Concert Review: Rockstar Uproar Fest 2013 (Thursday, August 22 at First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre in Tinley Park)

Concert Review: Rockstar Uproar Fest 2013 (Thursday, August 22 at First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre in Tinley Park)

Thursday afternoon in Tinley Park, rain ended early and festivalgoers stayed dry during afternoon performances by Danko Jones, Walking Papers, Circa Survive, Coheed and Cambria, Jane’s Addiction and Alice in Chains at the 2013 Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival at First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre in Tinley Park…

Rainy conditions early in the day gave way to more comfortable weather later as gates opened at 2PM Thursday for Rockstar Uproar 2013.  Featuring two festival stages set up outside the venue, music started early and culminated with closing sets by Danko Jones and Walking Papers before Circa Survive got the day started on the main stage.

Walking Papers was particularly intriguing as it featured former Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan and Screaming Trees/Mad Season alum, Barrett Martin on drums.

With a bigger, fuller sound that far eclipses that captured on last October’s self-titled debut, the band tore through an eclectic half hour set that hit on a variety of sounds spanning a range that included rock, jazz, blues and more.

Duff McKagan and Barrett Martin of Walking Papers - Rockstar Uproar Fest 2013 - Tinley Park Thursday, August 22

Photo by Jim Ryan

An organ fueled romp entitled “Red Envelopes” came early while “Your Secret’s Safe With Me” relied on McKagan’s historically underrated bass and provided one of the set’s darker, more sinister moments.

Jeff Angell proved more than capable as frontman despite the starpower of his bandmates.  Jumping down from the stage to mingle with fans, Angell delivered “The Butcher” at least thirty feet out.

“Two Tickets and a Room” though ended up as the highlight of Walking Papers’ set.  A bit of a latent jazz undertone followed by a scorching guitar solo courtesy of Angell (with a little help from his mic stand) set the song apart during one of the day’s more surprisingly rewarding sets.

As the main stage meandered toward climax with headlining performances form a pair of nineties alternative giants, it was hard not to note the size of the crowd.  Tickets for the show sold for as low as only ten dollars (face value) and yet the lawn was literally empty.  The pavilion was only about sixty percent full and even the general admission pit in front wasn’t at capacity.

But that didn’t stop Jane’s Addiction and Alice in Chains from turning in solid performances.  As always, the Jane’s Addiction set seemed headed off the rails while Alice in Chains turned in a more polished seventy minute set.

Dave Navarro and Perry Farrell of Janes Addiction perform during the Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival at the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre, on Thursday, August 22, 2013 in Tinley Park, IL. (Photo by Barry Brecheisen//Invision/AP)

Photo by Barry Brecheisen//Invision/AP

Jane’s Addiction shows have the potential to be unpredictable for a variety of reasons but Thursday night in Tinley Park it was due to what seemed to be the high level of intoxication of frontman, Perry Farrell.  Make no mistake, you won’t find Farrell onstage without a bottle of wine these days… but the typically shortened festival set may have forced him to get an early start Thursday.

The show began with “Underground” from the band’s underrated 2011 effort The Great Escape Artist and from there, as it has each night (the band has played the same eleven song setlist so far on each night of the Rockstar Uproar tour), it was onto one of the band’s biggest hits in “Mountain Song”… though on this particular occasion Farrell seemed to have a hard time screaming forth the lyrics.

That said, the band itself again sounded great.  Of the several times I’ve seen Jane’s Addiction, it was Thursday night’s show that saw Dave Navarro at his sharpest.  One of alternative rock’s more underrated guitarists, his virtuosic skills were on full display during a tight, fiery version of “Had a Dad.”

Farrell broke briefly from the script for a few impromptu bars of Frank Sinatra’s “Chicago” before Navarro tore into the searing intro of “Just Because.”  And the band took center stage again for about eleven minutes midway through Thursday’s set on an intense, drawn out version of one of Jane’s finest tales of debauchery:  “Three Days.”

Moving to the back of the stage to drain a bottle of wine, a strange diatribe about Jerry Cantrell flowed forth from Farrell’s lips (Navarro humored his bandmate, strumming the acoustic intro to Alice in Chains’ “Got me Wrong” as the strange story rambled on). Ultimately, a sloppy, acoustic rendition of “Jane Says” closed things out.

Where Jane’s Addiction managed to make a setlist that was predictable to anyone with a cell phone seem anything but, Alice in Chains was the polar opposite, the epitome of preparation and professionalism during an outstanding set that hit on just about every portion of their catalog.

William DuVall and Jerry Cantrell of Alice in Chains perform during the Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival at the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre, on Thursday, August 22, 2013 in Tinley Park, IL. (Photo by Barry Brecheisen//Invision/AP)

Photo by Barry Brecheisen//Invision/AP

Adding a touch of poignancy to Thursday night’s proceedings was the fact that the show fell on what would have been former singer Layne Staley’s forty-sixth birthday (a point hammered home by the letters “LSMS” on drummer, and founding member, Sean Kinney’s drum head – a reference to both Staley and deceased former Chains’ bassist Mike Starr).

That drum head lit up as the band tore into a triumphant version of “Man in the Box” early in the set.  Never one of my personal Alice in Chains favorites, it was hard to ignore the song’s power in the live setting Thursday at Rockstar Uproar 2013.

“Junkhead,” for only the third time in 2013, was a surprise and followed.  One of Staley’s finest vocal performances, it was also a high point Thursday for new vocalist William DuVall who continues to take on more vocals each time I see the new Alice in Chains lineup live.  Clad in flannel and sporting a new, shorter haircut (I thought friends didn’t’ let friends get haircuts?), Cantrell paused to recognize Staley’s birthday (as well as the fact that Alice in Chains performed on the same Tinley Park stage nearly twenty years ago to the day as part of the then traveling Lollapalooza festival in 1993).  The band continued with “Acid Bubble” from their 2009 comeback/DuVall debut Black Gives Way to Blue.

And while Thursday’s set was undoubtedly geared toward the hits, Alice in Chains made quite the statement for their new material as “Stone” (from May’s The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here) provided a Rockstar Uproar highlight.  Throughout the band’s set, the bass of Mike Inez was far too high in the mix, routinely drowning out Cantrell’s guitar, but it was completely appropriate powering the down and dirty dirge that is “Stone” (an intense rumble of sound that Alice in Chains should’ve patented years ago before so many bands tried in vain to duplicate it).

In a recording career that, sadly, spanned little more than five years with the deceased Staley, it’s impressive to look back at the ridiculous number of huge hits Alice in Chains had.  The set drew to a close Thursday with a slew of them, as “Down in a Hole,” “No Excuses,” and “Would?” gave way to “Rooster.”

– Jim Ryan (@RadioJimRyan)

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