Sunday, September 6, 2009

Smacked by the Gods!

A difficult task comes with writing a blog about a concert. This is especially true for a concert that rocked as hard as Crüe Fest 2 did this past Friday at the Toyota Pavilion at Montage Mountain. The difficulty comes with the desire to adequately encapsulate the sheer badassedness of the event. The problem is it is difficult to know where to begin. Regardless, I am going to give it a shot.

Having attended the first Crüe Fest that went down last year, I walked into the show on Friday thinking I knew what to expect. Was I ever wrong! The tour was twice as big this year, both literally and figuratively. The first thing I noticed when I entered through the gate at the VIP lot was the crowds rocking out at the Monster Energy stage set up just before the wooden bridge. The news that Crüe Fest 2 had added the second stage came late last spring, and I was very excited. The second stage definitely added something to the show. Not only did it keep the throngs of concert-goers occupied while the bands on the main stage set up their equipment, they also kept a large amount of people running back and forth between the stages, which maintained a very high-energy atmosphere, something that the somewhat lesser-known Monster Energy bands captured and built upon.

Our hometown boys in Destination West kicked things off on the Monster Energy stage, performing a great set for the crowds as they piled into the venue. The always entertaining Destination West did not fail to disappoint. I can't wait to see where these guys go from here.

The Charm City Devils then kicked off festivities on the main stage within the Pavilion. For a band that I hadn't heard of up until a few months ago, the Charm City Devils did a great job. Although they are still a bit unrefined when it comes to live shows, they managed to get the crowd excited nonetheless. With a little polish, I think this band can become very very entertaining in live performances. I'm going to have to pick up their new studio album, Let's Rock-N-Roll, and give it a solid listen.

Up next on the main stage was Drowning Pool, who never fail to thrash our asses off. They played right into the rowdy crowd, opening things up with "Sinner". It is worth mentioning that their new lead vocalist, Ryan McCombs, carries himself quite easily through the vocals of Drowning Pool's older singles, which were recorded with original singer Dave Williams. McCombs does great justice for all of Drowning Pool's singles, and the band rocked the hell out of the Pavilion with a set-closing performance of "Bodies" that had the whole crowd on their feet.

After Drowning Pool left the stage, it was Theory of a Deadman's turn to rock. At a point in just about every festival when the crowd is a bit worn from the first few performances and are eagerly awaiting the main acts, Theory of a Deadman pulled everyone to attention and kept things alive in pro-fashion. Theory kept things light-hearted and entertaining, often pandering to the crowd. Still, they delivered when it came time to rock out. After ripping through a few older singles and some new ones, their moment came when it was time for their hit "Hate My Life", which had the whole Pavilion singing along. They closed out with "Bad Girlfriend", which had the place (especially the bad girlfriends) jumping.

A quick trip down the hill and it was time for Rev Theory to take the Monster Energy stage. This was the first time I had seen Rev Theory perform plugged-in for an entire set, but it was worth the wait. Rev Theory has a very energetic stage presence and they dominated with a performance that should have been in the main line-up. They cleaned up with "Hell Yeah", and put a wrap on the Monster Energy stage.

Then it was time for the huge acts to begin. Rev Theory had only just finished when Godsmack took the stage, tearing it open with "Awake". Godsmack continued into the set with hit after hit, even throwing in a brief cover of Pantera's "Walk" in the middle of "Speak". Then, we were treated to a haunting and mellowing performance of "Voodoo" which brought out the lighters. About halfway through their set, Sully Erna disappeared off stage, only to re-emerge inside of a second drum kit. The drum battle was on as Erna and Shannon Larkin erupted into a 15-minute dual-drum solo featuring more brief covers of AC/DC and Black Sabbath.

I also need to commend Sully for slowing things down during "Keep Away" and calming the crowd after things got out of hand and a few fights broke out in the pit. It was very professional of him, and he managed to pull it off in a way that kept the crowd's energy up. After things had been broken up, the band brought the song back to the whole venue jumping and moving. They finished up their set even stronger than they started it, and left us hungry for more. In my personal opinion, I felt that Godsmack stole the show, even outshining the Crüe themselves. It was definitely the best performance I have seen in a long time.

Last, and certainly not least, was the Festival's titular band: Mötley Crüe! As was advertised, Crüe ripped their way through their album Dr. Feelgood from front to back in the grand fashion that we have come to expect from their shows. Truthfully, I wasn't so sure how to take the whole "playing one album" thing, but Crüe didn't disappoint. After they had cleared the album, they continued to rock with their other famous hits, ending on a high note, but also bringing the night to a satisfying conclusion.

It was most definitely a show that should not have been missed, especially considering that Mötley Crüe has already said that there will be no Crüe Fest next year since the band plans to take time off to write and record a new record. I feel pity for those of you that couldn't be there, and strongly suggest that you attend when it comes back (hopefully) in 2011.

On a side (and amusing) note, I was able to get backstage for a while to hang out with a few of the bands. I wasn't back there for very long, but it was enough time to answer the call of nature in Mötley Crüe's dressing room. Not in a bathroom, just in their dressing room. Good times!

So ends another concert season at the Toyota Pavilion. It is upsetting to see the summer already over, but it only makes me even more greedy for next year. As far as Crüe Fest goes, I seriously hope that it comes back, and I'm sure you will all be joining me as we eagerly await the next run.

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