Rockstar Energy Drink’s Uproar Festival combines all the latest and greatest of alternative rock bands all slamming across some of America and Canada’s greatest outdoor venues. In 2011, the likes of Seether, Three Days Grace and Avenged Sevenfold took the major part of the bill. 2012’s lineup promised an equally large main stage crew with Staind, Godsmack and Shinedown. This year, old is made new again with mega-trifecta Coheed and Cambria, Jane’s Addiction and Alice in Chains taking North America by storm.
In the afternoon, the sun beats down on two smaller side stages at the front of the venue. Coldcock Herbal Whiskey (no joke) Showcase Stage and Zippo Encore Stage host up-and-comers who are equally eager to be part of such a tremendous lineup. Alternating between the two adjacent stages ’til the sun goes down is the name of the game, as one band starts playing immediately after its neighboring set ends. Middle Class Rut kicks the day off with the right amount of punch. Singer Sean Stockham’s gritty voice scrapes through their short set. Complete with a double drum set, this band packs a wallop.
Next up is Beware of Darkness, who can be compared to what an imaginary young garage-phase Black Sabbath would present. The Uproar tour is the perfect setting to debut tracks from their album Orthodox, released in May of this year. To begin with their bonus track “Be My Exorcist” is quite the unexpected salutation. Their raunchy, scrubby sound is catchy and easy to follow. Undoubtedly, these young fellows have a solid album that has all the potential to go far.
Following their lead, Danko Jones erupts next door at the Coldcock Stage, an appropriate assignment. His voice is crisp and smooth; his demeanor is anything but. When he yells, “We’re going to do it all night long” in “The Rules,” it is clear that he means business. Jones only gets more offensive as the set drags on. He even takes it upon himself to stop playing and single out a crowd member who is not paying attention to his song, forcing the entire audience to turn and stare. After thoroughly embarrassing the gentleman and flipping him off, he proceeds to describe his personal oral sex experiences to the crowd-– an obvious segue to his song “Lovercall.” Minus the aggressive attitude, Danko Jones, aka the make-believe lovechild of The Offspring and Metallica, is fun to listen to, but definitely not a must-see.
Those looking to just have a good time are elated to mosey next-door and catch The Dead Daisies. Strong riffs in hard-hitting melodies allure the crowd in, and popular hooks keep them around. They have a sweet energy and engage with the crowd beckoning people to clap and sing along. Their shining moment is playing “Fly,” a familiar tune because it is showcased in Pixar’s soundtrack to Planes. Although singer Jon Stevens dons a walking boot, an injury he acknowledges and refuses to explain, he still manages to carry his sound from the edge of his bar stool to the back of the venue. Ending their set with a fast and loud cover of The Beatles’ “Helter Skelter” is the perfect raw edge needed to carry into the final segment of the afternoon’s shenanigans.
It is undoubtedly an honor to witness Hall of Famer Duff McKagan grace the stage in his new band Walking Papers. Listening to “The Whole World’s Watching” serves as a reminder that the music-loving community indeed respects and cares to see his progression. McKagan’s project is an excellent addition to his resume. Their awesome bluesy rock rumbles and flows rather pleasantly. It is the ideal soundtrack for a killer backyard barbecue or a road trip that will never end. Singer-guitarist Jeff Angell may be small, but he belts out each song like it is his last. After ripping faces off with “Capital T,” they end the set with the sultry “Two Tickets and a Room,” during which Angell jumps down from the stage and meanders about the crowd high-fiving and encouraging fans to sing along with him into the microphone. For those willing to sacrifice missing the first few songs of Circa Survive’s impending show on the main stage, there is a meet and greet with Walking Papers across the way. For the many fans in line, shaking the hands of these rock stars is an privilege worth the wait.
Circa Survive is the perfect way to modernize the sound and mellow out the tone as the sun sets. The guitars are loud and on point. Drums are heavy and thrusting. The music is wiry and amusing. Bodies flow into the amphitheater seats and lawn like ants. This will indeed be an epic night. The view cannot be beat with the main stage down below, and Orange County’s purple-orange horizon in the backdrop. Singer Anthony Green voices how proud and honored the band is to be part of such a major lineup. They are indubitably on a big bill with Coheed and Cambria up next. “Brother Song” may say that “Everybody wants to see the worst in you,” but the best of the night is yet to come. The front man wails one last time as the sun goes down and guitars break into a roaring echo. Keeping it grungy, they bring it home with “Get Out,” closing a rather powerful set.
Coheed and Cambria dive right in and pick up the mood. Their ability to remain fully engaged in their music while the crowd roars with excitement is impressive. Fans sing at the top of their lungs as if their inner teenage high-schooler dreams are being fulfilled. They sound catchy as ever; and if fun rock is a real genre, they embody it wholly. Fans cheer and raise their hands with every familiar riff. When the entire band sings along, it almost resembles an 80s hair band moment. All in all, Coheed’s short stance feeds the people’s need for poppy alternative tock to break up the monotony of heat and harder metal earlier in the day.
Veterans Jane’s Addiction are perhaps the most anticipated act of the night. One onlooker exclaims that this is a “Bucket list band for sure, man!” Not to disappoint, they provide a full show with smoke, lights and even flying dancers. Theatrics aside, their strong bass lines and double kick drum live up to the hype. Even eventual shirtless singer Perry Farrell’s snakelike dance moves cannot shake the attention of the diehard fans. He interjects between songs, “Welcome to Temple! I couldn’t make it in Temple, so I made my own. You’re all Jews tonight!” Folks are picking up what he is putting down and it gets better. “Been Caught Stealing” brings the entire crowd to their feet, bouncing back and forth. Certainly, Jane’s Addiction can take command of any stage, but this is a sight to see. Dave Navarro’s guitar playing is on-point. He mimics Farrell’s scatting with his guitar in an utterly charming way. They even bring several extra drums on stage for the last few songs and all engage in a drumcore beat session for “Chip Away.” At the close, they assemble in front and take a bow. This was just a taste of the reckoning that waited in the wings, however.
Alice in Chains blast onto the large stage which is a nice surprise after the long wait between sets. No fair warning needed, though. Their music is welcomed with open arms. Red lights fill the stage, and the ominous tone seems all too fitting. This is the grunge that resonates through the years. As rough and scrappy as it can sound, Alice in Chains’ music is ironically polished after so many years.They are all energetic and forthright, bringing rage to the table in the best way possible. The culminating moment of the epic day is hearing “Man in a Box” live. Sing-a-longs ensue as the amphitheater vibrates with echoing bass waves. Even as the venue slowly empties, the unmistakable superfans remain to catch every last ounce of the night.
After much deliberation, the must-sees of Uproar Festival 2013 are Walking Papers and Jane’s Addiction. Both bands feed every desire an eager festival attendee could provide. Catch up with more tour news and follow ups on the event’s website here.
Beware of Darkness
Be My Exorcist
All Who Remain
The Dead Daisies
It’s Gonna Take Time
Lock and Load
Miles in Front of Me
Helter Skelter (cover)
The Whole World Is Watching
Your Secret’s Safe with Me
Two Tickets and a Room
Coheed and Cambria
2’s My Favorite 1
A Favor House Atlantic
Goodnight, Fair Lady
Ten Speed (Of God’s Blood & Burial)
Been Caught Stealing
Alice in Chains
Check My Brain
Man in the Box
Got Me Wrong
We Die Young
All photos courtesy of Owen Ela.