There's a music festival for everything these days. FYF, Mayhem Festival, Warped Tour, South By Southwest, Riot Fest, Coachella—I can't list them all. It never ends. For the last few years, one of these festivals has been traveling the country under the title of Uproar, powered by Rockstar Energy sponsorship and full of all the bland radio rock you can stomach. Typically anchored by fairly recognizable and boring headlining acts like Disturbed or Shinedown, this year those acts consisted of the strange combination of Circa Survive, Coheed & Cambria, Jane's Addiction and the legendary Alice In Chains – strange mix, but finally compelling enough for me to begrudgingly make it to an Uproar date. Make no mistake, though, I've got a lot of generic bullshit to tear apart before we get to the good stuff.
I made it inside just in time to catch the end of the first local band, Jhonny K and Krew. They play fairly Southern-inspired rock, and it's not bad. It’s not my taste, but they've got a few songs that I like and it's too bad that I didn't catch more of their set. Notably standing out, the next act was other local band Burn The Gallows. With more of a heavy rock sound than the rest of the bill, they sort of remind me of Crossfade with a little Digital Summer thrown in. I like Andres Cardenas' voice, especially his infrequent growl, but I don't think their sound played as well on the outdoor stage as it does on their recorded stuff. I'm keeping an eye out for a smaller show soon, though.
So far, so good, right? And then Charming Liars from London hits the stage and fucks everything up with boring, whitewashed, inoffensive radio rock that ends up doing more to offend with its inherent blandness than anything else. Think Lostprophets, except the filler songs instead of the hit singles that people actually liked. With a logo obviously inspired by the iconic Parental Advisory stickers, it's a pretty poor effort at showcasing an edginess that just doesn't exist. They’re total pretty boys, a sentiment only furthered when singer Charlie Cosser rips off his hat and starts shaking long blonde hair all over the stage. I can't, won't, and will never be able to take this shit seriously.
Next up was the Chuck Shaffer Picture Show, named after their high school janitor and his lifelong obsession over the eponymous picture show. I don't have much nice to say about these guys either. Playing standard modern rock with a lot of Sick Puppies in the mix, the most entertaining part of their set was the part where bassist David Stiefel fell on his ass trying to bounce around the stage. They were terrible at keeping time and completely lacked any sort of distinguishing characteristics. I'm ready to forget these guys even exist. Radio rock as a stereotype has earned its mockery for a reason. How many more of these generic bands do we need? It's not heavy, it's not well done, you've heard it a million times and you're probably going to hear it another million times.
Moving over to the other stage with more than a little trepidation, it was with much relief that the next act, Middle Class Rut, finally kicked things up a notch. They play fast-paced and energetic rock n’ roll, one particularly energetic example being their song “Born Too Late”, the opener for their new album Pick Up Your Head. Two drummers is an interesting touch—one full drum kit and the other playing alternative percussion—and I quite like Zack Lopez's high, Jane's Addiction-esque voice and ruggedly handsome appearance. Apparently they're a two-piece in the studio, writing big enough songs that they need to fill out into a five-piece to play them live.
I didn't stick around for all of Middle Class Rut's set, instead shooting my photos and jamming out to a couple songs before heading up the hill back to the ticket booth to pick up a special separate Alice In Chains photo pass. This particular photo pass ended not actually being at the ticket booth after all, so I trudged again back down the hill to catch the next band, Beware of Darkness.
The set was already halfway done by the time I got back so I didn't get a chance to shoot any photos of these guys, but I did hear more than I was interested in hearing. Disturbingly high-voiced and whiny, playing a fittingly generic garage rock set, Beware of Darkness is boring. Again, it's not the worst music in the world. Nothing on Uproar is the worst music in the world, and every musician here is entirely competent. And hell, the crowd had plenty of fun. But man, it's just the same music over and over and over.
Slightly less boring, at least to me: we spotted Danny Bateman of the Warped Roadies doing his roadie thing for Uproar while hanging out in the back of the crowd. SLUG's own Megan Kennedy interviewed him during our Warped Roadies coverage last year—check that shit out here.