Rock Star Energy Drink puts on the best festivals. 2014’s Uproar Festival is no different. They cut the size of the festival down this year but not the energy. In the past there have been two headliners. I had actually been to a couple Uproar Festivals with Godsmack on the bill. They coheadlined one year with Disturbed and one year with Shinedown. Both shows Godsmack played first. After both shows, the fans that came specifically for Disturbed and Shinedown left the show fans of Godsmack.
At the Peru, IL stop (which was in the middle of a tarmac surrounded by cornfields) the battle of the bands winner Aterra Tale kicked things off. These boys are fairly local so I’ve seen them a handful of times before. They’re really building up a solid following locally and expanding on that similar to way Three Years Hollow and Mindset Evolution did before them. They started the show with a brief set but there was definitely an audience there to see them. I look forward to what they do over the next couple of years. Last years battle of the bands winner Sons of Revelry were up next. Sons of Revelry is one of the examples of why I love Uproar. The variety of the bands is the draw for me. Sons of Revelry is probably the least heavy of all the bands on the bill but their songs are great and their performance was great. It was rock music but it was a nice change of pace and a wholly original experience.
The heaviest band on the bill was probably Fun Gone Wrong. I didn’t even know these guys were gonna be there. They played with these cheap boxes on their heads. It was silly and tough to take seriously but strap a couple of Dimebag Darrell signature Washburn guitars on and I was all ears. If nothing else people were still talking about them at the end of the night.
Local boys gone world wide Three Years Hollow were up next. These guys get better every time I see them. They’re a hard rock band in the vein of Godsmack and Seether which makes them perfect for this tour. I wouldn’t say this if I didn’t mean it, but based on this performance and their album “Cracks,” I think they are maybe two years and another album away from being a Main Stage band and eventually a headliner.
Escape the Fate brought the heavy back. They also had the best stage presence of the day up until that point. These guys know their way around a stage. Escape the Fate has constantly been making a name for themselves over the past couple of years, each year being bigger than the next. Four bands four completely different sounds.
Buckcherry the bluesy dirty rock band headlined the second stage. It was funny because after Escape the Fate everybody went running to the Main Stage to see Buckcherry. Poor bastards lost their front row seats. They came back though, but they had to stand just a little further back. My favorite band on the bill is hands down Buckcherry. I love their style of rock music. They were showcasing their new EP “Fuck.” I hadn’t heard it up until that point, but the songs were so good I went over and purchased the EP immediately after the set.
Being the second stage headliner has got to be the best spot on one of these festival tours. You get to play the second longest set, everybody is still there, but it’s still much more intimate than the Main Stage. Buckcherry kicked off the set with “Lit Up” closed the set with “Crazy Bitch” and in between mixed in a few “Fuck”s and a couple of ballads. Five bands, five completely different sounds.
Over at the Main Stage Pop Evil got things warmed up. It’s really like two different shows. The stage is so huge and far away from the audience. Pop Evil probably had the toughest spot of the night. They got to play in front of a ton of people but everything was so intimate before and now it’s so big. Pop Evil’s been around the block and they were up to the task. Six bands six different sounds.
Once Seether hit the stage it all started to come together. All of the sudden we got to hear the source material. You can hear the influence of bands like Seether and Godsmack in most of the bands I’ve mentioned (they all have their unique take on that influence, but it’s there none the less). Of all the “big” bands on the bill, Seether is the only band I hadn’t seen before. Seether is an example of great songs doing all the work. There are no bells and whistles. You can put these guys in front of 10 people or 10,000 people and you’re going to get an equally good show. There’s something to be said for less is more. They don’t need to jump around and blow shit up. Seether was one of the bright spots of the night for me.
Godsmack on the other hand doesn’t need to jump around and blow shit up either, but they do. Apparently the night before Sully told the fans in Detroit if they were loud enough he was going to call the fans in Chicago a bunch of pussies when he came to Chicago. Sully didn’t call us pussies so that could mean one of three things 1) Detroit wasn’t loud enough, 2) Peru is far enough away from Chicago where you can’t really call it Chicago or 3) he said it and I missed it. Sully did seem pretty amazed at the idea of a concert on a tarmac in the middle of cornfields. I’d like to think the fans in Detroit just weren’t quite up to par :).
Anybody who came to Uproar for any band other than Godsmack, left a Godsmack fan. Even if you’re not a huge Godsmack fan, you know the songs and once you see them live those songs just take on a whole new life. There are only a handful of bands that can follow Godsmack and not suck. I’ve only seen it once myself and that was when Godsmack opened for Metallica. The new album “1000 HP” seems to have reinvigorated the band and it really showed. I wouldn’t have been that shocked if Godsmack had just phoned it in on a town like Peru, IL, but that wasn’t the case. If they did in fact phone it in then they’re still pretty fucking awesome when they phone it in. Once again Godsmack won the night.
BYLINE: Bob Zerull is the Managing Editor of Zoiks! Online. He writes pop culture commentary, does interviews with bands, and reviews music and stand-up concerts. He also administers Zoiks! Online's Facebook page. Follow Bob on twitter at bzerull. Email Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org.