September 22, 2014 Uproar Festival 2014 dominates Camden, NJ 8-26-14
Commencing in 2010, Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival has become a mainstay in the late summer of North America’s busy rock tour season. Hosting some of the biggest bands in hard rock over the years, in 2013 the festival went a different direction with a list of alternative rock bands showcased on the two side stages while Jane’s Addiction and Alice in Chains headlined the main stage. Now in 2014, Uproar consolidated down to a festival and main stage, returning to their hard rock roots with a balance of elite and up-and-coming acts such as Sons of Revelry, Within Reason, 3 Years Hollow, Escape The Fate, Buckcherry, Pop Evil, Skillet, Seether, and Godsmack. A little over a week into the tour, just as everyone was getting ready to go back to school, on Tuesday August 26th, the tour rolled into Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, New Jersey for one of the hottest days of the summer.
Starting things off early was the local Ernie Ball Battle Of The Bands winner Rewind The Crisis. Out of Mount Olive, New Jersey, this three piece band has been pounding the pavement, playing shows in and around NJ, NY, and PA. Bringing to the stage an indie rock style with hard rock melodic edge, the band’s set captured the attention of all those who made the effort to arrive early in the day. Possessing a solid tight sound, this young band has a promising future. They are not entered in the Grand Prize competition, with the chance to win prizes valued at over $15,000 and a coveted spot on the 2015 Rockstar Energy Uproar Festival. Their debut self-titled album is out now.
From Brantford, Ontario next was 2013’s Ernie Ball Battle Of The Bands winner Sons of Revelry. Born from classic rock song structures with modern tints, the band comprises a raw and fun sound. Consisting of Scotland native Toby Black on lead vocal/lead guitar, Corey Brouwer on backup vocals/rhythm guitar, Arron Rayner on bass guitar, and Sean Boyle on drums; this hard working band were ready to rock and roll. Coming out with a ton of energy, mixing catchy riffs, warm vocals, and thick bass groove; they had everyone’s heads bopping. Their new EP Fractal features production by veteran engineer Jay Baumgardner and is out now.
Next up another promising rock band by the name of Within Reason graced the stage. Hailing from Birmingham, Alabama, this band has been plugging away independently for almost a decade now with the core of Chris Dow (vocals), David Koonce (Bass), and Griffin Zarbough (drums). Voted in 2007 as “Rock Band of the Year” and “Performer of the Year” for BAMA Music Awards, the band has also shared the stage with the likes of Chevelle, Black Stone Cherry, and The Ataris among others. Bursting onto the stage, wound up and ready to go, they played a blistering set of crunchy guitar-driven tunes. Dow showed the poise of a frontman through and through as he moved about the stage with grace enticing the audience and singing affectionately. Playing catch tunes like “Ayo Technology”, “Here Comes The Light” along with a cool cover of Linkin Park’s “Lost in Echoes”, these guys prove that they have a hard rock sound that can make some noise in the mainstream in a big way.
Moving right along, Quad Cities, Iowa/Illinois hard rock outfit 3 Years Hollow kept the energy flowing. Together now since 2006, the band has been extremely active touring and building a name for themselves. In 2012 they were Ernie Ball Battle of The Bands winner, which eventually garnished the attention of Imagen Records, inking them a record deal and assuring they were well on their way. Led by vocalist Jose Urquiza, guitarist Neil Kuhlman, guitarist Tony Reeves, bassist Dex Digga, and drummer Chris Cushman; 3 Years Hollow brought a heavy ground-shaking sound with songs like “The End of Demise” and “Remember”. Provoking a positive crowd reaction, cheers came after each tune as the set concluded with single “For Life”. Check out their newest album Cracks which features production by Sevendust’s Clint Lowery.
Gathering a massive crowd in the later part of the afternoon was Las Vegas, Nevada band Escape The Fate. Returning to Uproar Festival for the first time since 2011, the band has sustained a series of lineup changes, put out their most complete album to date with Ungrateful in 2013, and is perhaps stronger than ever. Co-headlining the Bury The Hatchet Tour with Falling in Reverse earlier in the year, Escape the Fate buzz is loud, proud, with fans clamoring for more. Erupting like a volcano, the band came onto the Festival Stage with “You’re Insane”. Vocalist Craig Mabbitt blazed through the screams and sang with ease as the crowd moved rapidly in excitement. Jamming all their most beloved tunes one after another, “Issues”, “Gorgeous Nightmare”, and “Fire It Up” kept the adrenaline level high. Guitarists Thomas “TJ” Bell and Kevin “Thrasher” Gruft’s chops were as spot on as ever as they showed animated emotion to the fans; making for a more entertaining performance. As the set marched on with rage on “Ungrateful” and party-like tune “One for the Money” Robert Ortiz’s hard hitting drumming was the backbone of this metal force of nature. Closing out with 2008 track “This War is Ours (The Guillotine II)”, Escape the Fate put on an absolutely powerful performance. They now head over to Europe in October for a headlining tour with Glamour of the Kill and New Years Day.
Headlining the Festival Stage was Southern Californian gritty rock vets Buckcherry. Perhaps one of the hardest working bands in rock-n-roll, Buckcherry’s dedication to the road is commendable as they appear to be out twelve months a year playing festivals, clubs, and arenas everywhere. Coming off the engaging concept album Confessions in 2013, the band is back supporting their new Fuck EP to the appreciation of dedicated fans. Wasting no time to get the ball rolling, they came out with old classics “Lit Up” and “Dead Again”. Vocalist Josh Todd, as limber as ever on stage, bounced around to the music as lead guitarist Keith Nelson blazed through one solo after another. The unity the band displayed while on stage is only one that can be had by musicians that perform live as often as they do. Charging into “All Night Long”, Todd’s enthusiasm had everyone’s hands in the air through new song “Somebody Fucked With Me”. The crowd loved every minute of it and appealed strongly to the beautiful side of Buckcherry music with songs like “Everything” and “Sorry”. Their set highlighted more songs from their new EP before ending with the crowd dancing and singing along to “Crazy Bitch”. Buckcherry’s tireless effort continues into October before they head to Japan in December, so do not miss them.
Moving over to the main stage, opening the amphitheater was Michigan’s Pop Evil. Plugging away since 2001, Pop Evil’s rise to rock fame has been a balanced attack begun with 2008 major label debut Lipstick on the Mirror and soaring with 2013’s Onyx. Proving their maturity in the game of rock, this band pulls no punches and is on a road to massive success at the rate they are going. Led by Leigh Kakatv on vocals, Pop Evil left it all out on the stage with a gut-wrenching set that began with “Last Man Standing”. Kakatv’s vivid singing was the jolt of lightning which brought each tune to life as guitarists Nick Fuelling and Dave Grashs, bassist Matt DiRito, along with drummer Chachi Riot provided sharp instrumentation. Playing tunes from Onyx such as “Torn to Pieces”, “Deal with the Devil”, and closing with “Trenches” left the audience’s hearts racing for more. Do not miss a chance to see this band as they continue to climb the ladder to the top.
Following was Memphis, Tennessee powerhouse hard rockers Skillet. No strangers to the scene, Skillet has crafted and perfected their style over the course of nine studio records since 1996 led by founding vocalist/bassist John Cooper along with his lovely wife, guitarist Korey Cooper, drummer Jen Ledger, and guitarist Seth Morrison. Awarded with the platinum selling Awake in 2009, Skillet followed with the chart topping album Rise in 2013 as they continue their dominance. Known for an inspiring live show, they lived up to their name, emerging from the smoke as they lifted off with “Whispers in the Dark”, “Sick of It”, and “Hero”. John’s pure emotion poured through his veins as he performed like a man possessed with fire and determination. Solidifying their inspiring sound, the string work of violinist Jonathan Chu and cellist Tate Olsen sent shivers down spines as they were lifted high above the stage with scissor lifts as they played. Offering up more of their electrifying tunes “Not Gonna Die”, “Awake and Alive”, and “Rise” followed before an amazing closing of “Monster” and “Rebirthing”. With both the crowd and band drenched in sweat upon the conclusion of the intense set, it is easy to see why Skillet continues to sustain such a strong name in rock.
As the temperature began to drop slightly, now that the sun set fully, no one was cooling down just yet as it was time for South Africa’s Seether. Recently releasing their highly anticipated sixth studio record, Isolate and Medicate, the grunge inspired band has been extremely busy touring thus far in 2014. Consistently producing thoughtful and real songs, guitarist and vocalist Shaun Morgan has stamped the sound of Seether as a distinct standout in modern rock. Often known for their mellower demeanor on stage, the band threw the audience for a loop coming out guns blazing with “Gasoline”. Morgan appeared energized by the massive audience as his tone sounded as good as ever going into older hit “Fine Again” and the emotional “Rise Above This”. Long time bassist Dale Stewart, along with drummer John Humphrey and guitarist Bryan Wickmann, packed a thick and full sound that had everyone out of their seat and moving. Morgan took a moment to thank the audience before letting the music do all the talking, moving into “Words as Weapons”, “Breakdown”, and an unforgettable rendition of “Broken”. That roller coaster of feelings, universal to all, went on with “Tonight” before a three song brigade of heavy rocking with “Country Song”, “Fake It”, and “Remedy”. Seether’s moody brand of hard rock is unique all its own and something all fans should experience live.
Wrapping up Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival was Boston, Massachusetts hard rock superstars Godsmack. Keeping the core of Godsmack unified with vocalist/guitarist Sully Erna, guitarist Tony Rombola, bassist Robbie Merrill, and drummer Shannon Larkin, this marks the band’s return to Uproar Festival as well as an overall return to the stage for the first time since 2012. Taking 2013 off after years of relentless touring, the revitalized band just released their sixth studio album 1000 Hp with a storm of excitement surrounding it. Dressed with a massive curtain concealing the stage from the audience before they began, the blood was rushing through the veins of spectators for the return of Godsmack.
Keeping everyone on the edge of their seat, AC/DC’s “For Those About To Rock” blared loudly into the air before the curtain came crashing down and Godsmack began with new song “Generation Day”. Sounding as immense and fierce as ever on vocals, Erna went into “Cry Like A Bitch” before rattling out new songs “What’s Next” along with “Locked and Loaded”. Erna, always colorful and a personal touch with fans, shined bright as he cracked jokes in between songs and kept the mood loose and fun. Theatrically complemented by massive flames burning behind the band, everyone screamed as they dusted off the old classic “Keep Away” and the fist clenching “Enemy”. With Merrill stage left and Rombola stage right, fans gazed in awe as Godsmack still prove to have one of the tightest rhythm sections in all of hard rock.
Not letting a dull moment pass, they went on into a well picked setlist featuring more new songs like “Something Different” before hits “Straight Out of Line”, “Awake”, “Speak”, and “Voodoo”. At this point the audience had already been beyond satisfied, and that is when the signature “Batalla de los Tambores” began with Erna behind a kit battling Larkin in an epic drum war. Always fresh and exciting, the applause came pouring down in appreciation for the spectacular display. Wound up and full of energy, Godsmack concluded with “Whatever”, “1000 Hp”, and an encore of “I Stand Alone”. It is safe to say that Godsmack are back and with a vengeance. Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival 2014 crowns the tour still one of the best hard rock conglomerates in North America, and fans cannot wait to see what 2015 will bring.