2019 is the very first year that the famous Vans Warped Tour has halted its cross-country summer tour experience. While that may be a disappointment to all of those that were lucky enough to experience those long summer days packed with your favorite bands from every genre – the echos of the tour have now gave birth to new festivals for fans to indulge in.
Rockstar Energy debuted Disrupt Festival earlier this year, a summer long cross country festival. The festival features headlining acts The Used, Thrice, Circa Survive and Sum 41.
Walking through the festival grounds, there is a striking resemblance of the likes of Warped tour. All of the participating bands merch tents and various vendors. Sponsors like To Write Love on Her Arms, Emo Nite, Loudwire were also present. The venue also scattered blowup figures of the emo-fashioned cartoon characters that Disrupt had originated.
Rockstar Energy had their own drink station where the company handed off free cans of numerous flavors of their flagship beverage, just in case you needed that little boost through your time at their festival.
On this particular day, as Michigan weather goes, the heat was beating down on all the concert goers. But that didn’t stop the continuous mosh pits, jumping and chanting the lyrics to each song that they knew.
The festival maintained two stages for the entirety of the day: the Festival stage in the parking lot just outside the gates to the venue’s premises, and the Main stage in the amphitheater at DTE. This was a nice break from the tedious 5+ stages at Vans Warped Tour.
The first act to kick off this rock-filled day was the new up and coming artist Hyro the Hero.
Hyro and his band commanded the stage with such raw energy and inspiring athleticism. Each hard-hitting riff and chaotic movement on stage made it hard to keep your eyes off of him. His lyricism proved to be explicit to say the least, but as he as he played his song “F**k You (Say it to Your Face)”, there wasn’t a fan in attendance that didn’t have their middle fingers up in the air along with the band.
Energetic and beast-like, Hyro and his band ran and leaped all over the stage, making use of every little square foot of that stage. His signature stage move was literally whipping his microphone up in the air and catching it as it nearly fell to the ground. Each monitor was being mounted and jumped from, every bandmate vigorously aiming to give the best visual representation of their music as possible, and every ounce of chaos oozing from the intense vocals and instrumentals that Hyro the Hero and his group could provide.
Hyro was gracious enough to have us for a short interview about his experience being on the festival and his take on being on tour with such veteran acts the he himself had been listening to for years. You can listen to the complete interview here.
Up next to take the stage was the talented Juliet Simms. As she carried through all of her songs on the set, she rang this bohemian-esque vibe about her, with the dance-like, yet dark undertones of her tracks. It was stunning to hear and visually see Simms perform with such classical training. From her accompaniment of tambourine and other auxiliary percussion instruments one could see that there was a full fledged musician leading her group on a bouncy, jam packed set.
Her performance of her newest single “Bad Love” had all the fans singing at the top of their lungs. Her crowd involvement and charisma showed some true musicianship, which shouldn’t come as surprise from someone who has been in the industry as long as she has.
Next to take the stage was the Australian punk rock group Trophy Eyes. As a new up and coming group in America over the past few years, they have been seen taking opening spots for more well-known acts. Unfortunately if their performance at the Detroit stop of the Disrupt tour is something that has been a continuous quality, it doesn’t seem like they’ll be getting much further than that.
Starting off the set with “Friday Forever”, vocalist John Floreani stood at the microphone with lackluster movement and little enthusiasm when singing. His habit of fiddling with his monitor distracted the crowd from the performance. Guitarist Andrew Hallett stared at his pedal board while playing, this was consistent for most of the set.
Maybe this performance was one to chalk up as a freak occurrence of poor technical difficulties and just bad circumstances for the musicians. But the enthusiasm and showmanship were lost from this entire set. Hopefully for their fans, they ring true and deliver a better performance on future dates.
Memphis Mayfire has always found a following in Metro Detroit, and they are always proud to acknowledge such. Vocalist Matty Mullins took to the stage with the veteran charisma, mentioning how faithful their Detroit fans are. Their set featured songs from throwbacks in The Hollow to their newest release Broken. The band consistently remains to sound true to their recordings, and give the crowd exactly what they want to hear, with the clarity and precision that their known for.
Following up Memphis May Fire was the rowdy and melodic hardcore group Four Year Strong. Although each member of the group is an instrumentalist, it didn’t stop the group from bringing an insane amount of energy to the crowd. One song after another, the energy from this group was relentless, their crowd interaction was phenomenal, and their tireless playing to give the crowd the most for their buck was nothing but obvious. With their incredibly fast riffs and tantalizing lyrics, their were nothing short of a fun-packed performance.
Last but definitely not least on the Festival stage was the Michigan-native group Sleeping With Sirens. The surrounding portion of the venue was packed side to side with fans chanting every lyric to their songs – the band had to have seemed to naturally stolen the show.
Playing older hits like “If You Can’t Hang” and “If You’re Audrey Hepburn, Then I’m James Dean” to their newest released single “Leave it All Behind”, the crowd was crowd was the most involved as they possibly could be. Vocalist Kellin Quinn demanded that there be not one, not two, but three circle pits within the crowd, and got exactly what he asked for.
Quinn lead the band with his energetic demeanor on stage and his high-ranged vocals and screams. Each member took to the risers in the back of the stage for some stage antics, utilizing the space given to them to really show the crowd what they were made of. As a band originally from this state, it was no shocker that the crowd was utterly pleased with each moment of their set.
After each band concluded from the festival stage, it was now to move to DTE’s amphitheater for the second half of the tour, starting with the band Atreyu.
Atreyu has been one of those bands that you must see at least once, especially if you’re a fan of metal-core. The band’s set up had two staircases coming from the drum set for each band member to traverse during each one of their songs.Guitarist Dan Jacobs had a floor tom drum on stage-right that matched the bright, neon green color of his guitar.
To say the least, this band loved performing, giving smiles to every member of press and the audience included. The band had their skull design from their 2018 album In Our Wake draped behind them, which gave a perfect, ironic look to the whole make up of their stage pressence.
Circa Survive, another veterans act, was lead by vocalist Anthony Green. Green, with his conceptual movements kept telling individual crowd members that he “wanted to dance with them” on almost every song. With that statement, Green proved to be as chaotic as the music the band played.
With a wonderful light setup and beautiful concept art draped as a banner behind them, they kept the crowd interested as each interval rang through their music. Circa Survive was a fitting group to wring that nostalgic, emo feeling back into the rock festival.
Speaking of nostalgia, Sum 41 followed. The band has had many hits over the years, including “In Too Deep”, “Walking Disaster”, “Fat Lip”, “Still Waiting”, “The Hell Song”, and even one of their newest singles “Out for Blood”. Everyone in the crowd progressively felt more and more nostalgic from listening to bands that they did when they attended Warped Tour.
Vocalist Deryck Whibley took all the time he wanted to take a moment away from playing his guitar parts to take his cordless mic and parade around the stage to engage each and every fan at the barrier. As the set came to the last 3 or 4 songs, a huge two-story blowup skeleton was inflated behind the drums, with one hand giving the birdie towards the crowd. That, along with their newly designed band text banner behind them, the group still shows that they have what it takes to still be considered one of the most popular punk rock bands out there.
Experimental rock band Thrice took the stage just as the sun set and finally gave everyone a rest from the heat that had been beating down all day. Thrice played on a nearly fogged out stage, with luminous neon blue and purple lights that really captured the feeling of their music. The crowd was taken on an emotional journey with each progressive song that they played. Thrice has a sound with post-hardcore, emo, punk, and artful rock tendencies scattered throughout. The band provided wonderful middle ground of demeanor for the very last act of the night.
The Used as the major headliner. Their songs have rang through each punk, emo, rock, and post-hardcore music festival, was none other than the famous group. Their set began with a huge white curtain placed in front of the stage, the crowd was greeted with a seemly timely, black and white picture which was reminiscent to their album In Love and Death.
Eerie harpsichord music echoed through the venue that was paired with the projection, and once it came to a halt, the huge white curtain fell revealing the band and their whole stage set up.
Vocalist Bert McKracken appeared center stage and did his signature move of facing away from the crowd and spewing a mouthful of water into mist into the air above him. The band opened with “Take it Away”, which was sang through the cheers of the crowd.
McKracken as always came out with his manic-like demeanor, singing every song with his indistinguishable voice, staying true to each recorded version of each song for the most part
McKracken gave a short and sweet political statement of “F**k Donald Trump” between the first few songs of the set. As the set carried on, McKracken was pulling all sorts of antics, such as benching the mic stand on his back, throwing drum sticks out into the crowd. He also mentioned his gratitude for the fans, providing them with nearly a 20-year anniversary celebration of The Used being active as a band.
Coming closer to the end of their performance, near their hit song “The Taste of Ink”, a huge stage prop of a heart on a noose, identical to the one on the cover of their album In Love and Death was lowered just about 30ft above the stage. Each of their songs were sang loud and proud from the crowd, and could be heard all the way from the parking lot of the venue. To end the Rockstar Disrupt Music Festival, The Used proved yet again why they are some of the kings of the current rock industry.
For all of those anticipating an experience like Warped Tour has given many over the years, it is safe to say that if The Rockstar Disrupt Festival reoccurs for years to come, it is definitely worth the endeavor.
Hyro the Hero
Memphis May Fire
Four Year Strong
Sleeping With Sirens