The stage lights are coming down, gear is being crated, & bands are dispersing to their separate buses & individual roads to try regain some “normality” back into their existence. The 2010 Rockstar Energy Drink “UPROAR TOUR” is over, much to the dismay of the many fans who got to experience it & to those poor, unfortunate souls who did not. Upon hearing the lineup for this metal shredding event, I knew immediately that it would create MAJOR upheaval & MASS ticket sales. Hail The Villain, New Medicine, Hellyeah, Halestorm, Stone Sour, Avenged Sevenfold, with DISTURBED as a headliner – if you’re not in “HARDROCK HEAVEN”, there is something seriously wrong with that! It’s a day of meet & greet buzz, collecting band merchandise, & exposing oneself to an arsenal of pulsating music…& the fans in Saskatoon did not walk away disappointed.
Hoards of anticipators lined the outside of Credit Union Centre, waiting for the MAIN STAGE event as early as 9:00 AM, & I couldn’t help but realize that Saskatchewan has been musically starved from this genre for quite awhile. Although metal-inspired groups don’t always play to sold out crowds around here, their ENORMOUS IMPACT is still yearned for on the dust-riddled prairies. The same can be said for the rest of the continent, & out of the 35 dates in Canada & the US, the only thing that I would’ve changed about this musical queue is the addition of “Airbourne” to the Canadian leg.
The afternoon kicked off with Saigon Hookers opening the Jagermeister Stage…an energetic swashbuckle of “Musical truth – no reason, but to enjoy!” kind of rock mix from Kitchener, Ontario. Next up, Oshawa bred Hail The Villain pounced into action with an infectious alt-metal charge that had the growing ring of spectators unleash a MOSH PIT of fury. The band’s own vocalist, Bryan Crouch, even jumped into the mob at one point…revelling in the mayhem that they had spawned. With explosive power, & cutting-edge appeal, it was clear that this band should’ve performed directly before HELLYEAH. They pumped the crowd full of interactive jolt & had the autograph line to PROVE IT, once their set was over.
It was a challenge for Minneapolis’ New Medicine to follow the rousing assault of HTV, but they powered through a 5-6 song brigade including the most notable track “LAID” off their new album Race You To The Bottom. Their alternative grind has an almost post-grunge resilience, & although the stage show didn’t carry as much justice as their CD provides…they’re still a TERRIFIC NEW BAND that you definitely need to check out! When the “cattle call” came for White Cowbell Oklahoma, I wasn’t exactly sure just what was being rounded up…or if I was attending the Oklahoma State Fair. The white stetsons, faded jeans, & star-spangled sheriff were ALL TOO deceiving for a band from Toronto. I was pleasantly surprised by the six member, psychedelic-boogie rock sound…screaming 70’s “Edgar Winter” vibe. Whether they were the best contender for the lineup remains to be said, but they did bring diversity to the stage.
Stampeding into the late afternoon, HELLYEAH tore up Saskatoon with more drum power, growling riff “F$%K YOU” attitude than anybody there…& it was clear to see just WHO the outdoor fans had been pining for. I guess things really are BIGGER in Texas, & the magnitude of Vinnie Paul’s rhythm section plummeted the crowd during hits like Hellyeah, Goddamn, Matter of Time, & Cowboy Way. Now many would claim that this group is just a variant of the members’ previous musical excursions, most notably Mudvayne & Pantera. But irrefutably – they pack a SONIC PRESENCE amidst the Tribbett/Maxwell guitar combination, & Chad Gray is capable of belting out thrash-type groans or melodic strains that attract a wide range of followers. No need to go looking for “The Party” when Hellyeah is in town…they bring it directly to you!
We’ve now embarked inside for the “MOTHER LODE” show…including Pennsylvania hardrockers HALESTORM, whose uncompromising drive & connection to the audience left event-goers strategically hypnotized. Frontwoman, Lzzy Hale, captivates with sensuality & the most DYNAMIC VOICE since Heart’s Ann Wilson. As if having a tawdry affair with each listener…she boasts how climatic their experience will be together, despite not knowing each other very well at all. AROUSING it was…& with only ONE full album to their credit, Halestorm is still no stranger to working the stage – from Lzzy’s massive croons to the entertaining “trash can drum piece” pulled off by all. Percussionist, Arejay Hale, is a show unto himself…drumming in a skeletal-styled marching band suit, playing with OVERSIZED sticks, & even using his feet at some points during a solo routine. They slammed through an ever-too-short setlist which ended with the audience “Getting Off” on this very likable sensation.
The piano keys chimed into STONE SOUR’S new pounding anthem “Mission Statement” from their freshly released Audio Secrecy. I enjoy Corey Taylor in this element, rather than his covered up personae via Slipknot. His vocal integrity seems effortless, & when accompanied by straightforward guitar harmony…it keeps the sound resonant & absolute. There’s not much to be said about the stage dimension of Stone Sour, no abundance of production going on here, but Taylor entices with his likeable personality & smile…& generous attempts to DOUSE an audience with his water bottle. The band’s song structure is as simple as the clothes that they wear, but the skewed angles & reflective lyrical nature always make them a pleasure to listen to.
As eerie as the mist that crept over the stage, the arena drew to a hush……THEN SUDDENLY, a victim was hung before the gates of AVENGED SEVENFOLD. Breaking into “NIGHTMARE”, & a ten song set which had the crowd praising & hailing these hardcore metal-shockers, there was no grieving over their heavily dramatic exhibition. A7X has successfully combined some of the best attributes of 80’s metal with new guitar tricks & squeals that they can call their own. Add macabre lyrics & imagery to the equation, & you have a modern day Edgar Allan Poe. The inclusion of Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) was masterful in itself, because he packs more punch to his performance than most live drummers can muster together, & you can’t help but love that “LARGER THAN LIFE” kit. Matt Sanders may not be the strongest vocalist in the business, but his voice has a scouring charm with the triple guitar formation…& it’s much better than the screamo beginnings he once came from. Brian “Synyster Gates” Haner is absolutely BRILLIANT ripping out solos to match the bleeding punk-tempo of bassist, Jonathan Seward. The frontline of the band seemed to lose some momentum towards the end of their set, but the mosh pit maintained a steady flow of bodies hurdling in & out. Avenged Sevenfold is definitely worth a headlining spot on ANY TOUR – with sadistic undertones, piercing musicianship, & enough fiery “STAGE BANG” to keep an audience perplexed.
The opening bass-gallop of “Asylum” left DISTURBED FANS in sheer catatonia, as some thrashed ballistically & others stared in awe at this innately POWERFUL group. The approach is flawless for David Draiman’s signature spill of heavily pronounced, halting lyrics coupled with the “AH-AH” factor. He doesn’t even have to try…& it just releases, with a mix of harmonious long notes, for the audience to eat up. Dan Donegan is an extremely focused player…paying homage to his six-string mistress without any distraction, & the cohesiveness with Mike Wengren’s polyrhythmic drumming style gives the act it’s UNIQUE BITE. “Inside The Fire” saw the LED backdrop burn aflame, surrounding the stage & drum riser, forcing the audience to pay close attention to a song about suicide…a subject that holds prominence for Draiman from a past loss. The montage headed into Stricken, Another Way To Die, & Stupify – but there is nothing like looking into a sea of pounding arms during Ten Thousand Fists. The musical energy is channeled directly to the fans & determines WHY this band is one of the highest selling acts in recent years, dispersing over 11 MILLION ALBUMS worldwide. They left on a raging high note, with an “INDESTRUCTIBLE” show that seemed to end as quickly as it began…a show that was distinctly about the well-honed collaboration itself.
After 35 cities, & non-stop exhaustion, these NINE BANDS have easily secured the notion that “ROCK IS KING” & “METAL RULES”. The festival has attracted all ages from across North America, & longevity for the event looks promising…even in an uncertain musical world. Melodic metal, classic rock, progressive edge, grunge influence, & a hint of GLAM flamboyance give you all the HISTORICAL BEST from genres gone by. But the innovative interpretations, & youthful delivery by these musicians, are how an audience separates a “rock act” from a “cover band”. In no uncertain terms, the covers came off in the Saskatoon heat…leaving fans lusting for more hard-hitting “Rockstar Energy” music next year.
DISTURBED will be embarking on a US/European tour, in support of their latest release, with “Hail The Villain” following in hot pursuit for the opening slot. A7X, Stone Sour, & Hellyeah are coordinating efforts to travel from Japan back to Australia throughout various dates…while Halestorm has a steady round of performances lined up until 2011. The smaller “unknown” bands will have to go back to their regular lives, but this opportunity has opened up a competitive door for them that many others cannot brag about. It all starts on one small stage – & the next thing you know, you’re creating “UPROAR” everywhere! If the future lineup gets anymore THUNDEROUS than this one…it may just deafen the world.
BPatoine – October, 2010
It has been brought to our attention, that the US portion of the “DISTURBED TOUR” has been cancelled. David Draiman has been diagnosed with a serious (but treatable) throat condition, forcing the cancellation of some dates. ROCK U REVIEW wishes him a speedy recovery & continued success for the band.