Chicago Open Air Energizing Bridgeview, Illinois 7-16-16

Chicago Open Air Energizing Bridgeview, Illinois 7-16-16

Following an explosive opening day, Saturday, July 16th, marked day two of the Chicago Open Air Festival. Making its home at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois, day one saw an epic conclusion with Rammstein closing out the main stage, and day two promised to be just as exciting with a lineup that included headliners Korn and Chicago’s own Disturbed slated to perform. With the weather still holding up, a mix of sun and clouds filled the skies above Bridgewater as a good mix of familiar faces from day one, along with newcomers, shuffled into the gates anxious for the Rock-n-Roll to begin.

City of the Weak

Opening the day on the second stage was Minneapolis, Minnesota’s City of the Weak. Fronted by Stef “with an F” Huschka on vocals, Brent Lindblad on guitar, Cody Hoffman on bass, and Tom Mandrery on drums, this young, up-and-coming band has shared the stage with a slew of well-known acts in recent years. Continuing to support their 2014 EP Disclosure, Stef w/an F got the crowd involved early as they performed “Glad You Could Make It.” Making her way closer to the crowd, she high-fived fans and sang affectionately as they played on with “Just Another Eulogy” and “Better Than This.” Those who missed their set at Chicago Open Air can catch them out as they continue to tour the Midwest through August.

Silver Snakes

Next up on the second stage was another relatively new act, Silver Snakes. Hailing from Los Angeles, California, Silver Snakes was founded in 2011 by Guitarist/Lead Vocalist Alex Estrada and now features Bassist Mike Trujillo, Guitarist Jeremiah Bignell, and Drummer Garrett Harney. Recently releasing their exceptional new album Saboteur, they are currently out touring with letlive., who were on tap for day three of Chicago Open Air.

Taking a break from their regular touring schedule, Silver Snakes took the stage and immediately Harney started “Electricity” with a heavy drum beat that provoked a strong reaction from the crowd. Then there was Estrada and Trujillo combining for some strong harmonies on “Red Wolf,” before Harney played electronic drums for “Devotion,” as the band combined electronic elements with their heavy, thick guitar riffs. Offering something for everyone, Silver Snakes made those who arrived early for day two glad they did.

Saint Asonia

Moving over to the main stage, Canadian American Hard Rock group Saint Asonia was just about to get started. Coming together back in 2014, Saint Asonia features an all-star lineup consisting of former Three Days Grace vocalist Adam Gontier, Staind guitarist Mike Mushok, Eye Empire bassist Corey Lowery, and former Finger Eleven drummer Rich Beddoe. Already on the road with Alter Bridge, Breaking Benjamin, and Disturbed, Chicago Open Air marked one stop on their massive summer tour across the US and Canada.

With Beddoe looking out from behind his drums, surveying the crowd, he was soon joined by Gontier, Mushok, and Lowery as they started with “Fairy Tale” before “King of Nothing.” Igniting a sea of cheers, Gontier took a breather to say, “This next song is a love song, it’s called ‘Dying Slowly.’ You may ask why is it called ‘Dying Slowly’ if it’s a love song? I don’t know, just listen to the words and you’ll figure it out.” Pumped up, everyone raised their fists to the “love song,” enjoying every minute of it. Going into their debut single, “Better Place,” Gontier continued to express the inflection that made him stand out for years as part of Three Days Grace.

Taking in the moment once more, Gontier told the crowd, “We all come from different bands, and just so you know, we are here to stay. Here is a song from my old band.” That would be the ever popular Three Days Grace hit “I Hate Everything About You,” which still resonates in the heart of fans. Gontier then thanked the crowd for all the love and support over the last couple of years, but he also thanked the haters for providing fuel for Saint Asonia to keep working hard. With that, he announced that they are working on a second record, segueing into “Let Me Live My Life.” Receiving a very positive response, Saint Asonia is here to stay.


Returning to the second stage, it was time for Columbus Ohio’s Beartooth. Put together by former Attack Attack! frontman Caleb Shomo, after leaving his former band, Beartooth had his undivided attention, and began to make some noise. A mix of Metalcore and Nu Metal, Beartooth combines Hardcore with Punk, adding catchy choruses amidst the chaos. A style Slipknot’s Corey Taylor calls one of the most promising on the scene today, Beartooth continues to make waves upon the release of their 2016 album, Aggressive.

Accompanied by Bassist Oshie Bichar, Drummer Connor Denis, as well as Guitarists Taylor Lumley and Kamron Bradbury, Shomo walked out, immediately asking the crowd to get down on one knee. Catching many by surprise, he calmly said, “Let’s have a nice, relaxing, calm afternoon. Do not move a muscle.” Wondering what would happen next, the band launched into ‘The Lines” when Shomo raised his voice to say, “We are Beartooth, welcome to the fucking show, GET UP !” Quite a way to start a set, the crowd reacted with a jolt, jumping up and bouncing high with their fists in the air.

Going on to thank parents for bringing their children out to the show, the band went into the title-track off their new album. Shomo told the crowd to open a large pit in the middle of the crowd and, obeying his command, on his signal, the crowd rushed back into the void and swirled, which continued into another new track entitled “Hated.” Following with “Dead” then “Beaten in Lips,” the crowd once again joined in for the chorus on “In Between.” Concluding their set with 2014’s Disgusting cut “Body Bag,” Beartooth had the crowd eating out of their hand, proving they have a strong, loyal following that is growing.

Nothing More

Meanwhile, over on the main stage, Texans Nothing More were just about to get started. Formed as early as 2003, Nothing More is Jonny Hawkins on lead vocals, Daniel Oliver on bass, Mark Vollelunga on guitar, and Ben Anderson on drums. After years of hard work, honing their sound and style, Nothing More made an explosive entrance into the mainstream in 2014 when their self-titled album was released via Eleven Seven Music. Since touring with everyone from Shinedown to Five Finger Death Punch, Nothing More are a refreshing Hard Rock band with a very promising future.

Taking the stage, a shirtless Hawkins began with “Christ Copyright” on a drum set near the front of the stage. Soon joined by Anderson on the drums, the intro had a heavy, syncopated groove, driving hard into the hearts of the audience. Capitalizing on that emotion, the band went into “Mr. MTV” with its full-on funky groove, hooky chorus, and meaningful lyrics. A performance full of a lot of energy, the highlight of the set came as the band converged around a bass guitar suspended on a stand. One by one, with exception of Anderson, they began to play the bass. First Oliver, then Vollelunga, and finally Hawkins joined in with drumsticks adding a percussive element, all the while Anderson provided the beats. Then for the popular song “Jenny,” Hawkins asked if anybody knew any Jenny’s out there, to which he sang the intro with guitar accompaniment, before the full-on instrumental assault. Next was a new song, entitled “Ripping Me Apart,” before “Ocean Floor,” and “This Is The Time (Ballast).” Closing with “Salem,” the adrenaline rush was sky-high as the crowd yelled “Burn the Witch!” in response. All in all, Nothing More showed a lot of musicality and diversity in their style, putting forth a strong, interesting set.

Miss May I

Back over to the second stage, Miss May I looked out over a growing crowd of spectators. Formed in 2007, this Ohio based band has been touring non-stop for the past couple of years and even found time to release two consecutive studio albums with 2014’s Rise of the Lion and 2015’s Deathless. Showing no signs of fatigue, Miss May I look to continue their gowth through most of 2016.

Preparing for a explosive show, Jerod Boyd stood on his drum throne and took it all in. Then, when Vocalist Levi Benton, Guitarists B.J. Stead and Justin Aufdemkampe, along with Bassist Ryan Neff came together onstage, they went into the fast track “I.H.E.” Running across the stage delivering brutal vocals, Benton said, “We like to start early.” With that, he called for a Wall of Death, to which the crowd spread apart and, on cue, ran toward each other as the band hammered out “Turn Back The Time.” Never letting up on the onslaught, Miss May I went into “Masses of a Dying Breed,” “Hey Mister,” “Deathless,” and “Relentless Chaos.” Working the crowd into a frenzy, Miss May I gave one of the more memorable performances of the early day.


Shifting gears again, a mass gathered over at the main stage to see New York City’s Helmet. Forged in 1989, the Alternative Metal band has amassed seven studio albums and are currently working on a new record yet to be named. Sustaining ups and downs, in 1998 the band broke up, but after a five year hiatus, Founder, Singer, and Lead Guitarist Page Hamilton reformed Helmet. Going through numerous personnel changes since, Hamilton has enjoyed a solid lineup since 2010 with Dan Beeman on guitar, Dave Case on bass, and Kyle Stevenson on drums.

Proud of their history, the band kicked off with the first single off their 1994 album Betty, one everyone knows as “Milquetoast.” Sounding tight and powerful, they kept moving, but the biggest pop came when the band played “Unsung.” A favorite, the mosh pit grew in size and speed as fans felt the power of the 1992 mega hit. Keeping it old school, next was “Just Another Victim” from the movie soundtrack of 1993’s Judgement Night. Originally teamed up with House of Pain for the track, Helmet handled their business and delivered a brutal version before making the crowd roar for “In The Meantime.” Heads were banging with horns raised and it continued on through “Birth Defect,” which wrapped things up with bodies slamming into one another. Powerful and heavy, Helmet brought Metal with conviction.


With so much already transpiring in day two, one of the boldest moments for Death Metal fans would come when England’s Carcass hit the second stage. Formed back in 1985, they are considered one of the pioneers of Melodic Death Metal, and thankfully after breaking up in 1995, Carcass are back for the new millennium. A reunion inspired by Guitarist Michael Amott, Carcass has kept the engine going and, in 2013, released a killer new album, entitled Surgical Steel.

Including Guitarist Bill Steer and Bassist/Vocalist Jeff Walker, Drummer Daniel Wilding and Guitarist Ben Ash united on stage as their set began with “Exhume to Consume” and “Reek of Putrefaction.” With blast beats swirling around him, Walker stood center stage, delivering powerful vocals and thick bass to the mix as they moved into “Incarnated Solvent Abuse,” helping bring an old-school Death Metal vibe to the festival. Then, Steer and Walker traded and shared vocals as the band rifled through “Captive Bolt Pistol” and “Corporal Jigsore Quandary” before going for blood with 1993’s “Heartwork.” Always considering themselves a Death Metal band, Carcass represented the genre proudly at Chicago Open Air.

Pop Evil

A completely different end of the spectrum, Rock-n-Roll band Pop Evil were just about ready to take over the main stage. Calling the state of Michigan home, Pop Evil have come a long way since the release of their 2008 debut album Lipstick on the Mirror. Faced with the reality early on that if they wanted to make a career out of music, they would need to buckle down and curtail the partying, 2013’s Onyx was proof of a mature band. Furthering their journey toward the top of the Rock world, 2015’s Up continues to make an impact as Pop Evil tour in its support.

With a tight-laced lineup of Vocalist Leigh Kakaty, Guitarists Dave Grahs and Nick Fuelling, Bassist Matt DiRito, along with newly joined Drummer Hayley Cramer, Pop Evil began it all with “Deal with the Devil.” Gazing out into the massive crowd, the heavy track’s catchy hooks grabbed everyone’s attention as the band moved into “Lux.” As “Take It All” followed, DiRito’s hair whipped while Grahs and Fuelling delivered heavy chords with high energy that was a prelude to the octane of “Ways to Get High,” “100 in a 55,” and “In Disarray.” Then came “Torn to Pieces” and “Trenches,” which saw Kakaty walk on the audience’s hands as he laid back and allowed those hands to move him back to the stage. Wrapping it all up with “Footsteps,” Pop Evil put on a performance that was heavy with crowd interaction from start to finish.


Following the Rock-n-Roll dosage, fans returned to the second stage in search of Deafheaven. Born in 2010 in San Francisco, California when Vocalist George Clarke and Guitarist Kerry McCoy formed a two piece, Deafheaven has made strides forward since. After recording their first demo, the duo added three new members and recorded 2011’s Roads to Judah, and the critically acclaimed 2013 album Sunbather. Now with Drummer Daniel Tracy, Bassist Stephen Clark, and Guitarist Shiv Mehra, the band is currently touring in support of latest, 2015’s New Bermuda.

Casually strolling onto the stage as cheers from the crowd welcomed them, the last ones out were Tracy to the drums and Clarke to the microphone. Grabbing the mic stand, Clarke greeted Chicago and introduced “Brought to the Water;” a Black Metal song with lighter passages and catchy riffs that grabbed the crowd for all of its eight minute length. Clarke moved with the grace of a dancer, seemingly conducting the band and adding a theatrical element to the show. The band continued on to play the ten minute “Luna” and the equally expansive “Come Back.” Deafheaven offered epic songs that changed and moved through styles and feels while keeping the crowd engaged, delivering a show that had them cheering.

Alter Bridge

Performing next on the main stage was Florida’s Hard Rock superstars Alter Bridge. Formed in 2004, Singer and Guitarist Myles Kennedy joined former members of Creed, Singer/Guitarist Mark Tremonti, Bassist Brian Marshall, and Drummer Scott Phillips. Together, these musicians have been making great music ever since. Their 2004 release, One Day Remains, 2007’s Blackbird, 2010’s AB III as well as 2013’s Fortress all found commercial and critical success, and now they are set to return October 7th with their latest offering, The Last Hero.

Attracting a huge assembly of people, Alter Bridge looked out upon a sea of faces eagerly awaiting their performance. Wasting no time, they opened with “Addicted to Pain,” from Fortress; a fast, hard rocker that led right into “Find the Real,” from their debut album One Day Remains. The crowd sang along to the heavy groove as Kennedy and Tremonti harmonized, and at times traded vocals throughout “Ghost of Days Gone By,” “Metalingus,” and “Blackbird.” After “Isolation,” Kennedy addressed the crowd, thanking them for coming out to support Rock-n-Roll. This led the way for the finale of “Rise Today,” which was met with horns and fists in the air as Alter Bridge gave the crowd all they could handle and more.


Back at the second stage, an equally impressive crowd grew to see France’s Gojira. Together since 1996, Gojira’s story began with brothers Joe Duplantier on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, and Mario Duplantier on drums and percussion, along Christian Andreu on lead guitar. Joined by Bassist Jean-Michel Labadie in 2001, the band has gained recognition over the years for their complex songwriting and aggressive style. From 2001’s Terra Incognita to 2012’s L’Enfant Sauvage, Gojira are a band that has transcended their original underground following. Now changing directions once more, Gojira challenge their fans with 2016’s Magma.

Anxious, the crowd waited patiently and Joe Duplantier walked out playing the chorus of “Toxic Garbage Island,” as tension began to mount. Then, the crowd erupted as Mario Duplantier counted off and the band began the song. With everyone in a frenzy, next was “L’Enfant Sauvage,” followed by “The Heaviest Matter of the Universe,” which spawned pure chaos as the pit churned, hard and fast. The crowd took a short breath before they were treated to two new songs from Magma, those being “Silvera” and “Stranded.”

Heads banging and fists in the air, they reached back into their catalog, delivering “Flying Whales,” “Wisdom Comes,” and the heavy, powerful “Backbone.” As if it was all over, 2008’s “Vacuity” closed the set with authority, but the crowd wanted more. Gojira satisfied the audience’s hunger as the cheers and screams brought them out to perform one final song in the form of “Explosia,” which saw multiple crowd-surfers at any given time, keeping security on their toes. Giving one last blast of energy back to the band, Gojira deserved the positive reaction because they gave everyone a show to remember.

Breaking Benjamin

Migrating back to the main stage, the time had arrived for Breaking Benjamin. Founded in 1999 out in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania by Vocalist and Guitarist Benjamin Burnley, since 2014, the rest of the band has been made up of Guitarist Jasen Rauch, Guitarist Keith Wallen, Bassist Aaron Bruch, and Drummer Shaun Foist. A welcomed return following years of dominating Hard Rock, Breaking Benjamin picked up where they left off with 2015’s Dark Before Dawn matched by consistent touring.

Known for their energetic live sets, they captured everyone’s attention immediately with “So Cold” and “Angels Fall.” Following with “Sooner or Later,” the track was sung by Wallen, and the guitarist did a great job taking over lead vocals. In appreciation, the crowd gave off a mass of cheers. Next was “Blow Me Away,” and a medley of important songs from different artists which consisted of “The Imperial March” from 1980’s Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back, Tool’s “Schism,” Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and Pantera’s “Walk.” Eating up the array of songs, the crowd was still under the band’s spell through “Ashes of Eden,” “Breath,” and “Until the End.”

Hearing the guitar intro to “I Will Not Bow,” the audience became louder, singing in full voice along with the song as their hands swayed back and forth. When it ended, Burnley said to those gathered, “I want to thank you all so much for coming out tonight and making tonight legend ! So many incredible bands here today, we are honored to be among them, we are honored to be among all of you here tonight, thank you so much for keeping Rock and Roll alive.” He then dedicated “The Diary of Jane” to all of our Armed Forces. Again, the crowd sang loudly and bodies floated atop the crowd toward the stage. Hopefully back for good this time around, Breaking Benjamin showed why they are still one of Hard Rock’s elite.


Sticking to the main stage, up next was the one and only Korn. Birthed back in 1993 out in Bakersfield, California, Lead Vocalist Jonathan Davis, Guitarist  James “Munky” Shaffer, Bassist Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu, Guitarist Brian “Head” Welch, and Drummer Ray Luzier keep the legend of Korn going. Attaining massive commercial success throughout their career, 2016 sees the band ready to offer album number twelve with The Serenity of Suffering.

Preparing for the release of the new album in October, all around the festival, people carried Korn fans to keep cool and spread the message; NEW SINGLE “Rotting in Vain” 7.22.16. As the sun disappeared and darkness began, Luzier appeared behind the drums, pounding them as sirens blared all around, followed by Davis and the rest of the band to begin “Right Now.” The crowd bounced, fists pumping in the air, as Davis moved around the stage as only he can. With fans yelling and singing along, “Munky” heard the crowd roar when he began “Here to Stay;” a song that followed by a word for word sing along.

The darkness slowly increased around the main stage by the time Davis asked the crowd if they wanted to hear some new music; it would be the first time that Korn would perform “Rotting in Vain” live. Surprisingly, many were heard singing along to the, as of yet, unreleased single, proving the live premier was met with tremendous approval. Following up with more hits, tracks such as “Coming Undone,” “Somebody Someone,” and “Shoots and Ladders” were performed, the later where Davis launched the track with bagpipes. Bathed in yellow light, the band joined him, adding a bit of Metallica’s “One” to the end. Keeping it going with “Blind,” “Twist,” and “Did My Time,” Korn saved the best for last with “Falling Away From Me,” “Got the Life,” and “Freak on a Leash.” Putting on an incredible show and displaying their tremendous catalog of hits, Korn showed their love for the city of Chicago in grand fashion.


In the end there was only one, Chicago’s own Disturbed. Since their inception in 1996, Singer David Draiman, Guitarist Dan Donegan, Drummer Mike Wengren, and Bassist John Moyer (who replaced Steve Kmak in 2003) have released six studio albums, five of which have consecutively debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. These include 2000’s The Sickness, 2002’s Believe, 2005’s Ten Thousand Fists, 2008’s Indestructible, 2010’s Asylum, and their latest, 2015’s Immortalized. Hometown heroes, it was fitting for them to close out day two of Chicago Open Air, and judging by the size of the audience, it was a welcomed homecoming of the highest order.

Now, completely shrouded in darkness, Draiman stepped out onto the stage, bathed in red light, and asked to see their fists. Naturally, this ushered in “Ten Thousand Fists,” which saw the crowd pump their fists in the air in response. “The Game” was followed by “The Vengeful One,” which was met with leaping flames from the stage as Draiman stalked the stage in his long, sleeveless coat. Revved up and inspired, “Prayer,” “Liberate,” “Another Way to Die,” and “A Welcome Burden” came before mega hit “Stupify,” where the audience shouted along with Draiman, and yes, fists in the air. Returning to Immortalized, Draiman, now seated, was accompanied by piano, strings, acoustic guitars, and timpani, creating an incredible moment as he performed his rendition of Simon and Garfunkel classic, “The Sound of Silence.” It was met with a sea of lighters and cell phone lights as Draiman captured an emotional moment.

Picking it right back up, “Inside the Fire,” “The Light,” “Stricken,” and another one of their famous cover songs, Genesis’ “Land of Confusion,” followed to equally loud responses. Then, the last song of the night was perhaps the most touching as Draiman brought out a young boy from Tinley Park, Illinois. Fighting leukemia, the crowd chanted the boy’s nickname, over and over again, and Joe ”2tuff” Moylan smiled as he heard the chants and saw the fists raised in the air as cheers of encouragement drenched him. After the powerful moment, the band played “Indestructible,” which perhaps holds a whole new meaning for the young boy.

The crowd shouting for more and was successful in bringing the band back out as Draiman told them, “Only the city of Chicago could give birth to a band that would instill this kind of power in people. Only a city like Chicago can have a festival that would make you feel like this, infected and Down with The Sickness!” With that, the drums brought in “Down with The Sickness” as the crowd erupted as Disturbed gave the near capacity crowd a memorable night of Metal.

Day two of the Chicago Open Air Festival closed out loud, fast, and aggressive with an incredible lineup of bands. Highlighting a live, world premiere of Korn’s new single, the night was headlined by one of the biggest bands in the world. Another day of great food and drink, and another day that celebrated the power of heavy music, the festival continued to gain momentum as more people attended each day, setting up for its finale in day three.

Photos by: Aintellin Photography

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Mark Zapata
[email protected]

Mark Zapata is a drummer, author and educator. He has spent the last decade and a half in the east coast metal scene playing drums for Killjoy, Tsul 'Kalu and many others. Mark has shared the stage with such metal icons as Suffocation, Fear Factory, Anvil, Otep and many, many others. Mark brings his unique perspective and onstage experience to Cryptic Rock. He's been on those stages and he's been in those studios. He has and continues to live the life. Mark is currently teaching all styles of drumming to all ages at

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