It’s been one long summer of festivals for us at Circle Six - Mayhem, Ozzfest and now Uproar. And while the Mayhem Festival claims the top spot boasting the most solid lineup of bands from top to bottom, Uproar easily captures our interest as the festival with the best main stage of acts (at least the best of the three festivals that we’ve attended thus far). How can it not? Uproar features Halestorm, Stone Sour, Avenged Sevenfold and Disturbed all sharing the same stage. That alone is a hard lineup to beat – even with a relatively young Halestorm opening. But then add in the fact that two of the bands (or members of these bands) are in one way or another dealing with the death of band mates, mix in a little drummer controversy and sprinkle in some evil and on paper it would make one wonder if the festival could live up to the hype. Well, could it? In short, yes. Yes it could.
So let’s kick it off by talking about the biggest surprise of the night – which was also the very first band on the main stage - Halestorm. Now, I’m not sure why I always seem to be surprised by every band with a female front person that actually churns out good music. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised at all. There are plenty of good ones out there. In any case, I listened to a bunch of their tunes this week before seeing them open just to familiarize myself with their songs. I will say that Halestorm on disc is good - but Halestorm on stage is magic. Lzzy (yes, it's actually spelled that way) Hale has a strong command presence with a voice to match. She, along with brother Arejay, might be one of the better family duos to come around lately. I’m not sure what I was impressed with more - the fact that I was enjoying their set or that she was able to engage the crowd as well as she did and then take their show to the next level. How can one not be impressed by a band that borrows a page out of the Stomp repertoire with each member engaging in what can only be described as Taiko on trashcans? How’s that for adding a bit of culture to a rock show? Keep your eyes on Halestorm. They’re going to be around for a few more years.
With the future of Slipknot still unclear, Corey Taylor’s side project Stone Sour just might be the next best thing that Slipknot fans get for quite some time. For people following the Slipknot saga, there are grumblings and rumors that the death of bassist Paul Gray has signaled the end of Corey Taylor’s stint in the band whose members were delineated by numeric values rather than names. While I was disappointed with Stone Sour’s Audio Secrecy
that was recently released, I’ve been a fan of this side project for a while and was still curious to know whether or not I would enjoy Stone Sour nearly as much as I enjoyed those crazy clowns in Slipknot. Thoughts about the latest release aside, Corey Taylor is still the best voice in metal. If Slipknot is over, Stone Sour isn’t a bad second at all. It was great to finally hear “30/30-150” live. And while his new 'do makes him look more like a professional wrestler than singer, Corey Taylor and Stone Sour certainly did not disappoint.
This brings us to Avenged Sevenfold. With the success of Nightmare,
Avenged Sevenfold has once again proved their market strength by debuting at number one on the Billboard Top 200. I’m just going to go ahead and say it - Avenged Sevenfold is the best hard rock act in the world bar none. I’ve been leaning in that direction ever since I saw them on their Waking the Fallen
tour at the House of Blues several years ago, but after seeing them again in Chula Vista, CA on Saturday night, it’s hard to argue about their status as the king of the hill. It’s strange to think about when you consider the fact that they are on a tour where they aren’t even (technically) the top-billed band. That billing honor may have gone to Disturbed, but Avenged Sevenfold easily stole their thunder (more on that later). And this goes back to even before the release of Nightmare
. A7X has just been one of those bands that have had the swagger and the talent to back it up since day one. They are the perfect example of a band that could have folded after the death of their drummer, The Rev - in fact that may have been the only thing during their rise to superstardom that has given their fans a brief moment of uncertainty about the future of the band. But with the addition of Mike Portnoy (formerly of Dream Theater) on the album and tour, they’re literally an unstoppable force. In fact, I see this particular band making a solid run of it for a lot more years to come. (Especially if they keep Portnoy...but only time will tell on that one.) For their set this night, which included all the usual highlights that you would expect from A7X, they ruled the stage.
Now I will be the first to say that maybe I got Disturbed on an off night. If you want to throw down resumes, Disturbed consistently charts at number one on Billboard. If you were to map out their albums, like The Sickness or Ten Thousand Fists, they’ve had a dominant ten years of music that few can rival. But that’s the difference between laying down the perfect tracks in the studio and then trying to back it up on stage - sometimes it just doesn't translate during a live show. And turning up the bass to levels that rival many California earthquakes isn't necessarily going to hide what isn't working on the stage either. Their show just didn't resonate with me. That and the fact that front man, David Draiman was having a pretty tough time on this particular night from keeping his voice from cracking. While much of their playing was serviceable, their show was almost robotic and stale. I wish there was something else I could say, but it was a little disappointing. But then again, maybe it’s possible I was watching a Disturbed that wasn’t running on all cylinders. That’s possible too. You can't be around for this long and not be allowed your mulligan.
In any case, if you’re looking for a winner, it’s hard to say that anyone was better than Avenged. If you haven’t purchased Avenged Sevenfold’s Nightmare
, you might want to check out our review of the album here
. It's a great read. As for the best of the rest, Uproar also featured a couple of other good hard rock/metal acts that you might want to consider putting on your mp3 players that I didn’t have time to mention like Airbourne and Hellyeah who were featured on the second stage early in the day. But like I said, Uproar was never really about the second stage.
By Paul Stamat
All Photos by Paul Stamat 9/18/10 at Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre (Chula Vista, CA)