face the pain before being free, and that was exactly how Adelita’s Way set the evening’s tone.

Amping it up next was Trapt, a successful Rock band originally formed in Los Gatos, California in 1995 and famously known for their 2002 chart-topping single “Headstrong.” Commanded by the handsome Lead Vocalist, Chris Taylor Brown, in the company of original Bassist Pete Charell, Guitarist David Sudock, and Drummer Brendan Hengle, they made their way to the stage.

Currently supporting their seventh studio album, 2016’s DNA, Trapt continue to dish out catchy, melodic, and emotional Rock-n-Roll. Drawing all eyes on them, as the band took the stage they wasted no time to deliver, performing songs like “Still Frame,” “Who’s Going Home With You Tonight?,” “Waiting,” “Echo,” and “Contagious.” Fiery F-Bombs began to drop as a fighting spirit unfolded with Trapt moving the audience toward the experience of uncovering one’s own inner strength and unlimited potential no matter what is happening in the world. Then a highly charged Trapt closed by unleashing the aforementioned “Headstrong” and “Stand Up,” leaving the audience feeling what they just experienced would never run dry.

As the breaking down and set up of each act moved with impressive skill and speed to keep the night on schedule, the youthful looking Sick Puppies were ready to go next. This Australian-bred, now California-based Hard Rock outfit dates back to high school music class with Shimon Moore on guitar and Emma Anzai on bass. In 2004, a video for their song “All The Same” was uploaded on YouTube and quickly grew to over ten million views and the band relocated to America. Traveling a long road, building a respected name in Rock with albums like 2009’s Tri-Polar, 2013’s Connect, and most recently, 2016’s Fury, Sick Puppies are a force to be reckoned with. With Anzai and Drummer Mark Goodwin sticking together, new Lead Vocalist/Guitarist Bryan Scott became their new lead singer last year, making an impact ever since. 

Retaining a similar fighting spirit, the band opened with the hard-hitting “War” and “Stick To Your Guns.” Ombre-haired Anzai moved and swayed while whipping her head, capturing the action in a more masculine fashion while seemingly staying feminine as she sang her way through ascending harmonies of “Riptide” along with the “Odd One.” Arguably the most energetic and alluring of this three piece, Anzai shares familiar features of both The Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde along with Joan Jett.

As if nothing was being threatened and nothing can be destroyed, the pace, along with the energy of their performance, started to change during renditions of “My World,” “Earth To You,” and “Black & Blue” before they ended the set with the high-velocity mosh pit induction of “You’re Going Down.” An entertaining band, Sick Puppies offered up one killer show.

Following the three openers, Drowning Pool was about to enter; the fast and furiously-charged platinum-selling Metal act from Dallas, Texas. A true blue-collar band working hard for over two decades, Drowning Pool skyrocketed to fame in 2001 with their debut album, Sinner, which went platinum in just six weeks after its release. Sustaining the tragic loss of Vocalist Dave Williams, Drowning Pool still consists of original Guitarist C.J. Pierce, Bassist Stevie Benton, and Drummer Mike Luce. Having a revolving door of vocalist in the wake of Williams’ loss, in 2012 they found the right piece to the puzzle when they brought in Jasen Moreno. Since releasing two albums with Moreno, including 2016’s Hellelujah, Drowning Pool were anxious to return to The Paramount. 

Their second go around on this bill, last summer through fall, both Trapt and Drowning Pool took part in the first inaugural Make America Rock Again Tour. Unfortunately not making it to Long Island then, they made up for lost time with a presence that was undeniably bold and brazen as they seized the stage, starting things off with “Sinner” before “Think.”

Inspiring the crowd to responded with raised fists, howling cheers, and more aggressive moshing, the robust, muscular Moreno had full command of the room. Appearing to be almost airborne leaping around the stage while roaring through “Step Up” and “We Are The Devil,” he and the band were in constant motion. Now spinning into a frenzy, Moreno engaged, and almost demanded the audience to scream as the band dug deeper into versions of “By The Blood” and “Feel Like I Do.”

Simply put, Drowning Pool’s energy became contagious and powerfully defied physics when they unleashed “Bodies.” In fact, just into the first minute of the song, Moreno jumped off the stage while continuing to belt out “Let the bodies hit the floor!” among members of the audience. With a full assault, the band transformed the crowd, giving them one of the most exhilarating Rock experiences of the night.

The time had now come for headliner Scott Stapp. The highly successful Stapp and his band Creed released a total of four consecutive multi-platinum albums, selling over 28 million records in the United States, over 53 million worldwide, and earned a Grammy Award for Best Rock Song in 2001 for “With Arms Wide Open.” Their debut album, 1997’s My Own Prison, was certified six times platinum and remains one of the top 200 selling albums of all time. Stapp’s first solo album, 2005’s The Great Divide, was also certified platinum one month after its release and has since gone double platinum. Currently, Stapp is also the lead singer of the band Art of Anarchy who recently released an album entitled The Madness in March to critical acclaim.

Excited to be back on the road with his solo band, Stapp first appeared as a backlit shadow resonating the spoken words of Creed song “Bullets” as his mates kicked in, providing a full and flawless sound. Muscular, yet slender, Stapp’s presence clearly possesses a great command of the stage and a proven determination to take his audience higher. As Stapp moved on to “Slow Suicide,” he inadvertently gave a sharp reminder of the demons he has faced. He continued with the enticingly more upbeat Creed tune “Are You Ready?” before announcing that it was the 20th Anniversary of “My Own Prison,” then continued on with classic Creed hits such as “What If,” “With Arms Wide Open,” and “Higher.” Delivering a more personal and intimate performance, he shared the recent news of expecting another child and encouraged the audience to care for a child through the Child Fund charity.

Stapp’s voice and stance held strong for the entire 60 minute set while the audience sang along in complete unison to his every word. With white light rays behind him with the makings of a spiritual experience, Stapp closed the night with fresher versions of “One Last Breath” and “My Sacrifice.” As if to bring hope to anyone facing their own struggles, Stapp showed that he has lived true to his own words, giving an infinite capability of inspiring all who came to listen.

An exceptional show, everyone exiting The Paramount left with the feeling of a rejuvenating experience. Rock provides that aesthetic only if it is delivered by truly great artists without hindrance or restraint. Political scientists have been studying campaign promises for almost 50 years and their results show that on average only about two-thirds of all campaign promises are kept. That said, the Make America Rock Again Tour has held true to its promise 100%, making it America’s biggest and best Hard Rock tour package of the year.


Photos by: Aintellin Photography

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Ellen Bello
belloellen@aol.com
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