Godsmack Outshines All As Uproar Rocked Darien

Concert Review
2012 Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival
Darien Lake PAC
Darien Center, NY
Wednesday August 29, 2012
Ernie Ball Stage Review: Joseph Suto
Main Stage Review: Chris Kiebzak

The Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival exploded into the Darien Lake PAC Wednesday for an exciting day of music that featured two stages. One cool aspect of Uproar is giving some bands you may not know a chance to strut their stuff. This year the Ernie Ball Stage showcased such bands as Mindset Evolution, Candlelight Red, Redlight King and also featured already established acts In This Moment, Deuce and P.O.D. The main stage hosted Adelita’s Way, Staind, Godsmack and Shinedown.

Ernie Ball Stage

Up next were the Peoria, IL quintet Mindset Evolution. The band played a short twenty minute set that surely helped them add a few fans in the process. The band had a hint of Buckcherry in them and the mannerisms of lead singer Rob Ulrich reminded one of Buckcherry lead singer Josh Todd at times. Mindset Evolution knows a bit about the festival as they won the battle of the bands contest last year.

Candlelight Red took the stage and seized their opportunity as they got the crowd’s attention with an energetic cover of Roxette’s “The Look”. The four piece band hails from Central Pennsylvania and first came to prominence as they were handpicked to open a show for Kiss in 2010. The band is made up of singer Ryan Hoke, guitarist Jeremy Edge, bassist Jamie Morral and drummer Brian Dugan. Definitely one up and coming band to keep an eye on.

Redlight King is a band that features singer Mark “Kazzer” Kasprzyk who is originally from nearby Hamilton, Ontario as he mentioned during their brief set. Highlights included “City Life” and a blistering “Bullet In My Hand”.

In This Moment, a band that was formed in 2005 by singer Maria Brink and guitarist Chris Howorth took to the transformed stage next. The stage featured a huge microphone stand that was decorated with a pile of skulls at the base and more skulls leading up to the microphone itself. One complaint was with Brink who egged the crowd on to crowd surf with several photographers being in the pit area. Luckily no one got hurt but memo to Brink, wait till the photographers are done with their job before opening your mouth next time.

Deuce seemed to be the first band that didn’t quite fit in the mold of the others. I say seemed because as their set wore on, the band actually started to sing instead of rap, showing that they can bring it. “The One” was very heavy and seemed to get the crowd moving along as they ended on a more positive note than they began.

When it came to the Ernie Ball stage there was no doubt on who owned it. By the time P.O.D took the stage, the venue started to really fill up. P.O.D raised the bar and brought it as only they can. Vocalist Sonny Sandoval led the gang through their highest charting single “Youth Of The Nation” and “Southtown”, a track off their debut release. P.O.D. was a good way to end the Ernie Ball Stage segment of the show.

Main Stage

After seven bands and five hours of occupying the second stage, 6:00 p.m. came fast as we made our way under the tented main stage which was ready to kick things off  immediately following P.O.Ds intense set.

With a blend of strong hooks and harmony filled melody, Adelita’s Way and their somewhat heavy but mainstream style, at times fell flat. Arguing with my doubts, the few but proud that arrived early to said stage witnessed a soon to be staple in the hard rock touring industry. This was proven by the extreme warm response the band received from the beginning notes of set opener “The Collapse” where ringleader Rick DeJesus kept the momentum flowing with an attitude and energy that many frontmen should envy. Along with his impressive vocal range and rockstar looks, he displayed an ego but wildly fun persona which included taunting the many people outside of the pavilion that were not there to support the younger group. A simple backdrop depicting their latest effort, Home School Valedictorian, along with a row of Marshall amplifiers accompanied the more then eager five piece which hail from Las Vegas. Concluding their seven song set with fan favorite “Invincible”,  both the crowd and adrenaline forced DeJesus to bombard the crowed before surfing his way through the open pit area. This giving a jaw dropping reaction clearly gaining new followers.

Papa Roach were supposed to occupy the next slot but singer Jacoby Shaddix needed surgery so he had to pull off the tour. With Papa Roach off the tour, the final three bands played a little longer to make up for their time. Up next were one of the three “should be” headliners of the uproar festival, seasoned hard rock veterans, Staind. With seven studio albums and sixteen years of experience together, Aaron Lewis and company returned to the Buffalo, NY outskirt, in support of their 2011 self titled release. The stage contained an eye popping backdrop overcasting the Band, as they played the fitting “Eyes Wide Open” to start things off. The group then dove into more well known cuts from albums Chapter V and Break The Cycle. Strong song choices, filled with variety made it quickly evident that some voices in the audience may not have had time to heal due to the immense overpowering of  every lyric even sometimes out shining Lewis. Highlights of the sing alongs included back to back  “Outside” and “Mudshovel”, the latter of which began with the thunderous bass intro from Johnny April sending an uproar through the now hefty crowd. Containing all but one original member (drums), Staind continued to impress both on stage as well as on their recordings without ever straying from their original style. Their well oiled musicianship and heartfelt songs help to feature the harmony driven vocal abilities possessed by Lewis proving the group worthy of headliner status.

Metal titans Godsmack took things over with a hit heavy set containing songs from their five studio album discography, instantly winning over the majority in attendance.  Leader Sully Erna looked visibly proud to entertain the packed pavilion while the mesmerized fan base eagerly screamed along to the early “Keep Away”, one of only three songs included from the groups debut release. The hearty filled songs were enough until the major highlight of the evening, “Batalla de Los Tambores” featuring Erna along with eccentric drummer Shannon Larkin each pounding on separate drum kits took place. While first set up as a drum only duel, the two were then rejoined with bassist Robbie Merrill and guitarist Tony Rombola involving the crowd immensely with snippets of songs from heavyweights like AC/DC and Metallica to a strong ovation.

Unlike their early years Godsmack now relies on very little but a gigantic backdrop and their dedicated musicianship which shined through on the evenly somber “Voodoo”. Strong crowd participated hit on “Whatever” as an intoxicated Sully was toying with the females present in the audience. Ending their bombastic set with “I Stand Alone” left much more to be desired but can clearly be noted as one of the more entertaining sets of all summer here in Western NY. Hopefully the Boston natives will return soon, and as the headliner.

Closing out the eleven band festival was radio friendly, Shinedown. As the only band heating the stage with pyro and stage props, they treated the now much smaller audience to an energetic performance which was sadly dampened by their lack of originality and sustain that their set list had to offer. The bands new album, Amaryllis, recently released to shelves and Itunes, clearly was the main reason for their predecessors being smacked down to second last on the bill. The “main band light show” was entertaining for a bit but grew tiresome quickly when the actual material came into focus. Songs like “Diamond Eyes” and “If You Only Knew” may have started fun but became old. Lead vocalist, Brent Smith, an energetic but run of the mill front man, seemed to take a page from Mr. Axl Rose. Still, many people seemed to enjoy their performance as a strong connection seemed to be had by those still in attendance.

The 2012 Uproar festival will be remembered for its decent lineup, fair ticket price as well as how great the late August weather was, what more from summer could you ask for?

We would like to thank Kristine Ashton-Magnuson from Ashton-Magnuson Media for all her help in setting us up to cover this festival.

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About Joseph Suto

Location: Buffalo, NY Photographer/Reviewer
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