Saturday, August 30th, 2014 – Tampa, Florida

 by Wanda Blake

Saturday, August 30th a bright day with blue skies, hot Florida sunshine and humidity that left people feeling as if they were walking into a steam sauna and the day of Rockstar Energy Drink’s Uproar Festival in Tampa, Florida. Little did concert goers know, Mother Nature, in dramatic Florida style, would drop buckets of rain water down upon them later. Fortunately the heat and humidity, are common to Florida, so it didn’t deter any festival goers. In fact, many were lined up early to get in to see the bands and have a whole day festival adventure.

Sons of RevelryThe gates opened at 1:30pm. As usual with large concert events, people started milling about the main entrance hours earlier. Some were hanging in their cars enjoying the air conditioning while they could, music cranked, eyes on all entry points. As people began to make it through security, they scattered to the vendor tents looking for shade, or was it the free stuff?

Sons of Revelry Merch TentYamaha had two separate tents, a small one by itself that contained the Yamaha FZ09 street bike with a custom paint job by Taylor Schultz that will be given away at the end of the Uproarconcert series. The second, a larger tent contained multiple models of Yamaha motorcycles where people gathered talking about what Yamaha offers in the way of motor sports and guitars. The lively Yamaha spokesperson was incredibly knowledgeable when it came to speaking about the motor sports that Yamaha offers, but when it came to the guitars the only information, he offered was a reminder to enter the contest to win one of the Yamaha guitars signed by Uproar artists.

FZ09 custom decorated street bike from YamahaIn between the two Yamaha tents, the Ernie Ball Battle of the Bands tent was set up for band meet and greets. The Rockstar Energy Drink VIP tent sat in the middle of the festival area with no accessible entry until after the first band finished their set, just in time to offer a cold well needed beverage to those sweltering in the Florida heat.

Hiding from the sunEnterprising concert goers who looked to get out of the sun, which was almost unavoidable unless visiting a tent, stood in the shade offered by the towering Rockstar Energy Drink semi-trailer. Those more determined to avoid the sun sat underneath the trailer, even while the bands played. Perhaps the excitement was just too much for some or they just didn’t care about the inevitable sunburn and lined up at the front of the stage.

A folksy blues and late 60’s psychedelic rock that somehow tied in with the hard rock core of the Uproar festival filled the air, Sons of Revelry was on the stage drawing the crowd in and enveloping them in their sound. Sons of Revelry won the whole of Ernie Ball’s Battle of the Bands last year giving them a place on the Uproar tour this year. The band is making the most of the opportunity, they are giving it their all and put on one tremendous show with their unique sound.

3 Years Hollow unexpectedly showed up in Tampa to play a set of straight up hard rock. These guys are extremely fan friendly meeting with fans after their set to sign CDs, shirts, posters and taking photos with anyone who wanted too.

The first band to start a mosh pit was Within Reason. People stepped back out of the way while a few guys went at moshing. It was clear this Alabama band was more used to the heat and humidity than some of the other bands. The mosh pit morphed into a moshing fan race during Escape the Fate‘s set. People got into it at first but stepped out to rejoin friends relatively quickly with humidity and heat beating them down.

As each band took it up a notch, so did the humidity and that pattern continued as Buckcherry took the stage, upping the energy ante 10 fold. Mother Nature saw their raise. Music lovers were unable to sit still as Buckcherry’s set intensified.  Even those who had hidden underneath the semi’s were out and on their feet enjoying the moment. About the time they kicked into the last song of the set, “Crazy Bitch.” Mother Nature upped her ante and let loose with a torrential down pour of wind blown rain, thunder and lightening. It was as if she was tired of waiting for the one song she wanted to hear.  As vocalist Josh Todd said, “Fuck it. It’s our last song anyway,” and the band played on.

A double rainbow stretched through the rain, a truly wondrous sight to behold. However, the rainbow was not the only sight worth observing, while some of the patrons ducked for cover most stayed to cool down, dancing in the rain and singing. “Crazy Bitch” with the band.Only the faint of heart left the festival area early while the band played on. The flow of people to the amphitheater area as the song came to a close must have resembled a fast moving river.

During the stormGetting dry was not yet in the cards the rain was blowing into the amphitheater sideways. The crew cease set up on the main stage leaving concert goers wondering if this was it or if the bands would start again. That question was answered when, as Florida weather is known to do, it flipped off the nasty weather switch almost as quickly as it flipped it on, returning to blue skies. By 7pm the rain was a drizzle, the crew back at it and drum kits were uncovered and guitar cases opened. Very quickly the anxious crowd had figured it out, Uproar was back on!

First up on the main stage, Pop Evil. They came out reigniting a growing crowd. At the close of their set the bands lead vocalist, Leigh Kakaty exclaimed, “This has been so much fun, and I never do this, I’m going straight to the merchandise tent.”

Like a whisper in the night Seether quietly appears upon the stage stealing the show to this point. Seether’s set included a mix of tunes, some off their new CD Isolate and Medicate and older songs like “Broken” and “Remedy”. Shaun Morgan politely thanked the crowd for being there and just when you thought they were saying good bye they kicked it up again. The 2014 VIP Charity Ticket Auction which benefits MusiCares & Child Find of America,  and provides winners from each tour stop the chance to enjoy the concert onstage with some of their favorite bands. One family of four that won the auction with a 9 or 10 year old son threw his fists in the air in time with Bryan Wickman from the side of the stage rocked like a pro, in complete heaven. Seether closed the set to a full house.

Vendors Hands that RockWith all of her furies, Mother Nature could not stop these fans from getting their live music fix. “For Those About to Rock” lit up the amphitheater and as the stage curtain that doubled as a screen displayed a photo montage of Godsmack from years gone by. The curtain then slowly rippled to the ground on streams of night air. During the first three songs of Godsmack’s set they made it appear as if the stage was too big for them, proving they could act. Sully Erna (vocalist) even made a comment that they had been out of it for so long they were just going to hit playing the music with no shenanigans on stage. Robbie Merrill, the only band animated member danced around nonstop during this time. This isn’t to say they weren’t into the music, they were definitely putting it out there, yet managing to prevent their presence from taking over. At song four it turned into a larger than life Godsmack show as pyrotechnics lite up the stage.

Tony RombolaVisible on the faces of all four men were grins as the frenetic crowd went nuts. These men turned the amphitheater into a constantly moving mass with flaming pyrotechnics as a backdrop. People exhausted from the eight-hour day were on their feet, fists in the air, singing along at top volume, and bouncing to the music. When Erna ripped his shirt off and tossed it to the crowd as he started “Voo Doo” it just got louder and rowdier. Erna then disappeared from the stage. Reappearing only moments later atop a percussion kit as Shannon Larkin‘s drum kit slid stage right revealing a skull backdrop which seemingly opened its mouth releasing him. Erna’s kit slid stage left as he played percussion to augment Larkin playing “Voo Doo”. At the end of the song, Erna’s kit spun allowing him access to a full drum kit enabling the drum play to get serious. The two drummers proceeded to play in tandem then dueling, wowing the audience with flying drum sticks, catching them as the kits spun. The band continued to play but Erna wasn’t out of playful fun yet and insisted draft beer in cups be brought out onto the stage. He explained his plan to event staff  who obviously a questioned the plan when Erna was heard to say,”You’re questioning me?”

Sully ErnaErna won and the cups were brought onto the stage, which he then began to launch them into the crowd. The premise of the drinking game is to see if anyone in the crowd could catch and drink the beer rather than miss and allowing it to spill. The question one has to ponder is was it really beer the Tampa crowd caught at approximately 50 percent or was it water to accommodate any underage drinkers who might catch a cup.

Next they played their newly released single “1000mph” as the crowd sang along. Confetti fell over the pit area as they started “I Stand Alone.” Surprisingly the confetti floated  caught on the sound waves and not landing until the end of the song. Hello, Godsmack is back and is stating it loud and clear based on this performance.

There are many thoughts that one ponders upon leaving an event such as Rockstar Energy Drink’s Uproar Festival. Reflections of the day’s events the things heard and seen throughout the day, and the opinion of that one guy that should have just stayed home in the first place. Everyone knows that guy he’s the one that would rather gripe about the distance driven to or the traffic leaving an event than lose himself in the music and find real enjoyment. Is that guy ever at the same event the rest of are?

Kevin Thrasher GruftThe rest of us are transported by music to the many varied places a journey down the winding path of the moment takes us. The music pours out speaking to broken hearts coping in anger or pain, desire, love, money or something to live for. The raw power of music heals and rises above the commonness of our lives giving us hope and unity beyond cultural differences, economic status, skin color or religious affiliation if we listen.

Music is our gift, every artist that takes the stage at a live event pours their hearts, souls, and energy into each performance offering us a chance to climb on board and discover what it is we need providing healing for some, joy for others. Isn’t it time for us as living breathing human beings to stop asking the question, “Is the distance driven really worth the short time spent at live shows?”

Neil Kuhlman & Jose UrquizaWake up, put the iPhone down, leave the make-believe world of 2000 friends and rejoin our fellow human beings in the real world. Experience life and make real connections with each other and the world becomes a better place as we participate. In the resounding lyrics of the lyrical mastery of Jimi Hendrix, “Are you Experienced?” What better way to gain that experience than a journey through the mystical emotion within live music or pain inspired truth being poured out in the lyrics of a poet with his musical brethern upon a stage.

Was Uproar worth the drive, the traffic or a momentary inconvenience?
It was and is worth it. It was worth surviving the heat and humidity, feeling as if it would melt a body into the ground, it was worth the revival of a rain storm that quenched the heat. It was worth that moment when one realizes, the deodorant on 80% of the crowd is no longer effective. It was worth doing it all over again, standing next to the same rank people just to share the experience.

There is nothing like the feeling of live music. #supportlivemusic

There are still tickets available for the remaining Uproar dates will you put the theory to the text?  Get tickets today,  it is one hell of a show. Then come back here and tell us the answer to, “Are you experienced?”


















Rockstar Energy Drink UPROAR Festival
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