Rock ‘N Derby closed out its inaugural weekend at the Schaghticoke Fairgrounds on Sunday, May 22. The first two days of the festival were really, really good, and Sunday’s lineup may have been the best of the weekend with the likes of Sevendust, Ghost, Sixx: A.M., Trivium, Megadeth, Collective Soul, Coheed and Cambria and, the headliners of the day, Brent Smith and Shinedown. The only disappointment was Like A Storm not being able to make the show due to its tour bus breaking down.
Shinedown closed out the first ever Rock ‘N Derby on the Derby Stage. In usual Shinedown fashion after the first couple of songs into the bands set, frontman Brent Smith united the crowd with each other and with the band. As drummer Barry Kerch provided the beat, Smith asked the crowd, “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, New York, where you at? If this is your very first time seeing Shinedown, then raise your hands please.” Smith then told the people of the crowd to look to their left, then to their right, and said, “You see, there is a reason for this, you see that person standing next to you, you may have never met before tonight’s event. We’re gonna change that, everyone turn to your neighbor right now, I wanna see you shaking each others’ hands, giving each other high fives and tell them how nice it is to see them at the show.”
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Before the band got into the song “If You Only Knew,” Smith told the fans that he knows it’s been a long weekend, and told the crowd to give a big round of applause for all the other performers who played during the festival, and that he is honored that he gets to share the stage with them. Smith then said “With that being said, we’re not in those bands. We’re in Shinedown. And this is 100% between us, and all of you here tonight. So, did you bring your singing voices tonight? This next song is for all the ladies, where you at? This is dedicated to all the lovers and the ladies.”
Smith gave an extensive speech before the song “Enemies,” that created a moment that has to be witnessed live. He had everyone at Rock ‘N Derby jumping and going insane when the song kicked off.
As the rest of the members of Shinedown jammed on stage, Smith started his speech on stage, and then ended up in the middle of the crowd. He started off by saying “Let’s make 100 percent sure, that all of you here tonight are getting exactly what you want. Cause here’s the thing. You see, we only have one boss. It just happens to be everyone in the audience. So, if you’re not happy, no one’s happy, and you ultimately decide who stays and who goes.”
Smith then had the crowd split in the middle. Once the fans did. Smith left the stage and continued his speech to the fans. Smith then stated “Now listen up, this next song, we guarantee your gonna know the song. What I’m gonna do is this, I’m gonna go back up on stage, I’m gonna count to three. Then I’m gonna say the word go. When I say go, I want every single person that is able, I want you jumping up and down. I wanna see all this dust up in the air. I wanna see every single person in the state of New York bouncing simultaneously up and down. That’s gonna lets us know that we’re at a real rock show.” Smith then returned to the stage and said, “This is all on you. You not at the library, and this ain’t no funeral. Your at a rock & roll revival people.”
Shinedown was to play “State Of My Head,” but before the song, Smith asked for all the lights to be turned off at the fairgrounds. Smith then asked all the fans to light up their cell phones and lighters. In a beautiful sight, Smith said “It’s good to see the stars of New York State.”
Smith would be the last artist to acknowledged the 5-year old girl spending her birthday weekend at the festival. After asking her name Smith then said sincerely “Here’s the thing. I have to give her a lot of credit. ‘Cause 5-years old, and she’s been at a Shinedown show on top of the barricade all weekend. Her mother just mouthed it to me, that she’s been here not just for this show, she’s been here the whole weekend. So I think the least we can do is sing “Happy Birthday.” Smith then led the crowd in to sing “Happy Birthday” one more time.
After the last song in the set “Sound Of Madness,” Smith did his usual concert send off by saying “Our new record is called Threat To Survival. It’s available everywhere. Be good, be good to each other, God bless you all. It’s never goodbye, it’s just ’til next time.” Smith told drummer Barry Kerch to lock it down. Kerch pounded the drums a few times and closed out the set.
Sevendust showed how it’s done on the Derby Stage. The band walked onto the stage while the intro to the song “Thank You” played. Frontman Lajon Witherspoon took the stage and asked the crowd “Do you know who we are? We are Sevendust. Let me see your hands in the air. Y’all better make some fucking noise.”
After the song, Witherspoon again asked the crowd if they knew who they were. He then said to the crowd, “Ladies and gentlemen in the pit, you guys kick ass. I love it when I see the gentlemen invite the ladies in, and it ain’t nothing but a bunch of fun out there.” He went on and asked “Are you guys happy to see us this evening? Thank you for being here so early. We love you guys, God Bless. Are you ready for some more Sevendust music? I wanna see you dance. Are you with us out there? If you can’t be in the pit, I wanna see you bouncing.” Witherspoon the turned his attention to the fans in the back “How you all doing back there in the VIP, whats up?”
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After the band performed “Decay,” Witherspoon may have spilled the beans on a future tour. He asked the crowd if the were ready for headliners Shinedown. He then asked what the people in Schaghticoke knew about the band Ghost. Witherspoon then asked the crowd what they thought of a possible Ghost and Sevendust Tour. Fans cheered.
Witherspoon took the time before the song ‘Praise” to tell fans how close they make him and the band feel to the crowd. Witherspoon first asked fans if they were enjoying themselves. He then said “Can I say something to you? Thank you for making all of our dreams come true. Let me tell you why. And I say this, and I know I fucking say this before anyone else says this. If it wasn’t for each and every one of you guys, none of us would have a fucking job. So thank you very much. If you don’t know who we are, we are Sevendust. We do not have concerts. We have family fucking reunions. Let me see your hands in the air. Let me see what you all got.”
As Witherspoon was talking about the next song “Pieces,” He noticed a sign in the crowd that said split the crowd. Baffled by the request he said “Split the crowd? I never had anyone tell me to do that. I don’t know what that means. You guys wanna split the fucking crowd. Let me see you split right here in the middle. I never done this before. You had a fucking sign (points to fan in the crowd), just spread out right here in the middle. You know what I’d like to fucking do. Since he requested a split, let me see you guys walk around in a circle right in the middle of that split.” Sevendust dropped the track, and in a pretty cool site, fans moved in the pit so hard you could see a dirt cloud slowly rise up and get thicker where you could hardly see the band if you hung out in the back to watch the band perform.
Sixx: A.M. battled a slight rain storm for about 10 minutes, but that didn’t stop them from being one of the day’s, if not one of the weekend’s top performers. They are the total package. The have the look, they have the sound, they have the stage presence and they have the songs. They also sport two female backup singers on stage. Sixx: A.M. started off with “This Is Gonna Hurt,” and “Rise.”
Frontman James Michael took a break to chat with the crowd after the song “This Is Gonna Hurt,” and said, “What’s up Rock ‘N Derby? How you motherfuckers doing today? Let me ask you something. Who is seeing Sixx: A.M. for the very first time right here, right now?” After about everyone in the packed lawn area watching their set cheered because they seem to never tour in this area, Michael continued “Very good. Keep your hands up in the air, everybody put your fucking hands in the air and make a fist like I’m doing, and every time you hear us say the word rise, I wanna see you throw your motherfucking fists up in the air. Will you do that for me? Are you ready to Rise?
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After the song “Rise,” the crowd was so hot during the song, Michael yelled to the crowd “Ah Fuck yeah Rock ‘N Derby. He then introduced the next song in set “Everything Went To Hell” by saying “This one goes out to the bitch that ripped my fucking heart out of my chest. You know what I’m fucking talking about, don’t you.
Once the last song in the set “Life Is Beautiful,” concluded, Michael introduced the band. Nikki Sixx, the band’s bassist (also the bassist of Mötley Crüe) then took the mic and introduced Michael. Amazing live show left everyone wanting more.
Trivium hit the Derby Stage hard. After two songs in the opening of their set, singer Matt Heafy stopped to talked to the crowd. He asked “How the fuck we doing today? We are Trivium. Is this anyone’s first time seeing Trivium today?” After the first timers responded, Heafy said “Pleasure to meet y’all” and then asked “Is this anyone’s second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth or 10th time seeing Trivium? Alright my friends one very simple rule for a Trivium show my friends. Whatever the fuck we’re doing up here, we need you all to be doing down there. That’s headbanging, singing, screaming, moving your asses, sweating and all that good fucking shit.”
He then gave a rundown on what crowd on the festival circuit was the best so far. Heafy said the crowd “If you want be the motherfucking best my friends, we all got to step it the fuck up.” Trivium followed Heafy’s speech with the band’s current single “Dead and Gone.”
Next song in the setlist Heafy told the crowd that they were gonna go back to the fourth album, but needed the fans’ help before they play “Down From The Sky.” He went on to say that on the next song, “Lets make some noise together. I’ll do it with you, but y’all gotta do it with me too.”
Heafy introduced “Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr.” He introduced the song by saying “This next song is an old motherfucker. This song goes real well with a nice circle pit or two or three or whatever you feel like doing but we need that shit.”
Heafy then explained how the pit works, “You run and you turn left, if they fall down, pick them the fuck back up. If you ain’t in that circle, you’re banging your head, you’re shaking your ass or you’re fucking moving your bodies.”
Queensbury native Frank Palangi opened the final day Sunday at Rock ‘N Derby, on the Upstate Concert Hall Arena Stage. Palangi played a good mix of original tunes and cover tunes. Palangi and his band came right out to get noticed, and they did. By the end of his set, most of the fans that were sitting over on the bleachers, made their way to the general standing area to rock out closer to him.
After his first song, Palangi asked the crowd, “You guys ready to make some noise today?” After the fans’ minimal response, Palangi then asked the crowd louder, “I said, are you ready to make some noise today?” He then went on to explain what the next song in his set is about. Palangi said the next song is about being lied to. he then asked the fans “Who’s ever been lied to?” After a couple shouts from the crowd he replied, “Just a couple of people? I don’t find that true. It’s a song about basically somebody taking your words and twisting them around.”
Before Palangi performed the song “Driving These Lines,” he gave a quick run-down about the song being about the ups and downs in life and the music industry. He said “You run into stuff that bothers you, but then its like, I can’t do anything about it. But that’s life.” After the song, he thanked one of the sponsors at Rock’N Derby, entertainment retailer f.y.e.. He then thanked the local f.y.e.’s for supporting local artists by selling their music in their stores. He said “f.y.e.’s here in New York support local artist and they are awesome.”
Drummer Josh Opitz and Palangi showed off some of their skills before they performed their new single “Break These Chains.” Optiz started off teasing a drum solo with Palangi shredding a rift on his guitar.
Palangi then played a cover by the band Full Devil Jacket. Palangi talked about how the band was a big influence on him since Woodstock 1999 and showed respect to singer Josh Brown. He talked about how he gave Brown his CD and he listened to it. Brown then gave it to his producer and said this is how it all got started for him and he hasn’t stopped since. Palangi then told fans that he met the members of his band on Craigslist, and that they are blessed to do music here the last couple of years. Palangi then played the song “Now You Know.”
Palangi paid tribute to friend and bandmate TR Remsen who passed away recently from cancer. He said he was right there with them, as he pointed to the empty spot next to him. The band closed with the song “I Am Ready.”