July 30th in Hamburg, NY was a night for heavy metal heads and punk rockers to unite. Rise Against, Billy Talent, Rancid, Killswitch Engage, All That Remain, and White Chapel formed together to create one manic, insane, and energetic show. Having been held in the Agri-Center at the Fairgrounds, there was enough room for a two stage set-up in which fans would flow back and forth from in order to see the next band, or get a good spot before the next band started. The two stages caused a little confusion and made things unorganized. There were no schedules saying which band would play first and on which stage. If there were any, I didn't see them, so they weren't very visible.
White Chapel started the night out on the first stage. They were by far the heaviest act of the night. I'm personally not a fan of the bands that continually scream and growl to the point you don't understand a word they're saying (it must be an acquired taste) so I was glad they were first. They were, however, crazy, intense, and got the crowd revved up for the rest of the show, as any good opening act should.
Next up was All That Remains, who were also on the first stage. Having heard of the band but never their music before, I was curious what was in store for me. Their music was about as intense as White Chapel, but they had great audience interaction and audible lyrics. Their singer Philip LaBonte even joked about their female bassist, saying "Jeanne does dudes. Dudes do not do Jeanne." For a lesser known band, they did know how to keep an audience interested.
Billy Talent started up on stage two afterwards. They hit hard by starting their set with their popular and better known songs such as "Devil in a Midnight Mass" and "This Suffering." The singer, Ben,let us know that as Canadians, they were proud we have local Tim Hoton's, and that we're "bonafide Canadian dignitaries." After another song or two, the band was told the crowd had broken the barricade. Ben told the crowd that they would have to pause to fix it and everyone booed at the thought. "It felt like I'm at a Buffalo Sabres game, with all the booing," he joked. To pass the time, Ben continued to tell Michael Jackson jokes, which didn't seem too faze most, but offended me. Then the crowd started getting impatient and chanted "Fuck this shit!" The band even played along, making it into a catchy tune. Eventually a man came on stage to tell the audience there would be a half-hour break to fix the barrier, but that every band would play a full set.
Even with the thirty minute break, Killswitch Engage had to come on early on the first stage. After chanting for any band to come out, the rowdy crowd finally got what they wanted, music. It wasn't hard to please this audience after what they'd been through, and yet Killswitch still made them feel involved by playing the well known tracks first. They were all wearing tuxedo tee-shirts, which was highly comical, seeing as most of them had tattoos showing and were far from formal with what they were telling the audience. The guitarist, Adam, who was also wearing a cape, said "You guys broke the barrier, so now I get to break something - an 18 year olds hymen!" Despite their dirty talk, they put on an entertaining show, complete with strobe lights, a wall of death, and the encouraging of crowd surfing. They even got the whole crowd jumping for their final song, their cover of Ronnie James Dio's "Holy Diver."
Directly afterwards, Billy Talent started up again on the second stage. I was surprised at how despite being cut off mid-set, they still brought just as much energy to the table the second time around to finish their set. Singer Ben Kowalewicz was still bouncing from place to place and standing on the stage speakers. He mentioned how the only thing the barricade mishap did was make him drink too many beers before coming back on stage. They finished off their set with "Fallen Leaves" and "Red Flag," but never played their new song, "Rusted from the Rain."
This left only bands Rancid and Rise Against left to play. Rancid had a nice video introduction that put each members' face with their name, giving us a more personal level with the band. I was personally happy to see Branden Steineckert (formally of The Used) play. It was interesting to see him in a different setting, and in a band with a completely different sound. The band's punk flavor added a new element to the show and really got the crowd on their feet. At this point toilet paper was being thrown within the audience, and sometimes even at the band. One barely missed Branden's head as he continued playing, unfazed. Their energy matched and magnified that of Billy Talent and continued the build of excitement up to the point of the night's headliner, Rise Against.
The long awaited moment had finally come. After the delays and previous bands, Rise Against finally came to the forefront to play for the tedious crowd. The band was as energetic as any of the other bands, and brought another personal level to the show by apologizing for the long night. However how long the concert was, Rise Against made it fun and worth the time. They played all the hits, and came back for a three song encore including the finale, "Ready to Fall." The crowds left with a fulfillment of seeing so many entertaining bands in one night and having a fun night.
We would like to thank Steve Waxman from Warner Music for allowing us to cover the show.