Now that I’ve had some time to recover from spending 10 hours on the sun-drenched pavement inside Darien Lake Performing Arts Center for the 2012 Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival, let’s attempt to make sense of just what all the fuss was about.
Promoters sell the event as “the loudest, most rocking, and most energetic tour” on the market today, and it’s tough to argue with that assessment. The lineup features a wholesome dosage of what passes for essential hard rock in 2012 with enough diversity to satiate fans of all dispositions.
If you’re someone who feels the need to let unsuspecting concertgoers know your blood type, Candlelight Red and In This Moment will merrily afford you that opportunity. If you love rocking out but dislike the thought of not being able to get out of bed the next morning, Shinedown and Staind have you covered.
In essence, Uproar has a little something for everyone.
Given that this year marked my second time attending the festival, I knew what to expect, and prepared myself to keep an open mind when navigating my way through the lineup.
Let’s break it down:
Early Rise – This female-fronted outfit from Tel Aviv won the opening slot on Uproar in a Battle of the Bands, so they’re still in the process of finding themselves musically. Shades of Paramore, Flyleaf, and The Pretty Reckless enter their sound at every turn as singer Orly Lari attempts to differentiate her voice from other female rockers on the scene. Their set was engaging at times, but the sound on the side stage certainly didn’t do them any favors.
Mindset Evolution – They won last year’s Battle of the Bands, so I’m sure they appeal to someone at some point. They simply weren’t for me. I found singer Rob Ulrich to possess a sharp rock voice capable of delivering in the biggest moments, but I wasn’t overly enthused with the arrangements and didn’t see anything separating them from the pack of plastic bands you hear on the radio every day.
Candlelight Red – I was only able to catch their first three songs, but they were what you’d expect from a band predicated on punishing riffs and “kick-you-in-the-ass” vocals. Judging from the amount of bodies that flew around during the set, I’d say they struck a chord with those looking to throw down.
Redlight King – You may know them from the sampling of Neil Young’s “Old Man,” but they definitely bring much more than that to the table. Performing songs from 2011 release, “Something For the Pain,” Mark Kasprzyk and his band brought a grimy attitude to the stage that shined through on “Bullet in My Head” and “Comeback.”
In This Moment – Easily the heaviest of the bunch, In This Moment played its ass off as Maria Brink filled the role of sultry sorceress looking down upon the metal congregation from her altar made of human skulls. She’s a powerhouse vocalist who can scream and enact tenderness without compromise, and the twin guitar attack of Chris Howorth and Randy Weitzel represents the epitome of what metalcore is supposed to be about.
Deuce – Another artist I didn’t really respond to. He’s a former member of rap-metal concoction Hollywood Undead, so, if that’s your thing, I’m sure he made your day a successful one. I wasn’t that enamored with Hollywood Undead when I saw them in 2011, and Deuce doesn’t deviate too far away from that.
P.O.D. – Had this been a festival taking place in 2002, they would’ve been playing the main stage with no questions asked. With hits such as “Youth of a Nation” and “Alive” devouring the charts, P.O.D. was at the pinnacle of its powers a decade ago, but, in 2012, the side stage is where they’re forced to dwell. That didn’t stop them from turning in a stimulating set that reminded me of why I was into the band in the first place. I didn’t expect such a rousing effort, so I would file them under the pleasant surprise of the day.
Adelita’s Way – Frontman Rick DeJesus is a fireball of enthusiasm from the moment the band sets foot on stage, so it’s not difficult to understand why they graduated to the main stage. Hits such as “Sick,” “Criticize,” and “Alive” were forcefully administered to the Uproar faithful in a way you’d expect from a hungry band striving for legitimacy. They’ve come a long way since opening for Alter Bridge at the Town Ballroom in 2011, and the time for them to break out is underway.
Staind – Aaron Lewis’s style has always towed the line between depressing honesty and incessant whining in divisive fashion. Some people love it while others are ready to say “Shut the *&^% Up Already,” but, either way, he knows how to elicit a reaction. Personally, I thought it was something special when he performed “Outside” at the Family Values tour back in 1999, but the music became stale fast for me. That said, the band’s performance at Uproar was polished with quality songs such as “It’s Been Awhile,” “Right Here,” and “Mudshovel,” yet didn’t make me any more interested in them than I was prior to seeing them.
Godsmack – Here is where things got serious. Sully Erna, Tony Rombola, Robbie Merrill, and Shannon Larkin cemented their status as the real stars of the tour with an hour’s worth of greatest hits played flawlessly. They were clearly the band everyone came to see, and they didn’t disappoint one iota. Highlights for me included “Awake,” “Speak,” and “Batalla De Los Tambores,” which has become the centerpiece of Godsmack’s invigorating live performance. We’re talking about songs that feed off raw emotion and torment, so it’s best to just sit back and enjoy the ride.