JAM Magazine Concert Reviews

September 16, 2012
Gexa Energy Pavilion
Dallas, TX USA
Review by Christopher Zambello
Photos by James Villa

Uproar Festival - 2012

Uproar Festival 2012

Summertime means just one thing for hard-core metal enthusiasts - rock festivals! One of the biggest and the best of these events is the Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival. With multiple stages, fifteen bands, meet-and-greets, and enough mosh pit action to leave you with free black and blue souvenirs to last until Christmas, it's a must-see annual event you need to always mark down on the calendar.

The beauty of Uproar, besides the great music you hear, is the various curiosities your run across throughout the day into the night. The number one enemy of all outdoor festivals is the heat. I caught this year's event on Sept. 13 in Tampa. True die-hard fans didn't let a little thing like work (the 13th fell on a Thursday) or even school, interfere with the chance to be up-close and personal with some of their favorite artists, or check-out the new up-and-coming talent.

I caught this year's event at the 1-800-ask-gary amphitheater. It has to be the funniest name for an outdoor venue in America. AskGary is a lawyer referral service, and I wouldn't have been surprised if they received a few phone calls today. Another feature to this facility is the strict noise ordinance all bands must adhere to because of the neighborhoods located nearby. If you crank up the decibels too high, you will be fined. Oddly enough, the city code apparently did not apply to the noise emanating from parked vehicles. As I made my way through the parking lot, there seemed to be a war of car stereos blasting away in every direction. The music of Uproar headliners Staind, Godsmack and Shinedown could be heard throughout the vast parking area, at decibel levels that surely put nearby homes on notice they were in for a very long, hard rocking afternoon.

Floridian's are an interesting lot of people. They know exactly how to beat the heat - drink plenty of beer. When I arrived around noon on this clear sunshiny day, I could have sworn I had mistakenly crashed an ongoing Oktoberfest celebration. The amount of refreshments being hammered down actually surprised me. I quickly did a set of calculations in my head. The temperature was going to reach 92 degrees. Factor in the humidity at 95 percent with zero wind gusts. If one starts the day downing a 12-pack of Miller Lite at noon, one of four things is going to happen. Figure that P.O.D. will hit the Ernie Ball Stage around 5:30. Adelitas Way kicks off the main stage events an hour later. By that time, the hearty party people in the parking lot will have either A) passed out; B) puked their guts out; C) woke up in an ambulance with an IV dripping into their vein; D) all of the above. Yes folks, this was going to be an event to remember, or in some cases, totally forget.

Once you make your way into the amphitheater, the atmosphere inside had a carnival like vibe going for it. The people you encountered were almost as entertaining as the bands. Men and women of all shapes and sizes were walking around. The dominating theme for the guys was the Mohawk style haircut. Not to be outdone in the fashion statement area you had an incredible amount of ladies walking about with face piercings. All were shuffling around in their Sunday best concert shirts. Today's color of choice was de rigueur black, ideal for reflecting the hot rays of the sun. Yes, Floridians were making statements aplenty this fine Uproar day.

One of the great features of this festival is the constant flow of incredible music you hear early in the day on the adjacent Ernie Ball and Jaggermeister stages. This year's talent pool of hard rocking bands was exceptional. Groups like Within Reason, Candlelight Red, Mindset Evolution and Redlight King alternated their performances before packed crowds. As one band would finish their set, the other would start playing minutes later. The constant flow of music kept the crowd involved. Whenever people figured out their black attire wasn't doing a good enough job of keeping them cool, they could always walk over to the Rockstar Energy drink tent. Facing the side stages, the tent offered much needed relief in two distinct ways. There was the obvious shade factor and the complimentary Rockstar Energy drinks in a variety of flavors. Fortified with such key ingredients as sugar and caffeine, you were guaranteed to feel like a shooting star in no time!

And if that wasn't enough cool-in-the-shade action for you, an unannounced comedy show was occurring over at a nearby Jagger tent. Five shapely, and quite attractive women, were convincing virile young studs to perform less than manly stunts in order to receive treasured keepsakes. those momentos included key chains, lanyards or stick-on tattoos. It really is amazing how a pretty, non-pierced face can entice the opposite six to do absolutely stupid things. Then again, a little humility never hurt anyone. It was another reason why Uproar is such an interesting spectacle to behold, no matter what day of the week it occurs.

On a serious note, kudos to this Florida crowd for standing in autograph lines for hours to meet their favorite artists. Yes, they had to purchase a CD to gain entry, but the autographs, pictures and handshakes were worth the wait. As an added bonus, the items they had signed would last longer than all the expensive beer they were purchasing inside the venue.

As daylight began to fade, and dusk settled on P.O.D.'s set, the main stage entrance had finally opened. It would be up to Adelitas Way, who replaced Papa Roach when singer Jacoby Shaddix came down with throat problems early in the tour, to kick things off. Vocalist Rick DeJesus and his Las Vegas crew were up to the challenge of warming up the thousands of rock fans streaming into the covered pavilion searching for their seats, or filing into the pit are located center stage After their short set, the stampede to the men's bathroom was on before Staind hit the stage.

Tonight aaron Lewis & Co. simply kicked ass with their opening hard rocking number, "Eyes Wide Open". The crowd rose to their feet and never sat back down, especially when guitarist Mike Mushok started playing the opening chords to the second number, "Right Here" The audience was singing so loud and proud to this song, Lewis could have let the 20,000 strong do the work for him. Before I go on, I want to give some props to the singer / songwriter. He has been on the road most of the year, first with his main band and then as a solo artist. Before Uproar, he'd done a summer tour of small clubs and country festivals. Though none of the tunes performed by Staind this evening included any of his solo material, the Staind tunes selected for this particular crowd brought the house down. The band's ten-song set list included "It's Been Awhile", "Outside" (both tunes sing-a-long favorites), as well as their epic ballad, "Something to Remind You".

Staind's energized set definitely put Godsmack on notice. The band was more than up for the challenge. Before the band entered the stage, the loud speakers blasted AC/DC's "For Those About to Rock" through the speaker systems to put the crowd in the right frame of mind. As front man Sully Erna, guitarist Tony Rombola, bassist Robbie Merrill and drummer Shannon Larkin appeared. As the members stood on stage, a well-defined mosh pit quickly emerged. In the center of this large hole was a '6-5" mammoth of a man. He easily topped the scales at some 400 plus pounds. He was a kind giant as well. Several times throughout Godsmack's set, I saw him carry out exhausted or injury mosh pit victims to the safety of the outer circle.

Sully and his well-oiled machine gave the fans exactly what they wanted to hear - some hard rocking music. That's not to say Staind didn't deliver, because they did, but the crunching bass lines of Robbie Merrill are something you need to witness first-hand to truly appreciate the affect it has on the crowd. Heads were bobbing and fists where pumping by the thousands to Merrill's pounding beat. From the opening lines of "Enemy" to the last notes of "I Stand Alone", watching this bassist perform was a not only exhausting, but a thrill as well.

The surprise of the evening goes to Shinedown, especially for their rendition of Lynyrd Skynyrd's classic "Simple Man". Clear and crisp, singer Brent Smith and guitarist Zach Meyers popped up in the middle of the crowd halfway through the song and made this acoustic ballad a performance not to be forgotten.

Walking away through a never-ending crowd of zombie-like fans, who seemed to be holding up every wall they could get their hands onto, I came to the realization this festival was more than just a celebration of music. It was a ‘second chance' for rock fans to be themselves without fear of ridicule or scorn. Tonight they could pump their fists in the air and sing until their voices couldn't take it anymore. Sometimes goodbye is a second chance, and tonight this Tampa crowd gave it their best shot to rock the night (and day) solidly away.