The annual Rockstar Energy-sponsored Uproar Festival sailed into Jones Beach yesterday, delivering 10 straight hours of alt-rock music headlined by the always-impressive Jane’s Addiction and Alice In Chains.
For the first time since its inaugural 2010 run, Uproar Fest travelled east of the Hudson River and offered New Yorkers an alternative to the usual Jersey date. This year also marked a distinct shift in musical tastes for the festival, which has hosted hard rock headliners like Godsmack, Disturbed and Shinedown in recent years but went decidedly emo for its 2013 run. Still, if Uproar’s goal is to offer a strong but tamer rock lineup than its Mayhem Fest cousin (my review of Mayhem ‘13 can be read here), then it handily succeeded.
Frankly, just Alice In Chains and Jane’s Addiction would be a worthwhile show to see on its own, as both 90’s juggernauts looked and sounded as good as ever, and even Alice in Chain’s new songs were well received by the audience of rockers. But with Circa Survive and Coheed & Cambria opening the main stage, it was no surprise to see plenty of teen fans wandering the beachside venue in tight black jeans and forward swept hair, while Iron Maiden t-shirt-wearing metalheads waited for the night’s heavier bands to play.
Many New Yorkers actually spent early Sunday afternoon in the Jones Beach parking lot, taking advantage of slightly rainy but otherwise decent tailgating weather, drinking, eating and listening from outside while bands like Middle Class Rut, New Politics, and Charming Liars played a second stage set up near the amphitheater. Free energy drinks, signings and other giveaways kept early attendees entertained while the second stage bands each powered through six song sets.
Veteran bands like Danko Jones and Walking Papers (featuring Guns n’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan) earned larger crowds, and Australian band The Dead Daisies impressed when their singer performed despite having his left leg immobilized in a cast.
Over on the main stage, few of Jones Beach’s 15,000 seats were filled for Circa Survive or Coheed & Cambria, but the fans who were there made their presence known by fervently singing along to their favorite songs. Coheed & Cambria made great use of their main stage slot, filling the amphitheater bowl with wicked guitarwork as dusk slowly settled over the ocean and fans from the parking lots began wandering in for the night’s two headliners.
Jane’s Addiction last played Jones Beach in 2009 as part of the NIN/JA tour, and Perry and Dave seemed glad to be back. Perry slapped hands with front row fans and even hugged a girl over the barricade, while Navarro mostly let his guitar do the talking, letting loose with an impressive guitar solo on Stop! and rocking the stage with his larger-than-life rock star presence.
A pair of Asian dancers performed mid-air acrobatics in addition to backing vocals, and even fans who may have been unfamiliar with JA were surely impressed by the show the band put on. With only enough time for nine songs, Perry and Dave stuck to their hits like Mountain Song, Ocean Size and Jane Says, all performed to perfection as if it was still 1993. They did find time to squeeze in a drum solo too, and ended the night with Chip Away, the final song from their debut self-titled album.
But as strong as Jane’s Addiction was, it was Alice in Chains that truly owned the night. The band, which has featured singer William DuVall since 2006, now boasts seven records and have become bona fide rock legends. That legacy was on full display as the band opened with the first two tracks of Dirt and Jones Beach rocked out to the hard-charging Them Bones and Dam That River.
AIC played three New York shows during their 2010 Black Gives Way To Blue tour (read my Madison Square Garden review here), and fans now intimately know DuVall, who channels the late Layne Staley’s vocals to an almost frightening degree. Guitarist Jerry Cantrell, however, had a surprise for fans who may not have seen him recently; his long rock star hair has been shorn super short (no word on how bassist Mike Inez still feels about friends letting friends get haircuts).
Technically the band is on Uproar promoting new album The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here, and they played new songs Hollow and Stone to an impressive reception. It was old favorites like Man In The Box, though, that really revved up the crowd and morphed into a full-blown sing-along as the band crunched through the wah-laced radio hit.
Cantrell and DuVall chose to bring out a pair of deeper tracks with Got Me Wrong and It Ain’t Like That, unexpected given the short festival timeslots and potentially unfamiliar crowd, but a great treat for die hard fans in attendance. The night’s emotional crescendo reached its peak later on during Nutshell, an acoustic gem that never fails to move the the crowd and get lighters waving in the air.
Alice in Chains also faced time constraints, an inevitable catch for festival tours and especially those with co-headliners, but ended the night strong with Would and a slowed-down, strung out Rooster that brought the entire theater to their feet and singing along.
Between the unearthly glowing stage lights (see my photos at the top of the page), open night sky, and Jerry and William’s harmonic chemistry, AIC delivered a stunning, surreal show that did full justice to the band’s brilliant discography. It’s a shame that they had to play in the context of the larger, otherwise emo Uproar Festival, but being able to enjoy the show at Jones Beach made Sunday night a worthwhile ticket buy for every fan in attendance, and if Coheed & Cambria or Danko Jones earned themselves some new fans in the process, all the better.
No future shows have been announced for either Alice In Chains or Jane’s Addiction, but AIC is almost certain to return for a fall or winter tour as they continue to support their new record. Expect a theater or ballroom date to be announced sooner rather than later, and in the meantime be sure to check out The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here. You’ll be glad you did.
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