Here in New Jersey, we’ve been pretty lucky this summer. The weather has been phenominal – nothing more than a couple of low 80 degree days that made this summer very relaxing and refreshing. Of course, the one day when a mostly-outdoor music festival rolls into town, Mother Nature decided to wake up and make it the most sweltering day of the summer. At Uproar Festival Camden, a few thousand concert goers had to find a way to beat the heat with little time in between sets.
One of the best things about Rockstar sponsored tours is that they give smaller bands that may not be as well-known a chance to play with a huge main lineup. Every year, the festival hosts an online Battle of the Bands competition where fans attending the festival can vote for a local band in their area for the opening spot on the tour date closest to them. Not only do they get to play the show, the grand prize finalist gets a dream prize package – a record deal, $10,000 worth of band gear, a feature in Revolver Magazine, a professional photoshoot with Lisa Johnson, autographed memorbilia, and of course, a year’s supply of Rockstar Energy Drink. While I had unfortunately missed the opportunity to check out our tri-state area’s local shot (I was backstage interviewing Escape The Fate’s Robert Ortiz), I was able to catch last year’s Battle of the Band winner, Sons of Revelery, amongst other bands such as Three Years Hollow and Within Reason.
Escape the Fate easily drew the most crowd reaction, as the Festival Stage plaza filled to the brim with fans trying to catch a glimpse of the performance. They ended up performing some of their most recent music. Of all of the bands that performed, they were the only group that got the crowd to form a pit. However, when the size wasn’t big enough for the band’s liking, causing a taunt from singer Craig Mabbitt, “If you’re too tired to get moving, there’s some lawn you can rest on over there.”
One fan even got a special dedication from the band. The band dedicated their single “Gorgeous Nightmare” to Kari Magenheim – also known as “Deena”, an independent wrestler from local federation 3WB. Some of the biggest ETF fans in the crowd were also the smallest in size – a young boy sat atop his father’s shoulders with sunglasses reading “Stay Metal” on the lenses – though he probably shouldn’t have been present for the following set.
Buckcherry were next to hit the stage and lived up to their debauchery-filled, vulgar party rock – opening with the single “Lit Up” and singer Josh Todd prompting the crowd to chant “Cocaine”. Though the content of the band’s music hasn’t changed much over the years (they just released an EP entitled Fuck, and even played the album’s title track), Todd’s stage presence certainly has – appearing far less inebriated than when we saw them at the Bamboozle Festival. Rather than opening up mosh pits, their music got most of the ladies in the crowd dancing – especially with “Crazy Bitch” as the closer.
The festival stage closed up and then it was Pop Evil’s turn. They took the main stage with an action packed set with tons of crowd involvement. The arena was filled to at least 1,000 concert goers who were actively singing along and raising the horns to songs like “Deal With the Devil” and “Last Man Standing”, and swaying along to the ballad “Torn to Pieces – which made us wonder – where was this crowd for their show across the river at the TLA? Notably missing from their (short) set was “Boss’s Daughter” – which is a shame, because it would have fit perfectly with their other high-impact songs.
The band that stole the show by far was Skillet – who changed up the “Hottest Chicks in Hard Rock” scene by not only having one – but two female members – drummer and singer Jen Ledger and rythm guitarist Korey Cooper (accompanied by her husband and frontman, John). Not only do these girls have undeniable talent, but they bring the stage presence to back it up. The band brought in classical elements by having a celloist and a violinist accompany them on stage, which brought a haunting draw to their show. Between the acoustic intro and rising pillars during “Awake and Alive”, the plumes of fog during “Monster” – Skillet put on an engaging show for fans familiar and new that we are definitely looking forward to seeing again.
Seether made their return to the Uproar stage after their Uproar 2011 run opening for Avenged Sevenfold. Their sound doesn’t disappoint – they are tight and on-point throughout the majority of their songs and sound exactly like how they do on the record. They stuck mostly to their popular singles, such as “Remedy”, “Breakdown”, “Rise Above This”, “Country Song” and “Fake It”. However, for a band I enjoy as much as Seether, their set fell a little flat. One thing that fans that have come to expect from Seether is that they don’t put on a visually spectacular stage show – they go on stage, play their songs, and get off stage. When it got around to playing their breakout hit “Broken”, there was some hope within members of the crowd that Jen from Skillet would come out and join singer Shaun Morgan for Amy Lee’s verses of the duet similar to what they do when they play shows with other female-fronted bands such as Halestorm. Alas, the song came and went with no surprise guests.
Since their return, Godsmack have caused quite a bit of controversy. Singer Sully Erna admitted that during the band’s hiatus, they were close to breaking up for good. Then, their set at the Mount Airy show was cancelled due to “production issues”, regardless of the fact that every other band was able to perform. However, they did allow fans from the Mount Airy show to redeem their tickets at the box office for Tuesday’s show. However, with a sold out orchestra section, this left some fans extremely unhappy that they were unable to watch their favorite band from the seat they paid $250 for. To open their set, a screen dropped from the stage and a short film of the band’s history played with AC/DC’s “For Those About to Rock” as the soundtrack. For casual fans, this may have been the highlight of their set – whereas for hardcore Godsmack fans – this was a primo performance from the band.
Unfortunately, due to venue restrictions, we were unable to shoot this show.
The Rockstar Uproar tour is heading to a city near you – visit rockstaruproar.com for more information, tour dates and tickets.