|Rockstar Uproar Tour - Houston, Texas, Woodlands Pavilion - 12th September 2010|
|Written by Darrel Sutton|
|Sunday, 19 September 2010 05:00|
I've ever really understood the purpose of these package tours that do the rounds under some godawful sponsors name, but when it's summertime in the States there seems to be more package tours around than you'd find on a dodgy online travel site. And more importantly as every band and their brother seems to be on one they do allow you to catch a good few bands for far less money than you would shell out seeing them individually. So as the three main acts on the Rockstar bill are all heading to the UK in the coming months, and being the public servant I am, this was my chance to see if they are worth shelling some readies on. So into the breach I went...eventually.
As anyone who's read any of my live reviews will know I seem to attract travel problems, but today's really took the piss and ultimately led to me missing Airbourne (there had in fact been three other bands preceding them, but Myspace visits had indicated a level of shit-ness that negated the need for any name checks here) and just about getting through the gates in time to see Hellyeah closing proceedings on the Jagermeister Stage. Having a certain Vinnie Paul in their ranks ensured a near-hometown reception for the band, and their Southern-tinged metal made for the perfect afternoon accompaniment to a cold beer. Chad Grey whips the crowd up to great effect, leading the band through a selection of standards from their two albums before the barnstorming set-closer of 'Alcohaulin' Ass' sees the sweat-drenched crowd on their way towards the bars to try and counteract the near 100 degree heat.
Following that lead on the beer front meant me to missing (fortunately I thought) the start of Halestorm's set. As I stumble into the lawn area of the main arena I am confronted by the entire band on stage playing dustbins, obviously thinking themselves "cutting edge" in bringing some street music to the masses. I thought it made them look bigger cocks than I already thought they were and considering my disdain for the kind of shite I'd seen them peddle in their variety of videos this took some doing. So just to spite me they went and did the unthinkable. They played a really fucking good song. Yep, 'Nothing To Do With Love' really was a top bit of stadium rock and, credit where credit's due, frontwoman Lzzy Hale really can sing. Having a much gravelly inflection to her voice when she sings live you could be forgiven for thinking it's Doro Pesch if you closed your eyes, without the PVC bra though obviously. They finish their set with their "anthem" 'I Get Off' and I fight the urge to puke.
Thank fuck, then for Stone Sour. With a full production most likely at their disposal they instead settle for a simple backdrop and the good old adage of letting the music do the talking. It's amazing to think that Stone Sour still seem to be regarded as a side band in some circles, especially when they turn out the kind of live show they do tonight. They really are a very well oiled machine now and mixing new songs like opener 'Mission Statement' and 'Say You'll Haunt Me' with old faves like 'Get Inside', they've got the songs and the chops to have 20,000 fans eating out of their hands at a whim. You also get a sense that Corey Taylor is very comfortable in the skin of this band at this moment in time, so much so that the phrase "other band" really should disappear into the sunset.
Which curiously enough brings us to a very timely sunset, just prior to Avenged Sevenfold hitting the stage; complete with one of the most pyro-tastic stageshows this side of Gene and Paul's over-the-hill tribute band. Obviously on a mission, A7X are taking the obvious catharsis of carrying on in the wake of Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan's untimely passing and producing the shows of their lives. Kicking off with new fave 'Nightmare', complete with blazing pyro and a rather nice hanging victim draped from the lighting rig, they're quickly into the calibre of performance you half expected but are also very relieved to witness. Mike Portnoy seems to slip so effortlessly into this band that it surely wouldn't be cynical to suggest his recent official departure from Dream Theater means he's likely to be up on that drum riser for some time to come. The set list is essentially a best of their albums to date with the likes of 'Beast And The Harlot', 'Afterlife' and 'Almost Easy' sandwiching the poignant mid-set tribute to "The Rev" that is 'So Far Away'. As they bid farewell to the biggest cheers of the day so far you feel they are well on the road to turning tragedy to triumph. And to be honest, in hindsight it would have been good if the night had ended there because...
I'd been warned in advance that headliners Disturbed might not be very good. A certain Mr H. had warned me of the performance of Mr Draimen and Co when they had supported Marilyn Manson a while back, but being the eternal optimist (and also secretly admitting to liking some of their recorded output, shock horror) I was sort of looking forward to seeing a multi-platinum sales monolith at the peak of their game in front of 20,000 adoring fans. What a fucking idiot!! From the opening notes of 'Remnants' the exaggerated falsetto vocals of David Draimen have the same effect as being waterboarded.
By the time he'd butchered what are actually a couple of decent tunes (on album at least), you start feeling equal parts sorry for the rest of his band (who play pretty well to be honest) and utterly amazed that this shower of shit can headline a package tour like this. And just when you think this has to improve, the dome-headed ego-trip plays his trump card. I've seen some bad stuff in my time, even played some really bad stuff myself, but the turgid pile of tramp's cock-cheese that is their cover of 'Land Of Confusion' really is the ultimate. If Phil Collins ever sees the video of this show don't be surprised to see the bloke up on a murder charge very soon afterwards, because nobody deserves to have their song butt-fucked in this fashion. Stunned by this display I find myself suitably incapacitated so that I actually suffer two more songs, before regaining my composure and getting the fuck out of the place. Apparently they played 'Down With The Sickness' as an encore. They probably made it sound like shit and the frontman with less charisma than penal warts probably made fucking "Ach Ach Wacker Ach" noises in the middle of it. And hopefully his band mates beat him unconscious.
So back to the early comments about parting with your cash when these lot head to the UK. Stone Sour and Avenged Sevenfold seem like sound investments; whereas Disturbed make 50 Plus or even worming rabid dogs seem like a better option. Or even eating dogshit come to think of it.