Ah, the wonders of Crue Fest 2.
10 Bands, two stages, and 20,000 inebriated metalheads champing
at the bit to experience what are supposed to be today’s finest hard rock
Seriously, what could be better than seven hours of
balls-to-the-wall distortion and predictably morose lyricisms?
Well, if the crowd at Darien Lake on Saturday meant anything, there aren’t
too many things ambitious enough to fit that bill. The vibe was raucous
from the onset and people were anxious to get down to business.
Keep in mind that a festival atmosphere enables you to pick and choose
which bands are deserving of your attention, so not only do you get music,
but you also end up purging calories running back and forth between each
This must be what Quiet Riot had in mind when they wrote “Metal
Health,” but I could be wrong.
Due to scheduling, I was only able to catch seven bands on the bill and,
sadly, not all of them performed at the same level of ferocity. Some
rocked, some shocked and some were just glad to be out of the house.
Rather than compose a traditional review, I decided to go through the
bands one by one and give you a snapshot of what they’re all about.
Here it goes:
Charm City Devils – I arrived just as they were jumping into their last
two numbers, so I can’t really offer too much detail. However, I heard
enough to know that overly-simplistic arrangements and cheese-filled
choruses can only get you so far before people start clamoring for the
16 Second Stare – Deafening riffs, plentiful F-bombs and Atreyu-esque
throat contortions sum-up this portion of the program, but a lot of fans
seem to enjoy that sort of thing. Comedian George Carlin once wondered
what a wolverine would sound like on PCP, so maybe that gives you an idea
of what this band focused on.
Drowning Pool – The bodies were literally hitting the floor during their
signature track, so it was pretty cool seeing how far the audience would
take the mayhem. Although the rest of the set droned on at times, they
still kicked it pretty hard when necessary.
Theory of a Deadman – As someone who likes this band a great deal, I was
disappointed with their lackluster showing on Saturday. Frontman Tyler
Connolly’s voice sounded way too coarse and high-pitched during songs like
“Bad Girlfriend” and “So Happy,” which threw off the entire feeling
usually conveyed through their music. Maybe it was the sound system or
maybe it was the fact that they’d been on tour for three months, but
something was definitely off.
Rev Theory – This explosive five-piece stole the show behind searing
vocals from Rich Luzzi, because they actually emitted an aura of
appreciation. They embraced the crowd, they sounded fantastic and they
left every ounce of energy on the stage behind them. Given that they had
such a small window with which to work, I can only imagine what they would do as a headliner.
Godsmack – Let me preface this by saying that I like Godsmack. I really do, but it’s hard to envision this band’s existence without taking into account everything Alice in Chains did during the early 1990s. The mystical vocal range, the depressing thematic range and the love affair with Drop-D are all reminiscent of Staley and Cantrell’s metallic brilliance, so keep that in mind every time you listen.
As for their set, it was filled with the usual hits like “Awake,” “Keep Away” and “Voodoo,” but Sully Erna was a little too standoffish to make the performance seem like anything other than a routine procedure. He kept inciting the crowd to get crazy by hurling cups of beer and getting upset when they didn’t catch them, so I guess there’s just no pleasing some people.
Musically, they sounded great, but the overall stage presence just wasn’t up to par.
Motley Crue – Nearly 30 years into their career, the bad boys of the Sunset Strip are still kicking out the jams. Vince Neil, Nikki Sixx, Mick Mars and Tommy Lee can always be counted on for a party and their double set to close out the festival was certainly an energetic endeavor. The Dr. Feelgood album was performed in its entirety followed by a mixture of old and new hits that kept people wanting more, which, to the haters, couldn’t have been a good sign.