Rockstar Uproar Festival/Desert Uprising – Day 2 Review
By MrAnathema

Dave Navarro of Jane's Addiction ©2013 Joseph Abbruscato

Dave Navarro of Jane’s Addiction ©2013 Joseph Abbruscato

With two days of solid performances, the Rockstar Uproar Festival/Desert Uprising left no fan wanting.

There is a great difference between seeing a band headlining their own tour, and seeing a band as part of a gigantic music festival. When bands are headlining themselves, multiple-hour-long-plus sets, massive stage shows, back catalog music, and a rabidly single-minded fanbase are all to be expected. On a festival tour, all of those “norms” go out the window and are lost, replaced by shorter sets, scaled back stage shows, and an eclectic audience. Big name bands are still attached and are a large draw, but in exchange for the “loss,” fans are given the opportunity to roam about myriad vendors, to interact with bands manning their own merch booths, and to broaden their musical horizons with the lesser-known bands. Those massive, multi-hour sets are curtailed to a little over 1 hour, and up-and-coming acts get 30 minutes. Instead of a single band, the fans are treated to multiple bands. Rockstar UpRoar/98 KUPD Desert Uprising made good on this festival set up, providing attendees with two day, “family-friendly” environment consisting of venders (peddling wares such as band merch, Zippo lighters, hats, sunglasses, tattoos, and general clothing), scantily-clad girls walking around with SuperSoakers cooling attendees down from the 102 degree heat, a Miss Uproar beauty contest made up of pinup styled and heavily tattooed women, band meet-and-greets, signings, photo-ops, beer tents, and, most importantly, nearly two dozen bands spread out over two days and three stages.

Kyle Nicolaides of Beware of Darkness ©2013 Joseph Abbruscato

Kyle Nicolaides of Beware of Darkness ©2013 Joseph Abbruscato

With all music festivals, the smaller side stages are reserved for those bands who haven’t made made “main stage” status yet. At Uproar/Desert Uprising, however, it is safe to say that each of the bands playing on these stages is incredibly deserving of that honor, and none more-so than Beware of Darkness. Relying on little more than their instruments and pure adrenaline, Beware of Darkness took to the stage at the hottest part of the day, garbed in tight jeans, leather, and wrapped up in attitude. With influences ranging from Led Zeppelin to The Beatles to The White Stripes, lead singer and guitarist Kyle Nicolaides seemed to be channeling the moves of Mick Jagger and the presence of Perry Farrell (who would take the main stage later), gallivanting across the stage, alternately with guitar or mic in hand. Nicolaides, drummer Tony Cupito, and bassist Daniel Curcio tore the throats out of the crowd, opening with their single “Howl.” Having recently dropped their first album Orthodox, Beware of Darkness played loud and hard through “My Planet is Dead,” “Sweet Girl,” “End of the World,” and “Heart Attack.” A blur of desert sweat, Brit rock infused guitars, dark, introspective lyrics, and pure, sexualized raw energy, Beware of Darkness converted more than a few fans, and are certainly a band to keep your eyes in the future.

Circa Survive playing Rockstar Uproar/Desert Uprising ©2013 Joseph Abbruscato

Circa Survive ©2013 Joseph Abbruscato

Headlining day two of Uproar/Desert Uprising Main Stage was Circa Survive, Coheed and Cambria, Jane’s Addiction, and Alice in Chains. This line-up alone was vast and musically deep enough to keep even the most casual rock listener happy for hours. As the sun set behind Ak-Chin Pavilion and the night crowd filtered in, Circa Survive kicked off the evening festivities. Anthony Green, formerly of Saosin, was, in a word, magnetic. Aptly opening with “Oh, Hello,” Green wailed and sauntered across the relatively bare stage for a set that was solid from start to finish. With their only stage dressing a gigantic banner emblazoned with a huge X and their name in nondescript lettering, Green flailed around the entire time, tearing through and nailing his vocals on each song. It was impossible to rip your eyes from him as he contorted and screamed through “Holding Someone’s Hair Back” and “Brother Song.” Ending on a rollicking version of “Get Out,” Circa Survive captivated the audience, getting people out of their seats and ready for Coheed and Cambria, who took the stage right after.

Claudio Sanchez of Coheed and Cambria playing Rockstar Uproar/Desert Uprising

Claudio Sanchez of Coheed and Cambria playing Rockstar Uproar/Desert Uprising ©2013 Joseph Abbruscato

Coheed and Cambria have been making music for the better part of two decades, and are known for their overarching concept albums (telling the tale of The Amory Waves). Their stage show fits their story-telling mentality, as they were lit, and barely visible, their whole set by deep reds, blues, purples. The emphasized, forced focus is on their music and the tale they are telling, not on the individual artists. Their set was an varied mix of songs off of many of their albums, and being a shortened set, Claudio Sanchez and crew were forced to pick and chose from songs across their discography. While this effectively pulled the “story” out of order, this was a nonissue for the crowd. Coheed blended everything together perfectly, with Sanchez’s voice the perfect thread to carry the audience through, dropping and soaring across fan favorites “A Favor House Atlantic,” “Goodnight, Fair Lady,” and “Welcome Home.” With Jane’s Addiction taking the stage next, Coheed and Cambria kept the energy high and flowing from start to finish.

Perry Farrell of Jane's Addiction ©2013 Joseph Abbruscato

Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction ©2013 Joseph Abbruscato

Jane’s Addiction was nothing short of spectacular. The fact that they have been playing together since 1985 is obvious in how front man Perry Farrell and guitarist Dave Navarro nail the mix of crowd interaction and musical performance. Throwing the festival standard “less show, more music” to the wind, before Navarro and Farrell even stepped foot on the stage, two female backup vocalists were hoisted high (30′ plus) above the stage, with dresses trailing all the way, eliciting a earsplitting roar from the crowd. If possible, the roar became even more deafening when the heavily-tattooed-shirtless Navarro (surprise surprise!) and (a-may-as-well-be-shirtless) Farrell entered, opening up with “Underground.” Not one to hide from spotlight, Navarro perched atop or used the monitors to lift himself higher and give everyone a view of his heavily tattooed torso, while Farrell took front and center, staring intently into the crowd, as if he was singing each song to each person in the crowd individually. Mid set, the attention on Farrell and Navarro turned skyward again, as two suspension artist (quite literally suspended by piercings in their flesh) took to the air. With an incredible blend of showmanship on Farrell/Navarro’s part and stage spectacle, Jane’s Addiction was the highlight of the show for many, and Alice in Chains had yet to even take the stage.

Perry Farrell of Jane's Addiction ©2013 Joseph Abbruscato

Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction ©2013 Joseph Abbruscato

Like Jane’s Addiction, Alice in Chains has been together for nearly 30 years. Unlike Jane’s Addiction, new front-man William DuVall and Alice in Chains co-founder Jerry Cantrell are a much more “music first” act, relying on the songs themselves to carry the show as opposed to. This set was no different, with DuVall (who is incredibly reminiscent of original singer and co-founder Layne Staley) powering through their opening with a teeth-rattling “Them Bones.” Proving that no show can go off perfectly, even for seasoned musicians, Cantrell jumped the set list a bit, playing a wrong opening and brought the band to a halt. Shrugging it off with a smile and glib ”well, I’m the asshole” comment, Alice in Chains corrected themselves and played through the remainder of the set flawlessly. Notable tracks included “Man in the Box,” “Hollow,” an incredible performance of “Love, Hate, Love.” DuVall and Cantrell closed the festival out with “Rooster,” and fittingly, eyes burning with stinging sweat, ears reverberating with phantom bass and rumbling guitars, there wasn’t a person left wanting as they filed out of Ak-Chin Pavilion.

Live photos of Day 2 performances: Rockstar Uproar Festival/Desert Uprising 2013 – Day 2 Photos!

MrAnathema (23 Posts)

Joe Abbruscato/MrAnathema is a freelance photographer specializing in concerts, live events, and alternative modeling. He is based out of Tempe, Arizona.