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Rockstar Uproar Festival roars through Simpsonville

Godsmack headlined the 2014 Rockstar Uproar Festival.
Godsmack headlined the 2014 Rockstar Uproar Festival.
Lizzy Davis Photography

Godsmack's very own drummer Shannon Larkin put it best, Rockstar Uproar is: "Kick ass bands, no attitudes backstage, great food, great parties and a general feeling that the fans are getting the best bang for their buck by every band laying it all out on the stage every night!" This year is the fifth installment of the annual Rockstar Energy Uproar Festival, and is headlined by none other than Godsmack themselves.

Godsmack surrounded by flames during their headline set on the Rockstar Uproar tour.
Lizzy Davis Photography

Beyond The Fade
At each stop of Uproar, a local Ernie Ball Battle of the Bands winner opens up the day on the Festival Stage. We caught the show on August 29th, at Charter Amphitheater in Simpsonville, SC, where Concord, NC local band Beyond The Fade kicked off the show. The five piece band put on an energetic performance, loaded with members bouncing around the stage. Their hard rock sound blended well with the rest of the lineup, which makes sense, since Beyond The Fade has opened up for a number of national acts, including Skillet and Seether, who are also on the Uproar lineup.

Sons of Revelry
Every year of Uproar, the Battle of the Bands winners from each tour stop go head to head in a Grand Prize competition with the winner guaranteed a spot on the following year's Uproar lineup. Last year, Sons of Revelry were the grand prize winners, and they were next up. Sons of Revelry carried what was possibly the most stand out sound of the day, almost as if being put in a time warp and momentarily being thrown back to the 60's. "Chillax" might be the most appropriate word to use to describe them - something you don't need to headbang to, but rather simply chill back, relax and enjoy the music. Don't let that description delude you though, they're still full of power and enthusiasm on stage.

3 Years Hollow
3 Years Hollow is another band that's had some previous experience with Rockstar Uproar. They were the regional Battle of the Bands winners at Tinley Park, IL, in 2012, and with production from famed Sevendust guitarist Clint Lowery, there's really no arguing why they've had the opportunity to join Uproar again. In terms of sound, they mingled well with other bands on the lineup, plus they enlivened the stage with intensity and impact.

Within Reason
Within Reason also returned for another round of Uproar, following their participation on the 3rd annual year of the festival in 2012. Though they identify most with the rock genre, they infuse a little bit of everything into their music. "Control" opens the set with harder hitting rock beats, while "Here Comes the Light" contrasts in a softer, more mainstream melodic sound, then "Ayo Technology" blends quick rap-like lyrics with rock and a hint of electronic. One thing remains a constant however: each song is equally as catchy as the next, and you're very likely to leave humming one of their tunes.

Escape The Fate
Up until the time Escape The Fate hit the stage, there wasn't much of a crowd worth mentioning, but it seemed like fans came crawling out of the grass to completely cover the area in front of the stage for them. Solidifying a seemingly common theme, Escape The Fate was previously on the Uproar lineup in 2011. The difference in three years? Memorable turned into unforgettable. While the music sounded good in 2011, the long term memory ended up being the goth appearance of each member. Though guitarist Kevin "Thrasher" Gruft still expressively sticking his tongue out while bassist Thomas "TJ" Bell crudely (but also entertainingly!) held his fingers in a "V" shape over his mouth and flicked his tongue out was certainly a picture worthy moment, the long term memories this year will be more of how spot on they sounded. The crowd was obviously hooked from the opening of "You're Insane" to the last note of Craig Mabbitt's utterly guttural vocals of "This War is Ours (The Guillotine II)".

Vocalist Josh Todd was born to entertain, and Uproar was no exception. In typical Buckcherry fashion, the band came out and "Lit Up" the stage. Josh energetically hopped and criss-crossed around the stage while occasionally rattling a tambourine. Guitarists Stevie D. and Keith Nelson displayed their chemistry on stage with a synchronized jump. Much of their set featured new songs from their recent EP release, simply titled F**k, and though it's hard not to be enticed by a multitude of catchy songs with the "F" word in them, the cover of Icona Pop's "Say F**k It" stands out in particular. Of course, Buckcherry also made sure to play the classic crowd favorites: "Everything," "Sorry," and "Crazy B**ch."

Pop Evil
After Buckcherry, a Canadian band that no one seemed familiar with (These Raven Skies) was scheduled to open up the main stage. Unfortunately, they were not able to even make it into the states thanks to visa issues (according to their Facebook page), thus there was a fairly lengthy lull in action before Pop Evil went on at their scheduled time.

Pop Evil has been touring on the verge of non-stop since the release of their third album Onyx in May, 2013. They opened with "Last Man Standing," the only song performed that was not from the recent album. Leigh Kakaty delivered his usual solid vocal performance, but he seemed to have a little extra energy in him at this show. In spite of the heat, he took sky high leaps off the risers, then would lather a couple cans of "Rockstar Water" on himself to cool down. After dousing himself and throwing the left overs into the crowd, he promptly returned to headbanging water sprays every which way. Pop Evil closed with "Deal With The Devil" and "Trenches," both No. 1 hit singles from Onyx, though sadly, Leigh did not make his way into the crowd like he's been known to do at many other shows.

In 2011 ranked Skillet in the top five Hardest Working Bands. As if their rigorous touring schedule and relentless fortitude on stage weren't enough to justify the ranking, the band scored six awards ranging from album of the year to best band of the year - in 2013 alone. Vocalist John Cooper dominates the mic, but for those who aren't familiar with Skillet, it might take a second to realize the female vocals coming from drummer goddess Jen Ledger. John is also joined on stage by his wife Korey Cooper, who rocks the guitar while strutting across stage sporting an unmissable blonde and pink hairdo. Despite touring virtually non-stop, Skillet somehow doesn't seem to make frequent stops in the Carolinas. Perhaps that's just one more reason to see them when given the chance!

They were at Carolina Rebellion and then again at Rock on the Range, and by no means are they newcomers to the main stage. Rightfully so, as Seether has been winning awards and receiving multiple RIAA album certifications since they hit mainstream popularity with "Fine Again" in 2002. Though Shaun Morgan isn't the most mobile or interactive person on stage, he delivers such unwaveringly solid vocals that might actually make you think you're listening to a studio album rather than hearing them live. Despite releasing their sixth studio album a mere two months ago, Seether stuck to playing the familiar songs they're so well known for. Those fan favorites included: "Broken," "Country Song," and a close out with "Remedy."

Godsmack was easily the most anticipated band on the lineup. After all, they haven't been on tour since 2012, plus their sixth studio album 1000hp dropped just a couple weeks ago on August 5th and Marty Walsh, the Mayor of the band's hometown of Boston, declared August 6 as "Godsmack Day" in honor of the release. Wait, what? A band with a day in honor of them? Now there's a feat to top!

Consistent with the opening of their set on the 2012 Uproar tour, Godsmack displayed a projected video on a stage curtain synced to AC/DC's "For Those About To Rock." The five minute long song had fans begging for Godsmack by the time the curtain dropped, but the immediate kick into new material was well worth the wait. They kicked off with "Generation Day," and "What's Next" and "Locked and Loaded" were among the new songs performed. "Something Different" was also played, and vocalist Sully Erna announced that the song would be the second single off 1000hp.

Though their stage set up was fairly basic, there was a major focus on Shannon Larkin's drum kit centered between two giant banners labeled with "1000hp". The light show was also quite notable, though not enough to outshine the spot on sounds of bassist Robbie Merrill and guitarist Tony Rombola with Sully's vocals on top. After a string of older singles ("Straight Out of Line," "Awake," "Speak" and "Voodoo") were played, Sully and Shannon had their infamous "Batalle de los Tambores" (English translation: Battle of the Drums). The battle is easily one of the highlights of Godsmack's show, in which the two drummers mix solos with playing together and entertain by seeing who can throw the drumstick higher into the air and still successfully catch it.

Sully continued the entertainment and scored major points for crowd interaction during the next song, opting to play ball with a bunch of solo cups full of beer... this time testing the crowd's ability to catch. At first, he started out close range, tossing the cup in a general direction with the hopes that someone would successfully catch it. After an even round of hit and misses, he began calling out specific people in the crowd that he was going to throw a cup to... and you wouldn't believe Sully's distance and accuracy without seeing it for yourself. After the final cup was caught, the attention turned back to the music, along with the huge batch of confetti that fell on the crowd for "Whatever's" final verse. The night was obviously coming to a quick close as the unmistakable sound of engine revs signified the start of 1000hp's title track and first single. Both "1000hp" and the final encore of "I Stand Alone" were accompanied by a brilliant dose of pyro, a felicitous end to the day.

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