Black Tide / Art of Dying / Sevendust / Escape The Fate / B.F.M.V. / Seether / Three Days Grace / Avenged Sevenfold August 31, 2011
It seems like Summer flew by in the blink of an eye and the last major Summer Festival to play the Maryland/Virginia/DC area was the Uproar Tour that hit Jiffy Lube Live in Virginia on August 31, 2011.
The Mayhem Fest is the proper "metal" fest while the Uproar Tour is the proper "hard rock" fest & the only way I can really explain the difference is that Mayhem Fest features heavier music that's a little rawer & gets less airplay whereas the bands on Uproar are radio darlings & you usually hear a barrage o' hits...prime examples of that are the 3 main bands on the big stage....Seether, Three Days Grace & A7X played sets that were almost all singles & songs that you could easily sing along to if you listen to rock radio or pay attention to what tracks are released as singles.
I tried my best to get to this show when gates opened so I could catch every band but sadly there was a bit more traffic than I expected on the VA beltway & I was in bumper to bumper traffic when the first band took the stage.
In the parking lot Hell or High Water sounded good from a distance but by the time I hit up will call & made my way to the 2nd stage area the band were done & Black Tide were getting ready to take the stage.
Hell or High Water played just under 30 minutes so I never had a shot at checking them out logistically, my first band of the day was Black Tide and I remember seeing that band a few years back...the band was comprised of young kids that played heavy metal & when I say young kids, they were in their mid/early teens & what I remembered of the band was that their singer/lead guitarist was a small kid, had really long brown hair & he reminded me the guitarist from Bad4Good who was a protege of Steve Vai many years back.
Gabriel from Black Tide looks like he spent a year in an African Prison because his long flowing locks are gone, he's covered in tatt's & the plugs in his ears are thicker than all of his fingers combined!
Black Tide's set was ok, they still sound the same as before, the only main difference in seeing them this time around was that the band members were a little older & going through puberty on tour...it was kinda funny to see the guys onstage all pimply faced & rockin' out because my first thought was that school just started this very week & these guys all look like high school kids who just got done geometry class, rushed to make the show & were probably getting ready to do their homework as soon as their set was done.
Black Tide were good but it's always a hard sell when you put young kids onstage before experienced older men because there's a certain level of experience that a teenager will never have compared to say the guys in Sevendust who have been around for many years & lived that life & paid their dues.
Art of Dying were next & this was my first exposure to the band or atleast I thought it was....when the band played their last song I realized I'd heard their "single" before although I couldn't tell you what the name of the song was, I just know I've heard it before!
Art of Dying is a Canadian band & are signed to Disturbed's record label which is owned by Dave & Don respectively.
Jonny Hetherington is the lead singer for Art of Dying & as soon as I saw the guy my first thought was, Holy Crap, he looks like a better looking version of Stephen Pearcy from Ratt! It's the hair! lol
Actually, Jonny dresses similar to Stephen Pearcy too & he has a stage presence that leads the bands performance quite well. The band tries to be modern yet they have a presence that's reminiscent of 80's hard rock & I don't think that's a bad thing because when you see Escape The Fate on the main stage of this tour they CLEARLY steal from 80's hard rock & metal in the clothes department!
The singer from Three Days Grace joined the band onstage to sing a song & it's actually funny how no one knew who he even was till Jonny said that he was the singer from Three Days Grace!
Art of Dying played a tight set & they were probably the only band on this bill that I'd never seen before & they impressed me with their live show...it wasn't anything groundbreaking but it was entertaining.
Sevendust headlined the 2nd stage & their set was only 30 minutes long which made them trim all the fat & play a set that was short, to the point, and with limited chit chat between songs. Lajon looked a little chubbier compared to the last time I'd seen him & the twin axe attack for the band both sported shaved heads.
Clint's hoodie bobbed on & off his head throughout their set & the band had 2 banner backdrops that covered their amps which resembled a baseball team logo.
Sevendust had the best crowd response on the 2nd stage & it's interesting to note that EVERY band on the bill except for Avenged Sevenfold did some sort of signing at one of the various tents throughout the concourse of the venue.
The sad fact about this particular show was that the crowd turn out was low & when I say low I mean that they literally gave out FREE pit tickets to anyone who came up the pit area when Three Days Grace were on the mainstage. This was the venues way of trying to fill in the pit area because the pit was literally only 1/2 full if that & they wanted the front area to be packed & crazy BUT the reality was that there were still gaps & the pit area was far from packed all night long...hell, the seats were only 1/2 filled & the lawn was practically empty!
I blame the low turn out on a few facts: For starters, this was a Wednesday & this was also the first week school started back, not to mention the show started at 2 PM in the afternoon so it's a no brainer that people have to work, kids had school & the overall planning was not laid out well considering this was a show more for the kiddies than the older crowd.
<p< Escape The Fate opened the mainstage with a 35 minute set & they were the band that really didn't fit this bill as far as I'm concerned.
The choppy hair, the mix of emo meets metal....I'll call Escape the Fate out & say they borrow from old school metal in terms of their looks yet their music was just....so/so. Probably the funniest part of their set was when female fans threw large Granny-Panties onstage & the bands singer held them up & then placed a pair on their guitarists mic stand...the bands guitarist seemed annoyed by that action & promptly tossed them off his mic stand & my first thought was, if that was Gene Simmons I betcha he would have left them hang off his mic stand! The emo kiddies don't role like the rockers of the past! lol
The Miss Uproar Tour contest was next on the mainstage & this pageant was sad in all honesty because the girls they picked were....blah!
The winner of the contest was the only pretty girl up there, she was a short, petite dark haired girl who actually was pretty...what I was thinking while this "contest" was taking place was, wow, this "contest" is the most insulting thing ever considering these girls were being judged by 2 of the pimply faced kids from Black Tide, the goofy bassist from Escape the Fate & 2 of the guys from Art of Dying....what girl would REALLY subject themselves to being judged by those guys?!? The prize wasn't even anything to speak of, they basically got onstage & subjected themselves to being made fun of by people who really had no right to judge anyone.
Bullet for My Valentine took the stage shortly after the "beauty" contest & my first observation about their stage set up was that all the amps in the front were not mic'd , the bands amps were not in clear view from the front of the stage so I had no idea what their rough set up was, the cabs infront were white & had the B.F.M.V. logo in the middle with strobes adorning the tops & when the band took the stage I though wow, Bullet for My Valentine are like the red headed step children of this tour & what I mean by that is, B.F.M.V. are a damn good metal band, they have 2 or 3 hits, their last record sold well, they did a strong headlining tour & essentially they were demoted to low band on the totem pole for this tour because the bands set was under an hour & they had full sound but didn't have full stage space because the other bands had a large amount of gear & props onstage....I'll compare the B.F.M.V. stage set up as a poor mans version of what Godsmack have on their current tour because there are numerous mic stands set up so Matt can sing in various spots onstage, but the space they had onstage was limited & therefore they did it all on a small scale!
"Your Betrayal" was the bands opener & they always deliver a strong set chock full o' metal, but on this tour they played at 6:20 PM & that's where my analogy of the "red headed step child" come into play because they seemed like the band that got overlooked, the band that didn't really fit the overall bill because they were a little heavier than some & therefore they got lost in the mix on this tour although they were a way better fit than Escape The Fate!
B.F.M.V. closed their set with a brand new song that had a decent amount o' Eddie Van Halen styled finger tapping in the beginning & end of the song and the saddest part of the bands set was that the crowd was just mid sized at best & the pit area was far from 1/2 filled.
Seether were next & they used the same basic stage set up that they had last time I saw them, they had 2 oversized fake amps & their bass drum head ripped off Van Halen's logo while Shawn's mic stand had 2 sets o' fake testicles hanging off it.
Shawn is best described as a fat Kurt Cobain, he's got a good scruffy voice, his demeanor is slacker personified, he's NOT a great guitarist, BUT he's good at what he does & every song in their set WAS a single!
"Rise Above" was the 2nd song in the set & to me that song was a personal favorite...the secret weapon Seether has is their bass player who's not just a solid bassist but also a damn good guitarist who plays 2nd guitar at various points in the set.
In my opinion Seether should have been co-headliners of the night but Three Days Grace were the co-headliners & I can't deny that they played hit after hit, EVERY song was a radio single & what I found myself doing was mixing up lyrics because many of their songs sound the same & there a few that are almost interchangeable as far as lyrics go.
The bands singer looked more like an artist or a poet than a rockstar & when I broke down what the band does in terms of their music, each song is crafted more like a story of sadness & depression or a poem as opposed to being a rock song & what I find comical is that the band tossed out probably 100 guitar pics throughout their set but on a playing level they really did very little as far as technique & style...they had some really nice custom shop guitars yet they played songs you could technically learn after a year of playing because nothing played onstage was that technically hard to play & their gear was more impressive than their playing.
What I do give Three Days Grace props for is that EVERYTHING you heard WAS played live onstage & there were spots where their drummer was playing keys, they had NO samples & other than the ending where their singer was arguing with a hat that sat on his mic stand (I am NOT joking) I thought the band did a good job & the crowd went nuts when they played "Let's Start a Riot".
Headliners of the night were Avenged Sevenfold & the last time I saw them they had just added their new drummer who replaced Portnoy...the obvious thing to note was that the band seems to have really hit a stride with their new drummer & he adds alot to their sound although he's still hidden behind the kit & not really acknowledged all that much.
The stage set up was very cliche & reminded me of something you might see in a Grim Reaper video or even an old Alice Cooper vid...the band brought their giant bat-skull mascot to life & at various points throughout the show he was lit on fire, shot pyro from various directions & A7X did the same thing that B.F.M.V. did, they had their amps offstage so you couldn't see what their gear set up was from the front of the stage!
The stage was covered with skulls & song number one was "Nightmare" which they've been opening with for most of this touring cycle & to my surprise song number 2 in the set was "Beast & the Harlot"!
The band has been making a point of not always playing "Beast & the Harlot" & "Bat Country" in their sets..what they had been doing was either playing one or the other but at this show they played BOTH songs & I always found it odd that they would skip one of those songs in their set considering they are probably the 2 biggest songs they have!
"So Far Away" was dedicated to The Rev & sounded great and the band added a few older gems to the set from their earlier records...Matt commented that they were mixing it up so they didn't keep playing the same old shit & boring people.
Probably the funniest moment in their set was when Matt commented that he could smell marijuana & then he laughed as he said it must be Obama because they were in DC!
The show ended promptly at 11 PM & it was a fun day of hard rock & metal which was a rather good indication of what the state of hard rock was like in the USA....nothing was over the top, amazing, mind blowing & spectacular BUT it was fun! The show was basically like turning on a rock radio station & hearing hit after hit and seeing bands you hear all the time. The crowd could have been larger but at the same time there was a decent amount o' rock fans there having a great time, celebrating all things rock & keeping the genre alive!