Gods of Rock once again gather to support noble cause.
By Kyle McDonald
For the third year in a row, Darlings Waterfront Pavilion in the city of Bangor, Maine played host to one of the fastest growing rock festivals, Rise Above Fest. Originally organized by the band Seether in memory of frontman Shaun Morgan’s brother Eugene, who tragically took his own life in 2007, the festival donates a portion of their proceeds to the organization SAVE. These donations will help SAVE in their mission to bring awareness to the suicide epidemic this country faces through their many programs and services. If you would like to learn more, visit SAVE’s website at www.save.org. This festival also supports and honors our Veterans for without them none of this would be possible. It is the veterans that have fought for our freedom to have the ability to put on a show like this. This years Veterans were from the Pine Grove Program. This program mission is to provide FREE outdoor experiences to service members, Veterans, Goldstar families, and responders to man-made and natural disasters such as 9/11 and others. This was one of the outdoor adventures for them. I am guessing that they will have this memory with them for life.
The second stage at this year’s Rise Above Fest waved the flag of metalcore and genuinely heavy music. From young local acts like Sygnal to Noise and veteran acts like Hatebreed and Killswitch Engage, the metal came flying at the crowd in red hot bursts. Many faces were melted, even through the technical issues that limited the band Cilver to a woefully short two song set and the torrential downpour that stopped Killswitch Engage one song from the end of their set.
In fact, the rain brought the entire festival to a halt for close to an hour, with patrons being rushed out due to the threat of sudden lightning. Luckily, the skies cleared after a short but intense New England storm, and the fans were allowed back in time for the main stage acts.
A local band, Burning Time, kicked off the proceedings with a shortened but impressive set, making their home state proud while delivering three aggressive metal tunes. The next band up, I Prevail, also impressed, showcasing fantastic energy and chemistry. Their performance of an unlikely but entertaining cover of a Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space”, coupled with singer Eric Vanlerberghe climbing the scaffolding then proclaiming “I told you I would do it!” to his bandmates showed the camaraderie between the members of a strong up-and-coming
band and made them instant crowd favorites.
Next up was Beartooth, a relatively new act who handled themselves like seasoned veterans. They gave the audience an extremely strong technical performance, sounding almost studio-like in their delivery. These guys are definitely going places, expect to see them touring with bigger and bigger names in the next few years.
Alter Bridge then kicked off their own set. Alter Bridge never fails to put on a good performance and this was no exception. The entire band looked like they were having a blast for their whole set. Myles Kennedy may very well be the busiest man in rock. He always seems to be on the road, whether it is with Slash or Alter Bridge, and whenever he isn’t on the road, he is in the studio recording his next album. Mark Tremonti also impressed, showing off his virtuosic guitar skills in a display of power.
Seether was next, but before their set began, Dr. Daniel J Reidenberg, the executive director of SAVE, took the stage to deliver the news that Rise Above Fest 2016 was officially the “largest suicide prevention event ever held anywhere in the world.” This news caused the entire venue to applaud and cheer. It was a heartwarming moment that showed just how much good the festival had done. With that being said, Seether, the originators, took the stage for a set that unsurprisingly left a unbelievable impression. Maybe it was the news that their festival was such a success, but everyone in the band seemed to be in particularly good spirits. Their touring guitarist never lost his smile, bassist Dale Stewart was bouncing around the stage like a madman, and drummer John Humphrey laying down some precise drumwork. Shaun Morgan, however, was in rare form. He performed in a way that I have never seen him before. There seemed to be a lightness in him, most evident in their performances of “Broken” and the song the festival was named after, “Rise Above This”. One of the best performances I’ve seen out of this amazing band.
The second to last band of the night was the Danish rockers of Volbeat, and they did not disappoint. They gave one of the tightest sets I’ve ever seen from any band, without even breaking a sweat. I’ve never seen a band perform with as much energy as they did, and yet at the end of their set it seemed like all they wanted to do was keep going! They engaged the crowd in a very similar way to last year’s headliners, Godsmack, conversing with the crowd and getting them involved in the action. Incredible set from an incredible band, and one I’m sure those in attendance would love to relive over and over again.
At last, after a long day, the night was coming to a close, but Disturbed was not ready to let it go out with a whimper. From the moment they walked on stage to the moment they ended the show, anyone witnessing could see them for the titans and gods of rock they are. David Draiman rallied the tired souls before him and gave them the energy to go wild for the entirety of the set and beyond. Dan Donegan is one of my guitar heroes, and he absolutely surpassed my expectations. The demonic smile that he bore as he tore through riff after riff will forever be engraved in my memory, as he seemed like their beloved mascot, the Guy, come to life. Each song bombarded the senses, with the exception of their powerful performance of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence”, which brought everyone together in a moment of kinship as they all joined together in singing along. When the amps had quieted and the drums had gone still after their encore performance of their signature song, “Down With The Sickness”, Disturbed capped off one of the most legendary and noble events in modern rock history. Rock is alive and well, my friends!