Rockstar Uproar Rocks The Great New York State Fair, Despite Poor Weather and Lukewarm Ticket Sales

It was a rainy and miserable day on August 22 at the Great New York State Fair. However, some great hard rock rolled through the grandstand. There were some problems going into the show. First and foremost, Seether, Buckcherry, and These Raven Skies DID NOT appear at this stop due to outside conflict of interest, which may have hurt the ticket sales. On top of that, there seemed to be a lack of promotion behind this show. I would be worried if Rockstar Uproar will stop in Syracuse next year.

Doors originally were supposed to open at 2pm that day, but due to the amount of bands that pulled, the show started at 3pm. The first set of bands performed on the smaller “Festival Stage” which was set on the dirt track right next to the grandstand stage. I did like how the vender tents and autograph tents were positioned on the far side of the track. The stage itself looked and sounded great. There was only one problem. Dirt track and rain is a messy situation. But bloody hell, it’s rock and roll. The first band Blame Anchor did a fine job opening the set. There must have been only 400 people when they started. Blame Anchor was the band that won the battle of the bands competition to be part of Rockstar Uproar. I think their fifteen minutes of fame pending the rest of the tour will pan out for them. Blame Anchor played a very short set, but made it count. They had a Godsmack vibe to them.

Bad Seed Rising played their half hour set. They’re just kids, but they impressed. It’s really hard for bands in their teens to really take off with rock and metal, but I believe Bad Seed Rising can make it in this harsh industry if they stick to their guns. They’ve got some real heart and talent.

Canada’s Sons Of Reverly are definitely the odd band out of this line up, which is not a bad thing. It just shows they got something to prove as they’re an unsigned indie band. They were the winners of last year’s Rockstar Uproar battle of the bands. This year they made it on to a permanent slot. The fascinating thing about watching them is how they eventually won the crowd completely over by the end of their set. They seem to have a little flavor of Rush, but they have some heavy songs and songs that people can relate too. I would imagine this band will be signed within the next year. I had the privilege of interviewing them after their set.

Tattered and Three Years Hollow played good and heavy sets, but it was festival stage headliners Escape The Fate that really made that stage explode and laid the foundation. They played a fast and heavy set and egged on the crowed, too, to get them going. Clearly, a hungry band that continues to grow and make an impact on the radio and on the road. It was surprising they were not on the main stage because they clearly belonged there on this tour. By the time Escape The Fate finished, there must have been about three thousand people in attendance. Not exactly staggering numbers for a grandstand show at the fair, but the people who were there were lucky to see Escape The Fate perform.

After Escape The Fate graced the stage and the festival stage closed down, Pop Evil opened the main stage. There was only one problem. It was almost an hour before Pop Evil started. I understand setting up the stage and production is hard work, but there was no reason for it be that long. Especially the fact that this show had two stages. But despite the long wait, Pop Evil clicked on all cylinders and was definitely a highlight of the entire show. Their set consisted of songs from all three of their albums. Songs like “100 In A 55”, “Dance With The Devil”, and “Last Man Standing” were great and had awesome performances. Pop Evil is certainly making big splashes and really solidifying themselves as a premiere headlining act.

Because of the shortage of bands that were originally billed, it was yet another long ridiculous wait for Skillet. It may have been worth it though as Skillet was easily the best band on the bill. They’re production was bigger than it ever was. They had violinists on stage with them too; it was such a spectacle. There was a lot of energy put into their performance, and it was a nice change of pace to hear music with a positive message too. Skillet played most of their hits, but the song that stood out the most was definitely “Awake and Alive”, which had a slightly different take on it than we are used to hearing. I did find it a little odd that Skillet, who are strong Christian believers, were on the same bill with Godsmack because Sully Erna is a member of the Church of Satan. But it’s about the music, not the beliefs.

Godsmack, of course, headlined the show. Now don’t get it twisted, Godsmack ALWAYS puts on a great show. Even if they’re off a little on a night, you’re always going to get a great show from them. Now, I have seen Godsmack multiple times. For the past decade, the band has been no stranger to Syracuse and the rest of Upstate New York, so I’m sure there are a lot of people who have seen them multiple times. That being said, they seem to have lost a little fire in their performance that night. It was still a great show, but the energy that I am used to seeing from Godsmack over the years, I did not see at Uproar. Most notably in lead guitarist Tony Rombola. He’s very talented and was a nice guy when I met him a few years back, but it just seemed he lacked the passion he used to have on stage. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt though as maybe it was an off night or that the band is a little rusty from taking the last couple of years off. As far as their set, it was a good mixture of their classic hits and some songs off of their latest release 1000 HP. Of course, the one thing that stood out during the show was the dual percussion solo between Sully Erna and Shannon Larkin. Always enjoyable to see. And during “Whatever”, Erna threw beers at the crowd and invited some fans on stage – most notably the guy with the HUGE afro that fascinated Erna. It was pretty amusing.

Overall, it was a good lineup, but could have been so much more if Seether and Buckcherry were able to make the bill. I think fans would have gotten a much better bang for their buck and the show would have had MUCH better attendance.