Make America Rock Again!

Live @ Pier Six Pavilion | 9/20/16

By Jay Oakley

This was a very interesting festival. To a certain degree it was a late 90s-early 2000s nostalgia festival featuring a series of bands who had one or two hits in the late stages of MTV before it became just another reality show channel. The show was packed with so many bands that it left all of them with very short 20-35 minute sets.

12 Stones kicked off the show with a solid, heavy set. Vocalist Paul McCoy sounded great with guitarist Eric Weaver laying down some solid riffs. The performance was highlighted by the closing song, “Broken.”

Next up was Tantric. Hugo Ferreira’s vocals sounded sharp but there wasn’t much to their show. Like many of the bands’ sets, the limited times really hurt because by the time they built their momentum, it was over. Bassist Scott Wilson stood out in the band. Stellar playing mixed with a great stage presence. The standout song was “Breakdown.”

Tantric was followed by Crazy Town. Crazy Town performed a rap dominated set with duel vocalists Epic and Shifty owning the stage. Their show was high energy. They were an interesting choice to play on this tour but I think their sound game was a cool bridge between all the straight up rock bands. The Crazy Town band was a tight unit that did their jobs very well, but they stood secondary next to their charismatic front men. As you can imagine everyone was waiting for “Butterfly.” They got it and as you can imagine it got the biggest reaction from the crowd with all of Pier Six singing so naturally that “Butterfly” was the top song from their set.

Alien Ant Farm was one of the top bands of the evening. Performing a well-chosen set of tunes with their cover of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” closing the set. Vocalist Dryden Mitchell was sharp and used the stage well. The top song of their set was played early in their hit “Movies.”

Saving Abel was the first of the two biggest disappointments of the night. Here’s the thing; Saving Abel is a killer rock band with a loyal following but playing this festival was a step back for them as far as bringing in new fans because their set was … wait for it … four songs. Seriously, only four songs. They were easily and arguably the tightest band of the night but their choice of longer tunes mixed with excessive talking killed them. I liked what I heard in the short time they played and I’d be willing to see them as a headliner so they can give it all they’ve got, but tonight was pointless.

And then there was Trapt, the other miss of the night. Here’s the thing about them; they might be the second biggest name on the bill and they were one of the two bands that actually got a semi-decent set length next to Saliva but they looked pretty uninterested up onstage. Singer Chris Taylor Brown sounded great and the band was tight but the set was boring and it was hard to keep my attention, and other fans as well. For the record, I asked around and talked to fans so don’t think I’m trying to just beat them up for no reason. Guitarist Ty Fury was the star of the set. Killer riffs, good backing vocals and great stage presence. Of course, “Headstrong” was the biggest and best song of their set but that was also because most fans just wanted them to get to it.

Saliva was the headliner and rightfully so. They knocked all the other bands down in the dirt, the main reason being Saliva did everything right. They chose the best songs from their catalog, the songs that the hardcore fans and the casual fans wanted to hear, and they spaced them out with well placed monologuing so the set kept a high level of energy. Vocalist Bobby Amaru is a rock star and guitarist Wayne Swinny shreds. They rocked the crowd with “Ladies And Gentlemen” and “Survival Of The Sickest” and closed out with ” Click Click Boom” and “Your Disease” so the momentum was constant and left the crowd begging for more.

One of the coolest things about this tour was it’s informality. So many members of the bands were just walking around the venue which gave a real treat to fans to be able to see a multi-band festival and not have to pay some outrageous price for a meet and greet. Everyone was right there to talk to at will and take pictures with.