There are only a few dates left on this year’s Uproar tour, but if you have the means to get to one of them, rest assured you’ll get plenty of bang for not a lot of bucks. They’ll also feed you energy drinks until you’re ready to vibrate through the asphalt, but that’s another story.
Yes, the headliners, Alice in Chains and Jane’s Addiction, are legendary bands in the grand tradition of alternative/ hard rock, but the real action is on the side stages. It’s a festival, after all, so there’s an all-day rotation of great bands putting on tight performances that are frenetic and loud in the best possible ways. Either before or after the sets, most of the artists are out and about in the crowd or merch tents for unbelievably gracious meet-and-greets. It’s total immersion in the joys of making and hearing great music.
The finest joy in being a rock fan– for me, at any rate– is discovering bands I didn’t know about, and that seems to be Uproar’s whole reason for being, really. It’s a veritable buffet in terms of rock styles– alternative, punk, blues, and metal flavors abound. Here are a few worth checking out (they’re all available via the usual download locations and they’ll still be out there performing after the Uproar is all over).
First, I’ve seen few lead singers who can work a crowd the way Jones does– he’s clearly having a great time when he’s on stage. There’s a lot of different influences evident here: near-tribal drumming, fast talking lyrics, funk inspired-bass, rocking guitar riffs, and punk inspiration (“Do You Kiss on the First Date?”). They also have some of the most memorable lyrics you’ll hear anywhere, including Wanna know how to play the blues? Get yourself a woman and a whole track about oral sex.
My first impression of New Politics (from Copenhagen) was that they had a look that was more new wave/ punk than rock, but their sound incorporates elements of all three. CBGB is gone, but not dead. They offer fast tempos and high energy, but a little louder and heavier than a lot of current alternative rock.
Beware of Darkness
I do love bands that showcase bass, and Beware of Darkness has great low-register sound– the name is apt. Kyle Nicolaide’s vocals have a quality that hearkens back to the psychedelic era, but the band’s overall sound is totally modern. It’s a mix that works. It takes balls to cover the Beatles (“Yer Blues”) and it takes talent to make that cover your own– they pull it off with seeming ease. And they closed their set with my favorite song title of the day “Howl” (I don’t know if it’s an Allen Ginsberg reference, but I like to think so).
Middle Class Rut
A Sacramento-based duo with strong grunge influences, I was immediately taken by how much their sound resembled early Jane’s Addiction– a perfect fit for this lineup, of course. The rock is chord-driven on guitar with a lot of resonance.
When I reviewed “Lock and Load” back in the spring I noted the Southern Rock feel of this first single. A lot of their set had a much heavier rock sound, especially in the vocals, than I expected. A delightful surprise. The blues influence is apparent in the guitar riffing, and it’s always gratifying to see a guitar-driven band with strong interplay between lead and rhythm.
My enduring affection for Walking Papers has been well-documented already, but it’s nice to have proof that they’re not just a phenomenal album. They give a tight, flawless performance that is also spontaneous and authentic. Highlight of the set was a slightly slowed-down version of “The Butcher”– just that much more menacing and dark– and a dirty blues number at the end that transformed the outdoor area space into a backwoods juke joint.
Stay tuned for more coverage from Uproar in the coming days with interviews from Fleur and Hazelzworld and album reviews from spandexpanda.
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