Friday, August 29, Simpsonville, SC played host to the Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival which acted as 93.3 The Planet’s annual “Birthday Bash” celebration. Bringing some of the biggest names in rock to the small town, the festival offered a diverse line-up of talent that ran the gamut of the rock spectrum and crossed various generations. The gates opened up at 1:00pm at the Charter Amphitheater letting in the excited masses during the midday heat.
North Carolina locals Beyond The Fate from Concord, N.C helped amp up the crowd with their infectious hard rock tunes and melodies. The crowd could be seen rocking out with the Carolina locals as they coursed through a set of engaging tracks and stage charm. Canadian rock band and 2013’s Uproar Battle of the Bands winner Sons Of Revelry took the stage next, bringing their unique brand of rock n’ roll. With plenty of charisma and passion, these guys brought a classic rock n’ roll sound to an otherwise hard rock/meta tour. Rife with crunchy guitars, bouncy drums, and gracious humility, Sons Of Revelry sparked a kind of happy upswing to the blisteringly hot afternoon.3 Years Hollow came along packing an arsenal of energy and powerful songs from their repertoire. Of their set list during the songs “Remember” and “Chemical Ride” fans of the band quickly identified themselves as they sang along to the catchy tunes, and head-banged along with the band. Within Reason brought some new energy to the stage with their diverse set that had fans moving and rocking alongside them.
Up next was Escape The Fate who were no strangers to the Uproar stage having been on the tour back in 2011. Kicking off with “Choose Your Fate” melding into the high energy “You’re Insane,” ETF began their full-frontal assault on the crowd. The post-hardcore outfit ran and leapt across the stage, covering every corner. Guitarist Kevin “Thrasher” Gruft and bassist Thomas “TJ” Bell made sure to engage and draw the attention of the crowd via stage movement and sticking their tongues out (sometimes explicitly so). Blowing through a set list that also included “Issues” and “Ungrateful,” the title track off their latest album, vocalist Craig Mabbit and company attracted one of the biggest crowds seen up until that point.
Having just released a new EP, F*ck, Buckcherry brought not only an incredible performance, but a sampling of old and new songs. Front man Josh Todd was made for the stage as he moved and bounced across it with ease. With the prowess of seasoned professionals, Todd and guitarist Stevie Dacanay owned the stage and raged in the limelight of the sea of fans singing along to every song. Playing a set list that consisted of both old and new material, songs included their 1999 hit single “Lit Up,” “Somebody F*cked With Me,” and their 2005 ballad “Sorry.” Never ones to leave their fans instantiated, the band closed with their smash hit "Crazy Bitch” and the crowd was loving. Fans could be seen across the grass singing and dancing along to the hit single as Buckcherry wrapped up their day at Uproar Simpsonville.
When the main stage opened up, a Canadian band called These Raven Skies were set to perform, but unfortunately didn’t make it and their scheduled set time came and went, creating a bit of lull in the otherwise frenetic pace of the day. So, when Pop Evil finally took the stage, the crowd had grown exponentially and was eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Michigan rockers. If ever there were a group meant to perform it’s the men of Pop Evil. Full of tenacious energy and oozing charisma, Pop Evil wasted no time jumping into the fold. Opening with “Last Man Standing,” the guys wasted no time cranking out the powerful riffs and fierce vocals. Drummer Chachi Riot could be seen at the back of the stage on his drum riser going to town on his kit and making faces at the crowd. Front man Leigh Kakaty seemed to roar into the microphone like lion staking his territory as the band wound their way through a set of material from their 2013 album Onyx including “Sick Sense,” “Deal With The Devil” and their latest single and ballad, “Torn To Pieces.” Guitarists Nick Fuelling and Davey Grahs with bassist Matt DiRito worked all angles of the stage and engaging with fans who seemed to know every song by heart and be having visceral reactions to the music. Closing on “Trenches,” the guys went out in style with big jumps, big movements and even bigger cheers from the audience.
Christian rockers Skillet brought a new kind of power to the day’s festivities with their cache of hits ripe for the stage. The ultra dynamic husband and wife duo John and Korey Cooper were the ones to watch as they leapt and danced across the stage. The Coopers led the charge with their unyielding liveliness and passion while drummer Jen Ledger banged away with fervor on the skins and guitarist Seth Morrison’s fingers danced down his fret. Ripping through a battery of inspiring songs from their repertoire including “Whispers In The Dark,” “Hero,” “Awake and Alive,” and “Sick Of It,” Skillet brought a new element into the mix- unyielding passion and humility, by constantly thanking the crowd for their attendance and fans for their support. This incredible breakneck pace continued when they performed their breakout hit “Monster” during which 93.3 The Planet’s Music Director and afternoon DJ Richard “Twisted Todd” Holcombe joined the rockers onstage taking over bass duty for John in the song. Fans cheered as Todd plucked along to the song that he obviously knew by heart, his face alight with excitement and joy. Few people get to live their dream of performing with their favorite band, but on this day that dream was realized for Todd and you can’t buy the kind of joy and satisfaction that comes with that.
Seether brought their diverse sound to Uproar and intense delivery to go along with it. While front man Shaun Morgan may not be the most visually dynamic at time, the intensity and conviction with which he performs is unparalleled. Coursing through songs like “Gasoline,” “Fine Again,” Remedy,” and their latest single “Words As Weapons,” Seether compelled an intimacy not yet seen that day. Across the amphitheatre crowd members could be seen singing and moving to the songs that reminded them of times once ago, as if reminscing with and old friend or flipping through a scrapbook. There's no denying the compelling and emotive drawing power of Seether's music; no matter how long it may have been since you heard them they can always take you back in time.
Finally, the time had come that many had been so anxiously awaiting: Godsmack. Three words best describe the majority of Godsmack's set: So. Much. Pyro.Beginning with a projection reel against a white curtain of the band in various behind-the-scene and on tour scenarios set to the AC/DC track “For Those About To Rock,” Godsmack made fans wait eagerly for their start before the curtain was finally pulled away and the band appeared onstage. Opening up their set with “Generation Day” followed by “Cryin Like A Bitch,” front man Sully Erna tore into grittiness without hesitation, seeming to live every word as they left his lips. Although Erna is only an estimated 5’6” his voice is a towering presence with an unwavering determination and conviction that carries in every tune. To say that he is as good live as recorded in this case would be an understatement and great disservice to the power and consistency delivered not only by his vocal performance, but the band as a whole.
Despite having just released their sixth studio album 1000hp, the men of Godsmack didn’t limit themselves to that one part of the dense catalogue of work. Instead they insured that fans would get what they came for and more by dancing across all their staples, including “Keep Away,” “Speak,” “Straight Out Of Line,” and “Voodoo.” As if fans had not already been in enthralled in the high octane performance, the guys of Godsmack engaged in the “Batalle de los Tambores” a.k.a “Battle of the Drums” where in Erna jumped behind a drum kit and battled it out with drummer Shannon Larkin on drum solos and stick tosses and catches. They kept up the momentum and fun by wheeling out a tray of about twelve beers that Erna began to pitch into the crowd and to be honest the man has a great arm. With barely any spillage and impeccable rotation, black solo cups of beer spun and hurdled through the air towards the crowd, and then eventually, specific recipients (read: targets). After all the beers had been dispensed the guys returned to tunes and proceeded to pick up where they left off, jumping back into things with an explosion of confetti and racing towards the finish line. Concluding with “1000hp” and an encore of “I Stand Alone,” Godsmack steamrolled fans to a powerful conclusion with sing-a-long that stirred up the last mosh pit of the night.
There are still a some Uproar dates left and we highly recommend catching one in a city near you. Bringing some of the biggest names in rock together for one incredible spectacle, Uproar is successfully filling the void left by the absence of other festivals like "Carnival of Madness" and "Rock Allegiance" this year and the results speak for themselves.