RockStar UPROAR Festival – Westfair Ampitheater in Council Bluffs, IA

Before I fly off into fangirl squee-mode, I’ll mention that I’ve been waiting for this concert all summer and I was so EXCITED to go.  I’ll also mention that there are spoilers in this blog post.  If you plan to go to the 2010 UPROAR concert festival at a later date and you don’t want to know what the stage setup looks like, or what the set lists were for the headliners, Avenged Sevenfold and Disturbed, turn back now.  If you DO want to know, stay with me.  IT. WAS. AWESOME!!!!!

We arrived at the festival late.  It was a two and a half hour drive from my house.  I did take half a day off and leave work early, but by the time we had an early dinner and I spilled Au Jus all over myself and had to go home to change (I’m so not cool), it was a bit late before we even got on the road.  We missed the first couple of acts on the small stage and arrived about half way through Airbourne.

If you squint, you can see the singer on stage with his guitar over his head.  This is the view from the crowd when you’re vertically challenged, such as moi.  This band was a lot of fun live.  I didn’t recognize any of their songs, so didn’t subject anyone to my live karaoke (they appreciated this, trust me).  The singer did this “thing” where he shook up a can of beer and hit it against the side of his head repeatedly until the can burst open and beer sprayed all over the crowd. Pretty cool… I’m thinking that will end up in one of my rock star erotic romance books someday.  Just sayin’….

What you can’t see in the picture (besides the band- ha!) is how freakin’ hot it was.  Mid-August in Iowa?  Uh, yeah. So after Airbourne, we got a drink. $3.00 for a bottle of water?  Sheesh! We also browsed the booths and food wagons, before returning to the small stage area to see Hell Yeah.  I do know some of their songs.  They’re pretty rockin’.  Not a surprise since all of the members are in other bands.  For example, the lead singer is also the lead singer for Mudvayne.  And here he is (looking quite tiny at a distance) on stage. He’s the guy above the crowd with his hand in the air.  Squint really hard to see him.

They had some Georgia O’Keefe paintings in their stage set up.  Just kidding.  But they are Georgia O’Keefe-esque cattle skulls. Very metal. Chad Gray (the singer) claimed to have a cold and apologized to the front row in advance should any nasal secretions land on them while he was roaring through his songs.  Too funny.  I do love rock stars. We wondered why the only Hell Yeah songs we’d ever heard on the radio were their “soft” songs.  They rocked a lot harder than I imagined they would. \m/ Devil-horn fist for them.

You might be wondering why I’m standing behind the  front of house (FOH) audio engineer’s tent.  I was doing a little research for my fourth book.  The heroine in that book is an FOH audio engineer, so I wanted to see how active the FOH is during the show.  I discovered they are really active.

On to the main stage!  This picture is blurry (hey, I took these with a disposable camera, cut me some slack, there IS NO FOCUS!), but it gives you some idea of the scale.

First on the main stage was Halestorm. The lead singer is a woman, who also plays guitar, and she RAWKS. \m/ \m/ Two devil fists for you, Miss Lady Ma’am.  There was a cool drum solo on some trash cans during their set, but I missed most of it while trying to find an appropriate place to sit.

Will you look at that crowd? I wanted to get in the pit, but my companion nixed that idea.  Too crazy for him.  sigh…  So we sat back a ways.  We actually had a good view of the stage, though these pictures will make you think otherwise.

Next up was Stone Sour.  Great band.  I knew two of their songs.  Again, their slowest songs.  If someone could please explain to me why the slow metal songs tend to be the ones that get played on the radio, I’d appreciate it.  I guess that’s why I tend to play CDs I’ve mixed myself in the car instead of listening to the radio.  (I digress….)

So now we’re waiting for Avenged Sevenfold to take the stage.  The sun is going down and blinding the people across the way.  That’s the whole reason I chose this side of the stage.  I knew that was going to happen.

At dusk, the curtain falls and there is some guy standing on a metal girder above the stage.  The music box intro of Nightmare starts playing and the guy jumps, “hanging” himself. At first, I thought it was M. Shadows, but it wasn’t. They left that guy hanging there above them for the entire song with a noose around his neck playing dead.

I know this is hard to see, but if you look in front of the third pillar of fire (fire, fire, fire!), you’ll see the guy hanging there.  Sorry the pictures suck.

Let me take a moment to describe this MOST AWESOME stage set up.  It has to be the best one I’ve ever seen, so major props to the designer(s).

Behind the band there are three wrought iron cemetery gates between thick, gray-brick pillars.  On the first gate, there is a metal A in the center. The middle gate has 7. The third gate has X.  A7X.  So clever.  The drums are in front of the middle gate.  Fire bursts from the pillars.  Fire also runs along the top of the gates (you’ll see that in a later picture). Behind the gates is a screen that shows the HUGE skeletal demon from the cover of their latest album.  It’s all very creepy and the coolest freakin’ thing I’ve ever seen. And then, of course, the band is beyond awesome. \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/ Infinite devil horn rock fists for these guys.

The hour they were on stage flew by.  As soon as they were done, I wanted them to start over and play it all again and again and again. It was easily the best concert I’ve been to and I’ve been to a lot of concerts  (including two previous Avenged Sevenfold shows). The music, the pyrotechnics, the stage set up.  Perfect.

Some more unimpressive pictures of A7X.

That little speck in the middle of the stage is Synyster Gates soloing in Nightmare.

I think that’s Zacky V!  Heck, I can’t tell.

I believe this is a dueling solo with Syn and Zacky.  WHY IS THERE NO ZOOM ON THIS DISPOSABLE CAMERA? Okay, it was awesome though. Go see it for yourself.

Here you can see the fire on the tops of the gates.  When you’re there, you can actually see the band, too.  Trust me.

Wow, you can actually see something in this one.  There’s M. Shadows with his back to the crowd on the far left. And then Zacky who started out in a black suit with a red tie, who is now all in black under the middle fiery gate. Johnny in the white T-shirt towards the middle. Syn Gates on the far right probably playing another solo.  Mike Portnoy is behind the drums somewhere.  You can see the gates pretty well in this crappy photo.  Sorry they didn’t turn out better.

So what did they play?  Easily the BEST set list evah!

1. Nightmare

2. Critical Acclaim (you could hear The Rev’s voice recording for the parts he used to sing. it really hit me hard that he’s gone)

3. Welcome to the Family

4. Beast and the Harlot

5. Buried Alive

6. So Far Away (they dedicated this to Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan and I got a little choked up)

7. Afterlife

8. God Hates Us

9. Unholy Confessions

10. Almost Easy

There was only one disappointment.  No “Bat Country”.  I was sad. I wanted an encore so bad. There wasn’t one. *snivel

You might be wondering how Mike Portnoy did standing in for The Rev. Personally, I think the man is incredibly talented. His sound is a little harder than The Rev’s with fewer cymbals, but he did great. He changed up Critical Acclaim quite a bit and it sounded a little “off”. Not bad, just not the same. I feel blessed to have heard him play with Avenged Sevenfold. And I’m glad the band is still together after the unexpected loss of their drummer.  foREVer

So after A7X was over, I tried to make myself feel better that it wasn’t an eternal set by reminding myself that Disturbed was taking the stage next. I have no idea how that stage crew was able to break down A7X’s elaborate stage set so quickly. Props to the stage crew. Seriously.

Disturbed had ENORMOUS video screens behind and around the band.  The pictures I took actually turned out okay.  The set up kind of reminded me of a Tool show I saw last year, but with fewer mind-blowing laser light effects and more fire.

Disturbed opened with Asylum and showed the new video behind the band.  Disturbed is phenomenal in concert.  If you have never seen them, you should make an effort.  Their live sound is so clean it’s like listening to a studio album. I love David Draiman’s voice and it sounds just as good live.

This is the ENORMOUS video screen showing the video “Asylum”.  The band is on that stage somewhere in the dark.

You can see David Draiman and Dan Donegan of Disturbed (I’m seeing a “letter D” theme here) in front of the demon on screen.  Look close, they are tiny.  That’s how HUGE that monitor is.

Disturbed again!

Disturbed “Inside the Fire”. That fire was on screen.  They also had real fire shooting into the air, but I missed that shot.

You can make out David singing near the front of the stage.  I’m pretty sure this is “Ten Thousand Fists”.  GREAT live song!

You can even see the drum kit in this one!

They also had a fantastic set list and performed all of my favorites. So what did Disturbed play?

1. Asylum

2. The Game

3. Prayer (David mentioned that it was the anniversary of “Dime Bag” Darrell Abbot’s tragic murder. There is a reason my first novel is dedicated to the memory of Dime Bag. Phenomenal guitarist.)

4. Liberate

5. Land of Confusion

6. Inside the Fire

7. Stricken

8. Fear & Meaning of Life & Numb & Voices (compilation)

9. Another Way to Die

10. Stupify

11. Ten Thousand Fists

12. Indestructible

13. Down with the Sickness

WOW! What a set list.  The only song that seems missing is “The Night”.  Great concert. I never wanted it to end.

So after the show, we experienced the utter HELL of trying to get out of the parking yard (no, it wasn’t a lot, we were parked in grass).  I won’t dwell on that horror though.  I got enough inspiration out of this concert to carry me through several more rock star erotic romance novels.  If the tour swings this way again, I’m definitely up for seeing it all again.

Overall rating: Five out of five rock fists!