Uproar Festival 2011



It was a cool, overcast Tuesday morning.  As I made my way to Parc Jean Drapeau, I wondered just who would be able to show up for this mid-week music festival that kicked off at 2:00pm.  I gazed at the sky suspiciously and quietly hoped that the rain would hold off.
Upon arriving at the venue I quickly determined that about 95% of the attendees lining up were students, likely averaging 17 years old.  A couple of things struck me immediately; firstly it was very quiet and orderly.  Perhaps the beautiful backdrop of Jean Drapeau with its natural splendor offered a mellow ambiance – but I’ve never seen such calmness before a show.
All over the Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival website, it encouraged concertgoers to show up early – and that they did.  Hundreds of polite, patient teens with colourful hair and ubiquitous piercings stood in line waiting as I arrived on site, just after noon.  I moved through the crowd easily as I made my way toward the media tent.
As the media passes had not yet been delivered, I was escorted past the gates by security.
 (I really feel the need here to note that the security team hired by Evenko is top notch.  They do not have an easy job to do, and they are professionals!  Courteous, helpful, friendly and effective; these guys run a tight ship and keep us all safe.  I take my hat off to each and every one of them, and whoever is responsible for hiring practices at Evenko – AWESOME JOB!!!)
For a few moments, I lingered on the top the hill looking down below at the venue.  It reminded me of a beehive – completely buzzing with activity.  Two stages stood side by side.  There were forklifts hauling skids of Rockstar Energy Drink, sound crews setting up and vendors merchandising their wares.  People were hard at work preparing to host the hundreds of black & plaid clad teens still waiting at the gate.
I was greeted by many nods and smiles as I made my way backstage.  The vibe was interesting. People were very friendly and warm….and, it seemed that EVERYONE was guzzling Rockstar energy drinks!
I had the good fortune of bumping into The Art of Dying backstage. I was immediately drawn to the good energy emanating from their space.  They had, apparently, enjoyed a day off – 12 days into the Uproar tour, and were feeling refreshed and energized.  They seemed happy; smiling, joking and tossing around some banter.  I could have stayed for hours chatting with them, they just seemed happy to be exactly where they were at that given moment.  The gratitude was unmistakable.  Alas, I had another interview booked & had to run…..I am soooo looking forward to catching up with them at some point in the near future!
I did manage to race to the pit to catch their live show – which was resonating with the same energy that I’d seen earlier…AMPLIFIED!!!  They were super-tight and played a solid and dynamic set that the audience devoured!  By the time they walked off stage, I’m certain they had a few hundred more fans – including me!
Meeting Neal and Joey of Hell or Highwater was an absolute delight!  They were completely charming, funny, warm and surprisingly forthcoming.  I knew that we were going to have an interesting chat when, on the way into the RV, Neal pointed out some ”renovations” that had recently been carried out to repair a chance meeting with a road sign.  I was impressed with the quality of workmanship. I never would have noticed had it not been pointed out.  I later learned, after watching their set, that their playing is every bit as meticulous as their work on the RV had been.  The sound was great. There was enough space around each instrument for it to really stand out on its own clearly, with all the textures and rawness one craves from a live show.  The band appeared to be having blast onstage and that energy completely captivated and won over the crowd.   The line-up in their merchandise booth was testament – the band signed autographs, posed for photos with fans, and sold CDs and shirts for almost 2 hours after coming off stage.
Zakk, the bass player from Black Tide was gracious and took some time to sit down with me and talk about the tour and the recording process for Post Mortem, Black Tide’s most recent offering with Interscope.  Likely one of the busiest musicians at Uproar that day, Zakk was feverishly trying to learn the bass lines, and backing vocals in order to stand in for Max Green, bassist for Escape the Fate, who was denied entry into Canada.  Young, smart and driven, he pulled it off – sounding and looking right at home onstage with Escape the Fate.
Craig and Robert of Escape the Fate totally snuck up on me and stole my heart!  They were so open, and uninhibited during our interview, that I felt that we could have kept talking forever!  They talked to me about insecurities, parents, friendship, loyalty, the importance of being grateful, and struggles that they’ve faced – all with such honesty and unabashedness.  I was blown away.  I’m looking forward to sitting down and talking with them again soon to hear first-hand, what else life has taught them since we talked!
Their live show delivered exactly what the thousands of fans had come for.  Craig nailed it vocally, while the band whipped the crowd into a frenzy.  It was a very entertaining live show…and I was so glad!  After getting to know Robert and Craig a little – I really wanted to be moved by their live show – and I was among the thousands who pumped their fists in the air in celebration!
Ominous black clouds raced in just as Bullet for my Valentine hit the stage.  They played a scorching set to an extremely receptive crowd.  Not having seen them play before, I was surprised to see just how much of their show hinged on lead axe man, Michael “Padge” Paget.  The whole band was tight, and Padge was on the money – ripping lead after lead with the precision of a sharp shooter.  The crowd went nuts after every successful lead.
I shudder when I think of the pressure he must feel before stepping onstage!
It appeared that there were some technical glitches with lead vocalist, Matt Tuck’s microphone about two thirds of the way through the show; His voice began cutting out more and more until we could only hear about every fourth word.  This was quickly rectified as Matt joined drummer Michael “Moose” Thomas on the drum riser and finished off the set singing into a secondary microphone set up there.
Seconds after Bullet finished their set, the rain started.  It didn’t let up for well over an hour.  Lightening and high winds sent drenched and nervous concertgoers running for cover.  Who among us weren’t thinking about the tragic stage collapses that occurred earlier this summer in Indiana, Ottawa and Hasselt, Belgium?
About an hour later, it was announced that Seether would not be taking to the stage.
Die hard fans stood steadfast in the rain, chanting and were eventually rewarded by smoldering sets by both Three Days Grace and headliners, Avenged Sevenfold.
The Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival continues touring through the USA through mid October.
To read more about Ashton click HERE


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